As with all great memes that have graced this confused civilization, it began with an elegant and moving story, captured in all its fleeting delicacy by a Forbes “contributor.”
The the story appeared under the headline “Tiffany & Co Drop These CryptoPunk Pendants and They’re Expensive, Here’s All by Intel.” It followed a rolling article about Tiffany and Co. co-president Alexandre Arnault boosting the market value of a line of CryptoPunk-themed pendants using a “guerrilla marketing campaign via his personal social media handles.”
More importantly, this line midway through the article was immediately seized upon Crypto Twitter: “He signed the tweet ‘LFG’, the NFT community speak acronym meaning ‘let’s form a group’.”
Was it a mistake, or was it providence that reshaped humanity’s destiny via lax editorial standards Forbes contributor network? Perhaps we’ll never know since the author hasn’t (yet) responded to my request for comment, although oddly enough she did send my message on Instagram DM.
In any case: The contributor in question, Stephanie Hirschmiller, mistranslated the common acronym “LFG” itself, which is universally understood to mean “let’s get started.” (It’s also the preferred rallying cry of NFL star and crypto promoter Tom Brady.)
Cue the spit take on the flooded Crypto Twitter.
just ran this through the howey test, twice, can confirm accuracy.
Hirschmiller identifies himself in his contributor tagline as “a journalist and digital consultant based between Paris and London covering fashion, luxury and Web 3.0.” Elsewhere she describes herself as a “Footwear Authority [and] Web 3.0 Expert-in-Training.”
As something of a footwear authority myself (I make ends meet by selling men’s shoes at a local department store) I am appalled at the shadow Hirschmiller has cast over our craft. But I get it. We all make mistakes. I once almost broke a guy’s foot trying to shoehorn it into an E when the poor guy clearly needed an EEE. Still.
The rant expanded endlessly as other Twitterers offered similarly benign translations.
“Let’s pretend greatness,” proposed one. “Great Friendly Gathering,” added another. It is clear that Hirschmiller had hit on some primal urge for group formation that was not yet articulated by Indo-European phraseology.
Call it “Let’s go Brandon” effect: an explanation of a term or phrase so skewed that it becomes more popular than the original. This is also how HODL, for “hold”, came to be – from a typo on a chat forum.
It was all in good fun, I guess, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this serious mistake didn’t speak volumes about Forbes, which is now struggling to find a new buyerand the long-simmering trash fire of the infamous “contributor network.”
About 2,800 “contributors,” mostly from marketing and PR rather than journalism, post on the site every day for a pittance. It’s a great Faustian bargain: Forbes are fed troughs full of “content” every day (that generate clicks), and the “contributors” are ambiguously compensated. According to earlier Forbes contributor Matt Zucker, five pieces of a few hundred words apiece in one month earns a writer $250; seven pieces get $500. Zucker claimed that each piece took him around ten hours– That’s over 140 hours for 1,000 dollars. “Yeah, we’re not doing this for the money,” he admitted.
(Sounds familiar, and to be honest the salary is extremely competitive with the degrading pittance I’m paid here.)
What Forbes“contributors” get out of this malarkey is clear: Like Zucker wrote in a Medium blog post about his time in Forbes contributor farm, the contributors actually have carte blanche to publish whatever they want – often unedited. Given that many contributors have their own professional agenda, getting a contributor contract is like getting access to free, endless print PR. I would love to have access to such a resource so I could advertise my beginnings side mass.
Hirschmiller, the accidental coiner of the new “LFG” meme, has made good use of the network. Her recent oeuvre on Web3 innovation includes: “How Paris Hilton and Snoop Dogg animated their boring monkeys, what technology can mean for brands“; “The disruptive idea behind Prada’s new Timecapsule NFT collection with Damien Hirst’s son“; and “Is a Metaverse HQ with Bored Ape NFTs, Helipad, Cinema the next must-have for luxury brands?”
A dubious and inevitably anonymous “source” tells me that there is indeed some oversight of the crypto contributor network, or at least more than there used to be. That’s what I’ve been told Forbes Crypto editor and former CoinDesk journalist Michael del Castillo runs a “tight ship.” But the contributor network remains a sort of “YouTube for writing,” so caveat emptor.
Which makes you think: Maybe Hirschmiller, in all his wisdom, knew that this minor mistake would cement her place in Internet meme history. And like anyone calculating and underpaid Forbes “contributor”, she thought it was worth the money. If so, I greet her and wish to join her. Let’s form a group!
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