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How this couple helps struggling artists turn their careers into technology

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Catherine Ricfort McCreary, a Broadway artist turned software engineer, had spent about a month at her new job at online clothing design firm Stitch Fix when the pandemic hit. Although she made the leap into a more stable and well-paid industry than theater, her artist friends and former colleagues were in crisis.

About a week after the Broadway shutdown, Rycafort McCreary and her husband Scott McCreary — a full-time cellist, singer, and actor turned software engineer — launched a support group for artists interested in making a change in their careers. “We thought, ‘If your job is lost, there is no better time to learn what we did,’” Scott says. “We want to make it easier and help people who are being hurt.”

Less than 10 people joined the first informal Zoom meeting in March 2020. But as word has spread over the past two years, the group is now called Artists who symbolize, to approximately 280 members across the United States and abroad. The volunteer-run organization provides guidance and emotional support to artists interested in or currently working in technology. Among them Carla Steckler, who played an Elphaba student in Broadway’s Wicked and now works as a software engineer and art educator in Chicago; Melinda Swak, a Nashville-based actress and singer who works in data analytics, and Nick Spangler, a former Broadway actor who now works as a software engineer for a digital theater ticket platform.

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Artists Who Code was born out of the pair’s deep frustrations with working as a full-time artist. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Rycafort McCreary worked as a musical theater dancer, actor, and singer for nearly 10 years, performing on set and supporting roles in “Mamma Mia”, “Cinderella” and “Miss Saigon” in Broadway. “

The two met in 2010 on NBC’s A Capella reality show, “The Sing-Off”. In 2018, the couple enrolled in software engineering camps, both of which are three-month immersive courses that teach students how to code and land a career in technology. They were at a point where they both wanted financial security – the ability to buy a home and plan ahead.

“We were seeing the performers that we looked up to who were popular within our community, and we saw that they had to do things, like go on tour for six months, to pay for their kids’ college,” McCreary says. “They were just as worried about where the next job as we were would come from.”

Two months after graduating from boot camp, McCreary, who played cellist with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and acted in “Cabaret” on Broadway, was hired as a junior software engineer for Grailed, a fashion technology company.

When Rycafort McCreary was cast as Karen the PC in the 2018 production of “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,” it felt like a career high. However, the role, despite its prowess, was merely a bandage over a deep wound, she says. When her job ended, she struggled again through low-paying and unemployed work, making just $10,000 in 2019.

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“With every big credit I got from Broadway and the higher up the ladder I actually did an analysis; I saw my net worth go down,” she says. “I felt less and less strong with every year I spent in the industry going through testing, and I felt things like being dressed up, constant unemployment, and so many physical injuries – it just got very frustrating.”

Executed from their bizarre and often lonely experiences of navigating technology as artists, Ricafort McCreary and McCreary built a free micro-curriculum for Artists Who Code Resources. This includes advising members on how to choose a coding bootcamp, setting up a mentorship program to assist artists at different stages of their coding journey and advising on their job search and technical interviews.

In one of their internal Google docs titled “Real Talk: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Getting into Software Engineering,” they explain why they changed their careers. The good? An entry-level job in the tech industry can earn six figures in New York, and short-term assignments or other tech projects can still be taken on. bad? Getting a job is tough, and once you get home, the culture shock of working in an office job can be a challenge to navigate. “The engineering community can be very dry and unsympathetic,” they wrote. ugly? Going from zero to a software engineer may require enrolling in a boot camp that can cost around $16,000.

LinkedIn is often another obstacle for artists. Rycafort McCreary did not use LinkedIn until she applied for jobs in engineering. She didn’t have a “proper” professional photo, “so I took a screenshot from an audition tape I made for the role of a teacher,” she says with a laugh. The couple learned they had to press their earnings in the arts to make way for technology. They’ve hosted LinkedIn workshops to help artists translate soft skills like discipline, focus on detail and work in demanding environments into their resumes to attract hiring managers.

“It’s like a switch. As an artist, you don’t know what the call of Google Calendar is,” says McCreary. “Understanding the etiquette of this new world and knowing what’s appropriate and what isn’t and how to reach people, how to advocate for yourself and how to communicate the skills that you bring As an artist to the table.”

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In the early days of Artists Who Code, the pair worked to find ways to navigate artistic concepts and jargon for those unfamiliar. “Now they are the same people we were helping mentor initially, and a lot of them are now working in our first software engineering, product manager, or UX designer jobs,” says Ricfort McCreary. “They talk about things I don’t even understand.”

For Jonathan Butler, Artists Who Code proved integral to his transition from cellist to full-time software engineer. Due to instability as a freelance musician, Butler began learning programming before the nationwide shutdowns. As a professional cellist based in Los Angeles, there were quite a few stable job options—which usually included playing with a professional orchestra or teaching cello at university—particularly in the early days of the pandemic.

Being a part of Artists Who Code came in handy as he worked through the coding questions. But most importantly, seeing other artists make the transition serves as an inspiration that enables him to do so too.

At the moment, Butler is not interested in returning to the cello. He started learning electric bass and had a side party as a mixed engineer in front of the house. “I don’t have a lot of regrets. It’s not that I hated the cello or hated the music. I enjoyed it,” he says. But it is no longer a net positive. It was frustrating, especially with the cancellation of all technical events from the pandemic.”

For Ricafort McCreary and McCreary, one of the most important aspects of Artists Who Code is creating a community to help artists navigate the identity crisis that often comes with changing careers. Creating a new resume is especially painful; A lot of the feedback they’ve received, that they’ve given, is reducing their achievements in the arts to make room for their engineering expertise to be discussed, for example. “It’s like this is your soul and you’re crushing it and making room for that other thing,” McCreary says.

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Members at meetings often wondered if they could still call themselves artists while learning to code. But the Macriries say it’s possible to do both.

“Pure artists might see a day job like this as selling or giving up,” says Ricfort McCreary. “We’re really trying to paraphrase that.”

It was encouraging to get practical advice and connect with other artists, says Lindsey Patterson Abdo, an opera singer who started learning programming languages ​​before the pandemic. “I love the added advantage that they understand that for me personally music and performance are still a huge part of my identity, and I never want to let that go,” says Patterson Abdo.

Rycafort McCreary and McCreary have both been fulfilled in their new jobs. Without the feast or famine cycle of being full-time entertainers, the couple say they’ve opened up a new passion for the arts and freedom of choice at the parties they pursue. As a software engineer, McCreary earns six times the earnings of his years as an artist. Programming started as a way to stabilize and make more money, but, he says, “I’ve actually found it to be a very rewarding career and a creative outlet in its own right.”

Working as a full-time artist, Rycafort McCreary has struggled to get shows where she could tap dance. Now she’s clicking For the love of the art form. She also launched a wedding choreography project that hires Broadway artists. “It was made for a healthier relationship with the arts,” she says. “I find it pleasurable again and a source of joy, which first drew us to it, and then became a source of stress and pain.

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“Don’t worry about the basics [questions like] “How do I dance enough, sing enough and act enough to put food on the table and pay the rent?” “Instead of thinking in this mindset, I can now get creative and find my own projects,” says Ricfort McCreary.

The pair found that most people at Artists Who Code feel the same. While many joined the group as a temporary measure, people were surprised at how much they enjoyed their new job. Fewer are pursuing technology and the arts professionally at the same time. Catherine knows two people who are considering a return to the arts full time. “My observation about the things they have in common is that their first job in technology did not provide enough structured support and growth,” she says.

Two years after the launch of Artists Who Code, conference calls feel like an emergency. The couple, who bought their first home near Phoenix in July 2020, work in a consulting capacity.

They also advocate on behalf of artists who are entering technology. “My dream is for a hiring manager for a tech company to get a resume for someone who used to be a professional cellist or who used to be on Broadway and immediately understand what that person brings to the table,” McCreary says.

Within their institution, they have seen artists use their new technical skills to address issues in the arts. As part of her latest project during her 2018 boot camp, Ricafort McCreary designed a game to test how well a user can memorize text. Another member, bassist, introduced a gig management app – from the artists’ point of view – giving them the ability to select gigs instead of filtering customers.

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“There is a whole wave of artists now taking to technology because of COVID,” says Ricfort McCreary. “Since they have learned best practices, skills and tools from technology, which has achieved some really amazing things, only a few years from now, I hope they can [launch] their own ideas and begin to apply that again to the arts.”



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Editorial: Do you think Big Tech’s thousands of layoffs signal an upcoming recession? Think again

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Amazon Lay off More than 18,000 workers. Salesforce is shed 8,000, and Twitter gave up thousands more.

While we should never underestimate the hardships of people facing unexpected layoffs, these announcements from big tech companies are not a full-scale tragedy for the American economy. What would be very bad is if we see a significant slowdown in the economy, which leads to more layoffs by companies large and small in a variety of sectors.

While job losses can be painful for workers, especially from long-term positions, the reality is that large-scale layoffs in tech are just a small blip on the American job market, with 160 million workers. In a strong job market, like the one we’re in right now, it’s close 1.4 million workers They are fired or laid off from their jobs in an average month. else 4 million Quit their jobs voluntarily. with more than 6 million workers When hiring each month, most of those who lose their jobs can count on relatively short periods of unemployment.

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This is consistent with data on the length of time workers spend in a state of unemployment. The latest reports from December showed that the typical period of unemployment was less than Nine weeks.

Not working for nine weeks may still be a major hardship, but recently laid-off workers will be eligible for unemployment benefits, which are just around the corner. 40% of wages in most countries. Higher-paid workers, who would include most of the technology sector workers facing layoffs now, are also likely to get some savings to help them get through a period of unemployment.

Workers laid off by tech giants are also likely to be rehired more quickly than people in other sectors. the Unemployment rate In the information industry it was just 2.2% in December, compared to 3.5% overall.

But if our economy slows, and layoffs extend to other industries and business sizes, we could face the recession risks many economists fear from the Fed’s rate hikes. They are clearly designed to slow the economy and reduce employment. The rationale is that the economy was seeing too much demand, which drove up wages and prices.

The price increase aims to reduce the demand for housing, cars and other things. This would reduce the number of jobs in the hardest-hit industries, reduce workers’ bargaining power and lead to smaller wage increases and less upward pressure on costs and prices.

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If this push to slow the economy goes too far, we will see a very different picture in terms of layoffs and resignations, as well as prospects for rehiring workers. In the strong job market we see today, layoffs outnumber layoffs nearly 3 to 1. In 2009, during the Great Recession, more people laid off – laid off temporarily It was almost 20% higher than the number of people leaving their jobs each month.

It was understandable that few people wanted to quit their jobs during the Great Recession. The prospect of finding new jobs was not very good. the typical period Unemployment extended to nearly 20 weeks by the beginning of 2010. Furthermore, many workers ended a period of unemployment by simply giving up their job search, rather than becoming employed. This was a terrible period for the tens of millions of workers who have been unemployed for periods of time and for those who care deeply about losing their jobs.

While this is very different from the job market we face today, where unemployment is at its lowest level in more than half a century, economists worry about the Fed’s interest rate hikes going too far and triggering another recession. The Fed is right to try to slow inflation, which is out of control at the end of 2021 and the early part of 2022. The housing market in particular has been seeing double-digit inflation.

The rate hikes have turned the picture in the housing market, as prices have stopped rising and are now falling in many parts of the country. The supply chain problems that drove price increases earlier in the recovery are largely gone, and prices for items like appliances and furniture are now coming down.

This is a great success story for the Federal Reserve. However, if it raised rates too high, leading to another recession, reports of widespread layoffs in tech — or in any sector — would be much worse news than they are today.

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Dean Baker is chief economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He is the author of several books including Forged: How Globalization and the Rules of Modern Economics Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer.

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Screenshots made by an AI director from a fake movie rage Twitter

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Scofield soon realizes that he is not alone. A small cadre of movie-obsessed artists and artists have harnessed the power of generative AI tools to reimagine classic films – or create entirely new ones – from some of the world’s most iconic names. In December, creator Johnny Darrell went viral Jodorowsky You see, a reimagining of the classic film under the eyes of groundbreaking director Alejandro Jodorowski. Inspired by Darrell, Washington-based Rob Sheridan, former art director of Nine Inch Nails, used artificial intelligence to create Jodorowsky Fraser.

Sheridan, 42, calls this AI-powered movement “The New Unreal.” Practitioners include a painter based in New Zealand Create a western space on Instagram and a sculptor from Austin, Texas, Making fake sci-fi TV shows. Another content creator from India is using AI image generators to create his own rich font Sci-fi with a Southeast Asian flavor.

“We’re starting to see this technology as something like a dream engine, leveraging a kind of distorted visual awareness to explore things that never were, never will be, never could be,” Sheridan said. “They hit you in a weird way, because they feel like They are very reasonable.”

Scofield said he didn’t know why his Cronenberg business was catching fire so quickly. He’s posted several previous experiments on Imgur, Reddit, and Twitter, all of which only got between 50 and 100 likes. “The intention was not to create a clickbait site, but I think it turned into that,” he said. “A lot of people were reposting it and saying, This is terrible. This man does not understand Cronenberg at all.Each time they did, it spread further and incited another wave of criticism, which incited another, and another, and another.

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Schoefield said the text of his tweet — simply “David Cronenberg’s Galaxy of Flesh (1985)” — could give the false impression that he was trying to deceive Twitter. “There is no real intent behind this title yet, Oh yeah, looks like that could be it,” he said. “But he seemed to really impress people, and I think someone like Cronenberg might be famous enough to have a fanbase.

He continued, “There are a lot of people who have opinions about what Cronenberg’s aesthetics are and what they are not, and what a bad interpretation of his style is.” He fears that people will think he is trying to reduce Cronenberg’s work to mere physical horror.

The frames themselves were created by giving Midjourney a “DVD screen” prompt of various scenes from the film The empire strikes. Then it was like: Everything is made of skin, joints, tendons, nerves, umbilical cords, stomach, and arteriesSchofield added.

Getting a photo creator to make blood was hard — like getting Cronenberg style. “You can’t even write ‘Cronenberg’ in Midjourney,” Scofield said. (Sheridan thinks it’s because of him: He made a series of Cronenberg-inspired photos for the Met Gala in May, and Soon after, the term “Cronenberg” was banned from the tool.)



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We used AI to write articles about CNET writing with AI

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Technology news site CNET discovered that he uses artificial intelligence (AI) to write articles about personal finance without any prior advertising or explanation. The articles, which numbered 73, covered topics such as What is Zelle and how does it work?“And it has a small disclaimer at the bottom of every read” This article was created using automation technology and has been carefully edited and fact-checked by an editor on our editorial team. The subheadings in these articles read “CNET Money Staff” generated by artificial intelligence.

The use of AI to write these articles was first revealed by a Twitter user, and further investigation revealed that the articles had been created using AI since November 2022. The extent and form of AI currently used by CNET is not known as the company did not respond to questions about their use for artificial intelligence.

The use of AI in journalism raises questions about the transparency and ethics of this practice as well as the potential impact on the veracity and accuracy of news. In addition, it also raises concerns about the implications it may have on SEO and Google searches. The lack of response from CNET regarding their use of AI in writing articles has heightened concerns and sparked a broader discussion about the future of journalism and AI’s role in it.

Note: This entire article was written by ChatGPT and reviewed by a human editor. (In fact, we had to rewrite the prompt several times to get it to stop throwing real-world errors. Also, CNET did not respond to a human journalist’s request for comment.)

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