The global fashion magazine April 15, 2024 
Out now: Lucire issue 48, with free shipping for UK and US


An appeal for Hasan

Behind the scenes with Lucire founder and publisher Jack Yan, with an appeal for a family in Gaza, the difficulties of becoming an Amazon seller, and the hopelessness of AI-written stories
February 26, 2024/9.20

A good friend and colleague, Hasan Abu Afash, and his family have been displaced by the war in Gaza, and they are currently in a camp in Rafah with no power and water. Their home is no more, and obviously Hasan can’t work as they’re literally trying to survive.

Even in Rafah, they are under constant threat, and the family want to escape. There are six in the family.

His son has just graduated from his electrical engineering course and was trying to start his adult life. His daughter was in her fourth year and his second son was in his second year at med school. The college has been destroyed. They averaged over 90 per cent in their courses. Finally, his youngest daughter is 15 and was attending high school.

The reality is that Hasan needs US$5,000 for each member of his family to travel out of Gaza just to reach Egypt, where the family can start to rebuild their lives.

He’s prepared to provide further information to prove the above (though it will take time given there is no power), but in the meantime, I’m asking anyone out there to donate to his Paypal. I already have, and I know many of you who follow me on Mastodon have, so let’s get some way toward the US$30,000 Hasan and his family need.

If anyone wishes to send a bigger amount to his son’s account at the Bank of Palestine, please get in touch with me and I’ll send over the full details.

If you can’t use your influence in the media to help someone in need, then what point is there in having it?

We’re aware that some of you would like to purchase copies of Lucire through Amazon, especially now that we have printing in the UK and US. We really have been trying to open a seller account there, but their own staff have been obstructive. After four days, we’re beginning to doubt our chances.

Remember, it’s just as secure to purchase your Lucires on our own shop, Libriz, where we aren’t sharing any revenue with Amazon—and frankly it’s cheaper going directly to us. We haven’t much choice but to pass on the extra cost to the customer with Amazon: if we were to do free shipping within the US, for example, we’d lose US$1·20 per sale. Shop here, we both win.

Behind the scenes, Stripe securely processes your credit card payments, and Google Pay and Apple Pay. Unlike with Amazon, we actually get our money.
Finally, we’ve been seeing how some parts of the web have been infected with bot-written, or “AI” to use the current parlance, stories that have little resemblance to the truth. Yours truly, for some reason, became a target keyword at Semrush, a program which “SEO” “experts” monitor and feed their articles through, to make them Google-friendly. In other words, they’re gaming Google.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read some absolute rubbish about myself in articles that are clearly not written by humans, with only a tiny handful of websites having people who were embarrassed enough to make corrections or remove the offending pieces.

The descent of the web into “AI” articles plaguing the world’s largest search engine, and seeing those articles feed yet more “AI” articles, vindicates my decision 20 years ago to go beyond this medium with Lucire. You cannot tell the legitimacy of a brand that exists on the web without seeing something that proves it exists outside the web. Therefore, judging a publication by its social following is, in our opinion, hopeless, since anyone can game those, too. (A modelling agency we came across actually used this metric. To heck with having five editions in two languages in two media then?)

As the 2020s progress, legitimacy may be an authentic human voice, it may be a bricks-and-mortar presence, or it may be the presence in multiple media. Since, it seems, it’s entirely possible to construct an full personality, with imagery, exclusively online—and if the “AI” articles are anything to go by, not everyone will be using this technology for scrupulous means. That is disappointing, as the web was meant to democratize the world—but it’s so fake these days, and certain search engines have been unsuccessful at weeding out the “AI” pieces. Now our judgement about legitimacy shifts to those who can afford to do things credibly and visibly offline.
Jack Yan is founder and publisher of Lucire.

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