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Webcurios 26/02/16

Reading Time: 25 minutes

Well, now we know. 4 months of tedium as a bunch of dullards attempt to convince a largely ambivalent electorate of the validity of their point of view – I thought we did this last year, but it turns out that referenda are even WORSE than general elections from the point of view of them just wanging on and on and on and on and on…

Web Curios, by contrast, with its snappy prose style and easily digestible selection of infopellets, could NEVER be accused of outstaying its welcome, which is why the opening section is going to breeze past you as it’s barely here this week, leaving you free to root through the compost heap of internet as you see fit – please, though, remember the gloves and the facemasks, and remember to wash thoroughly afterwards as the stench of web is so hard to shift. THIS, AS EVER, IS WEB CURIOS!

By Isidro Blasco




  • Facebook Reactions Are Finally Here!: I don’t doubt that each and every one of you will have had your own excited series of conversations on Facebook this week marvelling at your newfound emotional range, so I’m not going to dwell on this. Only observations really worth making are that a) Christ does it feel a touch infantilising; b) You can actually get reasonably useful analytical breakdowns of the different reponses through Post Analytics; and c) wouldn’t it be nice if for the next few weeks and months everyone responded with the ‘angry’ or ‘sad’ face to every single advert they see, purely so that the people responsible for reporting the performance of the ad buys have to explain exactly why they spent all those thousands of pounds to make people feel sad or angry. Think of it as a really small, slightly rubbish rebellion against the inevitable, and then cry to yourself about just how much worse everything is going to get.

  • Facebook Canvas is Finally Here!: Facebook Canvas, in case you have unaccountably forgotten, is the new type of ad unit Facebook’s rolling out as of TODAY which is basically like Instant Articles for ads – the units don’t cost any more, apparently, but are effectively rich media equivalents of the sort of ad-specific mobile site that you might once have sent users to; basically it’s another THING inside Facebook’s walled garden. These actually look rather swish, I must say, and I’d expect to see these everywhere in a week or so. Definitely worth playing with if you have lots of EXCITING CONTENT to show people, although we all know that even those with nothing whatsoever in the way of EXCITING CONTENT will jump on the bandwagon and start spaffing their dull rhetoric into our eyes in RICH MEDIA fashion. So it goes.

  • Facebook Video Birthday Messages: It’s a 21C truth universally acknowledged that the lazy reflex action of writing ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook is pretty much the lowest rung of the friendship ladder; effectively the equivalent of saying “I am marginally more positive than base-level ambivalence about your continued existence, but I do not care enough to attempt to interact with you in a manner which requires any more than the minimal level of effort, and I have no actual desire to ever interact with you in real life so don’t get any fcuking ideas mate” – now Facebook’s going to start exhorting us to record short video messages to bestow these light-touch wishes. Interesting more because of the potential extensions – I can imagine competitions and the like being run like this from a brand point of view, although now I’m typing it that sounds like a dreadful idea so maybe just forget I started this.

  • Snapchat On Demand: For those of you with a legitimate reason to be on Snapchat as a brand, this is (I think) BIG NEWS. Basically it’s opened up the creation of geofenced filters to anyone – brands or, you know, ACTUAL PEOPLE. They’re incredibly simple to set up as this piece illustrates; if you have an event going on, or a set of physical locations to which you think MILLENNIALS will be flocking (cf fashion and food brands, I speak to YOU) then why wouldn’t you experiment with this – effectively anyone Snapping from within the geofenced area will be presented with the option to put YOUR branded filter on their Snap, which seems like a pretty good deal. The best thing? At the time of writing there is absolutely NOTHING brands can do to prevent other brands from creating geofenced areas around their rivals’ geographical properties, so if any football club digital people are reading this may I suggest a SICK BURN on your greatest rival’s stadium? £50 by PayPal, please, for that one.

  • Automatically Blur Moving Objects On YouTube: Really dull, this, but useful if you need to blur the face of the one person who didn’t give consent to be filmed and who irritatingly is always in shot.

  • YouTube Next Up: YouTube is now taking applications to join the next round of its STARS OF THE FUTURE programme. I don’t really know why I’m including this here – I mean, I’m not convinced that, of the tens of you reading this, any of you are shiny-haired, dazzling-toothed anodyne narcissists with a webcam and a fairly messy psychological breakdown lurking in your futures (though I may be wrong), and those of you with teenage kids probably wouldn’t necessarily want YT stardom thrust upon them, but nevertheless.

  • Pinterest Rich Pins Get Richer: Well, for films and recipes at least. If you’re a cinema chain or do food stuff, you will now be able to have film showing times on your movie-related Pins, and recipe information on your food-related Pins. HUZZAH!

  • Twitter’s Missing Manual: Not ‘news’, but actually a really interesting document (and a useful one) on how Twitter practically works as a platform – reading this you get a feel for exactly how daunting people find the platform on first entry. Useful in case you still need to educate people about how starting a Tweet with an @reply means basically noone sees it, which I for one am so fcuking bored of telling people that I’ve taken to doing it in borderline-offensive sign language.

  • La French Touch: What do you think of when you think of cognac? You think of snifters, don’t you, and maybe rappers ostentatiously brandishing immense bottles of the stuff before unaccountably mixing it with cough syrup…maybe a cigar or two, a Napoleonic hat… Until now, you’d probably never thought of a strangely blocky CGI swift flying through the streets of a virtual Paris before landing in a swanky nightsport to great acclaim, and yet that is EXACTLY the experience offered by this site from swanky boozepeddlers Martell, which uses the now-old hat ‘use your phone as a controller’ gimmick to let you fly said virtual swift through the virtual French capital. I know I say this almost every week, but again – WHY DOES THIS EXIST?!? What is it meant to say about brandy? WHY THE SWIFT?! I mean, if Martell had decided to produce a range of ortolan-inspired bottles each containing a dead swift, drowned in delicious brandy and ready to be lightly grilled before being consumed whole so you can taste the hot booze flooding your mouth as you puncture its tiny little lungs with your canines, then that might make sense, but as it is this seems like an AWFULLY fancy website which exists for no purpose whatsoever. Maybe the marketing head’s kid works for the dev agency or something.


By Helen Levitt




  • Rent a Minority: There used to be one of these from a few years back about renting a black friend for white people with a displeasingly caucasian friendship set; this is the 2016 version, when instead of your friendship group being mocked it’s your event panel, because these days it’s actually impossible to see things outside of the tech/startup community (in fairness they also reference adverts and stuff, but it feels like a tech industry gag). Anyway, SATIRE!

  • The Glitch News Network: Another EXCELLENT piece from Shardcore, this; the Glitch News Network presents occasional snapshots of the state of the world in glitched-out gif format. The bot scrapes the pictures from (I think) the frontpage of Buzzfeed News and then messes with them, giving a brilliantly scifi dystopian roundup of what is going on RIGHT NOW. Actually a little scary when seen in bulk, and oddly reminiscent of what happens when you listen back to shows on the BBC Radio app and they seem to always start by clipping in a sentence from a recent news report which are almost universally terrifying when taken out of context (seriously, it breaks in with stuff like “…millions could die in the next decade”, or “…the most powerful laser ever built”. Stuff of nightmares).

  • A Unicode Heart For You: Really, it’s for YOU.

  • Timecall: This is not a new concept – Timecall is a service where users can pay by the second to speak to ‘experts’ over the phone in a variety of fields. The question on my lips is HOW DO I SIGN UP?!?! I want to become an internationally renowned expert on webmonging, offering my counsel for pennies over the phone. Seriously, this sounds like a GREAT way of stopping me from ever having to have a proper job ever again – in fact, if anyone fancies giving me a call to get my INSIGHTS and WISDOM I will do it for the price of a pint, so get in touch on Twitter and let’s DO IT.  

  • Either: Utterly pointless app / website which, unless they are lying about their numbers, seems to be getting an unconscionably large amount of traffic, Either’s premise is simple – users post binary questions of the ‘would you rather…?’ type and then anyone else can vote on them. Strangely and terribly addictive, in a sort of ‘just one more’ sense – so far noone appears to have asked any of the really BIG ones, though, like “would you rather be incontinent or have those permanent snot trails on your face that 3 year old kids always seem to have?” (Answers to me, thanks).

  • Slavery Footprint: Beautifully designed and functional survey website, pointing out exactly how much each of us contribute to the global slave trade based on our personal lifestyle choices (what we own, mainly, but also our diets and the like). Fundamentally really, really depressing, which obviously is the point, but on a purely design-based level also a very nice way of presenting the survey and its findings.

  • Instaminiseries: An Instagram account which shot to fame this week when they started pimping the fact that they were going to run a series of very very short shorts inspired by Bowie’s last album Blackstar, featuring all sorts of MILLENNIAL INFLUENCERS and stuff. The first one debuted yesterday, and, er, well, I’m just going to personally reserve judgment and leave it here for you to form your own opinion of.

  • How To Use Chrome Extensions To Bypass Paywalls: Technical-but-useful, though OBVIOUSLY we should all pay for quality content. Obviously. Web Curios PROTIP: I am presuming you all know that you can bypass quite a few paywalls by just using Chrome’s incognito mode, right? Ctrl+Shift+N. EASY.

  • Frontiers of Peace: Photoproject by Valerio Vincenzo looking at peaceful borders around the Europe; these are rather gorgeous, as well as being a decent illustration of the utter arbitrariness of physical national boundaries. Sort of makes me want to cross as many of these as I can, possibly whilst breaking minor laws. Maybe I could do it naked. Is that a good idea? It’s not, is it?

  • Revenge Dioramas: This is GREAT, it’s just a shame it’s on Facebook. Revenge Dioramas is a Page which responds to submitted tales of injustice by setting up elaborate revenge fantasies enacted by small toys. The woman whose doctor was an arse gets to see him being devoured by a giant toy squid; a feckless ex-husband gets eviscerated by scorpion woman and spider lady. Wonderfully satisfying and VERY silly.

  • The Shortest Murder Mystery EVER: Really clever gimmick, this – Vine superstar Origiful (see Curios passim) has created this INCREDIBLY dense 6-second animation which invites viewers to piece together all the visible clues to solve a miniature whodunnit. You can read more about it here (spoilers), but any brands looking for some creative to rip off could do worse than think about what they could do in a similar vein (inevitably any brand-type variants of this sort of thing will be joyless and horrible, but that’s YOUR problem not mine).

  • Still Life in the Zone: Photos of old women (mostly) in the area surrounding Chernobyl. Less about NUCLEAR DEVASTATION than it is about people maintaining old lifestyles in the face of immense change, although there’s a persistent subtext of everything being violently radioactive which is sort of bleakly awful. No, hang on, come back, these are GREAT!

  • Your Post As A Movie: Fun Redditgame where a poster takes other people’s creations from the site and turns them into film posters with wonderfully creative titles and taglines (and, occasionally, suggested stars). Based on some of these, Hollywood could do worse than adopting this as an accepted part of the development process; I would watch the fcuk out of this one, for example.  

  • Jobbatical: Do you ever dream of running away and leaving it all behind? Of course you do, but you’re weak and scared and probably won’t ever take the necessary leap to break out of the personal and professional rut you find yourself in. That said, you can always dream – Jobattical isn’t quite an ‘escape your life’ website, but it does offer an interesting selection of international job opportunities; the idea being that these are temporary positions which allow people to go and work abroad for a brief time to learn new skills and see new stuff. Depressingly light on bartending gigs in the Caribbean, but worth a look if you’re looking to make a (small, reversible) change.

  • Twitter Goggles: Like the Instagram thing from last week which lets you experience someone else’s timeline; this is exactly the same for Twitter; it’s a script which basically pulls all the people someone’s following into a List which you can then view. Interesting exercise in digital empathy; try it with politicians to see exactly how dull the internet can get if you try hard enough.

  • Explore the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: Probably the best way to spend your working afternoon, this – have a wander through the insects! Marvel at the sabretooth tiger! Spend some time visiting the geology section, which is always the most poignant part of natural history museums because they are always so utterly neglected (why does nobody care about rocks? WHY??)! Really quite soothing in the manner in which actual visits to museums never are what with all the children and stuff (yes, yes, HARK AT THE CHILDLESS GROUCH).

  • Verona: When you think about ‘what has the internet ever done for us, eh?’ it’s fair to say that most people’s go to response probably wouldn’t be ‘ushered in a new era of harmony and mutual comprehension, enabling humans from across cultural divides to connect and arrive at a shared understanding of the importance of differing perspectives and how these can peacefully and happily coexist’. Which is a shame. Verona is an app which is trying to undo some of the horror; it’s designed specifically to connect people from supposedly opposing viewpoints via a Tinder-like interface; Trump supporters and Latino voters, Israelis and Palestinians, etc. A lovely idea, and one which I would personally really like to see implemented for pro- and anti-Brexit people, please, particularly if they can guarantee that the woman off that video will be on it.

  • Papercraft Birds: So, so impressive, whether or not you’re a closet Twitcher.

  • Nimble Notes: Were flash cards a thing 20 years ago? I mean, obviously they had been thought of, but were they something which normal people used? Anyway, never used the things but if you’re the sort of person who studies or has kids who study or is interested in learning and STUFF then this might be of interest. Nimble Notes is an online tool which semi-automates the making of flashcards, making them apparently really quick and simple to create and then letting you test yourself using them and gives you analytics on your performance. Frankly this sort of thing scares the hell out of me – imagine being that academically organised! – and almost smacks of the Arnold J Rimmer revision timetable, so beautifully and meticulously constructed that it creation and maintenance leaves no time for actual revision, but then I am long past the point of having to pretend to care about exam success.

  • Profile Page: A photography project contrasting the Facebook Profile pictures of its subjects with their living spaces, juxtaposing the private with the public to pleasing effect. I think there’s actually an interiors / homewares campaign here if you’re an IKEA or something, should any of you be in the market for this sort of thing.

  • Play The Imperial March On A Toad: I mean, not really – this is just a cute piece of YouTube trickery which at least one brand is going to rip off in the next couple of months; why shouldn’t it be YOU?

  • Gigbloc: Another ‘what music is on in the city today?’ mapwebsite, this, with the rather nice gimmick that you can turn today’s gigs into a little radio station powered by Soundcloud. You can also see a genre heatmap of what is popular where in London if that’s your thing, which is nice.

  • The Rosa Parks Papers: The US Library of Congress has published a collection of all its documents and images relating to Parks online; in a week which saw the genuinely heartwarming spectacle of that 106 year old woman meeting Obama (something about which, it turns out, it is entirely impossible to be cynical (and God knows I tried)), it’s salutary to remember how that particularly journey sort of started.

  • Polymail: Pretty powerful-seeming email shell which pulls all sorts of useful functionality into one place, letting you do workflow management and pull in additional info on contacts, etc, all within the single app, combining the functionality of a host of plugins. Obviously INCREDIBLY dull but potentially pretty useful if you’re in the market for this sort of thing.

  • Stripe Atlas: This is, I think, quite a big thing for small businesses. Stripe, the payments system, this week announced its Atlas programme, which as far as I can tell basically will let businesses from anywhere in the world set up and incorporate in the US – the service will help you out with all the legal stuff, creating bank accounts and the like, freeing them up to access all the sorts of benefits and facilities (including Stripe, obvs) which companies in the US can. If you’re a startup this could be pretty interesting.

  • Sense: Inevitable rise of the bots, pt.1: Sense is a service which you can text to get Netflix recommendations; it’s a bot which will have a rudimentary conversation to point you in the direction of the sort of film you think it might like. US-only, sadly, but a really interesting application of bot / messenger tech; I am sort of astounded that Domino’s haven’t yet built the ‘what pizza do you want?’ bot given that they seem to be the ‘pointless early adopters of emergent stuff’ kings (cf emoji pizza ordering, etc), but it can only be a matter of time.


By Richard Feynmann




  • The Macbook Selfie Stick: Think we can declare the selfie stick jokes pretty much done now and just move on with our lives.

  • Socio: Social connectivity app whose gimmick appears to be ‘shake your phone to find contacts who are physically near you’, and whose ultimate purpose must surely be to cause said contacts to hide or run at the sight of some idiot making the universally acknowledged sign for masturbation and then looking quizzically at their phone.

  • Mar Cerda: Another incredibly impressive papercraft artist to follow the birds up there, this is the website of Barcelona-based Mar Cerda who makes incredibly detailed, tiny scenes from paper. Should you need some dioramas making you could do worse than look this person up – these are stunning.

  • Etrigg: This is a great idea, and whilst looking pretty shabby it also seems to work rather well. The idea is that you let it have your location and it tells you what’s going on nearby – the neat thing is that it only displays stuff in the future, in chronological order, and also tells you how far away from you the event is, making it great for impromptu decisionmaking. This is basically how Time Out’s website should work but totally doesn’t – LEARN, TIME OUT PEOPLE.

  • Knownbot: Inevitable rise of the bots, pt.2: Knownbot is a faintly mysterious service awaiting its beta launch which purports to provide off-the-shelf bots for publishers – the idea being, I suppose, that you could get a chat interface to help people source CONTENT from your site, run polls, etc. Welcome to the next step in the data-driven robot future, curated by machines for YOUR (actually almost certainly not your) pleasure.

  • Art Decider: Is your Tweet art? Let this arbiter decide! The obviously semi-infinitely-recursive question that this raises is whether this account itself is also in fact art, but to be honest it’s far too early in the morning for that sort of next-level DEEP THINKING.

  • Daily Burn: I have been to a gym three times in my life in total, forced away by the humiliation of having laughing, burly men putting all the weights back on the machines after I’d stopped using them (and the fact that I am yet to encounter anything quite as stultifyingly tedious as repetitive musclework), and so am probably not the target audience for this. Daily Burn offers a LIVE WORKOUT streamed every day for 30 minutes; I’m not, obviously, an exercise fanatic, but I don’t quite understand the appeal of this (surely there must be shedloads of this stuff on YouTube already?), but maybe there’s the germ of an idea here for a Virgin Active or similar.

  • Sex Dolls: I will never, ever get bored of the creepy horror of photos from the RealDoll factory. LOOK AT THE TEETH! LOOK AT THE TEETH! Seriously, why would anyone want to put any part of themselves inside any part of one of these things?

  • The Playthings Musical VR Playground: Sadly just a video demo, but LOOK how much fun this looks! Who doesn’t want to play gummi bear drums in a junk food-hued virtual environment? NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO. This sort of stuff makes me genuinely quite excited about the potential for VR experiences in a way that no number of branded experiences ever could.

  • YouTube Poop: NB nothing to do with actual scat, don’t be afraid. Occasionally I stumble across stuff which makes me realise that the internet is SO VAST that there are bits of its culture which can pass even an obsessive by – so it is with YouTube Poop, a term for remixed videos of existing pop culture properties which apparently has been around for ages but which was new to me until this week. SOME WEBMONG I. Anyhow, if you fancy falling into a weird YouTube oubliette for a few hours then this is an EXCELLENT place to start.

  • Graphing When Your Facebook Friends Are Awake: Technical, but worth looking at to get an idea of exactly how creepy some of this stuff can be when you peek just a little further than usual under the hood. Read this and bear in mind that this is the sort of information that is being collected about you ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY, by the magic little machine you carry so close to you.

  • Mienfield: Want to play an infinitely sized, massively multiplayer version of Minesweeper in your browser? OH GOOD!

  • Hololens Demo Video: Hololens, lest you forget, is Microsoft’s own exciting VR tech thingy; this video, showing how easy it is to make multi-avatar VR/AR experiences which map onto the real world, is just sort of incredibly impressive. Good luck getting tomorrow’s kids to want to do anything other than play videogames, seriously.

  • Succulent Jewellery: Jewellery with actual, living succulents (you know, those plants with the fat leaves which miraculously live off nothing but air) on them – they grow as you wear the pieces, to the point where you can detach them and keep them as plants whilst still having the accessory. Obviously a preposterous idea, but the concept made me very happy indeed although I couldn’t quite explain why.

  • Workhouse: Included solely because of the fact it made me REALLY ANNOYED when I saw it this week and hence I feel compelled to share it with you too, this is a clothing brand from London which seeks to mimic the aesthetic of the impoverished Victorians, so YOU TOO can dress like a malnourished urchin from the mid-19thC but, in true 21stC fashion, you can pay a violent amount of modern day cashmoney for the privilege. Oh, and the name – NICE TOUCH, GUYS! This could only be improved by the inclusion of ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ as their tagline.

  • The Oz Archives: Oz Magazine, for those of you too young to have heard of it, is synonymous with freedom of speech in the UK (and Australia where it originated) – the sort of pop-culture equivalent of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, which broke down some of the barriers the UK had in the middle-20thC around freedom of expression and what could (and couldn’t) be published without falling foul of the country’s then-archaic obscenity laws. The University of Wollagong has digitised all the magazine’s issues and put them online – this is just BRILLIANT. Reading them feels like a proper step back in time, and like you’re peeking in on something genuinely subversive and dangerous and EXCITING, in a way that very little does in the oh-so-permissive 21stC. Great design, too, aside from anything else – seriously, check the collection out.

  • MSQRD: Basically the Snapchat Facemorphing tech spun out into its own app. Suggest that you start using this to deliver all important pieces of information you need to share with your family, friends or colleagues – difficult news is far easier to take when it’s delivered by someone wearing a CGI sloth’s face, after all.

  • The Rave Tapes: ANOTHER exceptional collection of 90s rave tapes – Helter Skelter, Hysteria, One Nation, all the big names – here presented for your listening pleasure. Took me RIGHT BACK to that period at school where literally EVERYONE wanted undercuts to go with their curtains, and the NAF NAF / Technics bomber jacket was ubiquitous (along with Dready/Spliffy jeans), despite the fact that this was Wiltshire and we were all about 13. GREAT DAYS.

  • Emojini: Basically a MAGICAL service which analyses any picture that you plug into it and suggests the best emoji to accompany it. Plug in your Instagram account and up your emoji game in minutes (or don’t; in fact, please don’t)!

  • Unique Flow: This is technically a promo for some car or another, but the connection is SO TENUOUS that I’m just going to present it as a rather curios webart project and ignore the branding altogether. I mean, come on, this is how the explain it – come on, mate, you’re not fooling anyone, this is BUNKUM: “HA Unique Flow is a continuous forward movement that travels on elegant calligraphic lines tracing along the features of the C-HR. You’re taken on a luminous interactive journey through minimal architectures and spatial drawings. The lines of the art which you influence mimic the signature shapes and curves of the C-HR and day and night driving moods are reflected through lights and colour palettes. With every key press the experience enrichens, triggering audio-visual events along the road. And the moment you let go? You get carried by the flow.” Well quite.

  • You Are George Lucas: Or at least you are in this EXCELLENT and not a little epic Choose Your Own Adventure-style game from the clever people at Clickhole. Can YOU get Star Wars made? Very, very funny, and the best way to kill 15 minutes whilst laughing you will see all day.

  • Can’t Get Enough Of Myself: Finally this week, ANOTHER single serving website music video THING, which does the whole ‘your face HERE’ thing so popular 5 years ago but jazzes it up for the NEW AGE by using live footage from your webcam to put you into Santigold’s latest vid. Really, really slick, this, and the first time I’ve seen live-video-within-video integration done in this manner (so expect to see it all over the place to the point of total tedium in the next quarter).


By Rose Lynn Fisher




  • Found: Excellent Tumblr by National Geographic Magazine, punting out obscure or forgotten photos from the magazine’s archives. Endlessly interesting.

  • Keelayjams: The Tumblr of digital artist Kyle Matthew F Williams, collecting his slightly surreal pop-culture inspired gifs and things.

  • Music PR NOPE: The travails of being a music PR (in my experience literally THE lowest form of life in the already millimetre-shallow talent pool that is the communications industry, fwiw).

  • The Lady Badass: Women being badasses in history. Much fierce imagery in this one.

  • Words By Women Awards: A reaction to the overwhelmingly male nature of nominations for this year’s Press Awards, the Words by Women Awards are designed to highlight the achievements of women in print journalism – details about the awards, how to nominate, etc, are all on here, so get involved if there are female writers you think worthy of greater recognition.

  • The Kitten Covers: Album covers recreated with kittens. Of COURSE.

  • Matthew Healy and Jaden Smith Worry: Just brilliantly niche and oddly obsessional, this Tumblr is dedicated exclusively to pointing out the similarities in the worried faces of Will Smith’s male progeny and the lead singer of The 1975. People are ODD.

  • Bisous Les Copains: Weekly animated gifs of uncommon style and beauty by Guillaume Kurkdjian. So, so gorgeous and VERY satisfying to watch.

  • Primitive Technology: This week’s ‘not a Tumblr but it should be’ is this blog in which some bloke spends loads of time doing things like cavemen would have done – building primitive huts, making fire, etc. Into ‘paleo’ bullsh1t? Try some of this to make it ‘realer’.

  • Triple 9: Tumblr for the film of the same name. Interesting more in terms of ‘look how flexible Tumblr is as a platform’ rather than because of anything to do with what’s on there, sadly.

  • Baby Scully Caps: For those of you who’ve been disappointed by the XFiles revival, here is a selection of pictures of Gillian Anderson from the original series looking SO YOUNG.

  • Fcuk Yeah Fluid Dynamics: Who doesn’t love fluid dynamics? NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO!

  • The Setup Wizard: A funnier than its one-note premise would suggest, this Tumblr chronicles the travails of a Muggle IT technician at Hogwarts (SUCH a Tumblr description, that).

  • Depressing Fridge Poems: So bleak. So good.


  • The NYT On The Life Of Pablo: Have to be entirely honest with you, dear readers; I find Kanye West more interesting as a persona than as a musician (IKR!?) and the Life of Pablo left me pretty underwhelmed (he would, I am sure, be devastated at this assessment). This piece on the album’s genesis and almost iterative post-release development in the NYT, though, is fascinating – in part because of the hilariously po-faced tone it takes, but also because of what it has to say about creation in the internet age and the weird confluence between artist, performance, personality and product which Kanye embodies (/pseudery).

  • In Search Of The Hawaiian Orgasm Mushroom: Is there a mushroom found in Hawaii which will induce orgasm in women solely via its smell? Well what do YOU think? Regardless of the idiocy of the question, this is a brilliant piece charting the author’s quest to find said mushroom and put it to the test – part travelogue, part debunking, part introduction to mycology, this is VERY funny and consistently entertaining whilst also being remarkably educational.

  • The Teens Are Alright: Both an interesting article and a clever piece of webwork, this piece on Vox lets you tell it when you were born and then presents its article – about how teenagers today are on balance more sensible then they have ever been – with relevant comparative data based on your generation. Christ alive, though, do these kids sound DULL.

  • The New Generation of Airships: Now granted, airships aren’t the most obviously fascinating of subjects for a piece of longform writing, but I promise you’ll enjoy this if only for the weirdly steampunk air pervading the whole thing; it puts you in mind of an alternate reality in which we all engage in stately transatlantic travel in giant, luxurious blimps, which sounds frankly GREAT.

  • The Sex Bot Scams: As we continue to plod through the official Web Curios-designated YEAR OF THE BOT, have this piece in the (currently EXCELLENT) Rolling Stone exploring the industry of sex bot software – those fake women (because, oddly, women don’t seem to get trapped into this sort of stuff anywhere near as much as men – funny, that) which populate dating sites in an attempt to get men to sign up. Grimly fascinating.

  • All Of Amazon’s Data: A lovely piece of writing about BIG DATA and the fact that we don’t really know what to do with it yet. Excellent, even if you’re not in any way interested in datageekery.

  • The Uncomfortable Power of Pop Music Cruelty: Interesting look at the prevalence for oddly emosexually affectless lyrics in modern pop, primarily with reference to ambulant haircut The Weeknd. Not only interesting on current attitudes to sex and relationships – the overall vibe of the article being ‘look at the evil fuckbois’ – but also in the context of previous generations’ handwringing over the authorial voice and authenticity in music (cf Eminem, Tyler, misogyny, etc).

  • The Kesha Thing: Speaking of cruelty in pop music, this piece by Lena Dunham of why the Kesha thing is reprehensible and sort of jaw-droppingly horrific is very good indeed. WELL DONE, MUSIC INDUSTRY, YOU SHITBAGS.

  • My Tuscan Tinder Disaster: Funny if you’re a woman and / or if you know anything about Italian men (and probably still funny even if neither of the above things are true), this is a great piece of comic writing about the gulf between myth and reality in the world of the theoretical zipless fcuk (sorry, Fear of Flying was just on Radio 4 and it obviously had an effect).

  • Love On The Spectrum: A beautiful piece exploring the author’s autistic brother’s search for love despite his condition. Stuff like this RUINS me, I have to say – the questions it raises about autonomy and consent when it comes to love and the mentally ill are fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.

  • La Belle Dame Sans Merci: A modern interpretation of Keats’ ballad which made me laugh more than any other single thing I saw this week, and requires no prior knowledge of Keats whatsoever. If you don’t find the term ‘titviolence’ funny then I gently submit that there is something broken inside you which may never be fixed.

  • Videogame Rehab: Because this is obviously a thing now, and is almost certainly only going to become more of a thing as our digital toys get shinier and better at exploiting the Skinner Box. It does, though, make you wonder about the sort of lack which is motivating this type of behaviour, though, and how that might be addressed.

  • Thinking Harder About Dickpics: A great essay about taking pictures of your wang and what that means. I can honestly say I have NEVER done this, which is an interesting sort of way of ageing someone I guess (a bit like tree rings, but more, well, phallic).

  • Chatting With Eco: Even if you never read any of the man’s writing, this is a great interview. Seriously, check this excerpt out – SO TRUE: “If culture did not filter, it would be inane—as inane as the formless, boundless Internet is on its own. And if we all possessed the boundless knowledge of the Web, we would be idiots! Culture is an instrument for making a hierarchical system of intellectual labor. For you and for me it is enough to know that Einstein proposed the theory of relativity. But an absolute understanding of the theory we leave to the specialists. The real problem is that too many are granted the right to become a specialist.”

  • My Last JDate: This is practically novella-length, be warned, but it’s a beautiful piece of writing about a woman’s experience of dating in her 50s and how she found love and what happened. It’s honest and funny and sad, and you need not be a woman, or Jewish, or in your 50s, to enjoy it.

  • The Fencing Master: Excellent essay by novelist David Treuer about his experience of both learning to fence and learning to write at college. It’s SO good, and made me sickeningly jealous – imagine being able to write like this, AND fence, AND being taught by Toni Morrison. What a git.

  • New Rave 10 Years On: 10 years! Ten years ago when this was all going on I was working at a now-defunct PR agency in East London (shout out Idea Generation; we’ll always have the breadbin cocaine!) and living something of a heinously Nathan Barley lifestyle amongst which the growth of this scene was clearly visible – from the press meeting with Super Super (literally THE WORST people; idiots, seriously) to the Stuart Semple launch party with the models and the fauxcaine in the windows to the terrifying squat parties with people who even to me at that relatively tender age looked like children who really shouldn’t have been doing that much K. This piece by Curios favourite Clive Martin looks back at New Rave and the weird bridging point between indie supremacy and dance ubiquity that it occupied in youth culture. Bet it inspires at least one of you to dig out Golden Skans – don’t bother, it was and still is DREADFUL.

  • Here Comes The Donald: The best thing I’ve yet read on the US elections on how Trump has ended up where he is. Particularly good on the fact that it’s EVERYONE’S fault – the media, the Democrats, the GOP, the internet…Look, I am still maintaining that it’s impossible for him to win (please God let me be right about this), so let’s enjoy the frisson of potential terror while we still can. This can’t be the future, can it? Anyway, this piece is FULL of great writing and is pleasingly vicious about the Donald’s intellectual and physical shortcomings, which makes a nice change from him slagging everyone else off. The dick.


By Youngho Kang



1) Ever imagined what it might be like to have an army of flying creatures which swarm at your bidding? It would be like this. SO FRIGHTENING AND YET SO COOL:

2) This is called ‘Undercurrents’, and is really quite creepily weird:

3) The NBA’s annual slam dunk contest is an annual fixture and totally built for YouTube, Vine and the rest – this video, though, is a GREAT example of what you can do with lots of cameras and lots of budget and some top athletes – the bullet time (yes, yes, I know, 1997) stuff here is GREAT:

4) This is called ‘The Shiny’, amd it is a JAW-DROPPINGLY good piece of stop-motion work. I know that the idea itself (clothes animating across the floor) isn’t new, but this is by far the most impressive execution of the concept I’ve ever seen. Genius:

5) HIPHOP CORNER! Well, not really hiphop so much as spoken word-type stuff, this is Saul Williams with the new single from his latest album ‘Martyr Loser King’ – this is called ‘The Noise Came From Here’:

6) Next up, enjoy the EXCELLENT new Massive Attack song and video – this is ‘Voodoo In My Blood’:  

7) This one’s a bit divisive (to me at least) – the song’s a touch on the cheesy side for my usual tastes, but at the same time I have enjoyed it each time I’ve listened to it; the video, though, is a great piece of choreography and storytelling. See what YOU think – this is Jacob Banks with ‘Unknown’:

8) No idea what I should call this genre of music, but I LOVE this track. It’s by Ryan Playground and it’s called ‘Folders’:

9) Last up, this is a terrifying example of what YOU TOO could do with the faceswappy app linked to above. Don’t have nightmares, and see you next week!


Webcurios 19/02/16

Reading Time: 26 minutes

HELLO AGAIN EVERYONE! Rejoice, for 2016 can finally properly begin – Web Curios is BACK FOR GOOD (barring additional holidays, sickness, a general continuation of the overall lack of anything resembling a regular audience for this, the publisher pulling the plug, death or serious illness, or just the eventual victory of the crushing sense of ennui and futility which is almost certainly what will claim me if cancer doesn’t)!

I would probably traditionally try and make some sort of SEMI-TOPICAL GAGS about the past few weeks’ internet here, but it was so nice not really bothering with it for a while that I’m going to pretend that it didn’t actually happen. Sadly I am having to drag myself back into semi-regular employment as of next week, so expect this bright, breezy and generally Fotherington-Thomas-ish tone to be a distant memory come next Friday – if you would prefer a happier and more carefree Curios, feel free to get in touch directly to discuss ways in which you could contribute to the as-yet-empty Matt Muir indolence fund.

But now, let us CRACK RIGHT on. Slather yourself in whatever protective creams you favour and prepare to once more step into the multimegawattage glare of FULL-BEAM internets – side effects of prolonged exposure include the sloughing of the skin, weeping sores and the sort of blindness traditionally associated with the sins of Onan. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!

By Jordan Eagles



  • Ads Coming to Facebook Messenger: In a move which should surprise a grand total of no people at all, leaked documents suggest that FB is planning to monetise its Messenger product by letting brands chuck ads into Messenger conversations. The CUSTOMER-FRIENDLY NUANCE to this (ha!) is that brands will only be able to advertise at you through messenger if users have initiated chat with them; which is why the leaked document contains the lovely snippet of advice to brands that they should encourage people to message them in advance of this being launched so that they already have a lot of tacit permissions in the bag. Which is lovely. Nothing earthshattering about this, but the cynicism of the last bit is wearyingly familiar. The platform’s also launched a deeplink button thingy (TECHNICAL!) which brands can put on Pages which will let users open a chat dialogue with said brand in a single click to better facilitate these IMPORTANT CONSUMER BRAND INTERACTION TOUCHPOINTS, which is kind of them. DO NOT TALK TO THE BRANDS. THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.

  • Better Metrics For Facebook Video: All sorts of new numbers available to publishers about their vids on Facebook, which basically came of age recently with OK GO’s decision to put their new video exclusively on the platform. Oh, and they also announced that you can now do autocaptioning on video ads in the UK, which is probably quite a useful thing to explore given that everyone browses Facebook on mobile with the sound off and therefore can’t hear your ad’s schtick AT ALL.

  • Facebook Live Being Rolled Out Everywhere: SOON! SO SOON! It’s a real shame that Facebook’s architecture won’t allow for Periscope Roulette-style webapp builds, as the mass-market nature of Facebook would make for some really interesting ‘THIS IS WHAT THE WORLD IS DOING RIGHT NOW’-type observations. Hey ho.

  • Instant Articles Coming To All On April 12: Facebook Instant Articles, whereby publishers can punt articles directly onto Facebook and we readers thereby have NO REASON TO EVER LEAVE, are being made accessible to all in mid-April. So there.

  • Facebook for Non-Profits: See? THEY ARE A NICE COMPANY! This is a new site which offers tips and hand-holding for not-for-profit organisations worldwide to maximise the impact of their use of Facebook in awareness and fundraising, with guidance on how to use some of the sectorally specific site features (‘donate’ mechanics, etc) and some more general stuff. I shouldn’t scoff, really – it is A GOOD THING – but it’s not like they’re giving away ad inventory for free or anything so let’s not go too far overboard on Zuck’s philanthropy.

  • Twitter Tweaks Customer Service Offering: In an interesting parallel with the Facebook thing, Twitter’s made some changes to how brands can use the platform fo customer service; not least, the possibility to put a link in a Tweet which will, if clicked by a customer, automatically take the chat to a DM thread. There’s also a whole host of stuff which lets brands collect data about users’ experiences with customer service, which ties into Net Promoter Score and other tracking services, which tbh makes my eyes glaze right over but which you might actually find sort of useful if that’s your idea of ‘fun’.

  • Share Videos In DMs: It sort of feels like it’s just playing a horribly belated game of feature catch-up, doesn’t it? Poor the Twitter.

  • Search Gifs in Twitter!: Expect the share price to arrest its ruinous decline any day now. Also, expect the percentage of BRAND FUNNIES which include gifs to increase by a factor of about 3000%.

  • Instagram Ups Length Of Ads To 60 Seconds: Continuing the apparent aim to squeeze all the joy from Instagram.

  • Imagining Snapchat’s Future: Interesting-if-long thinkpiece looking at UX/UI/functionality changes which the platform could implement as it hurtles towards mainstream ubiquity. Useful not only as a series of speculations but also as part of developing an understanding of how people might and do actually use the platform (NOT YOU ADAM JOHNSON).

  • The Battle For Live Events: An interesting comparison of how the ‘LOOK AT THE FAMOUSES LOOK AT THEIR FAMOUS FACES AND FROCKS” excitement at the Grammys played out on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Mainly tonal in its focus, but worth a read if you have to do live stuff for a living (not ‘realtime engagement’, thogh, that’s SO 2014).

  • Strava Cycle Tracks: To be honest there are a few branded websites which I should chuck up here this week, but they’re all so NICE that I want to forget about the branded aspect of them and just lump them in with the good stuff down there. So I will – Curios’ increasingly laughably inconsistent taxonomy be damned. Anyhow, you don’t care about that and, as it turns out, neither do it. This is a promosite by some company called Amplifon, which I think make hearing aids, which rather brilliantly takes data from mental cycling obsessives’ routes on Strava and turns them into music. I would LOVE to know what the ‘insight’ was that got them to spunk the cash on this – is there a massive crossover between ‘hearing aid wearers’ and ‘committed, self-quantifying cycling nuts who spend more money than necessary on Rafa gear’? I’m going to guess ‘no’, but feel free to tell me otherwise.


By Seung Hawn Oh



  • Anchor: It’s a REALLY lazy description, but it’s quite early and I’m sleepy and, frankly, if you’re looking for anything other than glib summaries with no actual depth or analysis then you’re reading the wrong thing. Anyway, Anchor is basically like Twitter for audio – you create an account and post short audio clips, which others can listen to and respond to, conversationally, with their own audio clips. To me, it sounds like a pretty huge waste of time – after all, it takes far longer to record, post and listen to a 10-second audio clip than it does to write a Tweet containing exactly the same volume of information – but judging by the number of people I saw over the past few weeks whilst on holiday using Whatsapp? as some sort of voicemail/chat hybrid I know nothing and should probably be ignored at all costs.

  • Over The Top Gear: A little graphic gif thingy showing how mind-fcukingly large the budgets for the new Amazon incarnation of Top Gear are, and what that could buy the creative team in terms of how much they spend doing stuff on the old show. Included mainly as it’s a REALLY stealable way of presenting information which you should consider…er…taking inspiration from next time you have some eye-gougingly tedious numberstuff to gussy up.

  • The Life of PabLOL: Kanye album cover generator, in case you want or need one for any reason.

  • Buy Me Once: The annoying thing about doing this weekly is…oh, who am I kidding, there are too many to list. ONE of the annoying things about doing this weekly is finding something on Sunday and then the sodding Guardian running it on Thursday. I FOUND THE CONCH, DAMMIT. Anyway, if you missed the rest of the media getting all frothy about it this week, Buy Me Once is a site which sells stuff which you should, in theory, not need to replace every 12 months – conspiracy theorists amongst you might well worry for the founder’s wellbeing, as she will almost certainly be murdered by the shadowy consumerist manufacturing cabal within a matter of weeks (NB – Web Curios in no way actually believes in the existence of any shadowy consumerist manufacturing cabal).

  • Yarn: I don’t really take photos, because I’ve basically got some sort of low-level beauty blindness which means that if I do ever take them they look like the sort of thing that happens when you give a 4 year old access to a lens. That said, if I did this service would probably be quite useful – Yarn takes your photos from all the different places they may exist (FB, Instagram, Dropbox, your desktop) and lets them all be organised in one place, with the opportunity to create albums, share them, etc. Not entirely novel, but from what I can tell it’s pretty functional and easy to use and so worth a go.

  • Walla: I really want this to take off, though it probably won’t. Walla is an app which lets users basically ‘tag’ real-world locations with digital graffiti  – these tags can be sent to other users using the app who get a map showing where the tag is. They then look at the wall in question through the app on their phone and see the tag as a sort of AR-light overlay – simple and cute, and there are all sorts of fun applications for games and stuff here, as well as a whole host of more nefarious ones for burglars (“THEY ALWAYS LEAVE THE KEYS UNDER THE GNOME”). Have a play. Actually, that crime idea is GENIUS. Obviously Web Curios bears no responsibility for any eventual incarceration or prosecution. Obviously.

  • Yes That Was The Joke: For all those times you (in this case, sadly, it’s quite likely that the ‘you’ in question will be a woman, because that’s just how the internet works ok?) make a joke on Twitter only for a bunch of people to leap into your mentions explaining exactly what the joke you just made is. Some of you may want to bookmark this, as you may be using it rather a lot.

  • The Long and Short: A really interesting online magazine, backed by NESTA, about how the world is CHANGING. Tech and sociology and STUFF – there’s loads of really interesting articles on here if this is your thing. If you like Imperica – and you fcuking well should, you ingrates – you’ll like this too.

  • Iris AI: TED talks have become sort of hideously uncool in the past few years, and seem to have been tarred with the line once applied to Stephen Fry (“a stupid person’s idea of a clever thing”); this site, though, might go some way towards making them useful again. Aside from anything else, it’s a really interesting AI project – the deal is that you plug in the url of any TED talk and Iris analyses it, quickly spitting out a series of breakdowns of key themes in the talk and eventually linking you to academic materials on or around said themes, moving from the often charismatic-but-shallow TED template to something far more rigorous. You can read the science behind it here – it’s fascinating stuff.

  • Book Scarves: Scarves (not the winter sort, the fashion sort) designed to look like classic books. Are scarves fashionable at the moment? I have literally NO IDEA, though if you’re the sort of person who would like one of these I imagine that you’re also the sort of person who would be similarly nonplussed by their status in the sartorial zeitgeist.

  • Textfiles: An incredible collection of old text files culled from bulletin boards in the EARLY days of the web. All pre-95 stuff, and if you’re of a certain age this is a pure hit of webnostalgia. Even if you’re not, as a piece of cultural timetravel this is fascinating; you can trace a direct line from this stuff to Reddit (some of the content is pretty much identical, despite the 25+ year gap).

  • EAR/ONS: VERY odd and obsessional website about a series of unsolved murders in California by someone going by the moniker of ‘The East Area Rapist’ or ‘The Original Night Stalker’. Interesting partly because of the slightly wild-eyed fervour with which it’s all pursued, but also because of the beautifully hopeful exhortation on the homepage – “If you are the East Area Rapist, click here!”. Hm, interesting entrapment technique there.

  • Smell Dating: This MUST have gone mainstream this week, so apologies, but it’s such a wonderfully silly idea. You know those speed-dating-type-events which got loads of press about 12-18 months ago, whereby you base your assessment of a potential partner’s attractiveness on the pheremones on an old tshirt? Well this is that, but mail order. You get a package containing a slightly malodorous garment in the post; you sniff it; you decide whether or not you want to meet the pheremonecarrier in question. I can’t help thinking that this is something of a retrograde step in our evolution, but hey ho. NYC only, but obviously soon-to-be-replicated over here because OBVIOUSLY.

  • 3d Object Scans: LOADS of them, all available for free, should you like that sort of thing.

  • Cardboard Tents: These are SUCH a good idea. The website’s all in Dutch, so I have no idea whether there’s a hidden catch, but it seems like a really sensible way of getting round the whole ‘oh god I’m coming down so hard that the thought of wrestling the tent back into the bag makes me want to cry and I haven’t had a poo in 3 days I’m just going to leave it all here and cry in a ditch I am never doing Glastonbury again’ feeling.

  • Sci-Hub: Basically Wikileaks for scientific papers, making them freely accessible to those of us mere mortals who don’t have academic credentials. Niche, but there’s almost certainly some really interesting stuff in here if that’s your bent.

  • Semantic Analysis of Reddit: This is really rather interesting, not just as a linguistic / academic exercise but also as a keyword identification tool for search and adbuying. Basically you plug in a term or phrase and the site will spit out a host of other stuff which, according to Reddit, relates to said term. Obviously its effectiveness is skewed heavily towards Reddit-y topics (it was depressingly good on ‘Manosphere’, for example) but it’s pretty fun to fiddle with and I think with some lateral thinking could actually prove rather useful.

  • Dabbl: Described as ‘The New, Simple Way To Start Investing’, this also strikes me as a truly fantastic way to lose loads of money REALLY QUICKLY. The tech’s very clever-seeming – you see something cool, you snap it, the app tells you info about the company and its share performance, and gives you the opportunity to buy in one-click – but you’d sort of hope there might be a bit of safeguarding to stop idiots from bankrupting themselves in minutes. Or actually, maybe not – maybe this is investment natural selection. Either way, caveat emptor and all that jazz.

  • Lorem Pixel: An easy way to get stock placeholder images of a variety of sizes / proportions. Superuseful, this.

  • The Handheld Spectrum Emulator: Can we all please stop with the retrofetishisation, please, and accept that whilst many of us remember old videogames fondly because they hark back to a more innocent time, they were mostly absolutely atrocious and, you know, the medium has moved on a bit? Oh, no, we can’t, because the internet is now seemingly run by a bunch of late-30/early-40something manchildren (eh? oh) who are incapable of LETTING GO. Ahem. Anyway, this got funded in like 10 minutes so will be gathering dust on your husband’s shelves within the year.

  • A Simple Response: One of those global projects which makes you feel momentarily a bit warm and fuzzy until you stop and think coldly and rationally at exactly how much difference it’s going to make to stuff like this and you realise the answer is ‘ooh, about none at all as it turns out’ and you go back to being glad you’ll be dead before any more future happens. A Simple Response is, to quote, “a non-for-profit, publically-compiled, Interstellar Radio Message due to be transmitted from Earth on a one-way journey to our North Pole Star in 2016…A Simple Response invites individuals from anywhere on the planet to consider and freely contribute their own unique [text-based] perspectives to the posed question; “How will our present environmental interactions shape the future?”” Add your own fiddle to the chorus as Rome continues to blaze around us!

  • Nottda: Want to know when dawn, sunrise, dusk, etc, are going to happen today wherever you are? OH GOOD!

  • Music Mappr: I am about as musical as soup, and therefore this is a TOUCH beyond me, but as far as I can tell this lets you plug in any MP3 or Soundcloud link and then analyses the track, breaking it down into its constituent audio parts, visually grouping them into clusters of similarity, and then allowing users to play with these constituent parts to explore common themes, etc. If you make sample-heavy music I reckon this could actually be pretty useful and rather fun.

  • Search Hillary Clinton’s Emails: Things I learned from this: Cherie Blair’s email style would induce a pretty spectacular episode of mouth-frothing rage in me within about 3 rounds of correspondence.

  • Tonescope: Website which picks up audio and tells you what note it is – ostensibly for tuning instruments or even your voice, but I mainly used it to discover exactly how incredibly hard it is to hold a note and to thereby remind myself why I should never, ever do karaoke.

  • The Patents Colouring Book: I reacted rather snarkily to a TREND REPORT last year which suggested that colouring books for grown-ups were going to be a thing; once again, I proved myself spectacularly incapable of seeing the future, as this Christmas they were the stocking fillers of choice for idiots (sorry, but). Anyway, this is a WHOLE BOOK to colour in, featuring weird US patents from history. No idea whether this will help you with MINDFULNESS, but then again if you use that word in conversation then I disdain you utterly (see also ‘blessed’).

  • Alternative Scouting Merit Badges: If you have a particular type of kid, godchild, nephew/niece, they will ADORE these.

  • Visualising Punctuation in Novels: Novels with all the words taken out. This blogpost analyses the diversity and frequency of punctuation types in a number of classic pieces of literature – the frequency diagrams at the end are rather lovely, and should probably be made available as posters for literary snobs and obscurantists the world over (I would totally buy one :-().

  • NASA Posters: A beautiful series of posters by NASA, all free to download and print, presenting imagined tourist destinations around the galaxy. Beautiful graphic design – were I a teacher and doing SPACE STUFF I would a) be really bad at my job; b) have these all over the classroom.

  • Answer The Public: This is SO USEFUL (potentially). Plug in any word you like and it will spit out a whole load of analysis drawn from Google and Bing searches around that word, in the form of questions and prepositions. If you’re doing bullshit insight work for a pitch, this is GOLDEN – if you’re not, it’s just a really interesting and fun way of exploring what people think about STUFF. Really rather good indeed.

  • Building The Butterfly: This is ODD. Apparently, “Really Useful Products is a UK based business that designs, develops, manufactures and distributes an innovative range of plastic storage products to help our customers save time through being better organised.” They are also building an office in the shape of a butterfly. Their website is really, really quite strange – take a look, it doesn’t seem to be a joke.

  • Amygdala: Another iteration of the ‘We Feel Fine’ mechanic (I will never stop linking to it, just FYI); this one takes sentiment data from Twitter (based on sentence parsing rather than keyword analysis) and turns it into a live light show. I’d rather like to see something like this applied to photos, please – we’re now at  point where rudimentary machine analysis of pictures is totally possible, so it would be fun to see what you could do with that plus Instagram for the artLOLS.

  • Soylent Dick: A penis made of soylent which ejaculates Soylent when people Tweet annoying phrases about how great Soylent is. Pointless and yet FULL OF MEANING (and unpleasantly thick, opaque pseudojizz).

  • The Malware Museum: A collection of old viruses which can be safely run in the browser to let you experience the spine-chilling terror of what eventually happens to your PC when you spend too much time looking at pirated bongo shared around the playground on 3.5” floppies (there may be some of you reading to which that sentence is literally incomprehensible, for which apologies).

  • The Plum Guide: Interesting idea adding a layer of additional curation to London’s Airbnb market – The Plum Guide purports to select only the BEST apartments for rent in the capital, separating the wheat from the chaff so you only get top-notch accomodation. As things currently stand, their perception of ‘best’ seems to equate with ‘most likely to induce frothing antiphipsterrage amongst those people inclined to such emotions’, but if you know people who want to come and stay here for a bit and their idea of a good time involves long, humourless conversations about denim and coffee, you know where to point them.

By Travis Huggett




  • Falling Fruit: Surprisingly GREAT website which maps places around the world where you can forage for fruit and veg and stuff. Not sure how up to date it is, but I am totally going scrumping round the corner this afternoon based on the info here – there is LOADS of London stuff.

  • 50s Hong Kong Photos: SO gorgeous, it’s hard to believe that these aren’t film stills. Absolutely from another era (erm, which I appreciate is a fairly spectacularly obvious thing to say, sorry).

  • Gastropod: A really interesting-looking podcast for those of you interested in food and science and stuff.

  • Tweexy: I don’t tend to paint my nails – mainly as they are so appallingly bitten-down that there’s about 1cm of real-estate on each one to play with – but if I did I would be ALL OVER this piece of design, which is SO CLEVER that I was left a bit speechless at its genius when I saw it the other day.

  • The Unsent Project: To quote: “The Unsent project is a collection of text messages submitted under the prompt  “State your first loves name and type what you would say if you sent them a text message. Also include the color that you think of when you think of your first love. The submissions are used in collages which are visual representations of the diversity and unmistakable similarities between submitters feelings toward their first loves. The submissions are also created into stickers that can be purchased and are put up everywhere for the public to read.” These are absolutely as good as you would expect.

  • The Captured Project: Billed as ‘people in prison drawing people who should be in prison’, this collates a selection of portraits drawn by US prisoners of people who perhaps should be in jail for their rather more socially acceptable white-collar crimes, usually of a financial nature.

  • Turtle Call: Look, I am really sick of featuring stuff like this and then having to point out that it’s US-only. WHERE IS OUR INNOVATIVE PHONEPRANKING GAME, UK PEOPLE? Hmph. This is a service which, for the meagre price of $2, will call up anyone you choose and pretend to be a turtle at them for up to two minutes. No, I have literally no idea whatsoever what that might entail, but it’s part of the joy (we’re all about finding the joy here at Curios).

  • Point and Clickbait: The Onion for videogames sites, basically. If the phrase ‘ethics in games journalism’ means anything to you then you will find a lot to laugh at here.

  • Infinite City: Procedurally generated cities which go on FOREVER and which you can fly through to your heart’s content. Strangely soothing with the right soundtrack (Nils Frahm worked rather well for me).

  • Photos From Vietnam Taken By The Winners: These are just wonderful. The one of the woman in a headscarf cradling the rifle’s particularly awesome, but the whole selection is brilliant.

  • Keep Alive: I love this – art project by Aram Bartholl which consists of a fake rock with a WiFi router hidden inside it, placed in a German park; the gimmick being that if a fire is lit under the rock, the heat powers the router which then turns itself on and makes available a whole bunch of PDF survival guides to download to anyone nearby. There are SO MANY applications for this – imagine the fun you could have with the same tech designed to work only when it reaches a certain temperature in direct sunlight which gives icecream vouchers or something (yes, ok, the physics here may be wonky and the idea’s a crap one, but YOU try coming up with stuff after you’ve been typing solidly for three hours).

  • Covenant Eyes: SO SAD. Covenant Eyes is a service whereby you, you WEAK WILLED SACK OF TEMPTATION AND GUILT, agree to have a report of your web browsing activity mailed each week to a nominated significant other, the idea being that this will SHAME YOU into looking at less bongo (I mean, they mention something about keeping track of your kids’ browsing habits, but the Christian rhetoric onsite makes me think it’s more about helping people master their SINFUL URGES). Imagine the sort of life you must have, just imagine.

  • Deleted: Want to make your life on social media even more nervous and approval-chasing and generally unhealthy than it already is? Install this, then, which will tell you who’s unfriended/unfollowed you on Facebook this week. Christ alive.

  • Clue: I get the impression there are probably LOADS of menses-trackers available, but this one seems not only really functional but also beautifully designed; if you’re into the quantified self and all that jazz you might find this one of interest (but of limited use if you’re a man).

  • World Press Photo 2016: These are all stunning.

  • Being: A really interesting idea, this one – Being is an app which lets you see the Instagram feed of anyone else as they would, effectively letting users experience a degree of ‘empathy’ (I use the word advisedly) for the experience of others on the platform. All it’s doing is presenting the stream of all those they follow, of course, but it’s an interesting experiment and is actually probably quite interesting in terms of researching how differing types of users experience the medium. Or something.

  • The Evolution of the Browser: Use the left and right arrow keys to explore how the way we view stuff online has changed in the past few decades. Children, THIS IS WHAT WE USED TO HAVE TO PUT UP WITH.

  • Follow: Wonderful NYC-based art project, whereby you apply to have an actual, real-life follower for a day. They will follow you, unseen, and at the end of the experience take a picture they snapped of you whilst they were trailing you. There’s almost certainly a big old high concept behind this, but I don’t care about that – I just love the gamelike element and the manner in which knowing you’re being benignly stalked will necessarily change the nature of your interactions with the world for that day. If anyone would like to stalk me for a day, you are WELCOME (I am often in my kitchen, should be pretty easy tbh).

  • Flowstate: An incredibly brutal app for writing productivity, Flowstate basically forces you to write continuously with no more than a 5 second pause between keystrokes for a predetermined amount of time – you stop, or pause longer than 5 seconds, before your time has expired and the app will delete EVERYTHING. There’s actually quite an interesting experiment in form and stuff that you could do with this if you were a proper writer.

  • The Magic 8ball Buttplug: I leave this here without comment.

  • Codeology: This is in fact a promosite for some payments company called Braintree, but it is SO LOVELY. It takes code from Github and turns it into beautiful images, each as unique as the code they’re derived from; the results are beautiful, and you can of course plug in your own code for a bespoke artthingy. Really gorgeous stuff.

  • Mmorph: One of the best and shiniest browser-based synthtoys I have seen in AGES. Have a play, it’s really very satisfying indeed and it’s surprisingly easy to make unshit musics.

  • Famous!: Do you remember ‘Stolen’? Waaaaaaay back in the early days of 2016 it was the first controversial app casualty of the year, pulled from circulation as people’s concerns over how, well, creepy it sort of was gained traction. But it’s BACK! Except now it’s called Famous, and it’s opt-in (your Twitter handle won’t be on it unless you opt in), and it has the backing of one of the most harassed people on the internet, so it’s probably all going to be fine this time. You can read more about the pivot here – it’s an interesting example of how to unfcuk a situation in smart fashion, I think.

  • That Leonardo DiCaprio Red Carpet Game: This has received an ASTONISHING amount of coverage for a pretty standard retro buttonmasher – well done the devs.

  • Infinite Sunset: There’s an exhibition which has being doing the rounds of galleries worldwide for a few years now called Suns by Penelope Umbrico, which collects prints of photos on Flickr tagged ‘sunset’ and displays them as a sort of overwhelming collage (it’s rather beautiful if you ever get the opportunity to check it out). Anyway, this is basically that but pulling images tagged #sunset from Instagram in what appears to be realtime. It’s HUGELY soothing, and a useful reminder that it’s always time for a booze somewhere in the world.

  • The Garden of Earthly Delights: the best piece of webwork in here this week, this is admittedly a few weeks old but it is SO GOOD that if you’ve not yet seen it you should drop whatever you are doing and have a play. An interactive exploration of ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by renowned painterly madman Hieronymous Bosch, this is a zoomable scrollable interactive which contains SO MUCH information about the painting, the context behind individual elements, the sociological background to the work and much more besides, all presented through audio and video and text…I would like every massively dense historical artwork to be presented like this online, please. Thanks.

  • Heart Music: But this is my FAVOURITE thing of the week. Unexpectedly from Puerto Rico (no offence, but it’s never struck me as a hotbed of digital innovation before), and a project by its largest hospital, this lets you tap along with your heartbeat and then creates music based on that rhythm JUST FOR YOU. My Spanish is sadly not up to translating the story behind the site’s creation (I think it’s a memorial to a particular patient), but I adore the fact it exists.

  • The Labia Library: Look, this is a GOOD THING, ok? Produced by the Victoria health service in Australia, the site is designed to show that labia come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and all are totally normal. I can’t quite imagine the NHS doing this, which is a damn shame imho. The only room for improvement here is the name – their reluctance to call it ‘The Labiary’ is, frankly, baffling. You are two clicks away from pictures of labia, FYI.  

  • Zebra: An FPS to give you a massive headache. Sort of beautiful, but best not to try it if you’re epileptic I’d have thought.


By Andrea Castro




  • Pop Culture Died In 2009: This is GOLDEN. Dispatches from mid-aughts pop culture, just in case you wanted to remind yourself what celebrity looked like all those years ago.

  • Every Album Is Aerosmith: A project seeking to seemingly reimagine every single album cover ever produced as an Aerosmith record (in this case ‘Sweet Emotion’).

  • Celebrity Close Up: Because famouses have ropey skin too.  

  • Made This For: A Shardcore project which scans the web for fan art posted on Twitter with the text “I made this for you” and autoposts it here. There is some WONDERFUL ‘content’ to be had here.

  • Protobacillus: My new favourite maker of arty abstract gifs. Part biological, part tech art, all wonderful.

  • Cronenburg Valentines: Yes, I know, but bookmark it for next year.

  • Seattle Volvos: No idea what the deal is with the city and these cars, but here are some volvos (some from Seattle, some not).

  • Upside Down N: Not technically a Tumblr, but hey ho – this collects all the many, many instances worldwide of people placing the letter ‘n’ upside down in signage by mistake (or perhaps as an act of strange typographical subversion, who knows?).

  • Algopop: Algorithms in popular culture. Lots of stuff about AI, machine learning and STUFF, if that’s your thing.

  • 69 USA: 69 USA is a clothing label from LA which purports to be gender-free – properly unisex in the truest sense. Whatever you think of the clothes, the Tumblr’s got an AWESOME aesthetic to it (and I like the fact you can pointlessly reposition the tiles).


  • Hunkering Down With the Survival Moms: I confess that I had thought until a few yeas back that the cult of the prepper had died along with the millennium bug, but it seems not. This is a great piece exploring the growing subculture of preparedness amongst otherwise mainstream(ish – I mean, they’re almost certainly all pro-gun pro-life Republicans, but) US mothers. It’s obviously a bit hatstand, but there was a bit in this when I was forced to confront the reality that in the event of some sort of breakdown in urban civilisation I would be all sorts of screwed *stockpiles Andrex*

  • A Very Good Buzzfeed Profile: Part of Fast Company’s series of profiles of its ‘most innovative companies’ list, this profile of Buzzfeed is fascinating and not a little scary – it feels a touch ‘resistance is futile’ by the end. Two main takeaways from this, though – firstly, next time your client asks you to make some COMPELLINGLY VIRAL VIDEO CONTENT, point them at this and ask them to take particular note of the sort of resources Buzzfeed throw at their vids; and secondly, even with some of the most sophisticated network analysis and tracking tools in the business, even they have to accept that making shareable stuff is at its simplest just really unpredictable and sort of hard.

  • People as Particles: I can’t really summarise this as, well, I’m not clever enough; suffice it to say that it is a VERY smart piece of writing about how concepts in physics map against concepts in economics and subsequently to models of human behaviour (and, equally, how sometimes they don’t and we should probably pay more attention to these things). Particularly interesting if you’re slightly sceptical of the ‘economics as science’ viewpoint.

  • Strokes of Genius: This is by no means a great piece of journalism, but I’m including it because there is SO MUCH unintentional hilarity in this tale of a ‘Christian’ (my inverted commas, because really) couple who are trying to build a future from teledildonic porn. Really, please do read this – the catalogue of misadventures would be sort of saddening were it not for the mental image it presents of a pair of tattooed, toothless rednecks with a BIG IDEA.

  • Trend Piece: The New Yorker channeling quite a lot of McSweeney’s to good effect here with this ur-example of the archetypal trend piece. Terrifyingly accurate.

  • An Oral History Of THE PUDDLE: Obviously methuselan in online terms, many of you will look back on that glorious afternoon many weeks ago as the pinnacle of the internet. Here, Vice dot com’s Joel Golby gives the Drummond Puddle the sort of in-depth investigative treatment it no doubt merits, talking to the key players in the year’s biggest news story to date (but disappointingly offering no editorial judgment on the bloke from Domino’s being really proud of sending a pizza to a fcuking puddle in the name of PR).

  • Neurogastronomy: Yes, fine, it features Heston, but this piece on how neuroscience can impact the manner in which we experience flavour is more than just the standard “and you listen to the sea whilst eating cockles!” guff recycled from a decade ago, honest.

  • Youth Hunting Season: A story about taking your 11 year old daughter deerhunting for the first time. Whatever your stance on hunting, it’s a good read – not least because it’s a pretty alien perspective on all sorts of things for a pinko liberal lefty like me (and probably you too, if my less-than-rigorous analysis of Curios’ demographics are right).

  • Young Thug Profile: Properly fascinating profile of Young Thug, a top-5 biggest in the game right now rapper from Atlanta (take a listen to Slime Season here for a taste) and someone whose lifestyle can politely be termed ‘uncompromising’. The article basically implies he’ll be dead or jailed in a decade, though TBH I could seem him being creative director at Topman too with those threads.

  • Inside TMZ: Exhaustive profile of the world’s biggest gossip site and the supersized ego behind it. If nothing else will teach you what TMZ actually stands for, which was news to me.

  • Everyone’s Offended These Days: Following Mr Fry’s latest decision to absent himself from Twitter, this is a brilliantly even-handed look at the culture of offense online, mob mentalities and the rest. Sample quote which gives a flavour – it’s really worth the time to read, though: “The subtext here is that cretinism is acceptable, but being a target is not. If you’re a total dick who only uses the Internet to seek out strangers and ruin their day for kicks, you are absolutely welcome. If you happen to be one such sought-out person, there’s the door. What kind of reasoning is that, and what kind of society does anyone think it’s going to create?” Well, quite.

  • Gore Vidal In Paris Review: Another classic piece of interviewing from back in the day, Vidal is always good value – familiarity with his work is a bonus, but even if you’ve never read him his waspish assessments of the literary world of the 70s make this a wonderfully bitchy and entertaining read. The arrogance of the man is quite startling – see, kids, people were doing this schtick waaaay before Kanye.

  • The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens: Making money and ruining lives in the Tumblr Jungle. Interesting look at the ecosystem as it matures, and at teen culture in general – still nowhere near as frightening as that Snapchat piece from the other week, though.

  • Infinite Jest Turns 20: Because it is still my favourite novel of all time and I will never stop suggesting to people that they really ought to read it because, I promise, it is not as hard as you may have heard and it rewards the hours you will put into it and it contains a dozen of the greatest passages of prose ever published in English, no hyperbole whatsoever. Go on, you know you want to.

  • The Bieber Profile: How fun does it sound to be Justin Bieber on a scale of 1-10? I would argue that it’s no higher than a 3. POOR THE LONELY BIEBER! Although I don’t have many friends either and am considerably less attractive, rich and talented than him, so Justin can conceivably still say he’s winning, should he care (he doesn’t care).

  • Why Men Fight: Finally, the best bit of writing of the week, about training for a white collar boxing match as a transman, and what that teaches you about masculinity and identity and yourself and stuff. Really, really lovely, in that occasional way that writing about boxing can achieve – do please read this one, it’s excellent.

By Richard Finkelstein



1) It can only be a matter of time before someone is televising drone racing, no? I mean, look at this – it is MENTAL, and about 3billion times more exciting than F1. If I were sponsorships director for a certain type of brand I would be VERY interested in this stuff:


2) A nice, bracing bit of pop-punk for you now, with this retrogame inspired lyric video for DVP by Pup:


3) I don’t normally bother with these mashed audioclip videos, but this one really is excellent – not least because of the inflection and timing of some of the clips. This is Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ as stitched together from an unconscionably large number of sources:

4) This is called ‘Spitting Image’ by the wonderfully-named Your Gay Thoughts; there’s something beautifully drawling and sloppy about the vocal on this which I find hugely appealing:

5) HIPHOP CORNER! I’ve featured NYC outfit Ratking on here quite a lot over the past couple of years – this is a track by one of their number, Wiki, from his recentish mixtape (available to stream free here). It’s called ‘Patience’ and it is EXCELLENT, as is the whole album – been playing this a LOT this week:

6) MORE HIPHOP CORNER! This is the new one from Aesop Rock, which is typically excellent. It’s called ‘Rings’:  

7) Lovely lowfi indie from Spanish outfit Hinds now – this is ‘Bamboo’:

8) UK HIPHOP CORNER! This is a bit of a weird one – it’s not ‘good’ in any way I’d expect you to acknowledge, but it’s surprisingly pleasing an sort of catchy, and it feels like it’s one decent remix from being an actual proper BANGER, as I believe the kids might once have said. It’s called ‘Don’t Like Going Out’ and it’s by The Manor:

9) Last up, this is a vision of hell in Simpon’s form. 500 episodes, at once, in 360-o-vision. Terrifying. BYE!!!!!


Webcurios 29/01/16

Reading Time: 32 minutes


Yes, look, fine, I know that noone really reads this and therefore noone really cares, but I care, OK, and I need to do something ease the frankly terrifying buildup of internetpressure inside my skull in order to avoid painting my kitchen an unpleasantly bloody shade of grey matter like something out of Scanners.

Anyway, HOW HAVE YOU ALL BEEN?! 2015 seems like AGES ago, now that we’re all living under the pseudo-benign dictatorship of a stick-figure arbiter of acceptable behaviour. We’ve already birthed and killed a brand new social network, and it’s not even February – trul, this year promises to be full of excitement and VIM!

What it actually promises to be full of, if the first few weeks are anything to go by, is a continuation of the pathetic bleating about everything in the world ever which characterised much of 2015, along with an added and unwanted sprinkling of famous artist death. GREAT. Although it will ALSO be full of BRAND NEW IMPERICA – that’s right, the site’s getting a redesign and a relaunch in the next few weeks, which you can read about here.

In any case, I won’t be around for it as I am going on HOLIDAY next week. Yes, I know that I am basically unemployed at the moment and as such the idea of a holiday is sort of redundant, and I know that Christmas was only a few weeks ago, but frankly I need one and I don’t care. So consider this a stopgap, a snack, an appetiser, an amuse bouche before the full 46-week tasting menu of Curios kicks off in earnest in mid-February (even typing that made me feel a touch sick if I’m honest); tie on your napkin, hold your nose and trust the chef’s intuition and judgment as he prepares to stuff a full 6 weeks’ worth of internet RIGHT IN YOUR FACE. This, as ever, is Web Curios.

By Jo Broughton




  • Facebook Quarterlies AGAIN: Just in case any of you need to pretend to know or care about the BUSINESS STUFF, here’s a brief rundown of all of the EXCITING STATISTICS Facebook punted out this week. Topline: STILL REALLY, REALLY POPULAR EVERYWHERE! There is something implacably and bleakly impressive about their dead-eyed brilliance at monetising every single last aspect of the service. WELL DONE, FACEBOOK!

  • Facebook Reactions Coming Everywhere SOON: This is actually a pretty long and rather interesting read about Facebook Reactions in general, and worth reading in full if this is your THING – the nugget, though, is the information that the 6 ‘Reaction’ emoji they have been trialling in Ireland and a few other places will be rolled out worldwide ‘in the next few weeks’. Cue some pretty frantic ‘strategising’ from mediocre agencies about how they can tweak their meaningless metrics slightly to take into account all this NUANCE and sell their clients more exciting community management opportunities (come on, you all know it’s true).

  • FB Launches Audience Optimisation for Organic Posts: I’m sort of surprised that this hasn’t received more attention; I thought it was rather big news, but then my position as a largely unemployed webmong suggests that perhaps my opinion is worth less than I may have once thought. Hey ho. Anyway, Facebook las week announced that they were giving Page admins the opportunity to target their non-promoted posts in much the same way that they can target promoted posts – that is, selecting a variety of interest categories whose members will be more likely to see a post than others. Want to optimise your THRILLING UPDATE about your brand’s sponsorship of AN Other footballing event? Choose to target it specifically at football fans, then. Similarly, you can also use the service to exclude people by demographic data, which is obviously hugely useful for multi-territory pages, etc. Obviously this in no way changes the central tenet of the platform (cf GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY FOR ADVERTISING YOU PEONS), but it’s nice to see them at least paying lip service to the long since discredited concept of organic reach. Here’s quite a good post about how to use it.

  • Facebook Livestreaming Coming To EVERYONE SOON(ish): I’m sure I wrote this last year. Anyway, it’s COMING (to iOS users. In America). Here’s how it works.

  • Facebook Sports Stadium: Sort of like Trending Topics or Twitter Moments, but, er, on Facebook and for sports. Basically sporting events will start to get their own aggregated pages where people can kep up with what a bunch of other people are saying about a sporting event on Facebook. Which, let’s be honest, is just going to turn each and every one of these things into a repository for horrendous sponsor content and endless, soulless BRAND BANTER between Budweiser and Barclays while the actual real people who still care about sport slowly come to the crushing realisation that none of it is really about them any more.

  • Facebook Canvas Coming To Everyone SOON: It’s a big, immersive ad unit, basically, and I think I wrote about it last year when it was announced. Anyway, it’s apparently rolling out to everyone SOON, but you can sign up for more news here if your life’s really that void of other joy.

  • I really can’t be bothered to write anything about the Twitter 10k character thing. We’re done with that, right? We all understand that it’s basically like Facebook Instant Articles and is simply a move to attempt to replicate Facebook’s ‘walled garden’ approach to the internet, and probably won’t actually change the way Twitter looks and feels for most users? Ok, good.

  • Twitter Conversational Ads: Old, but still moderately interesting – Twitter’s launched a new ad unit which works a little like polls, in that it gives users the opportunity to…oh, sod it, I’m just going to lift from the article here: “the modified promoted tweet presents people with one or two buttons for branded hashtags that look similar to the interactive polls Twitter has been letting people include in tweets. After someone clicks on a branded hashtag button, a tweet box will appear pre-populated with the message the brand wants the person to tweet, including the hashtag and photo or video that appeared in the brand’s promoted tweet. The person can change that message, including removing the brand’s photo or video, or leave it alone and then tweet it out to his or her followers.” I mean, obviously I can’t personally imagine any real people actually wanting to do this, but I’m increasingly learning never to underestimate humanity in the face of POSSIBLE BRAND ENGAGEMENTS. Although, now I think of it, does this mean advertisers will still get charged if people click the button but then replace the message and picfture with, say, “I HATE COKE” and a thumbnail of some bongo? COUNT ME IN.

  • Twitter Will Let You Turn ‘Fan’ Tweets Into Ads: This is rather smart, I think – a potential new ad unit whereby brands can pick nice Tweets from REAL PEOPLE to turn into ads; Twitter will do all the tedious legal legwork of contacting said users and getting their permission before turning the Tweets into an ad unit for you. Great if you’re an occasionally well-loved brand; almost certainly of less interest if you’re a UK train operator (TOPICAL!).

  • Vine Trends: Want to know where the latest HOT MEME on Vine started, and enough information out of it to support your brand’s late and lame attempt to hijack it for commercial gain? You’ll want this site, then. Brought back horrible memories from 18 months or so back of that dark time in which pizza companies started saying that things were ‘on fleek’, which we should never allow to happen again.

  • Periscope Now Embeds On Twitter: But you knew that, right? Unrelated, but I will personally award a prize to the first one of you who puts a twist on that brainstorm classic of ‘LET’S FLOAT IT DOWN THE THAMES!’ by adding ‘AND WE CAN LIVESTREAM IT ON PERISCOPE LIKE THE PUDDLE!’ (not joking – if you can prove you said this in a meeting, and ideally capture the reactions of the others in the room, there’s a prize for you).

  • Twitter Toying With 30-Second Skippable Preroll Ads: They really, really don’t understand user need, do they? Still, based on the article’s prediction of autoplay and a 3-second ‘view’ categorisation it will probably help a bit financially.

  • Tesco Does A Promoted Moment:This was bang slap in the middle of the ‘Moments’ tab all day yesterday, making Twitter the first brand in the UK to pony up the cash for the ad unit. Given that initial reports suggested that the ad buy for promoted Moments was $1million or thereabouts, and that the ‘Moment’ itself consists of 10 gifs, I’m going to say AHAHAHAHAHAHA TESCO YOU MUGS. Obviously I’m pretty sure they didn’t pay anywhere near that much, but still – I mean, this is pretty fcuking pony, right? Oh, and if you’re one of those people who unaccountably really hates even SEEING the ‘Moments’ thing you can kill it with this extension. You’re welcome.

  • YouTube Creators Can Now Let People Donate Straight From Their Videos: Through a neat little payment popup. This is surely a precursor to more sophisticated ecommerce within the platform, right? I mean, it’s not going to stay this small.

  • Snapchat Planning Audio & Video Calling: Because it’s not enough that everyone wants to be Facebook; now we all need to be Skype as well. Useful to know, particularly if you deal with a lot of kids and want to put together some bullsh1t, never-to-be-activated plans around customer service on Snapchat for your MILLENNIAL USERBASE. Oh, and seeing as we’re here, Snapchat will probably start ruining itself with self-service ads soon FYI.

  • Pinterest Considering Video Ads: Just FYI really, but I still think Pinterest is somewhat underexploited by advermarketingpr folk here in the UK.

  • Uber Trip Experiences: File under ‘coming soon, and we won’t like it’, this is potentially a hugely interesting extension of the Uber API which would allow third party developers to create ‘experiences’ for Uber users based on journey data (where you’re travelling, journey duration, etc). So you could get BRANDED CONTENT (adverts, innit) tailored to where you’re going and stuff. SLIGHTLY sketchy about whether this is being delivered through the Uber app or through the third parties, but either way I think it’s quite a big (evil) opportunity.

  • State of the Union and Digital Comms: Yes, fine, he is Obama and you are a BRAND, and people care about him and noone cares about you. That aside, this short post on how the State Department approached the State of the Union address from a digital point of view is sort of a masterclass in digital comms. See where your audience is; put out stuff appropriate to each individual platform; I mean, it’s hardly groundbreaking but it has the benefit of being eminently sensible.

  • Goldman Sachs and MILLENNIALS: Disappointingly it doesn’t seem that we’re quite over the sodding MILLENNIALS thing. If you’re going to have to spend some time in the next few weeks waffling aimlessly about this oh-so-VITAL demographic, you could do worse than pull some bullsh1t stats from the noted finger-on-the-pulse-of-the-youth Vampire Squid that is Goldman Sachs. It’s quite nicely presented too, fwiw.

  • We Are Social’s Digital Motherlode 2016: As ever, they do this sort of thing very well indeed. A whole load of stats about how FCUKING MASSIVE social media is all around the world, presented in a nice, easy to steal Slideshare for your delectation and pleasure.

  • The Best Swanky Corporate Website Of The Year So Far: Yes, fine, it’s about train engineering, and yes, fine, it has the temerity to be all in French, but this is so, so impressive from SNCF (or more accurately some agency or another on their behalf). The mobile/desktop integration alone is probably the slickest I’ve seen to date – contrast with this effort from Peugeot, which simply doesn’t work anywhere near as well (also, an aside – is there a law that French brands have to have preposterously overblown web experiences? There’s a LOT of this sort of stuff with a very gallic flavour ATM).

By Maxi Cohen




  • Slinger: SO 2016! Slinger is an app designed explicitly for the discovery of vertical videos – yep, ONLY vertical videos. Actually rather interesting if you’re on your phone and have time to kill, and pretty useful if you’re after a quick and dirty way to find some Snapchat or Periscope INFLUENCERS to shill on your brand’s behalf. Having played with this a little bit, I can only say that from my perspective all this vertical video makes me feel OLD.

  • Fabulous Beasts: FULL DISCLOSURE – I know one of the people behind this reasonably well. That said, I’d be plugging it anyway because it is SUCH FUN. Fabulous Beasts is a game whose Kickstarter launched this week; the lazy, crap non-journalist in me (which sort of implies that there’s a dedicated, talented, real journalist also in me, a fact which is so painfully false that its contemplation has just caused me some small early morning soulpain) wants to describe it as ‘Jenga For The 21st Century’, which sort of explains it a bit. It’s a game where you stack shapes in the real world which affect the development of the world you are building in the virtual, and it is a LOT of fun. If you can spare some money, chuck them a few quid.

  • Songlink: Really clever idea, this – you just plug in a song url from YouTube, Spotify or wherever and this punts out a shareable URL which lets whoever clicks on it play the song from anywhere it’s available (including Apple Music, Google Music, Deezer, etc). Simple but quite clever, am sure this can / should be wrapped up in something Slack-like.

  • Status: Do you worry that social media doesn’t quite let you share your movements and activities with your friends in forensic enough detail? No, thought not. Nonetheless, Status exists – an app which effectively lets anyone share details of what they are doing, where, at ALL TIMES. Described in one of the made-up quotes on the website as being like ‘a real-life marauders’ map!’ (TERRIFYING), it also apparently lets users receive alerts when certain specified contacts move or change their status. Want to know when someone is leaving work, or when they leave the house? Well, now you can! Think there’s anything creepy about that? Nope, me neither!

  • FriendsFeed: I found this weeks ago and was sort of expecting it to be shut down by now; nonetheless, it persists in persisting. FriendsFeed is a Chrome plugin which basically strips your Facebook Newsfeed back to the bare bones, eliminating all promoted posts and ‘your friend liked this, you might too’-type activity. Unless you actually like being reminded of which of your remedial acquaintances are playing Virtual Hair Salon, this is  godsend.

  • Reality Editor: Pretty incredible tech, this – a differential interface for physical objects which…oh, sod it, here’s the blurb: “The Reality Editor is a new kind of tool for empowering you to connect and manipulate the functionality of physical objects. Just point the camera of your smartphone at an object built with the Open Hybrid platform and its invisible capabilities will become visible for you to edit. Drag a virtual line from one object to another and create a new relationship between these objects.” So basically your can turn your phone into a remote control for anything built on this tech. Obviously this version of this stuff will never catch on, but as an illustration of future potential this is sort of amazing.

  • The Land of the Magic Flute: I rather fell in love with this – it’s actually almost a year old, but seeing as THE INTERNET IS NOT A RACE (if I keep repeating it, will it make it true?) and noone else seemed to notice it then either I think I can probably get away with chucking it in here. I think it was built to accompany an animated film version of Mozart’s piece, but it works wonderfully as a standalone digital experience. A wonderful interactive cartoon, presenting the music and the story of the opera as a part-animation, part-graphic novel, the whole experience is just gorgeous and well worth 10 minutes of your time.

  • Alice: Alice is a rudimentary facial recognition AI. Draw a face and Alice will attempt to work out what emotion is being displayed on said face. Based on limited experimentation, Alice is at present incapable of adequately distinguishing between ‘happiness’ and ‘abject terror’ (or maybe, on reflection, I am; that would explain one or two awkward moments from my past); with YOUR help, though, she could learn.

  • Make Me Pulse: I don’t know what this is for or why it exists, but it’s soothing and it made me feel happy and I rather like the music. Little WebGL (I think) experiments themed around gently ‘inspirational’ words (no, wait, come back!), it’s very nicely made indeed.

  • Tinder Me Cards: Brilliantly silly idea, this. Plug in your Tinder username and this creates a card you can hand out to people in REAL LIFE MEATSPACE with a QR code on it (did you not hear? We’re not allowed to laugh at them any more. THANKS, BANKSY) and a ‘Find me on Tinder’ call to action. Included mainly because I can’t think of anything as simultaneously flattering and mildly offensive as handing someone a card which basically says ‘Hi! Would you like to join the kilometric list of people I might one day consider sharing erogenous mucus with but which equally I might decide I can’t really be bothered to interact with?’.

  • The Fantom: An app to accompany Massive Attack’s new EP which uses the same tech as now-defunct app RJDJ (which I did the PR for, really badly, back in the day) to take ambient data from your phone’s sensors (accelerometer, mic, etc) to create bespoke, on the fly remixes of the tracks. When I first saw this sort of tech about 7-8 years ago it was MAGIC, and it still sort of is – I’m convinced there’s a lot more which can be done with the idea, though obviously my thinking doesn’t go beyond that because I am a fundamentally glib and shallow person.

  • My First Insta: Want to see the first thing that someone posted on Instagram, ever? Well this lets you. Its sole purpose, as far as I can tell, is to quickly make a call as to how curated someone’s profile has become since they joined and to then CALL THEM THE FCUK OUT on it, because, you know, that’s how we apparently work in 2016. Jesus, the future.

  • How To Find All The Films on Netflix: I mean, this has been everywhere, but I like to think of Curios as a public service so I’m just leaving it here in case you missed it in the Metro and stuff.

  • Blindspot: Probably the most ‘really, you actually think this is a good idea do you? You DICKS’ app of the year to date, Blindspot lets users anonymously message anyone in their phonebook. Because there’s obviously NO WAY in which this could ever be a bad idea, ever. Although, and I’m slightly ashamed to admit this, I have been VERY TEMPTED to engage in some low-level social terrorism, so I can understand its dark appeal. DON’T DO IT, KIDS.

  • Vina: Are you a woman? Do you feel ALONE and FRIENDLESS (or, possibly, just a touch curious)? Well this app is here to help. It aims to match women with others who share their interests and passions – not ostensibly in a sapphic sense, but there’s a sensation that it might be a little like this one for men seeking men. Anyone want to give it a try and tell me what it’s actually for? Thanks.

  • Spotcaller: Gigfinders are ten a penny online, admittedly, but this one seems pretty good – it was able to pull out a pretty comprehensive list of stuff going on around where I live, including all the slightly fist-y clubnights under the arches. In fairness I can’t speculate as to how good it is if you’re after more bass and less fisting, but there’s no harm in giving it a go.

  • You Are Dog Now: You’ve all seen this by now, right? £20 to the first of you to suggest that a client does the same thing but replacing dogs with whatever thing it is that they shill (PIZZAS!).

  • The 100 Best Infographics: I don’t ordinarily care for these sorts of things, but it’s actually a pretty good rundown of different styles and levels of interactivity; the filtering system is pretty good too, letting you quickly narrow down your selection by style, most-covered in the media, etc. Oh, and while we’re here, let me put out once again my annual plea for agencies to STOP MAKING DREADFUL GRAPHICS PLEASE. Noone, and I mean noone, will use them. It’s not worth the time, I promise you.

  • Astrometry: Weirdly I know several people who are planning to get into astronomy this year – the Tim Peak effect, perhaps (lovely, lovely Tim Peak). Anyway, this site lets you upload any photo you take of THE MAJESTY OF SPACE (imagine that delivered in Brian Cox’s dulcet Lancashire tones, as he compares the universe to an egg or somesuch) and will then tell you what exactly it is that you have captured (some stars, is the short answer).

  • Concepter: Actually, this might be slightly more chilling than the other horrible apps I’ve featured already this week. Concepter, launching next month, purports to let you track and monitor the amount of time you spend with different people in your life, thereby optimising your free time to make sure you’re not spunking it on the wrong people. Because that is in no way a horrible or dehumanising way in which to approach the relationships in your life. “Fancy a coffee?” “No, sorry, I’ve already spent my allotted 15 minutes with you this week and frankly the additional time investment simply isn’t worth it”. Actually, on reflection, perhaps I’m coming round to the idea.

  • The Political Ad Archive: Tracking and filing US political ads in the run-up to the elections later this year. American politics, in case you ever need reminding (and after this, you shouldn’t), really is utterly mental.

  • That Weird Floating Bonsai Thing On Kickstarter: You all saw this, right?

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Online: The whole collection, or at least nearly 1/2million pieces, presented online. SO MUCH FASCINATING STUFF IN HERE.

  • OpenBazaar: Coming soon to a ‘The New Silk Road’ thinkpiece near you soon, OpenBazaar is a soon-to-launch marketplace whose USP is its peer-to-peer nature; you download an program which connects you directly with a potential buyer or seller on and lets you set the terms of your transactions directly. There’s no website, no trace, and it’s all done through Bitcoin. This will NEVER be used for anything illegal, ever.

  • The Tor Data Map: Speaking of the potentially illicit, this is a rather wonderful visualisation of all the data being passed across the Tor network worldwide. Abstract glowing data representations are BEAUTIFUL, aren’t they? This should, but won’t, be the year in which a major financial institution builds one of these showing money flows around the world in beautiful and semi-interactive fashion.

  • Portraits of Burlesque Dancers: These are GREAT – some of the outfits here on display are amazing, and show a level of art and industry far removed from the gussied-up stripping which often passes for burlesque. A wonderful range of body shapes and sizes and genders, which deserves a special shoutout for featuring Mat Fraser who’s been something of a hero of mine for time.

  • Blume: When I was in Amsterdam before Christmas, my friend Chris (who is YOUNG and therefore still entitled to do this sort of thing) showed me the array of dating apps on his phone, an experience which was as giddying as it was vaguely enevrating. How DO people do this stuff all the time? Anyway, if YOU feel like Tinder or Bumble or whichever of these bloody things you use isn’t quite doing it for you then you might want to give this one a go; Blume’s gimmick is that users match via ‘freshly taken’ selfies, meaning you can’t spend time filtering and tweaking your pictures to fool someone into letting you get within three feet of your pants. I’m going to throw this out there – humanity is too vain for this EVER to catch on.

  • This Changed Me: Part of me thinks that this is almost unspeakably twee, but maybe I’m just an incurable cynic. This Changed Me is an app which lets you share experiences which…er…changed you, along with a picture and some blurb about, oh, I don’t know, how it helped you GROW or somesuch guff. Oh, look, sorry, I’m sure it’s a really nice idea and some of you might find some joy in it, but let me be very clear with my position here – that which does not kill you does not in fact make you stronger; it is simply working in close concert with that which eventually does.

  • The Robot Beauty Contest: Odd, this. I found it a few weeks back and have been keeping an eye on it – the idea was that it would be the first beauty contest to be judged solely by AIs. They were looking for people to submit algorithms to judge the contest, as well as entrants to be judged by the pitiless, inhuman aesthetics arbiters; judging by the site, I’m not sure that they got either of those things. Still, there is definitely the germ of a VERY thievable idea here if you happen to work for one of those dreadful, mendacious cosmetics companies which pretends to care about people’s feelings and self-image just enough to persuade them to buy a shittonne of cosmetics that they don’t in fact need *cough*DOVE*cough*. Oh, and in case you missed it here’s that Swiss site that tells you how hot you are (I am ‘OK’. I’m fine with that, honest *cries*).

  • Swiss Design in CSS: Wed developers / designers, you may like this. Not sure it’ll mean much to the rest of you, but it’s sort of gently soothing.

  • MeetingsBot: I am by no means the first person to say this, but the seemingly inexorable rise of chat software (cf Messenger, Slack, etc) means that I’m pretty confident in predicting that 2016 will see an absolute shedload of bots being developed for increasingly mainstream purposes. is onesuch bot, designed to take the hassle out of arranging meeting times and places for a group of people; give it access to your calendars and it does EVERYTHING as if by magic. What with Facebook recently announcing it was opening up the Messenger API, any and all large brands should be all over this sort of stuff like the sky. LOOK, FREE CONSULTANCY! God, you’ve missed this gold eh?

  • Arq: I have no idea whatsoever whether this steering wheel-shaped synthtoy is actually any practical good or not, but LOOK HOW COOL IT LOOKS!!!!

  • The Reddit Recap: I confess to having found this during my 6am trawl this morning and as such not been able to actually listen to it, but the premise is intriguing. A podcast which somehow (magic? probably) creates daily podcasts summarising stuff in the ‘Things I Learned’ subReddit. An intriguing idea, more in terms of the automation than anything else.

  • Rebtel: Really clever, this, if it works – it purports to offer internet free cheap international calling. I can’t be bothered to explain how it works, to be honest – if you’re interested in this sort of thing, click the link and read all about it.

  • Sort By Dislikes: Find the most disliked video on any YouTube channel. God knows why you might want to, but there’s some interesting rabbithole potential if nothing else.

  • Doc Club: Like documentaries? Want to watch more of them? WELL GOOD! It’s  subscription service, but if you want high-quality curated documentary programming it looks like a pretty good deal at about £2 per month.

  • Pathetic Motorways: Because you never knew that you wanted a website all about the UK’s forgotten transport infrastructure, but it turns out you really, really do!


By Juana Gomez




  • The Dicture Gallery: Penises, dressed as famous dictators. I can’t really beany clearer than this – this link takes you to a selection of photographs of penises, wearing tiny costumes to make them look a little bit like megalomaniacal leaders from history. I probably don’t need to stress this, but it’s a touch on the NSFW side (but if your employer can’t raise (*ahem*) a small smile at the sight of a slightly unimpressive dong wearing a Napoleonic tricorn then you should probably quit).

  • The Forecaster: Martin Arnstrong was a notable economic analyst in the 1980s who is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary about market manipulation and economic forecasting and the like. This website has been produced to accompany the film, and it’s unlike any other movie promo site I’ve ever seen – the depth of information in here is STAGGERING, and I love that they’ve aped the FT in its design look and feel. Really very impressive indeed, I think.

  • The British Museum With Google: Following on from them giving the Museum the StreetView treatment last year, this is an interactive dive into the institution’s collection which is presented SO beautifully that you may get a little lost in it. Processor heavy, so perhaps might not work on your creaking office machine, but worth persevering with until you can make it work properly as it is GORGEOUS.

  • Men Wearing Beards Made Of Bubbles: Surely one of you can rip this off for something.

  • Browse Reddit Whilst Pretending To Code: For all the developers out there who plan on getting the sack in the second month of 2016!

  • A Wonderful Model Railway on Google Streetview: I have a real thing for model villages and stuff, in particular really shoddy ones; there’s a set of model houses in Vauxhall Gardens which are SO shonky that they actually make me come over all emo every time I see them (I am unsure why this is so, and don’t really want to investigate these feelings too deeply). Anyway, this is Google Streetview doing its thing on a BRILLIANT model railway in Hamburg, which is very cool indeed (if you take a particularly elastic conception of the term).

  • SampleStitch: This is a lot of fun. Samplestitch lets you play around with the constituent elements of three tracks by J Dilla, 9th Wonder and Kanye to see exactly how hard it is to make things sound like they do. Will make you really appreciate the skill involved in hiphop production, but will also make you realise that it’s surprisingly easy to make stuff that sounds sort of OK by just pressing stuff.

  • Lutheran Insult Generator: Just in case you’re feeling bereft of interesting and creative ways to slag off your friends, family and coworkers, this occasionally spits out some gems. “You are the white devil and a glittering Satan.”, for example, is going on The List.

  • A Short Journey: No idea what this is for or why it exists, but it’s a nice piece of webdesign showcasing some simple-but-pleasing design and interaction techniques in telling the ‘story’ (I mean that very loosely) of someone going somewhere and then coming back again. Christ, that’s a really piss-poor description, sorry, I’ll try a bit harder from now on.

  • Screensaver Jam: Screensavers are now totally pointless, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check these ones out – submissions to a recent design competition, some of these animations are GREAT.

  • Bitpoem: Aside from the fact that it has introduced me to the term ‘iPhoneographer’ which made me briefly consider just stopping with the internet forever, this photoediting app for iPhone actually looks rather powerful and quite useful if you do a lot of that sort of thing.

  • The Void 2: When I wrote about the first of these last year, I wrote something about it being slightly baffling webart with no discernible purpose but a very pleasing aesthetic. I’ve not got much more to say about its second iteration, other than to add that it’s really worth clicking around as it’s oddly compelling.

  • Guesstimate: REALLY clever and potentially very useful indeed, this. Guesstimate is a spreadsheet service which works with fuzzy values, helping you calculate likely ranges of STUFF using Monte Carlo modelling (that’s basically where you run a bunch of simulations of an event to work out probabilities, risks etc). Sounds boring, and actually sort of is, but potentially really helpful for…er…people who deal with numbers and stuff.

  • I Hate Butterflies: Do YOU hate butterflies (or moths)? Have YOU longed for a community in which you can safely discuss that hatred? OH GOOD!

  • Cheateo: Let’s be clear at the outset – Web Curios IN NO WAY ENDORSES this sort of black hat activity. That said…Cheateo is a portfolio of services which effectively sets up networks of bots to send fake traffic to your website, upvote pages on social media, etc. HUGELY dodgy, but I’d be quite interested to see quite how far this goes and to what extent it can dodge Google’s police.

  • The Public Domain Project: Literally THOUSANDS of media files from old times, digitised and made freely available to do with as you wish. Images, audio and video of all SORTS of stuff, from Chaplin clips to old newsreel footage, eminently remixable should you desire. If you’re a filmmaker of any sort this is probably worth a peruse.

  • Pilot: I tend not to do Podcasts here, mainly as I never listen to the bloody things and therefore feel like a fraud recommending any. I’ll make a rare exception for Pilot, though, mainly as I think the gimmick is cute; each episode is a pilot for a fictitious new podcast series, letting the creators experiment with all sorts of genres and styles and things. Your mileage may vary, but it’s a nice conceit – they’re also quite happy with anyone taking any of the concepts they come up with and running with them, which I think is a nice touch.

  • Stock Photos of Sexual Harassment: Presented mostly without comment, although the fact that this category even exists is cause for no little sighing and headshaking.

  • The AutoHelply: SUCH a great idea, this. A project which encourages people to donate their Out of Office replies to a helping to find missing persons – it provides you with suggestions for people missing in your local area, and provides you with the code/copy and instructions on how to apply it to Outlook or Gmail or whatever. Someone steal this and win yourselves a Lion, go on.

  • 1080 Plus: I love this – PURE INTERNET, right here. 1080 Plus is a site which lets you collaboratively view YouTube videos and chat around them, all delivered through a bafflingly and wonderfully 80s fake-console interface. Try it – all the buttons ACTUALLY WORK, and there’s some real rabbithole pleasure to be found in watching whatever it is that a selection of internet oddities are choosing to stream and discuss with the world.

  • Le Dernier Gaulois: ANOTHER swanky French site, this one to promote a new French TV show about, er, The Last Gaul (I confess to not having researched this particularly thoroughly, sorry). Very slick indeed.

  • The Grey Tales: A beautiful passion project sharing four stories about the lives of elephants. So, so lovely, this, from the music to the illustration to the navigation – really excellent webwork.

  • Call To Wait: Wonderful gag / webart project which invites people to call a number and stay on hold for 7 years at which point SOMETHING will happen. Please, please, please can someone set up an office phone to do this, ideally at a tobacco company for maximum phone bill lols? Thanks.

  • Cybersquirrels: Mapping all the instances worldwide of animals fcuking up internet connections. This is, it turns out, so common that the more paranoid amongst you might start wondering whether they’re conspiring against us (they almost certainly are, FYI).

  • Fiera: Ever wondered what ‘Beforeplay’ was? No, me neither, but now I know and I feel compelled to share it with you. Apparently it’s pre-arousal sex play, so pre-foreplay-foreplay. No, me neither, but Fiera is a new sex toy which purports to help with that sort of thing should you so desire. I’m passing no judgment here – hey, whatever works for you – but can I just point out how utterly horrific the business end of the machine looks? Wouldn’t put it anywhere near anything of yours were I you.

  • Literally THE Most Hipster Musical Toy You Will See All Year: ETA to appearance at a Deptford rave? I reckon WEEKS.

  • Babypod: Ok, this is from WAY back in week one of 2016, but it’s so utterly mental I couldn’t not remind you of its existence. In case you missed the Mail’s inevitable coverage of it, this is the device which lets women play music to their unborn foetus through the judicious insertion of a speakerdildo into their vagina. I was all sorts of baffled by this when I first saw it, and this hasn’t changed one iota.

  • Make Your Own Pet Planet: Look, realistically this trumps anything else you’re likely to achieve this afternoon, so get modelling. It is really, really soothing and beautiful, and should really be an app – I would love to have my own planet complete with mini ecosystem etc on my phone, although the size of your personal God complex may vary.

  • The Earth From Space: 24h of the earth from space on one website. Hypnotic and gorgeous.

  • We Feel God: Not technically called that, but this is basically We Feel Fine but using mentions of God (Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, etc) to populate the visualiser. The audio on this makes it about tenmillion times more sinister than it would otherwise be; no real idea about why it creeps me out so much, but it properly gives me the heebies, this.

  • Eagle Fine Art: Now, I’m no art historian but I am pretty sure that the stuff being sold on this site is, perhaps, not QUITE kosher in terms of its relation to its stated maker. Is that really a Modigliani? HMMMMMMM. Kudos to them, though, for their admirable chutzpah.

  • B Sensory: Closing out this week’s array of questionable sexual aids is this PEACH of an idea, which syncs your vibrator with the book you’re reading to provide appropriate stimulation during the right passages. I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE. How is this meant to work? How does it know how fast you’re reading? How do you teach it which bits you like and which you don’t? Can you hack it to work with, say, the FT website? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

  • Seadope: Ever wanted to explore the story of the zombie apocalypse via a really quite insanely deep fake 90s computer desktop interface? OH GOOD! This is really rather impressive if you can plough in the time – give it 5 minutes and see how you like it. Text adventure fans will get a kick, I think.

  • The History of Billboard Hiphop #1s: Best thing of the week, this. An interactive history of all the hiphop #1 singles on the billboard chart from the mid-90s onwards, with audio and info and links and…oh, it’s just SO GOOD. Click and play and ENJOY.

By Filip Hodas




  • MRA Dilbert: Contrasting the gentle office satire of the strips with the often jaw-droppingly stupid meninist rantings of creator Scott Adams. Oh, Scott!

  • Real Businessmen: All business, all of the time. LOOK, SO BUSINESS!

  • Polish Priests Blessing Things: Just that, really.

  • The Villa of Ormen: A collection of incredibly creepy and gothy photos from all over the place.

  • Scenic Design: Photos of theatre and film set design, which is sort of niche, admittedly, but more interesting than you might think (although I appreciate that based on this SCINTILLATING writeup not enough for you to click the link. Sorry, there are LOTS of these this week and time’s a wasting).

  • Ugly Belgian Houses: Apart from in one or two very specific matters and cases, Belgians have NO TASTE WHATSOEVER.

  • Bat Labels: Labels on stuff from the original Batman TV Series. If someone doesn’t start selling ‘Henchman’ and ‘Goon’ sweatshirts off the back of this I will be very disappointed.

  • Recent Google Searches: This smacks of fake to me, but apparently these are all real and collected by a bot. See what you think. We can’t be that thick, can we?

  • Ask Cat: Text Cat with your problems, and she’ll post her advice here in the shape of an animated Gif. I am WELL using this – see if you can guess which problem is mine in the next week or so! (please don’t).

  • Instagram Husband: A tumblr for that meme that briefly blew up four weeks ago but which I bet none of you can now remember OH GOD WHY IS IT ONLY I WHO IS CONDEMNED TO REMEMBER ALL OF THIS CRAP?

  • Black Shops, White Writing: If you haven’t already noticed this trend, prepared to now see it EVERYWHERE after clicking this link.

  • Calming Manatee: Everybody needs some help sometimes.

  • ECDs With Folded Arms: For all you adland wageslaves out there.

  • Pokemon Pickup Lines: There’s at least one of you reading this who will read these and laugh but secretly inside think “when I can use one of these on someone, I will have found true love”. That’s ok, you know.

  • Sloppy UI: Pointing out bad design. I’m sure nothing YOU’VE worked on would ever feature here, though, obviously.

  • SwearyBox: Swearing is obviously neither big nor clever, but this small site selling very profane cards made me laugh more than it probably should have done.I’m closer to 70 than birth; I probably should at least attempt to grow up a bit really.

  • Masa Photo: Gorgeous photos of Tokyo and other Japanese locations. Really beautiful shots.

  • Crazy Walls: Screencaps of the wall-mounted mind maps ofCRAZY PEOPLE from films and games. Makes an EXCELLENT point about the prevalence of red string in many of these shots, which now they mention it is sort of baffling.

  • Making A Murderer Hairstyles: Celebrating the hairstyles which are the REAL secret behind the series’ popular appeal.

  • Nitrate Diva: The best collection of gifs sourced from films I’ve seen in AGES. Bookmark this for all your HOT ZINGING COMEBACK needs.

  • Trudeau P Milf: Celebrating the hotness of the Canadian premier.

  • Cool 3d World: A collection of some of the more disturbing 3d animated Vines you are ever likely to see. I LOVE THESE SO MUCH.

  • Mondays: I don’t normally do failgif collections, but some of these really are spectacular.


  • MDMA Team: I have to applaud the chutzpah of this page, which basically showcases the insane variety of pill shapes and colours and sizes currently in circulation. If you’re a certain type of person, this will make you VERY GLAD it’s the weekend (as an aside, this is a new thing, right? When I was a kid, the stamp was about as exotic as it got; last year there was some stuff going around which was shaped like massive green Heineken cans and which was so strong I actually thought my hair was vibrating. I’m probably too old for this).

  • Butts: This page promises one butt a day, and so far it has AMPLY delivered. Drawings only, so perfectly SFW.




  • The Facebook Loving Farmers of Myanmar: Brilliant piece of writing about how the mobile phone is changing the lives of people in Myanmar. Less about the tech than the social aspects, it nonetheless offers a really interesting picture of the progress of digital in the developing world, and should give you a reasonable set of arguments as to why Facebook’s numbers were so crazy good this week (and why Twitter really needs to sort itself out).

  • How The Facebook Newsfeed Works: Basically a massive puffpiece for Zuck’s engineers, this talks about how the Newsfeed filters what it shows you through its unique and unfathomable combination of algorithmic and human intervention. If you read this and don’t get the slight frisson of filter bubble fear then you are, sorry to say it, an idiot.

  • No Filter February: My friend Fritha (I know, but she’s a Kiwi) penned this about something she’s experimenting with next month – presenting a more realistic portrait o her life to the world through social media. As someone who never posts photos anywhere and doesn’t use Instagram this is all moot to me, but some of you children might find some inspiration here (and there’s an obvious brand tie-in if you’re looking for something to sponsor next week).

  • My Life as an Atrocity Tour Guide: I’ve mentioned old school shock sites like Ogrish and Rotten (as per, strongly advise you going much past the homepage on either of those FY) – this piece examines what it’s like to run one of these things, and what it feels like to have a seemingly neverending cavalcade of mutilated corpses passing before your content-hungry eyes.

  • 2050 Demographic Destiny: Interesting bit of futurology from the Wall Street Journal looking at how the world’s set to change over the coming three decades across a variety of areas (labour, environment, etc). As will all of this stuff, the value of the predictions is questionable at best, but it’s all an interesting read and it’s very nicely presented in classic WSJ longform interactive fashion.

  • On Website Obesity: Not super new, but a great piece of writing about the bloat in website size we’ve seen since the web’s inception, why it’s bad design, and what we should do about it. If you make websites, or get other people to make them on occasion, you ought to read this.

  • The Robin Hood Strippers: A great yarn about strippers taking advantage of dumb clients by means fair and not-so-fair, this feels like a TV movie in the best possible way – like being a touch drunk in the mid-afternoon whilst snacking on bad food and wearing tracksuit bottoms. You get me, right? Good.

  • The Custodians: This is a wonderful piece about the art of art curation and restoration, and the manner in which this has evolved over time and is continuing to do so as digital artworks transform the nature of the relationship between artist, curator and audience. Really, really fascinating and very highly recommended, even if the description makes you want to gnaw your own hand off with boredom.

  • On That Dragon Cancer: That Dragon Cancer is a ‘game’, recently released on PC, about two parents’ experience of seeing their young son die slowly of cancer; this piece in Wired tells their story and how they transformed their experience into art. This made me do quite a big sad, FYI, so be warned.

  • The Search For The Killer Bot: Included in part to bolster my ‘this is the year of the bot’ argument above, and in part because it’s a really interesting look at how the communications ecosystem in the West is slowly evolving to match what already exists through WeChat et al in the East.

  • A Brief History of Books Which Don’t Exist: About books and worlds and authors and imagination and coincidence and STUFF, this is a lovely read for the literarily inclined amongst you.

  • A History of the Occult in Rock & Roll: Terrifyingly encyclopaedic in its comprehensiveness, this will teach you stuff even if you’re an absolute music bore who knows EVERYTHING about this sort of stuff. I had no idea whatsoever that so many people were so into Crowley, for example, or that Black Sabbath fans were quite so…well…stupid (although I might have guessed the latter).

  • Suicide of the Ceasefire Babies: A beautifully written piece about the hitherto-unexamined explosion in suicides in Northern Ireland since the end of the Trouble, and what it might tell us about NI society and the manner in which people sublimate grief.

  • Lolita Turns 60: I found this at the tail end of last year, but thought it worth saving – a brilliant analysis of the novel, from a variety of different perspectives, which I found particularly illuminating about the tricky final act. Reminded me quite how much I love the book, and quite how many phrases from it I have basically lifted wholesale to use in conversation (I am, I acknowledge, a dreadful pseud).

  • How Meeting Lemmy Saved My Life: I’ve featured Jeremy Allen’s writing quite a lot recently, and this is another great piece on how Lemmy offered some surprising encouragement to a man a few days into nascent sobriety. What a lovely-sounding man.

  • Bowie Vs Burroughs: Whereas this paints a far less sympathetic portrait of its subjects. A sort of amazing treasuretrove, this, in which Rolling Stone basically just sits Bowie and William Burroughs down together and transcribes their conversation. There is SO MUCH in here, but my overriding impression was of two overwhelmingly cold people, detached from both their work and their audience – overly analytical of the former and borderline-contemptuous of the latter. Bowie’s line about people being basically too stupid to ‘get’ his stuff is a killer. There’s a lot of gold in here, too – they are obviously both super smart and get off on the intellectualising, and the line about ‘the picture of you’ that Bowie comes out with is one for the ages. Still, a really interesting counterpoint to the somewhat one-sidedly hagiographic post-mortems coronations.

  • How Wil-E Coyote Explains the World: Wonderful deconstruction of the gags in Road Runner which is incredibly instructive about rules and exceptions in storytelling and joke creation.

  • The Eleven Most Boring Conversations I Can’t Stop Overhearing: Tim Rogers on particularly excellent form about some of the irritations of modern living (if you’re, like him, an educated straight white man living in San Francisco). As ever, Rogers is just a brilliant prose writer.

  • The Fcuk Off Fund: What one is and why you need one. Brilliant piece.

  • Holding The T: Finally, the best piece of writing of the week – this piece about playing squash as a middle-aged man is sort of about squash but also, mainly, about middle-age and a certain degree of acceptance and LIFE, and should be read by everyone mainly because it’s just so effortlessly clean and well-constructed. Would that I could write like this, seriously.  

By Christina A West


1) Let’s kick off 2016 with a very early contender for best, oddest video of the year. This is The Chickening, and it is SO GOOD that I am practically demanding that you watch it all (I’m obviously not demanding anything, I’m just pathetically grateful you’re hear at all DON’T LEAVE ME):

2) This is probably on balance less ‘good’ but equally odd. It’s called The Summoning of the Skylark, and no, I have no idea whatsoever:

3) Let me just say upfront that I think the song here is REALLY GOOD and is worth listening to; now we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s focus on the video which is all the WTF you could possibly hope for and more. This is Yeasayer with ‘’I Am Chemistry’:

4) Cheers to Shardcore for the tipoff on this one – it is MESMERIC. Trust me, give it a minute or so and you will be hooked – this is called ‘A Brief History of Time’:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! Well, garage I guess. You will all have heard this already, obviously, but I’m chucking it in because Web Curios has been a fan of Narstie for TIME and is very happy to see him getting a bit of proper success on this. Craig David x Big Narstie with When The Bassline Drops:

6) MORE UK HIPHOP CORNER! This is a cracking track from Kano and Giggs – it’s called ‘3 Wheel -ups’:  

7) This is SUCH a nicely made vid, even if the idea’s not 100% fresh. All done by hand too, which is crazy. This is ‘Cliche’ by Hierophant:

8) Next up, the latest video for B3ta alumnus Cyriak whose star just keeps on rising – this time he’s knocked out this feline oddity for El-P and Killer Mike (aka Run the Jewels); this is Meowpurrdy:

9) Last up, an oddity that’s sort of sleazy hiphop in a way which reminds me a bit of Boyfriend (Can we just take a moment to recall how great this song is, by the way? Good) but which is rather good in its own right. This is by Louis The Child, feat. K.Flay and it’s called It’s Strange. See you in a few weeks, everyone.


Webcurios 11/12/15

Reading Time: 30 minutes

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Alex Liivet, CC licence

I went to Amsterdam! It was fun! We played videogames and smoked weed and did mushrooms and all those sorts of stereotypical Amsterdam-type things – what LARKS!

Then last weekend my little brother died and the glow of carefree fun sort of wore off a bit.

WOAH! Big downer there, sorry. You’re here for a good time, not a hard time, right? RIGHT! Carry on reading and get stuck into the links, as there are lots of them and some of them are even quite good.

This may, or may not, be the last Curios of the year. If it is, then THANKS FOR READING, ALL OF YOU. You’re all very kind. If it’s not, then no thanks whatsoever you ingrates.

Anyway, let’s once more stare into the abyss – it’s not staring back, you dreadful solipsists, the abyss couldn’t give a flying one about you, you know. This, possibly for the final time in 2015, is WEB CURIOS!

By Tim Tadder



  • Facebook Launches Live Video & Collages: You know how upsetting it was when Facebook decided to give famouses the opportunity to livestream their every move on the platform but denied it to the little man? I know, right? Well weep no more! EVERYONE can now share live video of their existence to a largely indifferent audience thanks to this recent update; not only this, but we can all now make nice little grid-type collections of photos and videos for our profiles, too. This will be briefly diverting as people discover the opportunity to record and stream their mad Friday night chipshop bants, and then will join the oubliette of other forgotten features that noone wanted or needed in the first place. Or at least I hope that’s the case, as frankly the alternative, in which this becomes a THING and everyone starts livestreaming their trip to the shops and suchlike, is too unspeakably tawdry to contemplate.
  • Facebook Trialing Selling Tickets Through Event Pages: You don’t really need much more of an explanation that this, do you? It’s only being trialed in the SF Bay Area, so it’s not like it actually means anything to you, in any case. 
  • FB Tweaks Ads in Instant Articles: Potentially – but only potentially – of interest to those of you working on the publishing side of things (“But Matt,” you cry, “we’re all publishers now!”. Know that I wish you nothing but ill), Facebook have rejigged the ads inside their Instant Articles to make them marginally less of a screw for publishers – aside from anything else, the stories will now give the opportunity to link to other content from the same outlet from an Instant Article, which goes some way towards remedying the ‘no, you can’t have any traffic from us, sorry ahahahahaha’ situation which was punitively affecting those using the service. Oh, and it’s launched in Asia, too, look!
  • The Year on Facebook: All of the things the world cared about! Or at least those things that were most discussed by people with a Facebook Page. Unsurprisingly, given the overall tenor of the year as a whole, it’s not hugely cheering.
  • Twitter Experimenting With Non-Chronological Timeline: Twitter continues to make baffling business decisions on an almost weekly basis; this one’s been in the pipeline for a while, but it’s the first time I’ve seen reports of it in the wild. Only a trial at the moment, and only for certain users, this is the shift towards an algorithmically-curated Twitter stream rather than the existing ‘newest stuff at the top’ version which exists now and which has led to the platform becoming the darling of media without actually needing the user numbers to back it up. You know how many people want a platform that does exactly what Facebook and Instagram do but with fewer people they know or care about using it? None! 
  • Twitter Introduces Non-Cropped Photos To Timelines: So that’s at least one less thing that Community Managers have to worry about when posting pictures – you no longer have to content with a potentially humiliating letterbox effect blacking out some of your carefully-sourced BRANDED IMAGERY. I mean, you also won’t get much more than one tweet per mobile screen with this sort of image-heavy setup, which sort of kills the point of the platform as a way you can quickly and easily scan for stuff that is happening right now, but let’s not worry about that right now. Oh, and you can make collage-type things on Twitter too, much like the Facebook announcement above, because why not eh?
  • Advertise on Moments For $1million A Go: Or at least that’s the figure that’s being bandied about, which is pretty mental really. 
  • Promoted Tweets To Be Served To Logged-Out Users: This is actually pretty smart – Twitter’s testing the ability to punt ads at people who aren’t logged into – or don’t have an account with – the platform, by serving promoted Tweets to people checking out a users’ timeline or a search, etc. Clever, and actually a potentially useful targeting option given the fact that the Venn diagram of ‘people who use Twitter’ and ‘normal, everyday folk’ doesn’t actually offer that much crossover. 
  • The Year On Twitter: Really, really dull, but I’m a completist. Guess what? Everything was rubbish on Twitter too!
  • Google Makes It Easy For Everyone To Make 360-degree VR-type Photos: Actually pretty cool, this, and if you’re a brand with good photo opps (sport, fashion, etc) then you might want to take a look. Google last week released an app which lets any Android user take a 360-degree panoramic-type photo which can then be viewed through Google’s Cardboard viewers as a whole sort of immersive VR-type EXPERIENCE, complete with an audio track and stuff. You could have some fun with this. 
  • Google Potentially Sort of Doing Pinterest: This didn’t get a lot of pickup when it was announced a week or so back, which is perhaps because it’s never going to take off. Still, it’s an interesting move and one which I’d be a touch nervous about were I Pinterest – Google’s basically going to let users save images from a Google Image Search in collections, exactly as you can do on Pinterest (but without the avocado fetish, presumably). Aside from anything else, this is an excellent opportunity to sell your stupid clients a VISUAL SEO STRATEGY because they won’t know that it’s all made-up rubbish (probably). 
  • YouTube’s Ads of the Year: Seemingly the only good ads this year were aimed at white Westerners, or at least that’s what the work here presented would largely seem to suggest. A tedious and uninspiring collection of agency spaff which you’ve either already seen at Cannes or which you haven’t seen because it’s so North American. Thanks, Google!
  • Snapchat Deeplinks Now Possible: If you put stuff on Snapchat, you can now link directly to that stuff on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Which is of little or no interest to normal people, but if you, like me, spend a lot of time fretting about whether or not your multiplatform content strategy is as joined up as it should be then you will be rubbing yourself raw in excitement at this SEISMIC ANNOUNCEMENT. 
  • BOW TO THE FOUNDERS: Just as we’ve all become heartily sick of the word ‘Millennial’, so comes another generic and largely meaningless term to encapsulate the behavioural and emotional patterns of a whole generation of people – thanks, MTV, for bringing us the concept of ‘Founders’, the post-millennial generation, whose adolescences have been lived through the prism of social media and who can’t imagine a time without smartphones and who are all about MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. Apparently they are going to REBUILD SOCIETY once the millennials are done disrupting it. Great, I’ll look forward to that, then. The most chilling thing about the piece, and there are lots of pull-quotes I could have gone for here, is the line about them being ‘slightly more risk-averse’ than there millennial forebears, meaning we can look forward to a continuation of the media’s obsession with generic, safe, floppy-haired, kind-eyed androgynes for the foreseeable future. It’s a great time to be a YouTuber. 
  • The FKA Twigs Shop: Included solely because I adore the UX on this site, and because someone referred to her this week as dressing a bit like someone on their way to a mid-90s rave, which I liked very much indeed. 
  • The MS Paint Billboard: A nice idea, in a sort of ‘hey, look, let’s do something really INTERNET and then the INTERNET will wang on about it in the INTERNET’s charming self-referential way’ (which, er, is exactly what I’m doing, so I suppose it sort of worked), but one which was slightly stymied by the fact that they obviously couldn’t afford the prime Shoreditch billboard placement which would have made the most sense and instead were forced by budgetary constraints to erect it in…er…Millwall. 
  • YouTube Sidebars For Charity: I LOVE THIS IDEA. Not sure if it ever actually got done or whether it’s just an agency concept, but either way it is eminently stealable by any charity that cares to do so, this is a beautifully simple premise; given that so many videos are uploaded to YouTube which have been shot vertically on phones, and given that this leaves large amounts of screen real-estate blank, why not give charities the opportunity to use said blank real-estate to raise awareness of their cause. It’s SUCH a nice idea – you upload a video via the website and it uploads it to YouTube with the blank bits used as a canvas for charity campaigns. Seriously, someone (anyone) take this and make it a BIG THING. 
By Lola Dupre




  • Your Spotify Year In Music: You want it to be all grime and electro, but it will in fact be Adele and Bieber. You know it, just embrace it. The idea of a ‘guilty pleasure’ is for cnuts, anyway.

  • Christmas For Syria: I am aware that this marks me down as a dangerous pinko lefty liberal – this may not be a surprise to you, in fairness – but I’m sort of the opinion that there’s not that much about bombing a nation that could really be described as redolent of the Christmas spirit, such as it is. This site suggests a cash donation to the people of Syria rather than one of BAE Systems’ finest, based on a percentage of the likely value of your meal or your gifts.

  • Common Sans: A typeface which replaces the word ‘refugee’ with the word ‘human’ in everything you write, because refugees are people too DO YOU SEE????

  • Crack & Cider: SUCH a dreadful name for this campaign, which is a shame as the idea is a lovely one. Inspired by the common trope that there’s no point giving money to the homeless as all they would spend it on is crack and cider – and, frankly, what of it? That’s mostly what I spend my wages on, after all, and noone has the temerity to give me crap about it (or if they do I am too boxed to tell) – this site lets you give money to buy specific articles for London’s homeless which will be distributed to them over the Christmas period. A Good Thing.

  • Shiftwear: Trainers with customisable lights in them – or at least the idea of trainers with customisable lights in them – were very much a THING this year; here’s the latest crowdfunding initiative, which basically looks like total vaporware because, really, how long could the batteries potentially last on these multicoloured LED kicks? That was a rhetorical question, by the way – I don’t care in the slightest.

  • Breadfaceblog: The Instagram feed EVERYONE is talking about (ish, sort of), in which a woman inexplicably faceplants into various different types of bread, over and over and over again. The sort of thing I can imagine Marina Abramovich or Yoko Ono being slightly irked that they didn’t come up with first.

  • The Noise Archive: A truly VAST collection of audio, this – a huge collection of torrentable files of old ‘noise’ – as the description puts it, much of the stuff in here is on the…er…’avant garde’ end of the spectrum, but if you fancy a whole host of stuff to play around with then this is a truly BRILLIANT collection of oddities from the 80s and 90s.

  • The Rave Tapes: This week’s second incredible treasure trove of music for old people, this is basically every single one of the old 90s rave cassettes in one place – Dreamscape, Helter Skelter, Pandemonium…all the ones you remember from the puffa jacketed, Naff Naff-clad days of yore. If you’re over 35, this is basically a time capsule to when you had an undercut and not a care in the world; if you’re under-35, consider this proof that the drugs really were good back then because, seriously, some of this is truly DREADFUL.

  • Google’s Santa Tracker: Where is that fat lie? Well, he’s not taken off yet, but while you wait you can play all sorts of festive games and timewasters on Google’s very nicely-made, if preposterously saccharine, Christmas gimmick. New CONTENT every day between now and Christmas, should you need something to distract your sticky-fingered, jam-faced progeny from asking for yet more STUFF from you.

  • WhatsBot: This is really clever, and I can see it (or things like it) very much becoming a THING – it purports to be the first WhatsApp? AI personal assistant, which may or may not be true, but the idea’s really smart. Add it to a conversation between multiple parties and the bot will suggest somewhere mutually convenient for you all to meet up, based on triangulating your locations and pulling recommendations from 4sq (how quaint, right?). If I were McDonald’s or Nando’s or Starbucks I would TOTALLY rip this off (which is probably why I work for none of those people).

  • The Eliketion: Yes, OK, it’s US politics, but this is a really interesting piece of datascraping ad analysis, using data on each Presidential nominees Facebook likes to trak their popularity and their visibility across the varying debates. Oh, and seeing as we’re on it, it is literally impossible for Trump to be elected President so can we all PLEASE STOP GIVING THAT DREADFUL CNUT THE PUBLICITY HE SO EVIDENTLY CRAVES? He is a sideshow, a distraction; a horrendous one, yes, but he is not politically relevant.

  • WripWrapWrop: Dreadful name, but if you want to get a little bit of revenge on your employer for another year of tedious, underremunerated wageslavery then you could do worse than this, which lets you map wrapping paper designs onto A3/A4 and print them using a standard laserjet and, inevitably, utterly rinse the toner from the workplace machine. YEAH! Take THAT! You will of course look like a total cheapskate, but you will also have saved literally pounds, so who’s laughing? EH????

  • Open Prescribing: Bit dull, this, sorry, but it’s sort of interesting as a case study. UK prescription data, made available online – look, everyone, it’s BIG DATA in action! If nothing else you can probably make some GREAT spurious correlations around the increase in certain drug prescriptions and unrelated social trends. Has there been a marked increase in prescriptions of antidepressant medication in the UK as the popularity of Facebook has increased? I BET THERE HAS YOU KNOW.

  • Making Video Calls In Minecraft: I am in AWE of this. So incredibly geeky, and so incredibly clever. Also smart sponsorship of the vid by the phonepeople.

  • Pico8: Basically a miniature virtual console which lets you program tiny, pixellated little games into it which can then be shared with other users. If you’re a maker of games, the limitations inherent in the platform may make for an interesting design challenge.

  • The Best Gifs of 2015: Look, I have no idea if these are the actual best, but they are all very nice and the animation styles are lovely and a bit whimsical and they sort of have that pastel-y 2d cut-out aesthetic that is very BIG right now, so just enjoy them and shut up and leave me alone.

  • The Self-drying Jacket: You may be thinking ‘hang on, don’t ALL clothes dry themselves eventually? The people backing this on Kickstarter must be IDIOTS!’, and you’d be right, but let’s not let that small issue stop us from marvelling at the sheer preposterousness of an article of clothing which is apparently being designed with a built-in hardryer (effectively). Back To The Future has SO MUCH to answer for.

  • Bobbugs: Each and every day, this man posts a photo of himself to his Instagram feed with a different ‘disguise’ (if you can call, for example, being covered in post-it notes a disguise). The ingenuity here is impressive, as are the pictures themselves.

  • The Art Baby Gallery: An online space for artists working with the internet s their primary medium, there is a LOT of stuff buried in here. They take submissions, so you if you do that sort of spangly seapunky internet art thing you may well find a home for it.

  • Performing Arts With Google: Continuing the rollout of the Google Cultural Institute, this site collects all of the 360degree videos and other webgubbins from a variety of performing arts organisations worldwide, from the Berlin Philharmonic to the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma to the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). It’s sometimes hard to remember amongst all the privacyhorror and tax evasion that Google still does truly remarkable stuff like this.

  • Sello: Either a great or a terrible idea, not sure which (and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sort of trenchant analysis which brings literally tens of you flocking here every week), Sello is an online sales platform which lets you flog stuff to your friends on social media. Chuckup a picture, a price and a description, and watch as your ‘BUY MY STUFF NOW’ spam gets punted out through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (and a whole load of other platforms too). Quite a lot of potential here for post-breakup LOLs if nothing else.

  • Gay Pulp Paperback Covers of the 70s: There’s a brilliant uniformity of style to this collection; LOOK AT THE SEXY 1970s GAYS! Some of the titles are, it’s fair to say, not hugely subtle in their message – ‘Big Pipe’, anyone?

  • Small World In Motion: Nikon do an annual ‘Small World’ photo competition which I have featured on here before, showcasing ultra-closeuyp photos of microorganisms and the like – this is the video equivalent. If you like the idea of videos of wobbling bacillae, then this will be RIGHT up your street (and even if you don’t, these are very cool indeed).

  • Slide Camera: SUPER-NEW iPhone app which lets you easily take those slightly wobbly 3d-effect pictures – you know, the ones which give a crazy depth-of-field illusion whilst simultaneously making you feel a bit sick with their wobbling. Really easy to use, by all accounts – just tap the screen and move the phone a bit and HEY PRESTO, a 3d gif. Worth playing with if you’re running out of gimmicks for your Instagram feed.

  • How A Car Works: If your kid wants to be a mechanic, this is a GREAT site. Alternatively, if you’re taking the bastard vehicle to Quik Fit this weekend and want to be marginally less intimidated by the grease-covered menials muttering significantly about the ‘big end’ or similar then this might be of use.

  • Higher Tides: A really slick website which wins this week’s ‘Oh-So-Ballardian’ award for dystopian satire, Higher Tides is the website for a fictitious estate agency whose usp purports to be its approach to investment in property in areas which will be affected by global warming – the idea being that you can invest in a (tall) house in an area which is likely to suffer from flooding, with a view to your property appreciating vastly in value as everyone around you starts to drown. Obviously a joke, but not quite obviously enough to stop engadget and a few other sites reporting on it as if it were true, this is an excellent example of how to make a really well-put-together piece of satire – the rabbithole is DEEP with this one. Also, and I know I keep on saying this but it bears repeating,additional proof that we now live in a society where it is almost impossible to come up with something so ridiculous and dreadful that it is obviously a joke; EVERYTHING is plausible, which I’m sure is a situation that deserves its own nomenclature. A post-satirical society or something, I don’t know, you do the thinking for once, I am so, so tired of it all.

  • The Information Is Beautiful Awards: Every year I link to these and every year I say something like ‘those things you keep calling infographics and datavisualisations; they are neither, they are just ugly pieces of shit you’re making to justify the existence of your content calendar’ and every year the same old crap keeps getting made and would you all just STOP PLEASE? Ahem. Anyway, some great work on display here, as per usual – this, for example, is almost breathtakingly lovely and just WORKS.

  • Dewdrop: Ephemeral filesharing. Upload a file to the page, it generates a download link which only exists for as long as the uploader wants it to; you can turn off the link whenever you choose. Not only good for sharing sensitive information without a trace, but also lots of potentially funn implications for dead letterbox-style game-type things.

  • OldWeb Today: Work with a bunch of CHILDREN? Why not milk your status as an old timer of the internet by showing the kids exactly how rubbish the internet used to be, with this website which allows you to view any page as it would look on a selection of old browsers (from Netscape onwards). If you’re one of the aforementioned kids, check out what we had to put up with. It’s a miracle this internet thing took off at all, frankly.

  • 25 Days Of…: Rendered almost completely useless by the fact that I only found it a week into December, this is still a rather slick little ‘make your own bespoke advent calendar site with gifs and stuff’ toy which frankly can and should be repurposed to be a non-Christmas thing as the effects you can pull together are surprisingly fancy-looking.

By Karl Holmqvist



  • The Emoji Sentiment Ranking: One of the main problems with emoji-only communication, aside from the fact that it marks you down as an intellectually deficient mouthbreather, is that it’s so AMBIGUOUS. What did your bae mean when they sent you the aubergine followed by the smiley poo? Oh God, the mere fact of writing that phrase made me feel a very real sense of futurepresenthorror. Anyway, eliminate all possible misconceptions of your emoji-ing thanks to this objectively compiled ranking of all emoji by their perceived sentiment, from happy to sad. Based on an actual academic paper so, you know, OBVIOUSLY REAL AND TRUE.

  • Playlist Buddy: Turn any Spotify playlist into a YouTube playlist. No, I don’t know why you’d want to do that either, but maybe you’re planning on having a party and need something for people to stare at when the drugs kick in or something.

  • Weather Is Happening: Categorically, hands-down the best weather-related website to ever be featured on Curios. PRETTY BIG KUDOS THERE.

  • The 5,000 Colour Puzzle: This is pretty much the Everest of jigsaw puzzles, I think (except from those weird masochistic ones that are all white or all black) – each piece is a different colour, and when arranged they form one of those lovely gradient palette things. Easier to understand than explain (it’s not just me being a terrible writer, honest), this is potentially the greatest gift ever or actual torture, I’m undecided.

  • QR Life: Finally, a purpose for QR codes – scan them with this app and turn them into pleasing games of Life. No, I realise that it doesn’t magically make them useful, but there are limits.

  • The NASA APIs: Make stuff with spacedata. If nothing else, the potential for Deep Space bots is pretty big – maybe you could create something that sends pictures of the infinite incomprehensible majesty of space to anyone who mentions One Direction, say, just to broaden their horizons a bit.

  • The Belly Bump Ball: Giant raspberry suits, designed so that grown men and women can hurl themselves at each other without fear of damage. Obviously totally ridiculous, but made even more so by the description which suggests that they were designed as a way for adults and children to explore confrontation in a safe and non-violent manner. IMAGINE THE FAMILY THERAPY SESSIONS THAT WOULD RESULT! I suggest you buy a few forthwith for the awkward drunken arguments that will doubtless ensue over Christmas.

  • An Incomprehensible And Odd YouTube Channel: Whoever this woman is, she appears to upload on average 3-6 videos a day, some of which are honestly really unsettling. Can someone, anyone, please help me work out what in the name of Christ is going on here please? WHO ARE YOU, RUSSIAN MAD LADY, AND HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?!

  • Pinrose: A nice gimmick, this site purports to identify the perfect scent for you based on a series of questions – they will then sell you your perfect stink based on its reading of your personality. Obviously it’s a fudge – a bit like those lifestyle questionnaires from women’s magazines in days of yore, or the Facebook profile analysers beloved of double-figure-IQ revenants from your long-forgotten schooldays, but I think there’s a market for this faux-personalisation which could be explored by lots of other brands with moderately customisable products.

  • Illusions of the Body: A series of photos illustrating the difference posture can make to a person’s attractiveness. Lovely shots, though they’re all nudes and so I suppose NSFW (but, as I always say at this point, if anyone you work with finds this offensive you should probably get another job as your colleagues are DICKS, mate).

  • Another New Beautiful Tube Map: Gorgeous, and available as prints and posters. Can’t make head nor tail of it, personally, but it is very pretty indeed.

  • Aerocene: A…perplexing art project, which as far as I can tell is seeking to create a host of giant sort of bubble-type things and float them around the world like gigantic solar-powered sky jellyfish (which is what I would have called the project, personally. From the blurb: “Aerocene manifests as a series of air-fuelled sculptures that will achieve the longest, emission-free journey around the world: becoming buoyant only by the heat of the Sun and infrared radiation from the surface of Earth. The sculpture floats without burning fossil fuels, without using solar panels and batteries; and without helium, hydrogen and other rare gases.  Aerocene holds a message of simplicity, creativity and cooperation for a world of tumultuous geopolitical relations,reminding us of our symbiotic relationship with the Earth and all its species.” What’s not to love about that?

  • 10 x 2015: A lovely project, taking artists’ selection of the ten ‘best’ albums of the year and inviting said artists to create new covers for them. If nothing else, a lovely source of visual inspiration (and a decent source of music recommendations because, as you’d expect, there’s a lot of wilful obscurantism going on in the selections).

  • The Privacy Gift Shop: A collection of posters, available for sale, which highlight concerns around online privacy. I am a particular fan of the one which reads “Fcuk My Like”, should anyone want to purchase it for me.

  • Turning Everything Into Manga With Deep Dream: The Trump one is sort of incredible.

  • Fractal Gears: Erm, just that really.

  • All Of Estonia’s Library Checkouts: Hot on the heels of the Japanese library controversy (WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU MISSED IT???) comes yet another startling booklending-related project; Estonia’s continuing quest to be the most digital country in Europe continues apace, with this simple website showing a live map of library books being checked out across the country. I would love to see this for the UK – can someone make it for me please? Ta.

  • Figma: Launching next year, this is a collaborative interface design tool which I imagine several of you working in digital studios might find quite useful.

  • Deep Forger: Send this bot your pictures and it will Deep Dream them into the style of a variety of artistic masters. Pretty amazing stuff.

  • Woobots: OBVIOUSLY this has been funded already, OBVIOUSLY. Wooden versions of Transformers for mid-30s hipsters? What could be more Kickstarter, right? Anyway, including this here as there are just over two days left for you to get in on the ground floor of this INCREDIBLE THING. I personally think that the robots look quite shonky tbqhwy, but I’m feeling a touch curmudgeonly this week and may not be in the best position to appreciate their unique aesthetic qualities *checks again* no, they really are pretty rubbish.

  • 83 Free Albums!: I mean, ok, yes, you only get them on Christmas Day, and you won’t have heard of any of them, and yes, they do all appear to be Quebecois, but come on, FREE MUSIC! This is actually a really nice idea, giving away music from a variety of Francophone Canadian labels as a Christmas gift and musical primer – one out of 83 sort of has to be good, doesn’t it? Oh.

  • A Lover Sings: The Billy Bragg fan community that you never knew you wanted or needed, this is shonky and yet all the more lovely for it; memories and anecdotes and stories about Bragg’s songs and their lyrics and what they mean to people. God, I love the wonky-faced bastard.

  • Santa’s Shed: I think I have featured this on here in previous years, but in case you missed it last time around this is once again the creepiest Christmas thing on the internet – a live feed of a mechanical Santa, in what looks like a shed somewhere in the US, which you can get to ‘say’ things by typing into the textbox. Right now it’s 3am wherever Santa is, and I just had a diverting few seconds of getting the horrifying spastic puppet (no, really, I am using that word absolutely appropriately I assure you) to say “Save me” and “I hate Christmas”. You too can share my joy!

  • Boris Ignatovich: The most beautiful website dedicated to a 20th Century Russian avant-garde photographer there has probably ever been, this is actually fascinating both from the point of view of webwork but also as a lens through which to view Soviet history and the development of an aesthetic movement. Rewards spending a bit of time with it, this one.

  • The Unpack: This is quite a brilliant lazy rich person’s service. Subscribe to The Unpack and each time you travel you can forget about bothering to take luggage with you – the service will provide you with a suitcase full of laundered designer gear, dropped off at your destination to meet you, all appropriately selected for the prevailing weather you’ll be experiencing and supposedly all hand-picked to make you look hot. Items can be purchased at discount rates if you like them, or simply returned at the end of the trip. This is SUCH a rich person’s service, but I can totally see the appeal – I could very easily see single brands doing something similar (a TopShop version would KILL, I reckon).

  • Luncher: You know that tedious joke where people say “I’m not on Twitter because I don’t care to know what you had for lunch” and then laugh like Boycey off Only Fools and Horses because, invariably, it’s people like that who say those sorts of things? Well now you can say “AHA! Well actually there’s a specific app for that and it’s called Luncher so IN YOUR FACE” and then turn a bright shade of red and realise that you actually despise confrontation and will now be too embarrassed to ever actually speak to that person ever again. Erm. Luncher is a network which actively encourages people to upload photos oftheir lunch, which can then be voted on to find the day’s BEST MEAL, which then wins points and prizes. The sort of thing which feels more like an overzealous attempt to get ENGAGEMENT amongst a multi-office employeebase than an actual thing that real people might want to use, but what do I know?

  • The Yule Log 2015: A selection of Christmassy animations, all in one place. I mean, many of them have nothing at all to do with Christmas that I can see, but the standard is pretty high overall and, look, you’re going to need stuff to distract you over the coming weeks so take what you’re damn well given, ok? OK????

  • Tagzaa: Fun little Instagram-based game which shows you a selection of pics culled from the platform and asks you to guess which hashtag they have in common. CLUE: It’s probably fcuking ‘wellness’ or somesuch anodyne lifestyle crap. IT WILL NOT STOP YOU DYING YOU KNOW.

  • Slap Kirk: Absolutely the most satisfying website on here this week. You’re welcome.

  • Tunity: I think this might actually be magic. Tunity is an INREDIBLE app which lets you ‘scan’ any muted TV with your phone, identifies the channel that the TV is showing, and then lets you stream that channel’s audio on your phone – meaning you can listen to a muted TV on your headphones. The site makes all sorts of claims for usage in bars, etc, but surely this is the best solution EVER to domestic arguments about people who have the volume up too FCUKING loud and who don’t understand that reading is better than watching TV and that they should just please be quiet please oh god why won’t everything just be quiet the noises.

  • Speak Up And Stay Safe: A depressingly necessary guide to dealing with online harassment – techniques to protect yourself and your family from the unwanted attentions of internet hatemobs, because, whether you like it or not, if you don’t do this stuff then noone else is going to help you.

  • Cook Your Pet: I mean, this has to be a joke. Doesn’t it?

  • A 60s Guide To Sex From Japan: Based on this, it’s a miracle that anyone got born at all in 60s Japan. There is some nudity in here, true, but it’s SO staid and awkward. The guide to handholding actually made me do a bit of an emosad, it’s so poignant.

  • Drunk Series: Short films, written and performed by drunk people. Funnier than you’d expect, though I get the impression that they are playing up the boozing a bit for effect (either that or they are total lightweights).

  • The Top 100 News Images of the Year: These are about exactly as harrowing as you would expect, based on the complete and total shitshow that has been 2015. Some great shots, but don’t expect there to be a barrel of laughs once you click. Oh, and here’s a bonus selection from The Atlantic while we’re about it.

  • The Tamagotchi Singularity: What would it look like if a rudimentary AI were designed with the sole purpose of keeping a selection of Tamagotchi alive and happy indefinitely? It would look like this, is the answer. Weirdly sort of conceptually chilling, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. BONUS: Twitch Plays Tamagotchi!

  • ZType: Type words, blow up spaceships. The best little typing game I have played in ages, and the music is gorgeous.

  • Jukedeck: Another one to file under ‘possibly magical’, this site will automatically generate surprisingly tuneful original compositions based on your selection of genre and duration. You will be amazed at how listenable this stuff is, trust me.

  • Si Le Soleil: The most accomplished website of the week by a MILE, this is truly wonderful stuff. Charting a boat journey from Brittany to the Canary Islands, this is a beautiful fusion of audio and video and stills and a glorious interface and even if, like me, you care not a jot for a life on the ocean waves it is utterly beguiling. Have a play, it’s very much worth exploring.

  • Because Recollection: I think that Because Music is a French label. It doesn’t matter – this site, taking a look back at music from the past 20 years, made me really happy in what, if I’m honest, has been a week pretty much entirely free of fun. I hope it distracts you as much as it distracted me – turn up your speakers and play around with it.


By Daniel Catalano




  • Tumblr’s Year In Review: What did the Tumblr community care about in 2015? Which artists and fashion labels were big? Possibly because of the slightly odder nature of Tumblr as a community, this is several orders of magnitude more interesting than the parellel ‘year in review’ efforts from Twitter and Facebook linked to up the top.

  • Shit Duolingo Says: Odd translations requested of users by language learning app Duolingo. “I am tired of your smile” is a particular favourite of mine.

  • Chas and Dave in New York: Photos of Chas and Dave’s hitherto-unreported voyage of self-discovery in the Big Apple at the dawn of Punk. Seminal.

  • Graffi-Tips: Tips for graffiti artists, illustrated in cartoon form. Surprisingly practical, if you’re considering dusting off the aerosols and the shell-toes over Christmas.

  • Zines of the Zone: Photos of the front covers of zines. Just that. Rather nice.

  • Hectocotylus Everywhere: A tumblr, named after the technical term for an octopus’ penis, all about weird looking animals. VERY weird looking animals, it turns out.

  • Women Reacting TO Harsh Noise: So many excellent reaction shots here for you to use. Suggest bookmarking this as you will find MUCH fodder for office email BANTZ.

  • Pretty Puke: I think that this belongs to an artist in LA, but frankly it’s included because I’m a sucker for this sort of deliberately weird acid aesthetic and some of the photos are ODD.

  • Formt: Fonts and design and STUFF.

  • Dear My Blank: A collection of unsent letters, texts, emails and the like. All the things you might have wanted to say and now it’s too late and OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

  • GOP Dildos: Republican party politicians holding guns, except the guns have been replaced with giant, colourful wangs.

  • The Forest Is Real: A promo Tumblr for a forthcoming film about a Japanese forest famous as a destination for suicides, there is something pretty astonishingly tasteless about the ‘EXPLORE THE ACTUAL SUICIDES’ narrative that they have going on here, I think. Still, slick website guys!

  • Tintin In Innsmouth: Where Herge meets Lovecraft.

  • Composers Doing Normal Shit: Pretty much exactly that. Philip Glass filing his taxes, that sort of thing. Unrelated, but I walked past Sadler’s Wells this week and saw that they were advertising Swan Lake as ‘MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE’ and then, in far, far smaller type beneath, the legend ‘music by Tchaikovsky’. Hubris, much, Matty?

  • My Day With Leo: Phototricks with cut out heads of famouses and perspective.

  • Chain Texts: An incomprehensible (to me at least) collection of filthy chain texts with a Christmas theme. Are these real? Is this a THING?

  • Confused Travolta: A growing collection of that meme of a skagged-out Travolta from Pulp Fiction looking all lost which has exploded over the past week or so.





  • Making and Breaking Mork and Mindy: I loved this programme as a child; it was my first introduction to Robin Williams, and will always remind me of being small and wondering why you would call a place ‘Boulder’. Obviously it’s aged pretty dreadfully, but this oral history-type piece about its genesis and eventual decline is a lovely piece of TV nostalgia – I particularly love the fact that it sprang from an episode of post-sharkjumping Happy Days whose plot was suggested by a network exec’s kid – does that sort of stuff still happen in TV? I’m going to guess not.

  • How Elmo Ruined Sesame Street: A classic piece of internet writing, this, applying a degree of rigorous analysis to a topic that probably, on balance, doesn’t really merit it all that much. The author’s totally right, though; that little red bastard is insufferable and could do with being retired.

  • The Cult of Bill Murray: A N Other hagiographic piece about the patron saint of the internet age, this one’s no more critical than many of the others you’ll have read, but contains a better ratio of Murray anecdotes to the page than most. The one about “FRANCIS!” in Cuba is pretty astonishing and is worth reading the piece for alone.

  • Living in the Cult of Likeability: Bret Easton Ellis, a man for whom being liked hasn’t necessarily been a guiding principle, opines on how the ever-present culture of online approval – from Likes to the Uberification of everything – is making everything anodyne and pat and safe and homogenous and dull. He’s right, it is.

  • Transhumanism in 2015: A really brilliant piece of journalism, looking at the transhumanist movement in the US (you know, the people who believe that we will all be uploading ourselves to the cloud and living forever in a meatspace-free utopia where every whim is fulfilled and we need never know pain or suffering ahahaahaha pull the other one mate it has got bells on), and in particular its leading light, the charismatic-but-clearly-quite-odd Zoltan Istvan, whose hoping for a swing at the White House. Does a reasonable job of being skeptical without being too mocking, and is actually a pretty decent look around the outer edges of this most scifi of belief sets.

  • Tech and the American Teen: Yes, ok, so this is another ‘look at the teenagers in their natural habitat, clutching their smartphones and whispering in their strange, guttural dialect, what can it all MEAN?’ anthropology pieces, and yes it’s a US perspective, but it’s actually much better than most what with being neither particular u- or dystopian and instead painting a reasonably balanced picture of the impact of always-on tech on the post-smartphone generation. Poor little fuckers.

  • Access and the Media: The latest in The Awl’s consistently excellent series on modern media and publishing, this takes a look at how social media has altered the manner in which access (to news, to events, to famouses, to information) works for publishers, and the knock-on effect it subsequently has on reporting. Effectively, if you want a decent explanation of the rise of the HOT TAKE this is a good one.

  • China and the Memeufacturers: As the LUCOZADE SWEGWAY DICK TURPIN overnight cemented the hoverboard as the must-have Christmas gift for yoot all over the country – yoot imagining chirpsing a girl, gliding by as swag as you like on a self-correcting set of neon-glow wheels; yoot imagining literally running RINGS around the other crew in the next big playground beef – here’s a look at where this stuff all gets made (China, for avoidance of doubt). Aside from anything else, it’s an interesting look at the connection between ephemeral internet popularity and people actually making stuff on the other side of the world. Just think, next time you reblog that dank Pepe meme on Tumblr you’re making it exponentially more likely that a warehouse full of plush versions of the bastard frog will be hastily stitched together by a bunch of children with failing eyesight and bleeding fingertips. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  • I’m Comic Sans: Typical McSweeney’s, but I’m a sucker for the style. See also, ‘Decorative Gourd Season is OVER’.

  • Your New Influencer Motherlode: Forget YouTube, forget Vine, it’s all about YOUNOW. I mean, it’s not, yet, but this is one to drop into your planning and predictions ‘deck’ (IT’S A FUCKING POWERPOINT YOU PRICKS) for 2015; this is a pretty interesting look at the platform, although I warn you against watching any of the actual ‘content’ unless you’re under the age of 15 as it will make you appreciably more stupid (or at least that’s what it felt like yesterday).

  • Star Wars 1: The big Rolling Stone feature on the film which you have probably already devoured if you’re into that sort of thing, but which is actually pretty interesting even if you’re not a monomaniacal slavering fanboy.

  • Star Wars 2: Far more interesting is this piece, talking to Anthony Daniels,  the man inside the camp robot suit. He sounds GREAT, and far more fun than you’d expect.

  • On Deen & Stoya: The whole James Deen thing is all sorts of bleak and creepy and sad, whatever the actual truth of the matter is; this is a decent look at it by the Guardian. I know that it’s accepted these days that working in bongo is a valid career choice undertaken by intelligent adults with autonomy of choice and the like, but it’s quite hard not to draw the conclusion that there are…well…quite a few quite damaged people doing it, whatever they might maintain about their absolute mental fortitude.

  • The Toughest Man In Cairo…: The first of three MUST-READ pieces at the end this week, this account of war and cigarettes and friendship was recommended to me by Simon (thanks Simon) and is almost certainly more fiction than fact, but I don’t care; the quality of the writing is superb, and the payoff in the last line had me doing a little applause. Do read it, it’s AWESOME.

  • Jury Duty: A great piece of writing, genuinely brilliant, about the author’s experience of doing jury duty in the US. So, so erudite and smart, and entertaining with it – and, of course, deeply depressing and evocative of all of the failures inherent in the US criminal justice system (and, doubtless, in juries the world over). Superb.

  • Vomit is not an Emotion: I’d be including this if this week hadn’t been characterised by death, but as it is it’s an apposite one to end on. Buzzfeed’s resident ‘death and oddities’ correspondent (not her official title, I appreciate, but there’s a theme to her work…) Hayley Campbell writes about the death of her grandparents a few weeks apart, how their joint funeral coincided with her birthday this year, and all sorts of other things besides. Might make you a little weepy, even if you haven’t had quite as monumentally shit a week as I have.


By Alessandro Calabrese




1) First up, the annual event that is DJ Earworm’s United States of Pop, mashing some of the biggest tracks of the year into…well…a perfect example of the fact that all this stuff sounds basically the same, no? Contains a lot of the Weeknd, some Bieber, some Adele, and loads of other stuff besides (including, inexplicably, Pitbull – come the apocalypse, that man will still be poorly rhyming like some sort of superannuated provincial bouncer three weeks into a lottery win):

2) This is called ‘Manic’ by Prince Innocence. It is not manic at all, it is LOVELY:

3) There’s a story in the video that I didn’t quite get the first time, and you might not either as I found the song distractingly good; it’s got shades of lots of hypersuccessful pop of the past 18 months about it, but feels like its own beast with a slightly cold 80s-type vibe around the chorus. This is called ‘Romeo’ by Chairlift:

4) The simply isn’t enough Hebrew hiphop in the world, I don’t think – this is an attempt to rectify that, by Darshan. It’s called Aleph Bass – happy Hannukah and all that to those of you for whom that’s a thing:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! As long as Wiley keeps making music, I will keep featuring it. His output is PHENOMENAL – this is his new track, called ‘P Money’. Also, the jacket he is wearing in the video is GREAT:

6) Ever wanted to get an upclose and personal look at Bjork’s mouth? OH GOOD!:  

7) This sort of made me think of a French Sade, which may not sound like a recommendation but is, I promise:

8) Last new track of the week, this is the most astonishingly NSFW video I have seen all year. It is by Peaches, it is for her song ‘Rub’, and it features lots of full-frontal nudity, a bit of pissing, the odd bit of cockwaving and quite a good, if sleazy, tune. You know how I said something up there about what PRUDES your colleagues would be if they complained about you looking at artistic nudity? Yeah, well, they’d probably have a point with this one:

9) Given that there’s a degree of confusion as to whether I’ll be in a position to do a Curios next week or not, I’m closing out this week with the WEB CURIOS SONG OF 2015, which is ‘Here’ by Alessia Cara. Doubtless she will be bowled over by the accolade – she is, I think, going to be quite famous. Anyway, I may be back next week, I may not. If I’m not, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years – I hope they involve as little death as is possible. Take care of yourselves.


Webcurios 27/11/15

Reading Time: 28 minutes

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Everything’s fixed! All that talking and opining about What Must Be Done has sorted EVERYTHING OUT! Praise be!

ONLY JOKING! It’s all still a total fcuking mess, whichever way you look.The only people with reason to look happy at the moment are the arms manufacturers, and they tend to grin suspiciously most of the time anyway. The rest of us, though, can only reflect on how banjaxed everything is and self-medicate to take the pain away.

Which, in a SEAMLESS segue, is exactly what I am going to be doing this weekend, and I visit Fat Bob in Amsterdam and try not to let him tempt me into doing crack with strangers. Presuming I survive, I’ll see you in a fortnight – Web Curios will be taking next week off to deal with the inevitable empty feeling that comes from TOO MUCH FUN. In the meantime, though, enjoy these hand-foraged, artisanally-crafted nuggets of web, sourced from all over and served to you with the now-mandatory garnish of prolix ennui that literally DOZENS of you have come to…well…tolerate, I suppose, is the best way to describe it. Hold your nose, scarf them down, and don’t think too much about exactly what all of this is doing to you –  THIS IS WEB CURIOS!

By Kyle Thompson



  • Facebook And Google Make Friends (Sort Of): This is actually a few weeks old, meaning that noone ACTUALLY cared enough to write it up / notice (other than We Are Social, who I should probably thank for bothering to alert me to its existence), but I think it’s worth noting. Obviously most of what goes on on Facebook is still stuck behind the Great Wall, but as a result of an update from a few weeks back, non-privacy-locked info is getting indexed by the GoogleBots, meaning it actually becomes slightly more useful for companies and brands to have at least some publicly available info about themselves on Facebook if only to, you know, OWN THEIR SEARCH PROFILE and stuff like that.
  • Facebook Testing Ephemeral, Snapchat-style Disappearing Messages: Facebook might be aping Snapchat even more than it does already. I mean, they’re only testing this feature, but as Web Curios has previously observed, the great platform consolidation is now well underway and this is basically a nailed-on cert, right? Because the only certainty we have for 2016 is that all of these fcuking platforms will do exactly the same thing but with small, maddening variations which will serve only to make the lives of digimongs like us marginally more complicated than they in fact need be. There, that’s my prediction for next year, bank it. 
  • Facebook At Work Gets Own Messenger: Not that the majority of us peons have had a chance to play with the bloody platform (aside from those of you working for RBS or whichever other corporate behemoths have been earmarked as guinea pigs), but when you’re writing up your speculative ‘things we might want to consider in 2016’ roundups, be sure to note that Facebook At Work, looking like it will launch in January next year, will have its own messenger app, to give office monkeys an alternative to Communicator for sending lewd and potentially libellous opinions about the Accounts team to colleagues without leaving a paper-trail. Thanks, Facebook!
  • YouTube Adds International / Translation Tools: Google this week announced a raft (well, three) updates to its translation services for videos, which is worth a look if you do stuff that you’d like to potentially spread to more people than just those who have the common decency to speak English. A small note – there’s something sort of awful about their case studies being VICE and TED – two multi-million dollar media brands – waxing lyrical about how the community helped them double their reach by translating their videos FOR FREE. Without wishing to come over all self-help here, if you can contribute to a translation project then you can probably afford to charge for it, you DICKS. STOP GIVING LARGE CORPORATIONS THIS STUFF FOR NO MONEY PLEASE. Aside from anything else, how am I meant to charge extortionate freelance rates for anything when you lot are doing legitimately useful things for nothing?
  • Snapchat Story Explorer: As the slightly undignified scramble to OWN SOCIAL NEWS continues apace (so ugly, really), Snapchat is launching another feature – a feature so new, and so US-only, that the sole piece of coverage I have seen on it is this truly appalling piece on Mashable, a website which has long been the yardstick for lazy, poorly-written tech ‘journalism’, but which has of late actually surpassed itself when it comes to the sheer horror of its prose (thanks, Mashable!). Basically this is me apologising for the fact that, as a result of this, it’s actually pretty hard to find out exactly how it actually works or what it is going to do when it is rolled out wider than just LA & NYC (the two cities it’s launched in) – basically, though, it’s going to aggregate Snaps in a sort of ‘BREAKING NEWS!’ format for your city. Here’s the spiel, in case you care enough to read it: “…will offer users a closer look at significant events in their city as they happen, via the city’s Live Story. Snapchat is rolling the feature out to New York City and Los Angeles at first, but says it will make it available in more cities “very soon.” When browsing a Live Story for either city, you’ll see a new “Explore” tab at the bottom of certain Snaps. Swipe up and you’ll be able to see more Snaps about the same event.The goal, the company says, is to allow users to see breaking news and other important moments from more perspectives.” So there. 
  • Choose Your Own Adventure Vines: I think that this is a rather nice twist on the standard CYOA Twitter game which we’ve all seen rather a lot of and are probably a touch bored by (although it IS about football, for which apologies). As is this, too, by Azeem Anzhar and experimenting with the use of Twitter polls as a mechanic for filtering people through the story. Have a play, they are fun. 
  • Spotify Thanksgiving: I’m largely ignoring Thanksgiving stuff because, well, America has managed to foist Hallowe’en hysteria on us, and Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, and a whole host of other things, and I am buggered if I am going to be complicit in making their sodding festival of candied yams (THAT IS NOT AN ACTUAL FOODSTUFF, I AM SORRY) a ‘thing’ here too, but I rather liked this and so am breaking my own embargo. A really nice little idea from Spotify – input the weight of your turkey, select your preferred genre, and Spotify churns out a playlist designed to match the ideal cooking time for the bird. Sort of like the cooking playlists from last week, there’s a lot of ‘inspiration’ potential here, I think. 
  • Target Does Star Wars: Can Star Wars please fcuk off? Eh? Oh. Fine. This is sweatshop retailer Target’s own attempt to get in with the BUZZ, included mainly because it is sort of pretty – OOH LOOK AT THE LOVELY FLOATING STAR WARS FACES! – and because of its utter pointlessness. Visit the site, express your preference for a particular moment / character from the Star Wars mythos, claim your place in the star system where your anodyne little message (“I LOVE BOBA FETT LOL!”) will live forever…I mean, yes, fine, it’s nice to look at, but WHY IS IT THERE? My favourite sort of poignant part is that all of these pathetic little thoughts have a ‘share’ functionality built-in, so you can spread your “I LOVE BOBA FETT LOL” message to all your friends, who will doubtless be thrilled. A wonderful example of some obviously talented internet makers phoning it in really hard. Oh, and look, here’s exactly the same thing but done for the new Halo game. Can you all stop making these, please? 
  • Content Marketing Guidelines 2016: Included solely because a) it’s about TRENDS!; and b) it purports to be a guide to content marketing (can we stop using that phrase now? Thanks) with all sorts of useful tips and tricks and hints and trends, but it then just talks about companies doing content who have access to stuff that people actually like and are interested in already (sport, food, fashion, etc). GYAC GUYS THESE PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE CONTENT THING SO MUCH; WHY NOT FOCUS ON THE POOR BASTARDS WORKING FOR A MAJOR INSURANCE COMPANY OR SOMETHING? What’s that? Because noone in their right mind is ever going to want to consume ‘content’ from a major insurance company, however many ‘tips and tricks’ slideshows marketers may read? Ah, right, ok. Can everyone stop filling the web with branded sh1t, please? PLEASE?



  • Netspeak: I was slightly blown away by this; it is VERY clever. Netspeak is a sort of online…er…pseudothesaurus-y thing with knobs on, which effectively helps you find words for any occasion using a very, very clever and surprisingly flexible Googl-style interface. type in a phrase with ‘?’ characters where you want word suggestions and the site will spit out a raft of potential linguistic solutions – along with usage examples, frequency data, all sorts of stuff. As a tool for helping people learn English this seems SUPER-useful, and it’s actually quite fun to play around with if you’re a bit of a word-obsessive.

  • Thanksgiving For Syria: Yes, ok, fine, it’s ANOTHER Thanksgiving link, but. This one lets you tell it what you’re cooking for Thanksgiving and how many people you are cooking for, and then gives you a nice per-person donation figure that you can donate to assist the Syrian people through what it’s fair to describe as a somewhat trying time (OR IS IT??? That was some pretty heavy foreshadowing, for those of you immune to this sort of stylistic horrortick). Suggest someone do something similar for Christmas, please, but with a choice of charitable cause.

  • Voter: As we labour through one of the more morally and politically ambiguous periods in the history of international relations, and as we struggle to make sense of the various positions being held by our elected leaders, are we not all crying out for a better way of making sense of this crazy, messed-up world? We are, right? What we need is TINDER BUT FOR POLITICS! Yes, that’s right, Voter uses the Tinder-style left/right swipe to let users indicate their support or disdain for a variety of policies, eventually spitting out a recommendation as to who they should vote for based on their preferences. Actually, this is just a slicker and more cosmetic variant of the old-style ‘political compass’ toys, so I’m just being a bit reactionary in my disdain for it (though expect me to get all upset about it again when it expands to the UK).

  • This Is Miles: I don’t know who Miles is, or who his dad is (it’s not going to be a woman who made this, is it? This is a total father’s vanity project), but this is a 3d scan of him on the internet to celebrate the fact that he exists. I think that everyone should have one of these done for them – I would like us all to have a website which collects scans of us at various points in our life, please, to exist in perpetuity.

  • The Raspberry Pi Zero: Chances are that if you’re reading this then you’re probably already well aware of the AMAZING news that they are now selling an actual computer for about £5. There is literally NO excuse for not getting one for your kids to mess around with – seriously, the pricepoint and size and weight make this latest iteration of the Pi series an almost must-own for anyone who wants to apply a little bit of creativity to their computing.

  • The Poco Supercomputer: In what is possibly a slightly pre-emptive bout of predictory hubris, I am calling this as vaporware RIGHT NOW. Ok, so it has a semi-famous behind it (one of the Sinclair dynasty, a heritage amusingly referenced on the crowdfunding page with notes on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the watches, the stereos, but not, sadly, the C5. WHY YOU NO MENTION THE C5, GRANT??), but the promise looks FAR too good to be true – a Rasberry Pi-powered minisupercomputer which does games and photos and 18x better than MP3 music playback…I mean, this is NEVER going to exist. Until it does, obviously, and I am forced to eat my words. Tasty, tasty words.

  • The Museum of Online Museums: All of the links to all of the museums on the internet (oh, ok, not ALL of them, but a shedload and frankly you’re not going to click on all the links because I know you’re lazy like that so what does it matter, eh? EH????).

  • Old Maps: A website containing all of the links to all of the old maps on the internet (may not in fact be ALL of the old maps on the internet, but it’s not like you’re going to now go and check so frankly it might as well be you dreadful pedant).

  • Urthecast: RIGHT NOW, the international space station is zooming around overhead, snapping pictures of everything and everyone (but not in a creepy way, honest) and generally being all amazing and future. Urthecast is the online portal for the ISS’s camera, through which you can see a pretty amazing gallery of spaceshots of earth as well as playing with the API which opens up all sorts of fun possibilities of hacks you can pull together using this awesome photography. I’d really like the ability to get a photo from space on my phone of wherever I am standing RIGHT NOW, for example, pointless as that might be. I’m sure you have better ideas, what with you being all CREATIVE and stuff.

  • Spotificator: With Rdio shuffling off to the great online graveyard in the Cloud, there’s probably a need for this service – Spotificator will export your playlist from Rdio and Deezer (do they know something we don’t about its likely longevity) and punt it into Spotify. Useful.

  • TemplateMaker: If you, unlike me, are the sort of nice person who actually bothers to wrap presents nicely rather than just getting some old newspaper and making some sort of sellotape-enabled mummy out of whatever old tat you’ve bought someone, then you might quite like this website – tell it the dimensions of your gift and it will produce a printable, downloadable box template to fit it. Might distract the recipient from the fact that you’ve bought them something painfully generic and anodyne because you don’t care about them enough to think about their actual desires.

  • Would You Rather…?: Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly? Would you rather know when or how you are going to die? Would you rather leave your home and family forever in the attempt to find a better life, or stay put and hope that you aren’t imprisoned and tortured by a corrupt regime? A rather nice mechanic to raise awareness and funds to help prevent human trafficking – clever, and another example of a site which tricks you into caring by misrepresenting itself, which after last week’s North Korea-LOLs I am now officially calling a THING.

  • Google Streetview in Jordan: I realise that saying stuff like this is pretty much demanding a slow handclap and the world’s smallest violin sonata, but I had one of the worst holidays of my entire life in Jordan about 9 years ago – it was WELL TRAGIC, mate, and included getting caught in an actual, proper blizzard whilst attempting to get a look at the awesome place from Indiana Jones. Anyway, I spent a few minutes earlier this week looking at it all again on Google Streetview’s new exciting JordanViewer and it made all the horrible memories come flooding back – THANKS,GOOGLE!

  • The Jules Verne Tropy LIVE: LIVE map showing progress in the slightly mental round-the-world boat race. Admittedly the nature of round the world boat racing means that the map isn’t all that dynamic, but points for effort and all that. Note to developers – some things, perhaps, don’t lend themselves to the LIVE thing quite so much.

  • Terrifyingly Realistic Celebrity Tie-in Dolls: You know how whenever a famous gets cast in a franchise these days they have at least one stop on the interview junket circuit where a presenter will pull out the hilariously dead-eyed representation of said famous from the film’s cash-in toy range for some lazy LOLs? Meet Noel Cruz, an artist who takes those dolls and through what I think can only be dark voodoo remodels them so that they look like their actual famous counterparts. On the offchance that any researchers for Jonathan Ross / Graham Norton read this, commission him to do one for a guest and get a good 10 minutes of chummy BANTZ out of the whole thing.

  • Forecast Lines: A lovely little weathersite, which not only tells you what the weather is like and what it is going to be, but which does so through a gently beautiful linear visualisation of how that is going to vary over the coming hours. Simple but really nice.

  • Tilt-shifted Space: You remember tilt-shift photography, right? That technique that was really popular about 5 years ago which made everything in a picture look like it was a tiny little model version of itself? This is that, applied to photos of space, which makes nebulae look like weird splashes of paint in water and is a generally wondrous effect. Gorgeous, these.

  • Mancan: This week’s example of a brand going hard on the ‘no publicity isbad publicity!’ front is ManCan – WINE IN A CAN FOR MEN! Because NO MAN could possibly drink wine in a bar from a glass – that would be ruinous to their masculinity, and lead to all sorts of not-so-gentle ribbing from THE LADS – society has seen fit to invent wine in a can, for REAL MEN. And tramps, probably. Is there anyone else who thinks that this feels a little bit like Richard Littlejohn continually going on about the homosexual practices he purports to be so disgusted by (ie trying a little too hard to assert one’s machismo)?

  • Telepromptor: Free teleprompter kit from this website, which may well be used to those of you less comfortable with public speaking or presenting but which I am including mainly so that you can all spend the afternoon using it to script workplace conversations in the style of a political press conference.

  • Bongolicious: Included solely because the URL made me laugh in a childish and prolonged fashion.

  • Pokemon or Big Data: Literally no idea at all what the demographic crossover between data people and Pokemon fans is, but just in case.


By Paolo Porto




  • Unmade: Unmade is a London-based clothing startup which sells clothing whose patterns you can choose and warp using their LOVELY web interface. I can’t stress enough how much I like this website and the idea of being able to apply / shift your own pattern onto the clothes; it uses the same sort of basic interface as an Oreos promo I linked to the other week, but to lovely commercial effect. I am too ugly and unfashionable to wear any of the clothes, of course, but perhaps you are a beautiful clothes horse with glass-cutting cheekbones and posture to die for, rather than a pasty, hunched webmong with ragged cuticles and incipient male-pattern baldness. I really hope you are, to be honest, because the alternative’s pretty bleak, let me tell you.

  • DigitTatts: This is a proof-of-concept video rather than an actual thing, but all sorts of amazing still – these are electric ‘tattoos’ (made from conductive ink and circuitry) which, the idea is, could be applied on an annual basis to allow for the monitoring of certain health indicators on an ongoing basis, removing / reducing the need for patient / doctor interaction. SO FUTURE! I mean, obviously there’s a whole load of questions as yet unanswered about, you know, showering with these things and stuff, but still.

  • The Case Study Club: One for the designers, a lovely selection of case studies to browse through and STEAL THE IDEAS OF.

  • TypeMedia: TypeMedia is a Masters programe in typography which takes place in the Hague – this is a website collecting the outputs of this year’s students, original typeface families created specifically for the course. If you are into fonts and things, you will very much enjoy these. The one called ‘Emil’ is particularly lovely, I think.

  • VR-Enabling iPhone Case: Yes, I know that that’s an ugly descriptor, but the thing’s called ‘Figment’ which is just silly. Anyway, this is a smartphone case which has beaten its Kickstarter target with over a month to go – the gimmick is that it has a flip-out viewer attachment which you can use to enable VR-type stuff through your phone. Designed for those of you who think Google Cardboard just looks a touch too povvo.

  • Addressage: A really interesting idea which will NEVER catch on, Addressage takes the same basic principle as that other website whose name I have temporarily forgotten and which applies a unique three-word descriptor to every single 5m square patch of land on earth (oh, this one) and gives an ‘inbox’ to every single address on the planet – the idea being that, if everyone uses it, you can send a message to anyone you like as long as you know where they live. Which, obviously, is a pretty terrible idea if you’re a woman. THANKS, MEN!

  • Readbug: Spotify for magazines, basically, but a really good resource if you’re the sort of person who likes occasionally dipping into hipster rags such as ‘Oh Comely’ and the like. My mate Paul once went into Smiths and complained, loudly and angrily, that there were “too many magazines on the shelves” – he was right, there are.

  • The iHit: Have you ever wanted a smartphone case which has a hidden compartment in which you can store some pre-rolled spliffs? Hm, you are obviously 15, but OH GOOD!

  • Millennial Insights: An auto-insight generator about Millennials. Which is sort of funny, but nowhere NEAR as good as the Thought Leadership one that my friends made and which I am going to plug here again because, well, I can.

  • Peephole: This looks like a gag site, but it appears to be straight and so I will present it as such. Do you get frustrated at the lack of CONTENT at your fingertips as you are waiting for a webpage to load? Do you wish those dead 5 seconds could be filled with MORE STUFF? Then this Chrome extension is for you. Peephole basically shows you THINGS while your webpages are loading up – from Facebook statuses to news headlines. There’s actually quite a nice idea at the kernel of this – and perhaps an interesting ad-funding model, maybe – but it’s a little too shonkily made and presented to work here, I think. HARK AT THE CRITIC.

  • Kiskiloszki: Annoyingly this is an Instagram feed rather than the Tumblr it ought to be, but this is a wonderful source of slightly odd classical art-inspired gifs.

  • The Edit – Reply Yes: SUCH a clever idea – is anyone else doing this? The Edit is a service which offers you the chance to build a curated collection of classic vinyl, one step at a time. Sign up, and each day the service will send you a text with a suggestion as to a record to buy for your collection; simply reply ‘yes’ to purchase said record and to have it delivered to your house. SUCH a smart, low-friction sales idea I am amazed I haven’t seen it used before.

  • Porcelain Figures With Insect Heads: I have no idea whether this is the sort of thing you might like, but it ought to be. Why WOULDN’T you want one of those porcelain figures like your grandmother used to have on her mantelpiece only with the friendly balloon-seller’s face replaced by that of, say, a praying mantis? NO REASON!

  • The Cassini Photos: 11 years of space photography from the Cassini probe, presented in beautiful fashion on this rather lovely page from the Wall Street Journal. All the shots have been turned into short films, tracking the probe’s progress through space, which turns the otherworldly experience of looking at Saturn and her moons into footage reminiscent of the early days of silent movies. Which is a weirdly really cool, in case you were wondering.

  • Darth Vader Everyday: Because it’s apparently against the law not to include something about St*r W*rs in every blog at the moment. This is Darth Vader, photographed being ordinary.

  • Nailbot: Included mainly because it’s a masterclass in spin, this is a crowdfinding campaign for a nail art robot that will print designs onto fingernails in 5-seconds flat. It’s using two GREAT zeitgeisty hooks as part of its campaign – first, EMOJI FINGERNAIL PAINTINGS (fcuk’s sake), and second, TEACHING GIRLS ABOUT TECH! I mean, fcuk knows exactly how they figure that a shopping centre machine which prints a smiley face on your fingers is going to do for women in STEM, but fair play to them for the chutzpah here.

  • Inside Russia’s Closed Cities: Quite remarkable photography of old, hidden Russian cities. From the descriptor: “Closed cities (known in Russia as ZATOs) were established in the Soviet Union from the 1940s to serve as nuclear weapon development or disposal sites, and were home to the navy and missile forces. These cities were not on any maps, had encrypted names and were called “mailboxes” by analogy with the classified institutes or secret manufacturing facilities situated in them. The residents were told not to mention their place of living, but to use the name of the nearest major city instead.” Weirdly beautiful.

  • Faceparty: Interesting little app which lets users create four-panel collages of Gifs. Not sure how embeddable, etc, they are, but the potential aesthetic outputs are rather cool, I think. I particularly like the idea of being able to make standardised 4-panel gif comics in series. Can someone go and do a load of them please? Thanks.

  • Banter Ventures: A VERY slick joke (it is a joke, right) lampooning VC culture here in London’s TECH CITY STARTUP MEGALOPOLIS. If you do anything startup-ish then you will find a lot to LOL at in here. Really nicely presented, and I particularly like how deep the rabbithole goes – there’s a lot of thought gone into the other sites and pages they’ve built around it.

  • Rabbit: SUCH a clever idea, this one. Rabbit is a simple premise – so simple that I can’t believe it’s not been done before – whereby two users, on smartphone or desktop or any combination of devices, can screenshare to be able to watch a film, say, simultaneously. Lots of applications, and if this works slickly then this could be a very useful thing indeed. If you’re a parent who travels a lot, this could be a really nice way of doing bedtime stuff with your kids, say. Jesus, what an INCREDIBLY saccharine thought, sorry.

  • Magic Transistor: One of the best online radio stations / playlist curators I have ever seen. This is honestly WONDERFUL, bookmark and enjoy.

  • Blab: An interesting online video discussion platform, Blab lets 2-4 people have an on-camera chat, filmed with webcams and presented in a 2×2 grid of talking heads with attendant chat functionality and the rest. Potentially a really useful way of recording discussion shows, etc, as evidenced by the very high-profile guineapigs they’ve already had using it (Scoble! Er, Heidi Montag!).

  • Shareable Readymades: Want to get someone a beautiful, 3d printed version of a classic Duchampian readymade? OH GOOD! Actually really nice gifts for art lovers, these.

  • Headliner: God, the news, eh? Bleak! Sad! Lacking in LOLs! What would improve it, do you think? I KNOW! I KNOW! How about consuming the news not from an actual news outlet but instead through this app, which presents a bunch of people sharing their HOT TAKES on the news! Headliner lets anyone (seriously, anyone) record their own ‘funny’ takes on whatever news event they fancy, which can then be browsed, commented on, upvoted, etc, by other users. The creators obviously want this to become a breeding ground for comedians in training, but can you IMAGINE the dross you’ll wade through in the search for 30 seconds of genuine funny? Probably a GREAT place to find dreadful internet wannabes, mind.

  • Behind The Scenes of Taxi Driver: Great collection of photographs. Man, Scorsese was COOL, eh? Bastard.

  • Neural Talk And Walk: Brilliant and slightly jaw-dropping video showing what happens you take a laptop running visual recognition code out onto the streets of Amsterdam and ask it to tell you what it’s seeing. It’s almost cute in a weird way – like a little kid pointing out of the window of a moving car at everything they see. Also, though, proof that we are actually really not that far away from this being an ACTUAL THING – take a moment to think about what this will mean for surveillance culture and then have a little cry.

  • Kaos Edge: Excellent and weird website which has apparently been created as a promo for Oneohtrix Point Never’s new album (see last week’s vids and quite a few other Curios for more of his stuff). It’s perfectly odd and VERY loud.

  • Good Music: This is the website for Kanye’s record label, which as far as I can tell does nothing other than play a track on clicking which loops back to the beginning when you stop clicking. I LOVE IT.

  • Holiday Christmas Music: Literally the only website you will need to drive at least one of your colleagues to the brink of homicide in the coming 4 weeks.

  • Teleport: Is this really necessary? I mean, ordering a cab is PRETTY EASY, right? Anyway, Teleport makes it EVEN SIMPLER, by offering a one–click service to order a cab to take any of your friends to wherever you are right now, courtesy Uber. Is this a thing now – the elimination of even microfrictions from already simple webservices? GREAT, LET’S ALL LET OUR THINKING FACULTIES ATROPHY SOME MORE!

  • Luna: Are YOU a witch or a werewolf? OF COURSE YOU’RE NOT, THAT STUFF IS MADE UP YOU IDIOT. Ahem. If you are, then this app about lunar calendars is probably quite useful.

  • The Infocom Cabinet: If you are of a certain age, you will recall Infocom text adventures with a mix of fondness and very real horror (“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND “USE”????”) – this is a WONDERFUL archive of many of the design documents, etc, from the golden age of text adventure development, with notes and maps and all sorts of other things. Includes, wonderfully, all SORTS of stuff from the Hitchhiker’s Guide game, which is not only great for fans but is a wonderful insight into how these things were built in general (spoilers: apparently very haphazardly).

  • Battlecoin: Play Bomberman online, win REAL BITCOIN! Tiny, tiny amounts of Bitcoin, but, you know, every little helps. Has only worked about 50% of the times I’ve tried it this week, but when it does it’s a lot of fun.

  • The Realtime Map of Berlin Public Transport: Hypnotic. Look, there’s one for Vilnius too! WHERE IS OUR LONDON VERSION, TFL? Come on,sort it out please.

  • Hire Peter: 100% the weirdest, most future thing I saw this week, Hire Peter isn’t, as far as I can tell, a joke, or indeed a tie-in to Amazon show Mr Robot as somone online speculated. It is, instead, an ACTUAL VIRTUAL LAWYER, who can notarise documents and fulfil base level legal functions, given legal validity (in the US only, as far as I can tell) through permanent Blockchain records. I can’t even BEGIN to get my head around this in terms of questions of personhood, the law, guarantees and recourse…I am boggling, EVERYWHERE. LOOK AT ME BOGGLE (my eyes are always like this, I’m afraid).

  • Lovely Interactive Music Website Thingy #1: Beautiful interactive vid for this track by Livyatimin from…er…somewhere whose language I can’t readily identify, which lets you gaze around a gorgeous, monochrome landscape rendered in pointillist-ish wireframey minimalism and featuring some pretty sweet floating whale-type dolphin things. I’m really selling this, aren’t I? Sorry.

  • Lovely Interactive Music Website Thingy #2: This, though, is WARPED. You have to try it  – you need a headshot of yourself to plug in, and a strong enough sense of self to not get too weirded out by what it subsequently does with your face. Go on, TRY IT!

  • The Best Google Trends Timesink Of The Year: I lost HOURS to this this week. I hope you do too. A simple game which asks you to identify a particular search trend from Google, based on looking at its Google Trends graph. Is that searches for “miley cyrus” or “teen milf creampie”? WHAT EVEN IS THE DIFFERENCE? (NB there is, insofar as I have yet seen, nothing even vaguely rude in any of this, so feel free to play it at work with impunity).

By Crystal Morey



  • Relatable Pictures of a Tiny Whale: Small, cute pictures of a small pink whale. Sometimes it’s helpful to look at things like this.

  • Suzie Q: Beautiful pen & ink illustrations of naked women (and some other things, but also lots of naked women).

  • Fiver Fun: Nice idea, this – just a collection of fun stuff on Amazon UK available for under £5. Combine this with push notifications and the simple ‘text yes to buy this’ mechanic above and I reckon you have a GREAT and simple presentbuying hack.

  • JSTOR: For those of you who have an inexplicable but real nostalgia for those days spent plagiarising other academics’ work in pursuit of a largely pointless MSc (was that just me? Oh).

  • Sheila Ford: Sheila Ford is a Canadian artist who posts simple line portraits on her Tumblr, all of which are available for sale for $50. I really, really like the style of these – you might too.

  • Bookshop Dogs: I met a bookshop owner this week whose dog has its own Twitter account. APPARENTLY THIS IS A THING NOW. Anyway, if you like dogs and bookshops then this might well please you to some degree.

  • When You Work At A Museum: Anecdotes and frustrations of museum workers, in Tumblr form. People are IDIOTS, it turns out. WHO KNEW?

  • What Are Millennials Doing?: Collecting bullshit statements and headlines about Millennials. Things I would like to see in an idealised version of 2016 – an absolute moratorium on the use of fcuking bullshit made-up terms like ‘millennial’.

  • The Triumph of Postmodernism: Just a lovely collection of photos of postmodernist architecture, which is particularly useful if, like me, you weren’t 100% certain exactly what postmodern architecture was in the first place.

  • Pundemonium: Illustrated puns. Silly, but if you don’t laugh at at least one of these then there is almost certainly dust where your soul should be.

  • The Sisterhood of Females Ruined By Chris Evans: Occasionally I stumble across a corner of Tumblr fandom that is so joyously unabashed in its slightly pervy sexualisation of A N Other Hollywood star that I am slightly entranced. This is such a Tumblr  – some of the erotic fanfiction on here is GLORIOUS. Enjoy!

  • The Last Message Received: This weeks dose of massive emofeels comes in the shape of this Tumblr, which collects the last messages received by people from A N Other person in their lives. Breakups, deaths, lost friendships, all are here collected in what is, as you’d expect, an occasionally intense set of textfragments.



  • 7 Things We Learned From Reading The ISIS Magazine: I don’t normally go to Cracked for political analysis and commentary, but this piece analysing what can bel learned by scrutinising IS’s own propaganda materials is legitimately fascinating, not least as it debunks that whole ‘Call them Daesh’ thing which I put in here last week (I say ‘debunks’ – as per with this conflict, noone actually appears to have the first idea about anything at all on this and seems to be making it up as they go along. RIGHT, DAVE?.

  • Magical Thinking About IS: This week’s must-read thinkpiece about the horror is from the London Review of Books, where Adam Schatz cogently runs through a lot of the misconceptions and how we have arrived where we are. Again makes the point, as raised in the Esquire piece linked to last week and increasingly being taken up across the liberal left, that we need to look at the region as a whole for responsibility for the rise of the bastardy.

  • A Trip To The Caliphate: It’s quite hard to know what to make of this – on the one hand, I’m sort of automatically inclined to dismiss it as IS propaganda; on the other, why shouldn’t it be true? The piece, from Syria Comment, paints a picture of life inside the caliphate which is far from the tyrannical horror we might imagine, and suggests that the refugees we’re seeing streaming from Syria aren’t in fact running from IS at all. No idea WHAT to think here, but it adds an interesting spin to the general ‘Clash of Civilisations’ narrative.

  • The Gruesome Tale of the Galapagos: This is a film or novel waiting to happen – the crazy story of the first people to colonise the Galapagos islands, and how basically they were all MENTAL. If you’ve been yearning for a good tale of snobbery, murder, madness, disease, conspiracy, minor aristocracy and madness then this will be all of your Christmases come early – seriously, if you’re after some writing inspiration then this story has everything.

  • The Women Of Hollywood: A great, if depressing, New York Times piece interviewing a variety of Hollywood’s most high-profile and successful women about the fact that the whole movie industry still seems to treat their gender as some sort of weird novelty whose sole purpose is to cry, bankroll Jennifer Aniston’s film career and provide breasts for blockbusters. Not brilliant for maintining a positive worldview about gender politics, mind.

  • How Nike Sold Us Air: Fascinating history of the Air Max trainer, and proof (admittedly 20 years too late, but still) that I was RIGHT in the playground when I said that the air bubble didn’t do anything and that everyone who bought them was a gullible idiot and which sort of makes it ok that everyone made fun of me for having significantly less cool trainers than that. Oh, who am I kidding, the scars have NEVER HEALED. Parents – buy your kids whatever they need to fit in, lest they turn into the sort of pathetic misanthrope who is forced to read all of the internet every week in some sort of desperate, doomed search for personal and professional validation.

  • The Upsides Of Being 25 And Having A Crapsack: The author’s term, not mine – ‘crapsack’ refers to a colostomy bag, which the 25 year old author will shortly be fitted with and which she will have to wear for the foreseeable future. The funniest set of observations you are likely to read this week about having to carry your fecal matter around with you in a small bag at all times, the line about looking someone right in the eyes while defecating made me laugh and wince in almost equal measure.

  • Can Women Build A Better Tinder?: You’ll be unsurprised to learn that this piece doesn’t actually answer that question, but it’s an interesting look at the world of female-focused dating apps. It also contains a lot of stuff about how most dating apps and services are designed to meet very particular male needs, which is an interesting perspective that I as a man had obviously NEVER thought about. I realised the other day that the fact that I have never used a dating app or website or anything actually makes me pretty anomalous in 2015, which is pretty much the direct opposite of a decade ago.ODD.

  • On Who Framed Roger Rabbit: God I love this film. Roger is 20 years old this year, and if you’ve not seen it recently I urge you to revisit it – it’s still charming and funny and the techniques used to splice Bugs and Donald et al into shot with Hoskins actually all stand up surprisingly well after all this time. This is a comprehensive look at pretty much all aspects of the film, including an interesting set of diversions on the gender politics of Jessica Rabbit (a sentence I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have expected to write) – go on, read this and then watch it this weekend, it will make your life better.

  • NinjaTune at 25: When I was 17, Ninja Tune was probably the coolest label on the planet. I religiously spunked my grant money (yes, I am THAT OLD) on their compilation CDs, got ruinously stoned and went and shuffled to DJ Krush’s live sets at Dry Bar, made my mum listen to Funki Porcini, much to her tolerant bemusement…I was an irritating prick. Anyway, you don’t care about any of that – if you too, though, were a Ninja fan BITD then you will very much enjoy this 25 year lookback at the label and the people behind it (Coldcut, basically). Also, there’s a new Coldcut album in the works, for which REJOICE.

  • The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art: The best art collection you have never seen or heard of resides, apparently, in Tehran. Another interesting perspective on Islam’s relationship with Western culture when you consider the amount of column inches which have been devoted to examining the East’s supposed issues with Western culture.

  • Your Social Media Posts Are Fueling Police Surveillance: Creepiest piece of the week. You think that you need the NSA or GCHQ to be able to see what everyone’s doing? NOPE! I had no idea that companies like Geofeedia existed – they effectively provide geodashboards for law enforcement professionals to monitor everything that’s being posted from a certain physical radius – but now that I do I for one WELCOME the increased security that I know this sort of intelligence can provide!

  • The Problem With R Kelly: With thanks to Rich for the tipoff on this, proof if any more were needed that R Kelly is absolutely the creepiest man in music at the moment – or at least the creepiest man in music who unaccountably doesn’t seem to need to pretend that he’s anything other than a massively predatory sex criminal (COME ON R KELLY LET’S SETTLE THIS OUT OF COURT I COULD DO WITH THE MONEY TBH). Noone ever mentions the Aaliyah thing anymore, but HE MARRIED HER WHEN SHE WAS 15. Crazy, and pretty skincrawly on all counts.

  • Driving In Greater Noida: One of the top three pieces of writing in here this week, this is a wonderful essay in Granta about the Greater Noida suburb of New Delhi, which is both a picture of urban India I’d not seen before and also THE most Ballardian piece of writing I have read in ages. Superb on the sense of place/no-place engendered by the sort of megacity development which you see so much of outside the UK.

  • David Beckham – The Sexiest Man Alive: I was in stitches reading this. Reimagining People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ poll as some sort of dystopian coronation of horror, this is SO GOOD.

  • Dialed Up: Last up, a truly excellent scifi short story imagining a world in which we all take smart drugs to cope with LIFE and WORK and STUFF. Just on the edge of near plausibility, and all the better for it, this is very good indeed.

By Jeffrey De Keyser


1) First up, Rube Goldbergish techno. No, wait, it’s REALLY GOOD, honest – I was expecting to hate it, but the gimmick really does work:

2) Do you remember amongst all the Deep Dream stuff a couple of months ago there was a program which took photos and displayed them in the style of various artists using neural networks? No? Oh. Anyway, this video, to a rather gentle breakbeat soundtrack, does that with video. The results are rather beatiful, I think:

3) This is a short film called ‘Hide’, which shows money decaying in ultracloseupslowmo. I am sure there’s a lot of DEEP STUFF here about capitalism and things if you care to look for it, but I just rather like the imagery which is sort of bleakly hypnotic in its own special way:

4) This is called ‘Borrowing’ and it is by Thomas Rosenthal and it is BEAUTIFUL. What a voice:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! I didn’t think much of this brag track by Stormzy on first listen, but it grew on me LOTS. You will like it, honest – it’s called Standard:

6) Fair warning – this is a DREADFUL song, but the papercraft animation is lovely. Hang on, I think it’s dreadful but maybe I’m just old. Can someone who’s not tell me if I’m right? Thanks. It’s by the laughably named Kill The Noise and it’s called, equally laughably, “Kill It 4 The Kids” (their ‘4’ there – so cool!):  

7) I really, really like this CGI what with all the SKIN and stuff. It’s called Diffusion:

8) Finally this week, this is an OLD song, but I am having some big nostalgia kick this week and the video is BRAND NEW and very very cool indeed, and, let’s be honest, EVERYONE loves Born Slippy. See you in a couple of weeks; try not to die:


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Webcurios 20/11/15

Reading Time: 33 minutes

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John Harwood, CC

Well that was vile, wasn’t it? Let’s accept that there’s little or nothing edifying I can say about Paris and associated issues and move on – except that I was watching Question Time last night and a few things struck me which I will share in passing:

  1. You know what? I don’t know enough about any of this to have a cast-iron position on airstrikes, the Middle East, Islam or any of the rest of it, and neither do you (unless you have access to Cabinet-level intelligence, perhaps,or your an expert in the millennial sh1tstorm that is the whole region). Just bear this in mind.

  2. There was someone, I forget who, on Question Time last night, who got annoyed with someone for ‘muddying the waters’ by bringing up the wider Middle East in the context of this. Leaving aside the bare-bones idiocy of that position, these are waters that are filthy with blood and oil and money; you can’t muddy them, because they are fcuking murky already.

  3. I read someone writing on Twitter somewhere that ‘this is weather now; you can’t stop weather, you just mitigate against it’. That struck me as depressingly accurate.

Anyway, noone needs or wants this, so by way of light relief let me share with you a brief vignette from my life last weekend which may amuse.

Odd, eh? I mean, I’m not into spanking (too much information, I know, but I feel it’s important to clarify these things at the outset), but it’s sort of curious, right? Even curioser – on the reverse were the name and bank details of one Ishmael Skyes, who I obviously Googled later that evening when drunk and discovered was the doyenne and coordinator of a certain London spanking and CP (Corporal Punishment, apparently, with a tendency towards school uniforms and very British discipline) community, which was holding a spanking party in South London that very Sunday, tickets to which were £20. Not only this, but the party was being held under the aegis of a certain insitution, active since the mid-80s, specialising in this sort of school-themed fetishism. The institution’s name?

The Muir Academy

You know when sometimes it just feels like the universe is speaking to you? I mean WHAT ARE THE CHANCES that I would find a flyer on the tube for some weird S&M fetish club based around a school of punishment and domination bearing my actual name? I have been properly weirded out by this all week, and have avoided speaking to my Dad in case there’s some sort of dark family history I’ve never been told about. Christ knows what the universe is saying, in any case. It’s probably telling me I need punishing, which is pretty accurate as it happens.

Anyway, that was something non-atrocity related which happened this week, and which I hope has somewhat lightened your mood in what has been, in no uncertain terms, a pig of a week. Without any further ado, let’s plunge headlong into the lost property cupboard of the internet – remember, you’re going to have to put SOMETHING on or you’re doing games in your pants. THIS IS WEB CURIOS!

By Alex Malikov



  • Google Plus, Redux!: Just when you thought it was totally dead, Goog…no, let’s be honest, it’s still dead, isn’t it? I mean, maybe not dead dead, but certainly dead enough that if you’re one of the poor sods who does ‘persuading people to buy stuff via the medium of the web’ it’s still going to be pretty low down your list of priorities. Anyway, this week Google RELAUNCHED (sort of) Google+, with a renewed focus on COMMUNITIES and COLLECTIONS (photos, basically), which is basically how the few people (OK, OK, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS) who use it have decided it should be used. Which means, in the main, that it’s still of little or no import to most of you; that said, from the point of view of due diligence it makes sense to check it out to see if there’s anyone waxing lyrical about the joys of biscuits or whatever it is you’re shilling – who knows, you may be able to get some cut-price INFLUENCER MARKETING out of it. Here’s a slightly less glibly reductionist view of the whole thing, should you want one
  • Facebook Launches New Tools for Non-Profits: Well this is a generally good thing. Being tested with large partners only at the moment, but one would imagine rolling out to all companies with verified not-for-profit status in the not-too-distant future, this is basically a big ‘DONATE NOW’ button for Pages and Posts, allowing users to do one-click giving within Facebook – and, not-coincidentally I’m sure, allowing not-for-profits to buy ‘DONATE NOW’ ads with really good analytics and targeting. Twitter’s been talking about doing this for 5 years with no sign of it actually happening. Bloody hell, Twitter. FYI, if you’re a non-profit and want to hack this sort of stuff across social platforms RIGHT NOW, you could do worse than try Hashtag Pay, which cobbles together something from the PayPal API to much the same effect.
  • Paid Stickers On Facebook Messenger: Notable only for the fact that this is almost certainly the start of an era in which any brand will soon be able to knock up its own shoddy promo stickers and flog them to idiots on the platform. It’s STRATEGY-writing / predictions season, so why not throw this into your suggestions mix? Oh, yes, because it’s STUPID. 
  • Facebook Testing Profile Search: Not really notable for brands in any way I can immediately discern, but still – Facebook’s apparently testing the ability for users to search for stuff on another user’s profile Page – meaning that if you’re SURE that someone you know wrote something 5 years ago which you can use to brand them a HYPOCRITE for something they are saying now, you will eventually be able to track it down. GREAT! To be honest there probably are some slightly rubbish community management things there…oooh, hang on, depending on exactly how it works there may then be the opportunity to run scripted searches for keywords across, say, the profiles of all the fans of a brand’s page to search for SUPERENDORSERS or somesuch. Who knows? I don’t, so I’ll stop speculating. 
  • The Facebook Breakup Settings Thing: Coming this weekend to a Sunday supplement near YOU: a series of articles designed to leaven the unremitting horror of world news by taking a SIDEWAYS LOOK at the quirky, kooky world of modern dating mores, inspired by this latest announcement from Facebook which says it will now give you options to limit the amount of stuff you see from someone who you’ve recently split up with (based on you or they changing their relationship status). It’ll let you choose to see fewer of their updates, photos, etc – all stuff you can already do on the platform, but designed for idiots who don’t understand how all this stuff works already. Actually, in fairness, what this seems to show is Facebook sort of admitting that noone really understands how current filtering on the platform works, so I take back the ‘idiots’ thing (just). No implications for brands that I can think of, probably. Maybe you can? Don’t tell me, please. 
  • Instagram Cuts Its API Access: As someone explained to me earlier this week, this is basically what Twitter did when it blocked third party apps from displaying Tweets (apart from the ones it approved); the idea being that it will weed out shonky, browser-based Instagram viewing / fiddling platforms – and, conveniently, all those platforms on which ads don’t currently show. Good news for advertisers, bad news for people trying to cobble together fun, Instagram-related stuff online. 
  • Twitter Contemplating Less Useless Polls: You know how the current Twitter polls, with their binary options, are RUBBISH? Well Twitter is apparently testing ways of making them better – more options to choose from (good), the option to include emoji in the option copy (inevitable), the option to set durations on polls (good)…effectively when they bother to implement all this stuff, which they should have done when they launched the service, it might actually end up being a halfway-decent datagathering tool. Maybe.
  • Twitter Testing Multi-Emoji Reactions: Since the world has given us something else to get angry and upset about, everyone seems to have calmed down about the Twitter hearts/stars thing (maybe it wasn’t that important in the first place?); they’re looking at addressing it, though, via that exploit that everyone found the other week whereby you can in fact set any emoji you like to stand in for the ‘heart’ icon. Effectively they’re looking at a Slack-like interface that will let you select from a suite of potential reactions to a post – each of which, I imagine, will be counted as a unit of engagement in the back-end but which will give the cosmetic illusion of differentiated response. So just like Facebook is testing, then, sort-of, Ah, feature consolidation. Did anyone predict that as a big thing for 2015?
  • Twitter No Longer Displaying Who’s Behind Promoted Tweets: I don’t seem to see enough Promoted Tweets to have been able to tell if this is a thing yet, but if so it’s an interesting move; if, as the article suggests, Promoted Tweets will now simply say ‘Promoted’ rather than ‘Promoted By X’, it will make it a lot harder for consumers annoyed by being targeted to block, unfollow, etc, accounts (brands) whose ads irk them. Which, if you’re a faceless corporation rather than an actual person, is probably pretty good news – rejoice!
  • Vine Launches Audio Remix Feature: Quite a nice feature new to Vine – you can now take the audio from any existing Vine and use it as the soundtrack to your own – meaning all that CONTENT REMIXING which the kids are so fond of (spoiler, though: you’re a bank/building society/car insurance provider – noone is going want to remix your content, mate, noone. Not even the weirdo competition obsessives) is now much easier.
  • Snapchat Launches Verified Accounts: You a famous whose fanbase is all children? No, of course you’re not, no famous people read this rubbish. You might, though, work for a company which represents famouses on occasion, in which case this may be of use / note – the idea being that it will make it easier for fans to find famouses on  Snapchat, even if the famous in question is using an alias or a silly name. 
  • Snapchat Selling Selfie Lenses For $1 A Pop: See my comment about the Facebook Messenger Stickers above and repeat, but with a touch more near-middle-age ennui.
  • Making Gifs on Tumblr Now Much Easier: There’s a really simple gifmaker now native to the platform. Had a play with it and it is SUPER-SIMPLE – just so’s you know, though, the primary purpose of it so far as far as I can see is for a LOT of gifs of men ‘pleasuring’ themselves. There’s a certain grim inevitability about this – as soon as there is a new video platform, that video platform will be full of video of erect penises. We are so proud! It’s almost touching really. 
  • Gifs on KIK: Pretty sure none of you care about KIK because, well, you’re not University students, but in case you do then this is HOT NEWS. 
  • A Really Rather Good Guide To Facebook Remarketing: On the off chance that you’re NOT working for a big agency and don’t have minions to know how this stuff works so you don’t have to, this is a super-useful, comprehensive and hands-on guide to doing remarketing (you know, pixeltracking-based ad targeting) on Facebook. Not only useful w/r/t that platform, but a generaly decent overview as to what remarketing is and how it generally works. Really helpful. 
  • Aston Martin on Soundcloud: I always wang on about Soundcloud as a GREAT AND UNDEREXPLOITED thing, and noone listens to me EVER (possibly because I am often talking to myself). Anyway, this is Aston Martin’s Soundcloud which is basically just slightly ASMR-ish car sounds. I don’t even like cars (I don’t, shamefully, even have a license), but the engine sounds and stuff on here are quite cool (no, really). Just wish they had more doors closing with a satisfying *CHUNK* sound (you know what I mean). Niche, but smart when you consider the car nuts who are their fanboy constituency. 
  • The Best Tedious Website I’ve Seen In Ages: I have NO IDEA what ACME WORLD do – although judging by the name, I’m guessing they supply Wil E Coyote with exploding birdfeed and suspiciously non-lethal TNT – but their website is really rather nice. Included mainly as a demonstration of the fact that just because a business does unconscionably dull stuff to make money it doesn’t mean that it can’t make attractive websites. 
  • Find Your Swede: Cute idea by the Swedish tourist board, inviting potential visitors (or indeed anyone really) to hook the site up to their Instagram account – answer some questions, it will ‘analyse’ the answers and spit out your perfect Swedish match, with whom you can then chat, browse their pictures, etc. It doesn’t say this explicitly, but I’m pretty sure they’re playing on the commonly-held belief that all Swedes are statuesque blonde sex-maniacs. Try it, you might get lucky. 
  • The Condomoji: Look, it’s the word of the bloody year; we’ve had emoji ordering, emoji room service, now we have Durex launching a fake campaign to get a condom emoji included in the next unicode update…can we please declare a moratorium on emoji-related advermarketingprwank? No? I hate you.
  • The Nadir of Branded Content: Well, so far at least. This is an ACTUAL SONG made my ACTUAL HIPHOP GROUP the Detroit Grand Pubahs. Times must be hard, guys. So much to not love about this, not least the belief that the horrific ‘catchphrase’ that is the song’s ‘hook’ will ever catch on. It won’t, will it? Please let it not.  





  • The Global Terrorism Index: Leading with the grimly well-timed 2015 edition of the research project, which garnered headlines this week for showing that in fact Boko Haram is currently topping the league table to the biggest terrorist bastards worldwide RIGHT NOW. Good to know it’s not just one set of dreadful people, then. As some of you know, I used to work with these people – I’d include it anyway, though, as the data is fascinating and I very much like the way they visualise it.

  • The British Museum on Google: Technically last week’s news, but give me a break. Take a wander round the British Museum, courtesy the wonderful Google Cultural Institute – a very relaxing way to spend 10 minutes with a cup of tea, should you need soothing momentarily.

  • Twitch Does Painting: Or at least Twitch did painting – it’s unclear whether the thing’s finished or is just on hiatus at the time of typing. Hey ho. Anyway, this is actually a promo by Instapaper, but I like the artwanky nature of it so it’s going in this section – they placed a canvas and some robot drawing setup in a room, hooked it up to Twitch and let the internet’s ID come up with some sort of collaborative masterpiece (mess). The opportunities for this sort of thing are almost endless – I await the eventual culmination in ‘Twitch Does Parenting’, an 18-year experiment in crowd-directed childrearing. Actually, does anyone have Desmond Morris’ phone number?

  • The Watson Trend Predictor: IBM’s ‘Rent-An-AI’ Watson (one week it does cookery, the next shopping) tries its hand at predicting shopping trends – effectively this is a riff on Google trends but rather than using search terms as predictors it’s instead purporting to use a whole host of more sophisticated textual analysis and parsing tools to work out what your sticky offspring are going to be clamouring for in the hours before you force yourself, harassed and indebted, to bow to their tyrannical demands in exchange for the probably illusory promise of JUST A SECOND’S PEACE, DAMNIT. Ah, Christmas.

  • Facets: A new polygonal-ish image each day, hi res and wallpaperable. No more, no less, but sometimes you just want nice things.

  • Mirrorlake: Beautiful little arthackproject by Katie Rose, who hacked this together in a week – Mirror Lake creates random, procedurally generated little landscapes in perfect miniature, with a new one born every two minutes. So, so hypnotic – I promise you, have a click and get entranced by all the miniature lo-fi beauty. Sort of reminiscent of the sort of graphical style you used to see on Macs in the 80s, for those of you old enough to recall.

  • FairTaxtown: Interesting project, this. A small town in South Wales is, as part of a BBC documentary, investigating whether its small businesses can take advantage of the same tax loopholes enjoyed by large corporations in their constant “but we’re within the letter of the law!” battle with HMRC to avoid paying any more than about 1% corporation tax – the idea being not to avoid tax, but to raise awareness of the scale of the practice and what should be done to stop it. This site is all about the project and how other towns / local associations can get involved. If you’re into tax and politics and stuff (and WHO ISN’T, RIGHT KIDS?) then this is worth a click.

  • Text Yourself A Blog: I like this idea a lot. A service which, if you text copy to a certain phone number, will chuck it up on a blog for you. Currently US-only, but expanding to work with international numbers soon, their blurb says: “Everything you text to us gets saved to your Textingway blog, and you can share the link immediately. There isn’t even a password (to forget) for your blog, we send you a text message to verify it’s you whenever you need to login to the website” – I think you could have quite a lot of fun using this as a sort of stream-of-consciousness record of nights out, etc, if you were so inclined. Though, er, you could just write notes in your phone or something.

  • Sprout: Pencils with seeds in the end. Finish the pencil, plant the end, water it a bit, watch stuff grow. Simple and lovely and ripe for a promosteal I think.

  • A Tool To Deceive and Slaughter: Saddeningly nowhere near as sinister as it at first sounds, this is instead a very smart little techartproject whereby the object in question, a black cube of rather threatening appearance, continually tries to auction itself off on eBay – “Every ten minutes the black box pings a server on the internet via the ethernet connection to check if it is for sale on the eBay. If its auction has ended or it has sold, it automatically creates a new auction of itself. If a person buys it on eBay, the current owner is required to send it to the new owner. The new owner must then plug it into ethernet, and the cycle repeats itself.” It’ s not clear how many people have bought it in its lifespan, but I’m guessing it’s not exactly loads; still, love the idea.

  • Sandwichfunk: A selection of recipes with accompanying soundtracks – this is a GREAT idea, and the sort of thing that I am really glad that Jamie Oliver didn’t think of first (you can just imagine, right?). Nothing particularly fancy – and yes, it’s American so you have to deal with the irritating ‘cups’ thing – but the concept is SO NICE and the playlists are compiled with obvious thought and joy. Has a brand done this sort of thing yet? I feel they must have done, but if so it’s passed me by. Although, Christ, all I can think of is a sort of dreadful attempt at cultural appropriation by Phileas Fogg snacks, so perhaps it’s for the best.

  • All The Flags: So yes, if you were one of the people referenced at the very top of this who spent last weekend railing at other people you may or may not know on the internet for the appropriateness or otherwise of their expression of feeling regarding The Bad Thing, WELL DONE YOU! This site is for YOU – All The Flags is a site which lets you convert your profile picture to one which has the flags of every single country affected by Daesh (see the long reads section) superimposed on each other (and hence one which looks like a total mess). Makes a variety of simple points, elegantly – post this one to Facebook and stand back and watch and enjoy.

  • Ad Replacer: I really do like this. Ad Replacer is a Chrome extension which takes the ‘related content’ adboxes which you simply can’t seem to escape anymore online and replaces them with links to ACTUAL NEWS – so rather than Outbrain feeding you terrifying images of worryingly ‘roidal men accompanied by captions like “You’ll never guess his startling sex secret!” (you really won’t, though), you will instead get, er, the news. Which, on reflection, sounds HORRIBLY depressing so perhaps best to stick to Outbrain after all.

  • Goodblock: Seeing as we’re doing ad blockers, Goodblock is a standard ad blocker but one which each day offers users the opportunity to opt-in to adverts; the kicker being that the ads in question are delivered through a network which raises money for charities. Hard not to like this, really.

  • The Glitched Afghan Rugs of Faig Ahmed: Beautiful and I want one.

  • The Hard Times: Basically The Onion for the punk / hipster set, Hard Times sneers at and skewers…well…people like us, probably. Hey ho. ‘“Nothing really offends me” says living embodiment of white privilege’ made me laugh quite a lot – it’s all like that, basically, so if that tickled you then you will probably like the rest of it too.

  • Stop Spam With Snowden: This is delicious, though sadly the link takes you to a writeup of it as there’s no other online home for the project that I can find. A nameless programmer decided to punish people for doing stupid things like posting their phone numbers on Twitter by setting up a program which scrapes said phone numbers and then bombards them with cat spam – spam which can ONLY be unsubscribed from by said spamee tweeting Edward Snowdon. DO YOU SEE?!?!? I am a massive, massive fan of text spam – a mate of mine inexplicably started getting texts from a number offering him pictures of ‘LITTLE CAT BALLS’ (their caps) earlier this year, which is one of the most pleasingly baffling things I’ve seen in ages.

  • The Selfie Arm: This is all in Japanese so I have no idea if it’s part of a TV show or just some bloke’s pet project; in any case, this is a big extended arm which you can attach to your existing limbs to facilitate self-portrait taking without the need of one of those bloody sticks. You can probably nick this for a novelty one-off piece of clothing, retailers, and get some low-value column inches in the idiot press. YOU’RE WELCOME!

  • Lampster: I really want to hate  this – look, it’s a novelty desklamp which is designed to look like a cross between AN Other AAA videogame character and one of the terror sperm from London 2012, which has inexplicably raised $300k to date on Kickstarter with a month left to go, and is basically the embodiment of the fact that, seemingly, white nerdboys run the world in 2015, and they are planning to sell accessories for it for god’s sakes – but LOOK HOW CUTE IT IS!!! Oh, God, I am dreadful. Sorry.

  • Google Trends For Reddit: So, er, Reddit trends then. Works in exactly the same way – though because it’s a  hacked together project by FiveThirtyEight it doesn’t work perfectly – and could be useful if you want to gather some (pretty spurious) data from a largely young, male online community to support whatever crap you’re proposing. I imagine, though I’ve not yet had a go, that the trends about gamergate are pretty bleak reading.

  • Pattr: Totally anonymous private messaging service, creating throwaway chatrooms with optional SSL encryption available for just $1 a time – WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE SUSPICIOUS ABOUT USING THIS? Nothing, your honour.

  • The Best Balaclavas Ever: Not, admittedly, a hotly contested category in my experience, but even given the low bar to entry these are pretty great. Planning on going skiing or committing a robbery anytime soon? Why not do so whilst wearing a full-face mask which makes you look like, er, a pink leopard with matching ears. These will be ALL THE RAGE in Cham come January (they really won’t).

  • Expresii: Yet to launch, but if you’re a digital artist-type person then this soon-to-be-released kit will apparently let you paint beautiful oriental-style brushwork watercolours, which I personally am a total sucker for and which therefore I would like more people to make more of thanks.

  • Godzilla Simulator: Probably the single-biggest argument I have yet seen for owning a VR headset. HOW MUCH FUN DOES THIS LOOK?

  • Pokegraphs: All of the colour palettes of all of the Pokemon – GRAPHED. I have a very real feeling that when all of this is dust and radioactive ash and a few lonely humans are eking out an existence amongst the fallout and the isotopes, some of them will still be playing bloody Pokemon.

  • Sourcecode Poetry: Celebrating poetry in source code, which if you’re a particular type of geek will be…er…poetry to you.

  • Metaratr: A website which basically just fires random Soundclouds at you on a rolling basis – you can rate them, cycle through them, etc, at will. At the moment it is playing me a truly HORRIFIC piece of amateur karaoke crooning by someone singing in Spanish – here it is, it’s AWFUL – but it does occasionally throw up some decent stuff and it’s quite an interesting way of opening up unusual musical sinkholes if you’ve some time to kill.

  • Dbot: Douchebot is a chatbot which sits out phrases submitted by women which they in turn have been sent by men in online chats. You will be unsurprised to learn that it doesn’t show men online in a particularly great light. WHODATHUNKIT?!

  • Cash Music: “CASH Music is a nonprofit organization focused on educating & empowering artists & their fans to foster a viable & sustainable future for music.” Basically if you’re a musician and you want help working out how to navigate the fairly unpleasant and choppy waters of the music industry in 2015, this is a GREAT platform, available free in perpetuity, to help you manage all sorts of things from royalties to catalogue to merchandise and beyond. Really very helpful and a great idea.

  • Make The Censors Watch Paint Drying: Pleasingly silly Kickstarter, seeking to raise funds to make the longest possible film of paint drying on a wall – the idea being that any film submitted to the BBFC for classification needs to be watched by a censor in its entirety, meaning that at the time of writing someone is going to have to sit through 6h+ of slowly-drying emulsion. Censorship SUCKS! YEAH! TAKE THAT, THE MAN! Poor the censormonkey who has to watch it, though (if they are smart they will liveblog it and become a 3h Buzzfeed celebrity – “This man watched paint dry for 6 hours – his reaction won the internetzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”).

  • These Futures: A Twitter bot which alternates between tweeting old futurepredictions from notable people, current futurepredictions from other people on Twitter, and algorithmically generated predictions cobbled together from keywords and stuff. Silly and occasionally surprisingly profound.

  • Shin Li Art: You’ll either love this or find it profoundly saccharine (no prizes for guessing where I fall here), but this Instagram account, curated by two lovers split between New York and Shanghai, does contain some really nicely composed pictures riffing on the ‘DIVIDED BUT OUR HEARTS ARE STILL TOGETHER’ thing and, as with much of the stuff Imperica brings you every week for FREE out of the goodness of its strange, cyborg heart, hugely nickable if you’re a creative or art director lacking in coupley inspiration.

  • The Gobelins Sound Experiments: Gobelins is a visual / graphical educational establishment in Paris – this is a collection of little digital soundtoys hacked together by students from there over four days in October. Some of them are better than others, but I’m a sucker for little audiovisualdigitalinteractivetoythings like this.

  • The Mapbox Studio: If you do, or could do, anything with maps and data, then this is a really, really useful announcement, which, to quote them, means “you can build a complete map with global data and deeply custom design choices from the ground up, or start with a friendly preset. It’s easy to pick up and grows with you as you master the skills of cartography.” Which is nice, if you’re into that sort of thing.

  • All Of The Satellites: This purports to be a realtime map of satellites, all zooming about above us and KEEPING US SAFE and stuff. Except, and this sort of scared me a bit when I thought about it and so obviously I am sharing the slightly unsettling thought with you, it’s obviously not ALL the satellites, is it? I mean, there are the secret military ones which won’t be on there, and then there are the privately-launched supervillain satellites…DEAR GOD, we are being surveilled EVERYWHERE. Still.





  • Dog Rates: Every wanted to follow a Twitter account which arbitrarily ‘rates’ photos of other people’s dogs out of 10? OH GOOD! Some of these actually had me in tears, and I hate dogs (actually not true, you have to care to hate).

  • Wikipedia Pageview Analytics API: If you or your clients need or want to keep track of how popular your Page on Wikipedia is, this is SUPERUSEFUL. Generally worth a look if you do REPUTATION MANAGEMENT-type stuff.

  • Candy: A really interesting idea, this, for organising links and online information you find – sort of like Evernote, but with a more visual interface (and doubtless without the creeping Evernote problem of trying to do EVERYTHING and thereby not really doing the one thing that everyone which uses it actually wanted in the first place). I very much like the drag-and-drop idea arranging element of it; if you’re in the market for something to help you collate and arrange ideas, you could do worse than try this one.

  • Miscegenation: Not feeling quite bleak enough about the world this week? Well this will put the fecal cherry on the sewerage cake – a series of photographs by Donna Pinckley, depicting multiracial couples accompanied by phrases they’ve had spoken to them by ‘helpful’ others. WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG????

  • The VR Guitar: I’ve held off from posting too much (if any) Motion Leap stuff on here as I’m still not 100% convinced it’s not vaporware. That said, if this tech demo showcasing how a virtual guitar would work using the tech is anything to go by, this is going to be MENTAL. Seriously, take a look and just imagine the virtual sessions you could have with digital musicians and stuff – screw Guitar Hero, this stuff is Better Than Life-esque.

  • The Minecraft Hour of Code: As part of next month’s ‘Hour of Code’ global jamboree, here’s Minecraft-themed tutorial to coax your children into learning a trade which, if you bully them enough, might just make them a millionaire by their late teens and thus free you to indulge in that late-40s binge-drinking spree unhindered.

  • China From Above: Just beautiful photos, these.

  • Blackout: One of the more interesting Kickstarters I saw this week, Blackout is a film currently seeking funding which, if they get the money, will be a sort of interactive VR moviegameplaything set in a New York subway car – viewers will be able to walk through the car, listening to people’s stories, piecing together narratives and watching a variety of individual and linked strands come together, all directed by themselves as they virtually wander through the environment. No idea whether the concept will actually work, but I like the ambition of it.

  • Mixed Up Hiphop: A Twitter bot firing out mangled amalgams of similes from old school hiphop tracks. Some GOLD comes out of this, not least “you’ll be last like a blueberry”, which is now my go-to dismissive cuss from hereon in.

  • Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery: A truly exhaustive collection of scanned covers of old horror comics, which if you’re in the market for wonderfully kitchy illustrations just RIPE for recaptioning will be right up your street (and which are pretty cool even if you’re not to be honest).

  • FinWake: I never got on with Joyce, I feel stupid for saying so, but I hated Portrait of the Artist, and abandoned Ulysses 100-odd pages in – I’m sorry James, but what passes for stream-of-consciousness internal monologue in your world is just tiresome in mine. Then again, he’s an internationally acclaimed author and I’m a largely unemployed webmong, so who wins? ME, because I have plumbing and central heating and the ability to buy halloumi at any hour of the day or night from cornershops. Glad that’s settled. Anyway, this is an online annotated version of Joyce’s most famously obscure and knotty work, the (allegedly unreadable; I’ve obviously never tried) Finnegan’s Wake. If you know anyone unlucky enough to be wrestling with this beast, this is a good resource – but my GOD it is dense.

  • People Having A Crazy Wild Time In Late-60s South Africa: Wow, they really knew how to let their hair down. Mildly NSFW due to comedy 60s nudity, but more notable for the very real atmosphere of sleaze that permeates them (also, had no idea that Japanese tourism to South Africa in the 60s was such a big thing – unexpected).

  • The Telepresence Parental Robot: Not a new idea, the telepresence robot, but this is notable for the fact that it’s being marketed to upper middle-class parents as a way to keep check on their offspring while they’re out of town. Can you imagine? If your kids are stupid enough to actually let themselves be surveilled by an iPad strapped to a Segway, they have bigger problems than their potential drink and drugs intake, is all I’m saying. I do love the idea of the iPad squawking impotently at a teen’s retreating back, though (“Andrew! Andrew, why are your eyes all red? And why are there people all over the house? ANDREW! That looks like coca-” *Andrew slams the door, leaving the segwaybot impotantly trapped outside, screaming “ANDREEEEEEW!!!!” until its batteries give out*).

  • Music For Cats: The latest in what appears to be a weekly attempt to get some money off someone who works for a petfood company – this week we have a whole website compiling music apparently designed to appeal to cats, the cloth-eared little hooligans. Christ alone knows why this exists, but, and I say this with real feeling, COME ON, WHISKAS, GET ON THIS FFS. I only want a bit of recognition *sobs*.

  • Freck Yourself: Realistic (so they claim) freckle makeup. On Kickstarter. We need this, do we? Really? Well unless you back it soon we’re not going to get it, so HURRY UP.

  • Cove: This is a really interesting idea, I think. Cove is an app which allows users to record emotional diaries of their lives – so far, so unremarkable – but which allows them to do so through the medium of music. Each day, you can use the app to compose a short musical refrain to express how you’re feeling at that time; whilst obviously the quality of what you produce will depend in large part on your talent, and the app’s interface, I really like the idea of using something like this to create a ‘life in a week’ musical portrait of a defined period in someone’s life. A really nice concept.

  • Click Here To Save The World: Click it. Keep clicking. Go all the way to the end. Lovely little piece of work by Nathalie Gordon; I actually think this sort of mechanic is underused and quite effective, though I appreciate that’s based on an anecdotal sample of one and so therefore is possibly total bollocks.

  • Real Or Satire: Sadly not a tool for determining whether this week’s nightmarish startup idea (cf Rumblr) is a fake or not, this is instead a tool which identifies whether an article is satire based on its url (I am presuming it does a little more than checking to see whether it’s from The Onion or The Daily Mash). Bookmark it and save it for when you meet the stupids on Facebook.

  • Captured on Camera: The best subreddit I’ve stumbled across in a while, this is a collection of clips of people wandering into shot and then attempting to style it out as best they can. Golden, some of these.

  • The Personal Tattoo Machine: Sadly this doesn’t appear to be for sale at the moment, but SURELY it can only be a matter of time. Designed by…er…actually I have no idea, the site’s pretty unforthcoming, but anyway, WHOEVER it’s by, the personal tattoo machine is a one-off proof of concept-type thing which is ergonomically crafted to enable people to quickly and easily tattoo themselves. IMAGINE THE FUN YOU COULD HAVE!!! IMAGINE THE REGRETS!!!! I want these on sale – no refills, throwaway biodegradable parts, for that one-off “I MUST COMMEMORATE THIS NOW” moment that just can’t wait. So much love for this.

  • The Hasbro Robot Cat: This is not, it would seem, a spoof. Hasbro is now selling terrifying feline robot companions, presumably to act as companions to people who are both lonely and who don’t feel up to caring for an actual pet. Which is, you know, nice, but LOOK AT HOW CREEPY THE FCUKERS ARE. Just imagine those cold dead eyes sizing you up and plotting to kill you – so just like an actual cat, then. I imagine that they are fluffy and yet deathly cold to the touch. Chilling. Definitely one to buy your least-favourite godchild (NB I love all my godchildren equally, honest).

  • The Menorah Bong: Because I know some of you are Jewish and so will LOVE this (you may not love it, but still).

  • One Block: This week’s ‘raising the bar for interactive journalism’ link comes in the shape of this from New York Magazine, which tracks the history and stories of one block in New York City’s Bed-Stuy district in Brooklyn and uses this to tell stories both personal and city-wide about race and gentrification and culture and…oh, this is SO GOOD! There’s such a depth of material in here, and it’s a genuine pleasure to explore. If you do anything publishing-ish, you really should check this out – it’s a really, really impressive piece of work.

  • Izivibe: And because this wouldn’t be Web Curios without at least one unpleasant link about masturbation, here’s Izivibe, which turns your phone into a vibrator. Like, it’s an actual phone case with a bit that sticks out that you put into your vagina. If you have one. Or up your bum, I suppose. Would you do that? Would you? Would anyone? SO MANY QUESTIONS, to which I’m fairly confident I don’t actually want to know the answers at all.





  • Thought Leadershit: This was made by some friends of mine with minimal input from me. Inspired by THIS astounding piece of pretentious guffery, the generator will churn out thousands of different prentious-sounding titles for social media marketing thinkpieces, many of which are frighteningly plausible. “Simulacra and simulation in paid social: How creative directors are reviving Baudrillard’s theories to educate liberals” sounds like a conference speech. Ugh. ENJOY!

  • Startups With SoundCloud As Stock Picks: Apparently startups around the world are ripping off SoundCloud’s pictures of their offices and passing them off as their own. Weird. Anyway, this outs them.

  • So Many Seals: Cartoon seals, often wearing an expression of purest existential dread. I don’t know why but I found these VERY poignant (so tired, so very tired).

  • Touchy Game Art: Collecting videogame box art that the curator would like to…er…touch. Not in a sexy way, that I can tell, just that they think it’s cool. And much of it is.

  • This Day In 1D History: Want to know what was happening in 1D fandom exactly X years ago today? WELL NOW YOU CAN! 1D fandom is, I am increasingly discovering, VERY ODD, but if you’re a community manager and want to get some mad numbers then I suggesting running some tweets in the wee hours using some of this stuff and then promoting them. NOONE WILL EVER KNOW (they will know, but).

  • Ron A Day: One cartoon of Ron Swanson, internet favourite from Community. per day. Why not, eh?

  • Shetland Otter Watching: Yes, yes, OK, not actually a Tumblr, but noone actually cares do they? See? Anyway, who doesn’t love otters? NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO!

  • Horse With Hands Riding A Bike: Also not a Tumblr, but it SHOULD be. Also, who doesn’t like elaborate drawings of horses with human hands riding bikes? NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO!

  • Pigeon Movies: Ok, ok, so the Tumblr selection was a little light this week (trust me, you’re lucky that I’m exercising a slightly greater-than-normal degree of editorial judgment here this week, otherwise it would just be bongo as far as the eye can see). Still, this ANCIENT blog is really useful if you want film reviews which focus entirely on what role pigeons play in any given film.

  • Hardy Boys Covers: The Hardy Boys novels, with alternative titles based on their covers. Childish but funny, and exactly what I was hamfistedly suggesting that someone do with the Boris Karloff comics up there.

  • The Week: The Week has a Tumblr, and it’s rather good – a really nice way of getting a feed of interesting journalism from all over the place.

  • Humans of LA: Included solely for the benefit of the two LA-dwellers who I know sometimes read this, this is probably only funny if you’ve been there. Sorry.

  • Llluvia: Included mainly as an example of what an amazingly flexible platform Tumblr is, Llluvia is a sort-of baffling webart project which I am SO IMPRESSED by. Look at what they’ve done with that Tumblr, JUST LOOK! So beautiful and very slick indeed.


  • On Paris And The Responsibility of the Middle East: Sorry; I know that there’s been endless stuff written on this in the past week and that you probably have read your fill, but in case you haven’t…this first piece was published in US Esquire last weekend and was the first piece that I saw to really outline the need to address the funding of Daesh and the web of state-based interests which ar backing it, and maybe to take steps to address these. Smart, clear, and very unexpected from Esquire.

  • Jeres In Paris: Jeremy Allen is a journalist acquaintance of mine who’s been living in Paris for a few years now with his girlfriend; they were at the football on Friday night when everything happened. This is his story of the evening – one of many, and a very lucky one, but Jeres is a good writer and this piece does an excellent job of transmitting the atmosphere, presuming you’ve not already imbibed too much of the ambience of fear already.

  • The Exploitation of Paris: Short but to-the-point, on exactly how classy it is to use The Bad Thing as a platform for personal pointscoring on any an all issues you might choose. Like you need to be told, obviously, but.

  • Why We Should Call Them Daesh: I found this really interesting, politically, culturally and linguistically; the basic rationale is that Daesh is an abbreviation in Arabic, a language which ordinarily doesn’t do abbreviations, and as such is belittling and offensive to the cause it names. Which I’m not sure if I buy, and even if I did I might fall back on The Fat Controller’s (from Will Self’s ‘My Idea of Fun’) Shakespearan corruption “an arsehole by any other name…”, but the piece is a perspective I’d not read before. Oh, and here’s a Chrome extension which you might find useful if you find the argument compelling.

  • The Refugee Odyssey: Just in case you needed reminding about why there are very good reasons not to go all isolationist and shut the borders. From Der Spiegel, an excellent piece of journalism tracing the stories and journeys tracing across Europe for the past few years.

  • Cynthia Payne’s Obituary: By way of light ‘relief’ (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? DO YOU??), a shining example of the sort of corruption that THEY hate us for; also, coincidentally, a shining example of the obituarist’s art (on which note, if you like obituaries you will love this novel). Cynthia Payne embodied a particularly British idea of sex, all innuendo and middle-aged men with sock-worn shins babywalking across a thickly-carpeted landing to be spanked, and this is an affectionately absurd tribute to her passing.

  • The Zuckerberg Interview: Fast Company’s BIG CONVERSATION with Zuckerberg and a whole load of other Facebook minions; the access is good, which I imagine guaranteed the slightly fawning tone, but it is hugely interesting – not least in terms of the man, and the company’s, ambitions. It’s also, though, utterly terrifying in some ways – the numbers are MENTAL when you add up all the users of FB-owned properties, and the quote towards the end of the piece, about there never in history having been a business leader who combined Zuckerberg’s youth with his global influence and near-unlimited funds, is legitimately chilling. Got to say, this plus Daesh is a decent enough opening to a not-particularly-cheering scifi dystopia. I am playing too much Fallout, aren’t I?

  • With Singularity Comes Responsibility: Friend of Curios Simon White (that designation could be YOURS, with a few small donations and maybe some beer thrown in) opines on how the web is removing human agency and responsibility and basically making us all stupid meatsacks. He’s not wrong, you know.

  • 5 Things The Media Does To Manufacture Outrage: You probably know this already, but it’s worth repeating – this is an excellent takedown about exactly why, when you read headlines like “Pampers Tweeted about crabs and the internet is OUTRAGED”, you should probably assume that the outlet in question is talking hyperbolic nonsense until proven otherwise. BELIEVE NOTHING. WAKE UP SHEEPLE. ICKE WAS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHIN…ahahhahaha, no, he wasn’t,. honest.

  • Ali’s Last Rounds: Another example of how boxing brings out the very, very best in sports writers, this is an extract from a book all about Ali and details the author witnessing the boxer’s final 5 sparring rounds in a gym in St Louis. Almost unbearably poignant, particularly when you’re my age and you can remember exactly how much of a wreck Ali already was at that stage in the late 80s.

  • The Death of Snark and the Rise of Positive Content: Part of Motherboard’s regular series of dispatches from the content farms, this is a smart piece looking at the gradual erosion of individuality and bite in content production from mainstream media in favour of outsourcing it to John Oliver (yes, the Paris bit was good, but maybe commission your own rather than just recycling theirs).

  • All of New York’s Taxi Data, Analysed: Part of Web Curios’ occasional series of ‘really excellent pieces of data analysis which, I concede, may not be fascinating to everyone but which I reckon you should take at least a passing look at if you’re into datawork and stuff like that’, this is, er, exactly that. If you don’t ‘do’ data, you can probably skip this one.

  • Bootcamp For Kids: When I was at international school there was a kid in my year called Noel Carver (I don’t imagine he Googles himself, but just in case – HI NOEL!) who was a few years older than us and was all intense and moody and American and who all the girls ADORED, and who used to regale us with (on reflection, possibly made-up) stories of being sent to kiddie bootcamp back in Iowa where he was stuck in the middle of nowhere with a kid who’d been sent there for sleeping with his sister and where he learned to sleep with a knife under his pillow. ANYWAY, whether that was true or not, this piece about actual kiddie bootcamps for problem teens is pretty much horrifying and makes you think that perhaps outsourcing your parenting to a bunch of psycho ex-Marine-types isn’t a great idea overall.

  • Leaving Westboro: Very long but fascinating read, about how online poster child for the hatemongers at Westboro Baptist Church learned humanity through Twitter (no, really). Sort of a ‘how to deprogramme a cult member through social media 101’ guide, should you need such a thing.

  • The People Behind Erowid: You know Erowid, right? Literally the BEST place to fall into a drugstories rabbithole, and the first port of call should you be interested in experimenting with anything rather more non-traditional than your class A, B or Cs. I can highly recommend the sections on Datura, by the way, should you want a cast-iron deterrent to your teenage kids getting too experimental. Anyway, this piece is a truly fascinating interview with the two people behind it, who call themselves Earth and Fire and are a truly awesome pair of middle-aged hippies. God love them and their hempy, liberal stylings.

  • VICE Goes To Sexpo: The ‘hey, let’s send a reporter along to a weird event and get them to talk about the weird!’ editorial gambit is not a new one (my friend Iain, when a staffer at the Telegraph, used to call himself the humiliation correspondent, such was the regularity with which he was sent off to try naked speed dating on camels or somesuch HILARIOUS caper) , but Lucy Hancock does a sterling job here. It’s worth it for the (borderline NSFW) photos alone, particularly of the dinopenis. God, the dinopenis (it’s honestly not what you think).

  • Why Star Wars May Never End: Wired on how there may never in fact be an end to stuff made in the Star Wars Universe. Ever. Ever ever ever (spoilers: because money). I think I said this recently, but I’m increasingly of the opinion that if this sort of cultural future – endless, near-homogenous parades of fanservice pap designed to feed the growing mass of emotionally stunted manchildren (ahem, yes, fine, point taken) – is the result of the bullied-at-school-crowd of the 70s finally getting their revenge on the jocks, then, well, maybe the jocks were right. Anyway, whatever your opinions on Star Wars this is actually quite interesting on multiplatform storytelling and transmedia and branching narratives and stuff, should you care about that sort of thing.

  • Hammer and Sickle – A DeLillo Short: From Prospect Magazine, a new short story by Don DeLillo. I confess to never having particularly got on with DeLillo, but I very much enjoyed this satire on high finance and power and punishment and THE FUTURE.

  • An Art Without an Artwork: The second-best writing in here this week, this is an astonishingly good piece about chess and amateur players playing at public tables in the US (I once tried doing this in Washington DC 15 years ago – legitimately one of the most intellectually humiliating experiences of my life, no question) and the peculiar qualities of the game, and oh look just click the link, it’s WONDERFUL.

  • Playing God: This, though, is honestly one of the best things I have read all year. The unprepossessing setup is that of a man talking about his obsession  with his model village, but it’s so much more than that – it’s funny and angry and pathetic and the bits where he talks about his relationship and his parents and money and the nature of his obsession and, again, oh look just click the link it’s BETTER THAN WONDERFUL. Seriously, if you only read one thing this weekend, make it this one.


By Nguan


1) First up, a band called Earthly, with their track Glaze – all skittery electro and a lovely hand-drawn animation which is all movement and motorbikes and is quite reminiscent of Take on Me, which is obviously no bad thing:

2) Next up, the inevitable co-opting of the Deep Dream video phenomenon (see Curios passim for previous efforts by less famous artists) by a BIG BAND, in this case the peculiarly unloveable (to me at least) Years & Years, for their track ‘An Artificial Experience’. Can we declare this over now? Probably not until David Guetta’s had a go, sadly:

3) I am a sucker both for punk and for violent claymation, so this video, for Radkey’s song ‘Glore’, ticks a LOT of my personal boxes. If you like the gory work of Lee Hardcastle then you will LOVE this, though you will probably enjoy it even if you don’t. Even if you hate punk, it’s only two minutes long so give it a go:

4) Videos made on Kinect aren’t new – God knows I have featured enough of them here over the past few years – but this one, for Sissi Rada’s creepy track ‘Sunday’ (don’t know why,but I find it really unsettling) is an excellent example of the genre and features some pretty cool effects I’ve not seen before:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! Bit worthy, this, but the cause is a good one. Released by Rapman and SBTV to highlight awareness of suicides amongst young men, the track, called ‘Rollercoaster’, shows how things can go wrong quickly and simply and how people can often have noone to talk to and feel compelled to top themselves. So, you know, don’t top yourselves:

6) Meet internet sensation The Grindmother – a grandmother who sings grindcore. This song probably has a title, but it’s sort of immaterial – hear the SCREAMS!:  

7) Years ago, back in the H+K days, I put a work by Vernibus in the pictures here; this is a video showing him at work on the posters of New York Fashion Week. I would give actual limbs to own one of these, they are GORGEOUS:

8) Last up this week, I love this song. It is tripphoppy and beautiful and the vocals are a tortured mess and I don’t understand how it only has 500-odd views. This is Seyr, with ‘A Love’. BYE! HAVE FUN! LET’S NOT THEM WIN, EH? BYE!:

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Webcurios 13/11/15

Reading Time: 24 minutes

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Stephen Allport, CC licence

So this morning I unaccountably woke up 75 minutes late (not unaccountably at all, I just forgot to turn on my alarm) which means that I had even less time than normal to write all this crap and which crap, as a result, is a little shorter and more pared back than normal. Sorry about that.

Although I don’t know why I’m apologising – I know it’s too long, and that that’s an ISSUE. Which is why (note the SEAMLESS SEGUE here) the clever man that is Shardcore has built THE WEB CURIOS BOT! Yes, as of this week, if you follow Imperica on Twitter you will receive, each hour, a link from the previous week’s Curios, with a screencap of the accompanying sparkling prose, so you can ‘enjoy’ it all in bite-sized chunks. I mean, I would say this, but it is SO USEFUL; do let us know what you think of it as a development. Oh, and if you think there would be value in a separate bot doing the same thing for the whole Curios archive (many THOUSANDS of links) do let us know and we will try and sort it (or lock Shardcore in a basement until he’s done it; either/or).

Anyway, I am spaffing on and I can’t afford to waste the time. Let’s MOVE, people, weaving through the thick linkforest, trying not to get snagged on the bark, and perhaps stopping a little too often to taste the assorted berries and fruits – they’re probably not poisonous, though don’t quote me on that. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!

By Antoine Geiger


  • Facebook Notify: Because there simply aren’t ENOUGH things screaming at you from the screen of your phone and demanding your attention, Facebook this week announced Notify, another standalone app (currently iOS and US only) which will fire Facebook notifications (the updated sort which we discussed the other week, if you recall – WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T COMMIT ALL OF THIS TO MEMORY YOU CRETINS JESUS) at your iPhone’s lockscreen. Notable mainly as another instance of Facebook attempting to ensure that you NEVER USE ANOTHER WEBSITE EVER, and because there’s no way in hell that they are not going to offer premium advertisers the opportunity to shoot promotional spaff at your lockscreen, is there? Rhetorical, that – there isn’t.
  • Facebook Live Gets Notifications Too: Facebook Live, the livesteaming service for famouses, now lets users sign up to receive notifications when one of their favourite vacuous meatsacks decides to share a unique insight into their in no way staged existence. GREAT!
  • FB Facial Recognition Gets Marginally Creepier: Upload a picture to Facebook and the in-no-way-increasingly-scary platfor’s Messenger service will prompt you to send the pics to your friends who are pictured in them purely via the magical medium of its facescanning technology. Which is obviously sinister as all get-out, right, but also has HUGE potential ad implications, no? Target ads to people who are found in photos at certain locations – Disneyland, McDonalds, etc? Come on, this is totally going to happen, no? Oh, if you want to sign out from this horrorshow then here’s how you can do it
  •  Facebook Testing Ephemeral Messaging: Because EVERYONE WANTS TO BE SNAPCHAT, it seems. Idiots. 
  • Small Updates To FB 360 Vids: They are mainly technical, like altering camera position and vertical lock, but the whole thing has a shiny new microsite containing everything you could ever possibly wanted to know about the videogimmick of the year.
  • Instagram Launches Partners Service: Much as Facebook has its own ‘partners’ network for trusted suppliers that the platform works closely with to deliver ‘better content experiences for brand partners worldwide’ (that’s not actually quote, but it’s pretty much exactly the sort of marketingwank that I imagine they use to characterise this sort of thing). Basically if you do BIG STUFF on Instagram there are a whole load of third parties it may now be beneficial to hook up with, is the deal here. 
  • Why Instagram Captions Are The New Blogging: I mean, they’re not, but. Interesting-ish piece about the increasing trend towards verbosity in Instagram captions and how you might be able to HARNESS THIS FOR YOUR BRAND STORIES. 
  • Instagram Engagement Falling: Or, er, maybe not, seeing as the more cynically-minded among us might be led to infer from this article that there’s been a marked drop in post reach, etc, on Instagram since they opened the platform up to advertising. What’s that? You don’t believe that Facebook would ever conduct such a low down and dirty bait-and-switch as to get all the big brands onto a platform advertised as ‘free’ and then turn round and change the rules so instead they had to pay to reach the audience they’d built up organically over time? No, me neither, as you were then. 
  • Twitter Testing Rewindable Gifs: Twitter here, making cosmetic changes noone really wants or needs whilst failing to address any of the issues which are causing its userbase to stagnate. Nice one! Anyway, this may or may not become a thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t waste a Friday afternoon coming up with CONTENT STRATEGIES around it. 
  • Persicopes Worldwide Now Easier To Find: They’ve made the map feature better, meaning it’s easier to find people using the thing. Which is nice, I suppose. 
  • Tumblr Rolling Out Messaging: As part of what I am going to officially brand The Great Platform Consolidation of 2015(TM), Tumblr’s now doing messaging. Which is actually pretty smart, if you consider its increasing popularity as a platform for standard website building (cf that dreadful Nescafe Tumblr-based site which launched over the Summer). If you’re going to offer yourself as a one-size-fits-all website solution, this sort of thing makes a lot of sense – the obvious customer service / fan interaction implications here are, one would hope, obvious.
  • Pinterest Launching Visual Search: One of the bigger announcements of the week, I think, but because it’s Pinterest noone really cared. The launch of visual search means that users will be ale to highlight certain items shown within a Pin and Pinterest will search for other Pins containing stuff that looks like the highlighted object – which moves the platform on leaps and bounds as an e-retail tool, and would suggest that if you sell stuff on the internet which looks good in photos you might want to up your Pinterest game smartish. 
  • Vimeo Launching Updated Settings for Creators: A few nice features coming on Vimeo for those of you who actually make stuff – the ability to trail your vids with a ‘coming soon’ announcement, and to offer exclusive access to certain content via gated pages to premium backers. This is all only through the premium ‘Vimeo on Demand’ bit of the platform through which creators can monetise their work, but if that’s you then you should probably be aware of this stuff. 
  • The Coke ‘Wish In A Bottle’: Part of me hates this for the fact that it’s taking something sort of romantic and lovely and effectively cheating at it for the purposes of selling gutrot sugarwater, but I have to grudgingly admire both the ambition and execution here – this is VERY clever indeed, check it out.
  • Oreo ‘Choose Your Packaging’: Obviously only in the US, but I very much like the way in which the interface for this functions, letting your choose from a couple of different artists’ versions of festive biscuitwrapping, add your colours, etc, and then send to someone as a packaged Oreo present. Shame the biscuits are disgusting really, but you can’t have everything. 
  • The Tacoemoji: It pains me to say this, but I was really rather impressed by this. Nice stunt by Taco Bell to celebrate the launch of the taco emoji – they basically have reworked Subservient Chicken in a really clever way. Users tweeting the new Taco emoji in conjunction with any other emoji (well, upto 600 of them) would receive a short animation in response illustrating that combination – so taco + lightning bolt gets you a taco Zeus flinging lightning bolts at taco buildings, etc etc. Labour intensive, obviously, but it’s a really nice spin on the BK/TippEx/etc mechanic and probably means that you will see a whole raft of copycats in the next month or so (on your marks, etc).
  • Jane St: US agency John St, who are no strangers to STUNTS (they did the ‘Catvertising’ spoof a few years back which you may recall) have set up this fake agency website, purporting to be of an agency called Jane St (DO YOU SEE???) which purports to specialise in the heartstring-tugging, YOU ARE WORTH IT-style advermarketingpr which has targeted the women’s market with such success for brands like Dove, etc. Mixed responses to this – I thought it was rather funny, but several women whose opinions I respect have told me I’m an idiot and that it’s not funny. Am I an idiot? YOU DECIDE!
  • Massive and Brilliant VR Conference In Feb 2016 Which You Should Go To If That’s Your Thing: This actually looks really rather good, and I would probably be plugging it were it not for Imperica’s involvement. 
By This Is Superchill



  • Never Liked It Anyway: Whilst obviously breaking up with a partner is horrid (unless, you know, they’re a pr1ck), there are some silver linings – not least, according to this website, the opportunity to sell everything they ever bought you and make some sweet cashmoney! Never Liked It Anyway is basically eBay for the emotionally bereft – it works all over the world, and users just sign up and list articles they want to get rid of; the opportunity to demonstrate the disparity between the real-world value (ie retail price) and the post-breakup value (ie what you’re willing to accept to get it off your hands) is a particularly nice touch. LAZY JOURNALISTS! Keep half an eye on this for some doubtless GREAT/weird human interest stories.

  • Call Frank: No, not the government’s drug advisory service (although if that was your first thought then maybe you should call them), but instead a lovely service (sadly US-only I think) which will call you up every day andgive you 60 seconds to record a thought or observation which is then added to your own personal audio diary of your life. Such a simple idea, but a really nice project; I think it would be fascinating to do for 12 months. Anyone want to replicate in the UK? There’s a really rather nice art project waiting to happen here (audiologs, data analysis and viz of said logs, etc – COME ON, THINK!).

  • Clickbait Robot: This has rightly been getting a lot of love last week.Launched last Friday by perennial creator of great things Rob Manuel, Clickbait Robot is a Twitter bot which autogenerates clickbaity headlines – some of them are SO GOOD, and frankly I’d be amazed if someone at Buzzfeed isn’t secretly using it for inspiration RIGHT NOW.

  • Run For Your Life: Would you like to watch a livestream of a variety of frankly MENTAL people running from Oslo to Paris to raise awareness of climate change, non-stop, 24h a day? OF COURSE YOU DO! It’s actually slightly less mad than it sounds, as there are a lot of participants and it’s broken down into reasonably manageable chunks, but still pretty crazy. Notwithstanding the oddity of the exercise, it’s for a good cause and still more entertaining than Shia’s cinematic onanism earlier this week.

  • Airbrush: Do you like to present an entirely fictitious version of your life to people you barely know via the medium of social networks? Well, yes, we all do, that’s what they are for. If your particular thing is showing off how beautiful you are in a succession of carefully posed photos of yourself, each of which exists solely for the purpose of garnering the sort of ephemeral validation which fundamentally weakens your inherent sense of self and leaves you increasingly reliant on the ever-decreasing dopamine hit of third party endorsement then you will LOVE this app which basically lets you photoshop your face to buggery and back on your phone. Sorry, this was meant to be less ranty this week, wasn’t it? Will try and rein it back.

  • Random Peek: WARNING: THIS IS POTENTIALLY VERY ADDICTIVE (and occasinally NSFW). Random Peek gives you a 30-second window into a Periscope stream from somewhere around the world before cycling onto the next one. It is SUPERCOMPELLING – when I tried it the other day I got stuck in a strange loop of beautiful Ukrainian women being filmed pouting silently into the camera by their boyfriends, and one intensely creepy stream in which a kid in a classroom in, I think, Russia, covertly filmed his female classmates legs. Which suggests nothing pleasant at all about Persicope’s userbase, but is sort of anthropologically fascinating.

  • Lickstarter Cat Pants: Look, you know what the joke is here and I’m not going to make it for you.

  • Chronos: Have you got some sort of heirloom-type watch, say a Rolex or somesuch high-end piece of metal, which you LOVE but wish could be modded to irritatingly vibrate every time someone you vaguely know on the internet says anything? Well WISH NO MORE, friends, for here is Chronos, a clever little device which you attach to the reverse of a watchface and program to alert you when stuff happens. It’s apparently thin enough to be worn unobtrusively, and can be set to alert you in a variety of different ways depending on what’s happening – one vibrate for a friend on FB, two for a tag on Instagram, etc. Clever. Alternatively, of course, you can buy a smartwatch for a tenner.

  • My Moustache: Movember is a GOOD CAUSE, and my lovely friend Rina works on it so, you know, donate money and stuff (but please shut up about how growing a moustache is WACKY AND HILARIOUS; it’s not, stop it). If you are so doing, this site will rate your moustache for you – SPOILER ALERT, though: it looks rubbish.

  • The Wrong: Now in its second year, ‘Digital Art Biennale’ The Wrong is BACK. All sorts of interesting digital art projects are here to be discovered, which means it’s even more of a shame that the website is so appallingly designed and constructed – I mean, yes, fine, minimalism and all the rest is great, but it looks SO DULL. It really isn’t though, I promise, so if digiartstuff is your thing then I implore you to scratch a bit below the surface.

  • Project Oxford: Things I have noticed this year part x of y (fear not, there will, I promise, DEFINITELY NOT be either a ‘lessons learned in 2015’ Web Curios wrapup, or indeed a ‘Web Curios Predicts…’ article – I am better than that* (*too lazy and aware that noone cares) – the really quite impressive acceleration of smart AI-ish tech. This is the latest example – a project by Microsoft which takes any photo you plug in (of a person’s face) and analyses the expressions on it and spits out a list of emotions it believes it’s identified. I tested it with the photo that comes up when you Google me and it churned out ‘neutral; sad; surprised’ which is pretty much a standing description of my life, so seems to be working fine.

  • Defuse: Years ago, when Second Life was massive and Eve and WOW were increasingly popular, I spent a lot of time opining about the interesting legal landscape that would develop around the sale and purchase of virtual goods and how that would extend into ramifications around things like the legal definitions of ‘ownership’ and theft and stuff (you are lucky you didn’t know me then to be honest, I was DULL(er)). Anyway, none of the stuff I predicted came true, unsurprisingly, but the fact that Second Life is, it turns out, still MASSIVE made my discovery of this online goods marketplace somewhat timely – buy and sell virtual goods to your heart’s content here (though obviously there are all sorts of knotty questions about security, value, etc, so caveat emptor as per).

  • Later That Same Life: Oh I LOVE THIS! A crowdfunding project which has 5 days to go but which has already met its target, this is a GREAT project – 38 years ago, a man filmed himself asking a series of questions to his older self; now, that older self is preparing to answer the questions and splice all the footage together into the world’s first (?) time-travel self-interview thing. This is going to absolutely DEVASTATING when it’s finished and will make me weep buckets, so expect a glowing review at that point as I love that sort of emoshit.

  • Tiny Animated Fighting Men: Stephen Vyas is a Canadian animator who has some AMAZING little gifs of small men fighting on his website. They are truly hypnotic, trust me – I would watch a cartoon in this style SO MUCH.

  • Rumblr: Not going to lie, I TOTALLY called this a fake when I saw it last weekend. Which isn’t something I should be proud of, really, given that it purported to be an app which would put people in touch with other people to arrange fist fights. THAT IS NEVER GOING TO BE A REAL THING, YOU IDIOTS. What was most depressing about this was the number of news outlets which reported it breathlessly as A NEW NADIR FOR HUMANITY without doing even the basest of due diligence – I mean, I’m not even a journalist but even I would have perhaps made one or two calls…oh, no, hang on, who am I kidding? I’d have written it up in seconds and enjoyed the sweet, sweet clickbaity hits. I am part of the problem 🙁

  • 363 Days of Tea: Artist Ruby Silvious has been painting on teabags, which if you work for PG or Tetley or Twinings or something should have you scrabbling to offer her monies for a collab.

  • The Short Story Vending Machine: So much love for this idea, which (FOREIGN WARNING) is all in French so unless you speak it you’ll just have to take my word for it. Anyway, these are a series of vending machines set up around Paris which let passers-by order short stories on demand – users specify how much time they want to spend reading (1,3,5 minutes) and the machine spits out a story of the requisite length. All are original compositions created specifically for the project – I would love to see this come to London, please, someone, thanks.

  • Antibac Pants: Yet another thing which comes under the heading of “I’m a man so not really sure what to make of this, but really?”, this funded Kickstarter is offering ‘100% organic cotton underwear made in the USA, designed to keep your sensitive places free from toxic chemicals.’ I personally wasn’t aware that my sensitive places were in fact at risk from toxic chemicals, so that’s one more thing to trouble me in the dark hours when sleep is far and the night is a more terrible giant than usual.

  • Rooftops of Paris: Just beautiful, these shots.

  • 22 Hilarious Pictures of Kim Jong-un!: I really, really like what they have done here. Smart, and replicable. Click and see what I mean.

  • Here Is Today: I was convinced I’d featured this before, but it would seem not. Here Is Today is a website which seeks to give you sense of perspective on your day – effectively it’s the online equivalent of the tattoo reading “It probably doesn’t matter” which I have been meaning to get for years. You may find it comforting, or it may simply reinforce your complete insignificance in the grand scheme of things – depending on how you feel about the Total Perspective Vortex, you mileage may vary.

By Shinichi Maruyama



  • Crazy Cyborg Stuff: “WE ARE ALL CYBORGS NOW!” parp the trans/post-humanists, pointing at the devices we all carry as extensions of our brains and upon which we have come to rely much like we might on a brain implant or similar. Well, perhaps, but we are NOTHING compared to the mental people over at the charmingly named ‘Grindhouse Wetware’ Facebook community, whose latest wheeze is taking a big old LED system and implanting into the back of their hand. Yes, that’s right, these people have CUT OPEN THEIR HANDS and shoved some internet connected lights in there. Why not, eh?

  • Altruis: Connected jewellery, so it calls itself, which muchlike the watch addon up there will syn with your phone and alert you to STUFF happening in the virtual realm through vibrations. Not the first thing like this which I’ve featured here, but this stuff looks far more high-end, and, pleasingly, is a London-based company (the whole thing is very interesting, actually, from the pseudo-think tanky stuff around future tech to their proposals for salons and stuff – suggest you take a deeper look at the company if you’re into this sort of stuff and also a Londoner).

  • Sleep With Me: Not an exhortation, I promise; instead, this is a podcast deliberately designed to be SUPER-DULL so as to speed you towards kip. Potentially good for the ASMR people amongst you, it’s also absolutely the sort of thing which any bed manufacturer should TOTALLY get behind, or which if you work for some sort of sleephacking company of which there are LEGION you might want to consider sponsoring.

  • Another Magnum Photos Square Prints Sale: Yes, I know, this is basically advertising – sorry about that. The photos are good, though, and with prices called at $100 there are some lovely potential presents here should you want to delve.

  • London As Seen By A Self-Driving Car: Actually not strictly true, but it’s what London would look like to a self-driving car were one to be let loose on the streets.  A 3-d laser scanner was driven around the city; this is what it saw. SO BEAUTIFUL; if this isn’t used in a music video or similar in the very near future I will be most disappoint.

  • Skin46: I am a touch skeptical about this, but let’s see. Currently in pre-crowdfunding, so a little light on info, Skin46 is a Swiss project which, if all goes to plan, will offer people the opportunity to tattoo themselves with ink containing the biogenic material of another person – so you could LITERALLY have a loved one under your skin, forever (God, that joke would NEVER get old, would it?). The goth in me LOVES this.

  • Unseen Art: An admirable project seeking funding on Kickstarter, this one is looking to create detailed 3d prints of iconic artworks so as to be able to allow the blind to experience them through touch. A simple and lovely idea which I think could use some high-profile support from museums or arts institutions, should any of you have the power to enact such a thing.

  • Generating Stories About Images: Dull title, but do click – this is SUPER INTERESTING. Basically (and I am REALLY struggling for time here, so forgive me for the slightly cursory nature of the rest of this stuff) this is a program which looks at any image plugged into it, analyses it and then spits out a short story based on what it ‘sees’. I KNOW! CRAZY! Seriously, have a read of them, some are just beautiful (and not just because of the weird slight poignancy of them being algogenerated).

  • The Hansard Corpus: Every single Parliamentary speech between 1803-2005. SO MUCH WORDS – the potential for fun dataanalysis playtime here is vast, as you’d imagine.

  • The Twayback Machine: Are you in a minor Twitter beef with someone and want to shame them by digging out some stuff they said YEARS ago which you think somehow invalidates their current position? I mean, fine, you’re a pathetic little twat, but whatever, this might be useful.

  • SOS Brutalism: My mate Jim and I were once aggressivly heckled by a middle-aged man at Stockwell tube station for having a conversation about brutalism on the platform (on reflection we were perhaps being a *touch* pseudy). Anway, that has nothing to do with this project, which…oh, sod it, here’s the blurb: “#SOSBrutalism is a growing database that currently contains over 700 Brutalist buildings. But, more importantly, it is a platform for a large campaign to save our beloved concrete monsters. The buildings in the database marked red are in particular jeopardy. This is an unprecedented initiative: #SOSBrutalism is open to everyone who wants to join the campaign to save Brutalist buildings!” So there. It will be an exhibition in 2017, all being well.

  • Text Nina: Very clever service, this – you text ‘Nina’ stuff you need to remember, and she will keep a record of them. Text her ‘list’ and she will fire you back the current list of stuff you’ve sent her. Really useful, particularly for older people who may not be comfortable with smartphones, notetaking and the like.

  • Film Script Posters: Know anyone who’d like a poster of their favourite film made up of the entire script of said film? OH GOOD!

  • Music For a Dying Star: This is GORGEOUS. Japanese project which uses observation data from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, interpreted by a variety of different artists who turn it into unique compositions, all of which you can listen to on this website. It is so, so lovely, and aside from anything else the initial zoomscroll when you enter it is breathtaking. One of my favourite things on here this week; I want this music SO MUCH.

  • The Siena International Photography Awards: Nice pics.

  • Her: An app for women who want to meet other women (mainly, but not exlusively, in the romantic sense) this is notable for the way it is positioned – I love the fluid nature of the relationships it offers access to and the fact that it’s very much ‘this community is what you make it’. Such a pleasant antidote to Tinder, Grindr et al.

  • Glitched Macs: John Bumskill (see John, it DID get better!) repairs Apple machines and takes pictures of the interesting and beautiful screen fcukups which occasionally result. Some of the more beautiful glitchart you will see this week.

  • Savr: A really clever idea, this is a note=taking website which will display the same notes on any device visiting the site from the same IP address. So, for example, this could be an excellent way for families to share notes with each other, etc – obviously this won’t be the site that nails it (sorry guys) but there’s the germ of an excellent idea in here I think.

  • Regency Dances: Ever wanted to learn to dance like a Regency gent/lady? OH GOOD!

  • Welcome To The Uncanny Valley: Meet Leah. Try not to have nightmares.

  • Two Billion Miles: It’s so nice to be able to link to an online doc which is from the UK; this, by Channel 4, is a really rather excellent piece of work bringing together all sorts of footage and reportage from / around the refugee crisis. Given that we have all decided to care about it again this week, it’s timely – have a look, it’s very good indeed.

  • Emoji Party: If you run a club, whack this up on a big screen and watch people FIT THE FCUK OUT. Actually strangely compelling and fun to play with, even if, like me, you are something of an emoji refusenik.

  • Capricious Summer: I imagine I am super-late to this, what with the fact that it’s about Summer and it’s now November, but. This is a GREAT song, unexpectedly, by Aufgang, whose video is determined by the weather at your location. Clever use of geolocation – there was a New York Times article which I found last weekend which served up different copy based on where in the US readers were which ties into this, and I can totally see geodependent editorial content being a THING in the next 6 months. *2016 PREDICTION KLAXON!*

  • Dumb Cuneiform: Pick a Tweet, get it etched into a clay tablet in cuneiform script (5,000 year-old Persian, ancient language fans!) for you to keep forever. Silly-but-lovely, this is SO hipster (expect the popup to arrive in Daltson in Q1 2016).

  • Chordi: Procedural music generator, ‘based on input from real artists’, apparently. Still sounds like a mess to me, but maybe I should just give it time.

  • Build A Vagina: This week’s ‘Oh, Christ, really?’ link comes in the shape of this website, which advises visitors on the best way to make a false…oh, God, it’s too horrible even to write down. Horrifically compelling, and almost too sad for words. How lonely do you have to be for this to be an option? Not, er, that I am suggesting that any of you might know. Heaven forfend!

  • Uplust: Finishing off this week on a big old smut tip, Uplust advertises itself as ‘Instagram for pr0n’ and is pretty much totally that. I have literally no idea why anyone would need / want this – I mean, are there not enough ways already to see all the nudity you have ever wanted and most of the nudity you have NEVER wanted on your phone? – but here it is. Just so’s you know, MASSIVELY AND INCONTROVERTIBLY NSFW FROM THE OUTSET. Depressingly overwhelmingly straight and white at first glance, but there’s probably more diversity on there if you search.

By John Trashkowsky




  • Gene Kelly’s Butt: As a bit of an antidote to the super-hetero/male focused nature of Uplust, have this celebration of the cannonball-like glutes of everyone’s favourite Golden-era dancing boy.

  • Jetty Van Wazel: Included solely because of the designs for newspaper shirts, which SOMEONE (you?) should make commercially available as of the now, please. Imagine, licensing issues aside, how awesome it would be to be able to get classic tabloid frontpages as a nicely-printed shirt? Erm, ok, not that awesome, on reflection, but it would be fine.

  • Positive Doodles: Sickeningly positive and uplifting little drawings, which are perfect for trolling people on Facebook. Of course, there’s always the possibility you actually like this stuff (but really?).

  • Type A Picture: A Tumblr collecting the results of this fascinating experiment in machine learning, in which people submit descriptions of a picture they would like to see to an AI which attempts to cobble it together based on said description. The results are almost scarily good and yet simultaneously quite rubbish-  this is awesome, overall.

  • Gang Nialla: I don’t really understand this bit of1D fandom, but I think that the pictures / quotes look quite classy and as such am going to start posting them all over the place. You should too.

  • Men And Their Dogs: Self-explanatory.

  • Coffee Cups Of The World: Also self-explanatory.

  • Tech Noir: Awesome cinemagraphs, these.

  • Straight White Boys Texting: A N Other repository of fuckboy communiques from the fringes of modern dating. Well DONE, guys!

  • Bros Without Clothes: Lots and lots of naked men. NSFW, but WHO CARES IT’S FRIDAY! (NB – Web Curios accepts no responsibility for the fallout which may occur from perusing this, or anything else, in the workplace).


  • Why The Internet Is Broken: I mean it’s not, obviously, but the publishing / writing / making good stuff bit is certainly a bit janky at the moment, as explained rather nicely by this piece which uses the excruciating ‘Why Spooning is Sexist’ clickbait piece as a starting point to explain why, basically, we can no longer have good journalism online (almost). Depressing, but worth a read.

  • What Makes Elon Musk: The temptation to lead this with a joke about pheremones is strong, but I am BETTER THAN THAT (ahe). This is the final part of the kilometric hagiography of the popular science Einstein de nos jours (hyperbolic I know, but), which focuses less on what he does than how he does it, and is SUPER-USEFUL in terms of making you feel a bit better about being normal. Yes, fine, he’s a billionaire supergenius who may just revolutionise global transportation, but does it sound like ANY FUN being him, or indeed being around him? No it does not.  The bit about how he sees his kids is, frankly, a touch chilling.

  • Murder Your Way Through Boston: By way of light relief, a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ story by clickhole, which had me literally crying with laughter after about 5 minutes. Enjoy.

  • Meet King Smuggler: I don’t know about you, but I’ve long been interested in the people who run the processes which result in boatloads of people drowning off the coast of Italy or Greece in search of a better life – I mean, what’s their internal monologue like? Does guilt get a look-in at all? Turns out, not so much – this piece is pretty jaw-dropping, not only because of the man’s reasonably blase “I am helping these people” stance but also because of the numbers. Man but the mafia are getting RICH off this, at a whole variety of points in the chain. Really good piece, if as bleak as you’d expect.

  • Kids Say The Funniest Things: Yes, I know, but this Reddit thread of ‘funny stuff your kids have said’ is predictably full of gold.

  • Charlie Brown’s Little Red-Haired Girl: I know that by posting all this stuff I am simply helping the dreadful Peanuts film’s marketing department, but this piece – all about the early romance in the life of Charles Schulz – is just so tragically romantic, and casts the strips in a subtly different light, that it deserves a read. Poor Charles Schulz 🙁

  • The Best Expenses Dinner Ever: And probably the best journalism in here this week to boot. An account by the late Robert Hughes, former staffer at Time Magazine, about the heyday of the journalistic expenses account and his recollection of one memorable Parisian dinner. So many great lines, but the final two paragraphs had me actually applauding in my head. Sexist, excessive and beautifully written.

  • The Noel Gallagher Esquire Interview: In case you didn’t read it last week, Noel gives fabulous quote as per usual. Really very funny indeed, and pleasingly shameless about almost everything.

  • The Startup Playbook: If you are running a startup, or thinking of doing so, this set of info from Y Combinator is absolute GOLD, I would imagine. If you’re not, though, it’s dull as ditchwater. ONWARDS!

  • The Death of Organic Avenue: Ostensibly about how some chain of organic food shops in New York is being forced to close, my notes referred to this as “Why every single health-obsessive foodie is a cnut”. Really, though – read this and COUNT THE CLICHES!

  • Beyonce’s Dad Is A Dick: Seriously, WHAT an arsehole. Richard Knowles, now removed from his daughter’s professional life, currently runs expensive seminars advising aspirant music industry professionals on how to make it (step one: have preturnaturally talented offspring). This is what happens at one of those seminars. You can actually feel your toes curling as you read, which is no mean feat.

  • On Booze and Consent: A really interesting take on what is obviously a very thorny issue, this piece from the Texas Monthly explores what it means when we deny any responsibility to people to whom bad things occur when they are very drunk. I am, let me stress, just presenting this as an interesting perspective rather than as a GOOD or BAD thing – just thought it’s an angle I don’t see so much of, and it’s a very well-argued article.

  • John Ronson Meets The Fat Jew: Ronson gives him a pretty easy ride imho.

  • A Profile of Lord Byron: Whether or not you give one iota of a fig about the BAD BOY OF THE GOTHIC, you should read this as a) it’s interesting as a mirror to contemporary celebrity culture; and b)  it contains the BEST historico-literary BURN you are ever going to read, ever. I promise, you, even if you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, please do a “CTRL+F” for wordsworth.

  • New Jersey Italian Explained: How dialects and accents evolve, with a particular reference to the unique “fuhgeddaboudit” stylings of the New Jersey italo-American population. Obviously as a demi-wop I was well into this, but it’s interesing from a linguistics point of view too.

  • Living & Dying on Airbnb: What happens if something BAD happens to you or a loved one when at an Airbnb property? Turns out, noone really knows. This is SAD, and the first few paragraphs are unexpectedly harrowing, so be warned.

  • Dapper Laughs Is Very, Very Stupid: I thought he was done, but NO! He is BACK! An unexpectedly brilliant interview with the man behind the ‘character’ (my inverted commas, read the piece and you will see why) from the Radio Times, which reveals that, more than anything, creator Daniel O’Reilly is a deeply stupid and confused man, who is in WAY above his head when it comes to questions of gender, offence, character and narrative.

  • The New Intimacy Economy: Brilliant writing by Leigh Alexander (thanks Josh for the tip) in which she looks at the way in which creators are almost forced to chum for likes to afford to keep creating, and how this creates a strange and false intimacy between creator and consumer. YOU ALL LOVE ME, DON’T YOU? TELL ME YOU LOVE ME!

  • On London Fog: Beautiful, on the history and context of the pea soupers, and how they have played a part in five books over the past few hundred years. Lovely, evocative citywriting, this.

  • The World’s 50 Best Restaurants: Finally, if you’re into food and restaurants and the rise of the celebrity chef, and a faint whiff of conspiracy and corruption, this is one to savour. A kilometric-but-fascinating look at how the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is put together, what means, and how it might not be quite as simple as it initially appears. I LOVED this – it’s a great one for the sofa with a glass of your favourite booze.

By Ángela Burón


1) First up, JUGGLING! No, wait, come back, it is SUPERCOOL, and is soundtracked by Ratatat who are very good. This, after the song which accompanies it, is called ‘Drugs’. Seriously, it is REALLY impressive:


2) Next we have ‘Regressing New Orleans’, which is footage of, er, New Orleans, which has been processed and polygonised and looks AMAZING. I want to see more of this effect, please, it is wonderful and I could watch it all day:


3) I really, really love this song, but it is SO SAD. It’s called “I’m Stupid (But I Love You)”, and it’s by someone called OKAY KAYA and I am listening to it right now and getting all emo about it so I think I might have to turn it off now and move onto the next one but not before suggesting that you take four minutes to listen and have a bit of a cry (the video’s very simple, but works perfectly with it):


4) Ahem. Let’s get back to the WEIRD, with consistently ‘challenging’ eletro-oddities Oneohtrix Point Never; this is called ‘Sticky Drama’ and the video is BRILLIANTLY weird. Cool song too, fwiw:


5) HIPHOP CORNER! The new Missy Elliot really is very good, despite Pharrel, and expect to see a LOT of personalised marionettes in the wake of this. It’s called “WTF?”:


6) Darwin Deez has gotten a lot of love on here over the past year – his latest, called “The Mess She Made” is a great piece of guitarpop, but the real star is the person who shot the video. I don’t even want to IMAGINE how long the setup took:  


7) Don’t really know what’s happening here, but I love both the song and the video – the song far more than I’d have imagined – and you will too, I think. This is “Eating Makeup” by Seth Bogart:


8) Last up this week, the best cover version I have heard all year. This is Chromatics, with their version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. I promise you, you will LOVE this. Makes me want to listen on repeat. HAPPY FRIDAY SEE YOU NEXT WEEK BYE BYE BYE!!!!!!:

Webcurios 06/11/15

Reading Time: 33 minutes

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Rishi Dastidar

In a week in which we’ve seemingly just sort of rolled over and accepted the fact that we’re going to be surveilled everywhere we go on the internet with a broadly resigned shrug – look at us, apparently feeling all totally fine and relaxed about The Man knowing all about our secret bongo predilections! – and in which, more importantly, HEARTS replaced STARS, what could be more important than getting reacquainted with all of the week’s internetting?


YES THAT IS RIGHT THERE IS NOTHING. NOTHING. THE WEB IS EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING IS THE WEB – THE WARP AND WEFT AND WOOF OF OUR EXISTENCE IS, IN FACT, CONTAINED IN THE LINKS WHICH FOLLOW (none of which, I’m pretty sure, should cause Theresa May undue concern as to your status as a terror suspect). Come along, and bring your passports, just in case I’m wrong about the preceding sentence and Guantanamo does in fact end up beckoning. THIS IS WEB CURIOS!

By Matthias Heiderich




  • Those Numbers: 1.55billion is a LOT of humans, so WELL DONE Mark et al. All the Facebook numbers this week were pretty terrifyingly impressive, to be honest, and only serve to reinforce the fact that, whatever you might think about the platform, it’s not going away as an advertising necessity anytime soon. Just remember that the 1.55billion figure means nothing other than ‘that is how many people you can now advertise to’ – it is still VITAL to recall that absolutely none of them want to be ‘friends’ with a bank, or share BRANDED MOMENTS OF TRUTH with you. Sorry about that. 
  • Better Local Facebook Ads in the UK: Interesting in particular for larger retailers, this, the announcement delivers a pretty significant upgrade to large companies’ ability to do all sorts of clever things with local ads nationwide – like autopopulating store contact details at a local level for ads bought nationally, changing copy based on target location, that sort of thing. Analytics are also improved, and will now show you Facebook user traffic around your physical location, broken down by day and time, so you can see exactly what the best time is to FIRE ADVERTS AT THEIR EXPECTANT FACES (clue: it is always a good time. Always. The advertising must never stop). 
  • Facebook Detailed Ad Targeting Launches: I may potentially have missed this the other week, sorry. Basically there have been some tweaks to the Facebook Ads Power Editor which mean that you can do smarter targeting with more Boolean-type structure – so you can now choose to target not only middle-aged men who like Star Wars and LEGO and anime, but also to specify that they also be into erotic anime AND single (lazy ‘humour’? Yes, ok, fine, sorry. It’s effectively giving you AND, OR, and AND NOT qualifiers, which is useful. 
  • Facebook Launches Music Stories: Noone’s really managed to nail the ‘integrate music with social’ thing yet; I’m sure analysts are having all sorts of opinions about whether this will help Facebook crack it, so if you want to read a whole load of speculation about that sort of thing I invite you to Google yourself silly. Anyway, this is basic functionality which lets users of Spotify or Apple Music share what they they are listening to at the moment; this cues up a 30-second preview of the song or album in the Newsfeed, playable through Facebook, with the option to click through and listen to the whole thing or buy / download the music in question. Bound to be an audio ad unit in this somewhere soon, no?
  • All The Facebook AI Stuff: Facebook is going to be the Starbucks of the scifi future, isn’t it? Unavoidable, ubiquitous and just a bit rubbish. Anyway, this is all the scarily future stuff that they are working on at the moment – image recognition, AI systems, etc. Personally speaking, I found their slightly blithe announcement about their GO-bot the most interesting; GO is famously one of the few games in which AIs still don’t tend to do as well as people, I think, and for them to say as a throwaway “Oh, we knocked this one out a few months ago and it’s already as good as the best ones out there and it’s still learning” is the sort of FORESHADOWING that you’d kick yourself for not noticing in the first act of the dystopian scifi film of legend. 
  • You Can No Longer Say You Are ‘Maybe’ Going To An Event: So there. 
  • Instagram Launches Curated Video Stream: I wrote something earlier this year about how tedious it was that all the bloody platforms were converging to the point where they all do basically the same thing for marginally different audiences – this trend continues apace with the announcement that Instagram’s basically rolling out something which is quite a lot like Twitter Moments or Snapchat Discover. It’s only been done in the US so far, and only over Hallowe’en weekend, but it’s going to go global soon and this will OBVIOUSLY be a paid channel so watch this space for EXCITING ADVERMARKETING OPPORTUNITIES!
  • All The Materials From Twitter’s Developer Conference: If you’re a developer-type person, this is worth a look – all of the talks from the recent Flight event. If you’re not, ONWARDS!
  • The Bloody Heart / Star Thing: I know, I know, complaining that people are spending too much time focusing on a trivial issue on the internet rather than spending their time talking about WEIGHTY ISSUES and making the world a better place is stupid and annoying and futile. I know this. Still, though, the amount of space and time dedicated to people debating the cultural significance of an icon change was preposterous – REALLY? NOTHING BETTER TO DO/SAY? Christ alive. Anyway, in case you did have better or more important things to do, the ‘Fav’ button on Twitter, used either as a bookmark or a gentle ‘yes, well done’, or a slightly ironic ‘WEVS’, or indeed in a host of other ways, has been replaced by a heart icon and renamed a ‘Like’. Which, yes, is weirdly retrograde seeing as Facebook has just about realised that that’s a very blunt way of interacting with a story, and does potentially alter the UX of the platform slightly, but probably didn’t need all the WORDS around it which I am just adding to so let’s stop there shall we? Yes we shall. Oh, you can apparently change the hearts to any emoji you like with a bit of tinkering – here’s a Chrome extension which turns the icon into a bottom.
  • Twitter’s Public Policy Transparency Page: Quite interesting move, this – a page on which Twitter is laying out its political donations, etc, in the US, which is pleasingly transparent, as well as its policies on privacy, user safety and security and the rest. It would be nice to see this sort of thing as standard. 
  • Snapchat Does First Sponsored Lens Thing: The Snapchat lenses – you know, the filters that let you puke rainbows out of your face and stuff on Snapchat – are also obviously going to be an ad product. And lo, it came to pass that the marketing spend on the Peanuts film, which appears to be VAST even by the normal standards of Hollywood, has in part been spaffed on being the FIRST ones to do it – they ran a campaign over Hallowe’en in the US which let users overlay Peanuts-themed graphics on their videos. Christ knows why anyone would want to have a poorly-animated CGI Snoopy capering on their head in a video, but it seems they did. Like the really early rubbish days of AR (which, on reflection, are still here) – I also imagine that this was VIOLENTLY expensive, if Snapchat”s general ratecard is anything to go by. 
  • The Really Confusing Snapchat Privacy Thing: The reporting around this was SO BAD over the weekend – they will steal all your photos!/they WON’T steal all your photos! – which if nothing else suggests that a) this really is a nadir for UK journalist (on which subject, this); and b) that their privacy policies really are clear as mud. FWIW, as I understood it their whole ‘we can use your images for whatever we like and will keep them for that purpose’ thing applies to stuff posted on the public channels (events, etc) rather than stuff sent peer-to-peer, but I have never sent a dickpic and so don’t really care tbh. 
  • Buyable Pins Coming To Android: You want to sell stuff on Pinterest? This is a Good Thing for you, in that case.
  • Google Launches VR Videos on YouTube For Android: That’s a sentence I would LOVE to see someone from the early 90s attempt to get their head around. Anyway, this is an upgrade to the Android YT app which enables it to play VR vids – enhanced 360 ones, basically – which means that Android users will also be able to enjoy the (apparently underwhelming) world of Google Cardboard. The fact that the NYT gave away shedloads of kits the other week will be interesting in terms of gauging mainstream(ish) appetite for this sort of thing; I’m not convinced anyone actually wants 3d video that much, but maybe I’m wrong. You can try out a load of the Times’ own efforts at VR reporting hre, should you so desire.
  • Google Launches Terrifying Mind-Reading Email Software: Does the fact that Google have invented script which can REPLY TO YOUR EMAILS FOR YOU make you feel a little…well…unsettled? If not, WHY NOT? Am I the only person who upon reading this immediately leapt to a near-future in which brands couple pay a premium to have themselves inserted into scripted responses penned by an AI – “Yes, I will be there – just got to finish my LOVELY REFRESHING DIET COKE first”, etc? Hm, maybe I am becoming a touch paranoid. 
  • Skype Sharing Buttons Announced: You can now add a ‘Share on Skype’ button to your content, which is actually a sensible idea which you should implement as of the now. 
  • New Yorker Email Reminders: This is a really smart use of email, I think. The New Yorker, a magazine even its devotees concede can be a bit on the chunky side, is now pinging people an email when they leave an article halfway through, reminding them that they didn’t finish it and providing a link back to the bit they’d got up to. I should TOTALLY institute this for Curios, although by so doing I would get actual insight into the dropoff rates as the sodding thing goes on and on and on and on, so perhaps on reflection I might just not. 
  • Tracking Offline Conversion In Google Analytics: This is just a smart and useful overview which you should probably look at if you fancy being able to demonstrate your professional worth beyond the standard ineffectual bleating about ‘engagement’ and ‘brand equity’ and stuff. 
  • Save The Rainforest: A site for a Telethon campaign in (I think) Norway which is now finished but which allowed people to sponsor a section of rainforest, learn more about the area, etc etc. Included mainly because I really like both the navigation and the virtual parrots. More virtual parrots, please, on all websites.
  • The Kooples’ Blackout App: I begrudgingly really like this idea, much as I’m nearly always of the ‘no, realy, you don’t need an app’ school of thought. Weirdly (to me) creepy and cult-like clothing retailer The Kooples has released this app designed for couples – the idea is that it’s a single user to single user interface which lets you share messages, pics, etc, with just one other person (your husband, mistress, etc), as well as tracking the amount of time you spend together, etc. I really wish that this had been an art project rather than a brand thing, but it’s not. Balls. BRANDS AS PATRONZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!




  • Vice Launches VICEland: Not, sad as it is to report, a VICE themepark (just IMAGINE! The centrifuge which replicates the sensation of being on an ayuhuasca binge with your Peruvian shaman! The acid party vortex! The hipster tattoo bar! They would be rolling in it, I tell you), but instead their own new 24h TV channel in the US, all Spike Jonze-endorsed and edgy and stuff. Someone I know just left MTV to join this, and she’s very smart and capable, so I don’t doubt it will succeed, but it will be interesting to see to what extend the already slightly watered-down VICE brand makes the transition to cable. Sorry, that was a bit MEDIA NEWS, wasn’t it? I’ll make the rest more frivolous, I promise.
  • Purrcasts: The sound of cats, purring. I’m sure there’s a market for this but I am buggered if I know what it is; if you work for Pedigree Petfoods, though (and I’m sure some of you poor sods must) this is the sort of idiot gimmick you can totally rip off for momentary brand-LOLZ. What a world this is.
  • FACEYOU!: I don’t know why, but the name of this makes me think of a slightly manic person shouting that phrase at you over and over again. Weird. Anyway, this is a faceswapping app by Baidu which lets you do live facemapped imageswapping with pretty much any image at all, which as you can imagine is SUPERCREEPY and actually sort of fun. Outside the gimmick, the tech actually seems rather robust and I can see this catching on amongst THE YOUTH.
  • Popcorntime FREE: Popcorn time, the torrent streaming site which seemingly refuses to die, is BACK; no idea how long this is going to stay up, but you can stream a LOT of films in-browser here. Which, yes, is stealing, and I appreciate the absolute hypocrisy of being someone who expects to get paid for stuff like this whilst at the same time linking to a website which effectively advocates stealing from the mouths of hungry creatives. What can I say, I’m a complex and multifaceted individual and anyway, I wouldn’t link to this stuff if I didn’t know that deep down you WANT IT.
  • Super-easy Image Sorter for Social: You want / need a site which lets you REALLY EASILY upload images, resize them for different social platforms, add captions, etc? OH GOOD! This is actually really very useful indeed, particularly if you want to make a job-lot of anodyne pictures with crap inspirational quotes on them, which if you work on social for Weight Watchers is, I think, what you must spend your whole day doing, you poor, poor creature you.
  • Luma: If these work as well as they purport to, they could be SO useful. Luma is a wifi-boosting system for the home, basically, which advertises itself as being a simple, one-stop solution to the weird wifi blackspots which afflict every home. Not only do they boost signal, but they also double up as content blockers for individual devices – meaning they can do the whole ‘don’t let this phone get on Pornhub in this house thankyouverymuch’ thing – as well as adding its own additional layer of net security and the like. Pre-order only, but if they work then these do look rather good.
  • Circle: Seeing as we’re doing home internet stuff, this is Circle by Disney – here’s the blurb, as I can’t be bothered to paraphrase: “Circle is a smart device and app that allows your family to manage all of your home’s connected devices. With Circle, parents can filter content, limit screen time and set a bedtime for every device in the home. Circle can even pause the Internet.” So there – outsource your parental discipline to the Mouse, why don’t you! Sorry, that’s unfair – I appreciate that sometimes you might want to just have some third party setting boundaries and limits to your sticky, jam-smeared progeny rather than having to deal with them yourselves.
  • Surname Mapper: Map where people with your surname live, worldwide. There are fewer than 60,000 Muirs worldwide, it would seem, which momentarily made me feel somewhat endangered.
  • Who’s Down?: This is basically ‘Netflix and Chill – The App’ from Google. I mean, ostensibly it’s a very simple and clever idea – you use the app to set your status as either being busy or being free for X amount of time (so, say, you can say you’re available for the next few hours); your other friends using the app can then see who’s around and who’s available to DO STUFF. Except I can’t see past this being used as a casual hookups thing, though maybe I’m wrong and it’s only going to be for trips to the bowling or somesuch. Yes, that’s probably it. It’s currently US-only and, interestingly, like early Facebook requires a school/college name to download, suggesting they’re being clever and trying to get a young install base before rolling it out. It’s actually a really smart concept, so let’s see if it works.
  • The Poseable David: Michelangelo’s David, as a poseable toy. You’re restricted to buying three at a time, but I think you could probably do a roaring trade in these on eBay in a year or so’s time if you’re that sort of forward-thinking BUSINESS MAVEN.
  • The Ginvent Calendar2015: I have previously spoken of my disdain for the whole “I LOVE GIN, ME!” trope which infects Twitter like some sort of twee AIDS; if you know one of those people, though, then this is probably a good gift for them (but after that maybe just step away and suggest that they take a good long look at themselves).
  • The ProtoPiper: This just looks FUN; if I had kids it would be a terrifying ordeal which would be fundamentally damaging to everyone involved, but I would also really like to get them one of these to play with. It’s basically a sort of ersatz 3d-printing gun which lets you make sculpture-type things from loops of tape, and if you click on the link and you see the amazing dinosaur sculpture they made with it you’ll want one too. If you make stuff I can totally see how this would be amazingly useful for prototyping and the like.
  • In The Crowd: I really, really like this. Simple but really useful website which flashes a variety of colours depending on the setting you select – the idea being that you can load it up on your phone and hold it up in a crowd so that your friends can see the flashing green phone in a sea of other digitards and come and find you. The sort of thing I can imagine being really helpful at festivals, and which I might think about co-opting into next season’s festival apps were I that sort of person.
  • To Reddit: Site which lets you schedule Reddit posts and (sneakily) also lets you autodelete and repost them if they don’t get enough traction the first time. Actually useful if you want to do promotion across timezones, though I imagine exactly how well the Reddit community would react to advermarketingprtwats using this sort of stuff (WHERE’S THE AUTHENTICITY MAN???).
  • Grammarly: Were I to rule the world, everything would be a total fcuking mess but the one small benefit would be that everyone would be forced to install this Chrome extension which automatically picks up when you make a grammatical error in your writing, wherever said writing might be taking place online. Basically like having a really annoying pedant prodding you ALL THE TIME, it’s actually pretty joyless but I can see it being useful if you’re trying to teach someone grammatical rigour (or if you just want to irritate someone a LOT).
  • Get Close: Effectively providing a messaging-based customer service solution for small businesses, this is totally redundant as soon as Facebook Messenger gets its act together and rolls out its business-friendly functionality everywhere – until then, though, it might be worth checking out. You sign up as a business – users can then use the app to contact you with questions using the messenger interface. Simple, useful, and soon to be totally obsolete.
  • MomentaryInk: This is a really, really good idea. Get your ideal tattoo designed, send it to these people and they’ll print you a temporary decal which you can use to see exactly how much of an idiot you’ll look with the Triforce stamped on your bicep (or something). Not supercheap, but much cheaper than both the tattoo and the eventual cost of removing it when you realise that having “Netflix and chill?” along with a winky face permanently branded on your calf isn’t funny now and certainly won’t be funny in 6 months’ time.
  • Teforia: The note for this that I made for myself reads, simple, “tea-wats”, which isn’t in any way funny but which describes exactly how I feel about this £100+ TEA INFUSION SYSTEM which is basically designed to turn tea drinkers into the sort of crushing bores who wang on about coffee like it’s Proust and who have been responsible for the fact that it’s impossible to get an espresso in London which doesn’t in fact taste like licorice (this is a FACT, check it out – WHY CAN YOU NO LONGER GET DECENT ITALIAN-STYLE COFFEE IN THIS CITY??? I blame the Australians, personally). Ahem. I grudgingly accept that the website’s very nice, and the actual machine is pretty space-age, but REALLY, come on, you need a robot thingy to make a cup of tea now? Reading that sentence aloud in my head, I weirdly sounded like an old Jewish man. Oy!
  • Earbud: If you like podcasts, this is a wonderful repository of some of the best, curated by NPR. Worth bookmarking if you need a regular new fix of this stuff.
  • Plag: This is not a new concept – I’ve seen at least three things like this which work in a similar fashion over the last few years, none of which have ever got the sort of tractino which means I’ve ever heard of them again – but I still adore it as a sharing mechanic. Plag is a social network which works around physical proximity; users share CONTENT (sorry) which is distributed to users who are reasonably physically proximate to them; these users can, on viewing said content, swipe up to share it further with people near them, or swipe down to stop it from going anywhere. ACTUAL, REAL VIRAL FUNCTION! I think that there’s an excellent set of toys/games you can build around this idea – there’s an obvious chinese whispers-type application, for one – but I’m sure you can think of other applications. I would love to see this sort of thing added as a play-layer to other networks, not that it ever will. Anyway, try it, it’s quite fun I think.
  • The $1m Hauly: You know in films when people are moving around large numbers of banknotes for potentially nefarious purposes and they’re all in these bags and it looks really SINISTER and SERIOUS? You ever wondered where you get those from? Here, it turns out – bags to hold upto $1million in CASHMONEY. Were they not 200-odd quid I’d totally want one, just for the ‘maybe one day’ thought.
  • Parcl: Smart idea, this, designed to deal with the problem of seeing something cool online that you want to buy but then finding that it doesn’t ship internationally (I say ‘problem’…). You sign up to Parcl and use its network of people to forward you parcels across the world – you get your stuff, they get a small commission, everyone wins. Actually very clever indeed, and particularly useful as we approach the bloody season of bloody goodwill.
  • Unnecessary Censorship: If one of you doesn’t steal this for an ad campaign I will be very, very disappointed indeed.
  • Artistic Shower Curtains: Because I refuse to believe that none of you want to adorn your bathroom with a shower curtain depicting Munch’s ‘Scream’.
  • The Emoji Keyboard: It’s not possible to show you the sneer on my face as I am typing this, but rest assured there’s a degree of lip-curl happening that Elvis in his pomp would have acknowledged with no little respect. Anyway, here you are, this is the communication technology we deserve – a keyboard which lets you easily add emoji to ANYTHING YOU WRITE. You will never have to bother with clear, unambiguous prose ever again, you lucky, lucky twats.
  • Simple Politics: This is a great site – if you are curious about politics and policy but find its reporting confusing, tedious and / or depressing, this could be very useful indeed, breaking down as it does the main votes and issues du jour in simple, easy to navigate fashion. As they say, it’s not about gossip or opinion so much as fact as to the mechanics of the UK’s political process, in theory and in practice. Really very clear communications – I like this a LOT.
  • Instasnoop: I don’t really use Instagram (is that allowed? I feel like a pariah) so not 100% certain how useful this is, but the gimmick is that it allows you to browse people’s profiles and pics with an interface which doesn’t let you like, regram, etc, any of the shots – so you can’t accidentally out your stalky tendencies by inadvertently clicking on something and alerting your stalkee to the fact that you were cranking over their bikini selfies again. I mean, do you all have really fat fingers?
  • Paperhouse: No real idea how many of you are planning to design and build your own houses, but in case you are this is a GREAT database of open source architectural plans which you can browse to your heart’s content. Really rather good from a domestiporn point of view.


By Matthew Plummer-Fernandez





  • Shelfie: Lazy description for this one is ‘Shazam for books’, which is actually pretty accurate so I don’t feel too bad. You take a photo of your bookshelf – the app scans the spines and lets you know which of the titles you’re entitled to a free digital copy of, and lets you grab the files. Not 100% certain it works in the UK, but why not do my research for me and let me know? Thanks!

  • Flowers of Meat: A thing in Japan, apparently, though I’ve long been of the opinion that Japanese media owners are mostly just making up weird shit to see what the Western media will blithely report as fact with not even the bare minimum of due diligence. Look forward to seeing a spread of these on Mail Online within the week.

  • The Prankophone: Read this description and tell me you don’t want an app/website version of this: “the main principle of the object’s functioning is as follows: depending on the current mode, the apparatus calls to random or pre-defined recipients and plays them algorithmic melodies created from their phone numbers. The speakers transmit both the synthesized sounds and the sound from answering person. The common sound layer is involving a random recipient who doesn’t suspect anything. The person who answers the phone can’t hear any other sounds except for the synthesized ones.” See? Sounds GREAT.

  • Go Elevator: An interesting idea, though one which I have a sneaking suspicion was inspired by some sort of geeky conversation along the lines of ‘man, imagine trying to put together a superhero team! wouldn’t it be great if they all came as a package from the start?’. Go Elevator lets colleagues advertise themselves for hire as a team, which is actually probably really useful for people in the ad industry who tend to come as a package in any case. This is the sort of feature I can totally see LinkedIn nicking in the next 12 months, maybe, possibly.

  • Eternime Redux: A quick Google suggests that I first featured Eternime in February 2014 – over 18 months later, they have a short video describing how their tech’s evolving. In case you don’t recall (WTF is wrong with you? Alzheimer’s?), this is what I said at the time: “ is (or, more accurately, aims to become) an extension of your online persona which will exist after your demise – taking cues from your social media profiles built up while you’re alive and creating an ‘AI’ (my inverted commas – it’s unclear what sort of ‘intelligence’ they’re aiming for here, or how Turing Test-y it will bet) from the posts you’ve made which can continue interacting with your loved ones and friends after you’re dead. So basically if you affect the persona of a double-figure-IQ moron online, expect that to be the version of you which persists into eternity online.” So there. NOw that there’s a video of the tech in the wild, I’m pretty confident in saying that this is going to stay vaporware for a long time – this is far, far too uncanny valley creepy for anyone to want to have anything to do with at present, and the AI tech is still so far from being able to deliver anything other than a very stilted simulacrum of personality. They obviously read Neuromancer and thought ‘Hm, the Count’s construct; interesting idea, let’s make it real’, but I’m not expecting my Gibsonian future to arrive just yet.

  • Amsterdam Prive’: Photos of Amsterdam’s ‘sexy’ nightlife in 1979/80. As anyone who’s ever visited Amsterdam can attest, there’s not really anything sexy about it at all, but there are some VERY GOOD fcuked faces in this collection, as well as some penises.

  • 100 Paintings: A lovely project, taking 100 paintings which have been divided into 5 ‘layers’ each; this website recombines these layers at random, resulting in a collection of around 9billion randomly generated new works, each available as a download. The only thing which could make this better, I think, would be to make the works available for sale – I love the idea of each being a unique original which will only ever exist in the real world once. Can someone make that, please? Ta.

  • Kibo: This week’s ‘Well this is obviously only going to be used for totally above-board purposes, honest’ app comes in the form of Kibo, an app which adds a layer to messenger conversations which allows for the transmission of hidden messages between two users. You type the message you really want to send, then hit a button – Kibo then creates some anodyne message along the lines of ‘Yep, great!’ and sends that in chat, the gimmick being that the intended recipient, who also has Kibo, can tap the message and see the ILLICIT COMMUNICATION that was in fact the real message. Great for people conducting affairs and THROWING SHADE, probably, though I quite like the idea of turning it into a game in some small way (no idea how, not going to think about it any more, really quite tired now).

  • 1995 Regi: A brilliant Instagram account which is effectively telling a comicbook story via the medium of drawings designed to look like the sorts of things the main character would post to Instagram were she a real woman. I love this conceit SO MUCH, not to mention that the art style is fantastic. I also adore the way in which the comments on the pictures contribute to the story – brands looking at how to do ‘storytelling’ on the platform, look at this and LEARN (and then ignore it all in favour of shoving your brandspaff down our gullets like you always do).

  • Logiplaces: I WANT THIS SO MUCH. Crowdfunding campaign for these gorgeous-looking minimal 3d jigsawsculptures of cityscapes and natural landscapes around the world – they’re quite hard to describe, or at least they are for me, so I suggest that you click the link and check them out and back them and then go to the poll on the site and ask them to do London next because HOW cool would that be? Seriously, if you’re a designer-y type person you will love this, guaranteed (not actually guaranteed).

  • Collectible Home Computer Cards: A now-funded Kickstarter for a set of trading cards all about old home computers, which I ordinarily wouldn’t bother with but, you know, it’s nearly Christmas, and I am pretty confident that I know my readership pretty well by now and that there will be several middle-aged men out there for whom this ticks all sorts of boxes. Go on, don’t be ashamed.

  • Twitch In The Shell: So geeky that it’s pretty much entirely beyond me, this is the Twitch community attempting to collectively install Arch Linux, an operating system whose installation process is famously unfriendly and which therefore should take approximately 7 years to complete based on the mechanics, which are the same as the previous ‘Twitch Plays….’ series of experiments. Seriously, if none of the above meant anything to you then don’t click the link, it will just confuse and possibly depress you.

  • Operator: ANOTHER concierge service, this one which works via a simple in-app messaging system and lets you ask a series of ‘experts’ for their advice on products, services, restaurants, etc etc…except that the service is free, you don’t pay any premiums, and the ‘experts’ are paid from money paid by brands who want their stuff recommended. So effectively it’s not so much a concierge service as one which lets you ask a bunch of faceless strangers ‘so, what stuff are you being paid to promote today, then?’, which sounds rubbish tbh.

  • The Monster Project: This made me quite annoyed. Last week IKEA got lots of press for doing a stunt where they made real toys from kids’ drawings – a service which has been available from a small shop online for YEARS, but which got nary a mention. Now this Kickstarter project, through which a bunch of artists are asking for money to do the same thing but by taking kids drawings and turning them into cool, high-quality artworks reinterpreted by ‘proper’ artists. Which is EXACTLY what The Monster Engine by David Devries has been doing for a decade or so. DeVries doesn’t seem to be involved with this, but at no point does it acknowledge that it rips him off wholesale. Gits, don’t give them any money.

  • Serendipity: OH I LOVE THIS. Once a month you will get paired with a random stranger over email. No more, no less. THE FUN! Ostensibly there’s some buillshit rationale about it being a good way to network, but ignore that and just think of it as a way of potentially meeting interesting new webmongs to be friends with. There’s a brandsteal opportunity here should you want to take it, I think.

  • Pastcards: Interesting idea, this – you give it access to your Instagram feed, and each month (for a small fee, £3) it will send you a nicely-printed card in the post taking one of your Instagram pics as the image. Gives you a nice hit of unexpected nostalgia, though probably worth purging your feed of all the pictures of your ex or your suicided family member before you do, unless you want to be moved to gut-wrenching sobs when you open your mail.

  • ROAR: One to file under “I wish this didn’t have to exist but I am sort of glad it (almost) does”, this project has smashed its crowdfunding target with over two weeks to go. Basically it’s a small combined rape alarm and transmitter which can not only make a really fcuking loud sound but can also text people when you press it, tell them where you are when you press the alarm, etc. Sensibly, you can also turn off the alarm bit and only send the silent text alerts; it’s a very nice piece of design indeed

  • CrowdHaiku: Using the ‘wisdom’ of the crowd to collaboratively write haiku, you submit a word and the community votes on which one will be added the the composition next. The poems that result are, because this is the internet, frequently obscenely scatological, but there are odd moments of beauty (but mostly people writing “Poop” and “butt” over and over again – thanks, North America!).

  • The Cryptaris Mission: A slick, polished, graphically impressive and CHILLINGLY COLD website from the US Army, designed to show people how much killing people in real life is like playing videogames (yes, I know that the Armed Forces in the UK do this stuff as well) – it’s a really very nicely made piece of webwork indeed, but there’s something so utterly inhuman about the way it all looks and feels, which maybe is the point. Poor Private Pyle 🙁.

  • Sons of Gallipoli: Interactive documentary of the week #1 – this is from Turkey, and is all about the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli, their families, the history of the area and its strategic importance…it’s nicely done, but it’s included mainly as a comparative illustration to demonstrate what REALLY GOOD online documentary work looks like. To whit…

  • Empire: This is brilliant from the Netherlands; a great interactive documentary about the history and impact of the Dutch colonial machine, which (as you’d expect from the Dutch) is pleasingly un-rosy tinted when it comes to examining the effects impact of the slave trade, etc. So much to love about this, not least the interface, but I particularly like the manner in which they use non-traditional video formats (slidey splitscreen, 180 degree flips, etc) in a way which isn’t gimmicky but instead makes narrative sense. Really nice, but not as nice as…

  • The Universe Within: So after mentioning in passing the other week that I’d not seen anything from the National Film Board of Canada in a while, this crops up and it is STELLAR. The Universe Withing pieces together stories from residents of high-rise blocks around the world through video, audio, photocollages, CGI, etc, to explore how the web is used by people in high-density accomodation to create a sense of personal space and identity. I cannot stress enough how good this is – if you care one iota about ‘DIGITAL STORYTELLING’ then you owe it to yourself to have a play.

  • The Processing Foundation Shop: You can buy really rather cool unique digitally designed clothes here. You sort of have to look / play to work it out, but some of the tshirt designs you can spin up are awesome.

  • Brightwild: This is FUN – part album launch website, part small 8-bit game, you play through the levels to hear more of the music. It is pretty ridiculously processor-intensive, so don’t try and do it when you have 213 tabs open as I just did as it will crash EVERYTHING and you will swear a lot and then go and make a cup of tea and try and calm down but it won’t really work and your mood will subsequently be all soured and noone wants that.

  • Trippingbot: Ever wondered what an AI on acid would be like? Like this, it turns out. The latest project by Friend of Curios (it’s an official designation, you can get a badge and EVERYTHING) Shardcore, you can read all about its creation / high concept here should you so desire (you should).

  • Sprayprinter: If this is a real thing, it will change graffiti FOREVER – or at least mean that a certain type of idiot narcissist will have a field day spraypainting their own likeness all over the place. As far as I can tell, this is claiming to be tech which lets you upload an image and will then enable you to spraypaint a version of that image onto a surface automatically. I mean, that’s witchcraft, right? Is this even possible? I am so confused.

  • 100 Balloons: A LOVELY project which I exhort you all to get involved with, 100 Balloons is by Simon White and it will involve 100 people sharing stories with each other via the medium of balloons, and you should all get involved if you can (well, upto 100 of you, in any case).

  • Scrote & Tote: Because there’s literally no other link to end on this week. Make your own ‘ballbag’ joke as I really just can’t be bothered.


By Daniel Alford





  • Sad MGTOW Apartments: I am so, so happy that I had to look up MGTOW – apparently it means ‘men going their own way’, and is some sort of men’s rights organisation with all the standard The Game/Alpha-Beta/Gamergate/Redpill/Bluepill rubbish you’d associate with it. This is a collection of webcam shots of people from this community, gently pointing out that the domestic situations revealed in some of the pics don’t necessarily bespeak so much of men going their own way as men struggling with certain basic aspects of personal grooming and hygiene.

  • News Cat Gifs: Journalistic travails, illustrated with cat gifs.

  • Cartographers Without Borders: A collection of imagined or impossible or altered maps.

  • North Korean Interiors: Photos of North Korean interiors, which are absolutely as creepy as you’d hope / expect.

  • Resn Experiments: I’ve mentioned Resn before on here – they are a SUPERWANKY but very cool New Zealand digital agency who I am probably deep down sort of jealous of. Anyway, this is a collection of code.text experiments by them, which are all lovely if you like code-led digiart.

  • Such A Cnut: Nowhere near as confrontationally provocative as the title would suggest, this is a collection of feminist cartoons. I suggest that women who spend any time arguing with men on the internet may wish to save / bookmark a few of these for quick-linking.

  • Quiet Desert Failure: My favourite art project of the week, this Tumblr is very quietly working to fill itself up with pictures of deserts taken from Google Maps, the creator’s manifesto states: “I programmed an Internet bot to traverse the datascape of Google Maps in order to fill a Tumblr blog and its datacenters with a remapping representation of the whole Sahara Desert, one post a time, every 30 minutes. The whole performance will approximately take 50 years to be completed, but it is still not clear if the audience, the Google’s servers, the tumblr archive or the Internet itself will last enough to see the end.” So there.

  • ITunes&c: Another lovely one, this – a Tumblr which takes the incomprehensible Ts&Cs we all blindly sign up to when we use iTunes and creates an illustrated comic from them, adding one new page a day. The copy is still obviously still just legalese horror, but the illustrations add a brilliant feel to it; it reads like a story, despite not being one at all. Very cool.

  • Too Many Guys, One Girl: Large groups of men winning awards, along with a token woman. Can anyone tell me what the Jack Whitehall-compered event which features so prominently on here was, please?

  • Fcuk Yeah, Trudeau!: Celebrating the beauty and liberal-friendliness of Canada’s premiere, who for the first 24h of his election I managed to totally confuse with iconic cartoonist and Doonsbury creator Garry Trudeau, which is not funny but is sadly true.

  • Chinatown Pretty: Street fashion blog focusing on senior citizens from San Francisco’s Chinatown. It’s probably patronising to say that these people are all old and cute and awesome, but I don’t care as none of them are ever likely to read this.



  • Different Class, 20 Years On: When Different Class by Pulp came out, I was living at college in Oxford and I was WELL HEARTBROKEN. Laura Martin-Robinson totally didn’t fancy me and fancied my best mate instead – IKR? SO MIZ – and I went into town on the day this came out and bought it and then spent 4 hours walking around Oxford in the rain and listening to it on repeat until the batteries on my walkman died and smoking cigarettes and, embarrassingly, weeping quite a lot. It’s still amazing to me what part of that wasn’t attractive to her. Anyway, that’s of no relevance at all, but this piece by Luke Young of The Quietus on the social context within which the album was released, and the weird feeling of being Piggy in Lord of the Flies which descended upon all the weedy nerds who’d loved Pulp since His’n’Hers (the far superior album, fyi) and before when they saw their outside idols being feted by the same Ben Sherman-clad, crispy-fringed neanderthals who’d spent much of the past years making fun of you for liking that geeky music in the first place (it’s STILL RAW you know) is GREAT, and anyone who remembers the mid-90s with a sort of awed horror should read it.

  • King Troll: Ken M is one of the funniest people on the internet. I was in actual tears after about three paragraphs of this article about his long-running aim to be the stupidest commenter online EVER. Read if you want a pick-me-up, it is guaranteed to amuse.

  • The Four Horsemen of Gentrification: McSweeney’s once again demonstrate why it’s the best place for satire on the web (sorry, The Onion) with this LOVELY piece of hipster-bait. US tropes abound, but anyone who’s been to Peckham in the past five years will know the score.

  • Every Day I Want To Quit Social Media: A great piece of writing which captures almost perfectly the spiralling need for dopamine hits and approbation engendered by all this stuff (not in me, obviously, I’m totally above the banal quest for better numbers) (which is pretty lucky really otherwise I’d be devastated), and which is particularly timely given this week’s big old “OMG SO FAKE”-gate going on with Essena O’Neill.

  • Mourning Grantland: Grantland getting canned made me rather sad, I must say – it’s provided smart longform sports writing which even appealed to people like me who don’t like or care about sport at all. This piece on the Observer is a smart look at why it got shuttered and what it means as regards the way in which CONTENT (sorry) works in modern publishing – it’s got rather a lot of interesting stuff to say about the dangers of the flat, postmodern approach to cultural value and relevance which I rather enjoyed.

  • The Art of the Witness: A wonderful piece from a month or so ago in the New Yorker, looking at the life and writing of Primo Levi, his humanity in the face of atrocity and how his prose communicated his ideals. There’s some wonderful analysis of his style in here, which is really worth reading if you’re familiar with his work. If you’ve not read ‘If This Is A Man’ then please click this link and remedy that fact now.

  • The ‘True’ Story Of Zola: Did you read the epic ‘strippers’n’hos do Florida’ tweetstorm which was all over the web last week? No? IDIOT. Anyway, if you did you may enjoy this followup piece from Caitlyn Dewey at the Washington Post, which attempts to piece together what might actually have happened. Seems that it was mostly legit, and there was a LOT of other weird stuff too. This story truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • The Witches of Papua New Guinea: The first must-read piece of journalism in here this week, this is a mad (and maddening) account of the strangely modern practice of hunting down witches in what sounds like the truly terrifying mean streets of modern Papua New Guinea. It feels like a VERY dark and far away place – an impression reinforced by some very good reporting in the piece.

  • The Rise of Franco-Arabic Rap: Great piece by Paris-dwelling Londoner Jeremy Allen all about the burgeoning Franco-Arabic rap scene in France, how it relates to the increasing simmering racial tensions which have been present in the country for…well…50-odd years, tbh, and how the scene’s developing in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders earlier in 2015. Interesting, and with the added bonus of being a great source of new French hiphop if you’re in need of some.

  • How Uber Has Made Us Awful People: Not just Uber – ratings culture, and the increasing sense that, much as we believe we are now entitled to read top-quality writing for free, we are also entitled to (to paraphrase the piece) Ritz-level service at McDonald’s-level prices. The more I think and read on this stuff, though, the more I’m darkly of the opinion that we’re almost inevitably going to end up with some sort of all-pervasive Peeple-style solution whether we like it or not. Which is a bit rubbish really.

  • The Sad Fading of the Refugee Crisis: Because we have all forgotten again, haven’t we, really? Depressingly, a politico friend of mine told me the other day that the referendum on Europe is almost certain to be held in the Winter months because the powers that be don’t want the issue becoming mixed up with pictures of dying people fleeing warzones in search of a better life, which we tend to have more of in the Summer. How lovely!

  • The Soft War On Drugs: Fascinating and wholly depressing piece on how the war on heroin abuse in the US has taken a distinctly more touchy-feely and non-punitive turn as the demographic profile of abusers has shifted towards the white middle-classes; effectively a demographic whose family, friends and parents are more likely to be able to equipped to navigate the bureaucracy of the police and judicial systems and therefore make them work more in their favour. Really interesting on how long-standing power hierarchies can manifest themselves in unexpected ways (SJW AND PROUD).

  • On Romantic Regimes: Brilliant piece about theories and concepts of romance and how these, and their associated milestones and tropes, differ from country to country. The author’s own anecdotes, about the differing conceptions of romance in her native Russia and her adoptive US, are beautiful (but leave one with the impression that having an affair out there is…er…tricky and complicated).

  • ISIS Are Idiots Too: LOOK AT THEM ARGUING ON TWITTER! This is very, very funny indeed, in a sort of ‘Four Lions’ sort of way.

  • The Future of Oil & Gas: No, wait, bear with me here. This is a VERY ODD thing indeed – a piece of future fiction written for Siemens, looking at some potential technologies which could arise in the coming years in the oil and gas industry, which for reasons known only to the author seems to think that the best way to propose these is to couch them in a story involving a dysfunctional couple who’s relationship is being undermined by her AI assistant. No, really. STRANGE CORPORATE WEIRDNESS HERE, for which thanks to Alex Wilson for the tip.

  • The Sad and Beautiful World of Mark Linkous: Sparklehorse are still one of my favourite bands – Linkous’ death a few years ago was one of the few celebrity suicides which properly *got* me. This profile of the man, the band and their music is one for the fans, but if you remember them fondly then this will be a lovely reminder of how beautiful each and every single one of their albums was. If you’re not familiar, I suggest you start here.

  • Boys In Zinc: My personal pick for best writing in here this week, this collection of anecdotes from soldiers and family members involved in Russia’s war in Afghanistan in the 80s is properly tearjerking, astonishingly well-crafted, and a horrifying and timely reminder of exactly the sort of proxy-war horror into which we’re seemingly now stuck in Syria. So really cheerful, then.

  • That Adele Profile: I mean, she does seem like a really nice, normal person, so well done her. Don’t quite understand the fuss, but I feel honour-bound to include this as, you know, POP CULTURE and the aforementioned postmodern flat nature of cultural value. Er, innit.


By Sarah Sitkin




1) First up comes this, which I meant to feature last week when it was all NEW AND FRESH but then forgot, at which point it got picked up by Popjustice meaning that I’m now behind the times, dammit. Anyway, this is Halia Jack with The Absence of Love, the production and vocal of which I adore, and would do anyway if I wasn’t good friends with her big sister:


2) Do you remember that Real Life FPS video from a while back, showing people playing a live-action FPS-style game through Chatroulette? Well they are BACK, and this time they are channelling Alien. This is both still SO SLICK and eminently ripoffable from a brand point of view – at the very least, I’d expect a theatre company to do somethingf experimental along these lines:


3) Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an appendix? No, me neither, but the answer according to this surprisingly excellent song and very odd CGI video is ‘a bit rubbish’:


4) This is a bit of a hateinclusion, tbh. Hannah Diamond is described in the blurb here as being a ‘popstar and professional image-maker’, signed to the oh-so-Tumblr label PC Music – the song and video are almost achingly saccharine and polished and Tumblr-perfect, with accents of K-pop sweetness, and the tie-up with both ID mag and Baby-G watches makes me think it’s going to be an aesthetic and vibe which will be getting pushed HARD in the next 12 months. Let’s see, shall we. This is called ‘Hi’ – the lyrics, fwiw, are also sort of bleakly awful in an ‘oh god, I don’t understand modern culture and life at ALL’ sort of way:


5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! I love Akala, he is GREAT. This is his new track and video, called ‘Mr Fire In The Booth’ (reference to his three appearances on Charlie Sloth’s R1 slot of that name, which you really ought to check if you’ve not heard them):


6) This is short and beautiful and haunting and LOVELY and deserving of the overused descriptor ‘ethereal’. This is Julien Baker, and the song is called ‘Sprained Ankle’:  


7) This is all sexy and French and is called ‘Leonardo’ by Bonnie Banane and I like it very much indeed:


8) Last up this week, this should have been included for Hallowe’en but, er, I didn’t see it in time. Here it is instead, though – ‘Oz vs Eden’ by Lawrence Rothman, which is a cracking song. Enjoy, and see you next time. BYE!:

Webcurios 21/03/14

Reading Time: 25 minutes

[image missing]

Sad, expectant, happy
Dominic Alves, CC licence

WE DONE A BUDGET! Or, more accurately, Gideon did. Thanks, Gideon. Didn’t we all enjoy all the INTERNETS around it, though, eh? Oh. Well TOUGH, webmongs, because it’s going to be like that EVERY SINGLE DAY on Twitter for about three months as of this time next year – get used to it. May I suggest that someone starts working on the social media plugin to block all the electolols from Twitter, Facebook, etc NOW and trademarks it? You’ll be rich, I tell you. 

Anyway, there’s shedloads to get through (as ever) this week and I’ve been writing this for nearly five hours and am TIRED (all offers of brow-soothing gratefully accepted); come with me, then, webmongs, as we gingerly disrobe behind the partition before scampering gamely towards the waiting warm bath of cleansing internets, ready to soothe and delight – don’t, whatever you do, make happy with the gin and razorblades which someone’s seen fit to leave by the side. Soap up and scrub, webmongs, for this is WEB CURIOS. 

By Fernanda Uribe



  • Twitter Testing ‘Favourite People’ Feature: Twitter Lists are one of those things which are really useful but a massive pain in the arse to actually use (obviously they’re not THAT much of a pain in the arse, but we live in an age in which anything which is any more complicated than pressing a button is greeted with frenzied eye-rolling and whinging by entitled idiots like me). Apparently Twitter’s testing out a ‘favourite people’ service which allows mobile users to add people to a list simply by ‘starring’ their profile; it also lets people choose to be alerted to when said selected people tweet. Potentially useful for CRISIS-type scenarios and stuff, although frankly it’s more of a cosmetic change than anything else (but really, there’s not much going on here this week so I was sort of clutching at straws really). 
  • How Twitter Made The ‘State Of The Union’ Interactive Infographicy Thing: You remember that thing Twitter did for the latest ‘State of the Union’ address in the US where they let users see what people were saying on the platform at any point during the POTUS’ address? It lives here, in case not. Anyway, this is a reasonably detailed account of how it was built, which is sort of interesting if you make / are interested in datavis-type stuff. 
  • Twitter May Remove @s And Hashtags From Tweets: This is just a cosmetic thing really. Not much to see here. 
  • Twitter Testing One-Tap Video Playback On Mobile: Erm, that. Only really interesting because of the fact that it’s currently being tested for people who are part of Twitter’s ‘Amplify’ ad scheme, which suggests that maybe this might end up being a potential ad format – you know, pay money to have your vids appear more clickable in feeds. Or maybe not – frankly I have no idea and, at this time in the morning, very little interest one way or the other. 
  • NEW UK STATS ABOUT FACEBOOK AND MOBILE!!!: Here! Have a load of numbers which show that loads of people in the UK use Facebook on their mobiles! To be honest none of this is interesting or surprising, but you can never have too many statistics – right, kids? To which end, here’s some MORE statistics all about how mums in the UK use Facebook (clue: they use it fcukloads, it turns out – whodathunk Facebook’s own data might suggest such a thing?). Have I ever told you how my Summer of 2010 was ruined by working on a Europe-wide NAPPY-RELATED CRISIS for Pampers? It was hideous, and means that even now I have a knowledge of mothering messageboard slang which is slightly disturbing for a childless man in his mid-30s. 
  • How Many Likes / Shares: This was made by Mat Morrison a few years ago, and is a useful little bookmarklet which lets you see how many likes/shares any individual page on the web has received on Facebook. Quick, dirty, but potentially VALUE-ADDING. 
  • Android Watches COMING SOON: I have little to no personal interest in the concept of ‘wearables’, but this week’s announcement of Android watches from Google is interesting mainly due to the fact that they’re opening up the software to developers – for brands which like to consider themselves at the forefront of all this digibollocks it might be worth thinking about what sort of hacks you can pull together so as to take advantage of this AMAZING TECH.  
  • Kenzo Does Gifart: Possibly the final nail in the coffin of the credibility of the Tumblr/gifart-type aesthetic, this website by Kenzo sort of almost gets it but not quite (it’s not quite odd enough, imho). Not sure whether to give them imaginary points for trying or whether I should just throw my hands up in horror at the commercial world’s ceaseless appropriation of all creativity in the world (or just, you know, not really give one either way because frankly it doesn’t matter). 
  • Playstation ‘First To Greatness’: I rather like this. Part of the seemingly neverending promo for the PS4, this lets users compete to be the first people worldwide to unlock particular in-game achievements and claim ‘immortality’ on this virtual leaderboard; you can explore all the achievements, watch clips of them, etc, on this very slick site – the Lou Reed soundtracking works surprisingly well, and the whole things surprisingly compelling if you’re some sort of gamegeek. 
  • Jonathan Cape 3-second Mysteries: I really like this – a little game-y site by Jonathan Cape to promote their graphic novels line. Not particularly techy, but I like the way if focuses on the panel-by-panel nature of sequential art. 
  • CLARKS AS PATRON!: Well, sort of  – I’m not sure how much DOOM actually needs Clarks’ money, but this is another ARTISTS dancing to a brand’s tune in exchange for some pennies; this time, resolutely ‘underground’ hiphop star DOOM offering up a remix of his track ‘Bookhead’ using sounds from the machinery of the Clarks factory. Not a bad fit – Wallabies by Clarks are sort of iconic footwear in the SCENE – but it still sort of saddens me a little.
  • Brilliant (Again) By Coke: You know that bus stop billboard which featured an artist modifying people’s images live on Photoshop to their SURPRISE AND DELIGHT? Yes you do, it was this one. This is Coke’s take, and in typical Coke fashion they do it SICKENINGLY well. This is so impressive – taking the same concept and just making it bigger and better. Oh, and just so they don’t feel left out, this billboard by Pepsi’s also very good indeed
  • The Themes Of SXSW: So SXSW is over for another year. What have we learned? Personally I learned nothing as I wasn’t there (did I mention that? I think I might have done), but thanks to JWT I can pretend that I was by spouting all these AMAZING INSIGHTS from this year’s beardywankfest. To be honest none of these things should really be anything other than ‘hm, yes, and?’ moments, but in case you need something to rip off and pass off as your own observations I include this here. 
  • Literally The Worst Load Of Advermarketing Balls I Have Ever Read, Ever: Having been quite nice about Coke 2 links ago, I feel entitled to point out the HORROR of this piece in Marketing week, all about Coke’s EXCITING WORLD CUP MARKETING PLANS. I’m sure the quoted executive is a nice person and all that, and perhaps they didn’t even say / write any of the quotes in this piece, but literally NOTHING that is quoted in this article means anything at all. I mean it’s literally ALL rubbish. “Share a Coke is a great example of how we engage with consumers in what we describe as a real liquid and linked way”? WHEN DID YOU HAVE THE THINKING PART OF YOUR BRAIN REMOVED AND REPLACED BY ONE WHICH SPOUTS THIS SH1T? WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS? CAN WE ALL STOP PLEASE? Seriously, who thinks that talking like this makes one sound like anything other than a total moron? Jesus wept.
By Ino Zeljak



  • Cloak: So, yes, Cloak. What this does is, once linked with Instagram and Foursquare, allow users to track the whereabouts of certain other individuals whom they are linked to on the service based on checking and geotagged info on pics which they take, ostensibly to allow people to avoid others whom they would rather not see for whatever reason (clue: AFFAIRS!). Of course, based on that one could ALSO use it to stalk and follow people, which isn’t really quite so cool and future at all. 
  • LifePrint: Remember those cameras which were really popular in the 70s, 80s and 90s which let you take pictures and then immediately printed them out like MAGIC? Yes, that’s right, POLAROIDS! Well technology has basically eaten itself with LifePrint, which is a small printer designed to print Instagram pics on demand – so basically like a Polaroid but significantly less convenient. It’s actually little cleverer than that – I do like the fact that pics can be printed at distance – ie leave the printer at home, go out and take pics, find them all printed when you get back – but let’s be honest, this isn’t as good as what we had in the past (ludditic hyperbole). STOP THE FUTURE IT’S RUBBISH.
  • Ello – ANOTHER New Social Network: There are literally NO details out there about this one, other than it’s another which is selling itself on its ad-free status. Sign up for beta access if you’re so inclined. 
  • NoTrace: Another week, another service purporting to allow users to communicate in anonymity. This one lets people send emails and texts which self-destruct – so far, so like a few others we’ve seen in the past few months. The nice thing here is the additional functionality – the ‘unsend’ idea is good, as is the fact that messages don’t have a ‘to’ or ‘from’ field when they display, which works to minimise the ‘yeah, but you can just screencap it you IDIOT’ issue. 
  • Geopieces: I’m going to take the bold move of stating right at the outset that this is NEVER going to catch on. Geopieces effectively looks to sell virtual geographical real-estate – dividing the world up into millions of ‘pieces’. each of which is effectively a square which can be purchased and ‘owned’ on the platform and which owners can subsequently attach digital CONTENT to – so you could own the Geopiece for your house, business, etc, and then attach info to it which other people will see if they are also using the service. I can see the rationale for the concept – the idea of tagging data to physical locations isn’t a new one – but there are far too many barriers to entry here and the fact that they expect people to pay…? HMMMMM. (obviously this prediction means that it will be a world-changing technology and I am going to look like an idiot – hey ho). 
  • Google Glass Diaries: A nice Google Glass project  – various people in Myanmar and Thailand (so far) make short Glass vids talking about their professions and lives. One of those lovely things which gives you a glimpse into the storytelling potential of the tech (sorry for using the word ‘storytelling’, by the way, which is fast rising to the top of my personal list of ‘words I really wish agencies would stop using now please’ for 2014). 
  • Fort McMoney: This is all sorts of good. I think that this is by French Canadian TV, but I’m not 100% sure – Fort McMoney is a pretty incredible technical achievement which I really do recommend you check out RIGHT NOW (but not if you’re on mobile – this requires a sit-down computer and a cup of tea). It’s half documentary film, half point-and-click videogame and ALL awesome, telling the story of Fort McMurray in Canada, the third largest oil reserve in the world, and the people who live there. I can’t stress enough how incredibly well-made this is, as well as being a brilliant example of how you can do interactive educational stuff in a truly compelling fashion. Tellypeople in the UK – learn. 
  • Flappy Arms: The nth in the infinite line of Flappy Bird-inspired hackyartthings, this one’s beautifully absurd. The website links to your iPhone, should you have one, and lets you control a Flappy Bird ripoff by…er…flapping your arms in real life. Coming soon, inevitably, to a hipster art gallery near you.
  • Mod Notebooks: I don’t really get thi, I must confess. So this is a service which sells you notebooks into which you can draw, scribble, etc, your innermost hopes and dreams (or, more likely, an increasingly psychotic-seeming set of cubic doodles created as you slide slowly towards peak existential despair in interminable ‘loop meetings’); once full up, you can send it back to the vendors who will scan it, page by page, and then send you a link to the digital version of your scrawlings. Which is nice and all that, but surely you could just take a picture of each page and chuck it on Evernote, no? God we’re LAZY. 
  • Burgers For Stories: A lovely project. London startup-y person Andrew Mcdonaugh recently backed a new burger restaurant on Kickstarter, to such a degree that they gave him 1000 burgers in exchange for his donation. He’s now looking for other London startup-y people to share those burgers with him – he’ll give people a free lunch in exchange for interviewing them about their experiences of entrepreneurialism and London and stuff. Just NICE. 
  • The Gif Firehose: A livestream of all the gifs being posted…er…somewhere (someone on Twitter suggest that it was all the gifs being posted on…er…twitter, but that struck me as unlikely as it doesn’t seem to move quite fast enough). Anyway, it’s as hypnotic as these ‘Look! It’s the ID of the internet!’ things tend to be, although it’s obviously MASSIVELY NSFW due to the fact that about 1 in 7 gifs is pr0n (the rest seems to be animals and J-/K-pop stars, which is basically the web in a nutshell really). 
  • Tribeca Film Festival Vine Competition: Fancy yourself as a genius filmmaker within the confines of the 6–second medium? You’re probably not, you know. Still, if you really do think you’re special then you could do worse than entering the second ever Vine competition at the Tribeca Film Festival. There are Ts&Cs and stuff, but it’s a good opportunity for aspirant filmmakers – and, of course, for brands looking for talented creatives who they can approach when they don’t win the top prize to exploit their talent for far less money than its worth!
  • Love Ever After: If you don’t feel a little bit warm inside looking at these then you’re in quite a bad way and should probably nip outside and get some fresh air and maybe an icecream to cheer yourself up and recalibrate. A series of pictures of couples who’ve been together for 50+ years, kissing. So, so lovely, as are the accompanying written vignettes – now go and call your grandparents. 
  • Thingcharger: Such clever design, this – once we finally reach that utopian moment when all bloody devices have the same charging port, this is going to be HUGE (maybe) – it’s easier to look at than to explain, but rest assured that it’s VERY CLEVER. 
  • EmotiKarl: A suite of emoticons/emojis inspired by famous fashion fascist and almost-certainly dreadful human being Karl Lagerfeld. I’m not sure who this is for, but perhaps YOU are the target audience.
  • Turn Your Instagram Pics Into Nail Art: This is on Kickstarter and hasn’t reached its goal yet, so it’s up to YOU to make sure that you will one day be able to turn all your sepia-tinted pictures of food into stickers you can put on your nails. Actually a very clever idea indeed, and the app/interface looks rather slick – I imagine you’ll see a lot more of this. 
  • Drone Delivery Coming To San Francisco: IN YOUR FACE, AMAZON! This may or may not be real, but it’s San Francisco so probably is – QuiQui is a ‘coming soon’ service which offer residents of the city’s Mission district the option to have items from pharmacies delivered by drone within 15 minutes for a $1 surcharge. HUGELY theoretical, but this sort of local thing could actually work quite well – you just need one person at the store and another piloting the vehicle, although obviously there’s no money in it on this basis. Can someone set this up in SW8 to do booze, fag and rizla runs, please? Thanks.
  • Rorschmap NYC: Taking footage from New York city Department of Transportation webcams and making live, moving kaledioscopes of them. Pointless but soothing and should be ripped off for London as part of an installation somewhere please thankyou. 
  • Factbot: Web Curios favourite Shardcore has made this artbottwitterthing which plays on the fact that you can literally trust NOTHING you read online any more – Factbot tweets algorithmically generated facts paired with suitable images every 4 hours. Some of these facts are plausible, others patently false, but the overall effect is funny and ridiculous and a sort of wonderful deconstruction of our relationship to ‘information’ online. 
  • Stupid Things Clients Say To Designers: Available as posters for you to hang in your studio and gaze at as your read the 19th email from a client asking you to make ‘it’ ‘pop’ more. 
  • First Tweet: A service from (I think) Twitter itself which allows you to see what the first tweet from any given account is. No purpose whatsoever beyond the frivolous, although I’m sure it will be used to UNMASK the latecoming arrivisme (is that a word?) of all sorts of people by smug twats. 
  • Uncomfortable Design: Cool little project reimagining every day objects so as to render them functional but sort of unpleasant to use. The saucepan is a work of evil genius – I quite like the idea of creating a house where all the tools and furniture are built on these lines and then forcing someone to live in it OH HANG ON NEXT SERIES OF BIG BROTHER! Can someone please get in touch with the production team, as this would make it the fabulous cross between reality TV and the ‘Saw’ films that I for one have been waiting for for YEARS. 
  • Super Hi Res Face Pics: You know how when you’re in love with someone you can look at them really, really close and for the most part sort of forget that they are made of meat, and not really look at / focus on the rheum and sebum and stuff? Well this is a bunch of people you probably don’t love, in really uncomfortably close detail – MMMM, PORES! Not great if you’ve got a touch of the bodyhorrors. 
  • Play Me Dating App: Another week, another unnecessary attempt to reinvigorate the dating game – this time by making it a…er…game. Play Me is actually quite a clever conceit, asking you a series of questions about the sort of stuff that your stalkee is into – the more popular that person is, the harder the questions are – the idea being that you need to demonstrate a degree of interest compatibility before it allows you to begin harassing them. Although surely google sort of makes this quite easily gameable? YOU’RE ONLY CHEATING YOURSELVES. 
  • Speed Reading App Bookmarklet: Remember Spritz from a few weeks back, an app which let coders turn their webpages into superspeedreadable horizontally scrolling textfountains? No? Jesus. anyway, this is a little bookmarklet which basically does the same for any webpage you happen to be on – it’s a little janky, but it does prove that the system really does work. 
  • Popular vs Actual Frontpages: A really interesting experiment in which actual newspaper front pages on March 5th are positioned next to how they would have looked had they reflected the most popular stories on said newspapers’ websites. A little facile as there are all sorts of factors which determine ‘popular’ stories online, but interesting to see the discrepancies / changes. 
  • How To Kill Yourself With Household Goods: NB – Web Curios in no way advocates suicide, but who knew that 40 teaspoons of cinnamon could be fatal? Not this webmong. 
  • Holipics: The annual collection of awesome pics from the Indian festival of colour (and, less commented on but equally true, the festival of getting absolutely off one’s nuts on criminally strong bhang lassi, or so people tell me). Anyway, as ever the Atlantic delivers some gorgeous photographs.
  • Weird Digital Music Video Thingy: I honestly have no idea whatsoever what this is – some sort of ambient music visualiser thingy in 3d graphics. It’s strangely soothing, though, and I just lost about 3 minutes looking at it which means it’s either really compelling or that I am starting to feel the effects of not quite getting enough sober sleep last night. 
  • The Museum Of Bad Art: This is actually a real-life physical place in America (of course), but it’s online archive is a thing ofincredible non-beauty. If nothing else, this will provide you with a WEALTH of brilliant crap pictures for your next soul-sapping powerpoint crapshow. 
  • Soundslice: What looks to be a very sophisticated virtual sheet music and tab notation service, which if you or your kids are learning an instrument could well be superuseful. 
  • The Greatest Titles In Dance Music: When you’re making ambient techno I imagine it’s hard to come up with a suitably evocative and descriptive title for what is basically 8 minutes of low-intensity bleepy woobles. All the kudos, then, to the people whose creative endeavour is immortalised in this list – my personal favourite is the deliciously sinister ‘Gift Wrap Yourself, Slowly’ (it’s the comma that makes it) – what’s YOURS?
  • Relay – Gif Texting: An appwhich lets its users communicate to each other solely via the medium of gifs. If you’re a certain type of person, and your friends are too, then you might well like this quite a lot. I’m not judging, honest. 
By Erik Jones


  • My other pick for ‘app most likely to be written about by the Mail in the next 72 hours’ is this one – Nipple is basically a quantified self project, applied to sex – the idea being that you are gently encouraged to diarise and annotate details of your SEXY ENCOUNTERS to…er…learn more about your sex life, I presume, although I do sort of question what it’s likely to tell you that you don’t know already. It’s made by a pair of Italian guys which means that the site is full of minor linguistic idiosyncracies and makes the whole thing quite a lot less odd than it might otherwise be as a result. 
  • Nepalese Dog Portraits: Apparently in Nepal painting portraits of canines on bits of metal is a ‘thing’. You too can get a picture of your dog, painted on a bit of metal by a Nepalese person, thanks to this website. I’m simultaneously happy and disappointed that this appears to have missed the Doge bandwagon. 
  • Fake Albums and Fake Reviews: There was a timewaste-y game which did the rounds a few years back  in which people were encouraged to take a random image from flickr and a random sentence from Wikipedia to create fake albums (look, that was sort of how it worked, don’t bugme for details). This takes that idea and runs VERY FAR with it, featuring not only made-up albums by made-up artists but also imagining what the music on said albums would sound like and offering critical reviews. The next step is for someone to record said music – come on, what are you waiting for?
  • A Synthesiser in Javascript: This is quite fun – play with it. 
  • They Will Eat You: A first person zombie survival game – the game itself isn’t that great, but I really like the design / aesthetic of the site overall, and especially the opening animation.  
  • Bear Simulator: Hot on the heels of goat simulator comes this Kickstarter project, which puts you in the leather vest and jeans combo beloved of Vauxhall’s hairy man community and deposits you at the door of Hoist!…oh, no, hang on, the other sort of bear. Sorry. (AND THEN I GOT OFF THE BUS). 
  • Mark Ditto Mark: I REALLY LIKE THIS. Wanky as you like, Mark Ditto Mark is a broser extension which turns the whole web into a conceptual novel where the main character is a mysterious man named Mark Ditto. Install it, and every name you read online will magically become Mark Ditto, which makes spending 10 minutes reading the news a truly bizarre and disorienting experience. 
  • Iconic History: Your recent browsing history, displayed as a massive collection of those little tab icons you get in your browser. Really interesting way of seeing what sites you look at most often, and almost certain to be ripped off at a modern art fair near you VERY SOON INDEED. 
  • The World’s Heaviest Phone Case: Have you ever wanted an iPhone case which turns the device into a massive, unwieldy dumb-bell? OH GOOD!
  • Some Ancient Maps: A lovely collection of scanned maps from between 1000 and 1300. No more, no less. 
  • Gifs Paired With Music In Fullscreen: The most interesting thing about this is how it chooses which music to pull. It throws up some great combinations. 
  • Dead Colours: All of the colours from the palette which feature the hexadecimal number ‘DEAD’. For some designer somewhere this is going to form the basis of a really satisfying in-joke which their client will never, ever get. 
  • Free Fonts For 2014: Look! Free fonts!
  • The Fuji Cannon: The whole ‘pics now embedded in tweets’ thing has meant you can now do quite interesting stuff by tweeting images in sections, quickly, so that they appear one after the other in users feeds to ARTISTIC effect. This little toy automates that – plug in a picture and it automatically slices it into 3 and tweets it in one, three-tweet burst. Just because you can, really. 
  • Randomised Map Design: Algorithmically fcuked-with maps; these are lovely. 
  • Briibe: An interesting idea, although there’s no evidence that it works AT ALL. Briibe lets users send messages to famouses on Twitter and pledge money to a good cause (UNICEF) if they reply – basically so 1D fans can potentially pay to get Harry Styles to send a disinterested one-word response to their marriage proposals. Sort of amazingly desperate, really. 
  • Post-Apocalyptic Jungles On Streetview: Little hack for Google Streetview which lets you see what your street (or anywhere really) might look like when humanity’s all but extinct and the plants have taken over – SEX IS MY ADVENTURE (that’s a very obscure joke that only one person who I know might get; sorry about that). 
  • Listen To Buttcoin: An incredibly childish website which makes fart noises of varying pitch and duration to track Bitcoin transactions in realtime – the differing pitch/length correlate to the size of the transaction. Human ingenuity, eh?
  • Knolling: I had NO IDEA that knolling was a thing (it is a thing) – this is a guide to why it is GOOD. What? Oh, right – knolling is the practice of arranging things at 90-degree angles to each other to pleasing aesthetic effect – OCD sufferers will probably get a massive kick out of this. 
  • Sesame Street Pi Day: For Pi Day last week Sesame Street invited kids to send in their drawings of numbers – this site is cycling through the digts of pi, theoretically FOREVER, using these illustrations. Very cute, and features The Count who is indisputably the best Sesame Street character EVER. 
  • Weird Gifs: A collection of them, no less.
  • Old Screensavers In CSS: Just in case you want the flying toasters on a modern computer (and why wouldn’t you?). 
  • Plink Collaborative Music Maker: This is a lovely interface and it makes rather nice sounds – it’s just a shame nooone seems to be using it. I think you could have quite a lot of fun with this with a few people collaborating – have a play. 
  • Photos From Aleppo: The mess in Syria’s been going on 3 years now. This is a selection of pictures of life in Aleppo by photojournalist Pablo Tosco.
  • Al Qaida – The Magazine: This is quite incredible. Apparently now in its 12th issue, this is Al Qaida’s monthly propaganda publication – or at least that’s exactly what it appears to be – featuring articles on jihad, the iniquities of the West’s involvement in the Middle East, the evils of the international Jewry…all the usual things you’d expect. And, er, a couple of pages of bomb-making instructions at the back. I am fully expecting a knock in the door from the authorities VERY SOON. 
  • LIVE FROM SPACE!!!: The space stuff on TV was quite amazing this week; this is National Geograohc TV’s chanel which shows all sorts of remarkable stuff like where the ISS is at any given point, and live vidfeeds from it and is basically amazing in every way possible. 
  • Custom Bongo Service: Wow. A company which will make whatever pr0n you want, on spec. You tell them what you want and they quote you for it – you pay, and eventually you presumably get your dream bongo. Obviously they are clear that nothing illegal will be countenanced and no models would be made to do anything they don’t want to, but if you really need an explanation of exactly why this is a bit weird and creepy and potentially wrong, let me remind you of The Terrifying Story of Swap.avi.
By Eli Horn


  • Wes Anderson Palettes: Colour palettes derived from shots from the films of Wes Anderson. BONUS ANDERSON – here’s a short film detailing exactly how much Anderson likes to use symmetry in his films.   
  • Creepy White Guys: A collection of messages received by (as far as I can tell) mostly Asian/oriental woman from white men on the internet. About as classy and uplifting as you’d imagine. 
  • Games & Food: Food in videogames.
  • Videogame Birds: Birds in videogames.
  • Start To Crate: Crates in videogames.
  • Beargames: Videogames featuring large, hairy men in sweaty Vauxhall nightspo…oh, hang on, that wasn’t funny earlier either. 
  • Christian Nightmares: Let’s be clear – Web Curios has no problem at all with your religion, probably. This though is a brilliant collection of some of the more patently ridiculous / bigoted / mental examples of the Christian faith – we’re talking the spittle-flecked lunacy of the Chick Tracts, that sort of idea. Linked here in non-loving memory of everyone’s favourite bigot Fred Phelps who died yesterday. 
  • I Too Am Soas: Another week, another bunch of students doing the Harvard thing themselves. I’m rather trepidatiously waiting for the near inevitable WHITE RIGHTS riffs on these which probably exist already but which I don’t really want to search for.
  • All The Records: Probably the best idea on here this week, this Tumblr documents one woman’s attempt to listen to and appreciate every single record in her husband’s MASSIVE collection. A brilliant project, and refreshingly unwanky reviews of classic and not quite so classic albums. 
  • Stand Up Comic Gifs: Just in case you need a go-to resource for gifs of comedians doing their comedian thing.
  • Yves De Camps: Creepy, surreal little cartoons with a slightly unpleasant edge. I LIKE. 
  • Why Do I Online Date?: Screenshots from sad online dating lives. There is always someone whose love life is bleaker than yours, ALWAYS. 
  • Humanea: My second-favourite tumblr of the week, this one collects pictures of people and matches them to Pantone numbers. Lovely selection of portraits, too, with some fascinating faces.
  • iPhone Oil Paintings: Fingergrease pics on iPhones. Strangely quite good. 
  • Heds Will Roll: Newspaper headlines editors WISH they could have used. Contains real contributions from ACTUAL JOURNALISTS. 
  • Build A Bird: Choose your images and make your own Flappy Bird clone. Interesting mainly as I didn’t know you could build this sort of thing on Tumblr (what do I know?). 


  • Working At The Bookies: An incredibly bleak portrait of one frustrated writer’s life working in a betting shop. The style’s very good, to the point where part of me did rather ignobly wonder whether it wasn’t in fact a work of fiction; you get a very real sense of despair, and you can almost smell fag ash and tears.
  • The Punishment Of The Future: There have been quite a few articles in the PROPER press off the back of this this week; it’s worth reading the original, though, as it’s sort of horrifying. Looking at what a potential future of criminal punishment might look like, the article quickly descends into a dystopian vision of a world in which incredible degrees of psychological suffering are inflicted on prisoners with a degree of creativity which would be applause-worthy were it not also so utterly barbaric. Also contains a lot of interesting philosophy about personal identity over the course of extended lifespans, and to what extent one can be considered to be a single personality (and as such entity) over the course of a multicentenary lifespan. 
  • Short Stories About Self-Checkouts: A selection of shortish fictions based around the slightly surreal landscape of the supermarket self-checkout. This is in totality VERY LONG, but each piece (by JW Vorvick) is brilliant in its own right; I particularly recommend the Chris Martin monologue and the conversation between Marx and Locke about the wider phiosophical implications of the whole self-checkout system, which I promise you is LOADS funnier than I realise I have just made it sound. 
  • LRB On The Branson Takedown: If you quite like the idea of a book exploding some of the mythology around Virgin’s relentlessly self-promoting founder but don’t actually fancy reading the whole thing then this LRB review/summary is a pretty good alternative. 
  • Things That Noone Tells You About Having Kids: A Quora thread whose quality or veracity I am in no position to judge but which struck me as rather a nice, if a touch sentimental at times. 
  • Invisible Children – 2 Years On: Hey! Hey! Remember Joseph Kony? Remember KONY2012, and everyone you ever went to school with suddenly becoming passionately interested in Ugandan politics and Central African issues? Probably not, because we all have the memories of gadflies. Anyway, this is a really interesting look at the slightly suspect Invisible Children charity behind the whole thing, and the bloke who had the breakdown and ended up naked and screaming by the LA freeway in the aftermath of his unexpected (but evidently much-sought) fame.
  • Internet Predators Are Not Everywhere: An interesting and important piece about how exaggerating paedogeddon on social media is actually a very bad idea and in some respects even counterproductive. 
  • An Interview With The King Of Weird Cinema: Read this and then go and order some mushrooms and the Jodorowsky back catalogue. Seriously – how can you not love a man who fired George Harrison from a film mid-shoot because the actor refused to bare his anus on camera? A very good interview with a truly unique mind. 
  • Not Getting By In The Gig Economy: Now that we have sites like Taskrabbit and the like offering to connect people who will do piecemeal tasks for piecemeal pay with those who need, say, their laundry collecting and the dog walked we’ve ushered in a whole new era of excitingly flexible employment opportunities, right? Er, not so much. A rather depressing look at how these services actually work for those who use them (clue: they don’t, really). 
  • On Ugliness: Collector’s Weekly on the impossibility of an agreed definition of ‘ugly’ as an aesthetic concept. Properly interesting, honest.
  • The Best Juggler Ever: A truly fascinating article profiling a man called Anthony Gatto, widely acknowledged as being the most talented juggler ever to have lived, and how he gave it all up. Shows you a very particular world you’ve probably never even thought of and makes it real, which is sort of the hallmark of all great feature journalism. 
  • Profiling The Wu: A 10-part portrait of the 20 year old hiphop collective. You may want to listen to Enter The Wu Tang 36 Chambers whilst you’re reading this
  • My Dementia: This is the one that will make you cry – I read this yesterday morning and had tears streaming down my face by the end (then again I’m a sensitive soul). A VERY LONG but startlingly well written account by author Gera Saunders of how it feels to be slowly succumbing to dementia. Saunders’ lucidity and linguistic prowess is outstanding – even moreso as you read through and begin to realise how difficult the mere act of committing these thoughts to paper must have been. Touching on her mother’s struggle with the disease, the manner in which dementia affects one’s sense of self,coping strategies and all sorts of other things, this is basically required reading if you know anyone who’s suffered from or is suffering from the condition. Tissues at the ready, though, seriously. 
By Babak Hosseiny


1) We’ll start this week with something which is basically an advert for a mediocre brand of vodka – I’m including it down here, though, because this is the best animation I have seen in a very long time indeed. This does stuff I’ve never seen before, and the detail and sheer physicality of the CGI is extraordinary. Oh, and seeing as I seem to say it every week, BRANDS AS PATRONS, PEOPLE. This is Dark Noir by Rafael Grampa:

2) A beautiful, beautiful song, and I love the video too (weirdly messianic undertones aside). This is Lyla Foy with Feather Tongue:

3) I mentioned ‘wearables’ up there – surely they’re just going to be the slightly clunky hinterland between current tech and the proper cyborg stuff? This is a very slick proof-of-concept video about what some of this stuff might look like when we have electronics in our faces:

4) Neneh Cherry is 50! 50!!!!! Do you think she ever gets annoyed that the only song she is ever going to be remembered for is Buffalo Stance? Hm. Anyway, she has her first album out for aaaaaaaaages and this is a track from it which she’s done with Robyn – I rather like this, especially what happens to the production in the last 90 seconds or so – the video’s by PROPER WEB ARTIST Dario Vigorito and all sorts of glitchywebgood:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! Grime’s having something of a renaissance at the moment, thanks in no small part to the larger-than-life charms of Big Narstie – this is a great track from Scrufizzer (an awesome MC) and Linden Jay. Reminds me of the sort of production which made Dizzee so exciting all those years back but with a bit of a modern, jump-up twist; this is called ‘Just Cool Nuh’:

6) Laser Cat Is Back! This is a promo vid for a Miami art show. I don’t know WHAT’S going on:

7) Spreadsheet Blues by John Matthias is LOVELY all round. Soothing black and white-isms:

8) This is…just wow, really. LOOK AT THEIR FACES! Obviously all done by models and a pisstake on a variety of things and tropes in hiphop (UK and worldwide) and ‘chav’ culture and stuff…isn’t it? I don’t know what to think. THE FACES!:

9) Finally this week, you will not be able to unsee this. SORRY! HAVE FUN, WEBMONGS!:

That’s it for now


That’s it for now – see you next week
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Webcurios 14/03/14

Reading Time: 25 minutes

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One Stop Jerk Centre, Harlesden
Cory Doctorow, CC licence

Happy Birthday, The Web! You all have Tim Berners-Lee to thank/blame for being able to read this, as do I for having something to write about. I remember the first EVER time I used the web – at college, in 1996, when we were all put into groups of 3 and given 45 minutes access to the one computer in the library which was connected. Amazingly, this was unsupervised access – the only guidance we were given was a large book called (I kid you not) “The Internet” which was basically a compendium of all the websites which existed at the time. Obviously being 16-year-old men we flicked straight to the ‘sex’ section; we then proceeded to spend 15 minutes navigating around ‘Bianca’s Smut Shack’ (again, I kid you not – look! IT STILL EXISTS! You can read a bit more about it here if you’re so inclined – it’s sort of a big deal in web history) – we also learnt a valuable if slightly scary lesson about the danger of clicking on hyperlinks from a sex site whilst in a reasonably public place, and about the strange feeling of guilt, shame and fear you feel when you know that you’ve been looking at stuff online which you really probably shouldn’t have been looking at (a feeling a large majority of the Western world is now intimately familiar with – YAY US). 

How far we’ve come. And yet, not so far at all. Come, webmongs, let us step gingerly into this week’s internet, preserved as though in aspic, and prod gently at its wobbling form as we wonder exactly what we’re preserving it forthis is WEB CURIOS.

By Jason Yarmosky


  • FACEBOOK PAGES TO LOOK MARGINALLY DIFFERENT SOON!: Another week, another aesthetic tweak implemented by Facebook based on doubtless-terrifying volumes of information about Page usage. This one brings insights for Page admins into a slightly more user-friendly configuration, allows better and more efficient ways in which to worry about why your competitors’ posts about pugs are getting more shares than your posts about pugs, and sort of completely kills the functionality of Tabs on the Page. Actually building stuff to live on Facebook’s sort of over, isn’t it? Poor the shovelware FB app development shops :-(. 
  • PREMIUM VIDEO ADS FOR FB ALMOST HERE, LIKE REALLY ALMOST NEARLY: Has there ever been a more-trailed ad format than the EAGERLY AWAITED Facebook autoplay video ads (rhetorical)? Anyway, I know that many of you have been champing at the bit to get your hands on this exciting new opportunity to force users to see your THRILLING BRANDED MESSAGES – reassure yourself that it’s superimminent. There’s actually something quite interesting buried in the announcement about Facebook’s plans to pre-assess the ads based on standard benchmarks for things like ‘engagingness’ (yes, I know it’s a made-up word but come on, it’s not like this is an industrial sector which is afraid of neologisms), etc, which feels a bit like the first step in Facebook eventually selling a service to optimise your content for MAXIMUM STICKINESS (for a fee). I could be wrong, of course. Who knows. 
  • How Facebook Lookback Worked: Quite techy, but actually very interesting in terms of the sheer scale of stuff which FB’s designers and engineers had to consider when sending the lookback thing live. Worth a read if you have to do BIG SOFTWARE IMPLEMENTATION stuff. 
  • Facebook F8 Announced: Facebook’s running another big developer conference at the end of April – the first one in a few years, which probably presages a huge, world-changing announcement of some sort (last time they did one of these it was Timeline, I think). If you’re the sort of person who feels they might want to go, fill your boots. 
  • Twitter Experimenting With ‘Click-to-call’ Buttons: May come to nothing, but an interesting potential step following the recent talk about them also experimenting with in-tweet payment options. This is a feature which would let users click a button within tweets to be put in touch with the organisation or venue (or, I presume, individual) behind the tweet – the example they use is of local restaurants using Twitter to promote discounted offers to local residents, and residents who see said promotion being able to contact the restaurant to make a booking by simply clicking a button. FUTURE!
  • Twitter Fiction Festival On RIGHT NOW: We’ve mentioned this before, but right now it’s ACTUALLY HAPPENING! A series of experiments in storytelling and narrative using Twitter as its base, there are little games and stories and experiments happening almost hourly, and they’re documented on this central site. I’m not sure whether any of this is being recorded somewhere central – you’d hope so, but maybe the ephemerality is part of the point (/pseud). 
  • Twitter Museum Week On Its Way: For the week of March 24th, numerous museum institutions across the world will participate in Twitter museum week, which promises to offer EXCLUSIVE CONTENT from museums, behind the scenes info and inevitably all sorts of tedious hashtag pun games. It’s a nice idea – will be interesting to see whether this sets a precedent for multi-organisational / sectoral collaborations; I think Open House on Twitter could be quite fun, for example (no, hear me out – participating buildings / institutions sharing photos of the stuff that people don’t normally get to see for those people who can’t schlep around and queue for 4 hours to see inside the Lloyds building, etc? See, I’m RIGHT). 
  • Tinder Launching Verified Accounts: Tinder is making it easier for famouses to flaunt their famousness and, inevitably, get laid more (do they really need the help?). The main upside to this will be for gossip rags, who will doubtless be getting a few more kiss & tell stories out of the inevitable rise of hookups between verified famouses and civilians; the main reason I’m including it here, though, is that there’s probably a brand application – no, really. Clothing brands, etc, might want to consider paying famouses to wear their stuff in their verified Tinder profile pic, for example. Maybe. Actually, on reflection that’s a crap idea. Sorry. This probably didn’t warrant inclusion after all. Hey ho. 
  • Tinder AIDS Awareness Project: This, though, is a very clever campaign indeed and should frankly be ripped off by Durex or similar asap. Clever use of the app’s mechanic and the fact that it causes people to swipe without really thinking too much about the fact that there are an awful lot of other people swiping too, and that some of you may all be swiping the same people (I’m sort of using the word ‘swipe’ as an analogue for ‘fcuk’ in that last sentence, in case it was unclear). 
  • Pinterest Gift Feed Announced: Apparently this has been around for a few months but has only just been officially announced. The Gift feed will only show items on Pinterest which are available to buy – and which use the site’s ‘Product Pins’ functionality (the code which lets pins carry data about pricing. Good for users in terms of utility; if you are a brand which sells STUFF, this is a significant incentive to make sure that you use the special code to make sure said ‘stuff’ shows up in this feed. 
  • Google Adds Consumer Ratings Data to Ads: Small but worth knowing.
  • Clever Man Utd Google + Stunt: Nice idea, this, allowing United’s legions of global fans to get the chance to be ‘present’ at Old Trafford this weekend for the game against Liverpool; Google Hangouts will be beamed to certain pitchside hoardings, ‘bringing fans closer to the action than ever before’ (or somesuch marketingspeakrubbish). 
  • There’s A New Video App Called Wonder: Let’s come right out and lay our cards on the table now – THE WORLD DOES NOT NEED THIS, I DON’T THINK. Why would anyone want to download an app to watch SPECIAL BRANDED CONTENT? Maybe I’m just being cynical, but I can’t see this really catching on in a mainstream sort of way; perhaps I’m missing something, in which case feel free to explain to me exactly what. It’s from London, though, and features quite a lot of posh food-y, lifestyle-y brands at launch which may make it more useful / relevant. Oh, who knows? I’m not a bloody seer. 
  • That Bloody Kiss Video Which Was An Advert You Know: You’ve seen it, I know, but worth mentioning as it’s the most successful ad of the year so far by MILES. Although, er, the fact that noone necessarily knew it was an ad possibly obviates that. Anyway, the handjob parody made me laugh quite a lot. 
  • Another Ad Video, This Time By Subaru: If you are a man, this may well speak to some childish part of you that was into remote control cars and stuff when you were younger. If you couldn’t care less about remote control cars, watch it for the filming which is BRILLIANT.
  • Impossible Sleep: This is a really nicely made site. The video looks good, the interface is decent…but WHY WAS IT MADE? Ibis Hotels decided for some reason that the best way to promote their rooms was to…er…send an ‘adventurer’ and his mate to an exotic jungle location in Brazil to experience the perfect night’s sleep on some ridge or another. It’s obviously tongue in cheek, but it seems like an awfully expensive not particularly funny gag with a preposterously overlong setup and no real payoff. Unless of course it’s not a joke, in which case everyone involved needs to take a very serious look at what their doing with their expensive educations. 
  • The IBM Cognitive Food Truck: VERY clever promo by IBM, which has designed a system to autogenerate recipes on the fly from a fixed base of ingredients and based on some algorithmic stuff about taste, etc, and chucked it into a US food truck. Smart example of making maths and processing interesting (though I’m not 100% sure I’d trust all the recipes). 
  • Clever ‘Don’t Text And Drive’ Site From Holland: Sites which link up with your phone are the new hotness, it would seem. This is another one of those, following that storytelling one from the other week, which does a good job of what (as a non-driver) it’s like to drive whilst also receiving texts and things. Processor-heavy, but cleverly made.
  • Cheap Tickets To Ad Week: WE HAVE ALL OF THE DISCOUNT! ALL OF IT!  
By Michael Wolf



  • Seeing As It’s The Web’s Birthday: This is a site which is collecting people’s first memories of going online. Navigate using what was described rather beautifully by Adam Sweeney as the ‘Miro-esque’ sidebar, and lose yourself in reminiscence of how innocent and naive we all were back then. 
  • Omlet: Another week, another app purporting to offer all of the convenience and functionality of your favourite chat-enabler but with none of the slightly creepy surveillance worries which in 2014 appear to permeate every moment of our online existences. Omlet has a few nice features inbuilt – the gifmaker’s cute, for example – but the main draw will obviously be the ‘we won’t sell your data’ promise. We’ve probably reached peak ‘slightly more friendly Whatsapp? clone’, though, so can noone make any more please? Ta.
  • Secret At SXSW: Obviously I’m not at SXSW because I’m not even good enough at being a generic media wanker for anyone to pay for me to go; I have to say that it looks a touch underwhelming from this side of the Atlantic, but that might be the bitterness talking. Anyway, HOT APP DU JOUR, the one which lets people share anonymous status updates with people in their phonebook, is running a feed of stuff people are sharing on the platform about SXSW. It’s less interesting about SXSW, to be honest, than it is as a chance to let non-North Americans see how the service works – I can see how it could be dangerously compelling, I have to say. MMMM SWEATY-PALMED VOYEURISM. 
  • Selfie World Rankings: Time Magazine did a bit of datascraping on Instagram, pulling the geodata from pics tagged ‘selfie’ and then determining which were the most narcissistic cities in the world (take a bow, Makati City in the Philippines – Manchester was 7th, before we get too smug). Very clever use of open data – and the sort of thing which brands can exploit. SMALL PROBABLY SH!T EXAMPLE IDEA: makeup brands! Why not take this ‘insight’ and set up a stand at the Trafford Centre offering a selfie makeover for the women of Manchester to allow them to take the ultimate self portrait? Ugh, I felt dirty just writing that. Sorry.
  • Beyonce Trader: I’m sure that someone somewhere is writing an academic study about what Beyonce’s rise to the status of ‘most famous and iconic woman in all of the world’ means for us as a CIVILISATION (I’m equally sure that it’s a study I will never want to read); the latest step in pop culture’s attempt to link EVERYTHING to Mrs Carter is this site which analyses stock performance on the US markets and pairs stocks with an appropriate Beyonce gif to illustrate their performance at any given moment. BECAUSE WHY NOT?
  • I Am An Idiot, Sorry: So last week I featured an app called LIVR designed for boozers and which basically encouraged people to get wasted and do stupid stuff. It was a fake. I AM SORRY. In my defence, a) I’m not a proper journalist; and b) I did start the writeup with ‘this can’t be real, can it?’, but still. I felt silly. There was another one this week – this time a fake ‘turn water into decent wine in 3 days’ kit designed to promote a water charity or another; can people stop lying about things, please, please? IT IS VERY CONFUSING TO BOTH ME AND THE POOR DAILY MAIL JOURNALISTS.
  • 5by Video Concierge: Hang on – video concierge? What does that mean? Sorry, I just noticed the stupid strapline and got momentarily annoyed. Anyway, 5by is a site which collects videos under different themed headings (sport, fails, bloopers, comedy, animation, etc) and purports to develop a degree of semantic understanding of the sort of stuff you like / are into. I’m not convinced, personally, but if you’re a community manager and after a source of HILARIOUS CONTENT for your Facebook Page which noone will ever see due to previously mentioned reach-shrinkage then this may be of use.
  • Mapstr: I really like this. Simple-looking map-based site which shows music which is being listened to all over the world, and then lets you play the songs in question – users can sign up to let it track the music they play (I am a bit sketchy on the tech details, I confess). As I type this I am listening to some African folk music which was streamed in Mali yesterday, which is sort of wonderful really. Very fun to play around with.
  • Animated Infographics: Some nice examples of animated infographic design – the person responsible’s available for hire, but it’s a generally decent source of minor inspiration and the sort of thing you can point at when you’re trying to persuade your client to do something marginally more interesting than another poorly-designed non-infographic which noone is ever going to run however much they demand that you SELL IT IN BECAUSE CONTENT. 
  • The Best Typefaces Of 2013: Sorry, this is HORRIFICALLY late – although it’s their fault for not publishing it until this week. Anyway, if you’re a designer or typography nerd then this list will probably be the human equivalent of a cat getting a really good scratch behind the ears. 
  • HTML5 Audio Editor: Potentially useful in-browser audio editor with waveforms and all that jazz. Worth bookmarking if you occasionally need to make quick edits to audio and don’t always have the software to hand. 
  • The FBomb Map Of Twitter: Supposedly in real-time, but evidently not given the disparity between my feed right now and the paucity of ‘fcuks’ being registered in the UK. Anyway, utterly pointless but weirdly hypnotic. Although it does make you a little concerned at how many people seem to be shouting ‘fcuk you’ into the void with no context or apparently visible cause. CHEER UP EVERYONE!
  • Routine Gifs: Julien Douvier is a French artists who has made this series of gifs called ‘Routine’; it’s a selection of looped images of people hurrying through a scene, presumably on the way to work, and they are all weirdly beautiful and sort of incredibly depressing. Save this and send it to your favourite colleague every Monday morning until their inevitable breakdown and emotional collapse. 
  • Collection of Lovely App Design: This is an old site but I don’t think I’ve featured it before – it’s a selection of beautiful examples of app design, UX & UI which is probably useful inspiration for designers, developers and the like. 
  • Frequency 2156: This is an odd site. Ostensibly a post-apocalyptic radio station, it feels very much like marketing for the Fallout series of games but apparently is just a very well-designed fan project. Anyway, you can go around the world listening in to radio signals from various people struggling to survive in a horrible, irradiated future. Obviously it’s not exactly a laugh a minute, but it’s a really interesting example of sustained fiction and world-building through audio.
  • Bill Drummond – ASK HIM QUESTIONS: Would you like musical art terrorist Bill Drummond to answer one of your questions? Well click that link then. 
  • Weird Underwater Aquarium Simulator Thingy: This may be something to do with a new brand of tea which Nestle is launching in Japan. Whatever it is, it is BAFFLING – you just sort of float through an oddly surreal underwater landscape with no real point or purpose, but it’s very nicely made indeed. If someone can work out what the point is, other than to be vaguely soothing, could you let me know please? Ta.
  • A Surrealist Dinner Party from 1972: You probably won’t have been to a dinner party quite like this one. Baffling and very cool set of pictures from Marie-Hélène de Rothschild’s Surrealist Ball of 40+years ago. Obviously features a bit of Dali, the hack, but the overall effect is like stills from a particularly hallucinatory Dario Argento flick – ODD.
  • Meet Stacey Nightmare: Your new favourite Vine superstar.
  • ANOTHER New Way Of Doing Music Videos: Actually that’s ridiculously hyperbolic – it’s not so much  new way as a new platform on which to build them in sort of interactive fashion. I mentioned the other week as a site which let you make weird, slightly arty, gify collages – now hipsterish musicians Djemba Djemba (is it possible to make a full XI of players who’ve had bands named in their honour?) have made a sort of videothing for their song ‘Coma’ on there. It’s a bit dull, frankly, but points for FIRST. 
  • The Cheesecake Artwork Of WW2 Planes: A great collection of the paintings of women which often adorned the nosecones of bombers and fighter planes in WWII. There are some REALLY BAD ones in there which are sort of poignantly cute. 
  • The DIY Weapons of Ukraine: It’s all a bit too scary to think of over there at the moment – this weekend’s going to be ‘interesting’, in any case. Wired have collected a selection of images of weapons wielded by some of the protestors in Maidan which make the whole thing seem horribly real. VICE did a similar thing with the molotov cocktails being used which you can see here, if you want additional slightly terrifying weaponporn.  
  • The Internet Of Things Will Be Beyond Parody: So, yes, the internet of things will be…er…a ‘thing’, and yes it will have all sorts of fascinating applications which will doubtless change the world in all sorts of ways which we can’t even begin to conceive of right now, but it will also spawn rubbish like this – an egg tray containing sensors which send alerts to your phone when your eggs might be going off. REALLY, CIVILISATION?
  • Pornburger: This is food porn. A collection of ridiculously complicated and elaborate and fancy (in the American style, you know?) burger recipes accompanied by some truly GREAT photography. You will want meat for lunch. Unless you’re vegetarian, in which case you may not care so much. 
  • The Bulletproof Diamond-encrusted Suit: This doesn’t seem real either, but it’s sort of remarkable as a concept even if it doesn’t exist. What James Bond would wear if he had literally no taste whatsoever (although the tie made of REAL GOLD is a nice touch). 
By Romain Jacquet-Lagreze



  • Interview-ly: Like the idea of the Reddit AMA but hate the site’s fairly horrendous layout and design? Well lucky you, for this is a new site which takes some of Reddit’s best / most popular AMAs and cleans them up with a proper Q&A format, vague chronology, etc. Also a nice place to just browse through a very wide selection of conversations with a variety of interesting people. 
  • Skrillex New Album App Thing: I feel a bit sorry for the bloke who calls himself Skrillex – I mean, the music’s not to my taste but he does get an awful lot of rage and hate which seems a little bit unfair; not only that, but he looks so unwell, the poor man (I’m feeling weirdly maternal as I type this, which is puzzling for a variety of reasons and something I’m going to now try not to think about any more). Anyway, he has an album coming out and has released a game to preview it – downloading the app gets you access to the album which will stream through it for a limited time. The accompanying site, linked to here, is an odd little dubstep jukebox thing which is diverting for 5 minutes (but you can also get the app from there). 
  • CV Dazzle: We’ve had ‘clothing to confuse cameras’ before (2-3 years ago, in fact, by some artist who I don’t have time to Google right now), but this is a slightly more deeply realised variation on the same theme. Coming to next London Fashion Week as a ‘thing’ for a big fashion house’s show, almost certainly. 
  • The Toilet Sarlacc: Decals for your toilet to make it look like…er…the Sarlacc pit from Star Wars. Not sure who this is aimed at, but I’d hazard a guess that they live alone or that if not they met their partner at a convention. 
  • The World Science University: A great repository of standalone videos and longer courses on all aspects of science. So much stuff in here, and presented in a very easy-to-understand format – if you have kids doing GCSEs then this might be a useful resource. Or, you know, if you just want to learn what string theory actually is so that you can drop really pretentious allusions to it into conversations which frankly could quite easily do without (I may or may not be slightly self-flagellating here). 
  • Sketchdeck: Have I mentioned before that I hate Powerpoint? I hate powerpoint. I hate it for many, many reasons (not least because I have literally no aesthetic sense whatsoever and as such whenever I’m forced to make one of the bloody things it inevitably looks like it was designed by a visually impaired person with ADHD), in particular when people use it to write documents (THERE’S A REASON THE OTHER PROGRAM’S CALLED ‘WORD’ YOU IDIOTS) and also for the fact that people call them ‘decks’ for no reason I have ever been able to adequately understand, ever. Ahem. Anyway, Sketchdeck is a service which for a small fee will design your presentations for you – I don’t know whether the pricing’s competitive or not, but might be worth a look in case you need this sort of thing.
  • Popcorn Time: DISCLAIMER – THIS IS ILLEGAL AND MAY CONTAIN ALL SORTS OF WEIRD MALWARE. But, er, if you don’t mind the morality and are confident in your virus protection, then Popcorn Time might be very appealing, being as it is a service which acts as a streaming platform (a la Netflix) for torrents. So you can stream stuff which ordinarily you’d have to wait to download. Obviously PIRACY IS THEFT and all that, so I’ll just leave this here and not judge.
  • Photographs of Rainbow Gatherings: Rainbow Gatherings are, according to Wikipedia, temporary spontaneous collections of people – basically loosely organised hippie festivals (probably horribly reductive – sorry, Rainbow Gatherers). Anyway, these are some awesome photos of some of the people who attend them – the text at the bottom’s interesting on the whole concept, if you’re interested. 
  • Soundwalls: Wow artwork as speakers. Soundwalls lets you get anything you want printed onto a canvas which acts as a speaker – I think there’s a LOT of interesting potential here beyond the obvious aesthetics around theatre and art installations and stuff, but aside from anything else I sort of want one in my house now. 
  • Paralym-pics: Sorry about that. Anyway, awesome pictures of athletes at the Paralympic Winter Games.
  • They Rule: This is a really interesting project from the States – it’s potentially a bit David Icke / they are all LIZARDS-y, but doesn’t seem too conspiracytheoryish – which seeks to map the connections and linked interests of senior members of major US corporations. Would love to see this done for the UK. 
  • The Food Porn Index: A site tracking mentions of different food related topics online to show which particular aspect of Western civilisations collective greed is top of mind in the global consciousness RIGHT NOW. Actually this is a promo site for some US food retailer and so should have gone up there, but it’s not like any of you care so why should I?
  • Messages In Bottles: A project on Twitter by Nathania Hartley, documenting messages in bottles left on the public transport network. Such a lovely idea – I am going to do one this afternoon, I think. 
  • Musical Toy Bracelet Kickstarter Thingy: This is either going to be really col or exceptionally irritiating. A Kickstarter for Moff, which is a snap-on bracelet which connects to an app and tracks the wearer’s arm movements and translates them into sounds – guitar riffs, sword clashes, that sort of thing. You could imagine kids having LOTS of fun with this, and parents wishing the damn things had never been invented within about 3 minutes of activation. 
  • The Analogue NT: Have you ever wanted to own a NES and SNES packaged together in one beautifully overdesigned high-end aluminium package? OH GOOD!
  • Somewhere: Another Instagram/location hack which takes users to random locations around the world via the medium of pics lifted from the site and information from Wikipedia. 
  • Random Hotel Furniture: A blog (which ought to be a Tumblr but I’ll let that slide) which documents the strange phenomenon of hotels leaving soft furnishings in a variety of weird and seemingly pointless locations. 
  • Photojoiner: A site which lets you put two photos together side by side as one image. Erm, just in case you’d need to for some reason. 
  • The Showgirls of 1950s NYC: A beautiful slideshow collecting pictures of New York showgirls shot for a 1958 LIFE Magazine special on the US entertainment industry, and detailing the backstage life of burlesque-style entertainers from the era. 
  • We Can Now 3d Print Shoes: They remind me of the sort of massive, ugly trainers which were briefly popular in the early/mid-90s and looked like weird footwear spaceships or orthopedic shoes. Anyway, FUTURE!
  • Dishy Literature: I love this – a blog which collects recipes as featured in novels, with proper cooking instructions. Which reminds me of The Debt To Pleasure, which is still one of the greatest novels sort of about food ever written ever, and which you should all go and read NOW
  • Bleepify: Turn any website into music. Really, really bad, atonal bleepy music, but music nonetheless. 
  • The Ewok Sex Den: I don’t really know what to say about this, other than wondering yet again at how it is that people with this sort of fetish first discover it – I mean, at what point do you respond to a vague sense of dissatisfaction with your sex life by thinking ‘oh, you know what will make it better? dressing up in a crotchless Ewok costume’?
  • Memeoirs: A service which offers the ability to take Facebook messages and turn them into a book – so you could, in theory, immortalise a relationship from first chirpse to tedious, workaday conversations about whose turn it is to regrout the bathroom. I was sort of baffled as to why this existed, and then Anna Madeline suggested that it might be useful, for example, for couples who wanted to prove that theirs was a real relationship to immigration services. Which is quite a good point, although I’m still not convinced – nice name, though. 
  • Street Wars Returns: Water pistol assassination-fest Street Wars is BACK this Summer after a hiatus of several years. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a game which lasts for 3 weeks or so in June, and involves players trying to assassinate each other with water pistols across London. The game is always on, you are never safe, and it can take over your life. There will be a few of you reading this who will LOVE IT. 
  • Free Golden Age Comics To Download: AMAZING collection of Golden Era comics all available for free download. 
  • More About Bongo Searches: Italian social media data expert Vincos has produced this rather nice look at how all this data about what people are looking for, skinflick-wise, internationally cross-correlates by country; these are some rather nice visualisations of that research.
  • The Adventures of Business Cat: This comic made me laugh a LOT on Wednesday, but I was admittedly quite tired. 
  • The Identity Project: Pairing photos of LGBT people from San Francisco with their own self-ascribed identifiers, this is not only a collection of really beautiful pictures of a whole array of people, but a small window into the STAGGERINGLY COMPLICATED world of gender-identity. It’s mindboggling how many descriptors there are in here. 
  • Old Polish Film Posters: You know the drill by now  these are lovely examples, though.
  • Play Android Games On Your PC: Just in case you ever wanted to, really. 
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide Text Adventure: One of the funniest games ever written gets a 30th anniversary refresh on th BBC website – with text by Douglas Adams himself, the Hitchhiker’s game is probably the best text adventure ever written, in no small part due to the fact that it contains several thousand words of totally original Adams prose. It’s also INCREDIBLY hard, but I cannot urge you enough to have a go – you’ll want to smash the computer at the babelfish bit, though.
  • The View From The Reconstructed WTC: Quite amazing really. 
  • 2048: Another sickeningly addictive browsergame with which to ruin your prospects of doing any more work today. 
Design for 22nd July Memorial by Jonas Dahlberg



  • Animals Sucking At Jumping: Animals are MASSIVELY overrated, basically, and quite rubbish at jumping.
  • Wolf & Unicorn: So much love for this. A tumblr telling of the unlikely, and frankly a little bit disturbing, relationship between wolf and unicorn through the medium of slightly janky CGI gifs. Much better than it ought to be.
  • Matteo Renzi Fa Cose: To the 5 people from Italy who read this, have a blog featuring pictures of Italy’s latest PM doing stuff. The captions are better than usual for these things – I give him til Christmas, personally, poor sod. 
  • I Too Am Oxford: A week after last week’s I Too Am Harvard comes this, which is the same thing but for Oxford. I like the project, I agree with the ethos, but the capitalised use of the term ‘othered’ in the preamble really, really annoys me. 
  • Drawings of Girls on Tumblr: Erm, drawings of girls from tumblr. This is going to be a PROPER EXHIBITION at a PROPER GALLERY in a few weeks’ time, should you be interested in checking it out. 
  • Shares From Your Aunt: The stuff that OLD PEOPLE who don’t spend every single moment of every working day eating the internet see as memes.
  • Fit To Print: I didn’t realise this, but the New York Times has a ‘no profanity’ policy – almost certainly the only reason why they have yet to approach us about syndicating Curios. Anyway, this Tumblr collects the more convoluted knots the paper can occasionally tie itself into whilst sticking to said policy. 
  • Un Gif Dans Ta Geule: Really wonderfully surreal loops, these. 
  • Dormouse Said Feed Your Head: Whereas this is just generally really creepy stuff, all told, in a sort of ‘malign Victoriana’-type fashion.
  • Hello Let’s Date: Purporting to be screencaps of conversations the author has met through Tinder, this is probably all fake but is still very funny if you like the whole 27bslash6-type thing. 
  • Paul Ribeira: Paul Ribeira draws portraits of what characters from 90s children’s television might look like if they had discovered hard drugs and gone a bit off the rails. Say goodbye to those happy memories of the Rugrats, Doug, Catdog et al which you may still be holding on to. 
  • The Jogging: A rather excellent collection of ART (very wanky, for the most part, but I quite like that). 
  • Jeans and Sheux: Photographs of men wearing dress shoes with jeans, in the manner particular to people from the Middle East. Hot styles. 


  • On Being A ‘Civilian’ At The Oscars: Well, sort of civilian – the author is Jennifer Lawrence’s apparently non-famous best friend, but she was there with an UBER-FAMOUS so it’s not quite bottom of the pile stuff. Anyway, this is a really charming little account of what the whole ridiculous orgy looks like from the inside, and contains some nice observations as well as the sick-making information that Brad Pitt smells really, really amazing as well as being all hot and rich and stuff. You bastard, Brad – I hope you’re wildly impotent or something, because otherwise it’s just all too unfair for words. 
  • Watching Nymphomaniac (So You Don’t Have To): Lars ‘Chuckles’ Von Trier’s latest has received surprisingly good press overall – this piece on Jezebel is notable mainly because it made me laugh quite a lot and because of the comparison between Stellen Skarsgaard’s character and Bubba from Forrest Gump, which I’m pretty sure won’t have been made anywhere else.
  • Inside Brooklyn’s Barista Class: You don’t have to be a Brooklyn hipster to read and enjoy this (which is good, as I don’t imagine any Brooklyn hipsters read this) – it’s about working in a coffee shop and the service industry as a whole and people’s relationship with those who serve them and the idea of work as vocational vs work as functional and all sorts of other things besides, and it’s a good read.
  • The Odd World Of Puddles The Clown: You may know Puddles from this video – his cover of ‘Royals’, which blew up at the end of last year. This is a very odd piece of writing indeed which does an awful lot of blurring of fact and fiction around the ‘character’, but which leaving aside verisimilitude is actually a great feature in its own right; it sort of makes you wish that every city had its own gigantic, terrifying, benign singing clown mascot. Sort of.
  • An Obsessive & Exhautsive History of Aphex Twin: If you’re a musician or a fan of Richard James’ music, this will be GOLDEN. If you’re neither of these things, then I’d probably just sip this one as it’s a bit niche.
  • What It Feels Like When Your Son Shoots Up A School: 18 months ago, Adam Lanza killed 26 people at Sandy Hook high school, after having murdered his mother, and then took his own life. This is an interview with / profile of his father, Peter Lanza, and a look back at Adam’s life. Hugely sad and quite horrifying in many ways, but a very good piece of writing.
  • Miniature Crimescene Dioramas: A fascinating look at the weird world of crimescene modelling – the creation of small 3d representations of crime scenes used for training detectives in the mid-20th Century. No, really, it’s LOADS more interesting than it sounds, I promise, and the pictures are good too. 
  • The Beastmasters of Buzzfeed: I don’t know whether it’s that more and more writers are channeling a sort of homage-y Foster Wallace-ish vibe deliberately (or maybe even unconsciously) or whether there’s something about the general incomprehenible oddness of the world in 2014 which just sort of creates that tone, but this piece on the men and women who make Buzzfeed’s cute animals content has exactly that warm-but-distant-and-sort-of-confused-whilst-still-being-very-clever-and-analytical-about-everything vibe which DFW perfected in a lot of his non-fiction writing. Anyway, it’s excellent.
  • London Is Servile: You’ll have seen this piece referenced all over the media this week – just in case you didn’t read the original which prompted the polemic, here it is (for what it’s worth, I think this is pretty spot-on in many senses). 
  • That Dong Nguyen Interview: Rolling Stone gets the first interview with Flappy Bird man. Frankly he sounds LOVELY and I sort of wish everyone would just leave him in peace now. 
  • Morgellons, The Mystery Disease: WARNING: READING THIS WILL MAKE YOU ITCH. Morgellons is, apparently, a condition which many people worldwide claim to suffer from but which as yet has no recognised medical cause and which doctors tend to see as evidence of mild psychosis. WHO IS RIGHT? Really good piece, this, which seems to take a liberal dose of inspiration from Jon Ronson and is no worse for that. 
  • Geek Love: A great piece on a remarkable cult novel which weirdly never makes the lists of ‘cult novels you must read’. Geek Love tells the story of a family of circus freaks – read this, about the novel’s genesis and cultural legacy, and then buy a copy
  • Street Fighter The Movie – What Went Wrong: Everything, basically. This is a good read overall, but especially worth reading for the JCVD anecdotage. 
By Hyungkoo Lee


1) There is no doubt at all in my mind that this advert for a Pittsburgh criminal lawyer is the best ad in here this week. “I may have a law degree, but I think like a criminal” – Dan is a GENIUS:

2) La Iaia are a Spanish band, apparently. This is a great song but the video’s the standout here – beautifully composed and shot vignette of teenagers studying together and edging towards romance. You will feel YOUNG AGAIN watching this, I promise. And then maybe just a bit sad and empty, but, you know, plus ca change:

3) This on the other hand is by a band called Breton who definitely aren’t Spanish and who have crafted a very competent (if to my ears a little generic) piece of melodic indiepop with their song ’15 Minutes’. Again, though, the video’s the star here – I confess to not being 100% certain what it’s about, but it looks LOVELY and the performances are excellent (so that’s ok then):

4) Weird web art video of the week comes in the shape of ‘Post Modem’ 12 minutes of HIGH CONCEPT musical-ish satire about the signularity and suchlike. It’s a lot better than I’ve just made it sound, and the first 6 minutes in particular are really worth watching (it goes a little more abstract than I’d like after that) – skewers quite a few ideas rather well, and the MegaMegaUpload song is weirdly catchy:

5) Ok, I think this is actually a leak and isn’t meant to be up for a few weeks, so apologies if it’s been taken down by the time you get to this. If it’s still here, though, turn up the volume and marvel at the frankly insane dance party stylings of DJ Snake and Lil’ Jon’s Turn Down For What video:

6) Laurent Garnier must be, what, 50-odd now? Anyway, he’s still making techno and this video callled ‘Revenge Of The LolCat’ is a lovely and slightly unsettling meme-y animation:

7) My favourite video of the week – Elliot the Bull’s song ‘Colourblind’ is rather lovely on its own, but this stop-motion tale is just a gorgeous piece of animation and is incredibly, strangely, poignant. You may want to give the little wooden thing a hug at the end, is all I’m saying:

8) This on the other hand is not really a very interesting video at all, being as it is just footage of Louis Dunford playing his song ‘When We Were Hooligans’. I was really impressed, though – yes, there are VERY obvious Jamie T comparisons but the tune’s lovely and the songwriting is  really good, I think. Ach, I don’t know, maybe it’s mockney crap but I LIKE IT SO THERE:

9) Finally this week, Statues by The Cowards. You will never see a better rendition of sex in SFW animated fashion EVER, I guarantee you. HAPPY FRIDAY, ENJOY THE SUNSHINE!:

That’s it for now


That’s it for now – see you next week
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