Author Archives: admin

Webcurios 31/01/14

Reading Time: 26 minutes

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So Good Mega Phone Box
New Road, Oxford

Were you aware that this week it was decided that getting irritated about income inequality and railing against the iniquity of the whole 1% thing is effectively replicating the conditions which brought the Nazis to power? Well it was, so now you know

Meh. Look, as Guns & Roses so poignantly sampled, there are some men you just can’t reach. Leaving that aside, I’m going to use this opening space to plug the amazing play I saw last night which any of you living in or around London should do your utmost to see – it’s on at The Gate in Notting Hill, it’s called The Body of an American, and it’s all about guilt and war photography and it’s brilliant. You’ve got another week to see it, so get on and book.

Of course, though, before you rush off to do that you’ve got to take your internet medicine. Hold your nose, close your eyes, open your mouth and close your eyes as I prepare to pour a warm spoonful of hand-selected and artisan-blended internets down your mindgullets; guaranteed to help with feelings of Friday afternoon workaday tedium (side effects may include nausea, depression, emotional unavailability, attention defecit, impotence, loss of affect, increased susceptibility to occasional unexpected tears, and general street sadness). THIS, WEBMONGS, IS WEB CURIOS.

 

Happy Year of the Horse! By The One Cam
 


THE SECTION WHICH, DESPITE CONTINUING TO RAIL ABOUT HOW POINTLESS MUCH OF THIS STUFF IS, THIS WEEK TOOK A LOOK AT FACEBOOK’S 2013 RESULTS AND JUST FELT SAD INSIDE (AND, LET’S BE FRANK, NOT A LITTLE WISTFUL ABOUT WHAT IT MIGHT BE LIKE TO BE REALLY, REALLY WEALTHY) WHILST AT THE SAME TIME NOT REALLY DOING ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE TO IMPROVE ITS LOT IN LIFE:  

  • What Brands Can Know About You When You Login To Facebook: Sorry, this is a link to a picture in a tweet which is a bit crappy, I know. Anyhow, this is actually quite a useful list of information about Facebook users which Apps can use; useful as a little aide memoir as to what is and isn’t possible with Facebook’s APIs. 
  • Facebook Launches Improves Retargeting Ads: This is quite big and potentially useful. I think I trailed this in October when it was announced, but apparently FB’s rolling this out to everyone(ish) as of the now; you can now target ads at people based on their actions on your website or mobile app – so you can take all the people who came to your website and DIDN’T buy anything with video ads displaying the tearful CEO repeatedly asking “WHY DON’T YOU LOVE US?’ whilst crying and smearing their naked body with KY. Or, er something like that. Sorry. Erm, you can also add call-to-action buttons to ads as well (“BUY MORE STUFF”; “PLAY MORE GAMES”; “LIVE MORE”; “STOP CRYING”, etc). Powerful and, whilst not revolutionary or groundbreaking, also sort of saddening. 
  • FB To Flog Data About TV ‘Chatter’: Facebook’s increasingly unsubtle ripping of leaves from Twitter’s book continues apace, with the announcement this week that they were partnering with social TV data company SeconSync to give people (aka advertisers) access to anonymised information about how people use Facebook whilst watching certain TV shows in the UK, US and Australia. Obviously if you work in TV, or want to do something smart around FB use in ad breaks, then you should probably be paying attention to this. WAKE UP. 
  • Facebook To Launch Paper: So on Monday 3rd Feb, Facebook is launching Paper, a new app product (I think) which effectively seems to turn your Facebook newsfeed into Flipboard or similar. Click the link, and be impressed at the very nice webpage they’ve set up to promote it, and how frankly GORGEOUS the UX/UI of the thing looks. And then take a step back, and ask yourself why everyone in the promo video seems to be some sort of weird analogue-fetishising hipster-Jesus craftsperson; how everyone in the video is a grown adult (have they just given up on teens?); how there’s no immediate sense of how the everliving fcuk all you wonderful advermarketingpr folk are going to push out your MESSAGES and CONTENT to people through this (although admittedly the ‘discover new stuff’ bits could offer one route, but a VERY congested one – advertisers wanting to promote stuff through this will, I imagine, pay top, top dollar); and how noone in the clip is paying anything more than very cursory attention to anything (it basically looks like Tinder for information, sort of). Anyway, this is all just fluff as we won’t have proper details til Monday. Speculate away until then as to how this will work and how it will let humanity’s primary narcissism engine make even more eye-watering amounts of money.
  • Twitter Search Gets Marginally Better: Erm, basically that. You can now do better searches from the Twitter website, allowing you to search by media type, account type and from within your followers. Actually, the media-differentiated searching is very useful indeed, I shouldn’t scoff.
  • Twitter Partners With Dataminr (Again) For News: Very big news, this – Twitter partnered with Dataminr previously to provide bespoke information feeds from the Twitter firehose to financial services organisations and the public sector (ie Governments); they’re now extending this service to news organisations. Think of this as some sort of major Tweetdeck-on-steroids offering, which if you’re the Guardian or NYT or BBC or Sky is pretty useful. It will be available globally ‘soon’ – £10 says that a similar product for advermarketingpr behemoths (hello Sir Martin! Hello Publicis people!) will be on the shelves before the end of the year.
  • Twitter Mobile Apps Improve Photosharing (But Also Recommendations): Nice little tweaks to the way in which the Twitter mobile app lets users interact with photos (crop, rotate, zoom, etc) before posting; useful for community managers ON THE GO. Also in this update, which is maybe more significant, is the fact that users who refresh their feed and for whom no new Tweets are queued will now be served trending topics, suggested articles, suggested follows and…yes! That’s right! Almost certainly some ADS! In terms of a way to serve ads which places them front-of-mind, this is quite powerful I think. 
  • Twitter Visualises the State of the Union: Very nicely done by Twitter’s data team, this takes Obama’s speech from earlier this week and runs analysison it, paragraph by paragraph, as to what was being said on Twitter at each stage, where in the US. I expect to see this becoming standard for all big political speeches sooner rather than later, even if it’s only Government collecting this for internal use WHICH THEY MAY WELL BE ALREADY. 
  • Best Branded Vines of 2014: There are some very good ones here, much as it pains me to say so. 
  • Tumblr Updates Terms of Service: Boring, but useful to know. You’re now meant to attribute reshares, and it’s also explicitly not allowed to impersonate companies or famouses, which might be useful if you’re a brand with a lot of people pretending to be you on the platform. 
  • Order Food Through 4sq (In The US): I’m not 100% sure why I’m bothering to include this as a) there’s no guarantee it will ever come to Europe; b) 4sq. Anyway, in another sort of pivoty-feeling move, 4sq users in the States can use the app to order food from restaurants on the platform. Just FYI really.
  • Pinterest Surpasses Email For Sharing? REALLY?: I’m including this because this is a stat which some of you may find that you can bend to your purposes (and I’m nice like that), but really? REALLY? I don’t believe this for a second. US-only data, but still – it just screams ‘bollocks’, frankly. 
  • The Relative Size of Social Platforms: Clever old Mat Morrison has played around with platform usage data and done some analysis as to which platforms are largest AND stickiest. You can read the whole thing on his site, but SURPRISE Facebook (at least in the West) wins. STOP CHASING THE SHINY SHINY NEW ALL THE TIME. 
  • The Snapchat Pitch: Are you a young, hungry student, eager to make your way in the world of advermarketingpr? If so, it’s not too late to change your mind and pursue a worthwhile career – save yourselves! Failing that, take a look at this competition by DDB Oslo which invites students to submit an idea in 10 seconds via snapchat for the chance to win…a job interview. Hm. 
  • Chipotle’s Content Budget Is Bigger Than Yours: Brands have ‘done’ indie films; now they’re branching out into comedy series. Chipotle, purveyor of (I’m told) sub-standard tex-mex fare and of cutesy narratives about their sustainable food production practices, have paid what looks like an INSANE amount of money to create an original comedy series, to air through Hulu in the US, called Farmed & Dangerous – all about the ‘outrageously twisted and utterly unsustainable world of industrial agriculture’. FUNNY PROPAGANDA, starring a bloke from Twin Peaks. From what I can tell, the branding’s actually pretty light – it doesn’t air til mid-February, and it will be interesting to see if the millions invested (because it will be millions) were well-spent. Oh, and next time someone says something about NEEDING QUALITY CONTENT, gently mention this and ask about budgets.
  • Oh Alright Then, Have The Bloody Superbowl Ads If You Really Want Them: THEY’RE STILL JUST SODDING ADVERTS, THOUGH, OK?
By Ezo Renier
 


THE SECTION WHICH CONTAINS ALL THE LINKS YOU COULD POSSIBLY WANT, AND AT LEAST THREE OR FOUR WHICH YOU REALLY DON’T; I LIKE TO IMAGINE THAT IT MIMICS YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT YOUR WORKPLACE OR YOUR FAMILIES OR SOMETHING, AND IS IN SOME WAY A STRANGE AND AFFECTING METAPHOR FOR LIFE ITSELF ALTHOUGH IT’S VERY POSSIBLE THAT THAT’S JUST THE FEVERED IMAGINATION OF A MAN WHO DIDN’T GET QUITE AS MUCH SLEEP AS HE SHOULD HAVE DONE LAST NIGHT AND, FRANKLY, IS STARTING TO FLAG A LITTLE (SO ADVANCED APOLOGIES FOR WHAT FOLLOWS), PT1:

  • How The Chinese Move For Chinese New Year: Happy imminent new year, China! This is a rather nice visualisation of human movements within the country in the leadup to the NYE celebrations, tracking short-term migrations as people head to visit friends and families. What’s interesting here isn’t just the viz, which is nice enough, but also how Baidu (for it is they) got the data – it’s tracking where people have been logging into stuff and how that’s changed day by day. There’s stuff you can do on the site to cut the data in different ways, but it’s obviously all in Chinese and therefore I have no idea what it says. Imagine what Google could do in this vein (and then turn off GPS tracking on your phone). 
  • Make LEGO Models In Chrome: You’ve seen this by now, right? This is a Chrome/LEGO collaboration, extended globally after its previous Australia-only incarnation, which lets users build stuff with virtual LEGO in Chrome. So much loveliness here, from the simple fact of LOOK, LEGO! to the fact that you can choose your own ‘plot’ of land, mapped on Google maps, on which to build – which creation will then be browsable by other users. Surprisingly few towering phalli so far, which is pleasing. 
  • Some Rather Nice Photos From China: Sina’s the parent company of Weibo, China’s closest analogue to Twitter and a massive media powerhouse – this is its selection of the best images posted by its users in (I think) 2013. Oh, ok, I don’t really understand what this is because my aforementioned inability to read Chinese, but I think that’s what it is, and I like that explanation so I’m sticking with it. Anyway, there’s loads of really great photos in there if you click through, and it’s actually a really interesting window into Chinese life and culture and mores and STUFF. 
  • The New Awards: Voting’s now open for this year’s Net Awards, celebrating cool/interesting/technically great webstuff. It’s a really, really good source of *ahem* ‘inspiration’ if you’re a deisgner, developer or ‘creative’, and there’s some truly excellent stuff if you dive down within the categories. Web Curios would personally exhort you to cast a vote for Cachemonet, one of my favourite web-art projects of 2013. Thanks!
  • Reasons To Live: A website which collects people’s REASONS TO LIVE in one place. It’s not particularly great in terms of either design or idea or execution, but I’m including it because the occasional juxtaposition of Hallmark-style aphorisms, utter idiocy and occasional poignancy is quite curious. 
  • Scratchy Grooves: Crate-digger types should love this. Bill Chambles hosted a local radio show for nearly 20 years in Delaware in the US which he called Scratchy Grooves, playing music from 1900 to the 1940s from vinyl (hence the name of the show). Following his death, his son’s putting the recordings online – there’s some crazily great stuff buried in these, and I say that based on a relatively superficial perusal. Come on, someone, invent flappercore with this stuff.
  • Sexualitics: What do you get if you cross Big Data with bongo? This is what you get! Sexualitics is a project by a group of Frenchmen which seeks to take large data from pr0n sites and apply academic rigour to it in an attempt to understand more about human sexuality. They’ve published one paper already, outlining their approach and some of the techniques they plan to use – just FYI, there is literally NOTHING erotic about any of this, but if you’ve got a Kinsey-style obsession with people’s sexquirks and a bit of a datafetish then you might like this. 
  • Phone My Phone: Years ago, when I was doing work for the soon-to-be-defunct Tech City Investment Authority, I met a very young man who was coding as part of a project called Apps for Good. He is called Dylan, and he was terrifyingly smart and is part of the generation of people who will laugh cruelly at 45-year-old me’s attempts to find a job. He’s made this, which is a really, really useful site which calls your phone if you can’t find it. If you’re like my ex-flatmate this may well be the most useful thing on here this week. 
  • Oscar-nominated Scripts: PDFs of Oscar-nominated scripts, from this year and years past, going back to 2007. Cinemascholars should appreciate.
  • Oculus Rift + Game Of Thrones = Wow: There’s something slightly odd about the amount of attention Oculus Rift is getting from the mainstream, to the extent that it feels a little like it’s 1994/5 and The Lawnmower Man has just come out and we’re all excited about Virtual Reality again. Except this does actually look really cool, and this stunt/demo by HBO to promote the latest series of GoT to media is both very clever and a fairly incredible trail for the sort of stuff which people will eventually be able to do with repurposed CGI content and an immersive viewing rig. BETTER THAN LIFE!
  • The Ninth Floor: These, let’s say it upfront, are some properly harrowing pictures. Telling the stories of a group of addicts who squatted in an abandoned rich person’s apartment in NYC, it’s a fairly unflinching portrayal of exactly how degrading the life of a fulltime needlejunkie can be. Pretty much the opposite of glamourising intravenous drug abuse. 
  • The Sensory Book: Have you ever read a novel and thought whilst doing so ‘you know what would really enhance this literary experience? Wearing a mechanical vest which would whirr and clunk and move and stuff in order to better help me FEEL the emotions this book is supposed to be provoking’? No, me neither funnily enough. That sad, that’s exactly what this prototype does – obviously this looks clunky and terrible, but there’s an interesting set of augmented reading ideas which you could spin out of this…OOH, HERE’S ONE – whoever it is who makes those ghastly plugin scent thingies (Glade?), how about releasing limited-edition ranges designed to complement certain books, authors, etc…tobacco and whisky and horses for Hemingway, linen and halitosis for Austen, etc etc etc. YOU’RE WELCOME!
  • Dipify: I think that this might be genius. Dipify is an app which connects users based on shared media consumption; that is, if two users are watching the same video, reading the same article, sharing the same links, etc, it will put them in touch. It’s both slightly more limited and slightly more complicated than that, but effectively the premise is as described. SO MANY POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS. It’s not a wholly novel idea, but I don’t think that this particular execution, which seems to make a lot of sense, has been done before. 
  • Men Looking Sad Whilst Shopping: This should be a Tumblr, but it’s not. Anyway, an Instagram account collecting images of men looking sad whilst shopping. Why not take this base concept, PR/marketing people, and make it the basis for the next inevitable idea you present in a pitch which involves some sort of surprise experiential activity in a shopping centre? Oh, what’s the use.
  • James Edition Luxury Marketplace: This seems to be real, from what I can tell. James Edition (their lack of possessive apostrophe, not mine) appears to be a sort of eBay for really, really rich people who like fast cars and white leather sofas and stuff like that. They’re selling an urban camo Lamborghini Gallardo for 60k Euros, which seems like a steal to me. GO ON! RUIN YOURSELVES!
  • Copy Characters: I couldn’t work out how to do the Euro sign in that last entry. I should have used this – very useful website which contains all the esoteric non-English language punctuation characters you could hope for on one easily C&P-able page. Useful. 
  • US Book Covers Vs UK Book Covers: A more-interesting-than-you’d-think comparison of book marketing on both sides of the Atlantic. We get better covers overall, I reckon.
  • Sand-Writing Robot Machine Thingy: Skryf is a project by Dutch artist Gijs van Bon, which is a sort of sand-dribbling bicycle contraption which can write BEAUTIFULLY on flat surfaces using sand. The video explains this better than I ever could, but this is beautifully ephemeral (and if you’re looking to publicise holidays, messages written in golden sand could be a nice way to do it. Maybe). 
  • Beautiful Macro Photos of TERRIFYING SPIDERS: Apparently jumping spiders are ‘insatiably curious’ when it comes to humans. Insatiably’s not a word I feel wholly comfortable with when discussing arachnids, I must say, but these pictures are rather lovely if a little bit formication-inducing to anyone even a little bit arachnophobic (ie me). 
  • Convert Webpages to PDF: Exactly as tediously practical as it sounds. 
  • TL;DR: This is basically the anti-Curios, or Twitter for people who think that Twitter’s too verbose. TLDR is a site which lets people curate and share links, with the simple caveat that each is accompanied by a short explanatory summary and no more. I think this is actually very, very useful, damn them. OBVIOUSLY you’d all rather read my prose, though. Obviously. Hello? HELLO? 🙁
  • Human Skin Couture: Obviously, er, not real human skin – this is just an art project by Nicola Costantino which creates handbags, shoes, etc, with human-sized nipples, etc, as though they were made from human skin. I find the arsehole shoes particularly appealing, personally, although your mileage may vary. 
By Sarah Renard
 

THE SECTION WHICH CONTAINS ALL THE LINKS YOU COULD POSSIBLY WANT, AND AT LEAST THREE OR FOUR WHICH YOU REALLY DON’T; I LIKE TO IMAGINE THAT IT MIMICS YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT YOUR WORKPLACE OR YOUR FAMILIES OR SOMETHING, AND IS IN SOME WAY A STRANGE AND AFFECTING METAPHOR FOR LIFE ITSELF ALTHOUGH IT’S VERY POSSIBLE THAT THAT’S JUST THE FEVERED IMAGINATION OF A MAN WHO DIDN’T GET QUITE AS MUCH SLEEP AS HE SHOULD HAVE DONE LAST NIGHT AND, FRANKLY, IS STARTING TO FLAG A LITTLE (SO ADVANCED APOLOGIES FOR WHAT FOLLOWS), PT1:

  • Set This As Your Least Favourite And Least Internet-Savvy Colleague’s Homepage TODAY: No need to thank me. 
  • The Doge Shipping Forecast: Despite my confidently predicting the death of this particular meme at the start of the year, it continues unabated – this did make me laugh, though, so it’s sort of OK. Website which doge-ifies the shipping forecast – SUCH VEER.
  • Electromagnetic Table Science Madness: I’m not sure quite how amazingly groundbreaking this is, but when I first saw it I got quite excited and OWOWFUTURE-y, so here I share it with you – basically an electromagnetic table which produces a field which can light flourescent tubes at distance with no contact required. Time required until electromagnetic pavements? 30 years. 
  • A Truly Odd Artist’s Website: I’ve featured Geoffrey Lillemon’s work on here before, but I don’t think I’ve ever linked to his hugely odd (but actually quite well-coded) website before. Lillemon is an artist who operates primarily in digital media and who attempts to bring certain elements of classical style to life through interaction with technology. This is called ‘She Hisses’, but go and check out the rest of the site as well; it’s a hell of a weird timesink. 
  • My Abandonware: If you were a teenager in the 90s (and probably a man – sorry, but on balance men were more into videogames BACK IN THE DAY than women) then this website may well be the end of you. Featuring free-to-download copies of all sorts of 90s classics including Doom and Sensible World of Soccer (it’s still really, really good, fyi), this could make your weekend (if, er, you’ve nothing better planned which I sort of hope you do to be honest). 
  • The Poetry of Sims Patching: Remember the surreal world of Sims patch updates as revealed in last week’s Curios? No? Jesus, what’s WRONG with you. Anyway, for those of you who were paying attention, someone has turned them into poetry which makes me rather happy. 
  • Play/Create Particulate Webcam Art: A site which uses your webcam to create a sort of moving particulate effect based on your movements. Weirdly and upsettingly it keeps making me look like sort of some sort of grinning skull-creature, which I hope isn’t some sort of dreadful portent of doom. OH HERE’S AN IDEA – given that the effect sort of mirrors the way that Guinness looks as a pint settles, why don’t the Guinness people take this and apply it in some way – for Hallowe’en! Your spooky face in a settling pint of Guinness! What’s that? Noone from Guinness or their agencies reads this crap, and that’s a terrible idea anyway? Oh. Ok. 
  • The Ministry of Magic: Bit of a puzzler, this one. It’s a Harry Potter site for the Ministry of Magic, which appears to be quite new (like a month or so), yet it doesn’t seem to be linked to Pottermore or anything and there’s no new film to promote. SO WHO MADE IT? Oh, it’s a fansite made by a bloke called Andy Brown apparently. Anyway, my friend Catherine who is probably the biggest Potter fan I have ever met says it’s good, so there’s your endorsement. 
  • A Collection Of 100s Of Webcams: None of which, as far as I can tell, are of the creepy / ‘sexy’ sort, although I confess to not having looked at any of them. There’s still something strangely compelling about webcams in public places; I lost about 10 minutes when I found this on Monday looking at what was happening in a Hungarian shopping centre (I believe that this is what is referred to as ‘living the 21st Century dream’), so who knows what will tweak your metaphorical nipples?
  • 3d Printed Flowers Which Sort Of Inflate: Another slightly mental futuretechy invention, this. Not so much the flowers themselves, which are cute and quite cool, but the fact that 3d printing is now able to create components which can move like this. 
  • How Much Time Have You Wasted On Facebook: I’m not sure I’d 100% agree with anyone who considers ‘looking at photographs of ex-girlfriends, past schoolmates and former colleagues whilst simultaneously crying and masturbating’ as a waste of time, but still – analyses your Facebook profile for number of posts, etc etc, and throws out some totally made-up number based on your activity on the site. By Time Magazine, weirdly enough.
  • The Digital Streaker: A website which, for no discernible reason, allows you to send a fat, naked man cavorting across any website of your choice. I can think of no conceivable use for this, but I sort of hope that one of you might be able to.
  • Authentic Weather: A weather app (and website) for Android and iPhone which confronts you with fairly stark assessments of exactly what it’s like outdoors. Amusing for about 5 minutes, although I think there may be a crowdsourcing elements to the descriptions which could improve it immeasurably. Or we also have Doge Weather, if you’re so inclined
  • Fishy Film Titles: Fishfinger are a digital creative agency in London, apparently. In a piece of nakedly link-baity marketing, they’ve created a whole page of film posters based on fishy title puns – I am linking to this largely because ‘Anenome at the Gates’ made me laugh like a drain. 
  • Silence The Shadows: I think that this is just another agency promo, this one of the slick HTML video variety. I don’t quite see the point of it, though – it’s meant to be sort of scary, but isn’t’; it’s well-made, but not amazingly so, and the supposed Facebook integration (presuming that that’s what they were going for with ‘Connect with Facebook’ doesn’t seem to do anything. Can one of you take a look and let me know if I’m missing something? Ta.
  • Beautiful Photos of Methan Bubbles Trapped in a Frozen Lake: So cold in America. SO COLD. Pretty, though.
  • GoPro Heroes: It’s hard to tell whether this is affiliated with GoPro or not – if it’s not, they should sign whoever’s behind it up asap. Nice collection of the best GoPro recordings on YouTube, seemingly updated pretty regularly – nice both if you’re an EXTREME SPORTS junkie and if you’re after some decent videos. 
  • Gallerrit: A very clever little Reddit hack which takes any subreddit of your choosing and turns it into an infinite feed of all the images linked to in said subreddit. If you’re testing this at work, can I suggest you exercise a degree of judicious caution as to which subreddits you choose to experiment with? You’re welcome. 
  • Objects in Faux-2d: Cynthia Greig is an artist who takes 3 dimensional objects and paints / outlines them to make them look 2d. Not only a cool effect, but the sort of thing which could prove the basis of quite a cool trompe l’oeil vidoe I think.
  • The Virtual Steel Drum: Let’s be honest, does anyone REALLY like the sound of steel drums? They don’t, do they? Anyway, this is a digital version with which you can upset your coworkers this afternoon. 
  • A Truly Staggering Collection Of Weird Documentaries: There are literally dozens linked to from here, and they are all sort of insane. Worthwhile if you’re into yoga, meditation, conspiracy theories or, let’s be honest, smoking eye-gouging quantities of weed and watching weird stuff on the internet. 
  • The Last Photo Project: A rather lovely little artproject in which artist Ivan Cash goes round US cities asking passers-by to share the last photo they took on their phone. Watch at least one of them, they are BRILLIANT and I would like this to come to London please thankyou someone. 
  • Dating App Which Kills Romance: You know how lovely it is when you are going out with someone and they do things for you which they have really thought about, or arrange things which you know they’ve put a lot of consideration and effort into? Yeah, well, screw that – Delightful describes itself as a ‘date concierge’, and effectively allows TIME POOR couples to outsource the effort of putting the spark back into their relationship by letting a piece of software pick ‘interesting’ dates for them. I’m possibly being a little unfair here, but it strikes me as sort of soulless and horrible (although my girlfriend could well argue that it’s not like I’m a stellar example of romance myself, to which I’d probably just grunt and scratch my testicles or something). 
  • How Do Websites Make Money: Just that – page explaining the revenue models of a variety of sites. Actually full of stuff that’s quite useful to know. 
  • The Sounds of London’s Waterways: Such a lovely project and a couple of years old now; a London Underground-style map of London’s canals, with accompanying sound recordings. If there are any musicians reading this, there’s probably quite a nice EP project to be made from this; use the samples from each waterway asthe basis of themed tracks for each one. Maybe. Or maybe it would be terrible? Bob, I know you’re bored – the world needs the Boella Ambient Waterways Series.
  • 3d Printing With Lego Blocks: More 3d printing cleverness, this is a very smart little hack which lets users input their designs into a programme which then shows them which bits need to be 3d printed – and does so – and which bits can be prototyped in LEGO. The clever bit is how it works out which LEGOS are needed to make the prototype – look, just watch the video and it will make sense, I promise. 
  • Really, Russia?: I don’t normally do ‘WTF?’ picture collections, but this one (purporting to be a collection of oddities from Russia, but it’s hard to tell provenance) really is quite weird (SFW). 
  • A Parody Red Hot Chili Peppers Song Which Is Frighteningly Plausible: It’s only the fact that it doesn’t sound like Kiedis singing which makes you certain it’s a parody.
  • Forgotify: This was on the Today programme this morning (which is quite odd really), so I’m presuming you all know about it already. Anyway, Forgetify plays songs from Spotify which have had 0 plays, ever. Quite an esoteric internet radio station, as I’ve discovered whilst writing this. 
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel Website: I have to confess that I really don’t like the films of Wes Anderson. They look beautiful, and I can appreciate the craft and the artistry and all that, but they are cold and lifeless and lacking in anything resembling human affect (which may well be the point, in which case well done Mr Anderson). I feel much the same way about this website for his latest effort, which is beautifully made and full of rich backstory and CONTENT but which didn’t really compel me to dig as much as I felt it should. Oh, and as pointed out by someone else who’s smarter than me, the UX is a car-crash. 
  • Project Makeout: Jedediah Johnson has an amazing down-South name. He also takes photographs of strangers after he’s just kissed them whilst wearingh much lipstick. I’m unclear as to whether these facts are related, although I suspect not. In any case, the pictures are GREAT. 
  • The Taxonomy of Tagging: Maybe my favourite site of the week, this is a gorgeous piece of design – you can explore all sorts of evolutions and variants on graffiti tags from around the world, exploring the development of artists’ styles and the like. The only thing it’s missing is some sort of geographical indicator as to where they were found, but it’s so nicely made that I forgive them (they will be thrilled).
  • Silhouette Letter Heads: No real idea why this exists, but it’s nicely made and plays with shadow quite cleverly (sorry, it’s quite hard to describe – imagine a digital inetractive-ish version of those artworks which form shadow panoramas from collections of seemingly randomly placed objects. That help?).
  • Amazing Long-Exposure Pictures Of Dancers: Incredible technique, and I would love to see this applied to moving images too. These are gorgeous shots, particularly (I imagine) if you’ve done ‘proper’ dance yourself at any point in the past.
  • The Philosopher’s Mail: I was convinced that this was a joke when I found it, and then I read last night’s Standard which suggested that it was a REAL THING and not just some sort of slightly snobbish undergraduate snook-cocking at the Daily Mail. Scratch that, I don’t care if it’s real and whether it’s by philosophy caricature Alain de Botton – it’s still undergraduate snook-cocking. Made me laugh quite a lot, though I really can’t see anything beyond parody here. 
  • Fuzmo: Have you ever wanted a social network which exists solely for the purpose of sharing cute animal pictures? OH GOOD. 
  • If You Like Sudoku, You’ll Like This Game
By Egon Schiele
 


THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:

  • Dimly Lit Meals For One: It’s been all over the place this week, but there is SO MUCH POIGNANCY in here. I would really love to know where this person’s getting the pictures from (and maybe find the man in question and stage some sort of intervention). 
  • Embed With Games: This is a bit of an unusual Tumblr – rather than being the throwaway home of a one-note gag, it’s the home of games journalist Cara Ellison’s series of writings where she goes and hangs out with some of the world’s best game developers and gets under their skin. Or at least it will be, once she starts doing more. Anyhow, if you’re in or into the games industry this is very good indeed. 
  • Matching Monsters: Maybe my favourite site of the week, this invites people to submit photographs which will then be subtly altered to include a drawing of a monster which the illustrator feels fits / matches the original image. SO CUTE. 
  • Scrap PDX Finds: Weird stuff donated to a creative reuse dump in Portland, Oregon. 
  • The Art Of Truck Torrance: The weirdly-named Mr Torrance does a very nice line indeed in cutesy illustrations. I’d commission the fcuk out of him if I had anything to commission for. 
  • Architecture of Doom: A collection of photos of depressed, distressed and depressing architecture from around the world. Ah, brutalism!
  • Too Long, Didn’t See: Fun project in which Henry Davis gets given descriptions of films he hasn’t seen and then turns them into comic strips based on his interpretation of said descriptions. Or rather used to, as it’s not been updated for ages, which is sort of a shame.
  • Adidas Originals: Hugely tedious unless you’re an Adidas fanboy/girl, but I’m including it because I absolutely adore the way it scrolls.
  • Me And My ZX Spectrum: Kids in the 80s, photographed with their supercomputers. All of the hair and the fashion you’d expect. Oh, and if you want to play Jet Set Willy then you can do so here.
  • LOL MY Thesis: Students post short, mocking descriptions of their theses, as they prepare for a long life of intermittent work and fundamental disappointment. 
  • Animals Riding Animals: I’m not offering any further description, you don’t need it.
  • Fat Animals: See previous link.
  • Hey, Are You Cool?: Documenting the other players met by one person playing post-apocalyptic zombie shooter DayZ (details here if that means nothing to you). Seroiusly, art based on in-game experience will be BIG in 2014, mark my words (please don’t remind me about this when I am wrong). 
  • Metal Albums With Googly Eyes: See animal links passim.
  • DBA Reactions: I’m including this mainly as proof that every single profession has its unique thrills and crosses to bear. This is one of those ‘when a client’s like X and you’re all like Y’ tumblrs which did the rounds last year for the PR, advertising, marketing, etc etc etc industries, but this time for the (it’s fair to say) less ‘glamorous’ world of database administration.

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG AND WHICH YOU SHOULD READ AS SOME SORT OF HEDGE AGAINST THE INEVITABLE MENTAL DECLINE WHICH WILL SOON SET IN AFTER YOU’VE CLICKED ‘LIKE’ ON THE 356000th PICTURE OF FUNNY ANIMALS OR YOUR MATE’S FAT KID ON FACEBOOK:

  • Desert Island Graphic Novels: A series of luminaries from the world of scifi and assorted geekery pick their favourite graphic novels. There are some great recommendations on this list, and some equally obscure ones – if you’re into the medium, this is a wonderul place to find new recommendations; if you’re not, it’s a good place to start (and you should, dammit, they are ART). 
  • On Being The Writer of Mega Shark VS Mecha Shark: A great interview with Jose Prendes, who has written some of Aslyum Films’ ‘best’ output. Really interesting, and it’s nice that the man is refreshingly sanguine about the value of his output. Probably the only film–related interview you’re likely to read this month which contains the question “Was there ever a point during the process when you thought “I just don’t see how I’m going to get this shark to destroy the Sphinx”?”.
  • Remembering Days Of Thunder: Such a good piece of writing, and a wonderful skewering of not only the film but the whole Tom Cruise ouvre as well. Part of a regular series in which The Dissolve looks back at forgotten films, this is a merciless look at the sheer idiocy of a film which even at the time was described as ‘Top Gun with planes’ and is now chiefly remembered for that bloody ‘Show Me Heaven‘ song (which I now have earworming all over the place, dammit). 
  • Demon Camp – An Extract: The most powerful (read: sort of upsetting) read of the week, this is an extra from forthcoming book Demon Camp, which speaks to US veterans of the conflict in the Middle East and seeks to investigate what exact common factors combine to contribute to the insanely high suicide rate amongst vets. This is seriously good, and not a little creepy, writing. 
  • What It’s Like Being The World’s 13th Best Donkey Kong Player: Apparently there’s been a boom in competitive Donkey Kong playing in the wake of King of Kong’s release a few years back (which is weird, as it didn’t exactly paint the ‘scene’ in a flattering light. Anyway, this is a look at the life of a man who’s very good at the game, but not quite good enough – I’ll be honest, I’d hazard a guess that his life’s lacking something in some way. 
  • Why Beats Music Matters: This is sort of a review and sort of a puff piece of new Spotify-beater Beats Music, but it’s really interesting if you are into curation and the automation thereof. Or, you know, if you just want to know if Beats Music is any good. 
  • The World Of Bespoke Drug Design: A facsinating look at the history of designer drug creation, which then segues into a slightly jaw-dropping account of quite how easy it is to get a lab in China to manufacture quantities of whatever you want with very few questions asked. Seriously, the journalist basically sends them an email saying ‘can you synthesise me something with this sort of chemical profile, please?’, and then gets a baggie full of white powder fedexed to him a few weeks later. Madness.
  • Medical Horrors of Reddit: Do you want a Reddit thread which is full of medical professionals recounting the most stomach-churning experiences of their careers? OH GOOD. No joke, these are quite vile and should be approached with caution. 
  • PRing the Pope: Probably the first and last time that something from PR Week gets in here, but this look at the man behind the best PR campaign of recent years (because really) is actually quite interesting, as is this fairly hagiographic profile of the Pontiff in Rolling Stone (See?!).
  • Disney and Datatracking: A look at the future of datagathering with Disney’s latest innovation – armbands for visitors to its US parks which are loaded with data about you – birthday, gender, age, predetermined preferences, etc – and simultaneously collect information about what you do on your visit. Ostensibly helping create a better, more personal experience, this is also sort of intensely creepy and simultaneously inevitably going to be EVERYWHERE in a few years. 
  • William Burroughs In Profile: I must confess to never having really got on with Burroughs’ writing – I always preferred his son’s, which probably says very little good about my literary sensibilities. This, though, is a great piece profiling a fascinating and fairly dreadful man – worth a read just for the ever-incredible and tragic ‘William Tell’ episode. 
  • The Perils Of Social Interaction: A consistently funny webcomic look at social awkwardness in its many multifarious forms. 
  • The Rob Ford Story: So we all know that Rob Ford’s a crack-taking drunk. This, though, is the first part of the Toronto Star’s EXHAUSTIVE recap of their mayor’s story, and it’s just…mental, really. It’s very, very long – and this is only the first part – but it’s car-crash compelling and gives you the context and backstory which the videos of a cracked-out Ford don’t quite give you. It almost makes you feel warmly towards Boris for a second or two, until you actually listen to the man. 
  • The Bot Poetry of Darius Kazemi: Interesting profile of web artist Darius Kazemi, who’s made all sorts of projects which seek to find beauty in the random nature of the web, and draw it out through automated processes. About as wanky as I just made it sound, but there are interesting parallels with broader literary / artistic traditions which I found interesting. 
  • I Bought The Brixton Academy For £1: Basically a big trail / plug for the guy’s book, but this is a crazy story. Doesn’t explain why the soundsystem’s always been so ropey, though. 
By Johan Thornqvist
 


FINALLY, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!


1) Our opener is a little bit musical and a little bit educational. The Eclectic Method, cut&paste-masters, apply their talents to the history of sampling; a really lovely 3-minute journey which takes some of the most iconic samples and shows how and where they’ve been used and reapplied. Will make you go and want to listen to a LOT of old hiphop, probably:
 

2) I shouldn’t really feature this as it’s had ALL THE VIEWS, but it’s new to me and it made me laugh very much indeed. This is the trailer for Kung Fury, 80s action movie parody par excellance which smashed its Kickstarter target and will therefore become reality. I don’t know if I could watch 80 minutes of this, but the promo is all sorts of wonderful:


3) This is very nice indeed. A short animation called ‘Unimagined Friends’ about where drawings live before their drawn. The 2d/3d mix of animations is gorgeous, and it’s all sorts of heartwarming:

4) Taking the old Anansi / Python myth and twisting it a little (or maybe this is the original and Anansi’s the ripoff; either way), this is BEAUTIFUL and sort of reminiscent of the artwork of Saul Bass and Frank Miller (with less blood). A French short called ‘La Queue de la Souris’:

5) I don’t understand how this video was made at all, but I like it very, very much. Glitchy 3d animationscanning stuff to accompany a staccato number from Holly Herndon – this is called ‘Chorus’:

6) Hiphop corner! This is Flex The Antihero with Big Dreams – the video’s dull, but he is VERY impressive:


7) This on the other hand is more about the video. The song’s swoopy and Bjork-ish, which is no bad thing but doesn’t particularly trip my switches; the video thugh combines digital art and choreography and feels like the rare sort of videoart I would actually bother to sit down and watch. This is ‘Midnight Shallows’ by Mt. Wolf:

8) It appears that 2-finger piano house is making a comeback. I couldn’t care less, and this song leaves me cold, but I LOVE the thermal camera video very much indeed. ‘My Love’ by Route 94:

9) As we head to the weekend, it seems like an appropriate time to remind you that Web Curios advocates safe sex. This video should prove quite effective in convincing you I’m right. HAPPY FRIDAY!:

 

THAT’S IT FOR NOW – SEE YOU NEXT WEEK

 

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Webcurios 24/01/14

Reading Time: 29 minutes

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Cool telegraph pole
Abingdon Road, Oxford

However bad your week’s been, it’s been better than that of the workman who shut the Victoria Line yesterday, and possibly Bieber’s as well (leaving aside Bieber’s youth, beauty and millions of dollars, which I am sure are providing some sort of small consolation to him). SO STOP WHINGING. 

Obviously I have no idea whether that’s true – there are an almost infinite set of truly dreadful things which could have happened to you in the past seven days, for which I can do nothing but express my sincere sympathy and regret. All things will pass, eh? 

The rest of you, though, for whom this week has been yet another in the infinite-seeming cavalcade of mediocrities which constitute LIFE, just need to get on with it. Think of this week’s collection of internet ‘goodies’ as a potentially painful but ultimately necessary medical procedure, webmongs – sort of like the opposite of trepanning (rather than letting stuff out, we’re STUFFING IT IN) conducted by a rickety sawbones with questionable hygiene and with what appears to be an incipient case of the DTs, without anything resembling anaesthetic. Bite onto this leather belt, webmongs, and ignore the hissing, grinding and whirring of the drill as it starts up – THIS IS WEB CURIOS. 

By Eric White
 


THE SECTION ABOUT WORK-TYPE THINGS WHICH, I AM AFRAID TO SAY AFTER A FEW LEAN WEEKS, IS RATHER BIG THIS TIME AROUND AND WHICH I WILL TOTALLY UNDERSTAND IF THOSE OF YOU WHO DON’T HAVE SOME SORT OF SILLY MEDIA JOB SKIP OVER AS, QUITE FRANKLY, NO ONE SHOULD READ MOST OF THIS STUFF UNLESS SOMEONE SOMEWHERE IS PAYING THEM FOR IT:

  • Facebook! Facebook is DYING! Oh, Wait, Hang On, Maybe It’s Not After All (Although Perhaps Journalism Is): This week’s ‘FACEBOOK IS DYING’-bleating came in the shape of a report from academics at Princeton, who published a paper suggesting that, based on analysis of what happened to MySpace, Google Trends, and some rather half-baked comparisons with epidemiological data, Facebook is destined to lose something like 80% of its userbase in the next 24 months. You don’t need to be some sort of massive academic datanerd to be a little sceptical about this claim – the most obvious rebuttal comes from the simple fact that comparing MySpace in 2007ish with Facebook in 2014 is a little like comparing apples with machetes, and that correlation does not equal causation – and yet this didn’t stop quite a few sections of the global media spazzing out about this left right and centre. Read this rebuttal for the full, academic-ese version of why it’s rubbish; or alternatively read this one, for unexpected proof of Facebook actually having a sense of humour.
  • FB Newsfeed Tweak Penalises Brands: Well, it does a bit. In the never-ending quest for QUALITY CONTENT (sigh), Facebook’s slightly altered its newsfeed algorithm so as to mean that text-heavy posts from brands will be de-prioritised, whereas textual posts from actual real human beings will be given a bit of a boost. In practice, what that means is a) if you’re a Page and your updates are text-heavy, (even) fewer people will see them; b) if you’ve hired an expensive copywriter to pen your Page’s prose, you may want to reconsider that; c) Facebook are effectively telling brands to spam people’s walls with even more crap pictures and image macros. QUALITY CONTENT!!!! Thanks, Facebook!
  • FB Launches New App Insights: If you make / shill Facebook apps, this is useful to know – more data on how, where, when, etc, people are ENGAGING with your app. 
  • Deadline Approaching For Facebook Studio Awards: If you’ve done anything to make the world a better place using Facebook in the past year, then y…ahaha, who are we kidding? If, on the other hand, you’ve made something shiny and exciting which has got a lot of other industry people frothing at the mouth with glee, you may want to nominate your work for a Facebook Studio Award – deadline for entries is next Friday, so get to it. 
  • Google Makes Changes To Guestblogging / SEO Stuff: So this is searchgeeky but worth knowing – Google announced this week that it was going to start penalising websites which consist solely of low-quality ‘guestblogging’ posts; obviously this doesn’t mean that having guest blogs per se is bad, just that it needs to be decent copy. Frankly if this announcement screws you in any way you were probably doing something a little shady already, so I’ve minimal sympathy. 
  • Google Adds ‘Extra Info’ To Search: Google’s going to start offering expandable ‘more info’ bits in its search results, apparently, meaning you can click on a link to get a little expandable dropdown of additional details on any site before clicking through. It’s not 100% clear where this info is going to come from – the example on the Mashable (sorry) piece suggests Wikipedia, but I doubt this will be the sole source. Anyway, worth knowing from a reputation management / PR point of view. 
  • Twitter To Launch TV Ratings Info In Europe (But Not UK) (Yet): This already exists in the US courtesy of Twitter’s partnership with Nielsen; this is the European equivalent, launching in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany and giving TV networks (and advertisers, obviously) a whole load of extra data on people’s Twitter usage during and around specific TV shows (themes, reach, INFLUENCERS, etc etc etc). The ad potential for this is obviously huge; I imagine it will come to the UK before the end of the year. 
  • Analytics Now Available For Twitter Cards: Remember Twitter Cards, the things which let you do all sorts of ‘exciting’ things within tweets like email signups, ‘watch later’ buttons, RICH MEDIA EXPERIENCES, etc? Well you can now get SUPER IN-DEPTH analytics for them. Useful / interesting, and even more of a rationale to explore the possibilities afforded by cards – details here, in case you need reminding.
  • Vine’s 1st Birthday: Who can remember what the world was like a whole 13 months ago, before we were granted the almost infinite power of being able to make 6-second looping videoclips with our mobile devices? NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO! Anyway, in celebration of their service’s 1st birthday, Vine (aka Twitter) has released this rather nice collection of some of the highlights from the service. 
  • A Guide To Analysing LinkedIn Ads’ Performance: In case you might need / want such a thing, here it is. 
  • Pinterest Testing Ability To Pin Gifs: Not really much more to add to this, to be honest. Sorry. 
  • Pinterest Also Testing Personalised Homepages: This is a bit more interesting; Pinterest is looking into giving users a personalised Home/Landing page based on stuff they have previously pinned, accounts they have followed, etc etc etc. What does this mean? That’s right, kids, more exciting opportunities for ADVERTISING! Watch this space, and be sure to recommend that your clients set aside another £300,000 or so NOW to fire their promoted pictures of pugs wearing their clothing into the eyes of impressionable consumers of visual content. 
  • Brands Using Jelly: Biz Stone must be delighted that, just two short weeks from his new Q&A service Jelly launching, brands have already swarmed onto it to fill it with such ENGAGING and RELEVANT questions as ‘Do you like KitKat?’ or ‘How Do You Eat Yours?’. Truly, we live in a blessed age. 
  • Brand On Snapchat: This is purportedly a site to help people find popular accounts on Snapchat. It’s not great for that, but it does link to quite a few branded accounts which is quite interesting / useful from a ‘look, let’s see what other people are doing and try and derive some sort of half-hearted inspiration from it’ point of view. 
  • Oh, And There’s A Snapchat Variant For Desktop Macs Too If You Need One: Just in case, you know. 
  • Arsenal Reach 1/2 Million Followers On Soundcloud: Just a little aside here – audio is QUITE POPULAR, you know, despite the fact that no one ever seems to consider it as part of the CONTENT MIX (perhaps because it doesn’t go viral). Anyway, maybe worth thinking of next time you’re wanging on about this stuff. 
  • Brand As Patron pt 3029387 – The Dove Edition: First it was Grolsch teaming with Harmony Korine and VICE (did anyone actually see the film that resulted?) a few years back, now we have Dove, bringing its ‘real beauty’ schtick to Sundance courtesy of a film all about ’empowering the selfie’ (Jesus) directed by an Oscar-nominee. Leaving aside the slightly queasy nature of the premise, it’s quite a neat concept which ties into Dove’s BRAND IDENTITY and stuff – they have spent a LOT of money on this, though.
  • Macklemore, On A Bus, For The Grammys: It’s the Grammys on Sunday, apparently – as part of the buildup for it, the ceremony released a video of Mackelmore performing on a bus. That in and of itself is cute, but not revolutionary; what’s interesting about this piece is the fact that it was all filmed on cameraphones and hidden GoPros, which meant that (leaving aside what you’d have to pay for any talent), this sort of thing is actually really quite cheap to do. 
  • VISA Annual Report: Obviously VISA Europe’s Annual Report is a work of skull-crushing tediousness to the average punter, but I’m noting it here simply as the manner in which its been presented online is actually quite nice; clean, fresh, and slightly less painful to look at than your more traditional 157-page PDF. It really is dull, though (sorry). 
  • All The Old Spice Prank Websites: Another year, another concerted bid for Lions glory by W&K, presuming it’s still them, on the Old Spice account. This year they’ve gone for a selection of spoof websites promoting hideous, tasteless products – all of which when visited eventually morph into a video of the now familiar bare-chested Isiah Mustapha berating users for their lack of taste and distinction (this lack of taste and distinction can, of course, be rectified through judicious use of P&G’s stinkgel). As ever, these are really nicely made and the writing’s actually very good throughout. Although I am sure that they have lifted the one with him on rollerskates from Shadrack and Abendigo
  • Newcastle Brown Spoof Admania: Last week I railed against the obsession with Superbowl ads, and the weirdness of people watching trailers for adverts. The people at Newcastle Brown Ale OBVIOUSLY read Web Curios (they don’t), as they’ve made this the centrepiece of this rather nice piece of work for the US market. Amazing that ‘bollocks’ really doesn’t seem to be a profanity in the US. 
  • Denham Jeans ‘Does’ American Psycho: In case you’ve not seen this already, this is very, very good indeed – great ‘content’, guys! Although I do worry that it makes its target audience out to be complete cnuts. Well, ‘worry’ is a bit strong, but you know what I mean. 
  • Canal+ Offers An Interactive Greeting Card for 2014: STROKE THE PONY! This actually rather nice, although eerily reminiscent of the mental Shakira perfume website from last year. 
  • Good Campaigns Of 2013: A good Slideshare, this, pulled together by Gregory Pouy and containing some decent and not overexposed examples.
  • 70% Of Marketing / Marketers Fail To Drive Sales: You have to laugh, don’t you? Don’t you? Stop looking like that. It will be fine, honest. 
  • Imperica New Horizons Event – Lineup Now Confirmed: It’s looking very good indeed. Get your tickets at that link there, and don’t spare the horses. 
By Mary Pratt
 


WOULD YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO A MIX BY GERMAN SUPERSTAR PRODUCER DJ KOZE? OH GOOD

A COLLECTION OF OTHER THINGS WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY ACT AS SOME SORT OF PALATE-CLEANSING ANTIDOTE TO THE BRAND-ISH-TYPE STUFF UP THERE AND WHICH, I PROMISE, CONTAINS AT LEAST THREE REALLY, REALLY GOOD LINKS THIS WEEK, HONEST, Pt. 1:

  • Clever API-Scraper For Any Website: This is potentially very useful indeed if you’re a developer; called ‘Kimono’, this apparently ‘lets you turn websites into structured APIs from your browser in seconds’. To the 9 of you for whom that is any use, you’re welcome. 
  • The Huffington Post Launches WorldPost: Just FYI, really – the Huffington Post this week announced its foray into what they hope will be a truly global journalistic offering (at Davos, no less). We’ll see how this goes – lots of grandiose rhetoric from Arianna in the announcement, but time will tell…
  • Everyone Attending Davos This Year: Well, the delegates at any rate – it doesn’t mention all the assembled flaks, flunkies and other parasites rooting around the tables and waiting for the metaphorical crumbs to fall (bitter at not attending? Me?) – but this is still interesting not only for the way in which it presents the information (which is rather lovely) but also when you start to drill down into the demographics of attendees. WHAT GLASS CEILING?
  • A Drone You Can Fit In Your Pocket: How do you feel about the idea of a future in which people can carry tiny flying robots in their pocket, which they can unleash at any time to fly around recording stuff? Well it doesn’t matter, because they’re coming anyway and there’s probably nothing at all that you can do about it other than hope that this Kickstarter doesn’t meet it’s fu…oh, no, too late, it’s coming. On one level this is all sorts of ‘ooh!’ and ‘wow!’ and ‘so future!’ (sorry for the dogespeak), and on several others it’s a bit scary. Let’s not think about that, though. 
  • The Ticking, Knitting Clock: This, though, isn’t creepy at all; quite the reverse. Designed by Siren Elise Wilhelmson, a Norwegian designer, this is a clock which, as time passes, automatically knits. It doesn’t admittedly, knit anything other than a  massive tube, but I don’t think this detracts from the loveliness of it. Anyway, hipsters, this could be this season’s onesie. Get on it. 
  • BBC Launches ‘iWonder’: This is the BBC’s proprietary template for creating multimedia articles on-site, a la Snowfall (The NYT’s now-legendary multimedia page which sort of kicked off the increasingly ubiquitous longform multimedia parallax HTML-style presentation of journalism). Anyway, they’ve obviously created a back-end for journalists to use which relatively easily creates these sorts of things – expect to see other publishers following suit. Anyone who can create a white label-able one of these for brands and others will do quite well, I think. 
  • Typeface Glasses: Designers will, I think, like these. Spectacles designed to mimic core elements of Garamond and Helvetica; rather wanky, but I can imagine that there are quite a few people out there who would secretly (or openly; who am I to judge?) like a pair. Wait for the inevitable ‘comic sans glasses’ comedy variant. 
  • Gorgeous Cut-out Book-type Paper Art Things: An early contender for clunkiest descriptor of the week, these are, in my defence, quite hard to describe. Japanese artist Yusuke Oono makes these gorgeous works which are a cross between books and papercraft dioramas, telling stories through intricately cut-out paperscapes. Click on the link and marvel at the beauty; if I had kids, this is exactly the sort of thing I would buy them and which they would absolutely fail to appreciate, the jam-fingered little ingrates (it’s such a good thing I don’t have kids). 
  • A World Map Displaying Viral Outbreaks Which Could Have Been Prevented Through Vaccination: This takes us from 2008 to the present. Aside from the fact that this is another example of BIG DATA being mapped quite well (I know, I know, so 2013), this is just here so we can all look at Big Pharma and applaud their neverending altruism (and for Big Pharma to summarily ignore our disapproval and carry on making unconscionably large sums of money each minute). 
  • Tennis (The Band) Have A Nice Website: I have no idea whether this has been this way for ages, and I don’t really care. I found it this week and I like it, so it’s going in. Tennis, featured in the videos section of Web Curios passim, have a rather nice conceit on their webpage which is done out to look like Windows 95. Cute, and actually still pretty good functionally. 
  • Metagaming In GTA V: Now that all the fuss has died down around GTA V (a game which, on reflection, I didn’t actually enjoy playing anywhere near as much as I feel I ought to have done – I blame the horrendous protagonists and the on-reflection sub-par radio stations, but maybe I’m just not the target audience any more) and the online component is sort of working OK, we’re starting to see some interesting stuff emerging – not least this trend, identified via this sub-thread on Reddit, of people playing the online game as journalists, simply running around documenting the madness through screenshots and photos. What’s particularly interesting is the meta-game developing within it, with people role-playing being hacks down to driving around in particular vans, etc. Expect to see this stuff, or something VERY close to it, at at least one art fair in 2014. MARK MY WORDS (unless I’m wrong). Although someone mentioned online that this has actually been going on for a little while, so what do I know?
  • 8-bit Music Cover Version Motherlode: You want a whole YouTube channel dedicated to cover versions (vocal and instrumental) of some of your favourite music in chiptune style? OH GOOD. 
  • The Tate Wants Your GIFS: Following from the Rijksmuseum the other week, now it’s the turn of the Tate to get people messing with its archives. On this occasion, the venerable institution is asking that people make gifs of some of its catalogue works and submit them to their website. These will then be screened, along with some commissioned works by ACTUAL ARTISTS (not that you’re not actual artists, but, you know), at a LATES event on 7th Feb. I like this idea, and I hope you do too – they’re taking submissions for another 10 days, so have at it. 
  • Glass And Sex: We’re now on wave 2 of the sexyapps for Google’s imminent facecomputer, but their not getting any less creepy. This one’s from the UK, though, so GO TECH CITY. The website really does seem rather parodyish (to stop the app from working, the vocal instruction is apparently ‘Ok Glass, pull out’ – REALLY?!?) but is apparently all real; it allows partners to stream the glass-view of their coitus, see each other’s perspective on the whole event, etc. Leaving aside the peculiar sort of narcissism that would compel someone to have their partner’s view of sex whilst having sex (“sweetheart, how would you like to get off this time?”; “Well darling, what I’d really like to do is for you to wear these glasses so that I can look at what I look like when we have sex while we’re having sex”; HMMMM), this is very clearly just a promopuffsite for something which will probably never be made. Something like it will, though, so don’t stop feeling a little bit grossed out by the whole thing. 
  • Wellcome Images: Have I mentioned on here how much I love the Wellcome Collection? I love the Wellcome Collection. They have SO MUCH interesting stuff there – it’s worth a trip for the shrunken heads, antique false limbs and slightly peculiar 18th-century Japanese sex toys alone. Anyway, as is now increasingly the norm for museums and archives, the Wellcome have put 10,000 images of their collection online; have a browse, there’s some awesomely odd stuff in there. 
  • Translate Upworthy Headlines With This Plugin: Downworthy takes clickbaity headlines (“Think you know about cheese? You won’t know what to think after you’ve listen to this fish sing the blues”. Hang on, that one doesn’t seem quite right) and de-clickbaitifies them. More novelty than anything else, but there’s definitely an idea in here somewhere for some decent satire (mabe). 
  • Cross-Platform Music Search: Quite a useful little toy which simultaneously searches for songs across YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and others. 
  • Odd-flavour Doritos From Japan:Japan is a country which quite evidently doesn’t have the same anti-MSG prejudices as we do. This is a collection of frankly mental flavours which Doritos have released in Japan over the years. Caramel? Sweet Christ. 
  • Strange Image Manipulation Toy Thing: I’m going to quote the blurb here: “Utilizing the infinite resources from the internet as a medium and WebGL as the canvas, Club Rothko Builder gives users the chance to build, experiment and share online digital sculptures”.  So there. You can actually produce some rather interesting images with this, although playing around with your webcam with it at 7am does, as I discovered this morning, lead to quite a lot of soul-searching about quite how bad you look when you first wake up. 
  • App Signals Death Of Romance: Those of you who have ever been in a relationship will know that receiving messages from your partner at odd times of the day saying they are thinking of you is rather nice (except a) when those messages come at 5am when they are obviously jacked off their tits on drugs; b) when you’re with the person with whom you’re having an affair; or c) when you’ve got to that point in the relationship where the mere thought of your significant other makes you physically shake with revulsion). Now take that idea, and imagine that rather than coming from your partner, these messages are automated by an iPhone app. How does that make you feel. Yes, well, quite. 
  • Google Image Colouring Book: Simple but rather nice little site which searches Google for line-drawings and then presents them as things to be coloured-in. As with almost everything these days, there’s an MS-Paint-style art project waiting to be made of this (I am ashamed to say that one of the first thing I checked is whether it defaults to Google safe search – it does). 
  • Pictures of Britain From Above: Feauturing images captured between 1919 and 1953 and held in the Aerofilms collection, a repository of aerial photography which contains pictures up until 2006 (apparently – I suppose Google sort of superseded it from that point onwards). Anyway, this is brilliant as a look at what the UK looked like during and immediately post 2 World Wars – as with the National Archives War Diaries project from the other week, this also invites people to identify certain areas / details to assist with the classification and mapping of the pictures. So much good stuff in here. 
  • Shazam For Samples, Basically: Samplify (hideous name) is a clever mobile app which will listen to whatever song’s playing on your mobile at any given time and, apparently, identify the individual songs which it’s sampling. Good for DJs, musos and copyright lawyers, I would imagine. 
  • Teju Cole’s RT Narrative: Teju Cole is one of those people on Twitter who tells very short stories very well indeed. You should follow him. The link back there is to a piece about a little storytelling game he played the other day, building a story fragment by fragment from RTs of other, unconnected, users’ tweets. Does that make sense? Sorry if not, the article explains it better I promise. Anyway, trhe first brand to copy this / rip this off in some way is officially hideous and an enemy of all that is beautiful and pure.
  • Arctic Snow Trees: Trees in very cold weather look AMAZING. 
  • Drake Weather: Ever wanted to know / see what the weather’s like where you are via the medium of an oil-painting of musician Drake’s head, in profile, with a backdrop showing the meteorological conditions currently prevailing around your computer or mobile device? OH GOOD. 
  • The Chandelier Of Lost Earrings: I love love love this. An art installation currently on display in St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, this takes hundreds of single earrings, donated by women who’d lost one of the pairs, and crafts them into a rather beautiful chandelier. Each earrings of the earrings is attached to a small tag, telling a tiny story about who and where it’s from. SO MANY FEELS. 
  • Design The Perfect Logo: Despite regularly wanging on about design and related things on here, the amount I actually know about the practice can be written on the back of a very small envelope., As such, I have no idea whether this set of instructions for creating a perfect logo is bollocks or not; it..er…looks quite nice, though.
  • WTF Is My Wearable Strategy: This is a whole week old now, so I imagine you’ve all seen it; if not, though, some zeitgeisty 2014 agencyLOLs for you, right here. 
  • Beautiful Fcucking Sh1t: If you’re a designer (see ignorance caveat above) who wants a repository of slightly trippy graphics, or if you’re a psytrance head who had their heyday in 1996, this website will be right up your street. Oh, the same applies if you still make club fliers and want a whole host of psychedelic backdrops. 
  • Your Name On A Spaceship: NASA is, apparently, sending a spaceship on a round-trip to visit the asteroid Bennu (a great name for an asteroid – say it aloud, go on; does’t it sound pleasingly Tellytubby-ish?) – if you want, you too can have your name etched onto the outside of said spaceship. Web Curios bears no responsibility for what may happen should alien life forms intercept the craft and decide that the names on it are the list of ‘chosen ones’ earmarked for abduction. 
  • Twitter ‘Flashmobs’: This is silly and childish but did make me laugh quite a lot. The idea is that someone with rather a lot of Twitter followers takes a mundane tweet from a total stranger, tweets it to their followers and encourages them all to RT / favourite it, to the utter bafflement and confusion of the initial person. Obviously this is only funny if people are NICE, which given that this is THE INTERNET (sorry, Evgeny) is pretty unlikely. Still, the concept amused me and I’m pretty sure that there are twists on this for brands should they want to employ them.
  • Nice-looking Beta Recipe Site: This is called Counter Chef, and whilst it’s not yet live you can see enough of how it looks / works to get a feel; it uses a rather nice visual representation of ingredients, etc, which I think make recipes a lot easier to scan; imagine this will be very good for in-kitchen tablet use. Clever UI. 
  • TINY BATMAN ACROSS THE WORLD: Look at his little ears. LOOK AT THEM.
Not sure who this is by, but found it here
 


A COLLECTION OF OTHER THINGS WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY ACT AS SOME SORT OF PALATE-CLEANSING ANTIDOTE TO THE BRAND-ISH-TYPE STUFF UP THERE AND WHICH, I PROMISE, CONTAINS AT LEAST THREE REALLY, REALLY GOOD LINKS THIS WEEK, HONEST, Pt. 2:

  • A Selection Of Images From Kiev: It’s not been a great week in the Ukraine; this Livejournal page has collected some pretty amazing photos of the civil unrest that’s been seen there this week. Obviously I can’t read Russian so I have no idea what the accompanying text says; apologies if it’s anything dreadful. Here are some other excellent pics from The Atlantic, while we’re about it
  • Buster Keaton Was Amazing: He did all of these stunts himself. All of them. Tom Cruise can do one, frankly.
  • Marijuana-based Fine Dining: You know what, I personally can’t think of anything worse than getting stoned out of my gourd with a bunch of strangers as I’m confronted with a selection of elaborate marijuana-based dishes; the intense couchlock I can imagine kicking in around the third course, and the subsequent conversational ‘issues’ that might entail’ make the whole exercise sound like an exercise in horror. Nonetheless, this website for an LA-based stoner dining experience offers exactly that – come on London, don’t let illegality stand in your way.
  • Yeezianity: Were this website dedicated to anyone else I would suggest it’s a not particularly funny gag; the fact that it purports to be about Kanye West’s status as a godhead, though, there’s every possibility that West’s actually behind it himself in some small way (seriously, read the interview with him down there. The man’s self-confidence is INCREDIBLE). 
  • Diabetes Deutschland Has The Website Of The Week: Diabetes is obviously a serious issue, but this website makes me laugh SO MUCH. The video which loops on the homepage is amazing – check out the woman on the left, getting increasingly perplexed as to exactly why she’s holding a couple of apples. 
  • The Selfie Police: Quite a nice idea, encouraging people to donate money to charity to atone for their narcissism, and encouraging their friends to do the same. There’s a charity spin on this for Comic Relief or similar waiting to be exploited, although obviously I haven’t bothered to think through the mechanics as frankly that’s your job. 
  • NYC Audio As Sculpture: Tying with the earring chandelier for the title of ‘best artthing I found this week’, this project by Erica Sellers takes sound files from New York locations, turns them into 3d wave models, and then grinds those 3d wave models into wood which has been reclaimed from the same area as the audiofiles were recorded to make sonically-influenced sculptures. Aside from the clever-clever HIGH CONCEPT, they look lovely too. 
  • Abandoned Italian Discos Of The 80s/90s: This brings back memories of me being on Summer holidays in Italy in the mid-90s and being just too young to really feel comfortable in these sorts of places. It also brings back memories of seeing Italian men dancing AT THEMSELVES in the mirror of a club in Perugia a few years later. 
  • The GIF-y Awards: There’s an awards ceremony for GIFS, it turns out. Inevitably it’s an ad agency side-project, but it’s actually a cute idea although if I’d pulled my finger out 12 months ago this would have existed then instead (but I didn’t, obviously). 
  • Impressive Art On Coffee Cups: This man draws some rather incredible things on standard coffee cups. Costa / Starbucks / Nero / AN Other coffee chain – this one’s just waiting for you to jump all over it and shower the man with the monies. 
  • Nursing Home Residents As Film Stars: I’m not 100% sure why these exist – they’re from Germany, but I don’t know whether it’s a promo for anything or simply a lovely initiative from a senior residential home – but these pictures showing senior citizens dressed as film stars are lovely. Also a lovely alternative to Bill Hicks’ ‘Let your grandma meet Chuck Norris‘ bit. 
  • NYC Really Was Scary In The 80s: There was an article the other week about how there’s a lot of false nostalgia about for THE GOOD OLD DAYS on New York, when it was all edgy and real. These photos rather fantastically point out that it was also very, very scary-looking indeed. Would you go on that subway after dark? You’re braver than I am (admittedly not a huge accolade, but still). 
  • Fashion For Pregnant People: Not something that I’m personally interested in, but this is a very nicely done website indeed. The homepage in particular is excellent – the video really works well. 
  • The Surreal World Of The Sims: Personally I think that this is one of the best things in here this week. The Sims, as I’m sure you all know, is the long-running videogame in which players can create their own miniature people living in their miniature houses with miniature furniture and miniature relationships while you play GOD above them. This is a list of some of the more bizarre software patches which have been released for the game in the past few years; they make the BEST starting point for surreal stories / images I have seen in ages. If you’re not amused / inspired by gems such as ‘The Murphy Bed Has Been Made Less Lethal’ then we probably can’t be friends. 
  • Get Your Hallowe’en Mask In Early: Animal masks. Really, really creepy animal masks.
  • Instagram Experiments: A collection of cute / clever drawings which integrate real-world objects, photographed and collected. Again, crap description – click the link, it’s actually really quite good.
  • An Incredible Collection Of Light Painting Photos: Long-exposure photography of light stuff isn’t really very cool, is it? It always feels a little bit like the photo equivalent of white people with dreads, waving poi. Still, ‘cool’ is something with which Web Curios (or at least its author) has no truck whatsoever, and as such I have no shame in presenting this AWESOME collection; some great stuff and really interesting techniques here, I think. 
  • The Machine To Be Another: A really interesting project, using the now-ubiquitous Oculus Rift in order to play with ideas of self-perception and gender. Effectively it uses cameras and the Rift device to present a different first person view to an individual, which presents a different body to their own whilst still ostensibly mimicking their movements, etc. Oh dear God, that was nonsensical – sorry, early start this morning. Just look. 
  • The Bum Alphabet: This is more my speed. An app for tablets / phones which attempts to teach kids the alphabet via the medium of a font made up of…er…bums. I imagine small children would find this HILARIOUS (and some adults too, to be honest).
  • Behind The Scenes Pictures From Ghostbusters: You know the drill by now. These are pretty good, though, particularly the ones of the Slimer model (they called it Onionhead? Really?).
  • Personalised Carved Ice Lollies: Very clever – using facescanning and a carving drillbit, this project aims to create a portable machine which will carve bespoke icelollies into whatever shape is placed in front of it. Coming to a marketing campaign near you later this year, no doubt. 
  • Rub Lutter Cycles The World: Rob Lutter’s an OCD man who’s cycling around the world to raise money for charity. It’s an interesting project, and the website which accompanies it is really rather nicely put together; well-designed, clear, and with lots of decent pictures, info, etc. 
  • 5TFU: Quite an interesting idea, this one. Sort of like Chatroulette for audio, this site allows anyone to upload an audiofile anonymously; visitors to the site get streamed a file at random, which they can either listen to or downvote in favour of moving on to the next one. All the files are available to download, too, which is obviously legally quite tricky, but a nice touch. I’ve had it on for the past 20 minutes, and there’s some really, really interesting stuff on there, and quite a lot which sounds like washing machines having angry sex. I like it (the website, not the sound of washing machines having angry sex). 
  • Edgar – The Story Builder: Another week, another website which purports to let users create multi,edia narratives in an easy, attractive fashion. This one’s called Edgar, for some reason – it actually looks very nice, and the interface is pretty decent. It’s not quite the ‘make your own snowfall in 3 minutes!’ magical doohickey I allude to above, though. 
  • Best / Worst Headline Of The Year So Far: Frankly it’s hard to tell how it could be bettered. 
  • Wages For Facebook: A manifesto, really, demanding that people start claiming remuneration for the data which they have given up to companies like FB. Obviously that’s not ACTUALLY what it’s asking for – it’s about how we consider value in the context of information, and how we consider labour in a digital age, and all sorts of other things. The unskippable autoscroll irritates me no end, but the prose is actually very interesting whether or not you agree with its central premise.
  • A Very Strange Hollwood Photoshoot: Jeremy Cowart is a photographer in the US who photographs famouses. He did a shoot recently for some TV show or another in which he felt a strange ‘connection’ with one of said famouses. I’m just going to leave this here – I have my own thoughts about this, but, y’know, who am I to judge. I just find it all VERY WEIRD as a way of reacting to some pretty bad news. 
  • Stork Fountain: Finally this week, a poem. It’s from 2013, but I only saw it this week and anyway, it’s very good indeed. All about online activism and activity and inactivity and clickbait and news and information DOING THINGS and and and. Read it. 
By Louis Draper
 


THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS! (IT’S JUST AS FCUKED AS FACEBOOK, APPARENTLY):

  • Animals Sitting On Capybaras: We must surely be fast approaching a point where we’re going to need another addition to the Laws of the Internet which states ‘if it can be conceived of and articulated in writing, there will be a Tumblr of it’. 
  • 80s Art: Photos of fine art, often in-situ, in the 1980s. Some quite remarkable stuff in here. 
  • 70s Sci Fi Art: Erm, scifi art, from the 70s. These descriptors are sort of redundant really, aren’t they? People who make mood boards and STUFF might find this useful. 
  • The Videogame Art Archive: A collection of art from videogames – not concept art, but depictions of art. Interesting and , as  per the GTA thing above, I would be AMAZED if this stuff isn’t actually *ahem* ‘reapppropriated’ by the fine art establishment this year.
  • Critical Hand Gestures: See how many you can use at work this afternoon.
  • Tate Collectives: Seeing as we mentioned Tategifs above, here’s a whole Tumblr of them (and other things too). Some really nice things on here. 
  • Deep Dark Fears: Cartoon depictions of people’s deepest, darkest fears. You can even submit your own, if you like. This is simultaneously sort of cute and funny and really, really distressing in a low-key sort of fashion. 
  • The Association Sketchbook: An interesting little project, using word-association through prose, poetry, images and video. Will be interesting to see what results over time, but I like the concept. 
  • Then & Now Photos: If these are yet to be in the Mail, it can’t be long. Two English brothers recreate their childhood photographs, to comedic and occasionally slightly creepy effect.
  • Truthgraphs: Graphs which…er…tell the truth. Sort of. 
  • Datasonfication: Here we go – turning data into sound is officially a THING – it has its own Tumblr and name and everything. Anyway, this collects examples of audiomanipulation of datasets; I was wondering the other day to what extent audio could be used as an predictor of things / alerts system, from a datamonitoring sort of way. Then I started boring myself, so I stopped. 
  • The Invisible Men: Finishing on a less than cheery note here, but this is a sobering and rather excellent / sad project. The Invisible Men collects critical reviews written by men who use prostitutes, and presents them as a series of texts pasted onto blank female masks, each with a pricetag showing how much each man paid for the right to complain about his experience. Not going to lie, this is very grubby indeed. 

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG AND REALLY, THIS WEEK ESPECIALLY, ARE QUITE EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD AS WELL AS BEING SORT OF INSTRUCTIVE IF YOU’LL EXCUSE MY IRRITATING DIDACTICISM FOR A SECOND:

  • Stoya On Sex: Hopefully acting as a slight antidote to the last Tumblr, this is a great piece of writing in the New Statesman of all places by pr0nstar Stoya, who’s moderately famous in the non-bongo world for being a prolific writer and commentator on all sorts of things. Anyway, this is her guide to sex for young people, which I would modestly suggest should be required reading for anyone 12 and above. 
  • Bill Murray AMA: Another week, another famous getting intimate with Reddit. This time it’s the turn of internet favourite Bill Murray, who gives a wonderfully candid series of answers; dear God, wouldn’t it be nice if all famouses were able to be this honest and unguarded about stuff, eh?
  • The Death Of The Expert: A great piece on the troubling rise of the dilettante in almost every field, and how it’s increasingly seen as somehow rude and patronising to claim a superior or more valid perspective on any issue based on expertise or increased knowledge of said issue (it’s not rude; it’s just true). A great piece, with a slightly depressing overall tone which suggests that we’ve crossed the Rubicon on this one.
  • Some TED Talks Are Just Wrong: It’ll be interesting to see whether the mainstream TED backlash gathers any real weight or not; nevertheless, this piece on The Awl neatly skewers one of the reasons why people are often uncomfortable with the format and premise; that is, the presentation of what are at best theories and at worst factoids as fact, in an environment which offers no opportunity to challenge and presents the speaker’s thesis as gospel. Obviously this only looks at a few examples – not all TED talks are like this, obviously – but it’s worth bearing in mind the next time you hear Gladwell or someone else wanging on about something INCREDIBLE and REVELATORY. 
  • McQueen Vs Kanye: I do wonder what Steve McQueen, who lest we forget was a visual artist before he was a Hollywood filmmaker, thought of Kanye’s assertion that he was from a tradition of visual artists himself, but that noone had ever been smart enough to see it. Anyway, as ever West gives GREAT hubris here; whatever you may think of the man, personally or in terms of output, he’s very entertaining indeed. I wouldn’t really like to be stuck in a room with him, though, which feeling I am sure would be mutual were he to have any inkling who the everliving fcuk I am.
  • The Best Music Journalism Of 2013: The last ‘Best Of 2013’ thing I will post here, honest, but there’s some really good writing linked to from this Red Bull Academy post. 
  • Why Friends Ruined Everything: VICE doing what it does best here, skewering popular culture in slightly self-conscious and affectionate fashion. Thing is, and this is why Buzzfeed is less good than VICE, they could have done this too but it would have been ‘7 Reasons Why Friends Killed The 90s’ or something, and it would have been dreadful. In fact, maybe they’ve aready done it and VICE have just ripped it off, which sort of invalidates my thesis. Oh. Whoops. 
  • Virtual Girlfriends And Slightly Sad Men: Wow, well this is quite bleak too. All about the increasing number of men in the Far East (although let’s be honest, it’s still a VERY small number overall) who are becoming more comfortable having relationships with virtual girlfriends than with the real thing. Although having recently witnessed a friend trawling through OK Cupid, I can almost begin to see their point. 
  • Hacking OK Cupid: Speaking of that…one VERY geeky man applied algorithms to his search for love. Inspiring and a bit saddening in equal measure.
  • An Oral History Of ‘Swingers’: Before Jon Favreau made millions directing the Iron Man films, and before Vince Vaughan decided to become th go-to guy for every mediocre romantic comedy made from 2006 onwards (or so it feels), there was Swingers. If you watched this when you were in your teens / early 20s, you probably wanted to be a bit like the characters in it (watching it now, you’re really glad you’re not). This is a really interesting piece, with the principals all talking about how it got made – interestingly, whilst there’s obviously LOADS of hard work and stuff in here, there’s also a healthy slice of familial money – note the passing references to ‘my dad got me a Hollywood scriptwriting course as a gift’, and ‘$200,000 from my father’s business associate’. Every little helps. 
  • What It’s Like Being A Drug Dealer: Clue: a massive logistical nightmare, and really not very much fun at all, it turns out. BONUS: a similar but different piece on what it’s like selling through the Silk Road, which frankly sounds LOADS easier
  • Indian Sex Tourism In Uzbekhistan: This is REALLY long, but very interesting indeed – not least as it shows sides to Indian culture that I personally haven’t read about before, and also tells you quite a lot about Uzbekhistan (it doesn’t sound fantastic, to be honest). 
  • The Poignancy of Sad YouTube: Long-term readers may remember Sad Youtube from the Tumblrs section a few months back; anyway, this is Buzzfeed’s in-depth look at the site and the commentors whose poignant memories sparked the whole thing. You want to get poncey, you call it Proustian; you don’t want to, then it’s just a really interesting read. Your call. 
  • Obama’s Second Term: Again very long, but SCH good political writing / profiling. Maybe I don’t read as much as I ought, but I struggle to think of profiling like this on UK leaders whilst they’re still in situ, although maybe that’s just because noone cares quite as much. In any case, this is a great look at Obama as he enters the final 2.5 years of his leadership; a very good close-up look at a man doing what I can only imagine is the worst job in the world (slight hyperbole, but only slight). 
  • On Not Knowing Anything About Bob Dylan: Esquire, on the absolute inscrutable unknowability of Mr Dylan. Fans will lap this up; others will be slightly perplexed about how it’s possible to write this much about very, very little indeed. 
  • The Evolution of Tarzan’s Roar: This is silly and fun and very OLD HOLLYWOOD, and also autplays the roar when you click the link. Go on, go to the toilets and practice it NOW.
By Korneel Detailleur
 


FINALLY, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!


1) To start with this week, we have a teaser short which is sort of advertising a full-length film which I think is being made RIGHT NOW. This is called First Wave, and is a very clever take on the by-now played out zombie apocalypse mythos. Have a watch – interesting that this perspective doesn’t quite seem to have been explored before. Impressive:
 

2) It’s that time of year again when advertisers prepare to duke it out for the biggest prize in the American calendar, and to which a sporting event is a small, welcome distraction. On the offchance that you don’t ‘get’ American Football, this is a BRILLIANT animation explaining to you. The art style is awesome, as is the tone – very much enjoyed this:


3) You may have seen this already as it’s done a couple of million by now, but it’s so, so cleverly done. It’s by a French band / artist called Boggie and it’s called ‘Nouveau Parfum’, and it’s probably about self-image and stuff (erm, my french isn’t quite up to snuff to tell). Anyway, check out the below with its jaw-dropping ‘real-time photoshop’ effect (NB – two videos, one with makeup, one without; the rest is after-effects. My pleasure):

4) Damon Albarn’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I appreciate, but I really, really like this video for his latest single ‘Everyday Robots’, in which you see his head being sculpted from the ground up in 3d. Aside from anything else, it gives you a real sense of quite how HARD 3d modelling must be:

5) It’s quite hard not to love a band who call themselves Marijuana Deathsquads. It’s also quite hard not to love the video for this song, the rather trippy and underwater-sounding ‘Ewok Sadness’ with its titular sad Ewok. POOR THE SAD EWOK:

6) Sorry – this is 7 months old, but I only found it this week and it has cheered me no end over the course of 7 days in which the weather’s just started to feel a bit burdensome and oppressive. This is ‘Riptide’ by Vance Joy, and it’s PURE SUMMER HAPPINESS:


7) Starlings, when they congregate, are said to form ‘murmerations’. Isn’t that beautiful? Oh, please yourselves. Anyway, this is an excellent video taking the movement of birds in the evening sky and creating a beautiful semi-geometric tracer landscape out of them. Gets good around 6 mins, but it’s very relaxing indeed to sit through the whole thing:

8) Would you like to see a piece of video which looks like a whole host of slightly distressing Francis Bacon portraits come to life? HERE YOU ARE THEN:

9) FULL DISCLOSURE – this song bores me to tears. I just don’t really ‘get’ this sort of thing. Nonetheless, the video’s a wonderful riot of pastel colours and flowers being destroyed all over the place. It’s by someone who calls themselves Karanyi, featuring someone else called ‘Big John Whitfield, the song’s called ‘Celebrate Life’, and I really couldn’t have sounded any more sniffy in this description if I tried. Sorry, Big John:

10) Finally, this. We have featured Rubberbandits on here multiple times before (remember ‘Horse Outside‘? Remember ‘Spastic Hawk‘?) – this is their latest, it is called Dad’s Best Friend and it is HORRIBLE and I love it. HAPPY FRIDAY (or whenever you’re reading this):

That’s it for now

 

That’s it for now – see you next week
 
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Webcurios 17/01/14

Reading Time: 26 minutes

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Shy mannequins
Westgate Centre, Oxford

Has it got better yet? Do you feel a little more grounded, a little less lost, and generally more in control of the careening juggernaut that is your life in this latest and oh-so-modern of years? No? Oh, sorry about that. I wish I could offer some sort of solace or succour, but there’s none to be had – all that we seem to be getting is more and more and more and more and more STUFF, being flung at us from every angle and with which we’re meant to somehow construct some sort of narrative around this mess. 

If you’d like some sort of guidance, though, you’ve come to the right place. Before we embark upon this week’s MASSIVE selection of webdroppings, though, here’s a small reminder of the fact that there’s going to be a REAL LIFE smorgasbord of interesting web-type stuff happening in London in March in the shape of Imperica’s New Horizons event, which will be fascinating and insightful and cool and, I can exclusively guarantee, will exhibit absolutely NONE of the somewhat tortured prose stylings which regular readers of this crap have had to endure for the past few years. You can find out more and get tickets here – go on, do it

Anyway, time’s a-wasting and I have a Burns Night ode to write; hand over your obols and get in the boat, kids (don’t look into the water, you might not like what you see), as I skillfully engineer your passage from the world of the living to the world of the dead (aka the bits of the internet which I frequent). Keep your hands INSIDE the vessel and at no point attempt to distract the boatman – I AM YOUR METAPHORICAL CHARON, WEBMONGS, AND THIS IS WEB CURIOS. 

By @Cloudyrhodes
 


THE SECTION ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA WHICH IS STILL PRETTY SMALL THIS WEEK AND IS LEADING ME TO HOPE THAT PERHAPS THIS MIGHT BE THE YEAR IN WHICH WE ALL COLLECTIVELY DECIDE THAT WE POSSIBLY GOT A BIT OVEREXCITED ABOUT ALL THIS RUBBISH AND THAT WE SHOULD MAYBE LEAVE IT FOR A BIT, TURN OFF THE INTERNET AND GO FOR A NICE LONG WALK TO CLEAR OUR HEADS, BUT WHICH IS MORE LIKELY NOTHING BUT THE OMINOUS SILENCE BEFORE SOME SORT OF CATACLYSMIC FACEBOOK AVALANCHE:

  • More Evidence That Facebook Is Just Laughing At The Concept Of ‘Organic Reach’: Another week, another piece demonstrating just how little Zuckerberg’s bland nation-state cares about your ability to reach an audience without spending LOTS of money on ads. Without them, organic reach appears pegged at around 7% – so 7% of all those people who you worked so hard to entice into ‘liking’ your Page will actually ever see anything you write on there. Unless you pay Mark some money. Anyone working client-side who reads this – if you want to really mess up your Community Manager’s weekend, send them this piece at about 430pm today and ask them what strategies they have to address this that don’t involve spending more money (clue: there is no right answer to that question).
  • Trending Topics Coming To Facebook: But don’t worry! Facebook’s getting trending topics! In a move which is in NO WAY a copy of Twitter’s own trending topics, Facebook is starting to roll out a ‘what people are talking about’ feature to certain countries. In fairness it is slightly different, as topics displayed will apparently be tailored to a user’s interests, friendship base, etc – which sort of makes me question its utility as a world barometer, but then what do I know? Let’s be honest, this is just going to be A N Other ad product in a few months’ time, isn’t it?
  • Google Image Search Adds ‘Usage Rights’ Option: Unexciting but useful, Google Images now lets you filter results by usage options – reusable, reusable for commercial ends, etc. Very useful indeed for anyone who spends a lot of time nicking pictures off the internet to use in other stuff (ie mostly everyone who does anything communications-y), and especially for those for whom the whole Creative Commons thing is just a little too complicated. 
  • YouTube Makes Comment Management Easier: Again, dull – sorry, I can only work with what I’m given. YouTube’s now introduced a more streamlined comment-management, flagging and moderation system, which if you’re the poor bugger who has to deal with a herd of mouth-breathers writing “DIE FAGS YOLO” underneath everything you post probably comes as something of a relief. 
  • The YouTube SuperBowl Ad Blitz: Well this has served to make me more miserable than I feel I ought to be at 8:06am. We live in a world in which people are meant to be so excited and moist with anticipation at the prospect of FRESH, HIGH-BUDGET ADVERTISING MESSAGES around this year’s display of pituitary meatheads’ athletic prowess that YouTube’s created a whole section for people to see the ads in advance. Leaving aside the total and utter weirdness of this – or, actually, maybe it’s not that weird; the rise of TVOD means that adverts are now an optional watch, which means that we inevitably see them less as something we’re forced to consume and more something we can choose to ‘enjoy’ and thus do so with a critical eye. Or something. Anyway, from an ad/media point of view this is obviously quite big news; expect a similar thing for the parade of Christmas ads come December 2014 (dear Christ, week 2 of Web Curios in 2014 and I’ve already mentioned the ‘C’ word). 
  • Twitter Ads Mailing List Ad Targeting: Of course, it’s not just Facebook copying Twitter; Twitter’s now  aping Facebook in allowing advertisers to import mailing lists into its ad sales platform and cross-reference this dataset with Twitter’s own. That’s a horribly clunky way of saying that you can, in theory, target ads on Twitter to just people whose email addresses you have, or to exclude people whose email addresses you have (for example, to prevent card-based datacap tweets being shown to people who’ve already surrendered their email addresses to you), and other stuff like that. Actually quite a big deal.
  • Tumblr Adds @Mentions: These were sort of there already actually, but now you get alerts and stuff; from a brand point of view this allows for far more ENGAGEMENT with your FANBASE – makes the whole thing I bit more interesting, I think, and there are some interesting possibilities for competitions and the like, not to mention Tumblr relations (for that is now a thing which will appear in PR agency pitches – I have decreed it to be so and thus so it shall be. Sorry about that). 
  • Quite Nice Branded Content #1: Oh, dear God, parallax-scrolling HTML5 is SO 2013. Nonetheless, this little site by Sony is very, very nicely done indeed. Promoting the artistry behind its engineering, the design and build is very, very slick indeed. The underwater bit in particular actually elicited a small ‘oooh’ from me when I first saw it – admittedly it was Monday and it was a pretty dull afternoon, but still.
  • Quite Nice Branded Content #2: I like this because I can sort of see the thought processes behind it. Spices are multicoloured. People love seeing multicoloured stuff flying about (witness the rise in interest in Holi over the past 3 years). If we explode spices in slow-motion we’ll have INTERNET GOLD! Anyway, this is cute from Schwartz. 
  • Quite Nice Branded Content #3: Guinness are of course old masters at this sort of thing, but even by their standards this short film about the incredibly stylish men (Sapeurs) of the Congo is rather nicely done – designed and filmed to appeal squarely to the fashion/design/culture/hipster crowd, as well as being ON-BRAND and stuff. 
  • Lessons In Realtime Content: Some notes on how Buzzfeed ‘did’ the Golden Globes; nothing startling in here, but good, common-sense stuff on how one might approach REAL-TIME ACTIVATION these days. 
  • STATS! ASIA-PACIFIC SOCIAL MEDIA STATS!: Do you work for an agency? Do you occasionally need to feign an in-depth knowledge of markets far, far away? How convenient, then, for this 200+ page presentation which gives you exactly those in frankly fatigue-inducing quantities. 
By Dan Arnold
 


THIS WEEK’S LARGELY UNCONNECTED COLLECTION OF WEBSITES AND STUFF WHICH ALTHOUGH SEEMINGLY SELECTED AT RANDOM ARE IN FACT EVIDENCE OF A SOPHISTICATED AND UNIQUE CURATORIAL INSTINCT, HONEST GUV, IT’S NOT JUST ME LINKING TO WHATEVER’S PASSED ACROSS THE FRONTPAGE OF REDDIT AT VARIOUS POINTS THIS WEEK WHATEVER SOME OF YOU MAY THINK DAMN YOUR DOUBTING EYES, PT1:

  • Some Tech Trends For 2014: Are we still allowed to do TRENDS? Hm, I’m in two minds. No matter, here they are anyway – this is actually a pretty decent overview of some stuff you might be seeing more of in 2014, courtesy of Frog Design. The further down the list you go, the more interesting these become; I think the point about art and the internet of things is a very good one, and something I look forward to seeing more of (meaning, inevitably, it won’t happen. GAUGIN UP MY FRIDGE YOU BASTARDS). 
  • Crowdsourcing War Diary Analysis: Earlier this week, the National Archives published a selection of WWI diaries as part of its centenary remembrance of the conflict. They make for fascinating reading – do go and take a look – and the Archives are also allowing the public to get involved in classifying and tagging additional scanned diaries through this rather cool interface. It’s a very worthwhile project, and the UI/UX is, I think, excellent for what is a very complex body of work indeed. 
  • The Wold Online Orchestra: Another excellent project, this is by the Copenhagen Philharmonic (and partners) and is sort of hard to describe with any sort of brevity whatsoever. As they put it, it allows users to explore an excerpt from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony by allowing them to see it being played by a variety of different orchestral members at any one time; to listen to collages made up of various orchestra members, selected by them; or indeed to upload their own contribution to the orchestra by recording themselves playing some of the 7th and submitting it for inclusion into the project. Collaborative and playful and technically excellent, I really do love this (and I’m not even a fan of the 7th). 
  • The Refugee Project: Somewhat more sober in tone, this is a rather good piece of datavisualisation depicting refugee movements worldwide from the mid-1970s to the present day. Taking UN data and adding political backstories and multimedia, it does an excellent job of demonstrating the displacement of peoples, and of showing quite neatly that the countries most affected by refugee movements are not large, affluent ones but instead the oft-times equally banjaxed republics next door. 
  • British Ghost Trains From The 70s: So, so creepy. A selection of photographs of ghost train facades from British funfairs of the 70s (and 80s, actually) which give off the sort of vibe which suggests that terrible, terrible things may be about to happen. Maybe it’s just the washed-out colours which put me in mind of those sort of safety at work films in which people lose limbs and eyes through seemingly casual acts of in-work carelessness.
  • Making Windows 8 Work: Noone likes Windows 8. It’s horrid. This website is really, really useful though, containing as it does a selection of useful tips and shortcuts for making the thing marginally less awful. It’s still a dog’s dinner, let’s be clear, but this site really does help. 
  • The Data Chandelier: This is so clever. Built for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, it’s a collection of lights which move and light up / shut down based on the data which is pushed through them – GDP, birth rates, death rates, etc. There’s obviously going to be some way of taking this and using it in a shopping centre to sell more soap or something, but let’s ignore that for the moment and bask in the temporary purity of an as-yet unsullied concept.
  • The Faces Of Shotputters: When I was a kid at international school, there was a very weird American kid called Graham who wore suits ALL THE TIME, liked to think of himself as a pimp, took an awful lot of ecstasy and had a video (VHS! Olden days!) called ‘Faces of Death‘, which were notorious for being like ‘You’ve Been Framed’ clips but where people actually died in gruesome fashion. It was pretty horrible, to be honest – Graham, what were you thinking? Anyway, this isn’t like that at all – it’s people throwing shotputs and looking quite silly whilst doing so. Don’t be scared. 
  • Post-mortem Photography: Speaking of pictures of people’s faces and the dead, this is a very macabre collection of shots from (mostly) the 19th Century, where it was reasonably common practice to immortalised the recently deceased in photographic form, often pictured with other family members. This is, let’s be clear, a selection of photos of dead people, often posing (or, more accurately, being posed) with their still-living familials, and it’s exactly as strange as that sounds. 
  • Behind-The-Scenes Pics Of Star Wars: How many more of these sets can there be? Anyway, the bloke who played Chewbacca posted a load of them to Twitter last weekend; the link goes to his Twitter media page, so you may need to scroll a bit, but there are some rather nice ones if you’re a Lucas-phile. 
  • The Marvel Comics Fitness Guide: Ah, January – the month in which people continue to labour under the mistaken belief that this will be the year in which they turn their lives around and in which they get themselves the miracle body which for years they have been dreaming of. If you are one of those harbouring that particular illusion (don’t worry, reality will kick in in a couple of weeks time and you’ll be back on the cake and meths), why not try out some of the exercises depicted by Spiderman and chums in the Mighty Marvel Strength and Fitness Book from yesteryear? Oh, please yourselves.
  • Infinite Seinfeld: Seinfeld appears to be everywhere at the beginning of 2014, what with his AMA and all that. This site claims to be an infinite loop of Seinfeld episodes – I’m not really in a position to comment, having checked it out for a grand total of about 7 minutes – if it turns into wee-based bongo in the 8th, then I am truly, truly sorry. 
  • The Visa Mapper: Not flashy, just useful. Select where you’re from and this page shows you what you need to travel to any other country in the world. It’s collaborative too, allowing people to suggest amendments to the data and helpful links. More than anything, though, it’s a pretty stark and distressing realisation as to how little freedom of movement so many people worldwide have – check out what the world looks like if you’re from Surinam as opposed to the UK, for example.
  • The Encrypted Phone: The Blackphone is coming, apparently. Available for pre-order a Mobile World Congress next month, this is apparently going to be the first carrier-neutral phone which offers base levels of encryption, etc, as standard. Obviously as with all these things your security is only ever as good as the security of the people you’re communicating with, but it’s an interesting idea; I think we’ll see people swapping reduced functionality for better security more and more in the mobile space, not least as we now know that the NSA is reading our texts ALL THE TIME too
  • The Colour Magician: Another parallax-y scroll-y site, but this one’s not only sort of well-made but it’s also a slightly obsessional paean to the cuttlefish, which frankly is a cephalopod which doesn’t get enough recognition. 
  • Drum Pants: This can’t be real, can it? This is a tool which purports to turn any surface – in this case, you’re clothing – into a touch-sensitive interface and, by so doing, allow users to play the drums by tapping themselves. It’s…it’s…just a bit silly looking, really – you sort of have to watch the video to get it. Of course, the potential is actually pretty big – you could freak people out BEAUTIFULLY with one of these, a hidden speaker and a decent setup, for example…
  • The Scariest Rubber Band Gun You Will Ever See: “Oh, rubber band guns”, I imagine you thinking, “what a cute throwback to a bygone age in which everything was analogue and more innocent, and health and safety hadn’t ruined everything”. Hold that thought. Imagine what you’re thinking of when you think ‘rubber band gun’. Now click that link, and think of exactly what would happen if that were to be applied to someone’s face. SWEET JESUS GOD. This is soon going to be on sale, publicly. Don’t buy one for your kids. 
  • Origins of Common UI Symbols: Designgeek types will like this, as will webgeeks, as will anyone with a passing interest in language and form and communication. So that should be most of you, then. A nicely made series of slides on how all the UI symbols we see daily arrived at their ubiquity. 
  • What The World Is Reading At The Moment: Sort of a bit like a real-time-ish version of StumbleUpon, Reading.am shows people what users who have the plugin enabled are reading online at any given moment. Presuming that the people who use it are a relatively self-selecting bunch, and having spent a bit of time lurking on it, it’s a generally good source for some rather more recherche pieces of writing, but that’s not to say that you might not come across the browsing habits of some slightly distressing / disturbing people. Still, though, that’s got to be part of the fun. I think that there’s an interesting twist on this here for TASTEMAKERS – I think it would be really, really interesting to have a similar sort of thing (possibly in a full ‘I want to see your screen’ sort of way) for a cycling selection of people like Cory Doctorow, Jonah Peretti, etc, showing 24h in their browsing life. Can someone make this happen, please? Ta.
  • Make 8-bit Art: Browser-based tool which lets you…er…make 8-bit style artworks. No more, no less, potentially useful, potentially not. Less underwhelming, though, than this particularly flat piece of dialed-in prose may make it seem.
  • REAL Citrus Booze: When I was young I was very excited by the concept of Absolut Citron (the power of marketing), and was inevitably hugely disappointed whenever I drank it and it still basically tasted like crap vodka (note to younger self – drinking half a bottle in 10 minutes is a dreadful, dreadful idea and you really shouldn’t do it; you will be picking bits of sick-covered rice from under your bed for weeks). This contraption seems designed to make citrus-y booze properly – can a bar in London set one up please? Ta. 
By Peng Yangjun
 


THIS WEEK’S LARGELY UNCONNECTED COLLECTION OF WEBSITES AND STUFF WHICH ALTHOUGH SEEMINGLY SELECTED AT RANDOM ARE IN FACT EVIDENCE OF A SOPHISTICATED AND UNIQUE CURATORIAL INSTINCT, HONEST GUV, IT’S NOT JUST ME LINKING TO WHATEVER’S PASSED ACROSS THE FRONTPAGE OF REDDIT AT VARIOUS POINTS THIS WEEK WHATEVER SOME OF YOU MAY THINK DAMN YOUR DOUBTING EYES, PT2:

  • 20 Things Off The Internet: The nice people at digital agency Syzygy (they are nice, I have worked with them) have been making these annually for a few years now – this is 2014’s version. A picture within which are captured 20 of the internet’s biggest ‘things’ from 2013 – can you spot them all? I have no idea, that was a rhetorical question, although let it be known that I can’t and given the fact that I spend more time on the sodding internet than most people that would suggest that this is reasonably challenging. 
  • The Dodo: A new online magazine featuring news and features about (exclusively) animals. Nothing else. If you are an animal lover, this will be the best site on here this week. If you’re not, this may make you a little bit irrationally cross. Sorry.
  • The Rap Pad: Obviously as a white, middle-class, increasingly middle-aged male from the UK I am well into rap. Obviously. Fortunately for the world, though, I have never wished to inflict this interest on anyone in real life. Had I done, though, I might have found this site very useful indeed – contains all sorts of decent resources for people who want to write rhymes (and not just rap – if you’re an aspiring spoken word artist there’s lots of useful stuff in here too). The stuff about polysyllabic internal rhyming structures is really clear, for example, and the syllable counters could be useful. Have a play.
  • Crowdsourced Dating: Google Glass + Dating + Feedback mechanisms, basically. I do love this project. Artist Lauren McCarthy has Google Glass, and had an idea – what would it be like to go on dates, stream the footage through glass, and pay anonymous contributors to give her real-time feedback through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk project. This is SO BRILLIANT – like the evolution of what Chris Morris used to do on his radio show 20 years ago, where he’d send a man out with a very early mobile phone to have increasingly surreal interactions with shopkeepers as directed by Morris on the other end of the line (“Tell him you don’t want the coin. Tell him it scares you. Tell him it has a harris on it. Tell him the coins are HOT AAARGH IT’S BURNING MY HAND AAARGH” – you get the gist). Anyway, this ticks a lot of my personal boxes and I am pretty much convinced that this is going to be a dating show in 2 years’ time. Let’s see, shall we?
  • Children As Golden Globe Nominees: Toddlewood is, apparently, an NYC photographic studio which specialises in taking Hollywood-style photos of little kids. Leaving aside how we all feel about that, these publicity shots they released this week with kids styled to look like the famouses on the red carpet at the Golden Globes are AMAZING. LOOK AT LITTLE CHIWETEL!
  • Autogenererated Academese: Textual autogenerator of the week, this creates snippets of faux-academic prose. FUN GAME: know anyone doing a PHd? Mail them bits of this stuff and ask them their opinion. Even better, if you are doing a PHd then see how many of these you can slip into your next update email to your supervisor. Go on (Phil, I’m looking at you).
  • The Pattern Library: This makes me very, very happy indeed, though I have no real idea as to why. This is a collection of designed patterns / backgrounds, freely available to use, and collected in a rather nice website (HTML5 again – are we bored of all these now? Not quite, I don’t think) – it’s really pleasing, possibly because it does have the feel of turning pages without actually trying to mimic the feel of turning pages. Maybe.
  • Annotating The Margins Of Dan Brown: Two very funny people make annotations in the margins of Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’. It’s true that mocking Brown’s prose style is a bit ‘fish in a barrel’, but this is very sharp indeed. Also I like the project in general – the idea that they will give it to more and more people until there is more commentary than Brown on each page is rather lovely. 
  • Chef Goldblum: Have you ever wanted to play Where’s Wally? but instead of looking for Wally amongst a crowd of people you’re looking for a picture of Jeff Goldblum wearing a chef’s hat in amongst a whole load of pictures of Jeff Goldblum not wearing a chef’s hat? OH GOOD. 
  • All Of The Buildings In New York City: James Gulliver Hancock is the fantastically named illustrator behind this project, whose stated and impossible aim is to sketch every building in New York. No matter – the drawings are lovely, and Hancock’s style is charming. 
  • All The People In New York City: Apparently unconnected to the above, this is Jason Polan’s attempt to draw everyone in the city. Even more futile than Hancock’s, this is every bit as lovely – I am sure that someone is doing something similar in London, so if anyone knows of it can they let me know? Ta.
  • Card & Tape Sculptures: Dylan Shields is a sculptor who works primarily in cardboard and brown tape, recreating classical sculptures in unfamiliar media. They look AWESOME. UPS / Parcelforce / Royal Mail / etc – one of you commission this man for your next ad campaign, please, he deserves it (although he may not want to take your filthy money, in which case more power to him).
  • No More Vertical Videos: Vertical videos are horrible, it is widely agreed. This little video showcases a new app for the iPhone called Horizon, which gives letterbox-format video regardless of the camera’s orientation; this is going to become standard on all new phones, isn’t it – at the very least an opt-out rather than opt-in? Very clever. 
  • The Google Music Timeline: A clever use of Google’s Play data, from all the stuff people have bought and chucked into the cloud, looking at genre and artist popularity over time. Nicely made, as you’d expect, and there’s some interesting information buried in there. This really is one which Amazon should rip off, though, what with their stupid amounts of global music sales info. 
  • 40 Maps Which Explain The World: From the Washington Post, a great collection of data maps. There are another 40 here – look at them and learn stuff.
  • Aquarium Landscaping: Did you even know that there was such a thing as an annual aquarium and aquatic plant layout competition? I’m guessing not. Anyway, these are the winners of the most recent edition of this contest, and there are some amazing examples of underwater topiary. Obsessional if rather cool – come on, though, do the fish really care?
  • One Man’s Backyard Ice Fort: You may have heard that it’s been a touch chilly in the US of late. This is the response of one man who decided that the only right and proper thing to do was to construct a big sort of walled structure made out of coloured blocks of ice and fairy lights in his back garden. Why not, eh?
  • Name My Daughter: This isn’t actually as stupid as it at first seems – the people behind this have made no actual commitment that they will in fact accept whatever name for their as-yet-unborn child the internet decides upon. That said, there are some inspired suggestions on there – ‘Streetlamp’ made me laugh out loud, though I am saddened that an early front-runner (‘Slagathor’) seems to have lost traction. I’m pretty sure that this couple won’t be calling their daughter ‘Cthulhu’, though.
  • MMO Laserquest: So it’s not really quite that, but almost. Dustcloud is currently seeking funding to bring its vision of mobile, GPS-enabled laser tag gaming to reality. There are quite a few barriers to entry here which makes me think it won’t happen (namely that I’m not 100% convinced that enough people want this to shell out for a bespoke piece of kit), but it does give me the excuse to link to Street Wars, of which this reminded me somewhat and which I am reliably reassured will be coming back after a lengthy hiatus this Summer.
  • The Dead Man’s Switch: Another in the growing list of ‘solutions for real life death online’, this is a service which allows you to draft an email, with attachments and a mailing list, and which will then email you every few days to make sure you’re still alive. If it doesn’t hear from you in 30 days, the email gets sent. Obviously massively flawed as an idea for lots of reasons which I can’t be bothered to explore in-depth, but interesting nonetheless.
  • A Really Quite Mad Look At The Beatles Catalogue: I am sure that the man (come on, it’s not going to be a woman) behind this is a lovely person with a full and rich social life; nonetheless, this truly insane collection of information and insight into the anomalies and oddities around the Beatles’ work gives off their air of sweaty-palmed obsession like few other sites. If you like the Beatles, though, it may well be sort of Nirvanaish.
  • Photos Of Astronauts Taking Photos: You may wish to listen to ‘Space Oddity‘ whilst looking at these. 
  • The 500 Worst Rolling Stone Reviews Of All Time: This one too’s pretty swivel-eyed in its one-track obsession; this is an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of the reviews which the author has, subjectively, decided exemplify the worst editorial judgments and weird nepotistic quirks of Rolling Stone magazines reviews history. You’ll need to be a proper muso to get the most out of this, but those of you who are will find much to amuse yourselves with, I think. 
  • The Logic Puzzle Motherlode: I know two women in their 30s who are obsessed with the sort of logic puzzle magazines traditionally aimed at octogenarians and traditionally consumed on long train / coach journeys along with a packet of boiled sweets. Neither of them read this, though, which does make me wonder why I’m including it. Hey ho. If you like wordsearches and stuff then this will be GOLD for you. 
  • Famous Film Quotes As Charts: Some of these you will have seen before, others not – the design, though, is very nice indeed. These really should be available as posters.
  • Guantanamail: Self-destructing email. Which obviously doesn’t work because screencaps, but, y’know, I’m including it for completeness’ sake.
  • Habit – The RPG: Remember gamification? Of course you do! Well it’s stubbornly refusing to die – this is a web-based game which applies role-playing dynamics to your life to MAKE YOU BETTER. In fairness, this was funded through Kickstarter and so there’s evidently a market for it – maybe give it a try as you attempt to make it beyond January with the exercise / no booze / no tears / fidelity / whatever goals.
  • Life Through A Leica: Art Shay was married for 67 years. Over that time, he photographed many different things, but, most poignantly, his wife. This collection of pictures he took of her will make you tear up a little bit; you simply couldn’t imagine a collection of digital pictures having the same sort of emotional resonance, I don’t think. 
  • The Loneliest Town In America: Or at least that’s what they say. Loyalton California has awarded itself this accolade, based on its lack of visitors combined with its proximity to other big stuff. They explain a little more of why they make this claim on the website, which in itself is also INCREDIBLY SAD. It’s sort of the digital equivalent of tumbleweeds. Tell you what, planners who work for mobile brands (or even who work for Coca Cola) – use these people next time you want a ‘connecting people’/happiness-type vibe. 
  • Nasty Icons: Free, unpleasant icons for you to use however you see fit. The one of the little man peeing joyously is my personal favourite. 
  • The Womb: Last up this week is Project Womb, a fascinating idea which once again has a very direct and explicit connection to the concept of the creation, maintenance and development of the personal ‘Life Story’ (inverted commas intentional, pace Houellebecq. It’s a ‘media-driven’ time capsule, and a beautiful piece of design, which will allow users to upload multimedia content to it and thus allow it to act as a physical and digital memento mori. There is an artist now living whose greatest work will be based on this sort of idea; a work which will not be complete until they die. And on that STARTLINGLY pretentious note, let’s move on.
By Alicia Martin Lopez
 


THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:

  • Internet Narcissists On TV: From a project up there which I think should be on TV, to one which apparently will but I’m not sure should be. This is Project Follow Me, a project looking for digital creators (specifically people who make stuff on the internet which GOES VIRAL, I think) to be part of a show which documents one of their projects. I can’t think of ANYTHING I would rather watch less, but then again I’m just a grumpy old sod to whom noone should, or indeed does, listen.
  • Internet Poetry: Poetry published as image macros, screenshots, etc, with textual overlay. So internet, much poignant. ARGH BLOODY DOGESPEAK. 
  • Popeye Panels: One a day, decontextualised. There’s quite a lot of TRUTH in these, I think. 
  • Great Naps: Vintage-ish photos of people napping and seeming quite happy to be doing so. May induce somnolence.
  • Tales You Lose: Popular culture figures, painted onto coins, by Frankfurt-based Brazilian artist Andre Levy.
  • Lego Albums: Album cover art, remade in Lego. I’m pretty sure that these are made digitally and automatically, as I’m pretty sure that you can’t get Lego in all those shades, but maybe I’m just being miserable (again). 
  • Craigslist Mirrors: Mirrors for sale on Craigslist. Almost certainly going to be for sale at Frieze this year for tens of thousands of pounds.
  • I Still Shoot Film: A Tumblr all about the art of shooting photos on film, and with hints and tips on how to be better at it. Fcuk off, Instagram. 
  • All About Socks: One woman’s obsession with sock design. No, I have no idea.
  • Tiny Little Love Stories: I have featured these before, but they weren’t on Tumblr (I don’t think – oh, who cares). Anway, these are brilliant, twisted vignettes of surreal love and sex. Recommended.
  • No Wrong Way To Play: A Tumblr collecting examples of people playing videogames in usual ways – no-kill playthroughs, glitch exploitation, etc.  
  • Brushes With Strangers: A collection of sketches of strangers, drawn using the ‘Brushes’ app on the iPad. 
  • PR Is Difficult: A collection of dreadful promo photos issued by American theatres. Are these all real? If so, Jesus Christ. 
  • Life Advice From Machines: More poignancy, juxtaposing the unintentionally profound nuggets of advice occasionally found in technical documentation with wistful pictures. These will be a 2015 calendar (or even 2014, if you hurry). 
  • Brutal Knitting: The occasionally distressing knitted art of Tracy Widdess.

THE LONG THINGS WHICH I AM ALREADY SEEING EVEN MORE OF THIS YEAR, SUGGESTING THAT LONGFORM AS A TREND ISN’T REALLY GOING ANYWHERE BUT WHICH, LRB ASIDE, I’M STILL NOT SEEING ANYWHERE NEAR ENOUGH OF FROM THE UK FOR REASONS WHICH I STILL DO NOT ADEQUATELY UNDERSTAND BUT WHICH I WOULD BE VERY GRATEFUL IF SOMEONE COULD EXPLAIN TO ME PLEASE:

  • What Would Yellow Ranger Do?: Kicking off this week with a not-particularly-long comic, this is cartoonist Shin Yin Khor’s exploration of growing up Asian American and role models and racism and all sorts of other stuff. Really rather good. 
  • Travel – A Moving Experience: An excellent essay about the essentially lonely and alienating nature of travel, and the false promises we’re sold by the media and the world at large around what it entails and can offer people. 
  • An Interview With John Waters: The Wall Street Journal chats with the perennially odd Mr Waters, who as ever has quite a lot of interesting things to say about all sorts of stuff, not least the idea of people in their 60s still being rebellious and ‘angry’ and how ridiculous he finds that idea when applied to successful auteurs. 
  • The Archive Is A Campsite: An interesting piece by one of the founders of Longform about how the resurgence in longer writing has meant a more reflective approach to content and as such a renewed degree of importance for archiving. Interesting if you’re in any way into or connected to the world of publishing, writing or curating – and sort of subtextually has a lot to say about the relative value or lack thereof of some of the more ephemeral content providers. What would an archive of Buzzfeed look like? Would we want one?
  • Artisanal Toast: This has been everywhere this week, so sorry if you’ve already read it; anyway, this is ostensibly a look at San Francisco’s hipster food culture reaching its apotheosis – $4 toast. In reality, though, it’s more about the woman behind the cafe which pioneered the (ridiculous sounding) concept of artisanal toast and the way in which running the place has helped her sort her life out. It’s far more inspirational and heartwarming than a story about really expensive bread should be, although be warned – it will make you a bit annoyed at points, and the lady portrayed does have tattooed freckles which is just silly really.
  • An Interview With The Inventor of Karaoke: The nicest person to be featured in Curios this week, Daisuke Inoue is the man whose fault it was that you now know all the words to ‘I Will Survive’. This interview which him, in which he explains how he came to invent karaoke, is just lovely
  • Whatever Happened To Tim Tebow: So this one’s less long than kilometric, and not helped by the unnecessary HTML5 formatting, but it really is interesting. You may recall a few years ago that the sporting world, and in particular the American one, was obsessed with a bloke called Tim Tebow, the not-particularly-great quarterback for the Denver Broncos who had unshakeable faith in the Christian idea of God and who, for a few short months at least, seemed to see that faith amply repayed by some really quite spooky last-minute game-winning performances. Tebow was a poster child for a whole swathe of right-wing Christian Americans, and his remarkable rise and subsequent crazy fall are brought to life very well indeed in this piece. You probably need to know a little about NFL for it to make sense, but not too much. 
  • The Inevitable Childish Gambino Piece: I’m not obsessed, he’s just about a lot at the moment. A good interview, this.
  • The Architecture Of The Incredibles: A slightly obsessive but really interesting look at the architectural depiction of the world in Pixar’s classic animation. If nothing else it will leave you slightly boggling at the sheer amount of thought and detail and STUFF that those guys pack into things which the average viewer will literally never, ever notice. 
  • Growing Up Clown: What would it be like growing up in and around clowns, with a mother in greasepaint? Like this, apparently. Brilliantly written and elegiac and sad, this is worth reading for many reasons but mostly for the line ‘sometimes in life one just ends up cuddling on a couch with the ringmaster’.
  • The Crucial and Unexpected Role Played By Monopoly in WWII: This one too is very long, but bear with it – it develops into a truly mental boys’ own tale of crazy escape attempts and spies and…er…board games. 
  • Hoop Dreams – An Oral History: Hoop Dreams is unquestionably the greatest documentary about sport ever made, ever, and potentially one of the greatest documentaries ever full stop. It’s 20 years old this year, and this piece looks back at the film, the characters and the story behind it in brilliant, loving depth. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favour and book out some hours this weekend to do so; it really is that good, I promise – you can get the whole thing here.
  • Spending 24h In A Dive Bar: The concept of a dive bar is sort of uniquely American – does it mean anything more than ‘a bit scuzzy’? – but this account of a 24h cycle in one such venue’s life is the sort of lovely microcosmic portrait of a Cheers-style boozehole that you will want it to be your local. 
  • The Online Avengers Of Anonymous: A great piece from the New York Times looking at some of the (self-styled) White Knights of the anonymous movement, those who make it their mission to track down bullies, abusers and rapists and make their lives hell – you may not be surprised to know that the piece reveals them to be slightly odd bunch, and the world to be a marginally more complicated place than they think it is, but it’s a very good read in any case.
  • When Ads Hated Women: More great stuff from Collector’s Weekly, this time looking at ads from the 40s and 50s which basically told women that they stank and that they were ugly (so that’s different from today how, exactly?). Some of these are truly incredible, and the accompanying interview with the collector / curator is fascinating from a cultural / social mores point of view. 
  • The Top 100 Things On Medium in December: In case you want more reading. Of COURSE you do. 
By Randy Martin
 
NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!

1) This week, some very rich men who are good at sport got given some awards. This is a brilliantly strange / dreadful rap about that very thing, with a video which is oddly reminiscent of Money For Nothing by Dire Straits (younger readers – THIS IS WHAT CGI WAS LIKE IN THE 80s):
 

2) Technical achievement of the week goes to the fabulously named Rino Stefano Tagliaferro, who has taken a whole load of classic artworks and animated them ever so slightly, creating this very weird and dreamlike and slightly creepy composite. The nudity in all of these looks a LOT stranger when moves, though I’m not quite sure why. Anyway, this is called ‘Beauty’ and it’s very nicely done indeed:


3) This is a trailer for a pr0n film featuring women pretending to be magical ponies. Let me repeat – THIS IS THE TRAILER FOR A PR0N FILM FEATURING WOMEN PRETENDING TO BE MAGICAL PONIES. This is technically SFW, although obviously there’s a fair amount of flesh on display – who is this aimed at? Is there really anyone in the world who would actively choose to masturbate to this? I am boggling all over the place:

4) Adam Magyar did the high-speed filming thing on a subway train coming to Grand Central in NYC. It’s amazing – this is what we all look like when we go to work, webmongs. Can someone do this in London, please?:

5) My favourite animation of the week comes in the shape of this, for the band Alameda’s song ‘New Leaf’. It’s quite the most visually arresting thing I’ve seen in ages, stylistically – sort of handpainted 3d cgi all at once. The song’s nice too, in a slightly strummy, bedwetty fashion:

6) This, though, is my SECOND favourite animation (high praise indeed). I have featured The Young Punx on here before, and the work of their long-time collaborator Han Hoogerbrugge who’s animated all their vids. The latest effort from this fruitful collaboration is for their song ‘All These Things Are Gone’, a look back at things from the 80s which are now but distant memories. The song has echoes (thematically rather than acoustically) of St Etienne’s Fake 88, or Snapshot Memories by Just Jack, but the video’s all its own and SO GOOD:


7) What does it look like when a man stitches a portrait into his palm? Like this:

8) This week’s second reference to the terrifying safety videos of the 1970s comes with this new video from We Are Scientists for their sing Dumb Luck. Come for the hooks (not a little reminiscent of Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger), stay for the increasingly grotesque bloodletting:

9) UK HIPHOP CORNER! Well, sort of. This is feat.Giggs rather than being by him, but his cameo’s decent and I LOVE the woman’s voice and the production on this. Love love love. This is Lolo ft Giggs with ‘Gangsters’ – is this famous? It feels like it ought to be all over whatever radio stations kids listen to these days:

10) Finally, this. Trip out to a hyperlapsed, timelapsed, mirrored journey through some rather pretty landscapes. I love this technique. Happy Friday, everyone x:

That’s it for now

 

That’s it for now – see you next week
 
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Webcurios 10/01/14

Reading Time: 23 minutes

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Chickpizz, London N16
Cory Doctorow, CC licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/5453512445/

Yeah, right, so that was the holidays. Good, weren’t they? WELL THEY’RE OVER NOW SO STOP BEING NOSTALGIC AND GET BACK TO WORK. If there’s one thing that the Christmas break inevitably proves, it’s that there’s nothing like a brief taste of freedom to make incarceration by circumstance even harder to bear. 

Thing is though, webmongs, we’re all in it together. I didn’t win the lottery over the festive period, and I’m presuming you didn’t either (if you did, can I have some money please? Thanks). Which means that we’re all back at our desks now, undertaking tasks of varying degrees of pointlessness for varying degrees of remuneration, and this is what we’ll be doing pretty much until we shuffle off this mortal coil. So, you know, why not spend the next few hours looking at some random crap off the internet in order to dull the pain? Grab a length of electrical flex or whatever else comes to hand, webmongs, tie yourselves off and settle back as I prepare the year’s first high-grade hit of pure internet and shoot it straight into your veins – and don’t worry about that troublesome burning sensation, I’m sure it’s nothing serious. Happy 2014, one and all – this is WEB CURIOS.

 

By BJ Heinley
 


THIS FIRST BIT IS MERCIFULLY SHORT THIS WEEK DUE TO THE FACT THAT WE’RE ONLY 10 DAYS INTO THE NEW YEAR AND PEOPLE ARE CURRENTLY TOO BUSY GAWPING AT SHINY EXAMPLES OF THE FUTURE IN LAS VEGAS TO CARE ABOUT A MINOR UPDATE TO A PARTICULAR FACET OF SOME SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM’S API, BUT DON’T GET COMPLACENT AS THIS IS ALMOST CERTAINLY ANOMALOUS AND THERE WILL BE MUCH MORE OF THIS CRAP BEFORE THE YEAR’S OUT, MARK MY WORDS:

  • Vine Gets A Web Version: The video-viewing platform for the terminally ADD-afflicted is now even more compelling for BRANDS. Effectively this is just a profile page for any account-holder on the platform, but this means that users (BRANDS) can have their own (branded) page presence on the platform where all their videos can sit, browsable from any where and looking all nice and coherent and with logos and profile descriptions and STUFF. SO EXCITE!
  • Vine’s Social Media Superstars: A piece on B*zzf**d looking at some people who have become very popular on the platform. I’m including this up here solely because at some point this year someone is going to mention ‘Vine influencers’ at you in a meeting, and hopefully having read this and had a bit of a think about it will mean that you won’t give in to your initial desire to push their nose through the back of their head in retaliation. I’m doing it for you, dear readers. Look, I’m not condoning this sort of thing, but if you’re doing YOUTH-FOCUSED stuff then perhaps it’s worth thinking about using some of these sorts of people for something. Sorry. 
  • Jelly Launches: So this is in here more for completeness’ sake than anything else; this week Biz Stone (and other people, but he’s the only one anyone’s heard of) launched Jelly, a new SOCIAL NETWORK which effectively lets people ask, share and answer shortform questions. It’s all of 3 days old at the time of writing, so I’m going to refrain from making any sweeping statements about it and how BRANDS can and should be using it (actual authorial opinion here: maybe just let actual real people work out how they want to use it first, eh? Oh, no, hang on, here’s the first post from someone who’s already decided it’s pointless) – anyhow, it’s a thing and it exists.
  • Fox Uses Tinder To Promote Some Dreadful TV ShowThere’s a programme on TV called The Mindy Project – it’s apparently a sitcom, but having never seen it I’m in no position to offer any comment on its quality or otherwise (like you care). Fox in the US has used Tinder to promote it, which is quite smart – they’ve created profiles for the titular character and other bit-players from the show on the media’s favourite shallow ‘you’re hot, let’s bang!’ dating app. Cheap and clever, not unlike the way in which other US TV show Girls has used Snapchat to promote its latest series. Although, now that I come to think about it, isn’t the Mindy thing just going to reach blokes, who (unless I’m massively misjudging the show) aren’t necessarily target audience for it? Oh, what do I know (rhetorical)?
  • Rapgenius And SEO: Sorry, this is VERY technical. Rapgenius (the lyrics (and lyrical analysis) site) recently got penalised by Google for what the search engine saw as slightly shonky SEO tactics. The website went off and fixed some stuff to reinstate its search ranking status, and all was then well – this is a look at why they were penalised and what they did to reverse said penalisation. Unless you need to know (or need to pretend to know) about SEO you can probably skip this one, but it’s actually pretty useful / interesting (I use that word advisedly, but still).
  • TARGET’s Pinterest Shop: The US retailer of discount homeware and terrible employee relations fame has made this rather nice Pinterest hack to peddle its wares, highlighting products that are most pinned, reviewed, shared, etc on Pinterest and using the network as a curated shop window. Simple and clever and the sort of thing that pretty much any retailer could in theory do and maybe should. 
  • The Evolution of Memes: Research from Facebook looking at the manner in which memes move and alter – specifically on that platform, but with findings which are of relevance in a more general context. Interesting in and of itself, but also if you fancy taking a slightly more academic approach to your attempts to invade the popular consciousness with your branded messaging; there’s some quite interesting stuff about the sorts of things which get assimilated / appropriated most seamlessly into general culture which you can probably use if you’re feeling a bit evil. 
  • Things To Watch In 2014: There are obviously LOADS of these floating around at the moment – in fact, here’s Imperica’s nicely spreadsheeted collection of predictions for the year – but JWT get the dubious distinction of being the ones featured on here. As with all of these trendlists, this is overlong and hugely repetitious, but it contains some generally interesting things and some decent food for thought, as well as a whole load of stuff that you can use to phone in your brainstorm performances for the next 6-8 weeks.
  • STATS MOTHERLODE: Continuing the spirit of 2014 portmanteau collections of STUFF, this post from We Are Social collects a whole load of bullsh1t statistics on social media from around the world in one easy place. You know the drill by now – read, digest, and vomit out to suit whatever half-baked argument you’re making to whichever client at any given time. IT’S THE YEAR OF MOBILE!!!
  • Content Is Like Crystal Meth: So much about this annoys me – the use of the term ‘content’, the Breaking Bad theme, etc – but I’m forced to also concede that it contains quite a lot of not-stupid things about making STUFF for the internet; it’s actually a pretty good 101-primer for getting people to look at the stuff that you make. That said, can we just stop with the Breaking Bad stuff now? Thanks. 
By Chill Photographie
 

WHY NOT LISTEN TO A MIX OF HIPHOP MUSIC WHICH SAMPLES GOSPEL?

THINGS ON THE INTERNET WHICH ARE FOR THE MOST PART TOTALLY EPHEMERAL AND WHICH WILL MAKE NO LASTING DIFFERENCE TO YOU OR YOUR LIFE WHATSOEVER BUT WHICH WILL I HOPE PROVIDE AT LEAST A TEMPORARY DISTRACTION FROM THE CRUEL AND PERSISTENT REALISATION THAT THE HOLIDAYS ARE OVER AND THIS  – THIS TEDIOUS, GREY REALITY OF 9-5 DRUDGERY – IS PRETTY MUCH ALL YOU HAVE BETWEEN NOW AND DEATH, PT.1:

  • The Instagram Time Capsule: I think that this is very clever and eminently stealable, although I’m not 100% sure to what end. This is an app called Pic Moment which effectively allows users to see images posted to Instagram at certain physical locations across time – so you could, for example, scroll back day by day through pictures taken at, say, the London Eye (god knows why you’d want to, but still). At the very least, some sort of hacked website plugin for venues / locations could be a fun execution, but I’m sure you clever folk can think of other, better ones. 
  • FolioShack: Full disclosure – I met the founder of this in the pub last night and he bought me a beer (Web Curios is happy to enter into tentative negotiations around coverage-for-booze hookups). I think it’s a good idea regardless, though – FolioShack is a service which allows people to publish documents online in a responsive, device-neutral way, but the thing that I think is really clever and interesting about it is the analytics you can get from said documents. Users can see who has read what they publish – whether someone’s read it, how long they spent doing so, which page they got to, etc. This is potentially hugely valuable for all sorts of industries, not least PRs; I reckon this could really take off. Which is almost certainly a kiss of death. Sorry. 
  • Massive Directory of Online Radio Stations: Pretty much every single musical genre ever is represented on this site,. Can someone explain to me what exactly ‘Quiet Storm’ is, genrewise?
  • StoryMap: The homepage of this site has the beautiful descriptor ‘maps that tell stories’; er, thanks guys, hugely helpful. Snark aside, though, this is a rather neat tool which allows users to map narratives using pictures, text, audio and video – it’s very beta at the moment and so isn’t 100% stable, but the concept is neat and if the people at Northwestern University who made it can make it embeddable then they may have a very useful thing indeed.
  • Frienlibs: This is a dreadful, Satanic invention which I sort of wish I had thought of. Aside from anything else, it has a truly hideous name. Friendlibs (ugh) is a little webtoy which lets users create their own listicles – yes, that’s right, you too can find out exactly how it feels to reduce anything and everything in the field of human existence to a series of comedic images and pop-culture references! The site plugs into Facebook, letting you pull pics from the site and share with friends (it also has a gif search, naturally). This could become early 2014’s equivalent of those horrible bloody cartoon strips that every fat failure you went to school with has been posting incessantly since late October. GREAT!
  •  Your Face On Fantasy Drawings: Have you ever wanted to be immortalised in a pencil drawing with the sort of rippling musculature that would put Conan-era Arnie to shame, or wearing a skimpy chainmail bikini (or why not both simultaneously?)? OH GOOD! A wonderful service from Daniel David Freeman where he, for a fee, will draw a fantasy-style piece of artwork with your face on it. I am very upset I didn’t see this before Christmas. 
  • Self-Destructing Texts: On all sorts of 2014 trend lists I’ve seen has been temporary communications – that is, Snapchat-style self-destructing communiques. This is an app called Confide, which does the Snapchat thing with text messages. This is all well and good, but WHERE IS THE TRUST, PEOPLE? Maybe, and this is just a thought, if you’re worried that the person you’re sending super-confidential messages to is going to use said super-confidential messages to somehow incriminate you in the future then you should possibly reconsider your relationship with them. Maybe. Oh, do what you like, see if I care. 
  • Replace YouTube Comments With Reddit Comments: Seeing as the much-hyped revamp of YouTube comments last year doesn’t as yet seem to have led to the long hoped for amelioration of the below-the-line ecosystem (wow, that’s an early contender for worst sentence of 2014 – sorry), you may find this Chrome plugin useful – Alientube replaces comments on YouTube videos with comments from Reddit, thereby elevating the IQ of the debate to nearly treble figures on one fell swoop. 
  • The Rijksstudio Award: Ah, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. I LOVE IT THERE (small note: it’s a museum which really understands UX and UI in all senses; you can tell this by the fact that all the artwork descriptors are placed at eye level. SO SIMPLE AND YET SO CLEVER). This is a rather nice little project called ‘Make Your Own Masterpiece’, which invites people from all over the world to make their own pieces ‘inspired by’ the existing museum collection. Effectively asking people to remix art, the winning piece will be put on sale in the museum’s shop – entries are open til March 2014. This is going to be replicated a lot, I think. 
  • Buy A Replica Batman Cowl: Have you ever wanted to wear a Batman mask EXACTLY like the one which slightly overweight caped crusader Adam West wore in the BIFF!-heavy 60s TV show? How fortunate, then, that I found this specimen for you. 
  • Facerig: The tech behind this is really impressive, and the whole thing’s very clever, but all I can think of when I look at it is furry webcam sex. Facerig is a piece of software which purports to be able to create live avatars for webcam chat – that is, it will create a CGI face for you which maps your facial expressions, etc, using a webcam. So you can have a Google Hangout with your mate whilst looking like…er…some sort of weird CGI fox character, or some ‘sexy’ anime princess, or…nope, sorry, I can’t get beyond the furry thing here. Fandom is going to LOVE this. The rest of us maybe not o much. 
  • Subway Stories: I LOVE this. A New York project which takes sketches of commuters from the NYC subway (not unlike London’s own Commutoons) and then records inner monologues for each drawing. The makers have turned this into a little art installation thing – watch the video and see for yourself. As an aside, the ‘imagine the inner monologue of your fellow tube passengers’ is a great tube game to play, although you have to guard against developing irrational prejudices against completely blameless strangers (sorry, man in the baseball cap from last night – I’m sure you weren’t really thinking the dreadful things I attributed to you). 
  • Be-at TV: Live-streaming (and recording and playing back) DJ sets from around the world. There’s a huge array of DJs and festivals represented here, and the whole site’s a very impressive dance music repository. If classical music is more your thing, the World Concert Hall does a similar job
  • Vintage Pics of NYC: A truly jawdropping collection, featuring literally thousands of photos of New York from the 1990s, all taken by one man. You can lose yourself in these – highly recommended. Oh, as a bonus you can also have this collection of photos of Brooklyn houses in the late 70s, showing that hipsterdom predated actual hipsters by about 30-odd years. 
  • The Strangers Project: A collection of anonymous journal (diary, for non-American speakers) entries, collected in person and written on the spot. There’s some lovely output here, and the fact that these are written by people there and then rather than being done online (with the inevitable editing and revision which that would entail) lends them an immediacy that they would otherwise lack. These are another potential timesink, but a very lovely and intensely human one (so that’s ok then). 
  • The Year Of Selfies: A brilliant animation made of one man’s year’s worth of self-taken portraits. Annoyingly slick.
  • 2013 In Kickstarter: A bit late, this, but still. This is Kickstarter’s ‘That Was The Year That Was’ recap, looking at the platform’s big success stories in the past 12 months. Notable more for the fact that it’s a nicely made website than for any of the information actually contained therein (or that’s what I think, anyway). 
  • National Geographic’s 2013 Review: Seeing as we’re doing 2013 reviews, here’s National Geographic’s. THIS is a slick website – lovely interface, integrated video and SO MUCH good stuff arranged in a manner which is a pleasure to navigate and browse through. Worth looking at and copying. 
By Kris Vervaeke
 


WHY NOT LISTEN TO THE NEW ALBUM BY DEL THA FUNKEE HOMOSAPIEN?

THINGS ON THE INTERNET WHICH ARE FOR THE MOST PART TOTALLY EPHEMERAL AND WHICH WILL MAKE NO LASTING DIFFERENCE TO YOU OR YOUR LIFE WHATSOEVER BUT WHICH WILL I HOPE PROVIDE AT LEAST A TEMPORARY DISTRACTION FROM THE CRUEL AND PERSISTENT REALISATION THAT THE HOLIDAYS ARE OVER AND THIS  – THIS TEDIOUS, GREY REALITY OF 9-5 DRUDGERY – IS PRETTY MUCH ALL YOU HAVE BETWEEN NOW AND DEATH, PT.2:

  • Doge For All: So the Doge meme is almost entirely played out, but on the offchance that you want to wring the final few drops of ‘comedy’ from it then you might find this meme generator of use. Much internet, so amaze. 
  • Recent Photobucket Uploads: Utterly pointless and as a result pretty compelling, this little hack pulls the most recently uploaded images to Photobucket and displays them on one page. More than anything else, spending 5 minutes with this illustrates that there are some people who really, really, really like uploading pictures of themselves to the internet.
  • Headlines Against Humanity: Funny at first, this website very quickly becomes incredibly depressing. Headlines Against Humanity invites users to choose between two headlines to decide which is the real one and which is the fake. There really is a lot of terrible, terrible stuff out there on the internet (yes, I know, part of the problem etc etc).
  • Tumblr Argument Generator: A little script which generates a frankly baffling rant in the style of the sorts of arguments you often see on Tumblr. If you need an off-the-shelf rant decrying someones heteronormative cisgendered privilege then this will be right up your street. Here’s a fun game to play in 2014 – why not send these to people throughout your workplace? You can get away with it, because even if they send them to HR noone will have the faintest inkling what any of it means. 
  • Olympus Bioscapes: Yet another camera manufacturer runs a competition to showcase impressive microscopic photography, this time Olympus. Unoriginal, but there are some lovely shots in here – not least the one of the embryonic bat, which is simultaneously super-cute and utterly repellent, which is no mean feat. 
  • WannaSpend: Things that it would have been really useful to have found before Christmas, part x of y. This site lets users input a cash value (dollars only, sadly, as it’s a US thing) and then spits out a gift suggestion up to that cost, with a link to buy. You can select categories that it will draw products from, and submit your own suggestions – simple but quite clever.
  • France In The 50s: A lovely collection of vintage pics of France in the 50s. There is a lot of Gallic brilliance in here. 
  • The YouTube Time Machine: I rather like this – a website which lets you select a year and then presents you with YouTube videos featuring content from said year.
  • The Colo(u)r Battle: Have you ever wanted to decide which colour is BEST, via the medium of a public internet-based vote? Well of course you have. How fortunate, then, that this website exists  – you can create and name your own colours and let people vote on them, or pull together palettes which can also be judged by colour-nazis worldwide. This seems like the sort of thing that Pantone or Dulux should be doing, really.
  • The Twitter Fiction Festival: The Twitter Fiction Festival runs in March, and is a celebration of creative storytelling using the platform. They’re taking submissions now for ideas for stories and ways of telling them – the best ones will be ‘featured’ and promoted over the course of the festival, alongside works by established authors. They’re keen to see MULTIMEDIA STORYTELLING, so expect to see lots of slightly tortuous Vine-based submissions – there could well be some really cool stuff coming out of this, though, and if you have any decent ideas you might as well submit them; the potential exposure is huge. 
  • Pointless Diagrams: Drawing utterly pointless diagrams for no purpose whatsoever. Please can someone start using these in presentations to illustrate ‘strategy’? Thanks.
  • Flat vs Realism: A rather beautifully made page illustrating the great design war between Ive-style flat-look interfaces and your slightly-2011 realism. Takes an age to load, annoyingly, but it’s very nicely put together and the game at the end is a cute touch. 
  • Getting Started With HTML5: A simple-but-clear guide to what HTML5 is and what it can do (sort of – it is very simplified).
  • 100 Days Of Leake Street: Leake Street is that little tunnel/alleyway by Waterloo, just where the Old Vic Tunnels used to be, which is home to one of London’s best and most vibrant collections of graffiti. This is a brilliant website tracking the way in which the walls there change over a 100-day period, using gif-ed photographs to track the evolution of the work. 
  • The Urban Paper Collective: Grown men who like making toys out of paper (let’s be honest, it’s only ever going to be men) – this is your new favourite website. Containing everything you could ever need or want to know about the artful folding of paper into what are basically dolls for adults. 
  • Another Learn To Code Thing: What with coding being introduced to the curriculum this year, we can expect to see a whole load of this sort of stuff. Following in the steps of Code Academy, this is a site that provides short, modular lessons on the principles of coding using a game-based interface and using the principle of building blocks to illustrate the processes. It’s quite smart, though I wouldn’t expect it to turn you or your kids into Notch straight away. 
  • Discarded Drug Baggies of South London: Possibly the most VICE photoproject ever, this is a collection of pictures of drug bags found across South London. 
  • The Space Engine: My girlfriend’s doing a GCSE in astronomy at the moment (NB – she is not 16) – space is MENTAL. Anyway, this is a very cool programme which, when downloaded, lets you zoom through a detailed recreation of the universe. It’s sort of incredible really – a bit like Elite without the game bits. 
  • Emulatos Made Easy For Mac: Videogame emulators have been around for ages, but have always been far too complicated-looking for me to ever bother with. This is a download for Macs which, as far as I can tell, makes the whole thing super-easy and user friendly and stuff. I don’t have a Mac, though, so for all I know it could just be some sort of massive malware scam. Someone else try it out and let me know. 
  • Crowdfund Your Holidays: I’m not really sure why anyone would spontaneously offer to contribute cash to someone else’s lavish holiday plans, but apparently some people will do just that. Trevolta is a weirdly-named crowdfunding site designed specifically for people who are going travelling – you put details of your trip on the site, set a goal and strangers can donate money towards your jollies. If anyone wants to bung me £10k to go away and not write anything on the internet for a year or so, I’m open to offers. 
  • The Bittorrent Trilogy: God, glitch-art is SO 2013. Anyway, this is a trio of videos made using incompletely downloaded versions of Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game of Thrones, and contains all the sort of trippy, glitched-out wonderment I like. We need a new digital art thing, though. Make it happen, artpeople. 
  • BattleCats: Nothing to do with He-Man, this – instead, it’s actual leather battle armour for cats. I’m no expert on felines, but I can’t imagine any of them being too impressed were you to try shoehorning them into this stuff. 
  • 2003 Receipts: For reasons known only to him, this bloke kept alll his receipts from 2003. He is going through them day-by-day, piecing together his life from a decade past via the medium of purchases. Only 10 days in, but I think I can safely say that this is the mundane website Web Curios will feature in 2014, and I love it for that. 
  • Insulting YouTube Vids: This is a YouTube channel whose owner seems to do nothing but record short, offensive statements for people like you and me to use however we wish. Beautifully, he also takes request – just think how satisfying it would be to have a video of a total stranger calling your most favourite colleague, say, “a crapulent waste of skin” which you can send to them over and over and over again. Dear God, I almost wish I still had an office job so that I could do this myself. 
  • Speakerblast: This is a clever idea but poorly executed. Speakerblast basically lets you assign an audiofile to a single URL which can then be shared to multiple devices and then played simultaneously – so you can have a whole crowd of people playing the same audio from their phones, all synced. There’s a LOT of potential here, although at the moment I’m just sort of fixating on football crowds. Actually, there’s probably some quite fun interactive stuff artists can do in concert with this sort of thing, as well as the inevitable AUDIO FLASHMOB execution – ugh, actually that’s a horrible thought, pretend I never said it. 
  • Ian’s Shoelace Site: I don’t know who Ian is, but he knows a LOT about tying shoes. 
  • 3d Printing – The Kids’ Book: Leo The Maker Prince is a book for children which also purports to teach them about 3d printing (I’m unsure as to why kids need to be taught about 3d printing, but no matter). The gimmick here is that the book comes with code to print out the characters on your own home printer, presuming you have one – erm, if you do then surely you can just use the printer to teach your kids? Sorry, I’m being critical – anyway, this is the first thing like this that I’ve seen but it will almost certainly not be the last. 
  • The Emotional Baggage Check: A place to leave your emotional baggage, and pick up other people’s. Users can leave details of something that’s weighing them down, or respond to other people’s baggage by sharing a song and a few words. A nice spin on the confessional website, and I like the musical twist. 
  • Marvel Calendar From 1975: On the offchance you’ve not yet seen this, here’s a Marvel calendar from the mid-70s whose days match perfectly with 2014. Printable, should you want it on your wall.
  • Passweird: A website which generates alphanumeric passwords of questionable taste. Why not, eh?
  • The Internet Black Market Comes To Berlin: I think I’ve mentioned the concept of the Internet Black Market on here before – in any case, I’m doing so again as I WANT SOMEONE TO DO IT IN LONDON PLEASE. It comes from Japan, and the idea is that it’s a series of stalls selling small gewgaws which are physical manifestations of the web. SO ART! SO COOL! 
  • Disney Princess Lingerie: Because it’s almost Valentine’s Day (NB – under no circumstances actually buy this for anyone, Valentine’s Day or otherwise). 
  • Behind The Gifs: A subreddit which is far funnier than it ought to be, this collects the imagined backstories to some of the web’s most famous gifs. Many internetLOLs in here, I promise. 
  • The Selfie Olympics: These people’s self-taken photos are more impressive / stranger than your self-taken photos, I guarantee you. 
  • The Mad Science Museum: A brilliant collection of truly odd science experiments from history. Includes an experiment involving photographing the exact moment that a mule’s head is blown off by a stick of dynamite, which is a phrase I really didn’t imagine myself typing when I woke up this morning. 
  • Frozen Soap Bubbles: SO PRETTY!
  • Objective Game Reviews: Obviously intended as a joke, but also at the same time one of the best game review sites I’ve seen in ages, which says nothing good about the current state of most games journalism.
  • The Conference Call Simulator: Terrifying and bleak and existential and sad and SO ACCURATE. Welcome back to work, everyone!
By Brendan George Ko
 


WHY NOT LISTEN TO A MIX BY THAT WEIRD BLOKE OFF TWITTER CALLED SADEAGLE?

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:

  • The Gap Mannequin Project: One man dresses in the same outfit as the mannequins in GAP and photographs himself next to them. 
  • Moviecode: You know when you see people coding in films? Have you ever wondered what exactly it is that that code does? No, me neither, but the person behind this Tumblr evidently did and so has made it their mission to investigate. 
  • Emojis In Real Life: Recreating emojis in photo form. Why not, eh?
  • Discarded Vegetables: No more, no less. I’m not sure how much mileage this has as a concept, but I like the single-minded pointlessness of it rather a lot. 
  • Japan Photographs: Erm, yes, just that really – photos of Japan. All taken by one Lee Chapman, who’s a very good photographer indeed.
  • Amazon Critics: Crap Amazon reviews of films, turned into posters advertising said movies. If these aren’t already available to buy, they really should be soon – also, some publisher really should promote their next DVD release like this. Go on, do it.
  • 365 Days of Balloons: Stuff made out of balloons. A different one each day. Surprisingly compelling. 
  • Cosplaying While Trans: Transgender people, cosplaying. This may be the most Tumblr Tumblr EVER, on reflection. 
  • Traceloops: Rotoscoping, tracing and animation. Cool examples of different techniques for those interesting in animation and the like. 
  • Problem Glyphs: I LOVE THESE. A Tumblr in which ‘symbolic illustrations are drawn in response to problems sent in by Tumblr users’. If the one for ‘I’m Gay’ doesn’t make you laugh then you’re probably dead. 
  • Fcuk Yeah Internet Fridge: This week saw the latest attempt by a company to convince us that fridges that can talk to our phones are THE FUTURE. This Tumblr collects examples of other people telling us the same thing and also being wrong. 
  • Mestre Fungo: Acid-coloured animations, with illustrations which very much recall the work of Charles Burns.
  • Louis CK One: I don’t really need to explain this gag, do I?
  • Romain Laurent: Brilliant, high-quality loop portraits. Someone please create a free way for anyone to make these easily, please. Ta.
  • Pentametron: Iambic poetry cobbled together from tweets. Not the first of these machine-generated versebots, but rather a nice one. 
  • Ladies Against Humanity: I’m not 100% sure what this is (yes, I know it’s a riff on cards against humanity, I mean beyond that), but there are half a dozen gags that made me laugh out loud so on that basis it’s in (ha, like there’s any sort of editorial filter at play here). 


THIS WEEK’S SELECTION OF LONGFORM READS WHICH MAY I HUMBLY SUGGEST YOU MAKE IT ONE OF YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS TO ACTUALLY READ THIS YEAR RATHER THAN JUST SKIPPING THROUGH AS THEY ARE PROBABLY THE BEST THING IN THIS BLOODY MESS OF A MISCELLANY? THANKS:

  • Goodbye To Cameras: Pro-photographer Craig Mod writes in the New Yorker about why he may not need an actual camera any more. Interesting if you’re a photographer, but also a slightly sad and elegiac piece on the near-inevitable death of a piece of technology.   
  • Sterling and Lebkwosky ‘do’ 2014: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky’s annual back-and-forth on the state of the world, courtesy The Well. Ignore the hideously user-unfriendly formatting and slightly wilful technoobscurantism of some of what they’re talking about – as ever, it’s one of the more intelligent pieces of broad ‘where we are as a civilisation’ pieces of writing (or, more accurately, conversations) you’ll read this year. 
  • The Top Quora Answers of 2013: Oh my, there are some truly BRILLIANT things buried in here. You really can lose the rest of the day in here if you’re so inclined – some of them were in Web Curios last year, but most weren’t. The broadest collection of generally interesting stuff you’re likely to see (Curios aside, OBVIOUSLY). 
  • The 4 Reasons Viral Content Stopped Mattering In 2013: There have been quite a few Buzzfeed-related pieces so far already this year, but this from Cracked is my personal pick of the bunch. Similar in tone to Esquire’s ‘We Broke The Internet’ rant, but significantly funnier, it’s an excellent look at why endless lists and hyperbole are in the process of breaking the concept of virality. Seeing as we’re on the subject, this Wired piece on Buzzfeed is also pretty good, although scholars won’t find anything particularly new in it. 
  • Reddit Talks To The Man With Two Penises: You really do have to click on the link to the picture. It’s not in any way safe for work, obviously, but it’s also incredibly hypnotic. The man’s pleasingly candid discussion of the mechanics of his peculiar anatomy are pretty jawdropping too. I don’t think I’m jealous of him, though. 
  • How Netflix Reverse-Engineered Hollywood: A really, really interesting look at how Netflix has used data and tagging and categorisation to map tastes and improve recommendations. Much less about cinema and much more about taxonomy (but still interesting, I promise) – if you have anything to do with datagathering and analysis then this is pretty much a must-read.
  • The Best Review Of The Beyonce Album You Are Likely To Read: Nico Muhly is a singer, songrwiter and composer, and a massive Beyonce fan. His review of her last album is epic, and very, very funny indeed. 
  • The Books of 2014: A HUGE list breaking down 2014’s forthcoming novels, month-by-month. I got very excited about a lot of these, and I imagine you will too. 
  • Creepypasta: If you have heard of Slenderman then you will be aware of the concept of Creepypasta – this is a brilliant overview of the phenomenon (basically: creepy folk tales told and shared online), and will give you lots of pointers towards things you can search for to scare the living daylights out yourself. 
  • Evgeny vs “The Internet”: A great profile of serial provoker and perennial Curios favourite Evgeny Morosov – a fascinating man with some very interesting opinions, as showcased in this recent essay on the politics of maker culture (and the fetishisation thereof). Read him, he will make you smarter.
  • On Online News and Web Design: A very smart piece looking at the New York Times’ recent redesign and how people consume online news in 2014 and what the means for layouts and user flow and STUFF. Honestly really interesting, even if you’re not into design stuff – if you’re in any way in the business of producing CONTENT (sorry), or getting people to read it, you should probably take a read. 
  • On Paul Dacre: A brilliant and fascinating profile of Paul Dacre. Whatever you think of the man (you can probably guess my opinion), this is a compelling read. 
 

By Lucy Glendinning
 

 

 
NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!

1) It’s an emoji-heavy week here on Curios, and we’ll kick off 2014’s videos with this rather beautiful minimalistic effort from Oneohtrix Point Never (no, me neither) with “Boring Angel”, which manages to tell a story using nothing but emojis. Nicely done:

2) If you like slightly retro-styled animations accompanying slightly jagged psych-rock then you will absolutely ADORE this; Together PANGEA with “Cat Man”:


3) I wrote quite a lot about Childish Gambino at the end of last year – he’s now put out a video for his single ‘3005’, which I rather like although I do worry for the bear:

4) Stereoscopic image bonanza – ordinarily I wouldn’t get too excited by this, but the slightly wibbly, pulse-y visuals work really well with the track I think. This is called ‘Tendency’, and it’s by Estate+Liquid Pegasus:

5) I’m including this for two main reasons; firstly, the video makes me very happy indeed – it’s rather wonderfully soothing; secondly, any song called ‘Advanced Falconry’ has to be worth a listen. By Mutual Benefit, this one:

6) When I was young I always (well, quite often) used to daydream about how wonderful it would be if a beautiful older woman (read: about 13) would take me under her wing in a sort of sexy big sister sort of way (LOOK, IT’S NORMAL, OK). This is a quite brilliant video exploring what that might be like if that were to happen and you were then to realise that said sexy big sister was actually quite, quite bad. This is called ‘Love Natural’ by Crystal Fighters:


7) London’s favourite mumbling breakout star of 2013, King Krule, returns (along with Alfred Hitchcock) with his latest single ‘A Lizard State’. Makes me want to dance, and I never dance, ever:

8) Palindromes are very clever. Palindromic filmmaking is ESPECIALLY smart. This is actually a really good short, leaving aside the gimmick – I was really impressed by this one:

9) Finally let’s banish the winter blues with Snoop Lion. Whatever you may think of Calvin Broadus’ musical output, there’s no doubt that the man’s prolific – god knows how much he’d have produced if he wasn’t continually stoned out of his gourd. Anyway, this is his cod-reggae stuff, which is actually loads better than I’d expected (if still not exactly groundbreaking), which I’m here including because I quite like the Pokemon-inspired video. Enjoy, and HAPPY WEEKEND:

 

That’s it for now – see you next week.
 
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Webcurios 13/12/13

Reading Time: 27 minutes

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Grounded television
Thames Street, Oxford

It’s been a long year. This is the last one of these you’re getting in 2013 – THANK GOD, EH?

2013 feels a little bit like a year in which the future caught up with us slightly. All the things that I was writing about in January / February as fanciful futureprojections all sort of avalanched as the months progressed, and it’s all a bit overwhelming come December. I don’t know about you, but I just want a rest and to stop thinking for a while. 

On a personal note, about a year ago I quit a job that I was no longer able to pretend to care about, in order to do I have no idea what. 12 months on I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I haven’t defaulted on my mortgage – this is success, of a sort. Thanks to each and every one of you who have read this mess over the past year – I really do appreciate it. Thanks also to Imperica for hosting it, and for giving me no editorial guidelines whatsoever (you may or may not think that this is a good thing) – the least I can do is plug their AWESOME EVENT again. Buy tickets, it’ll be good

So, webmongs, for the final time in 2013 let me take you by the collar (because from hereon in you are firmly under my control) and take you for a bracing walk through the icy hinterlands of the internet, where – from what I can see – it has been winter for a very long time, and where 2014 looks like much, much more of the same. MERRY CHRISTMAS, WEBMONGS. 

By Deborah Simon
 


THIS IS THE LAST TIME I AM GOING TO HAVE TO WRITE ANYTHING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA IN 2013 AND IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE IN WORDS QUITE HOW HAPPY THAT FACT MAKES ME SO INSTEAD ENVISAGE ME DOING AN INTERPRETATIVE DANCE TO CONVEY THE ENDORPHIN FLOODS I AM CURRENTLY FEELING:

  • Facebook Launches Autoplay Video On Mobile: And, as it happens, on desktop too. This isn’t new news (I think they first alluded to this over the Summer, although I can’t be bothered to check exactly when). So yes – videos uploaded to Facebook through its own video player (and this is an important point – not YouTube (or indeed any other platform) embeds) will now autoplay as users scroll past them on the newsfeed (although audio won’t automatically play, which is a smart design decision). So, yes, MORE ENGAGEMENT! As I wrote when they announced this: “BRANDS! Here’s your opportunity to do something marginally creative with this! Perhaps people trapped in the videos, desperately beckoning scrolling people to stop and click on a link. Or something. Jesus, I don’t know, you lot are supposed to be the creative ones, I just write this crap. 
  • Facebook’s 2013 In Review: Facebook’s wrapup of the year data here, which you will almost certainly already have seen but I include through a possibly missplaced sense of completeness. It’s a lot less interesting than Tumblr’s, I think. You can also do ‘Your Year In Review’, whereby Facebook scrapes your page for those updates and photos that have elicited most slack-jawed clicking from people you no longer remember but which you were ever friends with in real life. Which is cute, but unremarkable. Overall, underwhelming. You’d think that knowing more about humanity’s likes and behaviours than any company in history (bar one) would enable them to say something more interesting.
  • Page Yourself Lets You Build Websites Inside Facebook: Well, not quite. What it actually seems to do is enable Pages to create quite rich tabs with website-like functionality, but what’s really interesting is that it’s free. It seems legitimate, but I can’t help but be a little skeptical about the functionality, etc. There might, though, be useful creative applications for it if you play around, and it could be helpful if you’re a small business owner. Maybe.
  • Instagram Messaging!!!!: I’m finding it really hard to be anything other than totally indifferent to this news. ANOTHER way in which we can send personal messages through yet another platform? With pictures? Oh god. HOW MANY DIFFERENT BLOODY WAYS? TOP TIP FOR 2014: a service which offers an aggregated message alert service for all 213 separate networks on which people can contact you, including your home phone and doorbell, called “Please, everyone, I just want to find a space where noone can reach me”. Anyway, in a move which is so unsurprising as to feel like it was actually announced last year, Instagram yesterday announced that users will be able to send private picture messages and conduct private conversations on the platform. There’s more info in the link – interesting for brands, though, is the opportunity to allow users to contact them directly with images (competition entries, etc), and the fact that images can be sent privately to up to 15 users simultaneously, which if you are famous or a famous brand ambassador actually opens up some semi-interesting possibilities when it comes to SURPRISING AND DELIGHTING your BRAND FANS (you can lift those words directly, if you want – frankly I feel dirty having just typed them, so you’re welcome to take them off my hands). Oh look, and here’s GAP being the first brand to use it and doing exactly what I said (ie photo submissions).
  • 2013 On Twitter: I like this a little more than Facebook’s, largely because the nature of Twitter means that they’re able to show you the way in which the platform was used to share information about significant moments. Anyway, this is their little nifty HTML roundup of the year as they saw it (strangely there’s no apparent mention of anything that’s not English language, which seems a bit odd to me). 
  • Twitter Launches Broad Match Ad Targeting: If you buy ads on Twitter (and if you do comms-type stuff on social media there’s really very little reason why you shouldn’t, given they’ve killed the minimum spend) this is very useful. Basically they’ve made it easier to target people who post broadly relevant stuff around an issue – so if you want to target people who ‘love coffee’, you will now also be able to target people who ‘luv coffee’, ‘*heart* coffee’, ‘really need to perhaps apply these romantic feelings to a member of the same species rather than a caffeinated beverage’, etc etc., automatically rather than having to set this stuff up yourself. A move, not unlike Facebook’s simplification of its ad buying process the other week, designed to make it easier for anyone, particularly small businesses, to participate in the promotional jamboree, but which is as useful for larger brands. 
  • Send Pictures As Embeds in DMs: Yep, that. Like the Instagram thing, sort of, except it only works on the Twitter website and own apps rather than on 3rd party clients at the moment. 
  • They Changed How You Block People On Twitter And People Got Angry So They Changed It Back: There is nothing more to say about this. 
  • Tumblr Adds Trending Blogs Ad Option: Starting January, brands will be able to buy trending slots on Tumblr. Starting as a mobile-only ad offer, the ad unit includes the name of the advertiser – or whatever they’re flogging – a follow button and three recent images from the Tumblr in question. It will almost certainly cost A LOT of money. 
  • Google + Launches Social Ads: Hm, this confuses me slightly. Basically you can now turn any Google+ post into an ad unit, which you can then pay to be displayed elsewhere on the web. There’s a degree of interactive functionality included in the eventual ads – comments, the option to join a hangout, etc – but it feels quite a lot like this is more an advert for Google+ than for the actual thing that’s being advertised. 
  • Google Knows Where You Have Been: For some of you this may be a little bit creepy. Say hello to Google’s location history which, if you’re logged in to your Google account, can show you where you were on any given day based on data collected from your Android phone and other associated data. WE DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR TH…oh, no, hang on, we did, we just didn’t bother reading the T&Cs. Damnation! Anyway, leaving aside the really quite sinister subtext of this stuff, there’s got to be some interesting hacks possible here – I am guessing (hoping?) that the data’s fairly private to you, but would be interesting to see what API stuff you can do with it. 
  • YouTube In 2013: YouTube’s nice little self-referential video looking back at the biggest vids of 2013. You read about the 10 most popular here; interesting and impressive that there are two piece of brand stuff in here (the Carrie promo and another sodding creepy baby video by some water brand).
  • YouTube Lets Verified Accounts Livestream: Or do on-air hangouts. Useful to know – you can do quite a lot of fun things with this, I think. Just for clarity, you don’t actually need to do very much at all to get a verified YouTube channel – it’s not like Twitter / Facebook. 
  • Google Tips: Google launched this yesterday (I think) – a useful guide to some of its consumer facing products and how to get the most out of them. Very nicely put together as you’d expect, and I guarantee that there will be stuff on there that you didn’t know you could do. 
  • A Cheat Sheet For Ad Types On Social Media: No more, no less. You probably ought to know this already if this sort of stuff is your job, but in case you need a reminder. 
  • Kik Reaches 100million Users: The news in itself isn’t that interesting, but the piece is actually a good overview of the service and has some interesting stuff about how the platform might develop. A useful one to bring out in the first client meeting of 2014 when you’re struggling to remember why it is you do this stuff in the first place and just need something newish to wave at a client.
  • WeChat Has 500million Users: This one too – WeChat is a Chinese site which takes elements of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc, and is very popular. Your client won’t have heard of it, probably, and you can make yourself seem all future and stuff by mentioning it. YOU CAN THANK ME IN THE NEW YEAR. 
  • Some Social Media Awards Thingy You Can Vote In Should You Be So Minded: I’m nothing to do with them, fyi, I just thought I should include a link to one of the myriad of these things are out there if you are the sort of person who likes to vote for ‘campaign of the year’ and that sort of stuff.
  • Oh, and seeing as it’s the end of the year, a prediction – next year will see at least one major global brand leaving Facebook as they consider it to be no longer relevant to their core target audience. Probably. Maybe.
By Tim Bird
 


THE LAST SELECTION OF LINKS YOU WILL GET FROM ME IN 2013 AND WHICH THEREFORE YOU SHOULD SAVOUR LIKE SOME SORT OF FINE WINE OR SINGLE-ESTATE COCOA BEAN CHOCOLATE WHILST SECRETLY BEING QUITE GLAD THAT YOU CAN SPEND THE HOLIDAYS IGNORING THE INTERNET COMPLETELY (OR AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT I PLAN TO DO – I REALLY COULD DO WITH A BREAK FROM ALL THIS, WEBMONGS, IF I’M HONEST WITH YOU, BECAUSE SOMETIMES I WORRY IT’S NOT REALLY VERY GOOD FOR ME OR INDEED PSYCHOLOGICALLY HEALTHY TO READ THIS MUCH INTERNET), PT.1:

  • If This Then That Launches Location Triggers For Mobile: If This Then That (IFTT) is a great thing in many respects – if you don’t use it already (although I think that if you’re reading this then you probably do), it’s a service which lets you set up sequential processes using digital social media – so for example you can set it to upload all your Instagram pictures to Facebook, for example. This week they launched a location-based service for mobile, which effectively lets you set up triggers which will make stuff happen when you’re in a certain place (according to your phone). So you could set it to, for example, turn your heating on when you leave the office (if you have fancy housing). I KNOW THIS IS MENTAL IT’S THE FUTURE. There have to be some very cool hacks around this – have a think / play. 
  • The 4sq Map: A hack for Foursquare which takes the data the app knows about you and potentially makes it a lot more useful than it might otherwise be, through mapping, etc. Have a play, if you use the service.
  • Ampp3d: So this launched – Martin Belam’s next project for Trinity Mirror, applying the learnings from ubersuccessful experiment Us Vs Th3m (profiled on Radio4 this morning, no less) to data journalism. It will be interesting to see how this one compares – the Mirror branding is a lot more overt, and I wonder to what extent they will do paid-for datajournalism from brands. Anyway, you can read the very clever Mr Belam’s thoughts on launching it here – interesting stuff
  • Mandela’s Walk: Lovely piece of work by the Economist, bringing together a lot of their archived writing about Mandela over the past 70-odd years into a very deep chronology of the man’s life and achievement. Not only a nice piece of webwork, but a very clever way of using its archive and also, subtly, emphasising the publication’s heritage. 
  • Because The Internet: The Childish Gambino thing is sort of mind-meltingly meta media (that was unintentional alliteration, I promise) – is it a joke? Is it a legitimate side-project by a very talented man? Is it BOTH OF THOSE THINGS AT ONCE??? Actually I think Donald Glover’s a very good musician so I’m inclined to lean towards the side-project explanation. Anyway, his latest album is called ‘Because The Internet’ and is all sorts of levels of interesting about the web and culture and STUFF – the accompanying website, though, is just crazy – effectively a full-length film script designed to accompany the album, with embedded videos and set directions and all sorts of general meta-commentary (that meta word again) on the album and life. It’s quite staggering in its length and breadth, and I would very much recommend saving this one and having a look through when you have a spare hour or so (do people even have spare hours any more? I can’t tell).
  • Circuit Stickers: These are stickers which let you add electronics to anything – paper, fabric, whatever you fancy. Which means all sorts of rather cool potential applications for design and fashion, in a sort of homely, homespun, papercraft-y Etsy-type way. If you like a bit of twee AND a bit of electricity (and who doesn’t?) then these may well be right up your alley. 
  • iPet Companion: This may well make your Friday afternoon. A service to promote animal shelters in North America which, thanks to webcams and a few plugins, lets people from all over the world play with kittens in their browswers. That’s right, PLAY WITH KITTENS. Be honest with yourself – you have a stinking hangover (I know you), you’re not going to do any work…why not make yourself feel better with cats? Has the added bonus that they’ll probably just be waking up when you read this (presuming it’s Friday) and thus may well be at peak cute. 
  • The NYC Crime Map: Another interesting use of public data from NYC, and another chance for me to whinge about how in London we don’t have anywhere near the same access to and ability to mess with information about the city in which we live (although I am reliably informed by people in the know that this is being addressed – something else to look forward to in 2014, although perhaps ‘look forward to’ is a slight exaggeration). Oh, and if you’re into this sort of thing, this is the US Government’s Open Data archive
  • The Ex-Boyfriend Revenge Kit: This is just sinister. Effectively this is a just a handbag, but for promotional purposes this Aussie company are packaging it with a whole load of other stuff (crowbar, rope, syringe, truth serum, etc) and offering the whole as a means of getting back at a man who wronged you. Good luck with the legal issues, guys!
  • London On Trend: Instagram pics from London, mapped as they are taken onto a Google map. Nice little hack and properly hypnotic in a weird sort of way.
  • Autodissociate.me: A web-art project by 19 year-old Mary Bond, which consists of a selection of written elements (composed, sourced and randomly generated) overlayed on a series of webcam-style posted shots (often nudes). Don’t know why, but I rather liked this – the metacommentary (that word again) above the images is a nice accompaniment to them, and there’s something rather compelling about the random juxtapositions which it can throw up. Slightly NSFW, just so’s you know. 
  • A Collection Of Virtual Yule Logs: I didn’t know this, but apparently it’s a *thing* in the US for small / local TV channels to show a picture of a burning log in a hearth on Christmas day instead of refgular programming, to allow families to create the illusion of Olde Worlde comfort and warmth in their sterile modern homes. This is a virtual equivalent – a whole load of differently designed and presented vanimations of burning logs, as imagined by artists around the world. There are some very nice designs in here. 
  • Pompeiian Graffiti: A collection of translated graffiti from Pompeii. Man, those ancient Romans were a bawdy lot. I’d leave some of these scrawled in the bathroom at work, were I you lot. 
  • Crowded VS Empty: A lovely page on the Smithsonian Magazine website collecting pictures and information of the world’s most crowded and most overcrowded places around the world, made mapped and navigable. Simple but does a lovely job at reminding us of how incredibly BIG and diverse the planet is (you’d have thought that at the age of 34 I’d have stopped being surprised by this sort of thing). 
  • The Walk: I’ve mentioned game design agency 6 To Start on here many times before – they made the now-legendary fitness game ‘Zombies, Run!’, which introduced game elements to the act of going for a jog in a more sophisticated way than Nike had done at the time. Anyway, they’ve got a new one which launched this week – called The Walk, and developed in partnership with the NHS, it’s basically more story than game; the smart thing about it is the way it uses a compelling narrative and the desire to find out what happens next to drive participation (and thus physical activity) rather than some sort of badge system. Clever – will be interesting to see whether Government looks at this and tries to apply the technique to other things (“Go to the jobcentre to access the next episode of your favourite soap!”? Hm, maybe not). 
  • Comics + Music Player: I know that there’s a name for that music whichis presented on big rolls of paper with holes in it and which was fed into old pianos to make them autoplay, but I can’t for the life of me recall what that name is. Balls. Anyway, this is SUPER CUTE – a miniature version of that technology, from Japan, in which the tiny rolls of music also have comic strips printed on them – so as you wind the machine you get to read the comic strip and hear the soundtrack play along in time. It probably doesn’t work *quite* perfectly in practice, but the device itself is adorable so I forgive it any failings (how magnanimous of me). 
  • Reverse-Inspiration Band Tshirts: I’ve featured quite a lot of Butcher Billy’s work on here before – his latest project is a collection of pictures of ICONIC musicians, wearing band tshirts depicting the logos of artists who came long after them. Because, you know, SATIRE. I rather like these, and would like to be able to buy them as posters please. You could really, really annoy music purists with them, which is never a bad thing in general. 
  • French Subway Etiquette: They’re just so stylish, aren’t they? This is an official document by a French rail company – you couldn’t imagine TFL or FIrst Great Western coming up with something this cool, could you? It’s in French, but if you’re not a Francophone the illustrations will still nice up your eyes. 
  • Rijksmuseum Releases Its API: In the wake of the Tate doing the same thing earlier this year, this week Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, one of the most digitally savvy cultural organisations in Europe to my mind, has done the same thing. I would like someone to make something from both, please – perhaps a catalogue-masher which takes descriptions of modern art from the Tate’s collection and applies them to the Dutch museum’s unparalleled collection of 17thC Northern European works for dissonance-LOLs. Shardcore?
  • Create Your Own Minute Of Silence: Exactly that, with timer. If it was your office Christmas party last night, perhaps you might need to do this for your dignity.
  • Old Vids + New Music = This: Let’s Dance is a webproject by…someone (actually Edward Forshaw, it turns out)…which is collecting videos of people dancing from yesteryear and syncing them with modern music for COMEDY EFFECT. It’s fun, uses Echonest, and could only be improved by letting you select tracks and then trawling YouTube for potential video matches. COME ON ED SORT IT OUT PLEASE THANKS. 
I have no idea, sorry. Anyone?
 

THE LAST SELECTION OF LINKS YOU WILL GET FROM ME IN 2013 AND WHICH THEREFORE YOU SHOULD SAVOUR LIKE SOME SORT OF FINE WINE OR SINGLE-ESTATE COCOA BEAN CHOCOLATE WHILST SECRETLY BEING QUITE GLAD THAT YOU CAN SPEND THE HOLIDAYS IGNORING THE INTERNET COMPLETELY (OR AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT I PLAN TO DO – I REALLY COULD DO WITH A BREAK FROM ALL THIS, WEBMONGS, IF I’M HONEST WITH YOU, BECAUSE SOMETIMES I WORRY IT’S NOT REALLY VERY GOOD FOR ME OR INDEED PSYCHOLOGICALLY HEALTHY TO READ THIS MUCH INTERNET), PT.2:

  • The Gif Lenticular: We’ve had the Gif flipbook, and the gif mechanised toy – now we have the Gif lenticular. This service lets you turn any Gif you want into a small lenticular print which you can then order. Use this in pitches as leavebehinds, you know you want to. 
  • The Picfair Pics Of The Year: Picfair is one of my favourite things of the year, and it seems to be going well which makes me happy. In case you missed it, it’s a service which allows anyone to upload any of their pics to the site, set a single-use licensing cost, and then lets others buy use of that image under certain pre-agreed licensing terms. Effectively it lets anyone monetise their photography (as long as there’s a market for it), and is INNOVATIVE and DISRUPTIVE and all those other words which we’re all sick of. Anyway, these are their best shots of the year – there are some crackers on there. 
  • Pictures Of US Presidents Hanging Out: I love these. A selection of shots from Obama, Bush and Clinton’s trip to South Africa this week to attend Mandela’s memorial (on which note, if you’ve not read the account by the man who took THAT selfie shot of Obama, Cameron and Thorning Schmidt of the context around it, then go do so now) which demonstrates just how staged and agenda-led political photography can be, and that being POTUS is the sort of experience which creates relationships which transcend Democratic/GOP boundaries. 
  • The Best / Worst Santa Costume Ever: If you’re yet to have your office shindig, you may wish to consider this. Just imagine it in Extra Large. JUST IMAGINE. 
  • A 360-degree Lap With The Stig: I hate Top Gear. Sorry. Anyway, if you like cars and stuff then this video by the bloke in the helmet driving fast might be up your street – it’s one of those ‘look, you can watch in 360 degrees!’ things, and for all I know is quite exciting if you can drive. 
  • Ship A Dcik: Have you ever wanted to ship a giant cardboard penis to someone? OH GOOD!
  • Examining Technologically Dubious Kickstarter Projects: A website which looks at all those Kickstarters which look SO FUTURE and which as a result are perhaps at best overambitious and at worst outright fantasy. Clever and interesting, but will also in part kill quite a few of your dreams. Also contains at least one thing I have featured on here, which suggests I am an idiot who understands nothing and should apply a little more editorial rigour in 2014 (*adds to resolutions list*). 
  • GifWrapping: Artists share animated Gif art projects with each other for Christmas. We get to look at them, which is almost like getting a present ourselves. Almost, maybe, a bit. 
  • Cheerify: A website / plugin which lets you CHRISTMASIFY (not a word) any website you choose with WRAPPING PAPER and CHRISTMAS EFFECTS and MUSIC. When I say ‘Christmasify’ I of course mean ‘render dreadful, unnavigable and migraine-inducing’ – as a promo for digital agency AMP I am frankly unimpressed. 
  • The Amiga Workbench Emulator: I don’t really know what you’re meant to do with this, if I’m 100% honest with you, but if anyone can show me how I can make it play Sensible Soccer then I will love you forever. 
  • Highway One: This week’s ‘best example of HTML parallax scrolling thingy’ is this, a guide to America’s Highway One, made in the style of a road trip. Such lovely design, and it’s informative and functional too. 100,000,000 points. 
  • Fred Bassett + Slayer: This should be a Tumblr. Why isn’t it a Tumblr? Anyway, this takes what is officially the least funny strip cartoon IN THE WORLD (seriously though, has anyone ever laughed at Fred Bassett? Is it a dog-lover thing? Maybe you need to be a closed minded, bigoted twat who reads the Mail (and if you ‘only’ read the Mail Online then YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM) to laugh at it – I just don’t know) and combines it with the sensitively poetic lyrics of Slayer in a move which makes the strip both funny and sort of terrifying. 
  • The NYC Taxi Calendar of 2014: A calendar collecting the sexy cab drivers of the Big Apple in sexy poses. I use the term ‘sexy’ pretty loosely, but I really do think that Hailo should jump on this and knock one out quickly for London – can you IMAGINE the specimens? 
  • The Future Of UI: Not the first of these that I’ve seen, but it’s a pretty comprehensive collection of examples of ‘OH WOW LOOK AT THE FUTURE’ interface design from films. I think that we might see some stuff like this almost starting to nearly become reality in the next 12 months or so (way to hedge my bets) – if the XBox One takes off as a home entertainment / multemedia hub THING, with all its gestural interface stuff, you might start to see web designers experimenting with some of these things for Kinect-specfic browsing experiences. They’ll be horrible at first, obviously, but we’re almost at a point where it could work.
  • A Sound Map Of The World: I think that this is an amazing project. As far as I can tell, this is a totally personal project which invites people to send in ambient recordings of their surroundings and then maps them across Google Maps – creating an audiopicture of the world. The volume of contributions is really, really impressive, and I just lost about 20 minutes’ writing time listening to what Germany, France and Japan sound like. Things like this are why the internet is, occasionally, brilliant. 
  • Dai Lyn’s Photos Of Old People Wearing B-Boy Clothes: No more, no less. Great pictures. I did a GCSE in Religious Education (Catholic school, had no choice) in which I suggested that the church should combat ageism by getting pensioners into Bhangra and hardcore and dressing them accordingly – God, I was ahead of my time. 
  • A Photoessay About North Korea: We’ve learned a lot about North Korea this year – not much of it pleasant, to be honest. This is a great photoessay about the country – loads of great pictures and definitely worth a scroll through. 
  • 214 Music Tips for 2014: Selected by website Crack In The Road, this is a truly EPIC collection of recommendations for interesting listening material next year. I have no idea how much of this is good, but the bits I’ve skimmed over / listened to suggest a massively eclectic collection of a whole load of stuff you may not have heard of. Take a punt and see what you hear (wow, that’s a hideous phrase, sorry). 
  • The Good Bits From The Comments: It’s a widely held truism that everything that happens below the line is bad and evil and idiotic (and on YouTube that’s still largely true, despite Google’s recent efforts). Blorpy, though, is a (horribly named) website which collects interesting, thoughtful and heartwarming comments from blogs and news articles around the web in one place. Fascinating – there’s loads of really interesting stuff in here about all sorts of things. 
  • The 8-bit Selfie: A neat little website, the Interstellar Selfie Station uses your webcam to take a picture of you and then 8-bits the fcuk out of it, with all sorts of contrast and definition filters to make your image look like the loading screen of a ZX Spectrum game circa 1987. Actually looks rather cool, and might be nice if you’re bored of your social media avatar and are of a retro-gaming bent. 
  • Why Is The Sky Blue?: I sort of know the answer to this, in a really loose, crap, unscientific way – I really liked this site which explained it to me in simple words and pictures that even someone who’s a bit crap at science could understand. Nice design. 
  • Turning A Building Into A Rubik’s Cube: This is just mental really. 3d projection and very clever tech combined – it’s clunky but also very impressive indeed. 
  • Crap Gift Picker: I really should have putall the Christmas stuff in its own section, shouldn’t I? Oh well. This is a rather nice little promotoy by interactive agency Traction, which allows you to randomly pick a slightly rubbish gift for someone you ought to get a present for but really don’t care about enough to think about what to get them. 
  • Least Helpful: A website collecting the least helpful, most curmudgeonly reviews on Amazon (and other sites, probably). It does make you wonder about the sort of people who actively choose to take time from their lives to post things like ‘FEATURES THE WORD ‘QUEER’. DISGUSTING’ under a review. You hope that most of these are jokes, but fear that they’re not. 
  • Your Own Private Video Archive: Mindlogr is a platform which allows people to record video of themselves and then store it in a private archive – the idea being that you will develop a personal, persistent video journal of your life, stored in one place, against which you can map all sorts of other quantified self data (it connects with Nike+, Fitbit, etc) and general information like the news or the weather. For any of you who’ve read Houllebecq’s ‘The Possibility of an Island’, the concept of the LIFE STORY as he defines it is pretty much a variant on this very thing; an interesting idea overall. 
  • Buy A Private Island: What to get for the person who has everything. Amazingly this appears to be real.
  • World In Love: This is a very sweet project indeed, looking to find examples of couples which cover every single possible match of nationalities available. It’s probably doomed to failure unless it gets a big publicity injection, but I think the ethos behind it is lovely. 
  • Aluminium Casts of Anthills: This bloke basically pours molten aluminium into ants’ nests which then solidifies and creates amazing sculptures which match the dimensions of the insane network of tunnels and chambers within. AND ALSO KILLS ALL THE ANTS. I presume the hot metal just sort of disintegrates them on impact – or is your sculpture full of ant corpses. WHY HAS NOONE CONSIDERED THIS?
  • Lots Of Little Webgames In One Place: Because you’re not doing any more work between now and Christmas, let’s be honest. 
  • The Junk Drawer Project: Picturs of the crap we store and the stories behind why we do so. More interesting than it probably ought to be (at least to me, who has about 17 variants on this around the house which I’m sort of too scared to open in case BAD MEMORIES leap out). 
  • Depression Quest: A text and music game about living with depression. Christmas isn’t a fun time for the depressed. Now might be a good time to consider donating some of the money you were going to spend on useless sh1t noone really needs or wants to a charity instead. Try Mind, or maybe Shelter
  • WikiGif: All of the Gifs from Wikipedia on one website. Man, there’s some odd stuff on Wikipedia. 
  • The Vagine Decal For Trackpads: There’s no other way to describe it. It’s purportedly a feminist statement. I’m not really sure what to think. 
  • The 50 Worst Things On The Internet in 2013: Finally, a roundup of a load of pictures and Gifs which will make you hope that some sort of meteorite strikes between now and January 1st 2014 and puts a stop to us once and for all. Although I’m surprised that the above-mentioned vagina decal’s not on the list. 
By James Whitlow Delano
 


MAYBE YOU WOULD LIKE TO LISTEN TO THE NEW BUSTA RHYMES/QTIP MIXTAPE NOW?

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:

  • Respectful Rappers: What if rap lyrics were a little less angry and misogynistic and a little more feminist? This might be what they would be like, maybe.
  • King James Programming: This is VERY geeky. Algorithmically mashing text from the King James Bible with The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programmes for ‘comic’ effect. Programmers might like this; the rest of you, skip to the next one which has Macauley Culkin in it.
  • The Pizza Underground: What would YOU do if you were former child star Macauley Culkin? Would you descend into a drink and drug fueled hell and set up a dreadful, morally-questionable venture seeking to exploit your former ‘fame’ so as to get into the pants of a lot of desperate women seeking some tawdry variant on fame in the Hollywood hills (HELLO COREY FELDMAN!)? NO YOU WOULD NOT! You would form pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band called The Pizza Underground. Of course you would. You can listen to the music here if you want (it’s…er…not great). 
  • Sports Balls Replaced With Cats: Erm, that.
  • Jaden Is Worried: I always though that John Terry’s resting facial expression was the acme of existential sadness (seriously, check out the massively bleak look he always sports), but now there’s a new champion of worry – Will Smith’s kid Jaden. Poor lad. I hope he’s ok. 
  • Cloaque: This is a seemingly infinitely scrolling Tumblr art project which collects all sorts of random imagery, gifs, 3d models, etc, and dumps them all onto the page in a way which is weirdly a lot more visually coherent than it ought to be. Its curators call it ‘digital compost’. I like that. Contains 3d modeled genitalia, in case you care.
  • 12 Shoes For 12 Lovers: Sebastian Errazuriz is an artist who has designed 12 pairs of shoes, each of which depicts aspects of one of his former lovers. Each is accompanied by a short vignette from their relationship. This might be my favourite thing on here this week. 
  • Stop Senior Selfies: A Tumblr campaigning to get OLD PEOPLE to stop taking selfies as it’s only for the kids, YEAH?! Unfortunately the curator’s definition of ‘senior’ seems to encompass people over the age of 30. The young are TYRANTS. 
  • Tom Hanks Animals: Tom Hanks’ face, on gifs of animals. That’s all. The one at the top as I write this made me laugh a LOT. 
  • Medieval People Of Colour: A collection of images of people of colour from renaissance art.
  • UX Critique: Looking at all the reasons why the new iPhone UX is rubbish. 
  • Ineffective Chinstraps: A late contender for most weirdly niche Tumblr or the year, this seemingly collects pictures of people wearing headgear with chinstraps that don’t really fit properly. 
  • All Staff All Day: Purports to be a collection of actual emails which have been sent to all staff in companies, accompanied by appropriate images. Some gold in here. 
  • Yeezus As Art: Lyrics from Kanye’s ‘Yeezus’ album, illustrated by pics from Bing image search. By Shardcore – you can read about it here if you like
  • My Earliest Memory: A project by Simon White, collecting people’s earliest memories. Contribute one – it’s a lovely project. 

LONG STUFF WHICH IS LONG BUT WHICH YOU WILL HAVE AMPLE TIME TO READ BETWEEN NOW AND NEXT TIME AND AS SUCH WHICH YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE NOT TO DIVE INTO LIKE SOME SORT OF HAPPY WORD-EATING CORMORANT (NO, ME NEITHER):

  • A Lovely, Long Interview With Bill Watterson: After Calvin & Hobbes got megafamous, its creator Bill Watterson didn’t do many interviews. This, though, is from 1989 before it had become quite the worldwide phenomenon it would eventually develop into; this is a long and fascinating interview with the man, which touches on all sorts of fascinating stuff about the strip. To me, though, the best bits are Wattersons slightly testy responses to questions about whether Hobbes is ‘real’ or not, and what that does to the narrative – it’s a lovely example of a creator wanting to give their work to breathe and live in the mind rather than give people answers on a plate, and how that ambiguity creates a depth to the strip that it could never have had otherwise. 
  • An AMA With The Semen Chef: There’s a book for sale on Amazon called ‘Natural Harvest: A Collection of Semen-based Recipes‘ – if you’ve spent much time on the internet, you’ve probably come across it (sorry). This is a Reddit AMA with the book’s author which is actually sort of legitimately interesting, but which I am including mainly because there are SO MANY QUOTES in here which I suggest that you copy and paste into emails to colleagues over the next week or so. Go on, confuse them a little. 
  • Jonah Peretti, Critical Theory and Advertising: I don’t care what Time Magazine says, this was the year of Jonah Peretti, and the year in which the world’s media basically looked at Buzzfeed’s success and just sort of gave up trying to be different (hyperbole, but). This is a fascinating fund, dug out by Critical Theory Magazine (whose summary of it is worth reading if you can’t stomach the academic-ese (not a word)) – an early essay by Peretti on capitalism, queer theory and identity commodification. Read this (or, as I said, the summary) and realise where Buzzfeed came from (and maybe a bit about where we are all going, maybe). Contains the amazing (if you consider the context of who wrote it) observation that we are increasingly obsessing over “isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into a coherent sequence” – YOU’RE NOT HELPING, JONAH.
  • Why ‘Life’ Doesn’t Exist: Not going to lie, this one’s a bit *hard*. A piece from Scientific American in which the author asserts that to assert that there is some quality called ‘life’ which differentiates certain objects or organisms from others is fallacious, and that instead we should understand distinctions in terms of systemic complexity. Which has all sorts of fairly mental philosophical implications, particularly in terms of AI and stuff. Sort of headbending.
  • An Interview With The Creator of Cache Monet: This year’s web art sensation Cache Monet has been linked to EVERYWHERE. This interview with its creator Tim Nolan is fascinating on the manner in which it’s started to bridge the gap between a digital and a physical work, and how offline galleries are trying to get in on the act.
  • Why Upworthy Headllines Are Everywhere: Short answer – because they work. Longer answer – because of Twitter and Facebook, and there’s nothing at all that we can do about it. This is a very clever look at the deeper media politics behind Facebook’s recent ‘quality content’-prioritising algorithm change, and how that has basically ruined EVERYTHING (/hyperbole). 
  • On The Sad Death Of The Quiet Gig: This is a very good and very true piece from Th Quietus on how it’s no longer possible to go to a gig without having it ruined by some idiot(s) talking constantly throughout it. Does this mean I’m getting old? No, it means that the world is becoming increasingly full of arseholes (I am well aware that writing that sentence means that I am in fact getting old). 
  • I Had Sex With My High School Teacher: Not me, obviously, the author of this piece. As a girl, she had a brief affair with her mid-20s teacher; this is her account of what it felt like and what happened. A really beautiful piece of writing which is in no way sensational and which is by turns funny and heartbreakingly sad, and may make you think a little differently about a few of this year’s news stories, maybe. 
  • Dasani’s Homeless Life: One of the best pieces of journalism I have read all year, this report by the New York Times into the life of one family on the poverty line in the city will at points move you to tears (guaranteed), but is a brilliant and (I think) pleasingly unsentimental look at what it is like to be very poor in a large Western metropolis. Good multimedia, good photography and excellent writing combine to make this worth taking every single minute it takes to read. Sort-of essential, I think. 
  • The PTSD Lobotomies of Post-War America: Some 2,000 men were lobotomised by the US Army Veterans Administration, to treat them for conditions that at the time they didn’t even have names for but which now we’d probably call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This piece on the Wall Street Journal is another great piece of multimedia journalism, looking at how and why it happened. It’s, er, not a very happy story, I warn you. 
  • The Rise Of Millennial Writing: I love this very much indeed. It’s a nice summation of where we find ourselves as a civilisation with the internet and our senses of self and individualism, all wrapped up in what Bret Easton Ellis called the ‘Post-Empire’ mindset, and in many ways it’s one of the best summaries of what almost everything I have linked to in 2013 has made me think and feel on one level or another. 
By Kei Meguro
 


NOW, THE MOVING PICTURES! OH, AND YES, BEYONCE MADE A RECORD

1) First, a present for you. Take this link and save it somewhere, and then remember it on one dark afternoon over Christmas and curl up on the couch and watch it ALL. This is a director’s cut of The Dark Crystal, painstakingly reconstructed and recoloured from an old black and white print of the film as Henson originally intended it. Enjoy:
 

2) I love Jeffrey Lewis. He’s clever and funny and a great artist and he writes brilliant, funny songs (if you don’t know him, try ‘Back When I Was 4‘ as a taster) and he’s interested and passionate (but, god love him, his singing can best be described as ‘Dylanesque’, and even Bob might find that comparison a bit unflattering). This is his sung and drawn tribute to Alan Moore, the Wizard of Northampton and one of the UK’s most brilliantly unhinged creative minds:


3) Not 100% sure what this is – whether it’s an interview or a performance or a combination of the two – but as a piece of filmmaking it’s rather wonderful. Watch the story of Mr X and his amazing tattoos:

4) I spent a large part of the first few months of this year talking about drones and then it all sort of became too real to be interesting. This short film is a reasonably plausible look at what (at the current rate of progress) 2018 might look like:

5) ‘Wind’ is a lovely short animation about life in a very windy city indeed. Beautiful style coupled with great little visual gags make this one rather special indeed:

6) HIPHOP CORNER! This is UK rapper Fem Fel, of whom I had never heard, with his new single ‘Massive’. I like the production and the slightly thudding feel of it – sort of oppressive, in a good way:


7) Max Cooper is a producer who makes glitchy, skippy, nervous-making soundscapes in the style of Venetian Snares and other WARP-type artists. Tom Hodge is a pianist and composer. This is the music they made together, which is really rather lovely – and, when accompanied by this 3d animation by Nick Cobby, make it my second-favourite thing of the week:

8) This, though, is my favourite thing. Yes, it contains ukelele, and yes, it’s hipster as fcuk. I don’t care. The song is gorgeous, I think, and the video – which tells of people jumping trains across America – is all sorts of open-country-freedom-porn, with some gorgeous direction and shots (and it’s also the second thing this week to feature animated tatts). I could listen to this on a loop, and sort of have been – it’s called ‘Beggar’s Guild’, and it’s by Roadkill Ghost Choir:

9) I’m going to finish with my two favourite songs of the year – not the best ones, necessarily, but the ones which stuck in my head more than any others and which I’ve found myself coming back to again and again. First, ‘Born To Kill’ by The Thermals with its bloody, torture-themed video – under 2 minutes of brilliant guitarpop; the second by my friend Adam (AKA Akira The Don) and Gmane called The Beat Goes on – there’s no video, but it’s been in my head for 6 months and deserves its place. 

Thanks all of you who read this, I really do appreciate it. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – take care and have fun, webmongs x

That’s it for now

 

That’s it for now – see you next week
 
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Webcurios 06/12/13

Reading Time: 25 minutes

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Jabba the hut
Oxpens Road, Oxford

It’s late and I’m short of time. Let’s get on with this. Think of me as your wetsuit, webmongs – snug fitting, warming, and equipped with all manner of sensors and electronic gizmos to guide you through the murky depths of this week’s internet. Into the airlock we go – STEP INSIDE ME, WEBMONGS, FOR THIS IS WEB CURIOS.
 

By Pim Palsgraaf

THE SECTION WHICH I AM SO TIRED OF COMING UP WITH MILDLY COMEDIC TITLES FOR THAT I AM SIMPLY GOING TO CALL IT ‘SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS’ THIS WEEK AND BE DONE WITH IT, FOR I AM SLEEPY AND I HAVE 4 HOURS OF THIS TO GET THROUGH, GIVE A MAN A BREAK WHY DON’T YOU:

  • Facebook Tweaks Newsfeed: In a move which has been widely trumpeted as being a sign than Facebook cares about quality content but which is in fact nothing of the sort, the site this week announced that it was tweaking its newsfeed algorithms to prioritise articles. Effectively this means (I am guessing here – obviously I have no access whatsoever to insider information about Facebook’s contentmathematics, otherwise I certainly wouldn’t be getting up at 7am to write this rubbish) that links to content which is word-heavy (or at least word heavier than a page full of pictures) will get a slight edgerank bump; the most interesting feature as far as I can see, though, is the ‘suggested articles’-type schtick that they look like they’ll append to the thumbnail / summary view, which could be traffic-driving gold. Will be interesting to see how that works and whether there’s a monetisation model attached to it (of course there is, it’s Facebook, they’re not stupid). 
  • BUY MORE FACEBOOK ADS NOW: Short version – Facebook have basically admitted that unless you buy advertising even less people than normal will see your tedious, useless, pointless guff asking people to ‘like if they like hats, share if you prefer socks’. Unless you pay Facebook money to promote it. If this is in any way a surprise to you, you’re an idiot. Basically if you don’t include some form of paid-for activity on the platform, you might as well not bother. 
  • Twitter Retargeted Ads Are An Imminent Reality: This really is rather big, particularly as regards mobile. This was trailed a few months ago, and I think I wrote it up then – it’s worth rementioning (sorry, not a word), though. Basically this service will allow ad buyers to target their adbombs at users based on their browsing history – effectively working in the same way that Google does. The clever thing is that due to the multidevice way in which Twitter works this will work on mobile too, which is EXCITING and NEW and actually quite a significant step. If you sell stuff to people (or, more likely, your clients do – and whose don’t?) this is something you should know about and consider.
  • Social Media Platform Trends of 2014: A short video with some details about social media platforms which will be big next year, according to the people who made the video. Notable only for the first couple, which are interesting and less-known and have loads of users and which, if you have a client that cares about doing things on platforms other than Facebook and Twitter because, you know, people do occasionally use other things, might actually be worth investigating. 
  • Some Words About ENGAGEMENT on Facebook: I’m not going to lie, I think that this is rubbish. That said, if you need a post which says ‘ask questions!’ or ‘post pictures!’ or basically ‘don’t be a tedious ass!’ then this will make you happy. I personally included it because the last two ‘statistics’ (I use the word loosely – they really do feel like totally made-up numbers, although they are attributed) about why ‘fans’ ‘like’ Pages made me laugh like a drain (clue: FREE STUFF, and not in any way any sort of brand loyalty or affinity whatsoever). 
  • The Psychology of Persuasive Content: This is a bit saddening but also quite a clever breakdown of how you make clickable stuff (and basically of how to write for Buzzfeed, Upworthy, etc). Like looking behind the curtain and seeing that Oz is just a tired old man who’s sick of tugging at the levers and just wants to go home (sort of, to me). 
  • Budweiser’s Twitter-Powered Knitting Machine: Another year, another mechanic which creates physical objects based on activity online. If anyone writes anything about how 2014 is the year in which the physical and the digital get even closer together they deserve shooting, as an aside. Anyway, this is reasonably nice by Bud – there are looms which knit Christmas jumpers (as another aside, there was a piece on Woman’s Hour yesterday morning about the inexorable rise of the Christmas jumper as a ‘thing’, which I can only hope will sound the death-knell for this tedious, played out cultural meme – IT’S NOT FCUKING FUNNY OR CLEVER OR ENDEARING, YOU AWFUL TWATS), which knits more stuff based on more mentions on Twitter. Not innovative, but it works – although they could have added a charity auction mechanic to it, to allow idiots the chance to bid for the eventual fashion aberrations made by an aesthetically blind robot hand (well, not hand per se, but you know what I mean). 
  • Nice Domino’s BA-riffing Billboard: This is cute, although aimed solely at the advermarketingpr community and therefore of no practical purpose whatsoever other than getting the agency and the client a lot of pats on the back from their peers and each other (but that’s what it’s all about, right guys?) – this neatly rips off the BA ‘look at the planes flying overhead’ billboard by doing the same thing for pizza delivery drivers driving below. The inclusion of personal details of those who ordered is a very nice touch. 
  • 3d Printed Hobbit Props: This is very clever indeed, though. Collaboration between Microsoft and the film studio putting out Peter Jackson’s horribly overextended CGI tedium-fest which makes the models for certain props from the film available as 3d models which fans can then print. Very clever, although there’s an extent to which they’re potentially cannibalising their own merch market (although to be honest the film’s going to make so much money that they can probably forgo the $19.99 for a plastic key or similar). 
  • Burger King Does Something Very Smart With YouTube: This is basically just really smart advertising rather than anything with a particularly internetty bent. Burger King in (I think) Australia created a series of YouTube preroll ads which point out how much people hate preroll ads – 64 individual spots which reference the content ahead of which they appear. Another example of advertising which appears subversive but which is instead JUST ADVERTISING – really very astute, though.
  • Lynx Mass Debates: Mass debates! IT SOUNDS LIKE WANKING SO IT’S FUNNY!!!!! Jesus wept. You wouldn’t expect anything better from sophomoric stink-peddlers Lynx, it’s true, but there’s something slightly depressing about the laziness of the term. Anyway, this purports to be a means of tracking the great debates of the day via the medium of the internet – XBox vs PS; redheads, blondes or brunettes; tits or face (I may have made the last one up – whatever happened to John Leslie, anyway?) – which is nice, and the illustrations are really rather good. Thing is, though, it’s an utterly shallow mechanic which just tracks mentions on Twitter, and is basically no more interesting or insightful than running a keyword search on Radian6 or whichever hideous monitoring software you have to battle with – for obvious moderation-avoidance reasons you can’t even click through to see what people are saying about anything. It’s just a bit 2-dimensional really, which is a shame as the design and build is actually rather nice. 
  • SEND US YOUR PREDICTIONS: My lovely paymasters at Imperica are looking to track all the ‘2014 will be the year of XXXX’ lists – details on how you can help here. 
By Francesco Paleari

YOU MAY WISH TO LISTEN TO THE SPOTIFY PLAYLIST OF THE QUIETUS’ BEST 100 SONGS OF THE YEAR – IT IS HERE IN CASE YOU DO

THE SECTION WHICH CONTAINS MORE LINKS THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT, A PHRASE WHICH I HAVE NEVER UNDERSTOOD, FRANKLY, FOR IF YOU WANT TO SHAKE A STICK AT THIS SELECTION OF CHOICE NUGGETS OF TENDER INTERNET FLESH IN A NUTRITIOUS, MEATY PROSE JELLY THEN PLEASE GO RIGHT AHEAD FOR ALL THE GOOD IT WILL DO YOU, PT1:

  • The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project: There’s very little I could possibly add to the outpouring of sentiment which has greeted Mandela’s death today – this archive, though, is a fascinating collection of materials and memories from the life of one of the greatest people to have lived, ever. 
  • The Spotify Roundup of 2013: I’m including this partly because it contains some interesting stuff (we listen to more Fleetwood Mac here in the UK than ANY OTHER COUNTRY. Wow, go us) but more because it’s a nice piece of design and information-delivery. Can we all make a pact for 2014, please, and agree that rather than just shouting ‘INFOGRAPHIC’ at people whenever we have some information to display we might instead be a little more creative with web design? Obviously this will lead to a sickening amount of identikit parallax-scrolling vertical websites, but it would be a momentarily pleasing shift.
  • Imperica Event – Tickets Now Available: It will be really good and you should come. Seriously, it will. It’s a bargain. 
  • We Are All Criminals: Apparently 1 in 4 Minnesotans has been convicted of a crime (that seems like an awful lot). This is an art project which seeks to highlight some of the inequalities which determine who comprises that 1 in 4, by photographing people who have gotten away with crimes without any reprisal. There’s a lovely confessional quality to this, but it’s also profoundly depressing how obviously issues of race and economic status determine the likelihood of the criminal justice system leaving its mark on you. 
  • Clocks: A series of generative art projects which tell time and display the process thereof through algorithmic, procedural graphics. They are totally useless as timepieces, but each and every one has a peculiar and beautiful aesthetic behind it, and you can save and screencap the outputs for your own artistic pleasure, which is nice. 
  • Phonnix – Your Phone Anywhere: I think that this is very clever, although I might be completely misunderstanding how it works. As far as I can see, this is a service which allows you to set call forwarding from any number to the phonnix app, at any time – basically allowing you to carry all phone numbers you have with you at all times. It works for texts too – I’ve decided, this is smart. 
  • Mapping The Civic Tech Landscape: I don’t 100% know what this is about, I’m not going to lie – which perhaps means it’s not wholly successful as a project. Nonetheless, this is a very nice looking and friendly datavisualisation about (I think) investments by government (at a local and national level) in community-focused technology. It’s a very simple and classic example of taking a report and making it interesting-looking enough to attract the attention of people who wouldn’t automatically be its constituent audience (like me, for example), and it’s very nicely built indeed.
  • The Plush Game Controller: This is a clever thing. ZowPow ( a HORRID name) is a combination of app and toy which allows kids to control the action on the app (displayed on your phone or on your screen) using a soft toy as the controller. It’s pretty simple – there’s an accelerometer in the toy which tracks its movement in a basic sense; said movement is then translated to the in-game avatar on-screen. I can imagine this being very popular indeed, although the advert included in the post made me think of ‘Momo’ by Michael Ende (a great book, fyi) insofar as none of the kids look like they’re actually having any fun whilst playing with the thing. IT WAS BETTER WHEN WE JUST HAD WOODEN BLOCKS. 
  • Social Santa: A nice little Twitter hack which analyses your Twitter feed and determines whether you have been naughty or nice over the past year based on how much you have sworn on social media. It will surprise very few people to know that I have been naughty and should be punished (that’s not a call for S&M fun, however much as it might sound like one). 
  • Geocaching Community: There’s no two ways about it – geocaching is HUGELY geeky and quite niche. And yet, a surprisingly large number of people who are actually not that geeky at all are into it. For those of you who don’t know, it’s basically a cross between treasure hunts and rambling (I did say it was geeky), which suits those with a penchant for bracing walks and solving clues – it basically involves you going to seek out stuff at particular coordinates using a GPS tracking device and your legs. Anyhow, this site called OpenCaching is a sort of hub for geocaching enthusiasts which contains details of caches in your local area and associated info – I am honestly amazed that no brand has done anything with this yet (that I’ve seen), as it’s ripe for messing with. If you are Merrell or somesuch, it would seem like a bit of an open goal.
  • Indie Voices: Billing itself as ‘crowdfunding for independent media’, this site is basically Kickstarter for journalism (this is a gross over simplification, but, well, what do you expect from me?) – if you have a documentary or general investigative project you want to undertake, you could do worse than look for money on this. Interestingly there’s a side-project to this which is seeking to launch financial products in March of next year – will be interesting to see if / how that works.
  • Popup Sound Archive: This is a brilliant project. Pop Up Archive is a service which allows institutions (and individuals, should they desire) to upload audio files in a way which makes them searchable – this is the sort of thing that the BBC obviously already has but which has been out of reach of organisations which don’t have their resources. Imagine all of the world’s recorded audio, digitised and searchable and accessible. It would be AWESOME, and this is the sort of thing which will make that a reality (hyperbole).
  • Glitchy Music Video Website Thingy: A clunky, horrible but also true description. This is a website built to accompany electro-ish song called ‘South’ by a bloke called Chris Actor, which is a strange glitchy mess which you can navigate through as the song plays. I like the aesthetic more than the execution, but it’s an interesting idea which I’d like to see done a little more professionally (he says, being both rude and demanding at the same time). 
  • FactSlides: Facts! With accompanying pictures! In slideshow format! Included because I think that the design and execution of this is very nice indeed – the actual content’s not that exciting, but it’s delivered rather nicely. 
  • The Periodic Table Of Periods: I don’t really know what to say about this, so I’m just going to leave it here and move on. 
  • Mapping Sightings of Jesus: Not enough people are lucky enough to glimpse a sight of our Lord and Saviour in a burger bun, or in a patch of moisture on tarmac (He graces us with his presence so fleetingly, and so few of us are blessed!) – if you, like me, haven’t yet been the fortunate recipient of a visitation from the living Christ, console yourself with this website which collects and maps sightings of the Jesus in odd locations around the world. He crops up everywhere, it turns out, the cheeky scamp!
  • The Smallest Printing Company: This is so lovely. LOOK! IT’S A TINY PRINTING PRESS! Erm, that’s what it is. Not really sure what else to say now. Bit awkward. 
  • The World’s First Voice Petition: Is this a first? No idea, and it probably doesn’t matter, but it’s a nice thing. A smart woman I know has been saying for a couple of years now that audio is going to be BIG soon – this is the sort of thing she means, I think. This is a petition for background checks on prospective gun owners in the US – the idea being that people sign up by recording a short message of support for the campaign. Is that too much of a barrier to entry? If so then Jesus Christ but are we a crap, lazy species. 
  • The Lookbook Cookbook: This is probably going to make a lot of you quite angry, because we all like to hate a beautiful hipster and this is a whole website full of them. Beautiful young people, modeling trendy clothes, accompanying recipes for irritatingly healthy cakes and stuff. This will be a book within weeks, I promise you. 
  • Feminism in Stock Photography: Stock photography really is dreadfully stupid. 
  • The Council Straplines Of England: Local councils have, for reasons known only to them, a habit of commissioning inspirational slogans which somehow sum them up (“Wiltshire: It’s mostly loads better than Swindon”). This is a collection of them – the main feeling you will get from looking though them is one of amazement that so many different people can be involved in the creation of so much similarly fatuous nonsense. Although I do quite like the Selby one, “Moving Forward With Purpose”, largely as it sounds quite fascistic and sort of scary (a bit like Selby itself). 
  • Perpetu: What happens to one’s social media presences after one’s death is a topic close to my heart for a variety of reasons; Perpetu is a smart-seeming service which allows you to set up differentiated processes for each platform on which you have a presence, assign someone to alert the company in the event of your demise, and then trigger whatever you want to happen (download all your pics off Facebook to an open Dropbox; send a posthumous goodbye tweet; etc etc). Yes it’s morbid and a bit dark, and you may think it an odd and slightly narcissistic move, but as someone who’s had to deal with a dead kid’s Facebook page I can assure you that this sort of thing would have been very welcome indeed. 
  • Fcuk You: Fcuk You (misspelling intentional for previously mentioned firewall reasons) was a 1960s literary magazine from NYC – this is a collection of scans of it. There’s some awesome uber-60s poetry in here, do have a rummage – as an evocation of a particular aesthetic and time, it’s fascinating. 
  • Christmas Cats: I don’t really know what or why this is – it seems to be a live stream of a slightly odd cat lady, playing with felines whilst appalling Christmas music plays. I don’t know if there’s some sort of big reveal that’s going to happen here, or if it really is just some cat lady and her moggies. Odd. It’s on US time, and will probably start broadcasting live shortly after you read this (presuming it’s Friday afternoon as you consume this clunky prose) – ENJOY!
  • Tame A Big Cat With Shakira!: This is very, very odd indeed. The website for Shakira’s fragrance – what does Shakira smell like, I wonder? Hm, typing that sentence made me feel quite creepy, I don’t think I’ll speculate like that again – encourages users to play a little minigame to…er…tame a cheetah. There doesn’t appear to be any reason for this other than that Shakira is…er…a bit odd. 
  • Slightly Horrifying Animated Advent Calendar: This is sort of grimly amazing. I don’t know who made this or why, but it’s a really shonky online advent calendar featuring sub-par Trumpton-style animation and truly dreadful sound. It’s like the spirit of Christmas in a website!
  • Inside A Krokodil Cookhouse: Ah, desomorphine. Such a cuddly drug! This year’s hipster drugscarestory (meth is so mainstream, dah-link), Krokodil is the ‘flesh eating’ (mild hyperbole, but only mildly) drug which you will probably have heard VICE wanging on about over the past 12 months. This is a series of pictures documenting the lives of addicts in Russia. They are not happy pictures, and they will not make you feel warm inside. Also, if you’re a little squeamish about seeing people jacking up into unusual parts of their bodies then  this probably isn’t for you. 
  • The Blank Tape Gallery: Have you always wanted to lose yourself in a terrifyingly comprehensive collection of informative and opinionated audio cassettes, including photographs and reviews and personal anecdotes? WELL LUCKY YOU! This is sort of terrifying in its swivel-eyed intensity, but you have to admire the dedication of a man (for this is the sort of obsessional behaviour which could never be imagined of in a woman) who can pen this many words about recording equipment. 
  • The Love Conductor: File under ‘Only In New York’. This is a service called ‘Trainspottings’, which basically seeks to pair up singles on the New York subway, via the medium of terrifying unasked for intrusions into one’s personal life and space. Basically these lunatics will approach people they think are attractive and single on the tube and then seek to pair them up with other attractive single people on the tube. This may well work really well in NYC, but as I type this I am imagining how it would pan out in London and my toes are curling to near breaking point. Jesus, I’m so ENGLISH :-(.
  • Clever Spinny Hack For GoPro Cameras: Erm, that, basically. This is a clever project which shows you how you can make a spinny-camera thing from a GoPro – the effect is very cool indeed, and this is worth watching if you like making films and stuff. 
  • XRay Portraits Of Couples: I love these. Shots of couples, holding each other, shot through an Xray machine. Beautiful – I would like one of these as a massive print, please (hint). 
  • Albums of the Year 2013: I’m going to be 100% honest with you here, webmongs, and confess that I haven’t heard of about 45% of the artists on here (as I am OLD and out of touch). I can’t vouch for the quality of all of this, or of the overall editorial judgment, but I like the Quietus in general and any list which opens with a band called ‘Sh1tfcuker’ at #100 is worth a place in Web Curios. 
  • An Engineer’s Business Cards: These are very, very clever indeed. Circuit boards as business cards, which include a light-uppable picture of the person who they’re advertising. Obviously hideously impractical and hugely expensive, but really quite a cool idea AND THAT’S WHAT COUNTS. We fly in the face of practicality here. 
No idea, sorry

THE SECTION WHICH CONTAINS MORE LINKS THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT, A PHRASE WHICH I HAVE NEVER UNDERSTOOD, FRANKLY, FOR IF YOU WANT TO SHAKE A STICK AT THIS SELECTION OF CHOICE NUGGETS OF TENDER INTERNET FLESH IN A NUTRITIOUS, MEATY PROSE JELLY THEN PLEASE GO RIGHT AHEAD FOR ALL THE GOOD IT WILL DO YOU, PT2:

  • I Promise To: I’m not sure if I like this or not. Ostensibly a thoughtful alternative to buying someone MORE STUFF at Christmas, these are cards which you can buy to give to people which basically function as pretty little IOUs or promissory notes (erm, actually that’s exactly what they are – God, I’m an idiot) which you can give to people in lieu of, say, another crap scented candle that noone actually wants or needs. On the one hand I approve of the sentiment; on the other, the fact that a lot of these are off-the-shelf promises makes me a little sad inside. Your mileage may vary. 
  • Mallzee: Speaking of shopping, this is a very clever app indeed – it basically lets you browse for clothes on your phone, but cleverly adds in a nifty bit of crowdsourced opinion functionality ripped straight from everyone’s favourite superficial judgment sex-hunting app Tinder. You can share clothes you’re considering buying with any of your contacts and get their opinion on whether you should buy the thing or not – they swipe left for yes, right for no (or something like that). The kicker is that you can set privileges to people’s judgments – so if your girlfriend doesn’t like the jumper, for example, the app will not let you buy it. Which, if you’re a fashionspazz like me, might be useful. 
  • Batman As A Pauper: A photoproject from Brazil, showing the Batman of the favelas. Awesome shots.
  • Kanye Vs Creatives: Who said it – Kanye West or a Creative Director. Here’s a tip for you – if you work in a place where any of these things could have been uttered by one of the creative directors, quit. Now. 
  • The Best Books of 2013: This is a lovely website by NPR, running down its list of the best books of the year. Not only an excellent selection of stuff you can read, but also a really nicely designed site in its own right – take a look. 
  • Gifmelter: Add a gif, watch your hallucinatory nightmares come true. This is very odd indeed, and I can’t help but imagine quite how troubling it would be if you plugged some bongo into it.
  • Hire My Friend: This is a lovely idea. A small site which lets you create anonymous job profiles for people who might be looking for work but aren’t in a position to shout about it. Heavily focused towards the London startup community (happy birthday Tech City), this is a really cute and very useful concept. 
  • Generations: A lovely photoproject which pictures multiple generations of families in a single shot. It’s particularly interesting to see genetic characteristics maintain across 3-4 generations – so many people have their grandparents’ mouths, it seems. 
  • Open Source Architecture: Paper Houses is a project which makes blueprints for houses from major architects’ studios available to the public through open source frameworks. An excellent idea and a hugely public-spirited one. 
  • Glitched Streetview Art: Emilio Varella is an Italian artist who looks for the strange moments when Google Streetview breaks slightly and presents a glitched, fractured variant on its otherwise pristine view of the globe. Cold and eerie and kind of awesome.
  • Illusions of the Body: I adore these photos. Photographer Gracie Hagen has photographed a series of people, naked, in paired poses – one which seeks to present their body in the best way possible and the other in the worst. Illustrates with beautiful simplicity the degree to which very small changes in posture and presentation can make huge differences in the manner in which we are perceived. Oh, obviously this contains nudity so as ever I must warn you that it’s not technically safe-for-work, but it’s ART dammit, so screw the man and click the link anyway. 
  • A Particularly Childish Christmas Campaign Against Simon Cowell: I’m not advocating this so much as just saying ‘look, this is a thing, make up your own minds’. This is childish and scatological, but I have a soft spot for Kunt (and still think Perverts On The Internet is very funny indeed) and you may want to join in his online dirty protest (but you probably won’t). 
  • Stage Of Mind: Charles Saatchi can fcuk right off. THESE are impressive non-photoshopped pictures.
  • The Reuters Photograph of the Year: 93 amazing pictures from around the world this year. If those aren’t enough, you may like this selection from Yahoo!, or these ones from a website I had never previously heard of.
  • A Script To Book Restaurants: This is a clever piece of coding designed to snipe bookings at very popular restaurants in San Francisco. Can be adapted to anywhere, although obviously it’s less useful in London where it appears to have been decided that booking is for idiots and instead we should all just mill around outside in the freezing cold whilst waiting for a table. 
  • SightsMap: A map showing, in heatmap style, where people have taken pictures all around the world, based on what’s shared on Panoramio. It’s quite fun to play with, and reminded me of an idea I had for a photo app which would check before you took a photo exactly how many other photos of the thing you’re about to photograph already exist in the world and occasionally told you that maybe there wasn’t really any need for ANOTHER picture of the London Eye’s pods taken from below (for example. God I’m a joyless bastard sometimes). 
  • Vindies: A website which collects music videos from unsigned artists in one place. Interesting for musical discovery, although I must warn you that everything I have listened to through this so far has been uniformly dreadful. 
  • Rapstats: This is awesome. Like Google Trends for rap lyrics, Rap Stats is an offshoot of Rapgenius which lets you see the popularity of certain terms / lyrics in rap music over the past 20-odd years. I am SURE that there is something very fun you can d with this, but I don’t quite have the time to think of what that is. Christ, do I have to do everything for you?
  • The Inverted Umbrella: The cleverest thing you will see all day. You will wish you had invented this (but you didn’t, probably).
  • The Future Of Relationships: A presentation looking at some emergent trends in love and relationships which basically made me feel as though all love and romance is dead and that we are becoming a species of dead-eyed robot frotting machines. If you’re a planner, though, there’s probably quite a lot of stuff you can nick in here, so every cloud and all that. 
  • Brian Sewell Soundboards: These are old as the hills, but they are SO FUN. I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing silver-tongued snob Sewell talk dirty to me. 
  • Reaction/Diffusion Mix: I don’t really know how to describe this. All I can suggest is that you take some mushrooms, wait 20 minutes and then fire this up (or alternatively just fire this up – it feels quite a lot like mushrooms even without them). 
  • 26 Stories Of Christmas: A lovely project raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, this is an advent calendar-style site which each day presents a short piece of writing and a drawing, with all te drawings by people who’ve been helped by the trust. 
  • Annoy Your Colleagues: Find an internet-unsavvy coworker. Set this as their homepage. Walk away.
  • Night Rider Turbo: I don’t drive, but this game basically communicates what I imagine being behind the wheel of a car to be like (ie strange and terrifying).
  • Shaye St John: All of the weird in all of the world. Shaye St John was an amazingly full-on performance art project, and the website collects much of the work which comprised it. Lots of stuff about gender and tech and the internet and stuff, but frankly it’s mostly just utterly mental. You can read more about Shaye here, if you like.
  • Build Your Own Clickfarm: Last up in this section is this HUGELY addictive browser game, which is basically SimBusiness – it lets you establish and grow your own clickfarm. It is far more entertaining than it has any right to be, and I strongly advise that you don’t click on this if you have any work to do for the rest of the day. 
By Samuel Rodriguez

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:

  • Tumblrs Year In Review 2013: Tumblr’s own look back over the trends and themes of the past year. There is some HUGELY valuable insight in here, I reckon, for those willing to trawl through it – it contains lists of the most popular tags on the site in various categories (music, anime, fashion, food, etc), which if nothing else should prove useful to anyone with a passing interest in search (but more importantly to anyone engaged in the dreadful business of ‘coolhunting’). 
  • The Handsome Butch: Tailing for the transgender community. There are some awesome photos on here.
  • Beyonce Art History: Fine art, captioned with Beyonce lyrics. Proof that juxtaposition can make almost anything profound-seeming.
  • Having A Face: Luca Zanotto gives things which don’t ordinarily have faces faces.
  • Twitter: The Comic: Taking some of the more leftfield tweets of ‘Weird Twitter’ and illustrating them. There are other websites out there doing this, it’s true, but I like the art style of this one the best. 
  • Videogame Foliage: Foliage from videogames. No more, no less. 
  • Mouses Houses: I have literally no idea what this is or why it exists or what motivates the person who maintains it to create fantastically detailed little domestic scenes involving model mice. I merely present it here for your delectation and amusement. WHY IS IT SO CREEPY????
  • Cats That Look Like Pinup Girls: Cats, posing lasciviously in the manner of old-school cheesecake pinups. 
  • The Digs: The Pittsburgh Gazzette is digging out and digitising old photos from its archive and putting them here. There are some great historical pics here.
  • Fcuk Yeah Kerning: Collecting instances where kerning really could have helped. 
  • The Quantified Breakup: Analysing the data which emerges from the author’s post-breakup behaviour. Interesting but also almost terrifyingly dispassionate. 

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG BUT WHICH YOU SHOULD AT THE VERY LEAST SAVE SOMEWHERE AS IN A FEW SHORT WEEKS TIME YOU’LL BE BEGGING FOR SOMETHING – ANYTHING – TO DISTRACT YOU FROM CHRISTMAS AND YOUR FAMILY, I PROMISE YOU:

  • Look At The Monsters We’ve Created: This purports to be a funny look at the author’s daughter’s Christmas wishlist for 2013, but all it made me feel was a sense of creeping horror at how much kids want. I know, I know, I am a joyless curmudgeon and I should revel in the joys of the festive season – LOOK AT THEIR LITTLE FACES! – but this…this….this demand for STUFF, STUFF AND EVEN MORE STUFF is just depressing as all hell. 
  • On Boys, Girls and Games: A great piece on the ever-awesome Polygon looking at the manner in which games are perceived as a thing for BOYS. A really interesting read on all aspects of marketing, frankly, whether or not you give a flying one about videogames or otherwise. Not 100% sure about the layout / page design of this one, though. 
  • Memes, Religion and Facebook Chain Lettering: A very interesting (if a little high horse-ish) look at the use of memes and chain-letter style mechanics, particularly from religious campaigners, on Facebook. You will recognise a few of these, I reckon. 
  • Planet Money Makes A Tshirt: This is a slightly different, but still brilliant, piece of longform content. A detailed look at the process that lies behind you getting your hands on your boxfresh Fruit of the Loom number (yes, it’s 1993 again). Such good multimedia storytelling – this really is very impressive indeed from a presentation and storytelling point of view. 
  • The People Behind Viralnova: Viralnova makes Buzzfeed look like The Financial Times, but the story of its creation, how it works and the eye-watering amount of traffic it gets is absolutely mind-boggling. There’s an interesting angle in here about what its growth means for Buzzfeed itself, although personally I think that the conclusion it draw is somewhat hyperbolic – after all, much as it pains me to admit this, Buzzfeed isn’t just clickbait (just mostly clickbait). 
  • The One-Man Viral Content Finding Machine: Meet Neetzan Zimmerman. He works for Gawker, and has an insane ability to find stuff that the internet will like. This profile of him is slightly scary and makes me feel massively inadequate. 1000 sites a day! Mental. 
  • The Story Of The Fake Savile Transcript: I got sent this again this week – a piece of text which purports to be a transcript from an old episode of Have I Got News For You, in which Paul Merton says a lot of fairly awful things about Jimmy Savile to his face, all of which turned out to be completely justifiable as we learned relatively recently. It’s fake, of course, it used to crop up on Popbitch all the time back in the day, and this piece looks at its genesis. In a week in which we’ve all been reminded of how crap the internet is (or rather we are) at fact checking stuff, it’s nice to be reminded that this sort of thing has been happening for years.
  • American Mariachis: I love this piece. A warm and affectionate look at mariachi bands, specifically Luis Vasquez and his Mariachi Mexicanisimo band. There are some gorgeous photos in here too – very much worth a read, it will make you sort of happy. 
  • Imgur Is Massive: Just like jungle! (sorry). This is a good piece in the Atlantic about how Reddit’s little offshoot outstripped its parent, and what it’s going to become next – noone knows, obviously, but attempted monetisation is an inevitability with those numbers.
  • Painting on Velvet: It’s a fairly safe thing to mock, is the velvet painting. You’re in the same sort of realm as ornate pewter dragons clutching multifaceted swarofsky crystals (you know the sorts of things I mean, don’t pretend you don’t). This is a wonderful look at the craft behind velvet painting, and the history of the medium – and it’s also a collection of really, really horrible art. Worth a look if only for the fact that it contains probably the most frightening clown picture ever made, ever. 
  • Snowden and Greenwald: Timely in the wake of Rusbridger’s Select Committee appearance this week, this Rolling Stone piece looking at Snowden and Greenwald is an interesting picture of the men behind the leaks – there’s some good stuff in here on Wikileaks and Assange and the broader debate about rights vs security. Very much worth ploughing through (it’s heavy going at  times, I warn you, but the good outweighs the flabby). 
  • The 50 Best Articles of 2013: Someone else’s selection, and I’ve not read all of them, but there’s guaranteed to be a lot of goodstuff in here. Gratifyingly, about half have appeared here in the past 11 months. 
By Ren Hang

NOW, THE MOVING PICTURES!

1) First, have some ART. Disarm is a project which takes decommissioned weapons from the fight against cartels and turns them into an orchestra. I personally think that the whole ‘Look! ART FROM WEAPONS! BEAUTY FROM DEATH! DO YOU SEE????’ thing is a little facile and played out overall, but this gets included because I like the mechanics of it and, crucially, the weird, glitchy music it makes:

2) I really have no idea why this hasn’t got more views. Maybe it’s a length thing. Anyway, this is the latest song and video from Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip. It’s called ‘You Will See Me’, and the first time I watched / listened to it I got proper shivers till the drop kicked in. It is very, very good indeed – but particularly the first 3 minutes (oh, and the video’s great too, but as far as I’m concerned this one’s all about the words): 


3) I didn’t really know what this was at first, and then it sort of clicked and I realised quite how amazing it is. This is an incredible piece of work, analysing shot composition in There Will Be Blood. I promise you that it’s far more interesting than that sounds, and will leave you in absolute awe at Paul Thomas Anderson’s skill. No really – I don’t even particularly like films, and this was awe-inspiring:

4) Felix Colgrave is a very, very odd man indeed, if the contents of this animation are anything to go by. He’s also very talented indeed, and I think we’ll see a lot more of his work. This is called ‘The Elephant’s Garden’ – the elephants are sort of not really the point here:

5) HIPHOP CORNER! I really, really like Hopsin – his ‘Ill Mind Of Hopsin‘ series is one of the best things in contemporary hiphop, imho. Anyway, this is his most recent effort which I’m, including in part because I like the video, in part because his flow is pretty incredible on everything he does, and in part because he’s playing Koko next April and tickets just went on sale and I thought it would be a nice excuse to link to them here, just like I’m doing right now:

6) This is brilliant. In Dreams is a short film which takes video of people recounting their dreams, and then gives them appropriately weird CGI heads to accompany what they’re describing. It’s sort of like Creature Comforts, but about 300% weirder:


7) Devendra Banhart has obviously done a truly epic amount of acid:

8) I…I….don’t know what this is or what it’s about, but I somehow feel that it’s important for you to see it:

9) Finally this week, we have this from Telepopmusik – it’s called ‘Fever’, and the video is a collection of clips of webcam sex workers, often coming into and out of shot – liminal moments of digital sexuality, if you’ll allow me the ponciness. The genera aesthetic is pleasingly glitchy, but there’s an overall vibe of empty sadness about the whole thing (as you’d expect) which appeals to me. Obviously contains nudity, but there’s nothing particularly sexual about any of it – anyway, enjoy. HAPPY FRIDAY (or whatever day of the week it is when you’re reading this):

That’s it for now

 

That’s it for now – see you next week
 
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Webcurios 04/10/13

Reading Time: 23 minutes

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Hot & Tasty. Clayton Road, Peckham, SE15
Garudio Studiage photo of the week

Literally no time this week due to proper work. NONE. I have websites to launch and stuff. Let’s get straight down to it – open your metaphorical gullets and prepare to down this foaming, frothy (and slightly suspicous-smelling) pint of freshly-blended internet juice in one slightly nauseating swallow – it’s time for WEB CURIOS!
By Nathan James

STUFF THAT ONCE AGAIN WON’T IN ANY WAY ALLUDE TO THE BIG SOCIAL MEDIA IPO STORY AS OH GOD IT’S JUST TOO PAINFUL I COULD BE A MILLIONAIRE RIGHT NOW WERE IT NOT FOR ONE LITTLE NOT-PARTICULARLY-GREAT SET OF INTERVIEWS, DAMN YOU ALL:

  • Facebook Ads Now Slightly Different!: This is actually potentially a little more interesting than I may have made it sound here (but probably only a little). This is the latest in the iterative process of FB’s ‘we’re making our ads more relevant to you, the user, so that you learn to love them and embrace them and accept them into your life as if they were something said by an ACTUAL PERSON rather than borne of 6 agencies, three copywriters and a whole lot of tears’ process, this time tweaking the ad delivery algorithm to send adverts straight into the eyes of people who WANT TO SEE THEM. This is going to involve a recalibration of user feedback, placing more emphasis on people’s reactions to newsfeed ads specifically. Basically crap ads that people hide won’t show up so much, is the upshot, and brands won’t be able to target users with ads which they’ve repeatedly said they don’t want to see. Actually not all that exciting now I come to the end of this. 
  • Mobile App Ads Come To FacebookBasically include app functionality within mobile ads. So, clothing brands can have an ad showing a picture of a hat with the exhortation to BUY NOW and a direct clickthrough link to the bit in their mobile app where users can buy that very hat. Actually very useful, but only germane if you have an app. 
  • Some Data About People Talking About TV On Facebook (and Twitter)Moderately interesting to see the two platforms vying for supremacy when it comes to being ‘the platform which lets broadcasters see deep into the souls and preferences of viewers for greater profit’. This is interesting enough as far as it goes, but the piece’s differentiation between differing interaction weights on the platforms is worth reading and parroting back next time someone’s trying to make ‘likes’ a significant KPI. 
  • Search Your FB HistoryGraph Search is being rolled out across people’s timelines at some point in the not-too-distant future, allowing people to search back through their friends’ feeds for…stuff. The piece uses dull examples such as ‘people who mentioned Miley Cyrus who are my friends’, but the REAL fun comes when you start to imagine all the hideously ill-judged stuff that you might be able to dredge up by using slightly more interesting / esoteric search terms. It’s unclear how open / hackable this is going to be, but there’s definitely brand potential here when it comes to tie-in apps which lets friends either embarrass or…er…nope, just embarrass each other with this. THINK ABOUT IT.
  • Check In For WiFiVery clever idea, this, from CISCO and Facebook which (leaving aside the techy stuff) lets you check into WiFi networks by…er…checking into a location on Facebook. Easy for punters, good for venues as you’re effectively selling WiFi access in exchange for pimping your venue. 
  • YouTube Music Awards: ‘Yes, yes, fine, but will we be treated to the slightly awkward sexualisation of a former child star’ is the question on everyone’s lips here (it’s not). Will be interesting to see what sort of profile this gets – it’s fair to say that YouTube’s recent efforts to be more broadcaster-like haven’t all been unqualified successes (Comedy Week sort of died on its arse a bit, didn’t it, notwithstanding the ad spend and the names). In any case, the main reason for featuring this is so that brands can know where to look for the next YouTube breakout artists sensation(!) that they can attempt to coopt onto their books. Oh, and because these people will inevitably be THE FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT, obviously. Also, £10 says that some of the non-winning finalists are on XFactor or whatever their own country’s local equivalent is in the next year or so – come on, SYCO researchers, do your jobs. 
  • Better Twitter Analytics / TrackingThis is actually really quite big news, I think, in a ‘not really interesting but potentially properly useful’ sort of sense. It’s basically an additional layer of web analytics, like the Google Analytics stuff, which lets webmasters (is that still the term we use? It’s *wonderfully* Dungeons & Dragons, and puts me in mind of teenagers in basements wearing slightly ratty robes and rolling 40-sided dice) add code to individual webpages and track exact traffic, clicks, etc, delivered through Twitter. LOOK, WEBMONGS, ACTUAL MEASURABLE SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACT! What’s that? You’ll stick with ‘engagement’? Oh God, you idiots.
  • What Is Twitter, According To The NYTNot strictly germane, but interesting nonetheless – a collection of he New York Times’ hamfisted attempts over the years to define exactly what Twitter is. Worth a look to see how the platforms shifted organically in the popular consciousness without actually changing the way in which it practically functions in any significant fashion.
  • Talking To David Karp (The Tumblr Bloke)Possibly more at home in the ‘LONG THINGS’ section at the bottom, but this is a really interesting profile of / chat with Tumblr’s founder. Worth reading if you’ve an interest in startup culture and what Tumblr might do next – also, look out for what struck me as a slightly mean-spirited dig at the way the guy looks in the opening paragraphs. Bad hack!
  • The CurveI don’t usually plug business books, but this one’s not only got quite an interesting premise – business and creativity in the post-scarcity age – but the marketing campaign for it by Penguin is actually rather clever and works to practically highlight some of the book’s central observations in practical fashion. 
  • Clever By The San Francisco Equivalent Of The RSPCAI first saw this and was shocked and appalled. And then I clicked, and felt like a FOOL. Smart, though I think they could maybe have strung the joke out a little more. 
  • Penguin Does Peter Rabbit on TwitterMy favourite online advermarketingpr thingy of the week by Penguin, to promote Emma Thompson’s (yes, the actress) forthcoming new Peter Rabbit book (no, me neither). It’s nicely done, well thought out, tonally perfect, contains just enough whimsy and craftiness to appeal, and didn’t go on too long. Also it helped that Brits love both Penguin and Potter, but still – nicely done.
By Yasuhiro Ishimoto

DO YOU WANT A HIPHOP MIX WHICH TELLS THE STORY OF BREAKING BAD? OH GOOD!

A LOT OF LINKS TO THINGS WHICH MAY AMUSE, AMAZE, INFURIATE OR EDUCATE, OR POSSIBLY INSPIRE A MASSIVE SENSE OF INDIFFERENCE AS YOU SIT, STARING INTO SPACE, FEELING LIFE PASSING YOU BY AND WONDERING WHAT, AS THE YEAR STARTS TO DRAW TO ITS INEVITABLE CLOSE, THE POINT OF ANY OF THIS ACTUALLY IS, PT.1:

  • The Faces Of Facebook: You’ve probably seen this already, but in case not – this website purports to collect the avatars of every single Facebook user on the planet and displays them like some sort of massive facially-pixellated tapestry of humanity. Or something like that. You will try and find yourself a grand total of once before deciding its futile and instead just having a bit of a wonder through the avatar oddness. The really fun thing to do with this would be to turn it into the world’s greatest Hot Or Not / Dating app – come on, people, do your duty.
  • Translation PartyToday’s little arty-word project comes in the shape of this, which lets you type in a phrase in English and then translates it back and forth through autotranslation software until translation doesn’t change anything any more (that is, a degree of linguistic equilibrium has been reached). You will, I guarantee, get some weirdly poetic gems out of this – why not tattoo one of them onto your naked form to commemorate something?
  • FandioI’m goingto go out on a limb here and say that this service isn’t going to work / take off, but that the concept’s interesting (watch it now become MASSIVE). Fandio lets people come together to share commentary and voice-chat around sporting events – and lets individuals broadcast their own commentary to a potential audience. The idea’s REALLY interesting – integrate it into a platform which people actuallyuse and I think there’s some interesting stuff here, not least for brands / broadcasters trying to find people who are funny / good at talking about sport. Also, I still think there’s a market for comedy football commentary, but that might just be me. Is it? Oh. 
  • The American Debt ClockIt’s not really fair to make fun of the US and its lack of Government at the moment, especially while our political classes are basically sat around slagging off people’s dads and then making political capital out of being upset that your dad’s been slagged off. That said, this purports to track the US debt and is quite terrifying in its own understated, inexorable way.
  • Which US Websites Are Shut?Interesting to see which addresses are considered dispensible by the administration, though. I would love to be on the team which decides this – “Right, we can shut down the NSA Tumblr, but not the White House one – those pics of Obama high-fiving the waiting staff are all that’s keeping the country from total emotional meltdown right now;’.
  • Google Web DesignerIf you make webthings, I think that this is probably really quite important / useful (I don’t, so I’m talking from a position of pretty much total ignorance – plus ca change, eh?) – Google Web Designer is, I think, a suite of easy-to-use tools whichh purport to take the difficulty out of creating beatiful animated multi-scrolling HTML website paradises with 3d animation and all that type of jazz. Have a play, it looks rather powerful.
  • Don’t Fear The InternetIf you’re not quite tech enough for the above – in fact, if you’remore of a coding dunce like me – this might be a useful resource. A website (another one, but this is significantly nicer to look at than some of the others) designed to teach basic HTML, CSS, etc, to ordinary punters. Pleasingly step-by-step in its approach, and quite unscary.
  • 3d Printed Norway: I love this so, so much. A project which, thanks to open source maps of Norway’s terrain, allows users to select a small square of Norwegian topography and have that 3d printed. WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT DOESN’T SOUND AMAZING??? Look, right, if you’re old like me and you remember the brilliant ridiculousness of Slartibartfast’s having designed and build the Norwegian fjords in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, then this should strike you as a miniature version of that. It’s incredible, seriously. Don’t believe me? Tell me you don’t want a little 3d printed model of the street where you live, or your favourite place in London – come on, someone, can we do this for cities? Given that Nokia (I think) have ed city map data already that shouldn’t actually be too hard (he says, naively).
  • A Table Made Of Magnetic BlocksI want this almost as much as I want a bed made with the same tech.
  • Men vs Women on FacebookAn American study, so linguistically a bit off to the English ear, but a fasinating an depressing look at the differential use of language across genders on The Social Network. Part of a bigger, and actually more interesting, study which gave a pool of volunteers standard personality tests and then askd them for access to their FB status updates, comments, etc, for a defined period, to map correlations between language use and psychological profile. You can see more of the study’s findings here, and they make for quite interesting reading – also, you can probably freak out old school friends by arbitrarily ascribing psychological conditions to them based on this research and then telling them that they are mad because science says so, and that you can tell from their status updates. Not that you’d do that, obviously. 
  • Who Searches This StuffAnother ‘ho ho ho, silly autocomplete’ website – this one, however, actually offers explanations as to what popular cultural event motivated the searches. Weirdly interesting and a bit of a rabbithole if you’re interested in THE INTERNET and stuff. 
  • Hide The HipsterAre you bored of reading about hipsters? Would you like the whole tiresome phenomenon just to go away and leave you alone? OH GOOD. This Chrome extension basically finds and replaces the word ‘hipster’ with other phrases, because why not?
  • Dinner LabA brilliantly poncy but very fun-looking dinner club thingy from NYC – Dinner Lab is, to save you the tedious pretension of the blurb, basically like secret cinema for food. Chefs prepare themeed menus in ever-changing locations for groups of strangers, all designed around a central conceit which changes each time. I REALLY WANT TO GO TO ONE, come to London please.
  • IllustreetsAmazing resource if you’re looking to buy a house or move, or simply want to know stuff about various areas of the UK. Illustreets is a brilliant map-based interface which pulls data on an incredible amount of variables – crime rates, house prices, council tax bands, quality of living, etc – from a variety of sources and overlays them onto a Google maps interface. Seriously, I can’t recommend this enough if you’re a property person. Have a play around with it, it’s really very good indeed. 
  • Mental 360 Wingsuit Flight VideoQuite like the idea of leaping off a mountain with nothing but some parachute material unde your arms preventing you from a very messy death but don’t actually want to run the risk of dying? This website is for you, then. It does that still-remarkable ‘oh, look, you can look around in 360 degrees within a video as it plays’ thing which I still only vaguely understand, and shows you what it looks like to take a wingsuit jump. It looks REALLY SCARY, you may be unsurprised to hear. Slightly odd that Red Bull aren’t all over this. 
  • The New York City WebsiteThe city of New York has redesigned its civic website. It’s really, really good, I have to say – leaving aside the issue of thebig image carousel at the top which I’m not personally a fan of, the interface is lovely and clear and directional, and the whole site’s nicely responsive (though as was pointed out to me by someone smarter than I am on Twitter, it’s crap from an accessibility point of view). What I most like about it is that it is immediately clear from the homepage where you need to click to get more information, whatever your likely need is. The second best thing about it is that the first option is ‘make a complaint’. I tell you, Parisians have nothing on New Yorkers. 
  • Come Home To RyanThe internet’s obsession with Ryan Gosling continues unabated, with this totally pointless website being the latest expression of said obsession. Imagine what it would be like to come home each night to Ryan Gosling, ladies and gays! It would be like this, apparently.
  • Another Week, Another Gesture-Led Webcam Music ThingFollowing the xylophone thing from the other week, this one’s another proof of concept of gesture tracking and interactino through the webcam. It’s only semi-functional, but it’s ANOTHER one of these which have been cropping up a lot in the past few months and which we are only going to see more of now that Google has decided that it’s something they want to explore. Oh, and this is another thing which mines the same territory as well, this time more Kinect-y
  • Girl EffectThis is a very nicely done website indeed. Part of a project designed to raise awareness of poverty amongst adolescent girls worldwide, and which explores ways of combating it through access to education, etc, the site collects stories and testimonials from your women around the world and presents them in rather lovely fashion. I’ve just found out that this is part of work being done by the Nike Foundation, which explains the slickness.
  • Homeless Holiday!Got $2,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Want to spend that cash slumming it on the streets of Seattle for 3 days, playing at being homeless? how fortunate, then, that I found this charming website this week. It’s exactly what it sounds like – you pay ‘Mike’ $2k and spend 3 days being a homeless person, seeing the sites and eating the food and, I imagine, praying on an hourly basis that none of the people who actually are contrained to live on the streets don’t spot your status as a tourist. Just amazing, and not in a positive way. 
  • Picfair’s Images Of The WeekClever photo licensing startup Picfair is not only an excellent idea – punters upload their photos, set a price for licensing, and people can buy usage licenses through the site in simple, clean fashion – but their weekly ‘best of’ selection throws up some truly wonderful shots.
  • X Wing SimulatorBasically one of those infinite runner-type games (see Canabalt, Temple Run, etc), but in which you do the ‘X Wing down the Death Star trenches’ thing from Star Wars. Guilty fun, even if (like me) you don’t actually like or care about Star Wars very much. 
  • Smoke: A London PeculiarI first found this years ago in the (now sadly defunct) excellent second-hand bookshop at the bottom of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre – Smoke used to be a regular-ish fanzine for the city, containing whimsical writing, observations about pigeons, reviews of bus routes and all sorts of other stuff. Some of the writing was brilliant, and it was never less than compelling if you’re a lover of London. Anyway, the ‘zine stopped but the website remains – take a look and have a read, there’s some wonderful prose on there (and some great photos too). 
  • Star Trek Face MashesStrange Trekkie project of the week, this is some bloke on Reddit who’s done a series of incredibly technically competent face masups of old and next-gen Star Trek characters. People, as may have been mentioned before on here, are WEIRD.
  • FixItThis week’s ‘website my mate Tom will like, and maybe Dave as well’ comes in the shape of FixIt, an awesome repository of knowledge on how to fix stuff that breaks. Ranging from laptops to smartphones to cameras and everywhere inbetween, this is actually hugely useful and is worth bookmarking, unless you’d rather go to PC World or the Apple store – and surely noone in their right minds actually wants to do either of those things.
Apparently by an artist called John Robles in Miami

A LOT OF LINKS TO THINGS WHICH MAY AMUSE, AMAZE, INFURIATE OR EDUCATE, OR POSSIBLY INSPIRE A MASSIVE SENSE OF INDIFFERENCE AS YOU SIT, STARING INTO SPACE, FEELING LIFE PASSING YOU BY AND WONDERING WHAT, AS THE YEAR STARTS TO DRAW TO ITS INEVITABLE CLOSE, THE POINT OF ANY OF THIS ACTUALLY IS, PT.2:

  • Logo MashupsA collection of mixed up brand logos, many of which work vastly better than the originals. Some of you would, I imagine, quite like to turn these into tshirts. Go on, YOU HAVE MY BLESSING *smiles beatifically*. 
  • Music Discovery ServiceUgly-but-interesting (thanks, Rob) music discovery tool, which uses Last.fm’s database but applies a whole load of (as far as I can see from a brief play around with it) better algorithms to the discovery mechanics. The interface is pretty unpleasant, but it’s worth persisting with as it throws up some surprisingly good suggestions. 
  • Poo MapAn Android app which allows you to map locations in which you have defecated. Why anyone would want to do this is a total mystery to me, but I will be VERY UPSET if one of you doesn’t at least attempt to take this concept and sell it to Pampers, Charmin or one of the other toilet roll peddlers. There’s probably quite a competitive element you could introduce here – but to be honest I’m not going to dwell on it too much because, well, faeces. 
  • An Incredibly Comprehensive Flickr Set Of Old Kids’ Book CoversYep, that. If you like to use this sort of stuff in presentations, etc, as it humanises the otherwise horrendously dull corporate rubbish which your job forces you to spew out from between gritted teeth then this could be worth bookmarking. 
  • Ryan McGinness on InstagramSimple phrases on circular black backgrounds, but I really, really want some of these on tshirts / stickers. 
  • The GTA V Stock TrackerGTA V has been out for a few weeks now, and civilisation doesn’t appear to have collapsed entirely. The online version launched this week too – or at least technically it did, although good luck actually getting on the damn thing – which brings the game’s dynamic stock market into sharper relief. People have already started to try and game the thing – this website tracks the price of stock in the gameworld in semi-realtime. Interesting more as a sign of things to come than anything else – this has been happening for YEARS in EVE Online but the mainstream nature of the GTA equivalent is interesting and, potentially, a precursor to rather more interest in virtual world economics as models and test-beds. Possibly. 
  • The Interactive Timeline of the PRISM StoryReally nicely done, and designed to parody the NSA software itself, this site shows the development of the story, connections between story elements and key players, and is generally just an interesting look at what we were all very excercised about a few months’ back but which now we just seem to have given up on being outraged around. You can read the ‘About’ thing here should you so wish.
  • Rather Lovely Street Fighter 2 Fan ArtThe style here is distinctive and lovely.
  • The San Francisco Affordability MapShowing how many minimum-wage jobs a San Francisco resident would need to work to afford the average monthly rent for each of its major districts. Depressing, but also highlights the utter insanity of metropolitan property pricing versus the earning power of the vast majority of residents. Do this for London please, someone – the data is out there and it might be a nice thing to make before the DIGITAL ELECTIONGEDDON in 18 months’ time which I now cannot stop thinking about with slight horror and trepidation.
  • The Landscape of MurderPhotographs and essays about sites where murders took place in London in 2011-12. Really sad, as you’d expect, but there’s some excellent writing and photography here that it’s very much worth reading. 
  • Another Week, Another ODD Old WebsiteNovalight deliver ‘Business Solutions Through Information Technology’. Their website from 2000 is awe-inspirring, not least because of the wildly portentous music. Part of me really wants this to be an ARG fragment, but sadly I think it’s just a crap, old website. Still awesome, though, in its own way.
  • Hot OctopusThis week’s bizarre, slighly sci-fi / frightening sex toy comes in the shape of the Hot Octopus (no, me neither) range which is apparently launching soon. The only reason I know about this is that someone I used to work with at H+K is now apparently promoting these – career paths are WEIRD. 
  • Is Your Design Better Than Kittens?A simple website which lets people choose whether they prefer a particular piece of design or…er…a picture of some kittens. Potentially slightly dispiriting to find your work on here, I’d wager. 
  • The LEGO CalendarSo clever, this, and a wonderful calling card for the agency in question (London’s ‘Vitamins’, fyi). Their office calendar is made out of LEGO – so far, so whimsical, but the clever bit comes when you take a picture of it with your smartphone – they’ve built software which can ‘read’ the 3d calendar on the wall and thus sync it with your phone’s calendar. Really, really nicely done.
  • Abandoned Amusement ArcadesNot a new thing, but a very comprehensive collection of what it looks like when the fun stops. The fun always stops, you know.
  • Poetry ZooBuilt, I think, for National Poetry Day (which was yesterday), this is a rather nicely built poetry community website. Working a little like a very slick publishing platform-cum-social network, this allows users to keep their poems in one place, share them with other users, discover other poets’ work, etc. A rare occasion where I think that building a standalone platform might not have been a bad idea – not everyone wants to share their soulbaring verse with the double-figure-iq crowd on Facebook. 
  • HovastateTurn your mouse cursor into Jayz’s ‘throwing diamonds’ hand shapes. Because, you know, why not?
  • Pregnant, Sleeping Russian CouplesBeautiful and touching photoseries showing sleeping Russian couples and in which the woman is pregnant in each. Will make you have a bit of a warm, fuzzy moment (though part of me also spent quite a lot of time worrying as to why so many of them were sleeping on sofabeds).
  • Veiled AleppoMore photos, in this instance of Syrian city Aleppo and the eerie spectacle of sheets hung across rubble-strewn thoroughfares to block the view of snipers. A horrible combination of the domestic and the bellic (not the GTAIV character).
  • The Best Schoolbook Doodles EVERYou know how when you were a kid you used to spend every single moment in French trying to find a picture of lovable vagabond Claude Leclochard which wasn’t already adorned with a massive, anatomically implausible crudely drawn ccok so that you could then bestow one of the aforementioned massive, anatomically implausible crudely drawn ccoks on him? YES YOU DO, DON’T LIE. Anyway, this selection of textbook defacements by some Japanese kid will put those to shame.
  • Japanese Film Posters from the 60sInfinitely cooler than the Western equivalents.
  • Minimalist Kids’ Story PostersWe must be reaching the point where there are very few things left to do the whole ‘oh look, minimalist posters’ thing with, surely? Nonetheless, these are actually very nicely done indeed. 
  • Every Google Doodle In One Gif: Hypnotic.
  • A Photoessay on Obesity from 1950s LIFE MagazineSimultaneously interesting and saddening to see how long this whole ‘we’re all getting FAT’ thing has been going on. Great photos and interesting to see how this was approached more than half-a-century ago. 
  • Dinosaur BongoActually not just dinosaurs, now I come to think of it. This is a selection of erotica available to buy on Amazon which features on…erm…unusual couplings. You sort of have to look to ‘get’ it (I use that term advisedly), but it’s totally safe for work. I recommend ample use of the ‘Look Inside’ feature for maximum WTF-age.
No idea, sorry.

THE CIRCUS OFTUMBLRS:

  • Can Somebody PleaseCollecting requests for assistance from Twitter, some rhetorical and some not. Sort of interesting in a ‘this is the world we live in’ way.
  • Vladimir Putin ButtplugSurely a phrase which until recently must never have been written? Anyway, this is a project trying to get people to make a 3d-printed buttplug shaped like Nobel Peace Prize-nominee (I mean really) Vladimir ‘possibly trying a bit hard to look hugely hetero’ Putin, in protest of his somewhat retrograde stance on gay rights. 
  • Wing ManningPhotobombing couples kissing in public. Funnier than it probably should be.
  • ContainersporeThis week’s ‘Look, I know it was on Us vs Th3m’ (me? Obsessed? NOT AT ALL) thing of the week, this is a collection of pics of very, very mouldy food taken from shared fridges in offices. 
  • Speak Cher: You too can tweet in the style of Cher, and you don’t even need to have the frontal lobe surgery one might think was required.
  • Critique My D1ck Pic(NB- the swear’s removed for newsletter subscribers’ inbox safety rather than out of some sort of sense of prudery) A site which collects self-shot pictures of peope’s penises and advises the photographer on how they could improve the attractiveness of their member. That’s another sentence which noone alive at ANY POINT before about a decade ago could even have begun to conceive of writing. Crazy.
  • Librarian ShamingAnonymous confessions from librarians (not sexy ones). 
  • Blingee PoliticsI think this might have been around for a while, but SO WHAT? This is an odd little collection of pictures of politicians, all jazzed up with MS paint and sparkles and stuff. Save this one for 2015…
  • The Many Faces Of Ruby TandohApparently this is a woman on a show about making cakes – this Tumblr is devoted to her apparently limitless capacity for facial expression. Let’s be honest, this is SUPER-CREEPY and  hope that the woman in question isn’t too freaked out by it when it’s inevitably brought to her attention. 
  • Cops In Bike LanesAnother week, another quotidian irritation brought to you in the form of a single-serving website. There’s a civic engagement thing in Tumblr somewhere, but I’m too busy to think about it right now (fascinating, eh? Sorry). 
  • Camgirl ProjectThe video part of this project was on Curios a few months’ back – now there’s the inevitable Tumblr. Combining stills from camgirl shows with  classical art – there are some really lovely pictures here, and I quite want prints of some of them. 

FANCY SOUNDTRACKING THE NEXT SECTION WITH A NIGHTMARES ON WAX MIX? OH GOOD!

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG:

  • 20 Things I Learned While In North Korea: Not actually me, obviously – if I’d been to NK, this edition of Web Curios would be significantly thinner than it in fact is. An essay featuring poorly drawn MS Paint cartoons, all about the author’s experience of visiting Pyongyang. Nice style and flow, in a slightly college-age fashion (he says, sniffily – it’s not like this prose is any better, frankly).
  • A Day In The Life Of A Troubled Male AntiheroNot particularly long, but a wonderful skewering of the Don Draper / Walter White archetype which we’ll see rinsed til it’s nothing but a pale facsimile of the initial brilliance of the aforementoned characters. 
  • ID YourselfThis really IS long, but it’s very interesting and I recommend that you have at least a little peruse. Krystal South is a ‘multidisciplinary artist’, apparently, and this is an extensive exploration of her relationship with the web, as an individual and an artist. I can’t really explain it more than that, but as an inquisition of what ‘online’ means on a human level it’s one of the most interesting things I’ve read. Also, I really like this quote: “I’m not that smart, I always just tell people, “I like smart things,” and I believe interest and curiosity can overpower pure intelligence any day. I’m not a great writer, I’m constantly Googling things I write to make sure I didn’t just read them somewhere, and I know I’m never doing the subjects I take on full justice. But they get me, and there was a point in my life when I realized that I’m probably not going to be an expert at anything but that the things I put out into the world had an audience, and that connecting with people in this way felt so real. I have my history recorded, even if my view is narrow. These logs, both online and on paper, are evidence of a desire to be understood, and trace the development (ongoing) of my identity.)”
  • Social Media and Chicago GangsInteresting and sad look at how social media is amplifying and escalating gang conflict in Chicago. I imagine that this is replicated all over the Western world to some extent – possibly the most heartbreaking thing about this is how utterly stupid most of it is. Interesting counterpoint, too, to The Evening Standard”s slightly gangporn-y reportage from last week (which will mean nothing to you if you’re not a consumer of London media). 
  • Vanity Fair on Social Media, Teens & SexAnother week, another scaremongering piece from BIG MEDIA on what the internet’s doing to teen sex. I’m in two minds about this stuff – on the one hand its clear that mobile offers a direct route to sexual exploration and discovery for teens which was never available before and which is impossible to control / monitor, and the potential abuses of that are huge; on the other, I did read quite a lot of the teen testimonials in the piece and think ‘really? are we sure that there’s not a tiny bit of bragging, exaggeration and reporter-baiting going on here?’. Worth reading, in any case, though don’t get too scared if you’re the parent of a teen.
  • Sleeping With The EnemyThe brilliant tale of the doomed romance between a Frenchwoman and a German solider in Vichy France. You can just imagine the film (except this is better because WORDS).
  • Children Drunk On PowerActually a long comic rather than plain old writing, but it’s very good and so merits inclusion. The ever-impressive Hyperbole and a Half writes about the strange feeling of power which costumes can bring to kids. Very funny, and weirdly emotionally affecting.
  • That Letter From Sinead O’Connor To Miley CyrusIf you’ve not read it yet, this is excellent. Sinead breaks down exactly why Miley may not as in control of everything as she possibly thinks she is. Which, if you happen to have seen the most recent Terry Richardson shots, seems about right (I’m not linking to them, they are a bit creepy imho).
  • VICE On The MailWritten before the Rothermere intervention, this is very smart (again) by VICE on what this whole Mail furore represents in broad media terms. 
  • The Maddest Thing You Will Read All WeekUS GQ consistently delivers brilliant long-form reporting from the fringes. This is a case-in-point – the truly unbelievable (except it’s all true) story of the Elvis impersonator, the ricin-based attempt on the President’s life, and an escalating grudge which got a bit of of hand. Wonderfully weird. 
  • MORE Baffling Things About The US / 1st WorldA companion piece to something I linked to a while back where an Indian student talked about all the stuff he found odd about living in the US. This takes that and runs with it – some trenchant observations about the ridiculousness of our culture and society.
  • If You Read Only One Of These, Make It This OneThe brilliant Dave Eggers is about to release a new novel called ‘The Circle’. It’s about social media and technology and society, and this extract makes me want to read it very much indeed. The closing paragraphs manage to be both sort of funny and chillingly creepy, and, perhaps best/worst, utterly recognisable.
By Charles Schulz

 

   
 
 

NOW, FINALLY, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!:

1) Kicking off with a bit of ‘next big thing’ hype, this is John Lennon McCullach who’s been tipped by LOADS of people as a Dylan-esque talent. I’m in two minds – he’s only a kid for God’s sake, it might be a bit early to bestow messiah status yet – but I do quite like the honest and unpretentious protest song vibe, and there’s certainly a large dollop of working class folk warrior in the mix. Anyway, this is called ‘North South Divide’: 

2) Keaton Henson’s from London, it turns out. He’s a singer songwriter, artist and poet, and this is a song called ‘You’ – it’s all fragile and acoustic and lovely, and weirdly reminds me quite a lot of Ben Christophers who I haven’t thought about at all for YEARS. The video’s beautifully shot too, even if the ‘sleeping people floating’ visual motif is possibly a bit played out in 2013:


3) Ah, Weird Science. The sexual awakening of many boys teetering on the brink of full-blown adolescence in the 80s – thanks, Kelly! This video by Static Jacks (no, me neither) riffs on that film very nicely indeed, and adds its own twist. The song’s also rather good, in a sub-Weezer sort of way (Weezer when they were awesome, not late-period mediocrity). This is called ‘Wallflowers’:

4)  Next up is ‘Turn It Around’ by a band called Sub Focus featuring Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke. Good indiepop song, but what really captured me was the actress in the video who really does look properly lost and freaked out about the world around her and who basically makes the whole thing as far as I’m concerned:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! This week, a live session by Manchester MC Skittles (and guests). I think I’ve recommended Skittles’ album ‘Poor With £100 Trainers‘ before, but if you’ve not yet checked it out then do take 5 minutes to check him out below – he really is very, very good indeed:

6) While we’re doing hiphop, I found this yesterday and it made me forget that it’s cold and rainy and miserable here in dirty old London town – also, I think the production on this is fantastic. Vic Mensah, with ‘Lovely Day’:


7) This is the best animation I’ve seen all week, hands-down, and it also accompanies a rather good song by C2C called ‘Delta’. The art-style is really reminiscent of something or someone I can’t quit eput my finger on, but the whole thing is rather stellar and worth watching all the way through with headphones and rapt attention:

8) Lokhart is, it transpires, a collaboration between Jay Battle and Yes Alexander – or at least it was, as there was supposed to have been an album out last month but the website’s strangely quiet on that front.Anyway, this is OLD (from February), but I only found it yesterday – the vocals are reminiscent of The Knife, a bit, but I love the emoting from the person in the video who, to my mind, looks a bit like an androgynous young Paul Gascoigne (no, really, come back):

9) This is called Love Hour Zero, by a band called Demon Queen. There was a point about 3/4 of the way through this video where I just started laughing and didn’t stop til it finished. You see if you get the same reaction:

10) Finally, I wanted to embed this last week but it was removed from YouTube and Vimeo. It’s now available to view on this website, and I strongly suggest that you do just that. It’s pretty fcuking unsettling, I’m not going to lie, but I think it’s ART so that’s ok then. BYE!
 
That’s it for now

 
 

 

Webcurios 27/09/13

Reading Time: 22 minutes

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Christmas Sale, Rye Lane, London SE15
Garudio Studiage photo of the week

SOCIAL MEDIA WEEK!!!!

I know that I’ve done this before, and I also know that mocking social media week is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, and that there’s a Tumblr down there (*gestures vaguely to the section all about Tumblrs) which highlights the idiocy of the whole thing better than I ever could, but my timelines were full of it this week (you can take the ‘it’ in that line to denote whatever you like, I won’t mind) and it’s hard not to get a little bit annoyed.    It’s been over 4 years since I got a job that laughably put ‘digital’ in my title because I had an IQ in treble figures and appeared not to be terrified of the internet. In that time, guess how many useful / interesting things I have learned at industry events hosted by people who like to charge money for their expertise about digital? Oh, yes, that’s right – LITERALLY NONE. Simultaneously, I’ve had to suffer through endless presentations reiterating the same tired tropes; seemingly infinite meetings with people whose utterances I’m supposed to venerate due to their ability to use terms such as SoMoLo without vomiting up their ringpiece; countless wittering vacuities spouting their received wisdom about how to communicate using the internet and how cats and content are, like, really important…all of this, every year, without change. All that shifts slightly is the terminology and the seniority of those who I see are still touting themselves around conferences being experts about STUFF.    Look, I’m boring myself here. Let me just leave you with a thought – if the people who are most vocal about this stuff, especially around social media week, are also the ones who are most often seen at conferences and on Twitter wanging on about it all, when are they getting the chance to put any of this theoretical expertise into practice? Just bear that in mind next time you see / hear a futility of social media consultants backslapping and quaffing free chardonnay.    Editors’ Note: Imperica would like to point out that Matt was invited to speak at a grand total of zero events at Social Media Week this year. It is unclear whether his position of utter inconsequentiality in an industry he purports to despise but secretly craves the validation of is in any way connected to the above. But it seems likely, on balance. How sad. 

By Reuben Wu

  THE SECTION WHICH, IN DEfERENCE TO SOCIAL MEDIA WEEK, I AM THIS WEEK REFERRING TO AS THE MOST IMPORTANT STUFF IN THE WORLD; THE LODESTONE OF TRUTH! THE APOGEE OF EXISTENCE! THE CRUX OF THE HUMAN CONDITION! THE CURE FOR ALL THAT AILS US! THE UNIVERSAL PANACEA! YES, THAT’S RIGHT, SOME STUFF ABOUT S***** M****:

  • Facebook Mobile Payments: Dull and practical but important, this is Facebook working with Paypal and others to introdduce one-click payments. Welcome to the future in which you neber need to leave Facebook for anything; coming next week, Facebook partners with Ocado to offer grocery shopping through The Social Network, complete with discounts for those who ‘Like’ bananas and Fray Bentos pies and the like. Probably, anyway. Go on, Fray Bentos, MAKE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO BE.
  • Facebook AIWhat would you do if you had access to possibly the greatest repository of data about human interests and behavoiur which has ever existed in the history of humanity? THAT’S RIGHT, you would build SkyNet. Which is effectively what FB announced this week, with their foray into advanced machine learning. Don’t worry, though, it’s only nascent tech and so you don’t yet have to be terrified about the fact that the banal utterings you spout on your timeline could be quite easily replicated by a server stack in Colorado (yet. Give it a year). My girlfriend and I were at a lecture this week about neuroscience and there was a lot of talk about human intelligence being, according to current thinking, largely due to the variety and density of neurons in our brains. There’s almost certainly a poorly thought-out analogy between groupings of individuals and the hive mind, and the sort of stuff Facebook could potentially do with the billion+ people on its books. Let’s be honest, this is almost certainly the beginning of the end. Enjoy it!
  • Google Change Commenting FOREVERThis is really quite significant, not just from a Social Media point of view but actually socioculturally (no, really, come back). Google are looking to address the swampllike horror of the below-the-video area on YouTube by changing everything, and prioritising comments by people you know (and famouses, because that’s the world we live in). Also, obviously, they’re building G+ into the system; see Skynet quote passim, and all my previous cant about a universal online ID that I used to spout a few years back when I was young and interested. One big thing about this is that it gives brands – even the most risk-averse and unpopular – no reason at all to do the craven ‘no comments’ thing on YouTube anymore, and makes the service FAR more attractive to people who were previously put off by the whole ‘OMIGODBIGGAYFATDYKESCUMFAGYOLO’ horror which was the below-the-line YouTube environment. That, and the more general social point about us having (potentially) reached a tipping point in online culture where the absolute right to say anything you like is outweighed by the importance of not being an absolute tool. Maybe. Anyway, Google aren’t the only people to announce this sort of thing this week – online science journal Popular Science banned comments this week; their rationale is interesting and coherent and worth a read.
  • Google Glass Banned HereThis is slightly crazy but also an amazing insight into the world in which we will live, like it or not, in approximately 3-5 years from now. Don’t fight it; just sink into dystopia with a wry smile and a sigh. It won’t hurt a bit. 
  • Free Background Music For VideosBasically just that. Useful for brands, though, as at least it means you won’t have to have that awful conversation with the client where they ask for Pachebel’s Canon as a bed, and you say how much it will cost, and they make you play it on a Bontempi organ to provide the backing and you wonder how your life became this way and where your childhood went. Just me? Oh. 
  • Twitter Emergency AlertsActually really useful and an interesting development in Twitter’s increasingly core position at the heart of breaking news. This is a service which, although only available to US, Japanese and Korean organisations at the moment, will allow users to subscribe to mobile or email alerts from certain feeds – and then allow said feeds to tag tweets as ‘important’ and have them mailed / texted to aforementioned opt-in users. If you work with an environmental NGO this is potentially huge – also if you’re, say, the Metropolitan Police, or actually even local / regional police forces. Clever by Twitter not only functionally but strategically – make the service essential for globa infrastructure and it can NEVER DIE (hyperbole, but). 
  • Twitter MagicrecsI’m slightly annoyed about this, in a Lord of the Flies ‘I FOUND THE CONCH’ sort of way. Magicrecs is an awesome little Twitter hack that has been running for a couple of months and which alerts you via DM to accounts or Tweets which you may find useful / interesting – effectively if x proportion of people you follow all start following a certain person, or read / RT a certain tweet, it tells you so that you don’t miss out. Clever, but I felt all smug about finding it and using it and now I have to let you all know about it and I no longer feel all special and privileged. 
  • Being a Vine ‘VJ’ is Now Apparently an ACTUAL JOBActually properly mad, but an interesting piece to reference when beating clients over the head about how vital it is that they pay you more money to make 6-second shorts about car insurance BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THE KIDS WANT, YEAH?!
  • Pinterest ‘Read Later’ FeatureInteresting largely as an indicator of what Pinterest could become (that is, the universal memory service). Were I the people behind the infinitely more powerful Evernote I would be a little concerned about this stuff. 
  • Netflix Spoilerfoiler: Smartest campaign-y thing of the week from Netflix around the finale of that bloody series about meth. Smart because a) it’s a good idea; and b) because it’s totally ripped off from this by some woman earlier in the year which I seem to recall I mentioned on Web Curios and which means that I am basically responsible for the Netflix thing on some level.
  • Minecraft OS Maps: Second smartest thing of the week comes from Ordnance Survey, who used their map data to recreate the UK in Minecraft. Tapping into a massive geek phenomenon is helpful fashion (the maps are downloadable and playable for users who feel that way inclined)=massive internetgeeknews. LEARN.
  • Not Really Internetty But Still BrilliantSo this really is wonderful. A vending machine-centric stunt by chocolate people Milka, whose vending machine which requires people to form human chains to activate is just *lovely*, and contains so much remarkable INSIGHT that somewhere a planner is reclining on cushions made of pure gold and being fed chocolate grapes for eternity. 
  • Remember What I Said About Buzzfeed and Politics Last Week?No, of course you don’t, you weren’t paying attention. Anyway, this is what I meant.
Literally no idea who this is by, sorry
 

MUSIC! HAVE A BREAKUP-INSPIRED HIPHOP MIXTAPE BY SOME BLOKE!

A Selection Of Finds From Across The Internet Which This Week I Am Writing Up In Slightly Hurried Fashion Due To Having A Lot Of Things To Do Including Another Wedding This Afternoon Which I Didn’t Mention Up There Because Even I’m Bored Of Me Whining About This Stuff But Really How Many Nuptials Must One Man Attend In A Year (Rhetorical), Pt 1:

  • Sh1t PR IdeasYou will have seen this already, I am sure, but it is SO SO TRUE. Although possibly needs more social media wankery.
  • The History Of The Internet In Timeline Form: More the techy stuff than the ‘oh look, so that’s when grumpy cat became famous’ stuff, but still interesting – a nicely arranged look at the major milestones in the development of the web, with reasonable annotations and links and stuff. I imagine if you are a teacher this might be useful, but also just generally interesting as a sort of ‘this is how we got where we are oh god how did it get so bleak after all our early optimism’ sort of way. 
  • Smart Christmas LightsI am no particular fan of Christmas (I know, I know, but it’s organised fun and I abhor organised fun – yep, I really am that much of an horrendous curmudgeon), but these look BRILLIANT. Smart LED lighting, with companion app technology which lets you pick any colour from the spectrum at any point for them to display, allows programmable cycling, linking of multiple sets, and all that sort of geeky stuff which might make you care. They’re made in Australia and come out soon, and I really want to put some all over my house and cycle through the most upsetting colours in the spectrum whilst a choir of sinister children sing carols, backwards, at my flatmates. I won’t do that, though, largely as rereading that sentence has made me temporarily question my own sanity. 
  • Slowmo Video On The New iPhoneThere was a new iPhone launched last week, in case you missed that fact (you didn’t). Apparently it now lets you shoot video in HD slowmo – this is a short video showcasing that, and should serve as an example to all community managers who can jazz up their moribund content calendars with some suitable and brand-linked slow-motion VT. How about this, Dulux – watch paint dry in slow motion! It’s brilliant, I know. That’ll be £500 – ta. 
  • Intel Is Bringing Us The Robot Companion We Have Longed ForThis is still all very prototype-y, so may never come about at all, but the people at everyone’s favourite (the only one anyone’s ever heard of) chip manufacturer Intel are working on a modular robot which, the theory is, will be printable on home 3d printers and the software for which can be downloaded and manipulated. So, effectively, this is the first step in a process which will see any alienated, dysfunctional middle-class teen with access to the internet and 3d printing make their own army of semi-sentient killing machines in their basement. GREAT! Obviously I am being hyperbolic, and this is simply ushering in an era of us all having a ‘plastic pal who’s fun to be with‘ – you would be a fool and an alarmist communist to think anything other. 
  • A Map Of Female ‘Easyness’Havcing done a bit of digging around this I *think* it might be ‘satire’, but nevertheless it’s sort of jaw-droppingly awful. The key did make me laugh, though, I must confess. 
  • NotezillaInteractive, clickable sheet music. A very clever learning aid for anyone who’s looking to get their head around this sort of thing. 
  • The Command-Prompt Radio Playercompletely pointless, as most of my favourite things are, this is a Soundcloud hack which replaces the traditional, modern, user-friendly interface with a command-line alternative straight out of 1993. No reason at all that I can see other than sheer bloody-mindedness, but if you’re of a certain age this will send powerful waves of nostalgia washing over you.
  • PinSexThis may have been around for ages, I have no clue, but I stumbled across it this week (no, really, I did!) and it made me laugh (not a euphemism) – mainly due to the shameless nature of the way in which this Pinterest-for-pr0n (for that is what this is) is designed. Totally NSFW in any way shape or form – it is BONGO CENTRAL, ladies and gents. I am guessing that the user stats are probably skewed towards men rather more than Pinterest.
  • Bicycle Built For 20002,000 random internet users, recorded singing that ‘Daisy, Daisy’ song, and arranged online. INCREDIBLY creepy – but also interesting in terms of how they were recruited (via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service) and where they’re from and stuff. I wouldn’t play this as your children’s lullaby, mind. 
  • Sex LexisBasically Urban Dictionary but for sex, this is a website which collects information about the meaning of English-language terms for sexual acts in one place. In no way prurient, it’s strangely buttoned-up but also fascinating – 5 minutes on here and you will learn a lot of new phrases for things that you potentially didn’t even know that people actually did or said – feak, for example? Really?
  • Postcards from Google EarthI’m slightly in love with these. A gorgeous collection of glitched-out shots from Google Earth, arranged as hi-res screencaps in traditional postcard size. No real reason for them, but they please me immoderately. 
  • Morrissey Christmas JumpersI’m genuinely sorry for mentioning the C-word in September. Think of it as getting in early. Anyway, this is a website celebrating that annoying trope which is the HILARIOUSLY TASTELESS CHRISTMAS JUMPER (can you all just stop, please? It’s boring and mass-market and played out). but with Morrissey on them. They are available for sale. Some of you – you know who you are – will find this pant-wettingly brilliant.
  • Another Week, Another WebcomicThis one’s called Decrypting Rita, it’s cyberpunky and rather nicely written, and the art-style is (I think) lovely. Enjoy. 
  • Spirograph!This is brilliant (and a bit pointless). A little webtoy that does Spirograph except without the tedium and broken pencils and missing gears and the crying and inevitable feeling of disappointment when you just make a big smudgy mess. You can fiddle with the settings to make different stuff, and the results are strangely lovely. HB Pencils, or maybe Crayola – rip this off NOW and turn it into a Facebook app. Go on, do it. 
  • Genius Terrible InventionsI have no idea who is behind this, but this they are a genius. The toothbrush alone is patent-worthy. 
  • What People Watch Where On YouTubeVery interesting tool to compare popular YouTube videos RIGHT NOW in different countries. This allows you to select a country and see what the most-watched videos of the moment are, which other countries have similar tastes to them, and which videos people there are watching that noone else is looking at. This is the sort of thing that will provide a near-bottomless repository of totally spurious ‘insights’ with which to persuade clients to spend money on a 90-second clip of a dancing cat or somesuch – you can thank me later. 
  • California Law Lets Kids Erase Their Digital HistoryThis is potentially HUGE, and weirdly underreported. As of 2015, California law will require web companies to listen to and comply with requests from minors to remove content about them from the internet. OK, so it’s riddled with holes and flaws (how you do apply this if the servers are elsewhere? Oh, whoops, the people drafting this don’t actually understand the internet!), and it only applies to self-created content (so you can ask FB to take down that appalling status update about how high you were aged 15, but not the video of you self-penetrating with your ex’s toothbrush which your best friend kindly chucked on Vine), but as a test case this is very much worth watching. 
  • The Winners of the Google Science Fair: Read this and realise that there are teenagers now living who are smarter than you will ever be. Simultaneously brilliant and depressing; these kids are SO IMPRESSIVE, though, and will give you a momentary glow of hope for the future of the human race (until you realise that you will still die old and alone). 
  • Jurassic Park / Dr SeussModels of dinosaurs made up to look like characters from Dr Seuss. No real reason for this that I can see, but why would there be? JUST ENJOY IT!
  • MapDiveThis was presented by Google at one of their keynotes in May this year, but I don’t think was playable to the public until now (anyway, what do I care – the internet is not a race, after all (it totally is)). Anyway, this is a game/hack using Google Earth / Maps data to create a fun little playable sjydiving game which will be sort of familiar to anyone who ever played Pilotwings on the SNES. Enjoyable, and very nicely coded. 
  • The Naked Scare HouseSo ‘Haunted Houses’ have been a thing in the US for a few years now, and have yet to translate to the UK for reasons I don’t entireky understand but am actually sort of happy about. Basically the premise is that organisers create a sort of immersive theatrical experience for people who want to have a really, really deeply unpleasant evening – these can involve physical and verbal abuse, borderline torture scenarios, and, in one memorable account I read, being buried alive (do read that link, seriously – WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!?!). Anyway, this lets you have all the scare-based fun in the world, but…er…naked. Because why not?
  • 300 SandwichesThis is a blog by a woman who a) has convinced herself that her boyfriend will propose to her after she has made 300 sandwiches for him; and b) obviously thinks there’s a book deal in this. I really, really hope that he ends their relationship when he’s done eating – the sandwiches look lovely though, and there’s a lot of good stuff in here for foodies – just don’t read the ‘about’ bit unless you want to get irrationally angry about all sorts of genderpolitical issues thrown up by the project.
  • The National Selfie Gallery Comes To LondonArt week is almost upon us – calloo, callay, etc. I do rather love art week – it’s actually lots better than Fashion Week for people watching, particularly at Frieze opening night which is the only place I’ve ever seen actual people wearing couture in the wild (so to speak). Anyway, this is one of the NYC galleries coming to London to flog their wares in mid-October who are presenting an exhibition based around the concept of the selfie – there are so many potential ideacues for certain brands here (anyone cosmetic-related, for example) that I can’t really be bothered to do your creative work for you. Just think., ok? Jesus.
  • Hometown A truly lovely photoproject from the New York Times, which collects pictures by American teenagers of life in their home towns. Gives a thumping reminder of how massively BIG the US is, and how culturally diverse – I would be fascinated to see this replicated for India, China, Russia and other megapopulous nations. The UK would, let’s be honest, just be a little less interesting.
  • Another Colour Website For DesignersThis is called ‘Colourhexa’, and gives information about colours – complementary shades, scales, etc. Probably only useful for designers / developers, but maybe also if you’re decorating the spare room and want to minimise the arguments you’ll have over the best match for that particular shade of duck egg blue you’ve chosen for the spare room (KILL ME NOW). 
  • Casual Misogyny On A Friday!This website is called ‘Return of Kings’, and is a men’s interest ‘magazine’ for (as far as I can tell) the PUA community. It’s just HORRIBLE, but strangely compelling at the same time. I don’t really know why I’m linking to this other than to share the pain that I experienced when reading some of the stuff on here. It’s slightly embarrassing being a man sometimes. 
By Jeremy Olson
 

MUSIC! HAVE DELTRON 3030’s LONG-AWAITED (BY ME) 2nd ALBUM!

A Selection Of Finds From Across The Internet Which This Week I Am Writing Up In Slightly Hurried Fashion Due To Having A Lot Of Things To Do Including Another Wedding This Afternoon Which I Didn’t Mention Up There Because Even I’m Bored Of Me Whining About This Stuff But Really How Many Nuptials Must One Man Attend In A Year (Rhetorical), Pt 2:

  • I Love The Civil ServiceI had a brief and very ill-fated/considered stint working at DWP a few years ago. Jesus, it was bleak. Anyway, this image, captured at the Foreign Office at Open House last weekend, neatly encapsulates the wonderment of our very own bureaucratic clusterfcuk.
  • Minimalist Philosophy DesignsPhilosophical precepts given the minimalist book cover treatment. Gorgeous designs, and if you too spent 3 years at university smoking marijuana and attending approximately 6 hours of tuition a week you will find these reminiscence-inducing.
  • The HackalizerIf you are an engineer or a DIY-er or just a bit of a construction geek, this will rapidly become your new favourite website. A new tip every day designed to make life easier – each of which requires a degree of effort and technical ability which is frankly baffling to me. My mate Tom will LOVE this (hello, Tom!). 
  • The 7 Deadly Sins, VisualisedBy Spanish designer Jose Bernaba. I think ‘Lust’ is particularly fine. 
  • Buy Stuff Off That Meth ShowBlah blah blah best TV show EVER blah pinnacle of the medium blah blah blah. Anyway, if you’re into it you can bid for ACTUAL REAL-LIFE PROPS (is that an oxymoron?) from the programme to grace your very own home. 
  • Crowdfunded FuneralsWow, this is actually a thing. You can, it transpires, submit your own or a loved one’s funeral or memorial service to this website and raise money for the send-off of dreams. I’m in two minds about this – on the one hand, I’m sort of glad that it exists; on the other, there’s something so, so sad about the fact that it has to. Not to mention the slightly distasteful nature of the vig placed on each fundraiser to pay the webmasters’ mortgages. Hey ho. 
  • The Woman Who Inspired Jessica RabbitNo, not Veronica Lake – this lady. All the faded Golden Era glamour you will need today, and a salutory reminder of the transitory nature of the fame monkey. Hear that, Miley?
  • Tintin In ScotchTintin’s first adventure, The Dark Isle, rewritten in the style of Irvine Welsh (not actually in the style of Irvine Welsh, obviously – there’s no asphyxosex or casual violence that I can see) with PROPER SCOTS VOICES. Kind of brilliant, and will give a warm glow to anyone who ever read Oor Wullie
  • Learn To Code (again) With BentoboxAnother week, another ‘hey, you too can make millions from your own revolutionary web-based project after just a few weeks of cursory nibbling at the edges of learning!’ website (clue: you can’t). Anyway, this one’s called Bentobox and is actually rather well put together- also links to loads of other stuff which is sueful in the same space, so worth checking out if it’s still on your list of ‘things I wanted to do in 2013 but didn’t quite get round to’.
  • Pictures Of BodyBuildersTo those of you who have never met me, this is basically what I look like. Except less mahogany, obviously. 
  • Short Films Featuring Beautiful PeopleBeautiful series of short films (very short) featuring gorgeous people doing…things…It’s quite hard to describe, but there’s a series of Dogme-esque rules in play here which govern the composition of each short, and some rather nice animation / FX work going on around the beauty. Seriously, though, there’s something almost uncomfortable about looking so closely about people who look like this. It feels a bit odd. 
  • The 2013 Beard & Moustache ChampionshipsThese took place a few weeks ago in the US, and the photos are AMAZING. As a man whose ability to grow facial hair is comparable to that of a 13 year old, I am immoderately jealous of these men. 
  • The Constitutions ProjectThe constitutions of the world’s nations, searchable and comparable online. Interesting and useful and you could lose HOURS in here making up your own constitution for the governance of your theoretical nation state. Or maybe that’s just me – Mattistan will be a utopian paradise, though, should anyone with a spare island be reading. 
  • Misandrist Lullabies: These are brilliant – and, as a man, really quite unnerving. Gentlemen – read these and then imagine every single woman you interact with this weekend secretly thinking these lines and BE AFRAID. 
  • I Think We May Have Reached Peak HTML Page DesignI can’t quite work out whether this is technically impressive or just an awful, busy mess – probably both, to be honest. 
  • Where’s Your Money?I occasionally do this thing, when I remember, of writing my phone number on banknotes with a bland exhortation to get in touch and tell me who you are. I now have a dozen or so Facebook ‘friends’ who I’ve met this way, and it’s curiously pleasing to have brief conversations on the phone with (inevitably drunk) strangers who just so happen to have handled the same currency as you. Anyway, this is a website that does much the same thing but with no need to hand out important personal information to a nation of strangers, which is probably better.
  • Pen & Ink Drawings Of Muslim Prayer CarpetsJonathan Bréchignac makes large drawings of Muslim prayer carpets using ballpoint pens. It takes him up to 8 months to finish one drawing. I think Jonathan may be a touch *strange*, but these are incredible. 
  • The Maddest Thing You Will See All WeekI don’t mean mad in the sort of ‘wacky’ way – I mean in the sort of gimlet-sharp, starey, lunatic way. Click on this link, and keep clicking and then have a think about how deep it goes and then get a little bit scared. Just mental.
  • Mapping Country MetaphorsThis website tracks metaphors people make about countries or regions – you know, Cumbria is the Syria of the UK and stuff like that. Not particularly well-made, but actually really interesting if you dig a little bit.
  • The Best Worst Website I’ve Seen In AgesRJ Greengard is an industrial painter and his website is Flash-heavy and quite incredible. It also quite possibly hasn’t been updated in a couple of decades. 
  • Games Part 1Pong is like pinterest but for online games. It will EAT YOUR AFTERNOON. As will…
  • Games Part 2Retro games, again all browser-playable. An INCREDIBLE selection which includes Metal Slug and which cost me a large chunk of Tuesday. You’re welcome.
  •  

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:

  • The Swinging 60sJust a great collection of pics from the 60s. No more, no less. 
  • The 2 Heads GalleryCurated by G Bernard, this is just a gorgeous collection of photography, mostly in black and white. Mildly NSFW in parts, but not in a way that should upset any but the most prudish of employers.
  • Pr0n Comments On Instagram PicsJuxtaposing the trenchant commentary of the commenters on the myriad of porn clip sites with the heavily-filtered photography of Instagram. Byturns amusing and just sort of sad, really. I do wonder what motivates people to write this sort of stuff after finishing a (one hopes) pleasing session of self-love. 
  • Newspaper BlackoutI love this so much. A tumblr collection of examples of blackout art – that is, works which take the printed page and their starting point and then black out the text leaving only a few remaining words visible and creating a sort of combined textual/visual poetry. I could read this stuff for HOURS. Also, they take submissions – go make your own.
  • What The Hell, Facebook Ads?Collecting the most WTF?-y examples of Facebook advertising. People choose to promote some very, very odd things. 
  • Windows High As FcukI don’t really know what to make of this. It’s weird.
  • GoppelldangersNell Frizzell dresses up as famous people and takes photos of the result. 
  • Carved CrayonsNo, really, that’s exactly what these are. Seriously impressive work. 
  • This Is Not An InsightAs alluded to above, all the best insight and analysis from Social Media Week London in one place. All the better due to my friend Aden’s appearance on it. YOU GURU, ADEN!
By Meghan Howland
 

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG BUT DUE TO THE WORRYINGLY RAPID PASSING OF TIME THIS MORNING ARE ONLY GOING TO GET A FLEETING EXPLANATION FOR WHICH SINCERE APOLOGIES BUT, YOU KNOW, I HAVE A SODDING WEDDING TO GET TO AS I MAY HAVE MENTIONED UP THERE:

By Jessica Harrison
 

NOW, FINALLY, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!:
1) This is called Nuance – it’s a digitally enhanced dance project and it’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all week. Mesmerising: 

2) Although this runs it a close second. It’s done the rounds quite a lot this week, and rightly so, so apologies if its old hat, but the combination of projection mapping and realtime movement is HUGELY impressive – the implications for theatre and dance and performance art overall are very exciting, and you can imagine Punchdrunk doing something really cool with this next time out (as an aside, if you’ve yet to see The Drowned Man yet then do get tickets – it’s wonderful):

3) This is The Smiths’ ‘Please, Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want’, cut with a selection of infomercials. It’s AMAZING, for reasons I can’t quite explain. You will either laugh or cry, but you won’t be left unmoved:

4)  Sexual violence against women in India has been getting a lot of attention this year; this sketch by Indian comedy troupe AIB 365 looks at the attitudes behind it. Actually really quite horrible and sad, but it’s interesting to get a flavour for Indian society and culture and the way that intelligent women are reacting to culture:

5) I’m not a massive fan of this song – it’s fairly generic jump-up D’n;B with an uninspiring female vocal over the top (though I concede it’s earwormy). The video, though, laying out a 5 year relationship in statistics, is GENIUS and will be ripped off by advertisers in literally MINUTES (oh, ok, I know that it is itself a collation of ad tropes that ave been around for ages, but it’s very very well-observed and put together):

6) Mega Plush is the best piece of animation I saw all week. Technically faultless – someone give this man a big budget. Gang war between soft toys, in hyper-HD choreographed brilliance:


7) This is part music vid, part skate vid, and all lovely. It feels like the weekend when you watch it. Broke For Free’s song ‘Juparo’:

8) Another gorgeous piece of work, this time from long-term Web Curios favourites Keep Shelley In Athens (no, me neither). This is their video for ‘Recollections’ and it features gorgeous bubbles and is all ethereal and lovely:

9) Creepily weird thing of the week part 1. No idea WHAT this is, or indeed why it exists. OH JAPAN!:

10) Creepily weird thing of the week part 2. I’m slightly in two minds about this one, as there is a LOT of quite weird furry anime filth in here, but it’s also compellingly odd and upsetting, so that tips the balance in its favour. I first found it on YouTube where it lasted about 3 hours – let’s see how tolerant Vimeo is. This is called Betamale and it’s by Oneohtrix…and as I type, I realise that Vimeo have pulled it too. Oh well, possibly for the best. Anyway, have this instead which sounds a bit like Burial and is a good song with a decent cinematic video and is as good a way to close out as any, I suppose. Happy Friday, kids:

 
That’s it for now
See you next week. Please forward this onto as many people as your mail server can physically handle. If you’re reading this and have yet to subscribe, visit the Imperica newsletter page to do so.
 

 

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Webcurios 20/09/13

Reading Time: 22 minutes

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Half a mile to Wham
Garudio Studiage photo of the week

Videogames, videogames, videogames. And fashion too. EXCITEMENT! That’s basically been this week, along with an awful lot of work – it turns out that helping people open a new venue is actually quite demanding. WHO KNEW?

Anyway, I have yet ANOTHER wedding to get to this weekend, this one in Wales of all places, so without further ado let plunge a sounding rod deep into the urethra of the web in search of anomalous findings (sorry) – it’s WEB CURIOS!

By Xooang Choi

BITS OF INFORMATION WHICH LARGELY PERTAIN TO THE MAKING OF MONEY VIA THE MEDIUM OF ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS (OR THE PEDDLING OF SNAKE OIL – FEEL FREE TO CALL THIS WHATEVER YOU WANT, TO BE HONEST, AS I AM PAST THE POINT OF CARING) ARRANGED IN A CAREFREE FASHION WITH NO APPARENT TAXONOMICAL GUIDELINES BECAUSE, WELL, BECAUSE I CAN:

  • How Machine Learning Will Make Glass Useful (and the future a terrifying dystopian nightmare): I’m starting with this one largely because it sort of scared the bejesus out of me, and in the spirit of SHARING I want it to scare the bejesus out of you too. Maybe everyone else had thought of this stuff already, but this piece about how machine learning (that is, pattern recognition, etc) will be applied to Google Glass is properly scary. The bits at the end about the tech being able to automatically detect when a user is looking at, say, a human face or something – HUGELY CREEPY for so many reasons. Not least the censorship / control stuff – let’s hope that wearable tech never takes off (and maybe that we all decide that everything past, say, bulletin boards was actually a terrible mistake and we go back to 1998 when everything was safe and we were young and my hair wasn’t falling out in clumps and my skin had the lustre of youth and OH MY GOD I FEEL SO OLD). 
  • Glass For Fashion: Seeing as we’re talking about it, and seeing as it was Fashion Week this week (impossible to miss – were aliens to have taken a cursory glance at media this week they would have been reasonably convinced that all we cared about were unfeasibly tall, skinny women wearing moderately ridiculous clothes, and videogames), this piece is about some Glass hacks which pertain particularly to fashion. Some clever ideas here, and if you think about them enough they almost make you forget the scary machine learning horror of the last link. Think of it as a mental palate-cleanser. 
  • Google Does Health: Just FYI, really – the CLEVER PEOPLE are looking into the healthcare market and pumping money into research to preemptively sort out the problems of 20 years hence. Do you know why they are doing this? SO THAT WE WILL NEVER DIE AND THEREFORE CAN BE SOLD ADVERTISING FOREVER. Trufact.
  • Watch YouTube Videos Offline: Come November, YouTube will let people watch videos offline for a short period. Details are sketchy, but I presume it will mean short-term downloads of stuff. Anyway, there’s the potential for some clever usage of this – I quite like the idea of fourth wall-breaking allusions to where something is being watched, or the creation of videos that are designed to be watched solely on the Tube, say. It’s probably a dreadful idea, though. 
  • Subway Dress: What’s the most Fashion Week thing you can think of? THAT’S RIGHT! Hypercalorific fast food with a strange and oddly unsettling chemical smell! Subway commissioned some designers at New York Fashion Week to design and make dresses using materials from the horrible chain restaurant. “THIS IS NOT INTERNETTY!”, I hear you cry…well, it sort of is, isn’t it – a prime example of someone, somewhere, thinking “Oh, ‘the internet’ (sorry Evgeny) will go nuts if we dress models up in sandwich wrappers – LET’S DO IT, and then webmongs will write about it in their webmongy blogs!”. And lo, it came to pass. 
  • People Are Quitting Facebook For Reasons of Privacy: Hey look! Some research you can quote to prove to people that they should spend their money in a certain way! This is moderately interesting, although it’s also important to note that the people who are surveyed here are, like me, 30somethings. Do THE KIDS care about the privacy stuff in the same way (clue: no)?.
  • Brand Pages Coming To Etsy: Crafty, folky marketplace Etsy is going to launch brand pages. I have literally no idea why this is happening, I have to say, and neither does the article I’ve linked to. Anyway, chuck this into your next presentation to any client whose target demographic is a little bit hipster. “Yeah, we’ll, like, pull together a collection of the best artisan craftsmanship to really anchor the brand identity to the craft movement, yeah?” stabstabstabstabstab.
  • Pinterest Ads Are Coming: This makes a bit more sense. Again, details are a little sketchy but this seems to be planned to work by placing promoted pins in search results and category feeds – so if you work for someone selling interior design stuff or anything to do with weddings then get on this now.
  • The Oddest Marketing Campaign I’ve Ever Seen For A Place: This is quite bizarre. Canadian island province Nova Scotia is promoting itself via a campaign which purports to be for a phone and then turns out to be for…er…a place. Leaving aside what they thought the link was between people who’d stumble across a phone called ‘Pomegranate’ and people who’d want to go to a snowy, cold, remote destination, you will finish this wanting the phone quite a lot, but feeling relatively ambivalent about Canada. The website’s quite nice, though – click on ‘release date’ for the big reveal.
  • The Specsavers Crime Novel: I do rather like this, though. Specsavers is running a campaign whereby they’ve commissioned some (fairly big name) crime authors to pen a series of tales based on fragments of plot suggestions sourced from the wider world through Twitter, etc. Apparently this is borne out of the ‘insight’ that ‘people realise their eyes are a bit messed up when they struggle to read’ – I love the way agencies do that! – which is obviously a bit tenuous, and frankly the benefit to Specsavers here is somewhat unclear, but there’s something really rather nice about how people are engaging with the concept online. Check out the Twitter search – it’s actually rather cool. 
  • Beer Brand Blocks Mobile Signal: I was in Regent’s Park the other week and was talking to someone about how long it would be before places with signalblocking fields would become an attractive thing – you know, the opportunity for proper disconnection, etc (actually, that’s quite a nice gimmick for a venue – signal near the entrance, where you can wait for others, text them to say you’ve arrived, etc, fading to no signal in the back where you head when you just want to talk to an actual person, face-to-face). Anyway, this beer brand’s made a beer holder thingy that blocks mobile signals within 1.5 metres, doubtless due to some total bollocks ‘INSIGHT’ that people want to drink their beer without interruptions from their phones (you know what, if they want that then they can TURN THE THINGS OFF). Cute, although KitKat did it with benches a year or so back, so no giant FIRST! award for these people.
  • 240+ Slides on ‘Native Advertising’: This is FAR TOO LONG, but actually quite a useful read – basically it’s a whole rationalisation of why it’s really important for brands to do editorial partnerships with Buzzfeed. Obviously there’s a bit more to it than that, but effectively that’s the big takeout. 
  • 160+ Slides on THE FUTURE OF MARKETING!: Again, far too long (why it couldn’t have been a Word doc escapes me), but not totally stupid and contains several examples of sensible stuff on brand behaviour online, etc, which you can lift – helpfully, it’s written in gratingly corporate language which means you can seamlessly integrate large swathes of it into your next meaningless presentation.
  • Significantly Less Slides On What ‘Digital’ Is: This, on the other hand, really is quite smart. Clever overview of what digital is within an agency / organisation – if you have anything to do with running or growing digital business within a company this is probably worth a quick look. It’s much shorter than the previous ones, I promise.
  • The Gif Is Dead: The United States Committee on Energy and Commerce has made this. I’m actually quite impressed with the creativity – you wait until the next election where EVERYTHING gets presented in Buzzfeed-style gif format. Including the manifestos. Seriously, you could actually start making these now. Labour, have this for free – “when the coalition first got into power, we were all like [INSERT RELEVANT ‘HUMOROUS’ REACTION SHOT OF SOMEONE LOOKING INCREDULOUS] and then they started with that austerity stuff and we were all like [INSERT RELEVANT ‘HUMOROUS’ REACTION SHOT OF AN INDIGNANT LOOKING CAT]…etc…etc…and that’s why we’re going to vote Labour – because AIN’T NONE OF US GOT TIME FOR THAT! [INSERT EMBEDDED SWEET BROWN VIDEO]”. You may think I’m joking, but I am TOTALLY going to be resurrecting this post come 2015.
  • The Living Piano: I really, really like this. Simple and well-done and strangely happymaking. Go on, steal it and make it tawdry and horrible. GO ON. 
By James Blair for National Geographic

SOOTHING MUSIC INSPIRED BY THAT VERY POPULAR TV SHOW ABOUT THE DRUG DEALER!

SOME THINGS I HAVE FOUND ON THE INTERNET THIS WEEK OH GOD I HAVE JUST LOOKED AT THE LIST AND I REALLY, REALLY NEED TO APPLY A LITTLE MORE EDITORIAL RIGOUR TO THIS OTHERWISE I’M GOING TO HAVE TO START WRITING IT ON TUESDAYS IF I’M GOING TO GET IT OUT ON FRIDAY LUNCHTIMES, PT. 1:

  • A Small Piece Of Very ‘This Is The Future’ Graffiti From Twitter: Go on, save this in your ‘pics I am going to use in a presentation about digital sooner rather than later’ folder. I know you want to. 
  • No-upload Image Hosting: This is quite clever, and also quite a convenient idea. Snag.gy is, as far as I can tell, a service which allows online image hosting with no upload or account – you can just cut & paste an image onto the webpage, whereby it will MAGICALLY APPEAR with its own shareable URL. Quite good for a variety of purposes, some of them potentially nefarious…
  • Minimalist Football Team Logos: Some of these work better than others, but there’s something quite cool about the concept. You can make your own joke about Jonny Ive / Apple – I’ll just wait here til you’ve finished (judging you). 
  • This Is What It Looks Like When Insects Bite You: Entomophobes, I suggest you don’t click this one. Photographer Alex Wild specialises in taking pictures of insects in superHD close-up. This is a selection of pictures of those insects feeding from him. Even if you’re not entomophobic you’ll probably wince a bit, particularly at the ones of the massive pincers quite clearly embedded in skin. They’re technically awesome photos, though, honest – I fear I’ve put everyone off now, sorry.
  • Dating for Ghosts: As far as I can tell, this is just something that someone knocked up for fun, but there’s a surprising amount of depth to it for a single-serving joke site. Purporting to be a dating site for the ectoplasmic, it’s strangely compelling. A bit of digging revealed it to be one of a series of websites built for no visible purpose by some 39 year old mormon bloke – there may well be WEIRD religiosity buried in there somewhere.
  • Hugely Impressive Origami: I know that these come around comparatively often, but these really *are* spectacular, not just for the technical execution but also for the imagination behind some of the designs. Also, there’s an origami poo – if at least one of you doesn’t spend the afternoon hiding by the printers and secretly using reams of A4 to try and recreate it I will be VERY disappointed.
  • Posters For Villains: Scroll down a bit and you will find some great posters of film villains with apposite quotes. In fact the rest of the work on there’s pretty good too – take a look.
  • Great Fashion Week Webwork: This is excellent, and a really good example of webdesign. The New York Times fashion editor’s picks of the catwalk shows, arranged in a beautiful, navigable way. I particularly like the thematic annotations beneath each fashion house’s selection, and the way the hover-over works (I really hope I’ve used semi-recognisable terminology there, as otherwise that last sentence was largely incomprehensible). 
  • Totally Pointless But Rather Lovely: Move your mouse around. Then click, and HOLD. Keep holding. It’s lovely and will properly relax you, I promise. 
  • Decals For Escalators: It’s boring and cliche to talk, as a Londoner, about the unique anger inspired by people standing on the left on escalators (but OH MY GOD IT’S INFURIATING WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU DO YOU HAVE NO SELF-AWARENESS AT ALL YOU SELFISH GITS?) – instead, let’s all quietly get behind this wonderful design innovation by Yoni Alter and make it happen.
  • Drawing on Skin: Not tattoos, just ink drawings, but incredibly impressive technique. Maybe one of you who wants a tattoo can get this person to do the sketches? Go on. Get Thom Yorke on your left thigh, you know you want to.
  • Man Makes Infographic For Own Wedding: In fairness, it’s sort of what he does, but I’m still quite unsure about this. It’s maybe just a little bit too internet for its own good. Is that unfair? Am I a loveless curmudgeon? Quite possibly, BUT I DON’T CARE. 
  • YouTube Doubler: Tool to create YouTube mashups. Actually quite good, in a low-tech, ugly sort of way. The one linked to is a good example of how it works – community managers, that’s your Friday afternoon sorted. 
  • Looney Tunes Characters Made Of Typography: Erm, that, basically. Very nicely done, though, and were it not for the horrific rights / licensing issues, the sort of thing which would make a nice ad campaign for….er…something which I can’t at present quite identify but which I’m sure will come to me this afternoon in some sort of crap esprit de l’escalier moment. Oh well. 
  • Folding Is Like SETI But For Biology: Everyone should sign up to this. Much in the same way as SETI did with SETI@home, coopting the processing power of home computers to help the agency find aliens, this project aims to use collective computational resources to conduct data-intensive research into protein folding – the rearranging of proteins which, when it goes wrong, is a major cause of serious illness. I think that there should be a corporate charter thingy where large companies all sign up to this stuff automatically. Go on, WPP, BE THE CHANGE (ahahahahaha).
  • Wikipedia’s Guide To Internet Phenomena: A wikipedia page listing some of the biggest memes of recent years. If, like me, you spend far too much time looking at this sort of stuff this will be a lovely trip down memory lane full of nostalgia and long-forgotten earworms. By no means comprehensive (Y NO SCUMBAG STEVE?), but interesting – and actually potentially useful for any students of web culture, or people who want to see if they can define any common themes in what’s memeworthy (good luck with that, though).
  • Symmetrical People: Photograher Julian Wolkenstein takes portrait photos of people and then mirrors their faces on both sides. The results are as unsettling and borderline-creepy as you might expect.
  • Add Cookie Monster To Everything: Like that ‘Add Ryan Gosling to every website’ website from the start of the year, except with Cookie Monster. Surely there must be a fairly easy script which can make these on demand? Go on, make one for me (I keep on writing stuff like this – it NEVER happens. God you’re cruel).
  • Star Trek Next Generation vs Old School: A slightly odd project, largely because of the volume of pics and the quality of the photoshoppery – someone has taken the time to drop a load of characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation into stills from the original Shatner vehicle. No idea why – fans are STRANGE – but they’re actually rather well done. 
  • Miniature Pop Culture Paintings on Coins: Yes, I know this was on Us vs Th3m, LEAVE ME ALONE. Anyway, technically marvellous miniature pictures of pop culture icons painted onto coins. Does this mess with their status as legal tender? If not there’s a variety of ways in which you can take this as *ahem* inspiration for campaigns…
  • Generating Utopia: Interesting project creating shifting 3d maps of cities based on 4sq checkins. Its high concept is to imagine what cities would look like if their topography responded to a resident’s activity (leave out what it would look like, it would be TERRIFYING) – watch the video and read the blurb, it’s very clever indeed in an artytechcity sort of way.
  • Sylvia Plath In Comic Form: Another week, another link to Zen Pencils, whose work continues to impress. This time it’s a piece from Plath’s The Bell Jar, illustrated in poignant fashion. WARNING – it’s Plath, so unlikely to make you feel all that sunny and warm.
  • Multicolour Search for Flickr: Really clever search engine. Choose upto 5 colours, choose how much of each you want, and hit ‘search’ – the page then trawls Flickr for pictures that best match the colours and proportions you requested. Also it only searches Creative Commons images, so it’s properly useful too.
  •  The Encyclopaedia of Life: Huge and incredible resource which effectively acts like Wikipedia but for biology. The world’s flora and fauna, classified and arranged into a website. I had NO IDEA that this even existed until yesterday – things like this are why the internet is wonderful. If you have kids who are interested in animals and nature and stuff, this might be a useful thing to plug them into for a while.
  • Favimon – Pokemon With Websites: Erm, yes, that. Pick a web url and this site turns it into a Pokemon-type creature and lets you battle other websites. No idea why you’d want to do this, but Pokemon are still REALLY popular (no, really). My brother met his fiancee thanks to Pokemon, and they’re moving to Canada to live happily ever after, so it MUST be a good thing.
  • Code The Star Wars Opening Text: You’ve probably got a small window where this is ok to do. This website gives you step-by-step instructions on how to code the whole ‘A long time ago…’ scrolling text from the start of the Star Wars films. Brands – noone wants to see your ‘funny’ takes on this (or at least I don’t).
  • Meowmania: This week’s frivolous cat-related website. Click for cats and meows. Funnier than it ought to be.
  • Picasso Superheroes: Your favourite superheroes as they would have appeared had they been drawn by stumpy Spanish genius (has he ever been so dismissively described? Sorry, Pablo) Picasso. Also the website of a very talented graphic designer who might sell the prints to you if you ask nicely.
  • USB Condoms: Oh, the future, you give us so much. I had not even begun to imagine why such things will be necessary, but one day they will be – these are devices which will protect your device’s data integrity when you plug it into a ‘strange’ USB port. Makes perfect sense as we move towards a world in which we will use more and more public / shared USBs, but it’s also a bit sad.
  • Dreamspace: A clever, well-written little dystopian cyberpunk webcomic with some very nice artwork and gif-y animation. Takes about 5 minutes, and it’s really rather nicely made.
By Robert Longo

A 200-SONG MASHUP BY SOME BLOKE CALLED MELKER!

SOME THINGS I HAVE FOUND ON THE INTERNET THIS WEEK OH GOD I HAVE JUST LOOKED AT THE LIST AND I REALLY, REALLY NEED TO APPLY A LITTLE MORE EDITORIAL RIGOUR TO THIS OTHERWISE I’M GOING TO HAVE TO START WRITING IT ON TUESDAYS IF I’M GOING TO GET IT OUT ON FRIDAY LUNCHTIMES, PT. 2:

  • Google Mechview: Have you ever wondered what the world would look like as seen through the cockpit of a giant mechanical robot-type thing? OH GOOD. It’s weird how much superimposing a cockpit onto Google Street View images changes the way you see them.
  • The Most Hipster/Artwanker Sunglasses EVER: You will see someone wearing these soon, and you will want to hit them, but you will also secretly want to have a pair yourself and the sense of self-loathing which this will provoke in you will stay with you for several hours. 
  • Crime Scenes Then And Now: This is a brilliant photoproject taking old crime-scene photos of New York and seamlessly merging them with modern photos of the same locations. Very clever idea, and incredibly well-executed.
  • The Best Response To A Customer Complaint In A Restaurant I Have Seen In Ages: Just brilliant. Take a bow, Chester’s The Sticky Walnut (dreadful name, though). 
  • Make Better Websites: Inspiration, should you need some, for web design. Some very nice examples on the site; worth scrolling through to see if anything catches your eye.
  • Secret Images From The Stasi Archives: Incredible, and really rather sad, photographs from an upcoming book looking at the Stasi. Your first instinct will be to laugh at the disguises – you have never seen secret policemen in disguise who look quite so much like secret policemen in disguise – but the shot of the bed and the child’s toybox, and the accompanying text, is chilling. I prefer my surveillance to be faceless and inhuman, thankyou very much – thanks, NSA!
  • Speaking of the NSA, Get Caught By Them!: Another one of these – this week it’s Flagger, a Chrome plugin which automatically puts trigger keywords like ‘Semtex’, ‘Jihad’, etc, into the url of any web address you visit. Which I’m sure seems really funny now, but won’t be so much of a laugh riot when you’re serving year three of your infinite sentence in virtual Gitmo. 
  • Reading ALL of the Penguins: A laudable but slightly unhinged project to collect and read every single Penguin paperback of which there are 3000. MENTAL. There’s a blogpost about each book – it’s actually a great site to browse if you’re looking for new, high-calibre reading material.
  • Hulk’s Essential Reading List: As is this, actually – some very good recommendations in here. 
  • The Most Hipster Arts Grad Job EVER: Middle Class? Arts degree? No direction or ambition, but an overweaning sense that you deserve a good life? Oh hi, nice to meet you, we’re exactly the same. Also, you could be a book therapist, apparently. CRAZY.
  • Transmit Sound Through Touch: I don’t even pretend to understand how this works, but it seems to be tech, developed by The Mouse, which lets people transmit sounds to each other through touch alone. Or indeed can transform anything into a speaker with no need for modification of the object in question. The possibilities are HUGE – although the first thing I thought of was stuff that tells you off for touching it, which is really quite sad actually. I should have a word with myself.
  • Disney Princess Magazine Covers: Speaking of Disney, this made me temporarily quite angry when I found it. This is basically everything that’s wrong with female-oriented publishing / marketing – and a really horrible example of how small children get indoctrinated without anyone really noticing. 
  • Slyphone: Have an iPhone? Want to take pics of people without them knowing you’re doing so? You’re probably a pervert, in that case, but you may also like the Slyphone, which is a little clip on attachment which lets the phone take pics at 90 degrees. You can get one free by interacting with them on Twitter and telling them what you’d do with the tech (I’m guessing the most likely answer, ‘upskirts’, is probably not going to get you a freebie, though). 
  • Utopia: A short story told through text and sound and 8-bit animations. Rather lovely, and will only take you 5 minutes. 
  • Welcome To Fear City: In the 1970s, New York was quite a crime-ridden and scary place. This pamphlet, produced by the City in 1975, is intended to scare the living bejesus out of anyoe potentially visiting the city, and makes it sound like you would die within literally seconds of leaving your hotel room. Can someone paraody this for modern London, please? Thanks.
  • The Guccione Collection: The incredibly hubristic website collecting the GENIUS of pronographer and publishing magnate Bob Guccione. There’s actually a lot of really intreresting stuff on the site, but the tone’s pretty offputting. Great photography, though. Anyway, I only discovered it as a result of THIS piece on VICE, which is an eye-opening account of the alleged sexual appetites of Chuck Berry, and which I wouldn’t read whilst eating. 
  • A Quite Remarkable Obituary: Wow.
  • License This Picture, Turn It Into Cards, Make Millions: I will take 3% of lifetime earnings, thanks.
  • Keynes For Kids: This is AWESOME, and, it appears, just done for the love of it. An introduction to everyone’s favourite economist JM Keynes, designed for kids. It’s just brilliant, and made me spend a good 20 minutes playing around on it and dimly remembering the IB Economics I did 17 years ago (OH GOD 17 YEARS). Really well designed, the content is spot on…aside from your interest or otherwise in the subject matter, it’s worth a look from a design point of view alone.
  • Bicycles Made Of Lobster: No more, no less.
  • A Sick But Entertaining Ragdoll Sim Game: GTAV? PAH! THIS is a torture simulation. Also, really quite worryingly fun.
By Raphael Dallaporta

A MIX COMPOSED OF VINTAGE PR0N SOUNDTRACKS!

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:

  • Bad Estate Agent Photos: If you have ever looked for property in London, this will resonate unpleasantly (and yes, I know you have already seen this this week GIVE ME A BREAK). 
  • Glitches: Daily glitch art. Nice, if you like that sort of thing (which I do).
  • Calvin And Dune: Another week, another pop cultuer Calvin & Hobbes mashup. This week it’s text from Frank Herbert’s Dune making the strip all DARK and EXISTENTIAL and stuff. 
  • Awesome Posters: It’s quite hardto glean anything about who’s behind this, but no matter – this Tumblr collects posters designed by…er…someone, and they are AWESOME. In particular, they’ve designed posters for each and every episode of Star Trek, which is mental (see mad fans comment passim) but also rather cool. 
  • Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The Train: I never do this, fyi. I am a lovely commuter. 
  • JS Apps Failing Horribly: This is a very, very geeky joke. Sorry.
  • Daily Otter: An otter a day to lift your mood and calm your nerves.
  • Poetry Mashups: you’ll have to look a bit to find them, but on this Tumblr are a selection of readings of classic poems mashed up with modern pop music. The person behind them suggests that the purpose is to highlight the lyrical quality of poetry to young people – whatever, the results are AWESOME. No, really – go and listen to Dylan Thomas vs Miley Cyrus (I am not shitting you) and then feel your world change forever. 
  • Things In Charlotte’s Mouth: I have literally NO IDEA.
  • Bartkira: Akira + The Simpsons = this. One for you, Adam
  • Sad Desk Lunch: Images of depressing food eaten at the desks of office monkeys. Go on, treat yourself today, you deserve it, you’ve had a long week. 
  • Project Unbreakable: This has been going for a couple of years now, but the Tumblr is, I think, newish. Project Unbreakable aims to highlight issues surrounding sexual abuse and public reaction to it – it collects images of women who’ve been victims of abuse, holding cards showing things which were said to them by friends, family, the police or the perpetrator. It’s often incredibly uncomfortable, as it should be, and it will probably make you want to go and donate to these people or someone simliar
  •  

A MIX OF MUSIC WHICH IS REALLY HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL AND WHICH I RECOMMEND UNRESERVEDLY

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG AND OF WHICH THERE ARE A LOT THIS WEEK SO GET A BIG POT OF TEA READY OR MAYBE SOME WHISKEY:

  • Inside Nintendo’s Treehouse: An incredibly detailed look at how Nintendo make games, and the role of writers and translators in that process. Obviously if you like videogames this is going to be more interesting than if not, but the piece is actually worth reading as a more general look at the importance of integrating writers into each stage of the creative process. 
  • Ladies! Control Men’s Minds With Your Vaginas!: No, really. The Hairpin (which, as a man, I think is one of the best women’s interest blogs on the internet and which I heartily recommend) takes a look at Copulins, which are basically pheremones, and how these can be used to CONTROL MEN. Just…just weird, really.
  • On Being A Dominatrix: Really interesting piece on what it’s like to abuse and humiliate people for a living – or as it’s more commonly known, BEING THE CLIENT!!!! Oh God, I’m so sorry. 
  • The Papal Interview: An astonishingly long and detailed interview with Pope Francis. Whether or not you are Catholic, or Christian, or religious in any way at all (or if you think that the Pope’s the leader of some giant illuminati-style paedophile ring which has been going for centuries), this is worth a skim – if nothing else, the Pope is still one of the most powerful people in the world (whatever Richard Dawkins might want) and it’s useful to know in what sort of direction he’s likely to point his several hundred million followers. Contains some positive noises on women and gays, which is A Good Thing in general. 
  • Soho in 1983: Words and pictures from the seedy part of London back when it still was a bit seedy. An interesting slice of historyand OH MY GOD 1983 was 30 years ago. Jesus.
  • On Jim Henson and Making Money From Art: Fascinating not only as a look at Henson’s early life and work, but also as a discussion / meditation on how artists can and should make profit from their output, and in so doing how they can avoid diminishing the quality of the work. 
  • A Truly HUGE Piece On Post-Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush US Politics: Obviously if you’re in any way interested in US politics, this is a good read – even if not, though, it’s worth a look as a general look at what voters of a certain age are drawn to in terms of ideology, policy, etc, and the manner in which the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ have shifted in meaning in the past 30-odd years. 
  •  The Boris Bike After The Apocalypse: A very weird piece of writing, imagining the role of Boris Bikes (well, actually Citibikes as it’s American) in a post-apocalyptic world. They do look sort of indestructible, come to think of it. 
  • The Life Of Joyce: A brilliant story about how a class of schoolkids uncovered the life story of a truly remarkable 20th Century man. Read it, and then go and take a look at the website they put together archiving all the materials from the story. It’s BRILLIANT. 
  • Do We Still Care About Syria?: This brilliant and slightly harrowing piece in the New Statesman is a convenient reminder of why we should, and why the whole place is such a potentially intractable mess.
  • A Portrait of a 10 Year Old Girl: A wonderful portrait of what it’s like being that age and gender in a Western country – in this case Canada, but I would imagine applicable to here too. Would be fascinated to hear the thoughts of those of you with kids on this one. 
  • The Cage Fighter, The Bad Debts and the Fake Death: Well this is a film waiting to be made. Also, the way the page is designed is wonderful – I love the HTML graphic novel-type panelling. 
  • On Why It’s Hard Not To Look Like A Hipster As A 30 Year Old Man: Not actually long, but quite funny. My tip for avoiding this problem, incidentally, is to dress really, really badly. 
  • The Poetry of the NYC Probation Department: This is a collection of verse by employees and clients of the New York City Probation Department. Some of it’s tripe, admittedly, but there are some genuinely affecting pieces in there and I am very much in favour of the idea (not that anyone cares what I think, but still). 
  • A Chat With Norman Spinrad: I’ve had a looooooooooong relaionship with the work of Norman Spinrad, sci fi novelist and contrarian who wrote some AWESOME books that you really should read, in particular Bug Jack Barron (which basically did reality TV in the late 60s and is like Big Brother crossed with Austin Powers crossed with Superfly (no, really, it is)), The Iron Dream (which is a sci fi novel written as if by Hitler and is brutally brilliant) and The Men in the Jungle which I read when I was 10 and I’m pretty sure scarred me in some fairly deep-seated fashion. Anyway, Spinrad is always an interesting read, and this interview with him’s got a lot of interesting observations in it. Go read. 
  • Why You’re Unhappy: If you’re in your 30s, at least. ENJOY!
By Andy Gillmore


NOW, FINALLY, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!:


1) First up, there’s a LOVELY montage of the final shots from a variety of films. Sounds boring, really isn’t – put on headphones and take 5 minutes to watch this through. Web Curios takes no responsibility for tears shed as a result (contains MASSIVELY EMO STRINGS): 

2) This is Majical Cloudz with their song ‘Bugs Don’t Buzz’. It’s a haunting and gorgeous track which I am 99% sure does some pretty serious ripping off of some other song, but no matter – it’s LOVELY. The video, on the other hand, gave me the formicating heebiejeebies and should only be watched if you’re not in any way creeped out by insects crawling all over people’s faces and similar stuff. Another one best avoided by the entomophobes :

3) Photographer Gioacchino Petronicce has taken a load of his photos and turned them into a video and it is a thing of gorgeousness and gorgeosity. Watch, it’s only 2 minutes and it will make you happy I promise:

4)  Yamantaka Sonic Titan is, apparently, a collective art project established in 2007. It’s largely baffling to me, but I stumbled across this song and video this week and fell in love with it. The music is really, really good, in a sort of dirty rock way and the video’s rather cool too what with all the dancing and slowmo and stuff. It’s called ‘One’:

5) This, on the other hand, is just a lovely slice of slightly jangly indiepop. Eleanor Friedberger, with ‘When I Knew’:

6) I think Kn1ght are French – it’s electro, anyway, and it seems to be something of a law that all electro artists must be French in 2013. Anyway, I LOVE the video for this – all 80s and neon, and it feels like a short action film which is never a bad thing. The song’s called ‘Last Moon’, should you care:

7) More electronica here, although this is a little more WARP than the above. The video is brilliant – glitchy, techy animation which gets progressively more angular and broken down as the song progresses. This is Aleph with Fourth Way:

8) I LOVE WATSKY. I keep saying it because it’s TRUE. Anyway, this is his new one, ‘Kill A Hipster’, from his very good album Cardboard Castles. I love him so much I’ll even forgive him for the zombies thing, as it sort of makes sense in this context:

9) Scarlet Chives are Danish, I think. This is their song Some Days Stay, which features a LOT of girl-on-girl and probably isn’t safe for work – the reason I’m including it is not, as some of you might be thinking, that I’m some sort of pathetic peddler of low-rent lesbongo, but more because the song’s lovely, and the video has the air of something which features two people who actually know and like each other rather than actresses, and has the sort of weirdly innocent vibe of 1960s documentaries on nudist camps:

10) Last up we have this, by FKA Twigs. It’s called Papi Pacify, and the video is beautifully shot and quite ambivalent about the relationship between the two protagonists and I think it’s gorgeous. I’m off to ANOTHER wedding now – bye, happy Friday, etc:

 
That’s it for now
See you next week. Please forward this onto as many people as your mail server can physically handle. If you’re reading this and have yet to subscribe, visit the Imperica newsletter page to do so.
 

 

Webcurios 26/07/13

Reading Time: 15 minutes

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15.07.13 – Sawdust – Morrisons, Aylesham Centre, SE15
Garudio Studiage photo of the week

So, a THING happened this week. I’m going to have to mention it below, for which apologies, but really there’s only one thing you need to read about it and you can find it here.

Otherwise it’s been much as it ever is. Warm, busy, stressful, LONG, leavened by occasional moments of muddlesome confusion and cathartic, frightened laughter. LIFE IS WEIRD. I’m off to the SEASIDE in about an hour, which inevitably presages rain – you, though, have ALL AFTERNOON to slather yourselves in the moisturising, nourishing infocream that is this week’s WEB CURIOS!


(By the way, the “Photo of the week” which accompanies the web version of Web Curios comes to you by courtesy of Peckham artist collective Garudio Studiage. They’re behind a wealth of brilliantly funny, meaningful mixed-media work. You can meet them and many other Peckham-based artists and groups at the V&A’s “Friday Late” event, taking place tonight (26/07/13). Further info is here: http://per.im/vafridaylate)

By Madame Peripetie

THE THANKFULLY STILL REASONABLY SHORT BUT STILL LONGER THAN I’D LIKE IT TO BE SELECTION OF STUFF WHICH MAY BE USEFUL TO PEOPLE WHO SPEND THEIR DAYS USING WORDS LIKE ‘STRATEGY’ AND ‘ENGAGEMENT’ AND CRYING HOT, BITTER TEARS ON THE INSIDE:

  • Brands And The R*y*l B*b*: Let’s get this out of the way and then never speak of it again (except maybe a little bit later on when we get to the Tumblrs). I blame Oreo – they’ve now made it mandatory for brands to think that they have to do some sort of ‘funny’ reactive response to real-world events. Here’s a hint – EVERYONE WAS SICK TO BLOODY DEATH OF THE LIZARDCHILD BY THE TIME IT EMERGED. NOONE WANTS TO SEE ‘FUNNY’ TOILET PAPER-RELATED CONTENT. Just…just…leave us alone, please. Please. Stop trying to become an integral part of the lives and conversations of real people. Just go back to making and selling stuff we neither really want nor need. You’re good at that. 
  • Facebook Results (It’s Still Growing)Much as we might like it not to be true, and much as London’s generic media wankers might say otherwise, Facebook is still the de facto social platform for most of the world, and it’s still getting bigger. And still making a LOT of money. Ho hum.
  • FB Takes User Feedback On Posts / AdsSo ostensibly this isn’t that big a deal – Facebook is set to allow users to give reasons for hiding posts and ads in their newsfeeds, to improve (they say) their ability to deliver stuff that people might actually want to see. BUT if we can all agree to mark EVERY SINGLE UPDATE from brands as boring, irrelevant, offensive, etc, then we will maybe end this whole sorry thing forever. Maybe. Oh God, it’s all too much of a wonderful utopian dream to ever become real, isn’t it? 
  • FB For BusinessIf you do this sort of stuff for a living, you may want to bookmark this. Facebook launched a new blog / website thing focusing on all the advermarketingpr-type stuff – there’s literally one very dull post on there right now, but I imagine they’ll throw some other things up soon enough.
  • Advertising on Foursquare Now ExistsI don’t really know why I’m including this seeing as, as I may have mentioned before, NOONE USES 4SQ, but who knows – maybe you have a rich client with money to burn who wants to try something new and innovative and pointless. If so, point them in the direction of 4sq ads – effectively vouchers / coupons which are delivered to users after checking in to a certain location. Interestingly, the coupons aren’t necessarily for the place you check into – the idea of related offers is actually quite a smart one.
  • Some Twitter Search HintsNone of this is particularly complicated or hard, but you may want to send it around your colleagues, particularly those who ask you repeated, stupid questions about how to find / track stuff on the internet and whose faces you have imagined pushing slowly through a colander whilst cackling maniacally.
  • Empathy On TwitterI’m staggered that this exists. There are whole swathes of this stuff on the Twitter website, telling users how to, basically, BE HUMAN BEINGS. It’s a strange and uncomfortable combination of weirdly funny and robotically awful.
  • Nice Time Out Stunt in ShanghaiThis is cute. Time Out (or, more accurately, their ad agency) in Shangai left a series of mobile phones in public places. When people picked them up, they received instructions to get into a cab, which then took them on a rather awesome-looking tour of the city. Not hugely original, but nicely executed. I do wonder, though, how many people dropped out at the first hurdle – after all, would you get into a strange car when instructed to do so by a phone you’d just found on the street?  
  • Lexus Instagram Video ThingNo, not that Instagram video. This is very smart – to launch some new car or another (sorry, I don’t really *get* cars), Toyota got 200 Instagram users, took them to a track to see the vehicle and take pictures of it – which were then composited together to make a stop-motion film from Instagram photos. The video contains a nice level of detail as to how they did it – what struck me, though, was the MASSIVE cost of this. I mean really – getting 200 people from across the States to one place, the 3-d modelling of the track, etc etc etc…seems a little much.
  • Nikon Facebook Photo ThingWHY? WHY DO BRANDS DO THIS? Nikon’s trying to create a community for photographers on Facebook. WHY???? There are plenty of communities / websites / forums / etc where photographers congregate (hello Flickr), so what is the point of trying to make another one, on Facebook, for lots of money. Oh, that’s right, THERE IS NO POINT.
  • QVC Pinterest Ripoff ThingSee above, but this time for QVC who for reasons known only to them (and, perhaps, some idiots at one agency or another) have decided that what they REALLY need to do is make a social platform to help them sell more tat. WHY DON’T YOU JUST USE THE ONES THAT NORMAL PEOPLE ALREADY USE YOU IDIOTS? Christ, this makes me cross. 
  • The Problem With Digital ProjectsIn fact, this excellent article (admittedly on Imperica, but would have linked to it even if it wasn’t, honest) basically encapsulates everything I find irritating / nonsensical about the previous two things and a whole lot more besides. It’s by Martha Henson, and I’m just going to quote you a bit of it here: “there are definitely massive howling alarm-bell-ringing clangers that should be sending up red flags right from the start. The “we need an app, never mind who for” people, the “we’ve got all this content, let’s just stick it online, people will come to us” people, the “let’s create a whole new portal for something that already exists” people, and so on. And sometimes it feels like we aren’t moving on from this; these whack-a-mole stupidities keep popping up over and over again and just will not die”. Well, quite.
By Roger Ballen
 

WHY NOT SOUNDTRACK THIS NEXT BIT WITH A LOVELY SUMMERY MIX? GO ON YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO

A Collection Of Things I Have Quite Enjoyed On The Internet This Week Which I Thought I Would Share With You On The Offchance That You Like Them To, Although You Are Of Course Under No Obligation To Do So, pt.1:

  • Flipboard Now Works On DesktopUseful to know, this – you can now read magazines created on Flipboard on desktop. Actually pretty big news in terms of expanding the potential audience for stuff made on the platform, although the fact that you still can’t make stuff on desktop is somewhat confusing and seems like a damaging limitation (to me, at least. You may not care).
  • Keep Your Details Private OnlineIf you don’t like giving out your email, phone number, address, etc, on the internet (what are you, some sort of CRIMINAL? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO HIDE, EH????) then this service is probably quite useful. Mask Me effectively provides randomised proxy details to websites whilst still ensuring that you can receive emails, etc, from services should you so desire. It’s a bugger to explain, so I suggest you click on the link and get the people who made it to tell you how it works as I’m obviously singularly incapable of doing so.
  • Disney Making Haptic Air ThingyThis is MENTAL. So Disney’s working on a system that produces targeted, shaped gusts of air to give you force feedback for gestural interfaces (that may be the most incomprehensibly future sentence I’ve ever written). I’ve always thought that the problem with mainstream takeup of stuff like Kinect has been the lack of haptic feedback; this could be an interesting work-around for that. Also, THINK OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE IMPLICATIONS! You could scare someone senseless with this stuff, seriously. 
  • FrontbackThis is quite odd – an app that takes simultaneous pictures from an iPhone’s front and back cameras and displays them simultaneously. I don’t really understand why anyone would need this, and I can only envisage all sorts of dreadful pr0nographic uses.
  • Glass Bongo!Speaking of pr0n (SEAMLESS!), it’s finally happened – a bloke from VICE lent everyone’s favourite fresh-faced-but-filthy bongo superstar James Deen (imminently set to become VERY famous, I think, when his ‘proper’ debut with Lindsay Lohan comes out) his pair of Google Glass, and the inevitable happened. The link back there isn’t PROPER filth, but I’d probably feel a little weird watching it in an office, fyi. You can read how it all came about here, should you be so inclined.
  • Gay Bikers From The 70sA wonderful collection of found photography of…er…a load of gay bikers from the 70s. 
  • Nuke Map 3DOn the offchance that you want to see what it would look like if you dropped a nuclear warhead on a particular place, this little plugin for Google Earth will do that very thing. I confess to having cackled somewhat disturbingly as I reduced Swindon to the sort of rubble that causes Geiger counters to melt (NB: I absolutely, definitely don’t actually want to nuke Swindon, honest).
  • Images Of People Sleeping In WarzonesStrange moments of innocence – really quite poignant pictures, and very beautiful photography overall.
  • The Tube In The 80sTo be honest I reckon most of you will have seen these already, but if you’ve somehow missed them then do take a look. These are some GREAT pictures of the London Underground (or, more accurately, people on it), and a reminder of how much less nice London was in the 1980s. Also, smoking on  the tube. Mental. WHY DID THEY LET PEOPLE DO THAT??? Oh, there’s a whole other load of photos here, too, if you want an extra fix.
  • Drawing The RoadA man travels around America and draws bits of it in a sketchbook. There’s something nice and homely about this sort of Americana – it really does make you want to get into a wide-bodied car and drive coast-to-coast, eating solely in grubby diners and having slightly frightening pool matches with a toothless man called Bubba whilst sneaking injudicious stolen glances at his unfeasibly attractive sister in a gingham shirt and sprayed-on jeans. Or maybe that’s just me.
  • The Covers Of Life Magazine in 1963A really interesting way of looking at history, this is every single cover of Life mag from 50 years ago. It’s quite remarkable how it charts the obsessions and styles of an age. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure that future historians will glean the same sort of degree of cultural insight from scrutinising the OK! covers from 2012.
  • The Pixar Theory – VisualisedThis was recently in the REALLY LONG THINGS section of Curios, or at least the written version was – now someone’s taken the mental ‘all the pixar films are connected in some sort of weird scifi way’ theory and made it pretty and visual and easily-digestible. Do take a look if you didn’t last time – it’s really quite astonishingly odd (although creepily plausible).
By Someone on Reddit Who I Don’t Know, Sorry
 

A Collection Of Things I Have Quite Enjoyed On The Internet This Week Which I Thought I Would Share With You On The Offchance That You Like Them To, Although You Are Of Course Under No Obligation To Do So, pt.2:

  • Sad YoutubeYou know how YouTube comments are basically just hives of idiocy and hatred that you should never look at if you want to maintain your sanity? Well occasionally they’re also strangely sad and poignant; this is a collection of some of those moments where people are moved to share personal stuff under cat videos. What it doesn’t show (probably for the best really) is all the reply comments of ‘DIE FAG LOL!!!!111’. Jesus Christ, the internet.
  • 180 Websites In 180 DaysJennifer Dewalt decided to teach herself to code. She then decided that as part of this she was going to make 180 websites in 180 days, which is a frankly mental undertaking which would drive most people mad. There’s a lot of really pointless but quite fun sites in this, so have a dig around.
  • Furniture Made From Old PlanesHave you ever wanted to have furniture in your house which is made out of old fighter planes? OH GOOD
  • The Most Romantic Thing You Will Read / Play All WeekPart short story, part game, part poem, all lovely. There are thousands of little branching threads to this, all taking as their startpoint a kiss which may or may not be about to happen. It’s very hard to describe, but I promise that it’s worth fiddling around with, particularly if you’re a wordy person or, like me, a crushing ponce.
  • Composite Faces in FilmsA selection of faces made from the aggregate of all the faces of actors in a selection of films. Haunting, ghostly and a bit horrible – I think the Amelie one will give me the night-terrors for weeks.
  • StereopublicDescribing itself as ‘a public health service for built environments’, Stereopublic is basically exactly what I was asking for last week – a project to find quiet places wherever they may be, and share photos, audio, etc, and then use these to make art. Potentially lovely stuff, though dependent largely on whether anyone uses it. So, er, use it.
  • Genetics Are RemarkableAwesome photoseries, this, taking pictures of two people who are related by blood and joining them, highlighting the insane degree to which familial resemblance maintains regardless of age, gender, etc. I personally now want someone to do this for my whole family (hint). 
  • The DefectorBrilliant piece of interactive storytelling, this is a sort of film/game/website thingy which looks at the horror of life in North Korea and the difficulties faced by those trying to get out. An excellent piece of webwork, this – have a play.
  • StoryscapesANOTHER lovely digital storytelling project (SEAMLESS!) – to quote the website, ‘Osh is a city in the heart of Central Asia. And a window into a little known region. Osh is recovering from trauma. Almost five hundred people were killed here in street violence in 2010. These pages explore that experience from different viewpoints, revealing a rich reality behind the headlines’. Again, very well-made and a beautiful interface here. 
  • Golf BallsCross-sections of golf balls which, it turns out, are a lot prettier than you’d probably have imagined. 
  • DJ CHEF!Having a party? Want a DJ and some top-notch catering? Well why not combine the two by booking DJ CHEF! This doesn’t appear to be a joke – LOOK AT HIS FACE HE IS AMAZING!
  • Slightly Odd Charlie Brooker Fan FictionTo be honest, if people were writing stuff like this about me I would never, ever log onto the internet ever again. Poor the Charlie Brooker.
  • Meet The Burka AvengerAmazing. A kids’/family cartoon featuring the exploits of the fabulously named BURKA AVENGER in his fight against the evil Baba Bandook. Looks fun, and it’s nice to see some slightly different superhero-type things. Frankly I am bored to tears of Batman and the others – don’t get me started on the bloody film they announced this weekend.
  • Typing Through Tin CansA lovely website collecting a variety of writing on modern communications and how the affect relationships, emotions, etc. Essential reading if you’ve ever spent any time thinking about what the internet and STUFF has done to our ability to relate to each other as HUMAN BEINGS, YEAH?
  • THERE IS A SECOND SERIES OF MYSTERIOUS CITIES OF GOLDI know, amazing right? Also, the theme tune sounds BRILLIANT in French, it turns out. 
  • The GrizcoatI know it’s summer at the moment, but it will be winter soon enough. The best way to prepare for winter, no doubt, is to purchase a big, heavy, hairy coat which will make you look like a small grizzly bear when you wear it. IT HAS TEETH AND CLAWS, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKES!
  • He Took His Skin Off For MeThis is a lovely looking project to make a short film out of Maria Hummer’s short story about a man who takes his skin off for his girlfriend (literally, not metaphorically), and how it turns out not to have been a great idea. The story itself is BEAUTIFUL, and very much worth checking out, and a film of it could be a truly beautiful thing. Donate!
  • Photographing BabestationA series of pictures by Bronia Stewart looking behind the scenes at Babestation. I’m amazed that this channel even exists, and even more amazed at how much money they make from a few very lonely men calling up and spending insane amounts of money for little cameraphone pics of naked women. A friend of mine used to work as a cameraman there – he has some truly jaw-dropping stories which I might see if I can get him to write up in the not-too-distant future…
  • Fcuking New YorkPeople having sex in NYC. Not quite pr0n, but still as NSFW as you would imagine from that description. Great photos, though.
  • 7th September is Cassette Store DayA lovely idea to celebrate the beauty of tapes, this will see events happening in London, NYC, Tokyo and elsewhere. You won’t be surprised to hear that Rough Trade is involved. 
  • Finally, thisNo idea what it’s about AT ALL. A hugely puzzling curio featuring Bjork and a cat. 
 

The Circus Of Tumblrs:

  • Rozes Are RedThe pleasingly sleazy art and photography of Rachel Roze.
  • Posing DJsA selection of pictures of DJs, posing. It is thanks to this site that I discovered the wonder of DJ CHEF!, for which it will forever have a place in my heart.
  • Singh Street StyleStylish Sikhs. As anyone who either is Sikh or has Sikh friends knows, there’s a LOT of technique involved in making a tight turban – some of these are awesome. Will be incomplete until it features my mate Verinder, but still rather good.
  • David CamerpornIn response to Dave’s frankly preposterous anti-bongo posturing, a website featuring stills from ‘adult’ productions with the naughty bits obscured with Dave’s face. Oddly compelling.
  • WLTM Tall Handsome StrangerIt’s been dormant for a couple of years, but this collection of things people say on online dating sites is fairly wonderful / utterly horrific (delete as applicable).
  • Beer Labels In MotionAnimated beer labels, for no reason at all that I can discern. 
  • Desperate Royal MarketingOk, I promise it’s the last mention of the R*y*l B*b* – you’ve almost certainly all seen this already, but in case you somehow missed it it’s an excellent collection of the most egregious examples of brand bandwaggoning from Monday / Tuesday.
By Antony Tudisco
 

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG:

  • Joe Biden For PresidentA really interesting look at a very powerful man about whom relatively little is known. US GQ really does excel at this sort of stuff, as does US Rolling Stone. 
  • The Most Sensible Thing I Have Read About Teenagers And Pr0nA teacher writes about her experience with kids and their attitudes to sex in a post-smartphone, post-web world. Level-headed, sensitive and a little bit scary – but also refreshing and sensible, in that it reasonably asserts that the best thing to do is not to attempt to BAN THE INTERNET but instead to have open, honest conversations with young people about this stuff. Jesus, I am so glad that I’m not a teenager.
  • Finding Matt DamonA lovely Storify collecting a series of tweets recounting the author’s attempt to find Matt Damon in Morocco into an epic yarn. Twitter can be really, really good for this sort of thing – you get a lovely sort of fireside chat feel to stories when told well.
  • Why The Social Media Generation Never Breaks UpOn a similar tip to the tech / relationships writing I linked to up there, this is a great piece about how you really can never leave people behind in the internet age, and the constant reminders of past loves which assail us, unbidden, at every turn. It’s not a bad thing – it just makes the experience of no longer being with someone very different and somewhat more haunting/ed.
  • Making The Mad Men Title SequenceIf you’re into Mad Men, or if you’re into animation or advertising and STUFF, this will fascinate you. Properly in-depth look at the creative process behind the now-iconic titles.
  • Brooklyn’s Smallest PenisNo, really. This was an actual contest that happened recently in Brooklyn – and this is the writeup. Really, really odd – but actually all very good-natured, and the interview with the ‘winner’ (my inverted commas – I mean, really, it’s hardly a victory) is surprisingly happy and maybe even a bit uplifting. Still, though, poor the micro-penised men :-(.
  • We Live Like Gods And We Don’t Even Know ItI had no idea there was even such a thing as the Los Angeles Review of Books (there is, obviously) until I stumbled across this EXCELLENT piece on how lucky we are to be alive now, and why a Keynesian solution to the current global mess is the obvious and correct one. Which I obviously agree with being a pinko leftie, but your mileage may vary.
  • The People Behind OFWGKTA A really interesting piece looking at the management team who discovered – and made – Tyler, The Creator and all the rest. Also gets a more articulate and interesting perspective on the artists themselves than I’ve read in other profile pieces. 
  • The Reason All Hollywood Films Are Basically The SameYou will read this and then wonder how you never noticed it before. Amazing (and a bit depressing really).
  • Tales From $20 HandoutsA lovely series of essays from New Yorkers about giving away $20, how you choose who to give it to, how it feels…pictures of a city in words, and each one is a small gem. 
  • A Phenomenal Prose Poem by Patricia LockwoodIt’s called ‘Rape Joke’ and it’s very, very good indeed. 
By Roger Weiss
 

 

NOW, FINALLY, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!:

1) This was on the list a month or so back and inexplicably dropped off, but then I heard it again and was reminded of what a cracking song it is. If you don’t tap your foot to this you’re quite possible dead. This is the (dreadfully named) The Preatures with ‘Is This How You Feel?’: 

2) I don’t really know how to describe this one. It’s sort of like underwater ballet and ink in water and sea anemones and beautiful, weird floaty choreography all in one, although according to the blurb “Cocoon is an aesthetic exploration in underwater movement”. So, er, there. Anyway, this is Cocoon:

3) This is gorgeous, stylistically, directorially…just the whole thing. An animation about Japan, called Shinjuku:

4) Fidlar are, it seems, an LA punk band. Nick Offerman is an actor who stars in apparently very funny US sitcom Parks & Recreation. This is a video featuring both of them, and a truly startling amount of urine. The song’s called ‘Cocaine’, by the way:

5) I don’t really know much about Fiona Apple – I mean, she’s really famous and all that, but I’ve never really paid attention to her music before. This is a great song, though, and the video (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson of PROPER FILMS fame) is simple but weirdly compelling. This is called Hot Knife:

6) This week’s UK hiphop offering comes from Million Dan and a whole host of other people including Sway who’s been a favourite of mine for aaaaaaaaaages. The chorus is annoying, but the verses are SO GOOD:


7) This is hypnotic and lovely. A series of timelapses of US cities, mirrored to the point of near-abstraction. Pleasing in a way I don’t really understand:

8) I’m a sucker for pencil animation, and this video for Cuushe’s single ‘Airy Me’ is a lovely example of it. Sort of Studio Ghibli-esque, if you know what I mean, without actually being anything like Studio Ghibli at all:

9) Finally, this is weird, loud and sort of scary and, inevitably, Japanese. BYE!:

That’s it for now


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