Author Archives: admin

Webcurios 03/05/13

Reading Time: 18 minutes

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Jazz Nursery. Great Suffolk Street, SE1
Garudio Studiage, Photo of the week

You now how ordinarily I write some stuff here about the last week, what I’ve done, etc etc etc? This week I have NOTHING. Literally nothing. Too much work, too little sleep (self-inflicted), and a general sense of mild annoyance at the whole UKIP thing that we’ve worken up to today means that you can get straight to the GOOD stuff (ie the stuff that doesn’t really have anything to do with me. Go on, be grateful. YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE AND ENJOY THE BANK HOLIDAY UNTIL YOU’VE READ EVERYTHING (that’s not true, I promise). 

Have a lovely 3 day weekend, webmongs, particularly those of you heading to this on Sunday. ENJOY YOURSELVES!


Image by Remi Rebillard



  • I promise that I am going to stop including the Google Glass stuff soon – it’s just that the novelty hasn’t quite worn off yet, and I am still fascinated by the sheer scifi oddness of the whole project and the circus that surrounds it. Anyway, this week the first in-depth user reviews started coming in suggesting, shock horror, that the semi-prototype technology isn’t ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. There was quite a lot of dismissive “Well, it’s obviously RUBBISH then” muttering on the internet around this, which is what the internet is wont to do – I won’t labour the point, but there’s something quite dreadfully wonderful about a collective, entitled, sigh of dismay from the Western middle class at the fact that the first iteration of their space age face-wearable-computer-visor-thing isn’t ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. Jesus Christ, what do you people WANT? Anyway, here’s professional technology fetishist Robert Scoble writing about how he will NEVER TAKE THEM OFF, here’s some stuff about people tweeting through their glasses (a phrase that sounds so ridiculous when you say it out loud – try it in your head) – and here’s a very angry piece about the whole thing, which may get your blood running with righteous ire.
  • Google+ Overtaking Twitter: Or at least that’s what the numbers apparently say, and who are we to disregard the numbers? Noone. OBEY THE DATA. I don’t doubt that lots of people have an account to G+, but I’d also hazard a guess that lots of people doing so may not really know or remember – not, I suppose, that that matters if you’re Google and you’re still in the process of trying to stitch the internet together using a thread made of your own sinew (unpleasant, but I’m in a hurry here). But seriously, WHO IS USING THIS REGULARLY? Really, I am intrigued, I want to know. I know it’s photographers and techy people, but beyond that? I would love to see the venn diagram of, say, Mail Online readership and G+ use. 


  • Everyone’s Leaving!It’s over, go home. All you Facebook community management specialists, start packing your bags – NOONE CARES ABOUT THE FUNNY ANIMALS IN HATS ANY MORE. Let’s all go and try and sell people stuff on G+ instead. Obviously this is hyperbolic rubbish which was massively overplayed this week – if you’re interested in making money and owning all of the data, which Facebook is, it’s more important to have LOADS of people using a service than it is to be cool-yet-empty.  
  • But Facebook Is Still Incredibly Rich!:…which is basically what this article says. Go on, read a PROPER newspaper validating my point of view.
  • Another Week, Another Advertising ProductBlah blah promoted Like worldwide rollout blah blah. 
  • Facebook Studio Award WinnersA collection of award-winning pieces of brand work on Facebook. Worth a look for ‘inspiration’, and so that you can scroll through sneeringly saying ‘mediocre, mediocre, rubbish, dull, pedestrian’ whilst secretly being bitter than you have never won any professional awards, ever, JUST LIKE ME!


  • A Decent Look at Twitter’s Ad OfferingA look at developments in Twitter’s advertising, with particularly interesting stuff about keyword-based advertising, and a glimpse into a terrifying future where EVERYTHING YOU SAY OR THINK is used to serve you contextually appropriate advertising.  
  • RetwactIt’s always good to know that the internet LISTENS to me. Not a week since I DEMANDED (well, linked to an article demanding, but you know what I mean) a service allowing people to make post-publication edits to tweets then here one is. It does have the admittedly appalling name of Retwact, which is almost unforgivable, but I can overlook that because it’s actually a very good idea. This might be to go back through your timeline and amend anything incriminating / offence – I’m sure that the hasty addition of the suffix ‘JKG!’ will suffice.

Foursquare Is About To Turn Your Whole Life Into Advertising DataIn similar fashion to the Twitter stuff above, this is Foursquare’s latest attempt to make a success of itself (I say that relatively – obviously 4sq is more successful than, say, me, but it’s certainly never come close to troubling the mainstream) and make all of the money in all the world by selling advertisers the opportunity to offer you discount paracetamol the night after you checked into 5 bars in a row. Or something like that – just use your imagination, it’s not hard.

Instagram Now Lets You Tag People, Brands, etcYou know how much you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to tag that can of Coke Zero in your painstakingly multi-filtered collection of moody urban realitysnaps? YEAH! Well now you can. Lucky you. I look forward next week to bringing you the first wave of poorly-conceived-but-it-doesn’t-matter-because-FIRST! brand-led competitions which force users to tag brands in all sorts of CRAZY or CREATIVE pictures in exchange for the right to…er…becoming a cheap advertising drone for a major multinational corporation. It will be great.

On ‘The Internet of Things’ and SearchA hugely interesting piece about what the future of search might be like when you can look for individual things on the internet. Which, it turns out, you sort of can thanks to incredibly techy and not insignificantly Gibsonian search engine Shodan. Take a look, have a think about what it could potentially do, and then slip into a reverie in which you’re imagining the plot of every single variant on a spy/terrorism thriller for the next decade or so: “Mr President! They’ve hacked the Hoover Dam! It’s going to open in 10 MINUTES!”. Thanks, Hollywood, you’re welcome.

Campaigns Of Note (or, more accurately, that I have seen):

  • The Best Marketing/Advertising/Whateverthisiscallednow Video Of The WeekSanremo is not only Italy’s PREMIER song contest; it’s also, it seems, a brand of industrial espresso machine. This video isn’t anything hugely original – song made from various machine noises – but it is really nicely executed and a bit more lively than these things usually are. 
  • The Buddy CupYou’ve probably seen this already as Rich Leigh posted it earlier in the week, damn his eyes, but if not it’s a cute thing from Budweiser in Brazil – cups with embedded NFC chips which, when ‘cheers-ed’ (Dear God, what is the word for the act of banging two cups together in convivial fashion?), causes the two people toasting (THAT’S IT) to become Facebook friends. Notable not just from a tech point of view, but also because last I heard you weren’t allowed to do this sort of thing as part of Facebook’s T&Cs. Not that it matters if you are Budweiser and spend $25million+ on advertising with FB a year, of course. IT’S ONE RULE FOR THEM, etc etc.
  • Coke Happiness Project AGAINI know, I know. But again, it’s a nice mix of emotion and cute and happy and tech. This is another audiomashupy thing, in which a Japanese DJ goes round Tokyo recording the sounds of the city in a special coke bottle and then mixes them to suitably pleasing effect. Not included so much for technical brilliance as for its excellence in evoking the whole ‘happiness’ thing. Damn them.
  • The HemingwayJacker: This is a Facebook thingy produced by the Hemingway Foundation – a museum in the US dedicated, unsurprisingly, to Facebook. This allows you to donate your Status Updates to the programme, which turns you into ‘Hemingway’ for a bit. Interesting more in concept than execution; there is quite an interesting idea in here somewhere, though, about creating something like this with multiple fictitious personalities, all with a prescripted narrative which interlocks and interconnects in seemingly reactive fashion – it would be rather fun for, say, 5 people to donate their Facebook Updates for a week to something that is in effect puppeteering them through a soap opera whilst their friends look on unknowing. Did that make sense? Oh, sod it.
  • Most Incredibly Expensive Marketing Thing I Have Seen In AgesActually maybe it’s not THAT expensive, but it certainly looks like it might have been. To promote something about mobile working through Office, Microsoft included MINIATURE WIFI HOTSPOTS in copies of Forbes Magazine. Yes, that’s right, THEY PUT THE INTERNET IN A MAGAZINE. Amazing.
  • The Benefit ExperienceFinally for this section, a brilliant video. Benefit is apparently a cosmetics brand (I am not target audience). They decided, as is now de rigour for brands who want to do ‘content marketing’ and ‘make a viral’, that they were going to do something to ‘surprise and delight’ random passers-by, liberally inspired by that bloody ‘Push Button To Add Drama‘ thing, and the Skyfall Coke thing. Cue pink phonebooth, members of the public, and an impromptu makeover followed by…erm. well, followed by the frankly horrific prospect of being forced up on stage to sing in front of a bunch of students who’ve been roped in by the events company for the day to comprise an ‘audience’ and are probably bored and baying for blood. The brilliant thing about this is the many moments in the video when the ‘lucky’ punters look simply TERRIFIED by the prospect, and you can see the organisers’ panic flaring behind their irises as they desperately smile and mug whilst attempting to mask everyone’s sense of slight unease about the whole project. Brilliant.
This is from that Open Switzerland thing which I mention down there

MUSIC! Why not listen to this rather brilliant mashupmixthing, pointed out to me by Joel Golby on Twitter? Or maybe this one?

A Miscellany of Interesting Things, pt.1:

  • Jess & Russ Get MarriedOr, in fact, got married. In any case, this website which they built for their wedding and which tells the story of their relationship, is (despite my general lack of sentimentality) really very sweet and heartwarming and (from a geeky perspective) very nicely built indeed. I have no idea who Jess & Russ are, but I hope they are very happy.
  • KillswitchOf course, statistically speaking it’s more likely that Jess & Russ will end up locked in the throes of an acrimonious divorce which will sap both their will to live and their bank balances, leaving them drained of energy and emotion until they’re inert and loveless. At that point, they could do worse than check out Kill List, an app which removes ‘every trace’ of your ex from your Facebook Page. Likes, pictures, comments, etc – all gone. This is sure to be bought / replicated by a brand soon, no?
  • Sound Art in NYC: Opening this week at NYC’s New Museum, Streetscape Symphony is an ambitious project which looks to create an audiovisual portrait of each of New York’s 5 Boroughs within the gallery space. Combining cutting-edge technology with the ideology of the ‘found sounds’ aesthetic, the show will allow visitors to experience the wonderful, overwhelming, baffling and often profane sounds of New York. I would like a London one, please. 
  • The Colors News MachineColors is a brilliant magazine. Brainchild of famed(then)  Benetton creative Oliviero Toscani, the ‘magazine about the rest of the world’ tackles a different theme in every issue, and comprises some of the best photojournalism and intelligent writing you will read. The magazine’s latest issue looks at ‘Making the News’ – and to launch it, Colors created the News Machine and put it on display at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. The machine looks at the manner in which information is filtered, reinterpreted and distorted by multiple channels of dissemination.
  • There Once Was a ‘Like’ Button for RadioWell, sort of. This was an invention from the 1930s called the ‘Radiovoter’, which was designed to gather binary feedback from listeners to questions. The inventor imagined its eventual use as part of participatory democracy, envisioning a terrifying future in which listeners to the radio were asked to vote on questions like (actual cited example) ‘Should we go to war?’. Incredible,
  • BDSM Accessories for GeeksThere’s a lot of truly odd stuff on Etsy, not least this collection of sci-fi themed paddles, whips and the like. I always thought there was something a bit…well…silly about certain aspects of BDSM; how anyone is supposed to administer corporal punishment with a paddle shaped like an NES controller and maintain a semblance of authority is beyond me, but then what do I know?
  • iFont MakerAn app which lets you use your iPad to draw fonts. Simple as that, but I imagine it might be quite nice to make your own personal typeface.
  • RetrovectorSlightly related to the above (but only very slightly), Retrovector is a potentially useful site which contains a whole load of free – and seemingly not dreadful – graphic elements for designers to use as they see fit? Are you a designer? ARE YOU? Well go on then.
  • CrapchaPointless, irritating and strangely satisfying – Crapcha is a fake Captcha service which allows you embed an impossible – and non-working – ‘prove you are human’ task on any website. Someone somewhere in control of a company intranet can have a whole Friday afternoon of fun with this – come on, you know you want to. 
  • Futurology from 1982There’s so much of this starting to be unearthed at the moment – this is at least the third of these sorts of things I’ve seen in the past month. This time it’s the New York Times, reporting on research by the National Science Foundation with the rather wonderful headline ‘Study Says Technology Could Transform Society’. Could. Love that. Anyway, it’s pretty much bang on – and even picks up the privacy thing which we then promptly went and forgot about until about 2 years ago.
  • Iconic Photos: I generally tend to hate the term ‘iconic’ in terms of photography (a legacy of working around – otherwise lovely – people in sports marketing whose response to EVERY SINGLE BRIEF was to say ‘iconic photography’ until their heads span round and round like that kid from The Exorcist), but I will make a exception for this site as a) the photos really are very good indeed; and b) they bother to explain why said photographs are iconic, and provide a degree of context that you don’t always get. Instructive. 
  • Wearable Foods: Yeonju Sung is a Korean artist who makes clothes out of food (or who makes clothes that look like they are made out of foodstuffs). If this hasn’t already been used in an ad campaign / promo photoshoot then it will be imminently.
Image by Kevan Davis

A Miscellany of Interesting Things, pt.2:

  • Behind The Scenes on The Empire Strikes BackThese are really rather nice, whether or not you are a Star Wars fan / obsessive. Note, by the way, how Carrie Fisher flirts with Anthony Daniels and in fact pretty much everyone on set.  
  • Walmart PaintingsBrendan O’Connell paints pictures of scenes from the inside of Wal-Mart. They’re oddly affecting. Part of me quite likes the idea of supermarkets having artists in residence, and part of me thinks that it would end up being used for crappy PR. Mind you, the sort of hallucinogenic stuff you might get someone to pump out after spending 24h straight in the giant Tesco’s in Slough (a building so large that walking past it is a bit like that moment in sci-fi films where the camera pans past the spaceship and it just keeps on going) could be quite interesting. Tesco’s PRs – that’ll be £10 please. 
  • Black Playing CardsI know that thinking that anything in black is ‘cool’ is horrendously teenage, but nonetheless I do think these playing cards are rather good. Anyone wanting to buy me a set is most welcome; thanks.
  • Fighting Game Backgrounds: A collection of animated gifs of backgrounds from fighting games of the 90s and early 2000s. I’m sure that this might be useful to someone out there, though I’m baffled as to how or why.
  • HuffPo SpoilersA Twitter account which links to RTs the Huffington Post and explains what is hiding behind such click-tempting headlines as “Which Marvel Movie has the most Oscar-friendly cast?”. Can someone do this for the Mail, please, in such a way that it shares links to Mail stories and tells people exactly what they are supposed to be angry about in each case, or perhaps which group of people the paper is decrying in each article? Thanks.
  • If You Were To Make Kaledoscopic Animations From Pictures Of Popes They Would Be Called KALEIDOPOPES!
  • Short Films By Louis CKBefore Louis CK became arguably the best US standup of the decade (arguably – Dave Chapelle might have one or two things to say about that) he was, it transpires, making these odd, arty shorts. Very New York, not very much like what he’s doing now, certainly interesting.
  • The Wipe ShirtThis is such good design. Quite want one of these too. 
  • Musicians’ Riders, PhotographedThe food and drink requested backstage by gigging musicians, as photographed for VICE. The Foo Fighters one made me laugh.
  • A Comic About 1950s HipstersThis is a BRILLIANT slice of the past. A comic strip from ’57 which tells the story of some hipsters starting a club, and the ghosts that try and stop them (bear with me). It’s incredible on many levels, but mainly because of the incredible language. If you can start sprinkling your day-to-day diction with gems from this, you will earn the respect and admiration of your friends and peers – FACT.
  • Open SwitzerlandA project by a Swiss design agency looking at notions of Swiss identity and inviting people to make posters which explore the Swiss idea of nationhood, etc. There are some great examples in there. 
  • ReductressA new(?) site doing for the women’s magazine industry what The Onion purports to do for news. It seems well-written and funny, though I do wonder how may gags you can get out of an industry that seems to repeat itself on a 3-monthly cycle (although regular readers will by now have worked out that I am not a satirist and therefore know not whereof I speak). 
  • Inside One Very Creative Man’s BrainGlitch was a cute-but-ultimately unsuccessful browser-based multiplayer game which shut down last year.  These are a selection of the random ideas which Keita Takahashi cane up with during the game’s development, and is a fairly unique insight into the brain of a very creative individual indeed. 

Videos Which For A Variety Of Reasons I Am Not Embedding Below:

  • Lego Breaking Bad VideogameI have never played one of the LEGO videogames. I have never watched an episode of Breaking Bad, though I feel as though I have what with everyone incessantly telling me that it is the best thing ever and the internet falling over itself to hamfistedly try and meld it with every other element of popular web culture ever. That said, this is EXCELLENT and makes me really want to play this game. 
  • Two ChipsAdam Patch is an animator whose wife came home drunk one evening and wanted to tell him a joke. He recorded the audio and made this lovely animation to accompany it. Makes drunk people telling jokes seem cute rather than unspeakably irritating, which is nice. 
  • Teddy Has An OperationYou’re probably one of the several million people who have seen this by now, but in case not then have a slice of odd from Ze Frank. It’s creepy in a way that doesn’t really hit you until a little while after you’ve finished watching it. 
  • Pacific Rim TrailerI don’t normally post film trailers, but this one is mental. Also, as a little kid I always used to watch Japanese giant robot cartoons when I went on holiday to Italy (there are maybe 3 people that are likely to read this and appreciate the link which is hyperlinked right here) and this takes me right back to that in a pleasingly nostalgic, near-ASMR way. 
  • The Magic BoxThis short film has a lot of the John Lewis advert about it. It may make you cry, and then you will probably feel bad that you’re so easily manipulated. 
  • Home-Made Machine to Steal From Vending MachinesThis is brilliant – a French kid made himself a great robotic contraption to thieve cans from vending machines (OBVIOUSLY stealing is wrong. Obviously).
  • Awesome Japanese Toy Drone ThingThe protective cage thing is brilliant. Christmas 2013?
  • Dear God, These SHOESWow.
Image by Paul Ruigrok van der Werven

The Circus of Tumblrs:

  • Eat Shit Winnie Cooper: One woman’s irritation with the ‘Wonder Years’ actress, who unaccountably crops up twice in one Curios this week (foreshadowing). 
  • The White HouseCould any other world leader get away with (or actually have some rationale for having) a Tumblr? I can’t see it, somehow. They really are very good a this stuff, damn them (or is it more that this stuff is good for them as a result of Barack’s popular perception as being a touch more down with the kids than your average President? Hmmm?)
  • Gitmo BooksBooks (and occasional other things) available from the library at Guantanamo Bay. There are, I am sure, people who will point to this as evidence that it can’t be that bad. 
  • Berlin UndergroundOne of those odd, obsessive projects that ends up being weirdly charming, this Tumblr takes photos of all the subway stations in Berlin, one line at a time.
  • CosmarxpolitanAgain, this one’s been everywhere this week. Mixing Karl’s politics with the breathless style of everyone’s favourite insecurity bible. 
  • Shorties In AdidasI don’t think I’ve ever typed that word before, and I’m not sure I ever will again; nonetheless, a Tumblr of pretty women wearing Adidas clothes, just because.
  • Jesus Christ Silicon ValleyI linked to this all the way up *there*, but it’s worth mentioning again – this is deliciously angry about all aspects of tech/startup pretension. Real coruscating rage here, which is very enjoyable. 
  • GTAV Trailer CommentsThe latest trailers for Rockstar’s imminent videogame behemoth came out this week. This collects some of the more baffling / depressing YouTube comments from the dark places below the line. 
  • Dogshit SelfieSelf-taken photographs which include defecating canines. Yes, that is a *thing*, it would seem.
  • White Men Wearing Google GlassPretty much exactly the sort of people that that Tumblr up there is railing against.
  • All Things Sloth: Lots and lots of sloth-based imagery.
  • Dick’s Doodles: My friend Sarah doodles on the tube, and posts them here. Spot yourself, and then pay her lots of cash for the drawing.

Games! Everyone Loves Games!

  • Ninja Slash: Like Temple Run, but on desktop. Fun.
  • Odd Japanese Keepy-Uppy Game Which I Don’t Really UnderstandBut it’s quite fun nonetheless.
  • DropNotch, the genius behind Minecraft, probably knocked this up in about 24h. It’s a minimalist typing game with an electro soundtrack and it is BRUTAL.
  • SacrilegeInteractive fiction about clubbing and sex and friendship and being on drugs and all sorts of other things. Really rather good, I thought. 

LONGSTUFF (A bumper crop this week, which if the weather is as nice as it is right now NONE of you will read):

  • I Love Winnie Cooper: I told you she’d be back. Lovely nostalgic piece looking back at The Wonder Years and not actually really about Winnie Cooper at all. (I just did an image search for Winnie Cooper and it was a bit odd)
  • On Having Your Photos Go ViralA really interesting article by a photographer whose photos of Amazon warehouses went everywhere on the internet. Contains good thinking on creativity, ownership, attribution and creation, and made me feel slightly bad about the fact that I never email the people whose photos I use on this blog (although I do name and credit and link). I will start next week, promise.
  • Amazing Facebook Data AnalysisThis is truly jawdropping. Stephen Wolfram of Wolfram Alpha fame has taken people’s Facebook data, gained through their participation in the Facebook Data Project, and has crunched it a bit. Just look at this – and this is SUCH a small sample, and doesn’t even begin to touch the tip of the smallest bit of the surface of everything that Facebook knows about people, their connections, their habits, their friendships, their use of language, their interpersonal interactions…JUST THINK ABOUT IT. It’s quite datawonky, but it really is worth looking at – not only for the data, which is interesting, but also because of the domino rally of ‘where will this end?’ thinkking which it will probably set off in your head. 
  • The Voynich ManuscriptThis is huge, but the tale of the Voynich Manuscript will appeal to anyone interested in cryptography, mystery, secrets and Da Vinci Code type stuff. It’s properly baffling, and makes me wish I was good at maths.
  • The Great Boards of Canada Music Mystery: Speaking of codes and mysteries (SEAMLESS!), this may be the start of some sort of ARG by the band Boards of Canada. Or they might just be throwing this out there to see exactly how far their obsessive fans will go to unearth CLUES. Who knows? Interesting stuff, though, and as ever the willingness of people online to go down rabbitholes is startling.
  • AMA With A Man Who Liberated DachauOr, more accurately, his grandson who was sitting with him at the time. Amazing, sad, and why the internet is remarkable.
  • Jason Collins on Coming OutYou probably saw the news about NBA star Jason Collins coming out this week, and stating that he wants to continue playing. The piece in Sports Illustrated which he used to announce his sexuality is a great interview and well worth a read.
  • The History of KidsAh, 1995. Were you horrified and appalled by the teenage behaviour exhibited in Harmony Korine’s ‘Kids’? Or were you a teenager yourself and wishing that your life was that gritty and exciting (but without the HIV)? Either way, this look back at the cast of the film, and the NYC skate culture which spawned them, is a great piece of writing and evokes an era before videogames made skateboarding cool again. 
  • In Which A New York Times Author Tries Being A HipsterMuch, much less sneery than you would thing, I promise, and comes out making you laugh and feel oddly hopeful.
  • A Year OfflinePaul Miller took a year off from the internet; this week, he came back. This is his piece about what it was like, and what he learned about himself along the way. If you believe that we would all just be happier if we stopped using the internet, this may not be the article you want to read.
  • Creepy Things Kids SayThanks to Josh, Alex and Dan for putting me onto this. CHILDREN ARE TERRIFYING (well, these ones are).
Image by Jens Ingvarsson



1) All that talk above about Facebook data leads nicely onto this first video, which is a beautiful little short which uses Google Autocomplete to poignant effect. This is our life, as Google sees it:

2) A man, dressed in weird papercraft drag and Sailor Moon costumes, dancing camply to ‘Do My Thing’ by Estelle and Janelle Monae. No idea why, but there’s something about this that makes me rather like the fellow:

3) Socially conscious hiphop alert! I featured an Akala freestyle on one of the FIRST EVER Web Curios back in the day, back when I had some semblance of editorial control and these things were 1/4 as long as they are now. Great times. Anyway, this is the man’s third go at Fire In The Booth, Charlie Sloth’s freestyle segment on his 1Xtra show, and it is BRILLIANT. Really worth properly listening to this:

4) Really nicely stitched walkthroughs of Google Maps using Streetview in this one – Strip Steve with ‘Hood’:

5) This is a Japanese animation about, I think, what it feels like to have a stutter. It actually becomes really quite hard to watch at the end – there’s a sense of frustration and yearning that’s really quite uncannily well-evoked. Also the art-style is awesome:

6) This reminds me of that advert for some camera firm from a few years back with frames becoming pictures and the whole thing zooming in and out of itself in a fashion that was both clever and massively disorienting – you know the one I mean? No? Oh. Anyway, this is all the more impressive for apparently involving no digital manipulation. Will make your head hurt, but in the best possible way:

7) I was in Mexico recently. This isn’t set in Mexico – it’s Bolivia, fact fans – but really makes me want to go back there. This is so beautifully shot, the song’s good and the video doesn’t quite go where you think it will. Landshapes with ‘In Limbo’:

8) Penultimately, this is a glorious song (I think) with an equally lovely video about an unlikely romance between two misfits. And some lovely dancing too. Everyone’s a winner! Young Galaxy with ‘Pretty Boy’:

9) Finally, we close out with this EPIC multiple-SpyvsSpy extravaganza from Vitalic. This is the very stylish promo for ‘Fade Away’. BYE!!!:

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 26/04/13

Reading Time: 16 minutes

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Original Virgin Brazilian Hair – Walworth Rd, SE17
Garudio Studiage, Photo of the week

I AM BACK! You’re lucky that I’m on a tight deadline this week, so you’re not going to have to suffer anywhere near as much as usual with the poorly constructed attempts to pull together an opening narrative. Suffice it to say, though, that I learned a lot in my absence – about abhorrent rapper Pitbull’s inexplicable popularity in the Americas; about the fact that there really are songs played in public these days which would make the OutHere Brothers blush; about how there is almost no song in the world that can’t be improved by being covered in Spanish with a lounge/bossanova backing…like Bohemian Rhapsody, for example. So much. But most of all I have learnt that I really quite like being away from the internet for a fortnight. You should try it, it’s healthy.

Oh, and MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSORS, you should also come along to this if you’re in London next weekend and are interested in webby technology stuff and THE FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT. It’s free, so it’s not like I’m really selling anything. Honest.

Of course the brief break has meant that I have returned refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready to dive head-first into the viscera of online culture. Or something. As you can tell, I didn’t spend my free time honing my metaphors. ONWARDS!

Self Portrait by Bogdan Rata

Internettish Media-type Things of Questionable Interest and Value But With Which Tradition Dictates We Start

UK Digital Literacy: Ofcom’s annual datadump about how the UK uses the internet came out this week; unsurprisingly, more of us than ever are online, more people are using smartphones, etc etc etc. This stuff is interesting up to a point, but as ever contains some slightly odd language / taxonomy which skews the findings somewhat; the statement that “nearly half (41%) of 16-24 year olds don’t read newspapers or magazines” simply isn’t true – they’re just reading them online is all. Small point, but worth noting. Buried in there somewhere are a couple of interesting figures about people’s attitudes to community, too – apparently “slightly more than one in three adults (37%) agree that they consider themselves to be involved in the local community, with around half (50%) disagreeing. Adults aged 16-24 are more likely to disagree (59% vs. 50%)”. Insert your own assumption about the alienating effects of the internet here.



  • Mobile Page RedesignSmall-but-significant (if you do stuff on Facebook for brands) – Pages on mobile are being redesigned (a bit) to make them a bit more useful. I can’t be bothered to explain it; it seems most important for brands / companies with physical locations tied to their pages (as one might expect).
  • Thinglink Comes to FacebookI’ve mentioned ThingLink before, I think (and they don’t even pay me, though I am of course open to offers) – it’s a service which allows additional data to be ‘tagged’ to an image (so, for example, you can tag a picture of a pair of trainers with information about where it’s sold, a video of a famous person wearing them, an animated gif of someone fetishising them in a slightly creepy manner, etc), which data travels with said image wherever it might go, be embedded, etc. It’s been integrated into Twitter for a short while now, but has been rolled out to Facebook this week. It would seem to make fairly obvious sense for brands to use this sort of thing as a matter of course, probably, maybe, particularly if you sell directly to consumers or want to share vouchers, coupons, etc. I think.
  • FriendFrackerThis won’t last long, but give it a try while you can. FriendFracker will automatically delete between 1-10 of your Facebook Friends at random. It won’t tell you who, nor will it tell them. See if you notice! Somewhere in a ‘creative’ office somewhere in the world, someone is thinking ‘Yes! Just like that Burger King ‘Sacrifice’ app from years ago that people still wang on about!’ and trying to work out how to shoehorn this functionality into a client campaign. They’ll probably call it something like ‘Russian Roulette’. That’ll be £10 please.


  • Video Ads embedded in TweetsWhat it says there. This is being trialed by BBC America as part of its promotion of Dr Who in the US; let’s see if it takes off. I’m not 100% clear as to why brands would pay for this when you can…er…embed video in Tweets already, but I am doubtless being dense.
  • Twitter Needs a ‘Nope, Sorry, I Was Wrong’ ButtonRelated to the Boston/Reddit/Buzzfeed thing above, this is a smart piece highlighting the need for a function which allows people to flag when something that they have previously tweeted has changed; effectively, to make post-facto amends to tweets which also apply to RTs, etc. 

Campaigns and Things:

  • UNICEF – Likes Don’t Save LivesThis got a lot of love online yesterday – UNICEF’s highlighting of the disconnect between ‘Liking’ something on Facebook and making any sort of difference at all. Although, of course, it sort of ignores this campaign which they’ve been doing for years with Pampers
  • The Biscuit/Content Event HorizonIncredibly, this REALLY IS biscuit-related content (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here); a campaign for Weetabix’s breakfast biscuits which allowed people to get a free sample of said product by taking a picture of an ad which aired on Monday evening and then brandishing at a cashier in certain shops). Not totally stupid, although as pointed out by someone else it’s quite hard to track and you really might as well just tell people to go and whisper a secret word to the cashier. 
  • WW1 Facebook Timeline: A nicely made Facebook Page for Léon Vivien, a WWI soldier, put together by Le Musée de la Grande Guerre de Meaux. Not a super-new concept, but nicely executed and shows how the medium can be used for historical / educative purposes. Erm, it’s all in French FYI.
  • Order Pizza Through XBoxNot sure how much additional explanation is required for this. Needless to say, this isn’t great news for the health of young men in the Western World, probably. Unless you’re using Kinect, in which case it probably all balances out. Doesn’t it?
  • Icelandic Anti-Incest AppI had no idea about this, but apparently Iceland is so small that there are problems with people involuntarily sleeping with people who are related to them in some minor fashion. This app aims to stop that, by incorporating data from ‘The Book of Icelanders’, which contains details of the country’s genealogical history.  
  • Local Hockey Team Season Ticket Campaign Less Successful Than HopedMy favourite PR-ish story of the week, and a cautionary example as to why you should never put yourselves in the hands of the online community. I’m almost tempted to buy a season ticket myself so the poor buggers can get down and go home. 
Transluscence by Anthony Wallace

LISTEN TO SOME MUSIC: Why not make it this 35+minute mix of rather excellent crate-dug vinyl?

Stuff I Have Found Interesting This Week, pt.1

  • Potentially Lethal BoozeThis is a recipe for weed-infused drinks. I don’t think that there’s any way in which this could be good for you, but if someone wants to try cooking some up in the spirit of enquiry then please do let me know how it does (once you regain the power of speech).
  • The Future of Mobile TV (or not): I don’t 100% understand how this works, I must confess, but I think that it streams live TV direct to your mobile or tablet (but only if you live in NYC, at the moment). Obviously this isn’t massively appreciated by broadcast networks, so no idea whether it will survive, but it’s an interesting development and probably quite technologically significant in ways I’m not quite clever enough to understand.
  • Best Website-based Music Video of the YearTurns out this was on B3ta last Friday, for which apologies but a) I wasn’t here; b) it’s still good and deserves linking to again. A great concept, well designed, and interesting as much as a piece of group psychology as a technological / artistic exercise. Although scary to see how much we are all alike in terms of how we respond to certain stimuli. Have a play.
  • Macabre NYC Walking ToursYou know the slightly macabre Jack the Ripper tours that you can do in London? How soon is too soon for that sort of thing? Test the boundaries of taste with Walking & Stalking, an iPhone app which guides you around the location of some of NYC’s most notorious 20th Century true crimes! As the blurb says, ‘see the crimes that inspired the movies!’. Yes go on, you ghoul, you do that very thing.
  • The Terrifying Homogeneity of Korean Plastic SurgeryI’ve just realised that this is on the Mail today. Oh well, hey ho – that’s what happens when you source things from Reddit. Take a look at the scarily similar faces of Miss Korea 2013 entrants.
  • The Drone ProposalWeb Curios confesses to being a bit obsessed with drones so far in 2013. The craze continues apace, with this San Franciscan turning everyone’s favourite anonymous death machine into a kooky vehicle for a marriage proposal! Creepily cute or cutely creepy – the relatively low price of drones, though, means we’re only going to see more of this stuff (witness, for example, this college football team using one in training). Particularly in PR / Marketing – there’s going to be a big brand stunt with one of these soon, I reckon (if there already has been then I am still right, just…er…late).
  • A Mix for the British MuseumThis is a beautiful idea. Magnetic Magazine are, in their own words, ‘challenging some of EDM’s most talented DJs and producers to render their own acute perceptions of an architectural space by way of a medium that we hold so dear, the DJ mix. Rather then limit your experience of a distant piece of architecture to a Google image search, Sounds & Spaces will establish an archive of EDM that will contribute to our perception and understanding of the built world’s most exalted gems’ (EDM, for those unfamiliar with the acronym, is Electronic Dance Music. So now you know). For their first commission, they’ve engaged genius (not an exaggeration – the man’s got a Phd in computational biology, which is quite hard) Max Cooper to soundtrack the British Museum – take a listen, it’s lovely. 
  • Documenting the Changing World of JournalismDeadline is a photoproject by Will Steacy, looking at the cutbacks and layoffs brought on by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s circulation declines, numerous ownership changes and 2009 bankruptcy. It’s a poignant look at the way in which the newspaper industry has changed (almost) beyond all recognition in the past century. 
  • Portraits of BostonAnother site, of which there seems to be one for each US city, collecting photos of random citygoers with a little bit of information about them. A massive timesink, really interesting, and yet another website / project which I think someone more talented and motivated than me should replicate in London. Please?
  • Tokyo City SymphonyThis is a project to mark the 10-year anniversary of Roppongi Hills, which Google has just told me is a ‘new urban centre’ and one of Japan’s largest integrated property developments in a district of Tokyo (no, I don’t really know what that means either). This is a cute, odd website which projects interactive visuals with music onto a very small model of the development, allowing users to create their own little audiovisualvideothing. It’s very nicely made, as we’ve come to expect from Japanese development.
  • I Don’t Really Know What This Website IsBut it’s confusing, odd and a little bit creepy, and as such ticks all the Web Curios boxes.
  • Sewn Found PhotographyLisa Kokin combines found photography and needlework to strangely poignant effect. 
  • Digital Public Library of AmericaThis is an excellent digitisation project, purporting to give online access to the archives of America’s libraries, archives and museums. There’s SO MUCH STUFF in there – another, very geeky timesink.
Image by Allen Ying

Stuff I Have Found Interesting This Week, pt.2:

  • Browser AccordionPlay the accordion by resizing your browser window. A throwaway conceit, nicely made – and actually quite clever design both in terms of coding, etc, and the relationship between the virtual activity and its real-world analogue (I know that there must be a term for this, but I am struggling to think of it – it’s something a bit like skeuomorphism, but not that. Anyone?).
  • A New Form of Music NotationReally interesting attempt to update traditional musical notation; I’m sadly not a musician (despite my HUGELY IMPRESSIVE Grade 4 guitar), but maybe someone who is can tell me whether this is a good idea or not. Similarly, this was on the Guardian this week about the search for an alternative to the QWERTY keyboard (also contains more about skeuomorphism)
  • 18 Cadence – Another Interactive Fiction Model: 18 Cadence is…er…another interactive fiction model. This allows users to piece together story fragments and details together in a variety of different ways, which stitch together in a variety of ways to create a variety of different potential Frankennarratives. It’s cleverly made and worth a play.
  • SciFi InterfacesA blog which analyses the technology design in scifi films and tv series. A bit scary in terms of the attention to detail shown, but there are some very astute observations in here about what makes good design, etc. They’re doing the 5th Element at the moment, which also gives me an excuse to remind myself of Tricky’s AMAZING future-West Country accent in that film (sadly underrepresented on YouTube).
  • The Alternative Limb Project: Some incredible prosthetics here -incredible fusions of medical technology and art.
  • ScribblerA cute little generative drawing tool. Very easy to create some rather cool effects through this, even if you’re a cack-handed anti-artist like me.
  • The Ultimate Status TimepiecePatek Philippe? Pah. TAG? Nah. This is an iPod-size, £300,000+ timepiece which is one of 8 worldwide and measures millennia. Christ alone knows why you would need or want one – and frankly, if you can afford that then you should probably consider making a donation to the sadly underfunded Matt Muir indolence trust instead. THANKS!
  • Restaurant Reviewed By Child, In PhotosQuite a nice idea – SF Chinese restaurant reviewed via the medium of one child’s facial expressions whilst eating. Obviously what now seems cute as it’s the first time I’ve seen it will of course become MASSIVELY IRRITATING when every single parent in the western world decides to document their offspring’s adorable taste reaction pictures. Til then, though, the people at Cow & Gate can have this for free.
  • Photos of Spiritualists: Shannon Taggart has taken some cracking pictures documenting the in-no-way-fradulent world of the spiritualist community.
  • “2 Grams for $40”: A brilliant if somewhat irresponsible way to make use of your 50,000-odd Twitter followers. There’s some truly questionable judgment on display here, not least from the people who are apparently former felons. Try it on your parents, kids! (NB – Web Curios accepts no responsibility for familial relationships destroyed as a result).
  • Photographs of Stag & Hen Parties in BlackpoolProsaic description, amazing photos. I had to spend quite a lot of time in Blackpool a few years ago when I worked in politics – I can safely say that these images are broadly representative of what the place looks like (particularly during Party Conference season, if I recall correctly). 

A Selection of Videos That Aren’t in the Embedded Bit at the Bottom:

  • San Francisco in 1955Beautiful nostalgic footage, in colour, and it all looks so CLEAN and LOVELY. 
  • Angry Poetry about Harry PotterI confess to having had NO IDEA about the fact that the character of Cho Chan in Harry Potter was at the centre of a minor furore about the representation of Asians in popular culture (most probably due to the fact that I am a 33 year old caucasian man). Nonetheless, she is – this is a piece of spoken word about the whole thing by Rachel Rostad which is not only interesting but also rather good.
  • Bobby: 19 seconds of mental weird. Anyone able to tell me what film this is from?
  • Kiss Me (Alternative Version)Ah, 1998! SO MUCH NOSTALGIA! Or was it 1997. Can’t remember. Anyway, at some point in the 90s dull-but-ubiquitous Christian pop-moppets Sixpence None The Richer were EVERYWHERE with that bloody song ‘Kiss Me’. You may have thought you never needed to hear it again, but you probably didn’t know that someone had recorded a version in Kllingon. YES, QUITE. 
  • What Is Big Data?Very clever little video explaining a bit about the concept of big data, what it can do and where it might be going. Concise and smart and worth watching / listening to, largely because if people are going to keep on using the sodding phrase you might as well know what it means.
  • More Killian Martin: This is the third time I’ve featured this guy, and I make no apologies. Another amazing, balletic and wonderfully shot skate video, this one shot in India. Relaxing like cocoa.
Untitled by Fintan Switzer

The Circus of Tumblrs:

  • Women Holding FishTo the best of my knowledge, there is nothing sexual about this.
  • My Dead Parents: Slightly harrowing personal history project looking at the author’s relationship with their dysfunctional alcoholic parents. 
  • Stills from Films (With Associated Colour Palettes)More interesting than you’d think, and useful around issues of shot composition, etc, for photographers and cinematographers alike. Oh, and chromatics enthusiasts.
  • Bad Covers from Bad Romance NovelsSave yourself a fortune on hipster-ish greetings cards by bookmarking this and printing out a bunch of them on purloined office stationery. You’re welcome!
  • Hanksy: Tom Hanksy is a stencil artist from NYC who does pop-culture-themed Banksy-ish art, with some fairly dreadful punnery.
  • Beautiful 8-bit-style Gifs: What it says on the tin. There’s a nice aesthetic sensibility present throughout these, though.
  • Boys’ ClubsA selection of institutions and bodies which remain resolutely men-only. Unsurprising but quite saddening.
  • Stereopeople: Stereoscopic gifs of apparently random people (and animals), with quotes. Oddly compelling.
  • Better SuperheroesIn a similar vein to the now legendary Monster Engine, this Tumblr collects drawings of female superheroes inspired by costumes worn by little girls. Some great illustrations here.
  • Draw Homer: A project which seeks to encourage PROPER artists from around the world to draw Homer Simpson, however they want. There are some cool interpretations of a pop-culture icon in here…
  • Simpson’s Drawing Club: …as there are in this, which is similar but for the whole Simpson’s unverse, and featuring drawings by non-PROPER arists.

LONG Reads:

  • Kevin Russ Makes A Living From iPhone PhotographyThe git. This is the apotheosis of the trend that started with mobile phones being fitted with cameras a decade or so ago – and possibly the apogee of the democratisation of the artist’s trade. Russ uses filters for his photos that anyone could use – he’s a good photographer but not an exceptional one, and the pictures he produces are certainly not beyond the reach of many other amateur snappers with access to decent scenery. What sets Russ apart is his willingness to be flexible, work from anywhere, and leave his friends and home behind to pursue the pictures. What his story shows, though, is a shift in opportunity – in many respects, it has never been easier for artists to make an income from work. Whether that income will, for most, ever be enough to have what might be termed a ‘traditional’ existence, though, remains to be seen. You can read more about Kevin  here – his Instagram feed is here.
  • Shopping for High-Grade Weed in CaliforniaThis is a really interesting and well-written look at the culture surrounding medical marijuana purchase and consumption in the US. Stylistically it’s possibly channeling a little too much of David Foster Wallace’s non-fiction style, but overall it’s excellent. Also, dabs sound TERRIFYING. 
  • How To Become Internet Famous (Without Existing)How to create a real-enough online persona for a fake person, for about £50. Not only interesting in general, but it pleases me because of its happy insistence that Klout & Kred and all that jazz are bunkum.
  • A One-Night Stand Under LockdownThe story of what happened when a one-night stand was forcibly extended by the Boston Metro Area lockdown the other week. Cute, and, as one commentator points out, must surely lead to marriage. 
  • Insane Sorority EmailI’m going to presume a degree of familiarity with the American fraternity system (hazing, meat helmets, and all sorts of charming behaviour) – this is an email that went sort of viral last week from a member of a sorority at the University of Maryland and it is TERRIFYING. You can almost see the flecks of spit flying from her mouth as she types. 
  • How To Write The London NovelExcellent piece of parody writing on VICE, which will ring tremendously true if you’ve ever read a London novel by Amis, Self, Smith, Hornby, Lanchester or any one of a number of other luminaries. DARTS!
  • The Bottom Logistics of Cocaine SmugglingNo! Wait! Come back! Ok, so it is about how much cocaine the average person can fit up their bottom, but it’s also fascinating on how smuggling works and also (unsurprisingly) biology. Also, will probably put you off either smuggling or using cocaine for at least 15 minutes or so. 
  • Eric Schmidt & Julian AssangeA full transcript of their conversation from last year. I’ll be honest, this is newish and I haven’t had the chance to read it all – am pretty sure that SOMETHING of interest will be buried within, though.
  • Bush Is Smarter Than YouIn the week in which the Bush Museum opens, Keith Hennessey, a former Bush adviser, writes an interesting take on the ex-President’s intellectual prowess. I’m not really in a position to comment on this one way or the other, except to say that, whilst at the BBC in Washington in early 2001, the considered opinion of all the long-standing US correspondents there was that Bush ‘wasn’t stupid enough to do anything that interesting’ during his Presidency. Obviously then one or two fairly major world events happened rendering those pronouncements pretty useless, but still.
  • The Story of SuckGreat time travel web-nostalgia time machine stuff from Wired in 1996, on the website ‘suck’, the first dotcom bubble, internet publishing and all sorts more besides. Definitely worth reading for anyone with a passing interest in web culture.
Image by David Solomons



1) We start with a video that’s basically a distillation of all the digital web art guffery that I’ve been wanging on about for a few months now – gifs and glitches and janky 3d animations andall sorts of other stuff combine in Win Win by Landloper, along with a song that to me is oddly reminiscent of Gracelands-era Paul Simon:

2) Like dominoes? Like electro? Strangely fascinated by Rube Goldberg machines? Tolerant of stuff that pretends to be one-take video but which quite evidently isn’t? Great, this will be right up your street, then. A-Trak & Tommy Trash with Tuna Melt:

3) This one’s a week or so late, but SCREW YOU I WAS AWAY. If you’ve not seen it before, it may take you a little by surprise – LOGO with Cardiocleptomania:

4) Radiohead are unquestionably an excellent group of musicians who’ve got an incredible and enviable catalogue of work. They are, though, often accused of being a touch po-faced, a bit joyless. What I’ve always thought (no, really!) is that they could use a touch of middle eastern influence to lighten their tone slightly. How fortunate, then, that someone should have gone and made this remarkable cover of Karma Police:

5) So I know that this is almost certainly a really emo visual allegory for how HARD it is to be a teenager when you’re DIFFERENT and stuff, and not a very subtle one, but I can’t stop watching this clip. The colours and photography and everything are just great, and the song’s better than I at first thought. MS MR with Hurricane:

6) You know that really creepy monster with the eyes in its palms from Pan’s Labyrinth? Well, that, but in strange clayfaceman art form. Look, just watch it. Joy Wellboy’s song ‘Flush Me’:

7) Hipsters! Think your bike is impressive? Try one of these for size. Slightly terrifying video if you’re a bit afraid of heights:

8) By way of a pre-emptive apology for the next one, have some Cookie Monster vs Tom Waits joyousness:

9) Finally, welcome to the oddest video of the week. I don’t really know what to say about it, other than that it’s quite NSFW due to CGI nudity. HAPPY WEEKEND, EVERYONE!!!


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 05/04/13

Reading Time: 17 minutes

[image missing]

Just something I threw on this morning
Jo Jakeman, CC licence

Last weekend was Easter. Ah, Easter. It’s amazing how quickly the glow of a 4-day weekend can fade in the face of the annual cavalcade of companies lying to us and pretending its funny, though – also, for an April Fool to count doesn’t there have to be at least some possibility, however minimal, that someone might believe the ‘hoax’? Anyway, it made me angry, just like this person.

BUT then I got distracted by the saddest life in all of the world, a young man who’s putting an early but spirited challenge for the title of worst human being on the entire planet (and that’s including the man who wants to kill us all with BOMBS), the most horrible article of clothing ever devised, the best art gallery cafe EVER, the greatest Ninja in all of the Western World, the strange case of the man who got high on music, the oddest fetish-meme I’ve seen in a long, long time, and a truly unlikely – and unpleasant sounding – fatal argument between friends in Russia.

Of course, then I properly looked into the benefits reforms that kicked in this week, read this piece on the concentration of the super-rich around the world (circa 0.1% of Londoners have more than $30million in the bank, fact fans), and watched as people use a really sad story as a political football and got all depressed again. But it’s ok, though, as I am going on holiday for two weeks tomorrow. 

Yes, that’s right, it will be 3 WHOLE WEEKS until your next dose of Web Curios. I’ve made sure to make this one EXTRA GOOD, though (I haven’t really, it’s the same old tired collection of accumulated scraps and poorly-worked prose as it ever was). In my absence, feel free to mount some sort of candlelit vigil. Anyway, without further ado, let’s give the internet a colonoscopy TOGETHER!

Image by Brendan George Ko

It’s unlikely that I will ever write a word that ugly again. 


  • Facebook HomeThere was going to be a Facebook phone, everyone said. They were going to MAKE A THING. Turns out that that was sort of half-right; Facebook Home is software rather than hardware, yes, but it’s also software that could (BIG ‘could’ there, obviously) become a default interface layer for the biggest mobile platform in the world. Which is quite smart really, not that you’d expect anything else. As to whether people actually *want* to have their phone’s usage filtered through a Facebook-designed UI…who am I to say (although I don’t imagine anyone will relish the inevitable future where the portable computer in your pocket is just another piece of advert-peddling plastic in your life – THANKS, FUTURE FACEBOOK!)? I barely use the thing any more. I saw a phone the other week which had a physical Facebook button on it – because life is just TOO SHORT for people to put up with more than one click to share pictures of their sodding food with their ‘friends’, it would appear – and nearly recoiled in horror; I’m unlikely to be target audience for this development. You can read more about how it will work here, some stuff about the (inevitable) privacy concerns here (but seriously, YOUR PHONE ALREADY TRACKS WHAT YOU DO) – and the best comment on the whole thing from some kid in the US here.
  • Speaking of AdsMore of them, in your newsfeed, tracking you better. I may stop writing about this stuff; we may as well all just assume that EVERYTHING we see on the internet is trying to sell us something and leave it at that. 
  • Better Ad AnalyticsBut seeing as I’ve started…FB has also tweaked its ad analytics, allowing advertisers to easily see exactly how ads have performed against specific metrics such as gaining new followers, ‘engagement per post’, etc. Which is basically just another way of Facebook reinforcing its incredible, symbiotic relationship with media buyers and allowing them to go to their clients “Look! We said we were going to increase engagement by buying adverts and we DID increase engagement by buying adverts now watch as I roll over so you can tickle my tummy because I am a GOOD ad buyer!”. It’s like the people at Ocado proudly demonstrating that they have achieved your stated shopping goal of buying salad, or something (it’s early and I’ve not really thought this through, so it’s entirely possible that that comparison really doesn’t work at all, for which apologies).
  • Threaded Conversations on PagesComments on FB Pages become more like those on Reddit, so it’s easier to see who’s replying to whom. That’s basically it, although this line is interesting: “Also, the most active and engaging conversations among your readers will be surfaced at the top of your posts ensuring that people who visit your Page will see the best conversations”. Hm, the best, eh? Try telling that to the brand which is dealing with the SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS. 


  • More Twitter CardsNo, me neither. Twitter Cards are apparently those bits of code which allow web devs to code pages so that content shared from them can appear as a thumbnail / preview in a user’s Twitter feed. You know – when you share a photo or video or something, and you can see it / play it without leaving Twitter. That. Anyway, they’ve expanded the service – useful to know if you (for some people. Maybe not you, though).
  • Vine – Good & Bad ExamplesA look at some good and less good examples of Vine used for branded communications. There is something a little silly about this amount of attention / analysis being given to a medium which allows the creation of 6-second video clips, isn’t there?
  • Twitter on Bloomberg TerminalsThis is my ‘under the radar but actually quite significant news item of the week’ (part of an in-no-way-regular series). Traders on the floor of Wall Street will be getting Tweets fed to them through their Bloomberg terminals – which in terms of rubber-stamping the platforms centrality to the way information moves in 2013 is pretty big. It’s also very big news for large corporates – at the very least, it sort of demands that they use Twitter for news dissemination and media relations, to an extent, as it’s feeding directly into the market and has suddenly become hugely price-influential. Not that it wasn’t already, but, y’know, moreso.


  • Building Apps on GlassThis is a 50-minute developer video, and is NICHE. Nonetheless, if you’re in any way interested about how Glass will work, how developers can work with it, and a few of the tricks it has up its sleeve, it’s worth a skim.
  • All of Google’s April Fool’s GagsIn case you’re not bored to tears with all this crap yet. Even if you are, though, you need to doff your cap to the amount of time and effort which Google devoted to make the whole ‘We’re shutting YouTube’ one – there was a whole additional 8 hours of video which they put together to go with it, which is an impressive commitment to a throwaway gag.
  • Use Gifs as Google+ Profile PicturesIf you’d like to, you can.
  • Visualise Website AnalyticsThis isn’t by Google, and it’s basically just a marketing tool, but it’s still actually quite cute – service produces a nicely designed poster-style analytics report for your website. Useful for reporting purposes, perhaps, maybe.


  • Mention and Tag People/Brands on LinkedIn: You know how you can name people and tag them in Facebook posts? You’ll be able to do that on LinkedIn soon. Possibly of use to those few brands who have found a viable use for LinkedIn other than recruitment – all 7 of them.

General Internetty Newsy Things:

  • Social Media Usage Habits in the UKThis is actually 3 weeks old. SORRY. In case you didn’t see it, though, it’s some useful-if-you-need-to-justify-something stats on UK social media usage. Everyone uses Facebook! Lots of them on mobile! The kids ARE on Twitter! 17% of the UK population uses Google+! Er, wait, what, hang on? You can see the full report here – which makes it clear that the sample size was 1,000. I’m going to take that Google+ stat with the requisite pinch of salt, in which case. 
  • On the Utility of Social Media MarketingI love this piece, largely as its central thesis seems to be ‘well, this stuff seems to work. A bit. Sort of. Muchlike a load of other stuff. We don’t really know why, though. Or how. But it can’t hurt to throw money at it, can it?’. Which is BRILLIANTLY HONEST. Oh, and I KNOW that the pradvermarketing industries CAN track stuff and SHOULD track stuff and and and. It’s all just lies, though, isn’t it, really, when it comes to a lot of this? What’s that you say? 49billion earned impressions of your campaign across digital channels? Come off it, people, not even you believe this stuff any more.
  • How Bitcoin WorksYou can’t move on the internet for people writing articles about Bitcoin at the moment, and how it’s changing EVERYTHING (until I am able to pay the aforementioned Ocado man with it, I’m not convinced). The link back there explains how it works – so does this piece, in slightly more detail. Read it, and then nod knowingly and stroke your chin when someone tells you that they are jacking it all in to go Bitcoin mining (this piece explains why they’re probably a little late to that party, in case you’re interested).
  • Tracking the Harlem ShakeYou remember that Harlem Shake thing? No? Oh you fickle, fickle people. In any case, this is a really interesting look at some of the factors which made it temporarily the BIGGEST THING ON THE INTERNET – there were, unsurprisingly, one or two commercial factors involved. Another nail in the coffin of the phenomenon of natural virality.

Campaign-type Things:

  • Crowdsourcing Carly-Rae Jepson’s Lyrical Output with CokeI think that, after this point, noone is ever allowed to tell a musician that they have sold out ever again. The concept is simply redundant. This is the apotheosis of Simon Cowell’s decade-long forced-mating of music and brand culture, in which American Idol, Coca Cola and doubtless charming internet pop-mopsy Carly-Rae Jepson collaborate to produce what will almost certainly be the best song that has ever been written by anyone, ever, in the history of soundwaves. I don’t really want to write much more about it, as it sort of makes me a bit sad, but you can see the whole campaign thing here.
  • WiFi Poster Campaign: This is smart. A poster campaign in Korea included WiFi devices in billboards for a certain film, giving passers-by the opportunity to download the trailer and other bits and pieces quickly and for free. Clever and helpful.
  • The Best Job In The WorlzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzThe one certainty in advermarketingpr is that there’s nothing better than a truly original idea – other than a slightly different take on an idea that’s worked pretty well for a load of other people before you! Here’s a hotel chain doing their very own riff on the best job in the world thing, this time advertising for professional sleepers to test their beds. CAN WE STOP THIS NOW PLEASE? Thanks.
  • UNICEF Vending MachineI really like this (video’s in Portuguese, but it should be fairly comprehensible). UNICEF set up a vending machine in a shopping centre, allowing people to directly ‘buy’ vaccines for children. It’s an excellent execution, although if you think too hard about it it does say a couple of worrying things about how hard-connected the ‘make a physical purchase, feel an endorphin rush!’ thing is.
  • Rijksmuseum Flashmob: The PR around the full reopening of the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam has been nothing short of spectacular – it was EVERYWHERE, yesterday. This is one part of that superb execution – I am bored of faked flashmobs, but this put a smile on even my jaded fizzog. Watch.
Lisa Gerber by Jeanloup Sieff

Things of Interest and Wonderment, pt1:

  • Soundtrack this section with the SUBLIME Jazzmatic – Nas’ Illmatic, reimagined as being recorded in a 30s jazz style. So much better than it should be based on that description.
  • Minuum – A Typing SolutionI think this is a lovely piece of design, particularly for people with fat fingers. A minimalist keyboard interface which allows for fast, non-accurate, auto-correcting typing. Obviously the proof is in the usage, but it’s a clever idea.
  • Recalling 1993I love this. An urban history project taking place in New York City, put together by the New Museum, which allows anyone in the city to access location-specific memories from 1993 from payphones located around the city. It’s SUCH a lovely idea, and a brilliant example of clever urban storytelling and use of civic infrastructure. Can we do this everywhere, please? Obviously London no longer really has working phoneboxes, but RFID tags in park benches which play audio, perhaps, or something to do with those WiFi enabled posters from Korea which I mentioned above…So much potential. 
  • Vogue Meets Star WarsNo, really. In 1977, the cast of Star Wars (in character) appeared in a fur photoshoot in US Vogue. Very weird pop-culture/fashion crossover.
  • NYT Haikus: Sticking with NYC, this is one of the NYT’s seemingly-infinite stable of websites – this time, showcasing accidently haikus which have appeared in the paper, as picked out by an algorithm. There are some occasionally quite beautiful ones in there, but aside from anything else it’s a pleasingly abstract / pointless project. 
  • The 100 Most Significant Websites of 2013 in the UKAs of tomorrow, the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Dublin, will gain powers to archive the entire UK web, along with e-journals, e-books and other formats. This is the list of those websites chosen by the institutions as the most significant / interesting / representative; it’s a fascinating look at what our nation’s curators think of as our national identity as expressed online. 
  • The Dead Duck StoryI first heard about this duck thing about 10 years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since. This TED talk is about how one duck changed a man’s life forever. It’s an…erm…odd story, and one which really does give lie to the whole ‘cuddly nature’ idea. As an aside, I once told the duck story to a room full of civil servants at a party, only to be met with stunned and slightly horrified silence and a slow shuffling away – turns out it’s not as good an icebreaker as I might at first have thought. Oh, and bonus-duck.
  • Pictures of HoliHoli is the Hindu festival of colour, and these are some gorgeous pictures of it from last month. Cheering as we limp, pitifully, into British Summer Time.
  • Obscure Hiphop Motherlode: There is SO MUCH excellent music on this site (if, that is, you like 90s=ish hiphop. I do).
  • Killing CoolA website for creatives who are frustrated by their clients persistently failing to acknowledge the genius behind their ideas, allowing them to keep track of ideas that are ‘killed’ and get rewards for milestones hit (500 ideas killed? HAVE SOME STICKERS!). Sometimes ideas deserve to die.
  • My Little Pony Love SpatThere aren’t really any adequate words for how odd this is. Suffice it to say that it’s a letter written by a man who seems to seriously believe that he is in love with, and will marry, a character from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (an aside: how LONG is that Wikipedia entry? About as long as the one for ‘Gene’, fyi) to another man who gets his jollies drawing sexually explicit pictures of said pony engaged in heavy-duty acts of congress. It’s entirely SFW and VERY ODD.
  • Lifehacks from QuoraQuora’s a bit of a forgotten site these days, but it regularly throws up interesting / useful threads – like this one, which collects some genuinely useful tips for better living. You can see some of the better ones at Quora Spotlight.
  • Pictures from VietnamBack to for this collection of never-before-seen images from Vietnam. Some great photos, from an exhibition which opens today in Portland, OR, USA.
  • Every UK Number One Album, Reviewed in Such a Way as to Make You Want to Listen to ItNo more, no less. There is some brilliant writing on there, not least the one about Charles & Diana’s BBC Royal Wedding album. Go read.
By E.V. Day

Things of Interest & Wonderment, pt2:

  • Separated by a Common LanguageA great blog (for people interested in linguistics, culture and the like, at least) looking at the differences between US and UK English. Geeky and technical, but also full of interesting etymology (if that’s not an oxymoron).
  • America Hates AtheistsAtheist is a shoe company based in Berlin. They are SUPERHIPSTER! Nonetheless, they ran an interesting experiment to see whether or not their brand name affected the likelihood of their goods successfully reaching customers in the US. Turns out it did – seems that employees of the USPS aren’t only prone to homicidal fits of rage, but they also LOVE JESUS.
  • The Crimer ShowThis is…well, I don’t know what it is. A website and Twitter account which basically tells CRIME stories in a tone of voice halfway between LOLCats and Clueless Joe. It made me laugh, which is obviously the only important thing about it.
  • Polaroid Portraits by Max GalimbertiSo this man has photographed MANY FAMOUSES, and so is probably quite famous himself; nonetheless, this is the first time I’ve seen his brilliantly kaleidoscopic polaroid portraits – they are BRILLIANT.
  • The Architecture of DensitySeeing as we’re doing photos, these are great – hyperdense cropped views of battery-packed urban living. Screws with your head a little bit if you start to imagine ALL THE LITTLE PEOPLE behind the windows. 
  • NeurofictionI don’t think that this is an April Fool. It seems genuine enough, but it also seems utterly fantastical and a bit…well…impossible. It purports to be tech developed in Scotland, with the support of New Media Scotland, which READS YOUR MIND and then generates stories for you on the fly based on data pulled from an encephalogram (is that what they’re called?). Effectively it can ‘read’ how you are reacting to stimuli and then deliver alternate content based on what you appear to want/like/dislike. Expect something like this to do something spine-chillingly horrific as part of a Hallowe’en event / installation sometime in the next few years (or sooner, if I can get my mitts on it).
  • What We Wore: A project documenting the style history of the UK, from the 50s to now. Some great nostalgiapics in there, and some truly dreadful haircuts, Warm, fuzzy nostalgia – you can lose yourself in this one, a bit.
  • The Imaginary Poetry of Sally DraperI don’t watch Mad Men (or indeed any of the HBO megaseries. Sorry about that) but I understand that there is a teenage character called Sally Draper in it. These are her poems, as imagined by Jennica Harper. They’re really good – a touch Judy Blume (with less Ralph).
  • Cats Can Be Your FriendOr so this rather cute photoseries of a small girl and her cat would suggest. Don’t normally do ‘cute’ in here, but these really are rather nice.
  • The Best Worst Album Cover You’ll See All WeekI’m sure this practice has a name, but I can’t for the life of me think what it might be. 

Image by Jack Davison

The Circus of Tumblrs (BUMPER EDITION):

  • Depressed CopywriterUndermining the world of fake corporate cheer in advertising, one tear-stained post at a time.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch Drawn as Every Single Pokemon: Yes, that. No idea at all why, but it’s strangely compelling. Bonus points for the slightly unhinged URL.
  • International Relations as Depicted Through CatsThere is nothing so geopolitically complex which cannot be described or explained via the medium of feline photography and captioning, it seems.
  • Videogames in ToiletsOne man’s (come on, it’s not likely to be a woman, is it?) quest to comprehensively catalogue toilets in videogames throughout the ages. Obsessive.
  • Modernist ArchitectureA tumblr collecting B&W shots of modernist architecture. For one person this will be THE ideal mood board or inspiration this afternoon. You may not be that person, though.
  • Calvin & Hobbes GIFS: Not sure that this quite works, but here’s a Tumblr full of animated GIFS of Calvin & Hobbes panels. Quite surprised that the famously litigious Wa
  • Actresses Without TeethIn case you’re one of the 13 people yet to see this.
  • Stalking GUTSGUTS was a 90s Nickelodeon show in the US, billed as an ‘Action Sports Quiz’. No, I don’t care either. This Tumblr is brilliantly creepy though, as it goes through and SOMEHOW (and I am really impressed by the fact that they seem to be finding these people) tracks down former contestants on Facebook and posts ‘Then & Now’ photos here. I would like to see a UK version for, say, Knightmare, please. Thanks. 
  • Pictures of Blacked-Out NYCCollecting images taken during Hurricane Sandy. Some really good shots in here. 
  • KilopanoramaGlitched-out iPhone photos. Empty and a bit creepy and quite Lynchian.
  • Indifferent Cats in Amateur PornAs NSFW as the title would suggest. Amazing photobombing, porncats!
  • James Franco, With CatsNo porn this time (though for some of you I appreciate that BLOODY JAMES FRANCO might qualify). Included largely for the wonderfully poor photoshop in most of these pictures.
  • Vinnie’s Pizza Specials BoardVinnie’s is a pizza joint in Brooklyn. This is a Tumblr of its daily Specials board. Small businesses! THIS IS HOW SOCIAL MEDIA SHOULD BE USED.
  • Distractions in SpaceWhat astronauts might talk about, maybe.
  • Who Is That Hot Ad Girl?Creepy, stalkerish site which invites people to submit screencaps of actresses in adverts so that they can be identified by name. Not convinced that this is ok.
  • Street Hijab: Pictures of stylish women, in hijabs. 
  • What Ali WoreI posted this on Twitter last week and the response was ASTOUNDING. Girls in particular were SWOONING over Ali – and it’s easy to see why. As with the actresses/teeth thing, you’ve probably seen it already – I really hope some fashion brand makes Ali PROPERLY famous.


  • Try this as a soundtrack for this little lot – ambient piano instrumental called ‘Every Day We Are Dying And Outer Space Does Not Give One Single F**k’.
  • The Man Who Sold Shares in HimselfA fascinating look at one man’s project to turn himself into a company, with shareholders who can dictate his existence. I am quite seriously considering buying some myself, just to see how it works. But that might be a bit too odd, not sure yet.
  • The Disbenefits of the Bacon-wrapped EconomyOk, so this is ostensibly about the Bay Area in the US, and the impact that having all these fabulously rich and very young people dominating the culture out there. The points it makes, though, about how the arts and cultural sectors can and should be funded, how relatively small demographics can skew a whole area’s identity, gentrification, responsibility and urban renewal are pretty universal, and worth reading particularly with reference to East London (yes, I know that there isn’t the money there, but there are still parallels).
  • A Very Sad Look at the ‘Erotica’ IndustryI’d always thought that David Foster Wallace’s ‘Big Red Son’ was the defining ‘straight’ look at adult industry awards – this one’s up there with it. You will feel nothing more than grubby when you’ve finished, but the writing is excellent. 
  • One Man’s Addiction To GucciThis will make you feel grubby too, although for different reasons. The story of one very, very rich man and his apparent quest to be made a fool of by a legion of fashionistas. Really, man, TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF. Also, the money involved is just jaw-dropping. Go read. 
  • On the Psychology of Extreme AltruismI like to think I’m quite a helpful person, which almost certainly means that I’m nothing of the sort. I, and almost certainly you, pale into insignificance when compared to the insane willingness to help displayed by US academic Adam Grant – this article examines how he does it, how he benefits, and whether it’s something we should all do more of (answer: we should).
  • All About VICENo question the smartest lifestyle/consumer/publishing company in the world right now, this is a look at the VICE empire, where it came from, how it works and where it wants to go. I wonder if The Man ever turns up to any of their board meetings.
  • Hugh HefnerThere have been no shortage of Hefner profiles, but this one’s particularly good and shot through with an elegiac sadness which you don’t often find. Definitely worth reading, this one.

Some Videos That Don’t Fit Down There:

  • Post-it AnimationPost-its used as pixels in animations are nothing new, but the effort put into this stop-motion short is astounding.
  • Calvin & Hobbes – The Gritty RebootThis spoof trailer for a Calvin & Hobbes reboot actually makes it look as if the concept could stand up. What would Calvin’s life be like now, if his prodigious and uncontrollable animation had never deserted him. PRETTY SCARY, it turns out.
  • This Week’s Odd Internet Art-thingThis is Michael the cat. Michael’s quite special. Also, he turns into a robot at the end.
  • Garrett’s FightI really don’t know how I feel about this, but the news report is really interesting and throws up a whole host of questions that I’m not about to attempt to answer here. This is the story of Garrett, a Down’s Syndrome man, and his nascent career as an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter. I cried A LOT whilst watching this, I warn you.
  • Lana Del Rey covers CohenI love Chelsea Hotel No.2 by Leonard Cohen. This is actually a very good cover, whatever you may think of Ms Lizzie Grant.
  • Flaming Lips & Bon Iver: This feels a little like it’s trying slightly too hard to be odd, but it’s still worth a watch because it’s the Flaming Lips and Bon Iver.
  • Watch OutFull disclosure – I know the person in this, but nonetheless it’s a really well cut short made by some South London teens. Someone give them some acting / editing work. GO ON, DO IT.
By Matthew Woodson


1) This week kicks off with a short, slow motion piece of footage of people blowing bubbles with bubblegum. It’s relaxing and a bit gross at the same time, and really made me think of toads:

2) This video is a cross between mid-90s side-scrolling arcade games, The Smurfs and the entire art back catalogue of Robert Crumb. Needless to say it’s excellent, as is the song; this is…er…’Kleenex Girl Wonder’ by NUBBS:

3) Reverso is a short French animation about a man for whom gravity doesn’t quite work like everyone else. Charming, and technically excellent:

4) Staying on the theme of animation, have you ever wondered what it might be like to be the only straight flamingo at the annual flamingo gay pride party? I thought so – in which case, this video’s for YOU:

5) Short, bloody and not very sweet, this is my favourite song of the week. The Thermals, with Born to Kill:

6) Political campaigning is, we all know, becoming more and more sophisticated – I mean, just LOOK at this website, for example! Which makes this video effort by the Tea Party movement all the more odd – it’s just TERRIBLE. A look at the dystopian future in which the FILTHY LIBERALS have their way and all decent, God-fearing people are being taxed 100% and everyone’s so SOMA-d out with benefits that they have lost the entrepreneurial spirit that made America great and…oh, look, just watch it. All served with a healthy dollop of Hunger Games. AMAZING:

7) I know I feature OFWGKTA stuff on here quite a lot, but they do make good songs / videos. The latest from Tyler is for IFHY, and is not only really well put together but also shows off what a good actor the man is. Impressive, I think:

8) I’m not a fan of the song, particularly, but this is the most beautiful video I’ve seen in ages. Another one taking the aesthetic of high-quality B&W gifs and applying it to video, this is Back to Me by Joel Compass. If you only watch one thing, make it this one:


9) Finally, this is a really sad little animation about love and losing love. It’s called Howard. HAPPY WEEKEND, EVERYONE!!!


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 22/03/13

Reading Time: 15 minutes

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A hard morning at the bus stop
Catherine, CC licence

Well, it’s been another tumultuous week (aren’t they ever thus), what with the export of the very best of Western Culture into China (truly, we have nothing left to give them), the opening of the best / worst-named restaurant in the world, the International Day of Happiness (WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DIDN’T NOTICE) and NYC Macaron Day (why we don’t have one of these in London is a source of much agitation to me), the sad cancellation of what sounded like being an amazing gig, my realisation that there exists an anonymous confessions hotline in New York (I WANT ONE HERE PLEASE), and the discovery of the all-important recipe for home-made creme eggs.

There’s also, of course, been the small matters of the Bread & Circuses budget, a little bit of chat about the regulation of the press, the 10-year anniversary of Iraq War II…oh, yes, and the small and frankly absolutely insane vision of a whole country mugging itself. The Cyprus stuff is quite scary, to be honest, and given that it might drag us all into the mire with it I’m going to stop thinking about it now and move on to talking about stuff that, by comparison, is of no importance whatsoever. I know my place.

I went to see Louis CK last night (he was very good). He does a bit about how people present the very worst version of themselves online – we were discussing this in the pub afterwards, and my friend Mo charmingly said that I was quite the opposite and was basically loads better on the internet than in real life. YOU HEAR THAT, PEOPLE? THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE BEST OF ME YOU’RE GETTING HERE. Be grateful.


Taken from the fabulous Scarfolk blog

Advermarketingprinternetstuff (anyone with better suggestions for this, other than ‘the bit noone reads’, please do let me know):


  • Google KeepThis is basically Google’s version of Evernote – a service which lets people do all that ‘tag, store, note-take’ stuff which they all seem so keen on doing these days. Effectively it’s them saying ‘look, we know where you live – now outsource your memory to us as well! What’s the worst that could happen, eh?’ (I imagine them mugging and winking furiously to camera as they do so, for reasons known only to my subconscious). Obviously I am (possibly) exaggerating the sinister aspects of this for effect – it will probably be quite useful. If I were Evernote, I might be a bit scared. Although of course it could all go the same way as the other stuff in the Google Graveyard (speaking of which, if you do miss Google Reader then you might like this as an alternative).
  • Google Gif SearchIt’s increasingly seeming like there’s very little point building stuff if you’re NOT Google – even if you get there first, they’ll just make their own version of whatever you throw out a few weeks/months/years later and then crush you beneath their juggernuat wheels like the miniscule, insignificant whelp that you are. You may (or may not) recall Giphly, a nice little gif search engine I found a few months ago – this is Google doing that. Lose yourself in the Ryan Gosling gif universe – you know you want to.  
  • Google Unified Chat: Included more from the mistaken belief that completeness matters than from any burning sense of excitement, this is the news that Google is planning on unifying the ‘chat’ function across Gmail, G+, Google Drive, etc. Which is actually quite a clever idea, and probably has a lot of positive implications for potential customer services things if you’d like to think about them. Also, it’s rumoured to be called Babble WHICH SOUNDS LIKE BABEL. Just, you know, pointing that out. 
  • Nice Little Literary Promo for Collaborative Working: This is a very nice piece of work to promote collaborative working through Google Docs, which takes your prose and imagines what it would be like were you collaborating with a host of famous literary figures and they were editing your copy in real-time. What it would be like, by the way, is VERY IRRITATING – Shakespeare’s undoubted ability to spin a yarn doesn’t automatically give him the right to gussy-up my prose whenever he feels like it, the be-ruffed nincompoop.
  • YouTube TV Shows: I don’t really know whether there’s anyone who’s done Channels on YouTube that’s achieved proper mainstream crossover success – is there anyone? I mean, there’s big-if-niche channels like Machinima or Epic Meal Time, and I thinkk VICE are doing pretty well with Noisey, but I have no well-known they actually are. Anyway, will be interesting to see how the two new channels being punted by Ricky Gervais and Simon ‘Reality TV Sauron’ Cowell (copyright Marina Hyde on that one) fare – and even moreso to see how Reddit do with their new Explain It Like I’m 5 series, where they explain knotty concepts to actual 5 year olds (it is unclear what benefit the 5 year olds are getting from this deal. Jelly and icecream at the very least, I hope). 
  • Chrome Maze-y Thing: This is only going to work for you if you a) use chrome as your desktop browser; b) have an android mobile device which also runs chrome. If it does, this is fun-if-pointless – you can turn any website you like into a pretty fun little rolling marble game, controlled by tilting your phone. It’s a gimmick, but personally I was left really impressed with the tech and execution. 


  • Lookalike AudiencesYou may recall that last year Facebook gave advertisers the opportunity to upload a database of email addresses or phone numbers and target those people via ads, whether or not they were already connected to said advertiser on FB. Now you can not only do that but also advertise to people who Facebook thinks might be a bit like the people who’s data you’ve got. I’m skeptical as to how good this ‘people like this’ targeting is going to be – then again, Zuckerberg is a billionaire and I am most definitely not. so perhaps my opinion’s less than vital. 
  • Moderation GuidelinesIt’s actually unclear whether these apply solely to Facebook or a variety of sites, but they are from a third-party moderation service the like of which FB offloads some of its burden onto. Fascinating – and quite surprising – to see what you can and can’t get away with according to the powers that be.


  • ‘Send To Kindle’ ButtonBasically a ‘read this later’ button which sends whatever page you’re reading to your Kindle (if you have one. If you don’t, it won’t). Worth knowing about – you might as well chuck it on your website’s editorial content. 

Some Campaigny Things and Other Things:

  • Win The Chance Of Maybe Working at Subway!Subway is running what appears to be a global contest inviting entrants to create a ‘Virtual Subway’ franchise, complete a number of online challenges and get people to vote for their shop, all to win one of 5 trips to NYC & Washington DC to meet and Subway co-founder Fred Deluca. Another of the big selling points (!), though, seems to be the fact that high-achievers in this virtual contests will gain exposure to the Subway network and may be lucky enough to get picked up for a job. This is all very, very odd, although not as odd as the fact that, as things stand, about 800+ people appeared to have entered worldwide. I know that the job maket’s tough, but still…
  • BA UngroundedWhat do you think the best way in which to debate and arrive at solutions to the world’s greatest problems, such as talented people’s lack of access to opportunity, might be? If you answered “hand-picking 100 of the most forward-thinking founders, CEOs, venture capitalists, and Silicon Valley game-changers, and putting them on a flight from San Francisco to London”, with a view to then getting them to “present their ideas to ranking delegates from the United Nations”, then CONGRATULATIONS, you think just like someone from British Airways or their PR/Marketing/Ad agency. IS THIS A JOKE, BA?????
  • A Look at FourSquare Checkins in NYC & TokyoMainly because it’s quite a pretty visualisation. I still don’t know any real people who use 4sq (when I say ‘real people’, I mean people who don’t work in tech or advermarketingpr – we are not real people). 
  • A 3d Map of the InternetHaving repeatedly mentioned William Gibson last week, the theme continues with this video which shows a version of what the internet look like if you were to turn it into a 3d navigable THING. It’s slightly disconcerting, and really does make me think of what Gibson imagined when he wrote about Cyberspace (an aside – I went to see Evgeny Morozov talk at the RI this week, where he spoke about how the idea of “the internet” is a fundamentally wrong-headed one. He’s probably right (although for the purposes of Web Curios I will continue to do just that – sorry, but I haven’t got the time to semantically unpack exactly what I mean each time I type that phrase, which is, I know, lazy. SORRY EVGENY SORRY) – have a read of some of his thinking here and also here).
  • Facestealer: The AppThis is an app by Yahoo! Japan, which allows you to (and I quote) “WEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S FACE”. It’s creepy and horrifying and I suggest you try an download it at once.
  • Anti-Domestic Violence VideoI’m putting this up here as I’m 99% certain it’s part of a campaign for an anti-domestic violence charity, although which one (or any other linked elements) have yet to be revealed. I really, really hope it’s not a real video. Oh, and as with all YouTube videos you’re probably best off ignoring the comments. 
Domestic Camo (Image by Maria Kapajeva)

Listen! It’s A Mix of Rare Soviet Music by Solid Steel!

Other Things Off The Internet Which I Thought Were Worth Telling You About But I Can’t Guarantee Will Arouse Anything Other Than Moderate Interest, pt1:

  • Letters From A PrivateScanned letters home from a Private in the US Army, 1944-45. A beautiful little slice of very personal history.
  • The Future, As Seen From LA in 1988This is awesome – back in 1988, the LA Times ran a piece looking at what life would be like for citizens of LA in 2013. Certain elements are pretty close, but the traditional robot servant prediction remains sadly unfulfilled. Sort it out, science.
  • Slavoz ZiseK Writes for Abercrombie in 2003: Slavoj Zisek is a philosopher. For reasons known only to him (and, one would presume, someone at A&F), he ended up writing copy for Abercrombie & Fitch’s 2003 ‘Back To School’ lookbook. This is brilliantly weird – pictures of tanned, healthy, beautiful (and often naked) American youth, juxtaposed with frankly surreal phrases such as ‘The naked couple without the bespectacled teacher would be reduced to two clumsy ignorants unable to perform the act’. I would love a print copy of this.
  • OverdogThis is a really interesting idea – Overdog is a US project that is seeking to set up a community where sports fans can play videogames against sports stars. It’s smart – given that most athletes are young men in their teens/20s, most of whom will likely play videogames to get over the stultifying boredom of the life of the pro sportsperson (I’m obviously just jealous of their bodies and salary), and given that there’s a large crossover with fans in that they are often young, videogame-loving men too, you’d think that there might be a market for this. It’s even reasonably easy to see how they could monetise it. Sports brands people, get on this one. 
  • Author-to-Author FanlettersA lovely literary love-in here, with a selection of letters from famous authors in which they tell other famous authors how awesome they think those famous authors are. My favourite, though, is the Burroughs-to-Capote hatemail at the end.
  • TedX Summerisle: I would call this a hoax, but it’s unclear how many people were taken in by it. Nonetheless, it’s a really rather impressive piece of TRANSMEDIA!!!! storytelling which takes the uninspiring premise of crossing the breathless improvement-evangelism of the TED movement with the creepy fictional Scottish murdervillage of The Wicker Man
  • Tarantino vs Penguin BooksDesigner Sharm Murugiah has created Penguin Books-style designs for Tarantino screenplays. These really should be available as prints (says the never-satisfied, demanding, needy, entitled webmong).
  • The Cat Font: A font made of cats. It is what it is. 
  • Michael KeatonI really have no idea what is going on here, at all, in any way. Needless to say that this site doesn’t appear to be affiliated with the famous Michael Keaton in any way, but it does feature a lot of odd little comic strips and a slight-but-persistent feeling of alienation. Odd, but in a good way.
  • The Artist ExplorerInteresting little hack which breaks down artists by song data taken from Echonest and lets you play around / cross reference it. More interesting than useful, but it’s an interesting way of comparing artists’ output (in totally arbitrary and valueless ways, admittedly).
  • US Gun Deaths in 2013: A beautifully rendered animated visualisation showing data of gun deaths in the US so far this year. The ‘years stolen’ figure is gimmicky, but it does tug at the heartstrings somewhat. There’s full data for 2011 in there too, should you be interested.
Image by Ted McCabb

LISTEN! To Songs Which Inspired Daft Punk!

Other Things Off The Internet Which I Thought Were Worth Telling You About But I Can’t Guarantee Will Arouse Anything Other Than Moderate Interest, pt2:

  • TinyGames – A Worthwhile KickstarterI don’t ordinarily feature Kickstarters, but I like this one (and the people behind it). Hide & Seek are trying to get the money together to make an app featuring 100s of tiny games (you can see where the name came from), which can be played anywhere. Not videogames, mind – all sorts of different types. If I were a parent, I’d look at this and think “YES! THIS WILL BE A WORTH ADDITION TO THE iPHONE BABYSITTER’S REPERTOIRE”. I’m not a parent, though. That I know of. 
  • Casio Transmitter WatchI can’t believe this was on the market a year before that LA futurology piece up there. THIS IS AMAZING. Just think of the fun you could have – I’m thinking particularly in terms of what you could do to freak people out in traffic jams. Am I misunderstanding this? It seems like potentially the best childish prank tool ever. Is there an iOS app that can do anything similar?
  • Mark E Smith is Funny, GrumpyThe Fall’s famously irascible frontman’s best sayings, accompanied by images of his gurning fizzog. 
  • The Imaginary AtlasA website collecting cartography of fictional lands. You don’t need to be a geek to like this, honest – or, well, maybe you do. I think that there’s something strangely soothing about looking at maps of imaginary cities, but then again I also like playing videogames so perhaps I’m a lost cause. 
  • The Lullaby Factory of GOSHWHY DIDN’T I KNOW THAT THIS EXISTED??? A lovely, whimsical piece of architectural design, or a playful folly, or perhaps both simultaneously.
  • The 100 Most Influential Records of the 1960sNo more, no less, but a very comprehensive rundown containing some great songs I had never heard of. Musos will enjoy. 
  • InklewriterAfter Twine the other week, this is another Interactive Fiction-creation tool, which is (early impressions suggest) very easy to use and pretty powerful.
  • Fat & Furious BurgersThis is the apogee of burgers-as-art (actually ‘apogee’ would suggest that ‘burgers as art’ is a thing – it probably isn’t, is it? Oh well) – a French website containing beautifully constructed, stunningly photographed and often totally inedible burgers. In French.
  • Incautious ‘Art’: There’s a fine line between art and extorsion…Incautious is a project which scrapes comments from pr0n and sex websites – in particular, comments that contain phone numbers. These are then painted onto canvasses and act as one-off artworks for people to purchase. So far, so internet – the slightly dark bit is that they are looking to charge 1000Euros to anyone who sees their phone number listed on the site and wants to have it removed. Which, frankly, I don’t think is very nice. Imagine me pursing my lips disapprovingly as I type this, like a cat’s bottom.
  • Mastectomy TattoosPhotos of women who’ve had tattoos done over their mastectomy scars. I might question some of the art, but there’s something quite inspiring (sorry) about the sentiment behind them.

The Circus of Tumblrs

  • I’m GoogleThis is quite hard to explain, but it’s a little bit like visual word association by Dina Kelberman.
  • Noise Park: Bands and musicians from the noise / industrial scene, reimagined as characters from South Park (and frankly a load of other obscure people who I can’t really categorise). Needs a little bit of knowledge, but there’s a lot of nice attention to detail in there. 
  • Beverly Crusher’s Miniature TheatreThis is very odd. Gates McFadden played Dr Beverly Crusher in the Star Trek: Next Generation series. This is a Tumblr that she maintains, featuring the action figure version of herself in a variety of vignettes. I don’t really know what sort of effect doing this on a regular basis must have on her psyche. It’s all VERY meta.
  • Women Eating on the Tube: I’m linking to this mainly to let people know that it exists – there’s something a bit creepy / misogynistic about it, I think, although I can’t help but be darkly impressed at how many people manage to take pictures of strangers on the tube without being noticed. Although I did once take one of a woman who looked an awful lot like Marcel Desailly, which I’m not proud of. 
Image by Mash Design

Long Things Which Are Long:

  • The Age of the Expense AccountA really wonderful piece of writing, look back at the long-gone age in which well-connected foreign correspondents had their alcoholism subsidised by the 4th estate. A really good story about an era in which journalism really must have been rather a lot of fun (and very, very drunk indeed).
  • The Crucifixion of Tomas YoungThe title of the piece is too good to replace. This is the story of Tomas Young, an Iraq war veteran who was wounded in 2004. It’s not, I warn you, a very happy story, but one worth remembering given this week’s 10-year anniversary of the conflict. 
  • The Czech Republic on DrugsI must confess, I hadn’t linked the Czech Republic’s lax attitude to drugs and the never-ending stream of stag parties heading out to Prague. More fool me. This is an interesting look at what drug liberalisation has changed in the country. It sounds a bit grim – though that’s Spiegel’s editorial line as much as anything – but that’s as much due to economic factors as anything else. The meth thing’s a bit troublesome, though.
  • A Quarter-Century in Solitary: What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without talking to anyone, or being in company? This is an amazing piece of writing – the author is a convicted murderer, and obviously did Bad Things, but his account of what it’s like being in solitary for over 25 years is mind-boggling and not a little harrowing. It doesn’t, rest assured, sound like it’s been any fun at all.
  • Hislop On MediaIan Hislop’s always good value, and this piece (admittedly from a few months ago) is worth reading in the wake of this week’s Leveson chat. His description of Blair as “a man who constantly looks like he’s playing his own character in an action movie about himself” is lovely.
  • The Tragedy of Dr PolidoriIf you’ve ever seen the film ‘Gothic’ by Ken Russell, all about Byron and Mary Shelley and the rest during the laudanum-fueled week that led to the writing of Frankenstein, this piece will ring some bells; if you haven’t, it’s even more worth reading as it’s a fascinating account of some very brilliant, and very damned, young minds. The description of Polidori as someone who was basically destined to be nothing more than a footnote in his own life is brilliant and sad. Byron, though, eh? WHAT A LAD.
  • DIY SuperpowersEver thought of slicing your arm open and, say, putting a magnet inside it and calling yourself “Magneto”? No? Thanks Christ for that. Nonetheless, this piece provides an overview of some of the options for tech-oriented body augmentation. IT’S QUITE ODD.

A Few Additional Videos That I’m Not Putting Down There:

  • Nicholas Cage In ZeldaThe internet’s obsession with Nicholas Cage reaches what might be its apogee with this video of a hack applied to Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which puts Nic Cage’s MAD FACE all over the game. Interest in / knowledge of the original title is not required to get exactly how strange this is.
  • Mad SausageA campaign, being supported by the Mercy For Animals charity, to draw attention to the less-than-sanitary genesis of processed meat products. Quite odd.
  • Usher vs The Afghan Whigs: Surely this must have been one of the odder things to have happened at SXSW? OLD rockers The Afghan Whigs gigged with blandest-R’n’b-millionaire-ever Usher and it was actually QUITE GOOD.
  • How Webcomics WorkShort video looking at the economics of webcomics – frankly, though, what it says is applicable to most if not all creative endeavours you’re promoting these days, it seems.
  • Take My PictureA brilliant short looking at the ever-growing world of amateur fashion bloggers and photographers. People get REALLY excited by clothes, eh?
  • Singing VaginasNo more, no less. Not embedding this one for obvious reasons – it’s strangely sort of pleasing and happymaking, and is about as sexual as Puppetry of the Penis (ie not at all, in the slightest). Except, obviously, it does feature real vaginas, singing. So quite NSFW, then, so you know.
  • Fist Of Jesus: This is not the Jesus you remember. A very odd short film from Spain, featuring Jesus, zombies and a novel take on the loaves/fishes incident (skip to 7:40 to get to the heart of the oddity) – they’re raising money to make a full-length version, if you’d like to see more…
  • Guitarcam: THIS FEELS WEIRD.


1) We start with a short film from a few years back, called “Are You The Favourite Person of Anybody?”. It stars John C Reilly, and also features Miranda July, and it’s pleasingly bittersweet:

2) WendyVainity is a YouTube ‘star’ who makes the sort of odd 3d animations which are sort of pointless and unsettling which I quite like. This is a showreel of some of her self-portraiture. THIS IS ART:

3) Once upon a time, doing the sort of bullet time-type effects made famous by The Matrix would have cost A LOT of money. Now you can do it for pennies (well, almost), just like these wizards of home cinema. A great ad for GoPro, this:

4) Doing stuff to stuff in slow-motion. There’s a lot of this stuff online, but this is a particularly fine compilation. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face, for reasons it’s quite hard for me to define:

5) This week’s first ‘Blimey, that’s a bit odd’ music video of the week comes in the form of this trippy little number from Lapalux. The song’s sort of minimally absorbing, but the video’s what makes this – it’s called “Without You”:

6) Odd video of the week, part 2 – apparently Dillon Francis is “an American electronic-dance musician, known for being one of the pioneers of moombahton, a fusion genre of house music and reggaeton, and moombahcore, a sub-genre of electronic-dance music deviating from moombahton”. Moobahton? Really? Are you making fun of me, internet? In any case, this is his wonderfully strange video for “Bootleg Fireworks”:

7) James Franco apparently has something to do with this, thought it’s unclear exactly what he does in the band – probably EVERYTHING, the insufferably goodlooking polymath. God I’m jealous of James Franco. Anyway, his band is called Daddy and this is the cultish video for Ted James’ remix of their 2012 single “Love In The Old Days”:

8) You’ve probably seen this already, but I don’t care. It’s brilliantly impressive, if not wholly original, and deserves all the views – it’s called ‘Forward’:

9) Last but definitely not least comes this, from Russian band ‘Biting Elbows’. I can’t type the song title for fear of profanity filters, but this is just BRILLIANT. Again, you may have seen it before but I’m posting it due to the number of people who sent it my way this week – again, it deserves the views (another great ad from GoPro, by the way):

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 15/03/13

Reading Time: 17 minutes

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Dead Range Rover
Tim Parkinson, CC Licence –

So, we have a new spate of ‘parody’ Twitter accounts ushering in the new Pontiff. Thanks, everyone. It was a very surreal week in general, and one which made me incredibly glad that I wasn’t tasked with liveblogging smoke (that sounds like an analogy for something, and possibly ought to become one) – welcome, though, to Francis I from the internet and, most importantly, from the creative geniuses at Taiwan Animation (click on this, now. It features Dennis Rodman and a unicorn, and an unexpected reference to NBA Jam and references to the GAY VATICAN CABAL THAT FORCED BENEDICT FROM THE PAPACY (their words, not mine) – and still manages to be nowhere near as patently odd as the rigmarole surrounding papal succession).



Nothing else has been REMOTELY as exciting as the surprise election of an old white man to one of the World’s highest offices – frankly I have no idea WHAT we’re going to do to keep ourselves amused from now on. Maybe stuff like this (although I really do hope not). Anyway, there’s a lot to get through – grab your rosary and pray for divine intervention, for I am taking you deep into the godless world that is THE INTERNET (I may never have been more hyperbolic. Don’t worry, it’s still just links and stuff. Don’t be scared. COME BACK!).

iPope (Image credit: Michael Sohn / AP)

AdvermarketingPRinternetty Stuff:


  • SXSW Overview: I may have mentioned last week that I wasn’t at SWSX and that I was IN NO WAY BITTER. On reflection, I’m really not. Anyway, for all you other proles who, like me, stayed home and forsook barbecues in favour of frostbitten extremities, the WSJ roundup of news is worth a look (Hater is my favourite, fwiw). Regular readers of this thing (I’m talking YEARS, here) may want to send me a congratulatory email and perhaps a present given that this year’s apparently revelatory BIG THEME was all about the confluence of physical and digital, which I may have been banging on about for a while now. You won’t, though, will you? Not even a postcard. You disgust me.


  • More ActionsThis is going to keep on coming, but the verb invasion on Facebook continues apace, this time with the addition of Open Graph developer actions for ‘Rate’, ‘Run’, ‘Read’, ‘want to read’, etc… I think that the ones expressing desire are particularly interesting if you’re in the business of promoting stuff / things which people could reasonably be expected to look forward to (INSIGHT!!!) but, as I keep repeating and will continue doing until the world basically shows signs of agreeing with me, is unlikely to be of so much use if you have a Facebook Page promoting, oh I don’t know, toilets or something. 
  • Hashtags?So this is nothing more than speculation, and the article rightly calls out all the functional barriers to this working (protected statuses and general FB privacy stuff, basically), but this would potentially be a useful addition to the platform (primarily – you guessed it – as a way to sell more advertising!).


  • More Promoted Tweet Analytics-y Things: After the Ads API thing the other week, this is another sensible move when it comes to showing advertisers quite how much bang Twitter delivers for their paid-media buck. Aside from that, though, the addition of all the information about ‘earned engagements’ (sorry) is actually very useful in terms of determining a campaign’s actual resonance and effectiveness. Depending on how good they get at drawing out detailed demographic info (which is harder for them than for FB as gathering that sort of info’s not part of the sign-up process) this could all be very powerful.
  • Twitter Developing Music App(?)Not sure if it needs the question mark, as it looks like a fait accompli, but nonetheless. Details are vague, but it seems to be that it will be some sort of magical taste-determining thingy which will be powered by SoundCloud (and, possibly, by magic. Who knows? I certainly don’t). 
  • Now With Added Line-Breaks: This is a brilliantly comical terrible idea. Twitter this week started to allow people to insert linebreaks within Tweets (although it’s only visible when viewing tweets on the Twitter website). What this basically means is that people can now GO HAIKU CRAZY (actually, any community managers reading this with a skill for Japanese verse and a willing client – take that and run with it. Go on. DO IT)! Oh, and really mess with their followers’ timelines by writing tweets at 1-character-per-line. Expect this to be turned off or at least modified fairly significantly in the not-too-distant future.


  • Look! Analytics!Not particularly interesting stuff, but worth knowing if you have a Pinterest presence and are trying to work out what it’s doing for you and justify why… An almost certain precursor to the rollout of ads on the platform in the next few months, I reckon. What do you mean you don’t care? Ingrates.


  • Apps for Google GlassUnsurprising to see apps announced for Google Glass (and if you think I’m being wanky and hyperbolic with that Cyborg Manifesto link, take a second to think about what sort of incredible knowledgegathering / information archiving / memory augmentation a combination of Glass and Evernote can afford one. Go on, THINK. It’s absolutely incredible, and this is just the really crap alpha iteration of all this sort of stuff. MASSIVE DIGRESSION AHEAD: I recently reread Neuromancer, and aside from (as ever) being struck by the sheer density of ideas and the odd not-quite-prescient-but-certainly-pretty-good-guesswork nature of all the techstuff, it got me thinking about the interesting shift in thought about man/machine interfaces …we’ve moved from a position where we imagined plugging chips into our heads to one where we imagine being able to take the augments off at will – but potentially creating a society in which we’ll never want to…). These will be big, anyway, and the possibilities are HUGE. Wonder when the FB one will be announced which partners their nascent facial recognition technology with Google’s to create something which tells you who EVERYONE is when you pass them, what their stated interests are and how many friends you have in common? Dear God, and just imagine what you could do with Bang with Friends
  • Shopping on GlassA look at grocery shopping in an augmented future. Now think about what I said about Evernote, above, and what an archive of every recipe you’ve ever seen and thought, “ooh, that sounds good, might cook that one day” combined with a comprehensive database of what’s in season, combined with something that tells you what shops sell what, might look like. IT LOOKS HUNGRY.


  • No-download Browser Sharing: Erm, exactly what the description says. Really useful alternative to Lync, G+ Hangouts and the like for people who don’t have them. 
  • Catch-all Shared Drive Access ThingyA career in product naming is doubtless but weeks away. This is basically a shell programme that gives you access to all your online files from one place. Draws stuff from Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, etc, into one box. I’m describing it appallingly badly, but I’ve had a play around and it’s quite useful. Also, the people behind it were very nice when I emailed them with a suggestion, and that goes a long way.
  • OneTabThis Chrome extension could have been made for me, but might also be useful to anyone else who regularly has about 150 tabs open. With OneTab, you can pull all your open tabs into a single one as a linked list – really useful if you need to stop browsing but haven’t finished looking at stuff and don’t want your browser to take about 15 minutes to start up next time. 

CAMPAIGNY STUFF! (as mentioned before, a lot of these are via Roberto Venturini’s blog):

  • Renault – Lifted By LikesThis one’s Renault in the Netherlands, who set up a FB competition to win a car. Each ‘Like’ the competition app received translated into a real-life weight being added to a seesaw – at a certain point the likes would outweigh the car, which would lift up – the person whose ‘Like’ was responsible for tipping the car won said vehicle. My favourite thing about this is that, with a bit of basic maths, we can work out exactly what each ‘Like’ cost Renault. Cost of the car at retail? Say £12,000. Cost of the app? Say £7,000. Cost of all the physical stuff (seesaw, weights, people, etc)? No idea, but let’s say £2,000. Cost of the time spent by a bunch of agency people drafting a load of documents, strategies, etc, to make the case for the bloody thing, as well as the endless conference calls and meetings and frenzied calls to the designer when the client said that they didn’t feel the app logo was a red enough shade of red? Hard to say, but I don’t think £20,000 is an outlandish estimate. So that’s £41,000, very roughly, to deliver…12,000 additional likes. That’s £3.41 per like. That seems like rather a lot. AND YES I KNOW IT’S NOT ABOUT LIKES IT’S ABOUT SODDING ENGAGEMENT, BUT STILL THIS IS JUST STUPID ISN’T IT?
  • Canberra’s Human BrochureNice work from Canberra’s tourist board, who got a load of real people to go and become the HUMAN BROCHURE to promote the area through social media. To the point above, this will also have worked out as expensive, but the outcomes seem to me to be a lot more worthwhile. Maybe I’m an idiot, though. In any case, I like the execution. On a similar note, this slideshare from Tourism Australia is a nice look at how they use digital in their communications – whilst it’s easy to snarkily say “yes, well, try that with Swindon you smartarses”, there are some sensible principles in there. 
  • H&M’s Gif-y Shop& Other Stories is apparently a fashion brand which is an offshoot of H&M. It’s probably meant to appeal to a completely different core userbase; I am sure that there are brand bibles somewhere which explain exactly who their core target consumer is, how she is different from H&M’s core consumer, and how fashion makes her feel. I don’t care about that, as I am (as has been previously mentioned) so poorly dressed as to be practically sartorially handicapped. I’m only including this link as the website has replaced some of the product thumbnails with animated gifs which gives a subtle hipster aesthetic to the whole thing (oh, maybe I do get the userbase thing after all) and is another sign that gifs are mainstream, MAN.
  • Old Spice Are Making Fun Of Us:  So following in the footsteps of Isiah Mustafa and Fabio. Old Spice has another FUNNY CHARACTER to front its advertising. This has basically descended to the point where, surely, the people at W+K (or Y&R or whichever advertising behemoth is behind this one) are just sitting there laughing at us all, isn’t it? I mean, the central conceit of this appears to be that Old Spice now have a talking wolf doing their marketing (MANLY!); said wolf has a hilariously simplistic and brutal (and yet ironically sophisticated) approach to campaigning and marketing which we are meant to laugh at, whilst at the same time we consume exactly the same sort of  simplistic and brutal (and yet ironically sophisticated) maketing materials we are supposed to be laughing at OH GOD MY HEAD HURTS. The LinkedIn Page made me laugh, though
Young Critic Engaging with John Lavery’s

“Portrait of Anna Pavlova” (1911) (Via Christopher Higgs)

BEST THING I FOUND ALL WEEKWhen I was 14/15 and growing up in Swindon, Chris Morris’s Radio1 show on (I think) Wednesday nights was the funniest, most subversive thing I had ever heard (on reflection that makes me sound quite sheltered. Oh well). This is an archive of nearly all of them – I listened to a few this week, and was reminded of how much he got away with, and how much of this stuff wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near UK radio, especially the BBC, these days. Funny and silly and clever all at the same time – and, as a bonus, he played some awesome music too. If the idea of a small child telling Richard Littlejohn that he is ‘a Grade-A nonce’ makes you laugh, you’ll like this.

Stuff I Found That I Think Is Good / Interesting, Pt 1:

  • CouchSeatsA website which pulls together videos of musicians’ live performances. Nothing you can’t find on YouTube, but if you like watching people live (or, more accurately, recordings of them performing live) then you might like this.
  • OurSpotThis is a marketplace for people to buy and sell photography services for various events. A nice idea, and potentially a useful thing if you’re an amateur who wants to build a portfolio or something.
  • Paintings-with-food‘Red’ Hong Yi self-describes as a painter, but makes her work with food rather than with pigments. The results are very impressive, in any case – see this on the Facebook page of A N Other food-related brand sometime very soon (turns out she’s quite famous already, in fact, so maybe I’m late to her work. Hey ho).
  • Product Posters for Stuff That’s In FilmsI’m having a fairly hard time describing ANYTHING today. Perhaps I’m getting ill. In any case, this site hosts a collection of rather excellent fictitious adverts for objects from popular culture – so the silly gun from Men In Black, 3 Course Dinner Gum from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, that sort of thing. There are some rather good designs on there, check them out.
  • World of Classcraft: I thought we were done with gamification, but it turns out it’s still kicking its little legs in defiance of the fact that everyone’s now moved onto another overhyped buzzword trend. I’m also pretty much certain that the number of people with any connection to education who read this is pretty much 0. Anyway, World of Classcraft is an interesting concept for gamifying the classroom – applying the same sort of concept that informs the ‘House’ model popularised by Harry Potter to a fantasy-type game to be played during lessons. No idea whether it would work, but I think it’s an interesting concept and, for certain types of kids of a certain age, might be useful. Tell you what, why not try adapting it for your agency?
  • How To Survive a Political Coup: It’s been a bad week for Dave, all told, which makes this blog on how to survive a political coup by former Gordon Brown SPAD Damien McBride particularly interesting. 
  • Someone At The Onion Really Doesn’t Like Christopher WalkenNo idea whether this will still be up by the time you click on it, but it’s a pretty punch piece of writing about Walken’s somewhat murky past. He’s still a great dancer, mind.
  • A Musical Map of ParisA lovely project, accompanying an exhibition which apparently took place last year, and assigning songs to each of Paris’s Arondissements. On a similar tip (but less digitalinteractive) is this map of which UK cities have spawned which musicians / bands. Who knew Newton Le Willows would give the world so much?
  • Logos for CHARITY!Today is COMIC RELIEF! Your main feeling at that is likely to be one of relief that you will, soon, cease being inundated with crap, unfunny CHARITY initiatives (THERE IS NOTHING INHERENTLY FUNNY ABOUT GOING TO WORK IN PYJAMAS), but it is still a good cause and this is a lovely initiative to raise money. Brand / design agency MultiAdaptor will, for a small donation, design YOU your own personal logo. If you’re one of those insufferable squawking inanities that likes to talk about your ‘personal brand’ this is your lucky day.
  • If Superheroes Got SponsorshipNot sure if I quite agree with some of these. I always thought Batman would be Audi, personally, or maybe BMW. 
  • Vinyl BoomboxHow Hackney isn’t already overrun by people carrying these I will never know.
  • BureaucraticsFascinating photoseries of civil servants worldwide. I think there’s a certain similar cast to the eyes, though that might be projection on my part.
  • Children and their PossessionsAnother globetrotting photoproject, this one looking at children from all over the world and capturing them with their favourite things. Not only rather cute, but also a (unsurprisingly) startling look at a practical demonstration of lifestyle/value/income differentials. 
I find this really upsetting. Photo by Alma Haser

Stuff I Found That I Think Is Good / Interesting, Pt 2:

  • The Global Internet Pr0n Search Habits SurveyAn ostensibly SFW (no nudity, but I have no idea whether your employers will look askance at you should they see the words ‘MILF’ and ‘facial’ plastered (sorry) all over your screen) look at the top 10 pr0n searches in a variety of countries, regions and US states. My word, Romania, take a long, hard (sorry) look at yourself. 
  • Pr0nstars With & Without Makeup (But With Clothes)This did the rounds early this week, but if you’ve not yet seen it it’s both interesting and heartening and sad, and illustrative of exactly how illusory (if anyone needed telling) the image of women that pr0n is peddling is.
  • Creepy Sex Aid of the WeekAs with many of these things, what really puzzles me is how exactly someone arrives at the point where they think “Yes! Yes, that’s EXACTLY what I need to make my erotic life perfect!”. I mean, I know that this marks me down as incredibly vanilla, but really – A GIANT LATEX EGG LIKE ONE OF THOSE OFF ALIENS???
  • The Apogee of TwitterIt’s probably never going to be used for anything this significant ever again. I don’t think, in this person’s position, I would necessarily have shared the experience, but I am sort of grateful that he did.
  • Selfless Portraits: A cute little FB-led art project which invites people to draw the profile pictures of complete strangers from Facebook, creating a gallery of portraits inspired by no emotional connections whatsoever. There are some rather nice pics on there, although a little too much use of cheaty photoshop filters imho.
  • The AlephI’m going to have to take the description from the site itself, as otherwise I will just mangle it: “The Aleph is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges in which a man is suddenly able to see all things at once. I wanted to present a version of what The Aleph might look like now, designed as an endless stream of descriptive passages pulled from the web. For source texts, I took the complete Project Gutenberg as well as current tweets. I searched for the phrase “I saw.”” . Turn it to ‘tweets’ and lose yourself – I could read stuff like this forever, I must say (‘interesting’ thematic consistency – The Aleph, and Borges, are recurring themes in a later William Gibson cyberpunk novel called ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive‘, EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED).
  • Let Your Emotions Choose Your Playlists: This is from SXSW, and maybe should have gone up there, but it’s too odd to bury in the dull bit about social media and stuff that people tend to ignore – this is a prototype for a music system that picks music based on your brainwaves and hence your emotional state. Obviously it’s nowhere near as sophisticated or sensitive as that makes it out to be, but still…mental (B’DUM-TISH).
  • Hack Your Life With RedditA short, useful guide to which threads on Reddit are worth bothering with in terms of helpful tips. Although I don’t know whether I’d take sex tips from there, to be honest. 
  • The Smartphone BreathalyserComing soon, so it says. This is either going to save lives or it is going to lead to some absolutely insane competitive drinking games where kids compete to see who can register the highest blood alcohol levels without dying. Possibly both in parallel, which may well fulfil some sort of Darwinian function for which we should all be grateful. 
That is a LONG neck (image by Hanna Antonsson)

The Circus of Tumblrs:

  • TrollThread: Not so much a standard Tumblr as a home for an art publishing project, this collates trolling comments from internet threads, arranges them by theme, and publishes them as books. Odd but interesting.
  • People Dancing Alone to PonySo apparently this is a reference to a scene in the film ‘Magic Mike’; who knew? What’s even odder, though, is that there are so many people who have uploaded clips of themselves dancing to this, alone, in a variety of ‘sexy’ ways.
  • Rare or Unpublished National Geographic Pictures: Some great photos from the National Geographic archives collected here. I particularly like the one of the Russian lion-tamer.
  • Ants: A series of gifs showcasing the crazy, violent, brutal and short world of the ant. More interesting than it sounds, honest, though not great if you are a bit freaked out by mandibles and stuff.

LONG Reads

  • Tumblr As ArtA piece commissioned by the Tumblr Art Symposium mentioned here last week (and which you can watch a stream of here). I’m not going to lie – this is VERY long and VERY artwanky, but also interesting as an illustration of how almost universal access to publishing platforms and copy culture is having a transformative effect on art in much the same democratising fashion as the mass-availability of the camera did. This quote which I stumbled across this morning seems relevant, in any case.
  • Oh, And On  A Semi-related NoteThis is an interview with Kenneth Goldsmith, MoMa’s 1st Poet Laureate, again looking at copy culture and appropriation, and containing this awesome, and very true, quote (I don’t imagine my approbation is that surprising): “You see, we are faced with a situation in which the managing of information has become more important than creating new and original information. Take Boing Boing, for instance. They’re one of the most powerful blogs on the web, but they don’t create anything, rather they filter the morass of information and pull up the best stuff. The fact of Boing Boing linking to something far outweighs the thing that they’re linking to. The new creativity is pointing, not making. Likewise, in the future, the best writers will be the best information managers.”
  • What Makes Parody Twitter Accounts WorkCLUE: It’s not about being first to an obvious gag. This is a really interesting look at the creative process behind a few of the more successful / lauded parody accounts and what makes them successful. Quite a lot of hard work, unsurprisingly.
  • Extreme Urban Exploration: You may recall these pictures from a year or so ago, taken by intrepid urban explorers who broke into the Shard  – this piece in US GQ speaks with them and other pioneers of urban exploration from elsewhere in the world. The whole political side of this stuff is fascinating, I think – the right to take risks, etc etc.
  • A Very Strange Tale About Drugs Smuggling and a Potential Nobel PrizeThe headline to this NYT piece is pretty much unbeatable – The Professor, The Model and the Suitcase Full of Trouble. Very clever people really can be outstandingly thick sometimes. 
  • The Man Behind The Meme(s): Who invented the meme? Well, yes, Richard Dawkins. But in a slightly less obvious way, maybe this person did – back in the day when making FUNNY videos from source material involved razorblades and VHS machines and a lot of patience. A look back at how remix culture began and some perspectives on where it’s going – links back rather interestingly to the Tumblr/art debate above.
  • Cypherpunk and SurveillanceYou know the whole debate about privacy and how much the internet knows about us and stuff? Well it’s probably already too late. Ignore the horrific term ‘Cypherpunk’ – this is morelike social history than it is geekery, and is frankly quite scary if you look at it too closely. 
  • Who’s Watching You?Continuing this week’s (apparent) theme of ‘creepy stuff about the internet and technology’, this is a really unsettling piece on webcam hijackers and the practice of RATTING. Might make you think twice about sitting naked at your laptop (or it might not – I have no idea what you’re into, after all).
  • Miss USA in Seedy, Horrible SHOCKERI don’t imagine that anyone’s going to be all that surprised that a multi-million dollar beauty pageant business owned by Donald ‘Charming’ Trump is anything other than a bastion of moral rectitude, but in case you needed the scales pulling from your eyes then this article should do a pretty good job. Ugh. GRUBBY.
  • Big Narstie vs EastEnders: So Big Narstie is a UK Grime musician who’s become moderately well known in part through his music but moreso through his Twitter commentaries on EastEnders, which he approaches with a dedication and emotional commitment that at times borders on zealotry. Even though it’s been about 15 years since I was into show (I always thought that the Mitchell Brothers’ car chase and subsequent watery escape was the series very own ‘jump the shark‘ moment) I still found this very, very funny.


Image by Bernard Plossu


1) We kick off this week with a longform documentary on Belle & Sebastian’s awesome second album ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’, for which I offer no apologies. This is long and to be savoured (if you’re a fan – if you’re not, it will probably leave you cold and you should go onto the next one which is weird and has breasts in it). I’ve always thought that Belle & Sebastian had one of the more oddly diverse fanbases in music – from skinny, pallid betwetters like me, to people like a bloke I once knew in Swindon who was a bit psychopathic and used to keep bottles of his own urine in his bedroom (B&S were the only thing we had in common, fyi). Anyway:

2) This was sent to me and another Twitter person on Wednesday, with the accompanying message “I saw this and thought of you”. THANKS! This is apparently an advert for a Russian workwear clothing brand called “We Cum”. To be honest, it could be anything – it has a strange poetic beauty all of its own:

3) By way of an apology, have this – an incredible combination of graffiti and camerawork and animation which, I guarantee, will properly drop your jaw around halfway in. Seriously, watch:

4) This is Earl Sweatshirt’s latest, and features a lot of the traditional OFWGKTA tropes – skateboards, jackassisms, dense flow (I can’t help but feel self-consciously stupid writing that, but hey ho) and a barely contained sense of menace. It’s very good, I think:

5) You’d expect a song titled ‘Evil Friends’ to have a somewhat sinister video, and this doesn’t disappoint. The song is AWESOME, though, and the video from artists Portugal The Man is a little creepy but also does some quite cool stuff in terms of recreating the imagery of photos and gifs within moving images. Ahhh, PSEUDERY!:

6) This week’s slice of 80s-film-inspired Goonies/Mad Max-esque film comes courtesy of Wavves, whose songs I’ve always liked but who I’ve always found it hard to warm to. No different with this one, but the accompanying clip will make you want to watch a long-form film version and there’s no higher compliment. The song itself is also very good indeed, which helps:

7) What do you get if you combine Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (and Bambi) with Top Gun, and turn the whole into a story about Tom Cruise wreaking vengeance on woodland creatures for no clearly defined reason? This, it turns out. Aerodisney, by Africa Pseudobrutismus:

8) Cartoon ducks. At a rave. Drawn in the slightly unpleasantly lysergic style of an unsteady-handed Ralph Bakshi. This is “It’s My Beak” by Libythyth:

9) Finally, this is a beautiful and romantic and slightly sad/wistful short by Gustav Johansson. Get a cup of tea and watch it with someone you like a lot. It’s called ‘Everyday’:


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 22/02/13

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Pete Birkinshaw, CC licence

Well, the future is here. A future in which we as a species are overwhelmed my a raft of incredibly tawdry first-person bongo flicks. Come on, we all know that within a matter of hours of Google Glass being made available to the general public there will be a comedically-named website compiling the hundreds of thousands of ‘erotic’ home movies which the world’s exhibitionists have seen fit to foist on us. Don’t try and fight it, it’s what we’ve been evolving towards for millennia. Not that any of the people shilling for a test pair will admit it – can someone please make a more accurate version of this Twitter feed, please? Thanks.

But that’s not all that’s happened this week. We’ve seen another, almost even more scifi, aspect of the future unveiled; we’ve seen the media gripped by a debate that has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that here in the UK our own media are engaged in an almost daily attempt to troll us; we’ve moved a week closer to being able to wave goodbye to good ‘ol Benny and start looking forward to his successor; we’ve hopefully finished with the whole bloody Harlem Shake thing (as an aside, is this a new record for the time taken for a meme moving from new and fresh to insufferably played out?); we’ve revisited and remixed one of the more odious advertising trends of the 90s; we’ve arrived at what can only be described as the apotheosis of televisual entertainment; we’ve perfected the cat delivery system which the internet has been waiting for; the line between advertising and horror became blurred to the point of indistinguishability; and I discovered the ULTIMATE version of Believe by Cher (no joke).

All of that OBVIOUSLY pales into insignificance before the majesty of all the rest of the stuff that’s been going on now, which I’m about to tell you about in migraine-inducing detail (prepare the darkened room now, you may need it). Don’t worry, though – I, and by extension Web Curios, am on holiday next week, so you have a whole extra 7 days in which to recover from this edition. Oh, in the meantime, should anyone want the two spare tickets I’ve got to see Momus on Friday 1st March in East London then please get in touch with me on Twitter. He gives great gig, honest.

Right. Let’s get to it. If we all grit our teeth we can probably survive this with only minor psychological scarring.

2) Next, by way of a mood change, is the excellent Watsky. Watsky became famous a couple of years back thanks to this frankly incredible little bedroom recording, and has an excellent back catalogue of mixtapematerial. He’s coming to the UK in May – I saw him last year and he’s very good indeed. This is a song he’s done with Kate Nash (who I know is a bit Marmite, but I confess to having a massive soft spot for ‘Foundations‘), and it’s called

3) See, I told you – drone paranoia is RAMPANT in art. This is called ‘Seagulls’:

4) You may remember the band Smash Mouth, and their song All Star. Last time I heard it, it didn’t sound like this:

5) Just in case you don’t feel quite grubby enough as it is, this should help. This is by a band called Bot’Ox, and it’s called 2-4-1:

6) Darwin Deez is some sort of nerd music superstar. The video for his new song ‘You Can’t Be My Girl’ is composed of stock footage and is charming – enjoy:

7) The video’s a bit so-so, unless you’re a particular fan of VHS-style video, but this is a perfect 2-minute pop song. Warm Soda with Busy Lizzie:

8) The lyrics here are a *bit* iffy, I think, but the fact that the artist has a puppet of himself (which reminds me of Franklin from Arrested Development) makes it a winner in my eyes. Antwon with 3rd World Grrl (well, yes, exactly):

9) There was a lot of good animation this week, including this lovely short called ‘My Strange Grandfather‘, and this technically stunning WWII zombie short called ‘Paths of Hate‘ – I’m closing out with this one, though, as it gave me proper goosebumps. It might be a bit emo for your tastes, but the technical artistry in the animation is incredible even if the poetry isn’t your thing – give it a go and see what you think – this is To This Day by Shane Koyczan:

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.