Webcurios 04/10/13

Reading Time: 23 minutes

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

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


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



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


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


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



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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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