Webcurios 06/12/13

Reading Time: 25 minutes

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Jabba the hut
Oxpens Road, Oxford

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

By Pim Palsgraaf


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



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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it for now


That’s it for now – see you next week
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