Webcurios 10/01/14

Reading Time: 23 minutes

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

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

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


By BJ Heinley


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



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



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



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


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

By Lucy Glendinning



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


That’s it for now – see you next week.
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