Webcurios 11/12/15

Reading Time: 30 minutes

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Alex Liivet, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexmartin81/21467769946/

I went to Amsterdam! It was fun! We played videogames and smoked weed and did mushrooms and all those sorts of stereotypical Amsterdam-type things – what LARKS!

Then last weekend my little brother died and the glow of carefree fun sort of wore off a bit.

WOAH! Big downer there, sorry. You’re here for a good time, not a hard time, right? RIGHT! Carry on reading and get stuck into the links, as there are lots of them and some of them are even quite good.

This may, or may not, be the last Curios of the year. If it is, then THANKS FOR READING, ALL OF YOU. You’re all very kind. If it’s not, then no thanks whatsoever you ingrates.

Anyway, let’s once more stare into the abyss – it’s not staring back, you dreadful solipsists, the abyss couldn’t give a flying one about you, you know. This, possibly for the final time in 2015, is WEB CURIOS!

By Tim Tadder



  • Facebook Launches Live Video & Collages: You know how upsetting it was when Facebook decided to give famouses the opportunity to livestream their every move on the platform but denied it to the little man? I know, right? Well weep no more! EVERYONE can now share live video of their existence to a largely indifferent audience thanks to this recent update; not only this, but we can all now make nice little grid-type collections of photos and videos for our profiles, too. This will be briefly diverting as people discover the opportunity to record and stream their mad Friday night chipshop bants, and then will join the oubliette of other forgotten features that noone wanted or needed in the first place. Or at least I hope that’s the case, as frankly the alternative, in which this becomes a THING and everyone starts livestreaming their trip to the shops and suchlike, is too unspeakably tawdry to contemplate.
  • Facebook Trialing Selling Tickets Through Event Pages: You don’t really need much more of an explanation that this, do you? It’s only being trialed in the SF Bay Area, so it’s not like it actually means anything to you, in any case. 
  • FB Tweaks Ads in Instant Articles: Potentially – but only potentially – of interest to those of you working on the publishing side of things (“But Matt,” you cry, “we’re all publishers now!”. Know that I wish you nothing but ill), Facebook have rejigged the ads inside their Instant Articles to make them marginally less of a screw for publishers – aside from anything else, the stories will now give the opportunity to link to other content from the same outlet from an Instant Article, which goes some way towards remedying the ‘no, you can’t have any traffic from us, sorry ahahahahaha’ situation which was punitively affecting those using the service. Oh, and it’s launched in Asia, too, look!
  • The Year on Facebook: All of the things the world cared about! Or at least those things that were most discussed by people with a Facebook Page. Unsurprisingly, given the overall tenor of the year as a whole, it’s not hugely cheering.
  • Twitter Experimenting With Non-Chronological Timeline: Twitter continues to make baffling business decisions on an almost weekly basis; this one’s been in the pipeline for a while, but it’s the first time I’ve seen reports of it in the wild. Only a trial at the moment, and only for certain users, this is the shift towards an algorithmically-curated Twitter stream rather than the existing ‘newest stuff at the top’ version which exists now and which has led to the platform becoming the darling of media without actually needing the user numbers to back it up. You know how many people want a platform that does exactly what Facebook and Instagram do but with fewer people they know or care about using it? None! 
  • Twitter Introduces Non-Cropped Photos To Timelines: So that’s at least one less thing that Community Managers have to worry about when posting pictures – you no longer have to content with a potentially humiliating letterbox effect blacking out some of your carefully-sourced BRANDED IMAGERY. I mean, you also won’t get much more than one tweet per mobile screen with this sort of image-heavy setup, which sort of kills the point of the platform as a way you can quickly and easily scan for stuff that is happening right now, but let’s not worry about that right now. Oh, and you can make collage-type things on Twitter too, much like the Facebook announcement above, because why not eh?
  • Advertise on Moments For $1million A Go: Or at least that’s the figure that’s being bandied about, which is pretty mental really. 
  • Promoted Tweets To Be Served To Logged-Out Users: This is actually pretty smart – Twitter’s testing the ability to punt ads at people who aren’t logged into – or don’t have an account with – the platform, by serving promoted Tweets to people checking out a users’ timeline or a search, etc. Clever, and actually a potentially useful targeting option given the fact that the Venn diagram of ‘people who use Twitter’ and ‘normal, everyday folk’ doesn’t actually offer that much crossover. 
  • The Year On Twitter: Really, really dull, but I’m a completist. Guess what? Everything was rubbish on Twitter too!
  • Google Makes It Easy For Everyone To Make 360-degree VR-type Photos: Actually pretty cool, this, and if you’re a brand with good photo opps (sport, fashion, etc) then you might want to take a look. Google last week released an app which lets any Android user take a 360-degree panoramic-type photo which can then be viewed through Google’s Cardboard viewers as a whole sort of immersive VR-type EXPERIENCE, complete with an audio track and stuff. You could have some fun with this. 
  • Google Potentially Sort of Doing Pinterest: This didn’t get a lot of pickup when it was announced a week or so back, which is perhaps because it’s never going to take off. Still, it’s an interesting move and one which I’d be a touch nervous about were I Pinterest – Google’s basically going to let users save images from a Google Image Search in collections, exactly as you can do on Pinterest (but without the avocado fetish, presumably). Aside from anything else, this is an excellent opportunity to sell your stupid clients a VISUAL SEO STRATEGY because they won’t know that it’s all made-up rubbish (probably). 
  • YouTube’s Ads of the Year: Seemingly the only good ads this year were aimed at white Westerners, or at least that’s what the work here presented would largely seem to suggest. A tedious and uninspiring collection of agency spaff which you’ve either already seen at Cannes or which you haven’t seen because it’s so North American. Thanks, Google!
  • Snapchat Deeplinks Now Possible: If you put stuff on Snapchat, you can now link directly to that stuff on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Which is of little or no interest to normal people, but if you, like me, spend a lot of time fretting about whether or not your multiplatform content strategy is as joined up as it should be then you will be rubbing yourself raw in excitement at this SEISMIC ANNOUNCEMENT. 
  • BOW TO THE FOUNDERS: Just as we’ve all become heartily sick of the word ‘Millennial’, so comes another generic and largely meaningless term to encapsulate the behavioural and emotional patterns of a whole generation of people – thanks, MTV, for bringing us the concept of ‘Founders’, the post-millennial generation, whose adolescences have been lived through the prism of social media and who can’t imagine a time without smartphones and who are all about MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. Apparently they are going to REBUILD SOCIETY once the millennials are done disrupting it. Great, I’ll look forward to that, then. The most chilling thing about the piece, and there are lots of pull-quotes I could have gone for here, is the line about them being ‘slightly more risk-averse’ than there millennial forebears, meaning we can look forward to a continuation of the media’s obsession with generic, safe, floppy-haired, kind-eyed androgynes for the foreseeable future. It’s a great time to be a YouTuber. 
  • The FKA Twigs Shop: Included solely because I adore the UX on this site, and because someone referred to her this week as dressing a bit like someone on their way to a mid-90s rave, which I liked very much indeed. 
  • The MS Paint Billboard: A nice idea, in a sort of ‘hey, look, let’s do something really INTERNET and then the INTERNET will wang on about it in the INTERNET’s charming self-referential way’ (which, er, is exactly what I’m doing, so I suppose it sort of worked), but one which was slightly stymied by the fact that they obviously couldn’t afford the prime Shoreditch billboard placement which would have made the most sense and instead were forced by budgetary constraints to erect it in…er…Millwall. 
  • YouTube Sidebars For Charity: I LOVE THIS IDEA. Not sure if it ever actually got done or whether it’s just an agency concept, but either way it is eminently stealable by any charity that cares to do so, this is a beautifully simple premise; given that so many videos are uploaded to YouTube which have been shot vertically on phones, and given that this leaves large amounts of screen real-estate blank, why not give charities the opportunity to use said blank real-estate to raise awareness of their cause. It’s SUCH a nice idea – you upload a video via the website and it uploads it to YouTube with the blank bits used as a canvas for charity campaigns. Seriously, someone (anyone) take this and make it a BIG THING. 
By Lola Dupre




  • Your Spotify Year In Music: You want it to be all grime and electro, but it will in fact be Adele and Bieber. You know it, just embrace it. The idea of a ‘guilty pleasure’ is for cnuts, anyway.

  • Christmas For Syria: I am aware that this marks me down as a dangerous pinko lefty liberal – this may not be a surprise to you, in fairness – but I’m sort of the opinion that there’s not that much about bombing a nation that could really be described as redolent of the Christmas spirit, such as it is. This site suggests a cash donation to the people of Syria rather than one of BAE Systems’ finest, based on a percentage of the likely value of your meal or your gifts.

  • Common Sans: A typeface which replaces the word ‘refugee’ with the word ‘human’ in everything you write, because refugees are people too DO YOU SEE????

  • Crack & Cider: SUCH a dreadful name for this campaign, which is a shame as the idea is a lovely one. Inspired by the common trope that there’s no point giving money to the homeless as all they would spend it on is crack and cider – and, frankly, what of it? That’s mostly what I spend my wages on, after all, and noone has the temerity to give me crap about it (or if they do I am too boxed to tell) – this site lets you give money to buy specific articles for London’s homeless which will be distributed to them over the Christmas period. A Good Thing.

  • Shiftwear: Trainers with customisable lights in them – or at least the idea of trainers with customisable lights in them – were very much a THING this year; here’s the latest crowdfunding initiative, which basically looks like total vaporware because, really, how long could the batteries potentially last on these multicoloured LED kicks? That was a rhetorical question, by the way – I don’t care in the slightest.

  • Breadfaceblog: The Instagram feed EVERYONE is talking about (ish, sort of), in which a woman inexplicably faceplants into various different types of bread, over and over and over again. The sort of thing I can imagine Marina Abramovich or Yoko Ono being slightly irked that they didn’t come up with first.

  • The Noise Archive: A truly VAST collection of audio, this – a huge collection of torrentable files of old ‘noise’ – as the description puts it, much of the stuff in here is on the…er…’avant garde’ end of the spectrum, but if you fancy a whole host of stuff to play around with then this is a truly BRILLIANT collection of oddities from the 80s and 90s.

  • The Rave Tapes: This week’s second incredible treasure trove of music for old people, this is basically every single one of the old 90s rave cassettes in one place – Dreamscape, Helter Skelter, Pandemonium…all the ones you remember from the puffa jacketed, Naff Naff-clad days of yore. If you’re over 35, this is basically a time capsule to when you had an undercut and not a care in the world; if you’re under-35, consider this proof that the drugs really were good back then because, seriously, some of this is truly DREADFUL.

  • Google’s Santa Tracker: Where is that fat lie? Well, he’s not taken off yet, but while you wait you can play all sorts of festive games and timewasters on Google’s very nicely-made, if preposterously saccharine, Christmas gimmick. New CONTENT every day between now and Christmas, should you need something to distract your sticky-fingered, jam-faced progeny from asking for yet more STUFF from you.

  • WhatsBot: This is really clever, and I can see it (or things like it) very much becoming a THING – it purports to be the first WhatsApp? AI personal assistant, which may or may not be true, but the idea’s really smart. Add it to a conversation between multiple parties and the bot will suggest somewhere mutually convenient for you all to meet up, based on triangulating your locations and pulling recommendations from 4sq (how quaint, right?). If I were McDonald’s or Nando’s or Starbucks I would TOTALLY rip this off (which is probably why I work for none of those people).

  • The Eliketion: Yes, OK, it’s US politics, but this is a really interesting piece of datascraping ad analysis, using data on each Presidential nominees Facebook likes to trak their popularity and their visibility across the varying debates. Oh, and seeing as we’re on it, it is literally impossible for Trump to be elected President so can we all PLEASE STOP GIVING THAT DREADFUL CNUT THE PUBLICITY HE SO EVIDENTLY CRAVES? He is a sideshow, a distraction; a horrendous one, yes, but he is not politically relevant.

  • WripWrapWrop: Dreadful name, but if you want to get a little bit of revenge on your employer for another year of tedious, underremunerated wageslavery then you could do worse than this, which lets you map wrapping paper designs onto A3/A4 and print them using a standard laserjet and, inevitably, utterly rinse the toner from the workplace machine. YEAH! Take THAT! You will of course look like a total cheapskate, but you will also have saved literally pounds, so who’s laughing? EH????

  • Open Prescribing: Bit dull, this, sorry, but it’s sort of interesting as a case study. UK prescription data, made available online – look, everyone, it’s BIG DATA in action! If nothing else you can probably make some GREAT spurious correlations around the increase in certain drug prescriptions and unrelated social trends. Has there been a marked increase in prescriptions of antidepressant medication in the UK as the popularity of Facebook has increased? I BET THERE HAS YOU KNOW.

  • Making Video Calls In Minecraft: I am in AWE of this. So incredibly geeky, and so incredibly clever. Also smart sponsorship of the vid by the phonepeople.

  • Pico8: Basically a miniature virtual console which lets you program tiny, pixellated little games into it which can then be shared with other users. If you’re a maker of games, the limitations inherent in the platform may make for an interesting design challenge.

  • The Best Gifs of 2015: Look, I have no idea if these are the actual best, but they are all very nice and the animation styles are lovely and a bit whimsical and they sort of have that pastel-y 2d cut-out aesthetic that is very BIG right now, so just enjoy them and shut up and leave me alone.

  • The Self-drying Jacket: You may be thinking ‘hang on, don’t ALL clothes dry themselves eventually? The people backing this on Kickstarter must be IDIOTS!’, and you’d be right, but let’s not let that small issue stop us from marvelling at the sheer preposterousness of an article of clothing which is apparently being designed with a built-in hardryer (effectively). Back To The Future has SO MUCH to answer for.

  • Bobbugs: Each and every day, this man posts a photo of himself to his Instagram feed with a different ‘disguise’ (if you can call, for example, being covered in post-it notes a disguise). The ingenuity here is impressive, as are the pictures themselves.

  • The Art Baby Gallery: An online space for artists working with the internet s their primary medium, there is a LOT of stuff buried in here. They take submissions, so you if you do that sort of spangly seapunky internet art thing you may well find a home for it.

  • Performing Arts With Google: Continuing the rollout of the Google Cultural Institute, this site collects all of the 360degree videos and other webgubbins from a variety of performing arts organisations worldwide, from the Berlin Philharmonic to the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma to the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). It’s sometimes hard to remember amongst all the privacyhorror and tax evasion that Google still does truly remarkable stuff like this.

  • Sello: Either a great or a terrible idea, not sure which (and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sort of trenchant analysis which brings literally tens of you flocking here every week), Sello is an online sales platform which lets you flog stuff to your friends on social media. Chuckup a picture, a price and a description, and watch as your ‘BUY MY STUFF NOW’ spam gets punted out through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (and a whole load of other platforms too). Quite a lot of potential here for post-breakup LOLs if nothing else.

  • Gay Pulp Paperback Covers of the 70s: There’s a brilliant uniformity of style to this collection; LOOK AT THE SEXY 1970s GAYS! Some of the titles are, it’s fair to say, not hugely subtle in their message – ‘Big Pipe’, anyone?

  • Small World In Motion: Nikon do an annual ‘Small World’ photo competition which I have featured on here before, showcasing ultra-closeuyp photos of microorganisms and the like – this is the video equivalent. If you like the idea of videos of wobbling bacillae, then this will be RIGHT up your street (and even if you don’t, these are very cool indeed).

  • Slide Camera: SUPER-NEW iPhone app which lets you easily take those slightly wobbly 3d-effect pictures – you know, the ones which give a crazy depth-of-field illusion whilst simultaneously making you feel a bit sick with their wobbling. Really easy to use, by all accounts – just tap the screen and move the phone a bit and HEY PRESTO, a 3d gif. Worth playing with if you’re running out of gimmicks for your Instagram feed.

  • How A Car Works: If your kid wants to be a mechanic, this is a GREAT site. Alternatively, if you’re taking the bastard vehicle to Quik Fit this weekend and want to be marginally less intimidated by the grease-covered menials muttering significantly about the ‘big end’ or similar then this might be of use.

  • Higher Tides: A really slick website which wins this week’s ‘Oh-So-Ballardian’ award for dystopian satire, Higher Tides is the website for a fictitious estate agency whose usp purports to be its approach to investment in property in areas which will be affected by global warming – the idea being that you can invest in a (tall) house in an area which is likely to suffer from flooding, with a view to your property appreciating vastly in value as everyone around you starts to drown. Obviously a joke, but not quite obviously enough to stop engadget and a few other sites reporting on it as if it were true, this is an excellent example of how to make a really well-put-together piece of satire – the rabbithole is DEEP with this one. Also, and I know I keep on saying this but it bears repeating,additional proof that we now live in a society where it is almost impossible to come up with something so ridiculous and dreadful that it is obviously a joke; EVERYTHING is plausible, which I’m sure is a situation that deserves its own nomenclature. A post-satirical society or something, I don’t know, you do the thinking for once, I am so, so tired of it all.

  • The Information Is Beautiful Awards: Every year I link to these and every year I say something like ‘those things you keep calling infographics and datavisualisations; they are neither, they are just ugly pieces of shit you’re making to justify the existence of your content calendar’ and every year the same old crap keeps getting made and would you all just STOP PLEASE? Ahem. Anyway, some great work on display here, as per usual – this, for example, is almost breathtakingly lovely and just WORKS.

  • Dewdrop: Ephemeral filesharing. Upload a file to the page, it generates a download link which only exists for as long as the uploader wants it to; you can turn off the link whenever you choose. Not only good for sharing sensitive information without a trace, but also lots of potentially funn implications for dead letterbox-style game-type things.

  • OldWeb Today: Work with a bunch of CHILDREN? Why not milk your status as an old timer of the internet by showing the kids exactly how rubbish the internet used to be, with this website which allows you to view any page as it would look on a selection of old browsers (from Netscape onwards). If you’re one of the aforementioned kids, check out what we had to put up with. It’s a miracle this internet thing took off at all, frankly.

  • 25 Days Of…: Rendered almost completely useless by the fact that I only found it a week into December, this is still a rather slick little ‘make your own bespoke advent calendar site with gifs and stuff’ toy which frankly can and should be repurposed to be a non-Christmas thing as the effects you can pull together are surprisingly fancy-looking.

By Karl Holmqvist



  • The Emoji Sentiment Ranking: One of the main problems with emoji-only communication, aside from the fact that it marks you down as an intellectually deficient mouthbreather, is that it’s so AMBIGUOUS. What did your bae mean when they sent you the aubergine followed by the smiley poo? Oh God, the mere fact of writing that phrase made me feel a very real sense of futurepresenthorror. Anyway, eliminate all possible misconceptions of your emoji-ing thanks to this objectively compiled ranking of all emoji by their perceived sentiment, from happy to sad. Based on an actual academic paper so, you know, OBVIOUSLY REAL AND TRUE.

  • Playlist Buddy: Turn any Spotify playlist into a YouTube playlist. No, I don’t know why you’d want to do that either, but maybe you’re planning on having a party and need something for people to stare at when the drugs kick in or something.

  • Weather Is Happening: Categorically, hands-down the best weather-related website to ever be featured on Curios. PRETTY BIG KUDOS THERE.

  • The 5,000 Colour Puzzle: This is pretty much the Everest of jigsaw puzzles, I think (except from those weird masochistic ones that are all white or all black) – each piece is a different colour, and when arranged they form one of those lovely gradient palette things. Easier to understand than explain (it’s not just me being a terrible writer, honest), this is potentially the greatest gift ever or actual torture, I’m undecided.

  • QR Life: Finally, a purpose for QR codes – scan them with this app and turn them into pleasing games of Life. No, I realise that it doesn’t magically make them useful, but there are limits.

  • The NASA APIs: Make stuff with spacedata. If nothing else, the potential for Deep Space bots is pretty big – maybe you could create something that sends pictures of the infinite incomprehensible majesty of space to anyone who mentions One Direction, say, just to broaden their horizons a bit.

  • The Belly Bump Ball: Giant raspberry suits, designed so that grown men and women can hurl themselves at each other without fear of damage. Obviously totally ridiculous, but made even more so by the description which suggests that they were designed as a way for adults and children to explore confrontation in a safe and non-violent manner. IMAGINE THE FAMILY THERAPY SESSIONS THAT WOULD RESULT! I suggest you buy a few forthwith for the awkward drunken arguments that will doubtless ensue over Christmas.

  • An Incomprehensible And Odd YouTube Channel: Whoever this woman is, she appears to upload on average 3-6 videos a day, some of which are honestly really unsettling. Can someone, anyone, please help me work out what in the name of Christ is going on here please? WHO ARE YOU, RUSSIAN MAD LADY, AND HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?!

  • Pinrose: A nice gimmick, this site purports to identify the perfect scent for you based on a series of questions – they will then sell you your perfect stink based on its reading of your personality. Obviously it’s a fudge – a bit like those lifestyle questionnaires from women’s magazines in days of yore, or the Facebook profile analysers beloved of double-figure-IQ revenants from your long-forgotten schooldays, but I think there’s a market for this faux-personalisation which could be explored by lots of other brands with moderately customisable products.

  • Illusions of the Body: A series of photos illustrating the difference posture can make to a person’s attractiveness. Lovely shots, though they’re all nudes and so I suppose NSFW (but, as I always say at this point, if anyone you work with finds this offensive you should probably get another job as your colleagues are DICKS, mate).

  • Another New Beautiful Tube Map: Gorgeous, and available as prints and posters. Can’t make head nor tail of it, personally, but it is very pretty indeed.

  • Aerocene: A…perplexing art project, which as far as I can tell is seeking to create a host of giant sort of bubble-type things and float them around the world like gigantic solar-powered sky jellyfish (which is what I would have called the project, personally. From the blurb: “Aerocene manifests as a series of air-fuelled sculptures that will achieve the longest, emission-free journey around the world: becoming buoyant only by the heat of the Sun and infrared radiation from the surface of Earth. The sculpture floats without burning fossil fuels, without using solar panels and batteries; and without helium, hydrogen and other rare gases.  Aerocene holds a message of simplicity, creativity and cooperation for a world of tumultuous geopolitical relations,reminding us of our symbiotic relationship with the Earth and all its species.” What’s not to love about that?

  • 10 x 2015: A lovely project, taking artists’ selection of the ten ‘best’ albums of the year and inviting said artists to create new covers for them. If nothing else, a lovely source of visual inspiration (and a decent source of music recommendations because, as you’d expect, there’s a lot of wilful obscurantism going on in the selections).

  • The Privacy Gift Shop: A collection of posters, available for sale, which highlight concerns around online privacy. I am a particular fan of the one which reads “Fcuk My Like”, should anyone want to purchase it for me.

  • Turning Everything Into Manga With Deep Dream: The Trump one is sort of incredible.

  • Fractal Gears: Erm, just that really.

  • All Of Estonia’s Library Checkouts: Hot on the heels of the Japanese library controversy (WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU MISSED IT???) comes yet another startling booklending-related project; Estonia’s continuing quest to be the most digital country in Europe continues apace, with this simple website showing a live map of library books being checked out across the country. I would love to see this for the UK – can someone make it for me please? Ta.

  • Figma: Launching next year, this is a collaborative interface design tool which I imagine several of you working in digital studios might find quite useful.

  • Deep Forger: Send this bot your pictures and it will Deep Dream them into the style of a variety of artistic masters. Pretty amazing stuff.

  • Woobots: OBVIOUSLY this has been funded already, OBVIOUSLY. Wooden versions of Transformers for mid-30s hipsters? What could be more Kickstarter, right? Anyway, including this here as there are just over two days left for you to get in on the ground floor of this INCREDIBLE THING. I personally think that the robots look quite shonky tbqhwy, but I’m feeling a touch curmudgeonly this week and may not be in the best position to appreciate their unique aesthetic qualities *checks again* no, they really are pretty rubbish.

  • 83 Free Albums!: I mean, ok, yes, you only get them on Christmas Day, and you won’t have heard of any of them, and yes, they do all appear to be Quebecois, but come on, FREE MUSIC! This is actually a really nice idea, giving away music from a variety of Francophone Canadian labels as a Christmas gift and musical primer – one out of 83 sort of has to be good, doesn’t it? Oh.

  • A Lover Sings: The Billy Bragg fan community that you never knew you wanted or needed, this is shonky and yet all the more lovely for it; memories and anecdotes and stories about Bragg’s songs and their lyrics and what they mean to people. God, I love the wonky-faced bastard.

  • Santa’s Shed: I think I have featured this on here in previous years, but in case you missed it last time around this is once again the creepiest Christmas thing on the internet – a live feed of a mechanical Santa, in what looks like a shed somewhere in the US, which you can get to ‘say’ things by typing into the textbox. Right now it’s 3am wherever Santa is, and I just had a diverting few seconds of getting the horrifying spastic puppet (no, really, I am using that word absolutely appropriately I assure you) to say “Save me” and “I hate Christmas”. You too can share my joy!

  • Boris Ignatovich: The most beautiful website dedicated to a 20th Century Russian avant-garde photographer there has probably ever been, this is actually fascinating both from the point of view of webwork but also as a lens through which to view Soviet history and the development of an aesthetic movement. Rewards spending a bit of time with it, this one.

  • The Unpack: This is quite a brilliant lazy rich person’s service. Subscribe to The Unpack and each time you travel you can forget about bothering to take luggage with you – the service will provide you with a suitcase full of laundered designer gear, dropped off at your destination to meet you, all appropriately selected for the prevailing weather you’ll be experiencing and supposedly all hand-picked to make you look hot. Items can be purchased at discount rates if you like them, or simply returned at the end of the trip. This is SUCH a rich person’s service, but I can totally see the appeal – I could very easily see single brands doing something similar (a TopShop version would KILL, I reckon).

  • Luncher: You know that tedious joke where people say “I’m not on Twitter because I don’t care to know what you had for lunch” and then laugh like Boycey off Only Fools and Horses because, invariably, it’s people like that who say those sorts of things? Well now you can say “AHA! Well actually there’s a specific app for that and it’s called Luncher so IN YOUR FACE” and then turn a bright shade of red and realise that you actually despise confrontation and will now be too embarrassed to ever actually speak to that person ever again. Erm. Luncher is a network which actively encourages people to upload photos oftheir lunch, which can then be voted on to find the day’s BEST MEAL, which then wins points and prizes. The sort of thing which feels more like an overzealous attempt to get ENGAGEMENT amongst a multi-office employeebase than an actual thing that real people might want to use, but what do I know?

  • The Yule Log 2015: A selection of Christmassy animations, all in one place. I mean, many of them have nothing at all to do with Christmas that I can see, but the standard is pretty high overall and, look, you’re going to need stuff to distract you over the coming weeks so take what you’re damn well given, ok? OK????

  • Tagzaa: Fun little Instagram-based game which shows you a selection of pics culled from the platform and asks you to guess which hashtag they have in common. CLUE: It’s probably fcuking ‘wellness’ or somesuch anodyne lifestyle crap. IT WILL NOT STOP YOU DYING YOU KNOW.

  • Slap Kirk: Absolutely the most satisfying website on here this week. You’re welcome.

  • Tunity: I think this might actually be magic. Tunity is an INREDIBLE app which lets you ‘scan’ any muted TV with your phone, identifies the channel that the TV is showing, and then lets you stream that channel’s audio on your phone – meaning you can listen to a muted TV on your headphones. The site makes all sorts of claims for usage in bars, etc, but surely this is the best solution EVER to domestic arguments about people who have the volume up too FCUKING loud and who don’t understand that reading is better than watching TV and that they should just please be quiet please oh god why won’t everything just be quiet the noises.

  • Speak Up And Stay Safe: A depressingly necessary guide to dealing with online harassment – techniques to protect yourself and your family from the unwanted attentions of internet hatemobs, because, whether you like it or not, if you don’t do this stuff then noone else is going to help you.

  • Cook Your Pet: I mean, this has to be a joke. Doesn’t it?

  • A 60s Guide To Sex From Japan: Based on this, it’s a miracle that anyone got born at all in 60s Japan. There is some nudity in here, true, but it’s SO staid and awkward. The guide to handholding actually made me do a bit of an emosad, it’s so poignant.

  • Drunk Series: Short films, written and performed by drunk people. Funnier than you’d expect, though I get the impression that they are playing up the boozing a bit for effect (either that or they are total lightweights).

  • The Top 100 News Images of the Year: These are about exactly as harrowing as you would expect, based on the complete and total shitshow that has been 2015. Some great shots, but don’t expect there to be a barrel of laughs once you click. Oh, and here’s a bonus selection from The Atlantic while we’re about it.

  • The Tamagotchi Singularity: What would it look like if a rudimentary AI were designed with the sole purpose of keeping a selection of Tamagotchi alive and happy indefinitely? It would look like this, is the answer. Weirdly sort of conceptually chilling, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. BONUS: Twitch Plays Tamagotchi!

  • ZType: Type words, blow up spaceships. The best little typing game I have played in ages, and the music is gorgeous.

  • Jukedeck: Another one to file under ‘possibly magical’, this site will automatically generate surprisingly tuneful original compositions based on your selection of genre and duration. You will be amazed at how listenable this stuff is, trust me.

  • Si Le Soleil: The most accomplished website of the week by a MILE, this is truly wonderful stuff. Charting a boat journey from Brittany to the Canary Islands, this is a beautiful fusion of audio and video and stills and a glorious interface and even if, like me, you care not a jot for a life on the ocean waves it is utterly beguiling. Have a play, it’s very much worth exploring.

  • Because Recollection: I think that Because Music is a French label. It doesn’t matter – this site, taking a look back at music from the past 20 years, made me really happy in what, if I’m honest, has been a week pretty much entirely free of fun. I hope it distracts you as much as it distracted me – turn up your speakers and play around with it.


By Daniel Catalano




  • Tumblr’s Year In Review: What did the Tumblr community care about in 2015? Which artists and fashion labels were big? Possibly because of the slightly odder nature of Tumblr as a community, this is several orders of magnitude more interesting than the parellel ‘year in review’ efforts from Twitter and Facebook linked to up the top.

  • Shit Duolingo Says: Odd translations requested of users by language learning app Duolingo. “I am tired of your smile” is a particular favourite of mine.

  • Chas and Dave in New York: Photos of Chas and Dave’s hitherto-unreported voyage of self-discovery in the Big Apple at the dawn of Punk. Seminal.

  • Graffi-Tips: Tips for graffiti artists, illustrated in cartoon form. Surprisingly practical, if you’re considering dusting off the aerosols and the shell-toes over Christmas.

  • Zines of the Zone: Photos of the front covers of zines. Just that. Rather nice.

  • Hectocotylus Everywhere: A tumblr, named after the technical term for an octopus’ penis, all about weird looking animals. VERY weird looking animals, it turns out.

  • Women Reacting TO Harsh Noise: So many excellent reaction shots here for you to use. Suggest bookmarking this as you will find MUCH fodder for office email BANTZ.

  • Pretty Puke: I think that this belongs to an artist in LA, but frankly it’s included because I’m a sucker for this sort of deliberately weird acid aesthetic and some of the photos are ODD.

  • Formt: Fonts and design and STUFF.

  • Dear My Blank: A collection of unsent letters, texts, emails and the like. All the things you might have wanted to say and now it’s too late and OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

  • GOP Dildos: Republican party politicians holding guns, except the guns have been replaced with giant, colourful wangs.

  • The Forest Is Real: A promo Tumblr for a forthcoming film about a Japanese forest famous as a destination for suicides, there is something pretty astonishingly tasteless about the ‘EXPLORE THE ACTUAL SUICIDES’ narrative that they have going on here, I think. Still, slick website guys!

  • Tintin In Innsmouth: Where Herge meets Lovecraft.

  • Composers Doing Normal Shit: Pretty much exactly that. Philip Glass filing his taxes, that sort of thing. Unrelated, but I walked past Sadler’s Wells this week and saw that they were advertising Swan Lake as ‘MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE’ and then, in far, far smaller type beneath, the legend ‘music by Tchaikovsky’. Hubris, much, Matty?

  • My Day With Leo: Phototricks with cut out heads of famouses and perspective.

  • Chain Texts: An incomprehensible (to me at least) collection of filthy chain texts with a Christmas theme. Are these real? Is this a THING?

  • Confused Travolta: A growing collection of that meme of a skagged-out Travolta from Pulp Fiction looking all lost which has exploded over the past week or so.





  • Making and Breaking Mork and Mindy: I loved this programme as a child; it was my first introduction to Robin Williams, and will always remind me of being small and wondering why you would call a place ‘Boulder’. Obviously it’s aged pretty dreadfully, but this oral history-type piece about its genesis and eventual decline is a lovely piece of TV nostalgia – I particularly love the fact that it sprang from an episode of post-sharkjumping Happy Days whose plot was suggested by a network exec’s kid – does that sort of stuff still happen in TV? I’m going to guess not.

  • How Elmo Ruined Sesame Street: A classic piece of internet writing, this, applying a degree of rigorous analysis to a topic that probably, on balance, doesn’t really merit it all that much. The author’s totally right, though; that little red bastard is insufferable and could do with being retired.

  • The Cult of Bill Murray: A N Other hagiographic piece about the patron saint of the internet age, this one’s no more critical than many of the others you’ll have read, but contains a better ratio of Murray anecdotes to the page than most. The one about “FRANCIS!” in Cuba is pretty astonishing and is worth reading the piece for alone.

  • Living in the Cult of Likeability: Bret Easton Ellis, a man for whom being liked hasn’t necessarily been a guiding principle, opines on how the ever-present culture of online approval – from Likes to the Uberification of everything – is making everything anodyne and pat and safe and homogenous and dull. He’s right, it is.

  • Transhumanism in 2015: A really brilliant piece of journalism, looking at the transhumanist movement in the US (you know, the people who believe that we will all be uploading ourselves to the cloud and living forever in a meatspace-free utopia where every whim is fulfilled and we need never know pain or suffering ahahaahaha pull the other one mate it has got bells on), and in particular its leading light, the charismatic-but-clearly-quite-odd Zoltan Istvan, whose hoping for a swing at the White House. Does a reasonable job of being skeptical without being too mocking, and is actually a pretty decent look around the outer edges of this most scifi of belief sets.

  • Tech and the American Teen: Yes, ok, so this is another ‘look at the teenagers in their natural habitat, clutching their smartphones and whispering in their strange, guttural dialect, what can it all MEAN?’ anthropology pieces, and yes it’s a US perspective, but it’s actually much better than most what with being neither particular u- or dystopian and instead painting a reasonably balanced picture of the impact of always-on tech on the post-smartphone generation. Poor little fuckers.

  • Access and the Media: The latest in The Awl’s consistently excellent series on modern media and publishing, this takes a look at how social media has altered the manner in which access (to news, to events, to famouses, to information) works for publishers, and the knock-on effect it subsequently has on reporting. Effectively, if you want a decent explanation of the rise of the HOT TAKE this is a good one.

  • China and the Memeufacturers: As the LUCOZADE SWEGWAY DICK TURPIN overnight cemented the hoverboard as the must-have Christmas gift for yoot all over the country – yoot imagining chirpsing a girl, gliding by as swag as you like on a self-correcting set of neon-glow wheels; yoot imagining literally running RINGS around the other crew in the next big playground beef – here’s a look at where this stuff all gets made (China, for avoidance of doubt). Aside from anything else, it’s an interesting look at the connection between ephemeral internet popularity and people actually making stuff on the other side of the world. Just think, next time you reblog that dank Pepe meme on Tumblr you’re making it exponentially more likely that a warehouse full of plush versions of the bastard frog will be hastily stitched together by a bunch of children with failing eyesight and bleeding fingertips. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  • I’m Comic Sans: Typical McSweeney’s, but I’m a sucker for the style. See also, ‘Decorative Gourd Season is OVER’.

  • Your New Influencer Motherlode: Forget YouTube, forget Vine, it’s all about YOUNOW. I mean, it’s not, yet, but this is one to drop into your planning and predictions ‘deck’ (IT’S A FUCKING POWERPOINT YOU PRICKS) for 2015; this is a pretty interesting look at the platform, although I warn you against watching any of the actual ‘content’ unless you’re under the age of 15 as it will make you appreciably more stupid (or at least that’s what it felt like yesterday).

  • Star Wars 1: The big Rolling Stone feature on the film which you have probably already devoured if you’re into that sort of thing, but which is actually pretty interesting even if you’re not a monomaniacal slavering fanboy.

  • Star Wars 2: Far more interesting is this piece, talking to Anthony Daniels,  the man inside the camp robot suit. He sounds GREAT, and far more fun than you’d expect.

  • On Deen & Stoya: The whole James Deen thing is all sorts of bleak and creepy and sad, whatever the actual truth of the matter is; this is a decent look at it by the Guardian. I know that it’s accepted these days that working in bongo is a valid career choice undertaken by intelligent adults with autonomy of choice and the like, but it’s quite hard not to draw the conclusion that there are…well…quite a few quite damaged people doing it, whatever they might maintain about their absolute mental fortitude.

  • The Toughest Man In Cairo…: The first of three MUST-READ pieces at the end this week, this account of war and cigarettes and friendship was recommended to me by Simon (thanks Simon) and is almost certainly more fiction than fact, but I don’t care; the quality of the writing is superb, and the payoff in the last line had me doing a little applause. Do read it, it’s AWESOME.

  • Jury Duty: A great piece of writing, genuinely brilliant, about the author’s experience of doing jury duty in the US. So, so erudite and smart, and entertaining with it – and, of course, deeply depressing and evocative of all of the failures inherent in the US criminal justice system (and, doubtless, in juries the world over). Superb.

  • Vomit is not an Emotion: I’d be including this if this week hadn’t been characterised by death, but as it is it’s an apposite one to end on. Buzzfeed’s resident ‘death and oddities’ correspondent (not her official title, I appreciate, but there’s a theme to her work…) Hayley Campbell writes about the death of her grandparents a few weeks apart, how their joint funeral coincided with her birthday this year, and all sorts of other things besides. Might make you a little weepy, even if you haven’t had quite as monumentally shit a week as I have.


By Alessandro Calabrese




1) First up, the annual event that is DJ Earworm’s United States of Pop, mashing some of the biggest tracks of the year into…well…a perfect example of the fact that all this stuff sounds basically the same, no? Contains a lot of the Weeknd, some Bieber, some Adele, and loads of other stuff besides (including, inexplicably, Pitbull – come the apocalypse, that man will still be poorly rhyming like some sort of superannuated provincial bouncer three weeks into a lottery win):

2) This is called ‘Manic’ by Prince Innocence. It is not manic at all, it is LOVELY:

3) There’s a story in the video that I didn’t quite get the first time, and you might not either as I found the song distractingly good; it’s got shades of lots of hypersuccessful pop of the past 18 months about it, but feels like its own beast with a slightly cold 80s-type vibe around the chorus. This is called ‘Romeo’ by Chairlift:

4) The simply isn’t enough Hebrew hiphop in the world, I don’t think – this is an attempt to rectify that, by Darshan. It’s called Aleph Bass – happy Hannukah and all that to those of you for whom that’s a thing:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! As long as Wiley keeps making music, I will keep featuring it. His output is PHENOMENAL – this is his new track, called ‘P Money’. Also, the jacket he is wearing in the video is GREAT:

6) Ever wanted to get an upclose and personal look at Bjork’s mouth? OH GOOD!:  

7) This sort of made me think of a French Sade, which may not sound like a recommendation but is, I promise:

8) Last new track of the week, this is the most astonishingly NSFW video I have seen all year. It is by Peaches, it is for her song ‘Rub’, and it features lots of full-frontal nudity, a bit of pissing, the odd bit of cockwaving and quite a good, if sleazy, tune. You know how I said something up there about what PRUDES your colleagues would be if they complained about you looking at artistic nudity? Yeah, well, they’d probably have a point with this one:

9) Given that there’s a degree of confusion as to whether I’ll be in a position to do a Curios next week or not, I’m closing out this week with the WEB CURIOS SONG OF 2015, which is ‘Here’ by Alessia Cara. Doubtless she will be bowled over by the accolade – she is, I think, going to be quite famous. Anyway, I may be back next week, I may not. If I’m not, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years – I hope they involve as little death as is possible. Take care of yourselves.