Webcurios 12/07/13

Reading Time: 19 minutes

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Tragic Life Stories. WH Smith, Rye Lane, London SE15
Garudio Studiage photo of the week

Right, I have about 10 minutes to write this bit before I have to put some pants on and go to Slough for a meeting. You’re getting off lightly.

Think of me this afternoon, drinking bitterly alone in the Wernham Hogg, as you get to gorge yourself on the rich buffet of high-quality internet canapes I have lovingly collected for you. The least you could do is pretend to be grateful.

By the way, there is no mention of either the bloody cricket or the sodding royal baby in what follows, so treat it as some sort of temporary respite from what appear to be the only two things that anyone cares about at the moment. Oh, apart from the cat on the tube – we all liked that, didn’t we? JESUS WHEN DID WE ALL STOP BEING ABLE TO PROCESS PROPER NEWS? Oh, right, I forgot, it was when people like me started firing information at us from all directions, like some sort of strange and dreadful knowledge-bukkake.

Oh dear, that’s a horrible image to end on. I’m really sorry. I probably deserve Slough, after that. HAPPY FRIDAY AFTERNOON, WEBMONGS!

By some bloke off Reddit



  • As is now de rigeur for any large scale sporting event, or so it seems, the aftermath is a desperate statistical scramble as platforms and brands seek to demonstrate that it was THEY who won (it wasn’t, you didn’t, your involvement is incidental, go AWAY). This year we had both Facebook and Twitter getting frothily excited at the volume of chat (and, let’s be honest, mouth-breathing idiocy) taking place on each respective platform over the course of the final. I find Facebook’s post slightly less upsetting, largely as Twitter’s own writeup suggests that ‘One of the most amazing things about Twitter is watching celebrities talk to other celebrities’, as though the ability of two famouses (or their typing-monkeys) to type in semi-coherent, conversational 140-character bursts is something that we, the lumpenproletariat mass of humanity, should be grateful to have the chance to witness. Anyway, I hope we’re moving towards a point where we no longer have to have these “Look! Now near-ubiquitous conversational platform is really popular for people to have conversations on about an event which will, inevitably, spark loads of conversations” posts, as they are DULL. As a bonus, have this post which shows that literally NOONE cares if you sponsor Wimbledon.  



  • Twitter For Media BlogOf course, if you disagree with my Wimbledon point above and actually want to read more posts which dazzle you with numbers with lots of 0s at the end, you could do worse than look at Twitter’s recently launched media blog, which collects posts about ‘notworthy’ uses of Twitter in and around news, sports, journalism, etc. 
  • Tips On Being Better At Vine, Using DataOr Instagram, or in fact any sort of platform that assists with visual story telling. A few nice examples and some decent first principles around the creation of interesting data-led visuals. 
  • Someone Actually Uses Twitter Cards In The UKNot sexy, not in any way glamorous, but a decent in-the-wild example of how it could work. Who knew furniture retailers could be so digitally forward-thinking?


  • Social Media Investment Provides 3 to 1 ReturnahahahahahahahaThe only sensible response to this is to laugh and maybe shed a little simultaneous tear. According to research carried out by the Internet Advertising Bureau, who one would have to be some sort of crazy conspiracy theorist to suggest have some sort of vested interest in the results, brands investing £1 in activity on social media can expect to recoup £3.34 in poorly-specified ‘value’. Amazing. Try passing that off as a rationale next time you ask for a budget extension. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the lack of clear distinction between additionality and substitutability in all this. Jesus wept
  • Google DataboardAnother week, another new, useful product from the company we’re all increasingly scared of but don’t really know how to live without. This time it’s Google Databoard, a whole resource of planner-friendly information about consumer habits as relating to digital consumption, etc, which you can cut and scrape in all sorts of ways – and through which you can create your own infographic-type things to chuck on slides and things. Depending on how much data they add, and how regularly they update the sets, this is potentially very useful indeed. 
  • Digital Strategy 101If you work in this sort of stuff, you really need to read this. You may know a lot of it already (frankly, you ought to), but you may not have seen it articulated as cogently as this before. A superb, user-friendly rundown of all the steps, terminology, components, etc, of a campaign (in this case digital specifically, but the stuff in here is applicable to non-internet-specific stuff too) – all put together by the insanely altruisitic Bud Caddell. Oh, and if you regularly have people pitching this stuff at you, why not print out a copy and keep it with you when being sold to so you can keep track of how many agencies lift stuff from this line-for-line?
  • Lynx Uses SnapchatFollowing Geordie Shore the other week, this time its another HIGHBROW property using Snapchat, in this instance Lynx. I can’t be bothered to rewrite the explanation from the agency rag, so: “it leaked exclusive content about a secret Lynx launch party to core fans. Behind-the-scenes pictures of host and television presenter Charlie Webster on a photo shoot were sent alongside photographs of the celebrity completing a “space-themed assault course”. According to one of the people behind it, “We got several hundred people add us on the first day, and are getting 20 new requests a day and have over a thousand now. We got shedloadsof snaps on the first day and still get a dozen or so pictures a day. We get a few people rating our lynx girls and we get one or too slightly racier pics a day but it’s actually mostly vanilla. No breasts of penises yet”. Wow, that was perilously close to REAL industry journalism. Mental.
  • McDonald’s Makes A Nice Website But Their Food Is Still Disgusting(the food comment is pure editorial opinion, by the way) A lovely site by McDonald’s, collecting people’s memorable ‘McDonald’s Moments’. Leaving aside the issue of whether such a thing could possibly actually exist in the mind of a real human being, this is well-made. Although I’m not 11% convinced that ‘Bonquisha’ from Brixton is actually a real person. 
  • Community Management Disappears Up Its Own Fundament / Becomes OuroborosI don’t want to dwell on this, but a pair of community managers having a ‘comedy rap battle’ on Twitter is not comedy social media genius, it’s a circlejerk for industry wankers. Particularly when you can clearly see actual customers saying things like “JUST MAKE MY PHONE WORK” amidst the HILARIOUS BANTS. See also, dogpicgate. *SIGHS*.
  • The Best Branded Filmy Thingy I’ve Ever SeenSo technically this has to go up here, being as it is an example of advermarketingpr, but I would have no hesitation in recommending it as something you should actually watch as a real person. This is actually about a year old, but I think it was a US campaign so I don’t feel too shabby about being late to it. It’s called The Beauty Inside, and it’s a series of 6 short films of between 4-9 minutes long, telling the story of Alex, who each morning wakes up in a completely different body for reasons that he, and we, are never told. It is BEAUTIFUL – the central conceit is not a new one, and is an amalgam of at least 2 scifi short stories I once read, but it’s written and performed really, really well and the soundtrack is GORGEOUS. Oh, it’s for Intel / Toshiba, hence a few over-lingering laptop shots, and the social ‘element’ involved people filming themselves delivering lines on webcam and being inserted into the film as previous versions of Alex, but that’s frankly immaterial. Go and watch, please.
By Odile Potpovitny



  • Sweary Twitter CounterWant to keep track of people’s use of profanity on Twitter? Oh good! Here’s a little counter which does exactly that, for the 7 baddest of bad words. Made by the very puerile, but good at coding, Matt Northam.
  • Tattoo MarketplaceThis is a really good idea. A website which acts to put tattoo artists online, and help them showcase their work, whilst also helping people who are interested in getting tattoos browse designs and artists to find something they want. It seems to be US-only at the moment, but there’s no reason why it should stay like that. Aside from anything else, if you’re into inkwork this provides a great source of inspiration.
  • Bands+Cameras=PhotosThe latest in the series of ‘let’s give disposable cameras to people and get them to mail them back and see what they’ve done’ projects, this one seeks to get punk bands to document their tours using disposables. I like this sort of project anway, almost regardless of subject, but this one’s producing some very cool shots.
  • The DissolveBasically Pitchfork for films, but if you do like Pitchfork’s overly serious, semi-academic, doubtless well-written but often toe-curlingly pretentious editorial style on music, this will be right up your street. The writing is, as you’d expect, uniformly high-quality, and as per Pitchfork’s standard M.O. they’re not scared of longform, which is A Good Thing.
  • Terms & Conditions May Apply: If you’re getting the ‘oh god they know EVERYTHING about me, EVERYTHING, where is this all going to END???’ fear a lot these days, then this film will resonate (and perhaps push you over the edge). A documentary taking as its starting point the fact that noone in the history of the internet has ever, ever read the Ts&Cs of any website before blithely clicking ‘I Agree’, and what the potential implications are. Worth keeping an eye on if this is one of your personal paranoia points (ALLITERATION!). 
  • LUMIAnd then, following SEAMLESSLY on, we come to Lumi, a new service by the founders of Last.fm which, in exchange for access to your browser history, seeks to serve up tailored recommendations for stuff you might be interested in. I’ve been using it for 36hrs or so, and it’s actually really, really impressive in terms of the things its serving up. As a caveat, of course, it now knows all about my slightly recherche tastes in bongo, but that’s got to be a small price to pay, right? *hires lawyers, just in case*
  • The Planetarium For Your BathYou want your kids to turn out to be astronomers? Get them this thing, then. Or maybe just get it for yourself, but WHO has time to have baths these days? God, that’s a depressing observation. Make time this weekend to have a bath, webmongs, let’s RECLAIM OUR LIVES.
  • NYC Transit TimesA simple, clever execution showing, based on existing public transport links, how long it should take you to get from one part NYC to another. Like a really simple, visual, not-broken version of the TFL journeyplanner – TFL, can you add this, please (except for London, obviously)? Thanks. 
  • Information Is Beautiful Sharing Their Skills (sort-of)David McCandless has a lot to answer for (not least the endless stream of dreadful, not-actually-infographics foisted on the world by every two-bit brand and agency in the world over the past 4 years). Anyway, they’re currently trialling a suite of visualisation tools called, imaginatively, VizSweet, which they’ll make available (probably at vast cost) to the rest of us ‘soon-ish’. So, you know, wait. Watch. ANTICIPATE.
  • Your Very Own Killer WhaleIt follows your mouse, for no other reason than it can, and it’s cutely soothing. It’s hard to be angry when there’s a digital killerwhale responding to your every mouse-based whim.
  • The David Brent MachineYou all, obviously, all know about Instant Rimshot. This is like that, but with EVERY SOUND IN THE WORLD. Have you ever wanted to give each of your proximate colleagues their very own set of ‘comedy’ sound effects, that you can deploy to hilarious effect each time they do / say one of their signature ‘wacky’ things? WELL LUCKY YOU. This has got literally every single sound effect you could ever possibly want – go on, spend the afternoon playing with it. Everyone will find it HILARIOUS and you will be the toast of your colleagues. GO ON. 
  • Create Your Own Bespoke ViewmasterYou remember those red plastic ViewMaster toy things, where you plugged in little circles of cardboard to the ‘viewer’ and then looked in wide-eyed childish wonderment as 3d scenes from films, TV shows, etc, appeared before your young eyes as if by the magic of the Wookey Hole Witch? No, you probably don’t, do you, because you are YOUNG and NUBILE and were too busy playing Tomb Raider from the age of about 4 to bother with this sort of sweet, innocent, past-tech pursuit OH GOD I HATE YOU. Ahem. Anyway, now you can order your own, which is quite mental really and might make a truly lovely present for someone. Also, for the right sort of couple this is the best proposal-mechanic in waiting.
  • Poems Ruthlessly Mangled By Google Translate(links to a PDF, fyi) A surprisingly cool little word/tech project, which takes poetry and runs it through Google translate a few times and then back into English. Going from 1/2/3 languages and then back to English again produces a variety of interestingly broken results – and, on more than one occasion, an end-product which is in many respects accidentally more linguistically beautiful than the original. Which, if you’re the poet, is probably a little bit of a kick in the teeth.
  • Minimal Posters Depicting Musical Genres: So beautiful. Click ‘next image’ (I know that sounds patronising, but it’s oddly easy to miss on the page).
  • Geometric Rap PostersMore posters (SEAMLESS!), this time showing a selection of hiphop artists depicted in minimal, geometric fashion. Again, there are some gorgeous pieces of work here.
  • Sochi 2014 Protest PostersRussian artist Vasily Slonov has created a series of posters (SEAMLESS!) which take a broad, satirical swipe at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. Some pretty brutal stuff in here…
  • Posters for CyclistsDo you cycle? Do you know people who cycle? Do you have a bike obsessive in your life? WELL MERRY CHRISTMAS THEN. These posters (SEAMLESS!) are beautiful, beautiful pieces of design which look at different sorts of bikes with beautiful illustrations and typography. Very designer-y, quite hipster-y, totally lovely, and significantly cheaper than ANYTHING by Rapha.  
  • Superheroes Past & PresentThe last of this week’s selection of posters (SEAMLESS!) depicts superheroes with their young selves. Hard to explain how they’re designed / drawn, but trust me, they’re worth a click. And you can buy them here, if you’d like to
  • Dance In A YearKaren Cheng decided that she wanted to learn to be good at dancing in a year. So she trained and practiced and documented the process, and this is her little website all about it. It’s a tiny bit “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO” (clue: that’s A LIE), but the video showing her improvement is genuinely impressive, and there’s something very likable about her cast-iron determination. 
  • A Shorthand Symbol For ‘The’I don’t really see the need for this, but perhaps you will feel differently and become semi-evangelical about ending the tyrannical prioritisation of ‘at’ over ‘the’. The symbol, though, looks UGLY. Can someone make a better one, please? Thanks.
  • Portraits of Transgender MenNo more, no less. Lovely photos and, if you read the text, an interesting ethos behind the project as a whole. 
  • PullquoteA very clever little tool, still in beta but possibly worth signing up for. Allows you to link directly to a highlighted paragraph or chunnk of text within an article, which is potentially very useful when seeking 3rd-party backup for that pointless line of argument you’re pursuing with a stranger on Twitter during Question Time (or, er, if you’re a journalist or something). 
By Andrew Miksys


  • The Bill Cosby Sweater PollBill Cosby is asking his fans to vote for the BEST EVER Cosby sweater as worn on the Cosby Show. They’ve gone through a few rounds already, but voting on the next round opens in the next 12 hours or so, should you care (AND WHY WOULDN’T YOU?). 
  • SketchplanationsA sketch, each day, which purports to explain something. Like Clarissa, but potentially less comprehensive. 
  • The South Korean Sex ParkThere’s a park in South Korea dedicated to the sexual act, and containing lots, and lots, and lots, of sculptures, etc, depicting said act. This is a collection of photos on it. Once again I feel I ought to do the NSFW thing, but really – if you work somewhere that’s going to get uppity about you looking at a picture of a smiling middle-aged Asian woman gleefully climbing a 6-foot plaster model of a phallus, then take a LONG, HARD (sorry) look at them and yourself. 
  • How To Be David BlaineOr at least Blaine before he stopped doing the stuff that made people think he was anything other than a slightly creepy oddity. Anyway, this is a pretty exhaustive list of fancy sleight-of-hand / misdirection tricks, which if you have young kids will help convince them that you’re God (because that’s what parenting is meant to be about, right? No?). 
  • The Best Photos of Jellyfish You Will Ever SeeBehind that potentially hyperbolic statement lies a link to some really, really cool pictures. Honest. 
  • Computer Viruses As Beautiful ThingsVisualising malware. Turns out that these are also available to buy as prints, so I could have got another one of those HILARIOUS gags up in the posters section about my SEAMLESS segue-ing. Damnation. 
  • 40 Days Of DatingTim & Jessica are close friends who have never dated. As they were both single, they decided to date each other – every day, for 40 days, they would go on dates and document the process. This is the website about the project. Yes, yes, I know that this is toe-curlingly hipster and oh-so-NYC-arts-scene, but it’s also quite cute and, after 4 days, I am weirdly emotionally invested in seeing what happens (I will doubtless forget that this ever existed by this time next week). Take a look. 
  • The DIY Tattoo Rigs of Prison InmatesA photoproject documenting the quite frankly mental bits of kit that US prisoners jury-rig together to tattoo each other. Grimly fascinating.
  • Turn Random Quotes Into ARTFile under ‘funny’ things you can do in the office, pt2 – this site allows you to put in a phrase or two and format them into some sort of poster-y typographical beauty. Immortalise the HILARIOUS things your coworkers say on a daily basis. Or, you know, do what you like. I don’t care.
  • Gendered HTML: Obscure little art project allowing people to upload HTML pages as either ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. If you’re interested in digiart, it’s worth poking around – the quality of out put varies, but there are some rather interesting things lurking behind the links. 
  • PenbeatsI had no idea that making beats with biros was a ‘thing’, but here we are. A bit like that cup song craze, this takes the same principle but uses pens. Surprisingly compelling if you fall down the rabbithole…
  • The Museum of Food and DrinkThey’re making this in NYC, and I want one in London. Given the fact that as a species we’re ever-more disconnected from the source, production, manufacture, etc, of the foodstuffs we consume, there’s a decent argument for these being a reasonable public need for such a thing. That said, if it’s going to be sponsored by Tesco’s (which, let’s face it, on some level it inevitably would be), then maybe we should just forget the whole thing.
  • The Anagram Tube MapWhere do you live and work?
  • Pinterest for Web GamesBasically a Pinterest clone that collects links to playable browser-based games. Kiss goodbye to your working life. 
  • The Best (Worst) Centenarian EverThe audio on this is entirely NSFW, but strangely heartwarming. A woman turning 100 who is very much certain of what she wants for her birthday. Why there is yet to be the near-inevitable Autotune remix of this is baffling. 


  • Simpsigns: Collecting the humorous signs of The Simpsons, in one place.
  • Rap Poems: Celebrating the poetic beauty of rap lyrics by framing them like motivational posters. Deeply funny (in both senses).
  • Daily PangramI didn’t know this, but a Pangram is apparently a sentence which includes every sentence in the alphabet, like that lazy dog / brown dog thingy. Anyway, here’s a load of them, for those of you who like your word games
  • AnagramatronA Twitter bot which finds and matches tweets which are anagrams of each other. There are some uncannily good ones in there. 
  • The Best Bits From Medieval BooksErik Kwakkel is a medieval book historian from the Netherlands. This is a tumblr collecting some of the cool / odd stuff he finds in old manuscripts. Geekily, historically lovely.
  • 100 Books Which Should Be WrittenWhat it says on the tin. SATIRE!
  • Ruining Thomas KinkadeThomas Kincade is, apparently, a very popular (populist) painter in the US, a bit Vettriano-esque in terms of ubiquity. This is a Tumblr dedicated to poorly photoshopped additions to his pictures. Possibly an improvement on the originals. 
  • Actual Teens Adult TeensComparing what actors look like when they are teenagers to what they look like when they play teenagers.
  • A Black Man Eats A Lot Of ChickenThe frankly insanely obsessional quest of one Londoner to prove that they are the greatest Nando’s fan in the whole world EVER. I am tweeting this at Nando’s marketing people as soon as I’m done writing this bloody blog.
  • Casting Call Woe: Being an actor must be really depressing, at least if this series of excerpts from casting call requests is anything to go by. 
  • Stock Photos ViolinistsHighlighting, amongst other things, how snarky musicians can get when they feel their craft is being trivialised…
  • Wretched RefuseShowcasing the ugliest and least-appealing examples of our current trend towards reusing / repurposing ‘junk’ and turning it into art or furniture or…oh, no, hang on, it’s still junk.
By Thomas Saliot


  • The Tech City Story: Ok, so this is self-indulgent but I don’t care. I worked on the PR for all this from April 2011-November 2012, and this is a good overview of what is one of the more interesting policy+press combinations of the current administration. Makes all the abuse I got on Twitter for ‘being’ TCIO seem almost worthwhile. Almost. 
  • What It Was Like To Be Part of Jay-Z’s Abramovich-esque Art ProjectIf you don’t know what this is referring to, you can see an overview here, but then go and read the piece and marvel at a 50something NYC art critic being reduced to being little more than a fawning hagiographer in the face of stratosphere-level fame. BONUS – a really good review of Magna Carta Holy Grail.
  • On Being A Freelance War ReporterThis isn’t a particularly happy piece of writing, but at the end of it you do find yourself asking why anybody in their right mind would do any of this. A really scary look at what a dangerous, cheap, cold and competitive world freelance war reporting is – and how little we value the people who practice it. As a bonus, you can have this piece from UK GQ which takes a slightly (but not much) less bleak look at the topic.  
  • Reddit Self Analyses, Feels AshamedAh, reddit! Where memes start and celebrities do AMAs and Barack Obama proves what an all-round stand-up cool guy he is (or, more accurately, the researchers and messaging experts)…and where a whole load of soul-shrivellingly dreadful stuff happens on a daily basis. This thread, Redditors look back at some of the less glorious moments in the site’s history – if you’re a writer or a TV person and you’re looking for ‘dreadful things that happen online’ as plot points, you have everything you need right here.
  • The Evolution of PlaygirlOr rather, its covers. Really interesting, and the accompanying text commentary is occasionally hilarious. The Jon Voight one is the TRULY TERRIFYING face of death. 
  • What It Was Like Working On The WireI have never seen The Wire. I appreciate that this makes me some sort of pariah, so sorry about that. Even for me, though, this piece about the behind-the-scenes relationships and personalities of the cast and crew was fascinating – for fanboys and girls, I imagine it will be tumescence-inducing.
  • Jay McInerny on Chloe Sevigny, from 1994You will feel like the least cool person in the world reading this, but it’s a great piece of journalism, a look back at a period of culture which shaped quite a lot of the rest of the 90s/early 2000s, and a reminder of what an excellent writer McInerny is (if you doubt this, reconsider the opening line of ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ and come back to me repentant). 
  • Amazing, Mad Piece on Kundalini Yoga CampsI know, I know, you don’t want to read about yoga. Neither do I, trust me, but this piece is a properly odd combination of self-excoriating confessional, hate-piece about spritual hpisterism, skeptics guide to yoga and a whole lot more besides. You will enjoy it, I promise you. 
  • The 100 Greatest Writers of All TimeAt least one entry or omission on this list will make you angry, so be warned.
  • On Satire and the UKA great read in the London Review of Books on politics, humour, satire and how it all works (and sometimes doesn’t). John Lanchester again on very fine form indeed (and if you’ve never read The Debt to Pleasure, do so NOW).
By Vittorio Ciccarelli

1) We’re opening with the trailer for a project that’s very close to my heart, not least because the man behind it is, as I have mentioned multiple times before, one of my favourite writers and lyricists. sTaTe is the new project from Steven ‘Polarbear’ Camden and his company Bearheart, and it will tell the story of what really goes on behind the scenes at near-future educational academy Wakens Tip. Using all sorts of narrative forms, the project will let kids get involved with shaping the story, adding their own twists and flourishes and textures and elements through their own creative input. It is going to be GREAT. Watch the trailer below and get excited (oh, and I should probably say that I have ‘consulted’ on this but no money ever changed hands although Steven did buy me peppermint tea): 

2) Wish List is a short, funny animation looking at what a small cast of characters would wish for, given the chance. Charming, and pleasingly dark in places:

3) Asia Argento is another one of those irritatingly poymathic artists who seems to do EVERYTHING (though I might argue that she’s still nowhere near her Dad in terms of ability, although obsiously that’s a pretty churlish comparison so SORRY ASIA). Anyway, this is the video for her industrial electro-type song Sexodrome:

4) MSMR are a New York band, and this video is pretty much the apotheosis of glitchy art loveliness. The song’s pretty good too, in an 80s-channeling sort of fashion:

5) Speaking of the 80s (SEAMLESS!), this is by jviewz and it’s called Far Too Close, and it’s really annoyingly stuck in my head and so I am going to inflict it on you too. The video gets bonus points for double denim and invisible staircases:

6) Until this week I had never heard of Adian Coker, and now I see him EVERYWHERE (I suppose I really should understand how marketing works by now, eh?). Anyway, this is a great cong called ‘Cream’, and the video’s rather cool too. Bonus points for the line about his success being tantric – listen out for it:

7) When I was a kid, Strangelove were an incredibly miserable and introspective shoegazy/britpop band who achieved minor indie success but who had a devoted fanbase of eyeliner-wearing misunderstood teens. Now, it’s these people. Quite different really, but I like this a lot – the production and beats are pleasantly bouncy and ‘up’, and I love the fact that they basically both look like the kids from the Inbetweeners:

8) What if Superman was real, but he killed people. Lots. With prejudice. Would that make us see him differently? The basic premise of this stunning 9-minute short. I would wathc a film based around this, no question:

9) Last but in no way least, gay San Francisco protests at the increasing gentrification and corporatisation of some of its home turf in the only way it knows how – with a massive tranny banger of a club track called ‘Google Google Apps Apps’. Try getting this out of your head all weekend. BYE!:

That’s it for now

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