Westgate Centre, Oxford
Has it got better yet? Do you feel a little more grounded, a little less lost, and generally more in control of the careening juggernaut that is your life in this latest and oh-so-modern of years? No? Oh, sorry about that. I wish I could offer some sort of solace or succour, but there’s none to be had – all that we seem to be getting is more and more and more and more and more STUFF, being flung at us from every angle and with which we’re meant to somehow construct some sort of narrative around this mess.
If you’d like some sort of guidance, though, you’ve come to the right place. Before we embark upon this week’s MASSIVE selection of webdroppings, though, here’s a small reminder of the fact that there’s going to be a REAL LIFE smorgasbord of interesting web-type stuff happening in London in March in the shape of Imperica’s New Horizons event, which will be fascinating and insightful and cool and, I can exclusively guarantee, will exhibit absolutely NONE of the somewhat tortured prose stylings which regular readers of this crap have had to endure for the past few years. You can find out more and get tickets here – go on, do it.
Anyway, time’s a-wasting and I have a Burns Night ode to write; hand over your obols and get in the boat, kids (don’t look into the water, you might not like what you see), as I skillfully engineer your passage from the world of the living to the world of the dead (aka the bits of the internet which I frequent). Keep your hands INSIDE the vessel and at no point attempt to distract the boatman – I AM YOUR METAPHORICAL CHARON, WEBMONGS, AND THIS IS WEB CURIOS.
THE SECTION ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA WHICH IS STILL PRETTY SMALL THIS WEEK AND IS LEADING ME TO HOPE THAT PERHAPS THIS MIGHT BE THE YEAR IN WHICH WE ALL COLLECTIVELY DECIDE THAT WE POSSIBLY GOT A BIT OVEREXCITED ABOUT ALL THIS RUBBISH AND THAT WE SHOULD MAYBE LEAVE IT FOR A BIT, TURN OFF THE INTERNET AND GO FOR A NICE LONG WALK TO CLEAR OUR HEADS, BUT WHICH IS MORE LIKELY NOTHING BUT THE OMINOUS SILENCE BEFORE SOME SORT OF CATACLYSMIC FACEBOOK AVALANCHE:
- More Evidence That Facebook Is Just Laughing At The Concept Of ‘Organic Reach’: Another week, another piece demonstrating just how little Zuckerberg’s bland nation-state cares about your ability to reach an audience without spending LOTS of money on ads. Without them, organic reach appears pegged at around 7% – so 7% of all those people who you worked so hard to entice into ‘liking’ your Page will actually ever see anything you write on there. Unless you pay Mark some money. Anyone working client-side who reads this – if you want to really mess up your Community Manager’s weekend, send them this piece at about 430pm today and ask them what strategies they have to address this that don’t involve spending more money (clue: there is no right answer to that question).
- Trending Topics Coming To Facebook: But don’t worry! Facebook’s getting trending topics! In a move which is in NO WAY a copy of Twitter’s own trending topics, Facebook is starting to roll out a ‘what people are talking about’ feature to certain countries. In fairness it is slightly different, as topics displayed will apparently be tailored to a user’s interests, friendship base, etc – which sort of makes me question its utility as a world barometer, but then what do I know? Let’s be honest, this is just going to be A N Other ad product in a few months’ time, isn’t it?
- Google Image Search Adds ‘Usage Rights’ Option: Unexciting but useful, Google Images now lets you filter results by usage options – reusable, reusable for commercial ends, etc. Very useful indeed for anyone who spends a lot of time nicking pictures off the internet to use in other stuff (ie mostly everyone who does anything communications-y), and especially for those for whom the whole Creative Commons thing is just a little too complicated.
- YouTube Makes Comment Management Easier: Again, dull – sorry, I can only work with what I’m given. YouTube’s now introduced a more streamlined comment-management, flagging and moderation system, which if you’re the poor bugger who has to deal with a herd of mouth-breathers writing “DIE FAGS YOLO” underneath everything you post probably comes as something of a relief.
- The YouTube SuperBowl Ad Blitz: Well this has served to make me more miserable than I feel I ought to be at 8:06am. We live in a world in which people are meant to be so excited and moist with anticipation at the prospect of FRESH, HIGH-BUDGET ADVERTISING MESSAGES around this year’s display of pituitary meatheads’ athletic prowess that YouTube’s created a whole section for people to see the ads in advance. Leaving aside the total and utter weirdness of this – or, actually, maybe it’s not that weird; the rise of TVOD means that adverts are now an optional watch, which means that we inevitably see them less as something we’re forced to consume and more something we can choose to ‘enjoy’ and thus do so with a critical eye. Or something. Anyway, from an ad/media point of view this is obviously quite big news; expect a similar thing for the parade of Christmas ads come December 2014 (dear Christ, week 2 of Web Curios in 2014 and I’ve already mentioned the ‘C’ word).
- Twitter Ads Mailing List Ad Targeting: Of course, it’s not just Facebook copying Twitter; Twitter’s now aping Facebook in allowing advertisers to import mailing lists into its ad sales platform and cross-reference this dataset with Twitter’s own. That’s a horribly clunky way of saying that you can, in theory, target ads on Twitter to just people whose email addresses you have, or to exclude people whose email addresses you have (for example, to prevent card-based datacap tweets being shown to people who’ve already surrendered their email addresses to you), and other stuff like that. Actually quite a big deal.
- Tumblr Adds @Mentions: These were sort of there already actually, but now you get alerts and stuff; from a brand point of view this allows for far more ENGAGEMENT with your FANBASE – makes the whole thing I bit more interesting, I think, and there are some interesting possibilities for competitions and the like, not to mention Tumblr relations (for that is now a thing which will appear in PR agency pitches – I have decreed it to be so and thus so it shall be. Sorry about that).
- Quite Nice Branded Content #1: Oh, dear God, parallax-scrolling HTML5 is SO 2013. Nonetheless, this little site by Sony is very, very nicely done indeed. Promoting the artistry behind its engineering, the design and build is very, very slick indeed. The underwater bit in particular actually elicited a small ‘oooh’ from me when I first saw it – admittedly it was Monday and it was a pretty dull afternoon, but still.
- Quite Nice Branded Content #2: I like this because I can sort of see the thought processes behind it. Spices are multicoloured. People love seeing multicoloured stuff flying about (witness the rise in interest in Holi over the past 3 years). If we explode spices in slow-motion we’ll have INTERNET GOLD! Anyway, this is cute from Schwartz.
- Quite Nice Branded Content #3: Guinness are of course old masters at this sort of thing, but even by their standards this short film about the incredibly stylish men (Sapeurs) of the Congo is rather nicely done – designed and filmed to appeal squarely to the fashion/design/culture/hipster crowd, as well as being ON-BRAND and stuff.
- Lessons In Realtime Content: Some notes on how Buzzfeed ‘did’ the Golden Globes; nothing startling in here, but good, common-sense stuff on how one might approach REAL-TIME ACTIVATION these days.
- STATS! ASIA-PACIFIC SOCIAL MEDIA STATS!: Do you work for an agency? Do you occasionally need to feign an in-depth knowledge of markets far, far away? How convenient, then, for this 200+ page presentation which gives you exactly those in frankly fatigue-inducing quantities.
By Dan Arnold
THIS WEEK’S LARGELY UNCONNECTED COLLECTION OF WEBSITES AND STUFF WHICH ALTHOUGH SEEMINGLY SELECTED AT RANDOM ARE IN FACT EVIDENCE OF A SOPHISTICATED AND UNIQUE CURATORIAL INSTINCT, HONEST GUV, IT’S NOT JUST ME LINKING TO WHATEVER’S PASSED ACROSS THE FRONTPAGE OF REDDIT AT VARIOUS POINTS THIS WEEK WHATEVER SOME OF YOU MAY THINK DAMN YOUR DOUBTING EYES, PT1:
- Some Tech Trends For 2014: Are we still allowed to do TRENDS? Hm, I’m in two minds. No matter, here they are anyway – this is actually a pretty decent overview of some stuff you might be seeing more of in 2014, courtesy of Frog Design. The further down the list you go, the more interesting these become; I think the point about art and the internet of things is a very good one, and something I look forward to seeing more of (meaning, inevitably, it won’t happen. GAUGIN UP MY FRIDGE YOU BASTARDS).
- Crowdsourcing War Diary Analysis: Earlier this week, the National Archives published a selection of WWI diaries as part of its centenary remembrance of the conflict. They make for fascinating reading – do go and take a look – and the Archives are also allowing the public to get involved in classifying and tagging additional scanned diaries through this rather cool interface. It’s a very worthwhile project, and the UI/UX is, I think, excellent for what is a very complex body of work indeed.
- The Wold Online Orchestra: Another excellent project, this is by the Copenhagen Philharmonic (and partners) and is sort of hard to describe with any sort of brevity whatsoever. As they put it, it allows users to explore an excerpt from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony by allowing them to see it being played by a variety of different orchestral members at any one time; to listen to collages made up of various orchestra members, selected by them; or indeed to upload their own contribution to the orchestra by recording themselves playing some of the 7th and submitting it for inclusion into the project. Collaborative and playful and technically excellent, I really do love this (and I’m not even a fan of the 7th).
- The Refugee Project: Somewhat more sober in tone, this is a rather good piece of datavisualisation depicting refugee movements worldwide from the mid-1970s to the present day. Taking UN data and adding political backstories and multimedia, it does an excellent job of demonstrating the displacement of peoples, and of showing quite neatly that the countries most affected by refugee movements are not large, affluent ones but instead the oft-times equally banjaxed republics next door.
- British Ghost Trains From The 70s: So, so creepy. A selection of photographs of ghost train facades from British funfairs of the 70s (and 80s, actually) which give off the sort of vibe which suggests that terrible, terrible things may be about to happen. Maybe it’s just the washed-out colours which put me in mind of those sort of safety at work films in which people lose limbs and eyes through seemingly casual acts of in-work carelessness.
- Making Windows 8 Work: Noone likes Windows 8. It’s horrid. This website is really, really useful though, containing as it does a selection of useful tips and shortcuts for making the thing marginally less awful. It’s still a dog’s dinner, let’s be clear, but this site really does help.
- The Data Chandelier: This is so clever. Built for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, it’s a collection of lights which move and light up / shut down based on the data which is pushed through them – GDP, birth rates, death rates, etc. There’s obviously going to be some way of taking this and using it in a shopping centre to sell more soap or something, but let’s ignore that for the moment and bask in the temporary purity of an as-yet unsullied concept.
- The Faces Of Shotputters: When I was a kid at international school, there was a very weird American kid called Graham who wore suits ALL THE TIME, liked to think of himself as a pimp, took an awful lot of ecstasy and had a video (VHS! Olden days!) called ‘Faces of Death‘, which were notorious for being like ‘You’ve Been Framed’ clips but where people actually died in gruesome fashion. It was pretty horrible, to be honest – Graham, what were you thinking? Anyway, this isn’t like that at all – it’s people throwing shotputs and looking quite silly whilst doing so. Don’t be scared.
- Post-mortem Photography: Speaking of pictures of people’s faces and the dead, this is a very macabre collection of shots from (mostly) the 19th Century, where it was reasonably common practice to immortalised the recently deceased in photographic form, often pictured with other family members. This is, let’s be clear, a selection of photos of dead people, often posing (or, more accurately, being posed) with their still-living familials, and it’s exactly as strange as that sounds.
- Behind-The-Scenes Pics Of Star Wars: How many more of these sets can there be? Anyway, the bloke who played Chewbacca posted a load of them to Twitter last weekend; the link goes to his Twitter media page, so you may need to scroll a bit, but there are some rather nice ones if you’re a Lucas-phile.
- The Marvel Comics Fitness Guide: Ah, January – the month in which people continue to labour under the mistaken belief that this will be the year in which they turn their lives around and in which they get themselves the miracle body which for years they have been dreaming of. If you are one of those harbouring that particular illusion (don’t worry, reality will kick in in a couple of weeks time and you’ll be back on the cake and meths), why not try out some of the exercises depicted by Spiderman and chums in the Mighty Marvel Strength and Fitness Book from yesteryear? Oh, please yourselves.
- Infinite Seinfeld: Seinfeld appears to be everywhere at the beginning of 2014, what with his AMA and all that. This site claims to be an infinite loop of Seinfeld episodes – I’m not really in a position to comment, having checked it out for a grand total of about 7 minutes – if it turns into wee-based bongo in the 8th, then I am truly, truly sorry.
- The Visa Mapper: Not flashy, just useful. Select where you’re from and this page shows you what you need to travel to any other country in the world. It’s collaborative too, allowing people to suggest amendments to the data and helpful links. More than anything, though, it’s a pretty stark and distressing realisation as to how little freedom of movement so many people worldwide have – check out what the world looks like if you’re from Surinam as opposed to the UK, for example.
- The Encrypted Phone: The Blackphone is coming, apparently. Available for pre-order a Mobile World Congress next month, this is apparently going to be the first carrier-neutral phone which offers base levels of encryption, etc, as standard. Obviously as with all these things your security is only ever as good as the security of the people you’re communicating with, but it’s an interesting idea; I think we’ll see people swapping reduced functionality for better security more and more in the mobile space, not least as we now know that the NSA is reading our texts ALL THE TIME too.
- The Colour Magician: Another parallax-y scroll-y site, but this one’s not only sort of well-made but it’s also a slightly obsessional paean to the cuttlefish, which frankly is a cephalopod which doesn’t get enough recognition.
- Drum Pants: This can’t be real, can it? This is a tool which purports to turn any surface – in this case, you’re clothing – into a touch-sensitive interface and, by so doing, allow users to play the drums by tapping themselves. It’s…it’s…just a bit silly looking, really – you sort of have to watch the video to get it. Of course, the potential is actually pretty big – you could freak people out BEAUTIFULLY with one of these, a hidden speaker and a decent setup, for example…
- The Scariest Rubber Band Gun You Will Ever See: “Oh, rubber band guns”, I imagine you thinking, “what a cute throwback to a bygone age in which everything was analogue and more innocent, and health and safety hadn’t ruined everything”. Hold that thought. Imagine what you’re thinking of when you think ‘rubber band gun’. Now click that link, and think of exactly what would happen if that were to be applied to someone’s face. SWEET JESUS GOD. This is soon going to be on sale, publicly. Don’t buy one for your kids.
- Origins of Common UI Symbols: Designgeek types will like this, as will webgeeks, as will anyone with a passing interest in language and form and communication. So that should be most of you, then. A nicely made series of slides on how all the UI symbols we see daily arrived at their ubiquity.
- What The World Is Reading At The Moment: Sort of a bit like a real-time-ish version of StumbleUpon, Reading.am shows people what users who have the plugin enabled are reading online at any given moment. Presuming that the people who use it are a relatively self-selecting bunch, and having spent a bit of time lurking on it, it’s a generally good source for some rather more recherche pieces of writing, but that’s not to say that you might not come across the browsing habits of some slightly distressing / disturbing people. Still, though, that’s got to be part of the fun. I think that there’s an interesting twist on this here for TASTEMAKERS – I think it would be really, really interesting to have a similar sort of thing (possibly in a full ‘I want to see your screen’ sort of way) for a cycling selection of people like Cory Doctorow, Jonah Peretti, etc, showing 24h in their browsing life. Can someone make this happen, please? Ta.
- Make 8-bit Art: Browser-based tool which lets you…er…make 8-bit style artworks. No more, no less, potentially useful, potentially not. Less underwhelming, though, than this particularly flat piece of dialed-in prose may make it seem.
- REAL Citrus Booze: When I was young I was very excited by the concept of Absolut Citron (the power of marketing), and was inevitably hugely disappointed whenever I drank it and it still basically tasted like crap vodka (note to younger self – drinking half a bottle in 10 minutes is a dreadful, dreadful idea and you really shouldn’t do it; you will be picking bits of sick-covered rice from under your bed for weeks). This contraption seems designed to make citrus-y booze properly – can a bar in London set one up please? Ta.
By Peng Yangjun
THIS WEEK’S LARGELY UNCONNECTED COLLECTION OF WEBSITES AND STUFF WHICH ALTHOUGH SEEMINGLY SELECTED AT RANDOM ARE IN FACT EVIDENCE OF A SOPHISTICATED AND UNIQUE CURATORIAL INSTINCT, HONEST GUV, IT’S NOT JUST ME LINKING TO WHATEVER’S PASSED ACROSS THE FRONTPAGE OF REDDIT AT VARIOUS POINTS THIS WEEK WHATEVER SOME OF YOU MAY THINK DAMN YOUR DOUBTING EYES, PT2:
- 20 Things Off The Internet: The nice people at digital agency Syzygy (they are nice, I have worked with them) have been making these annually for a few years now – this is 2014’s version. A picture within which are captured 20 of the internet’s biggest ‘things’ from 2013 – can you spot them all? I have no idea, that was a rhetorical question, although let it be known that I can’t and given the fact that I spend more time on the sodding internet than most people that would suggest that this is reasonably challenging.
- The Dodo: A new online magazine featuring news and features about (exclusively) animals. Nothing else. If you are an animal lover, this will be the best site on here this week. If you’re not, this may make you a little bit irrationally cross. Sorry.
- The Rap Pad: Obviously as a white, middle-class, increasingly middle-aged male from the UK I am well into rap. Obviously. Fortunately for the world, though, I have never wished to inflict this interest on anyone in real life. Had I done, though, I might have found this site very useful indeed – contains all sorts of decent resources for people who want to write rhymes (and not just rap – if you’re an aspiring spoken word artist there’s lots of useful stuff in here too). The stuff about polysyllabic internal rhyming structures is really clear, for example, and the syllable counters could be useful. Have a play.
- Crowdsourced Dating: Google Glass + Dating + Feedback mechanisms, basically. I do love this project. Artist Lauren McCarthy has Google Glass, and had an idea – what would it be like to go on dates, stream the footage through glass, and pay anonymous contributors to give her real-time feedback through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk project. This is SO BRILLIANT – like the evolution of what Chris Morris used to do on his radio show 20 years ago, where he’d send a man out with a very early mobile phone to have increasingly surreal interactions with shopkeepers as directed by Morris on the other end of the line (“Tell him you don’t want the coin. Tell him it scares you. Tell him it has a harris on it. Tell him the coins are HOT AAARGH IT’S BURNING MY HAND AAARGH” – you get the gist). Anyway, this ticks a lot of my personal boxes and I am pretty much convinced that this is going to be a dating show in 2 years’ time. Let’s see, shall we?
- Children As Golden Globe Nominees: Toddlewood is, apparently, an NYC photographic studio which specialises in taking Hollywood-style photos of little kids. Leaving aside how we all feel about that, these publicity shots they released this week with kids styled to look like the famouses on the red carpet at the Golden Globes are AMAZING. LOOK AT LITTLE CHIWETEL!
- Autogenererated Academese: Textual autogenerator of the week, this creates snippets of faux-academic prose. FUN GAME: know anyone doing a PHd? Mail them bits of this stuff and ask them their opinion. Even better, if you are doing a PHd then see how many of these you can slip into your next update email to your supervisor. Go on (Phil, I’m looking at you).
- The Pattern Library: This makes me very, very happy indeed, though I have no real idea as to why. This is a collection of designed patterns / backgrounds, freely available to use, and collected in a rather nice website (HTML5 again – are we bored of all these now? Not quite, I don’t think) – it’s really pleasing, possibly because it does have the feel of turning pages without actually trying to mimic the feel of turning pages. Maybe.
- Annotating The Margins Of Dan Brown: Two very funny people make annotations in the margins of Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’. It’s true that mocking Brown’s prose style is a bit ‘fish in a barrel’, but this is very sharp indeed. Also I like the project in general – the idea that they will give it to more and more people until there is more commentary than Brown on each page is rather lovely.
- Chef Goldblum: Have you ever wanted to play Where’s Wally? but instead of looking for Wally amongst a crowd of people you’re looking for a picture of Jeff Goldblum wearing a chef’s hat in amongst a whole load of pictures of Jeff Goldblum not wearing a chef’s hat? OH GOOD.
- All Of The Buildings In New York City: James Gulliver Hancock is the fantastically named illustrator behind this project, whose stated and impossible aim is to sketch every building in New York. No matter – the drawings are lovely, and Hancock’s style is charming.
- All The People In New York City: Apparently unconnected to the above, this is Jason Polan’s attempt to draw everyone in the city. Even more futile than Hancock’s, this is every bit as lovely – I am sure that someone is doing something similar in London, so if anyone knows of it can they let me know? Ta.
- Card & Tape Sculptures: Dylan Shields is a sculptor who works primarily in cardboard and brown tape, recreating classical sculptures in unfamiliar media. They look AWESOME. UPS / Parcelforce / Royal Mail / etc – one of you commission this man for your next ad campaign, please, he deserves it (although he may not want to take your filthy money, in which case more power to him).
- No More Vertical Videos: Vertical videos are horrible, it is widely agreed. This little video showcases a new app for the iPhone called Horizon, which gives letterbox-format video regardless of the camera’s orientation; this is going to become standard on all new phones, isn’t it – at the very least an opt-out rather than opt-in? Very clever.
- The Google Music Timeline: A clever use of Google’s Play data, from all the stuff people have bought and chucked into the cloud, looking at genre and artist popularity over time. Nicely made, as you’d expect, and there’s some interesting information buried in there. This really is one which Amazon should rip off, though, what with their stupid amounts of global music sales info.
- 40 Maps Which Explain The World: From the Washington Post, a great collection of data maps. There are another 40 here – look at them and learn stuff.
- Aquarium Landscaping: Did you even know that there was such a thing as an annual aquarium and aquatic plant layout competition? I’m guessing not. Anyway, these are the winners of the most recent edition of this contest, and there are some amazing examples of underwater topiary. Obsessional if rather cool – come on, though, do the fish really care?
- One Man’s Backyard Ice Fort: You may have heard that it’s been a touch chilly in the US of late. This is the response of one man who decided that the only right and proper thing to do was to construct a big sort of walled structure made out of coloured blocks of ice and fairy lights in his back garden. Why not, eh?
- Name My Daughter: This isn’t actually as stupid as it at first seems – the people behind this have made no actual commitment that they will in fact accept whatever name for their as-yet-unborn child the internet decides upon. That said, there are some inspired suggestions on there – ‘Streetlamp’ made me laugh out loud, though I am saddened that an early front-runner (‘Slagathor’) seems to have lost traction. I’m pretty sure that this couple won’t be calling their daughter ‘Cthulhu’, though.
- MMO Laserquest: So it’s not really quite that, but almost. Dustcloud is currently seeking funding to bring its vision of mobile, GPS-enabled laser tag gaming to reality. There are quite a few barriers to entry here which makes me think it won’t happen (namely that I’m not 100% convinced that enough people want this to shell out for a bespoke piece of kit), but it does give me the excuse to link to Street Wars, of which this reminded me somewhat and which I am reliably reassured will be coming back after a lengthy hiatus this Summer.
- The Dead Man’s Switch: Another in the growing list of ‘solutions for real life death online’, this is a service which allows you to draft an email, with attachments and a mailing list, and which will then email you every few days to make sure you’re still alive. If it doesn’t hear from you in 30 days, the email gets sent. Obviously massively flawed as an idea for lots of reasons which I can’t be bothered to explore in-depth, but interesting nonetheless.
- A Really Quite Mad Look At The Beatles Catalogue: I am sure that the man (come on, it’s not going to be a woman) behind this is a lovely person with a full and rich social life; nonetheless, this truly insane collection of information and insight into the anomalies and oddities around the Beatles’ work gives off their air of sweaty-palmed obsession like few other sites. If you like the Beatles, though, it may well be sort of Nirvanaish.
- Photos Of Astronauts Taking Photos: You may wish to listen to ‘Space Oddity‘ whilst looking at these.
- The 500 Worst Rolling Stone Reviews Of All Time: This one too’s pretty swivel-eyed in its one-track obsession; this is an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of the reviews which the author has, subjectively, decided exemplify the worst editorial judgments and weird nepotistic quirks of Rolling Stone magazines reviews history. You’ll need to be a proper muso to get the most out of this, but those of you who are will find much to amuse yourselves with, I think.
- The Logic Puzzle Motherlode: I know two women in their 30s who are obsessed with the sort of logic puzzle magazines traditionally aimed at octogenarians and traditionally consumed on long train / coach journeys along with a packet of boiled sweets. Neither of them read this, though, which does make me wonder why I’m including it. Hey ho. If you like wordsearches and stuff then this will be GOLD for you.
- Famous Film Quotes As Charts: Some of these you will have seen before, others not – the design, though, is very nice indeed. These really should be available as posters.
- Guantanamail: Self-destructing email. Which obviously doesn’t work because screencaps, but, y’know, I’m including it for completeness’ sake.
- Habit – The RPG: Remember gamification? Of course you do! Well it’s stubbornly refusing to die – this is a web-based game which applies role-playing dynamics to your life to MAKE YOU BETTER. In fairness, this was funded through Kickstarter and so there’s evidently a market for it – maybe give it a try as you attempt to make it beyond January with the exercise / no booze / no tears / fidelity / whatever goals.
- Life Through A Leica: Art Shay was married for 67 years. Over that time, he photographed many different things, but, most poignantly, his wife. This collection of pictures he took of her will make you tear up a little bit; you simply couldn’t imagine a collection of digital pictures having the same sort of emotional resonance, I don’t think.
- The Loneliest Town In America: Or at least that’s what they say. Loyalton California has awarded itself this accolade, based on its lack of visitors combined with its proximity to other big stuff. They explain a little more of why they make this claim on the website, which in itself is also INCREDIBLY SAD. It’s sort of the digital equivalent of tumbleweeds. Tell you what, planners who work for mobile brands (or even who work for Coca Cola) – use these people next time you want a ‘connecting people’/happiness-type vibe.
- Nasty Icons: Free, unpleasant icons for you to use however you see fit. The one of the little man peeing joyously is my personal favourite.
- The Womb: Last up this week is Project Womb, a fascinating idea which once again has a very direct and explicit connection to the concept of the creation, maintenance and development of the personal ‘Life Story’ (inverted commas intentional, pace Houellebecq. It’s a ‘media-driven’ time capsule, and a beautiful piece of design, which will allow users to upload multimedia content to it and thus allow it to act as a physical and digital memento mori. There is an artist now living whose greatest work will be based on this sort of idea; a work which will not be complete until they die. And on that STARTLINGLY pretentious note, let’s move on.
By Alicia Martin Lopez
THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:
- Internet Narcissists On TV: From a project up there which I think should be on TV, to one which apparently will but I’m not sure should be. This is Project Follow Me, a project looking for digital creators (specifically people who make stuff on the internet which GOES VIRAL, I think) to be part of a show which documents one of their projects. I can’t think of ANYTHING I would rather watch less, but then again I’m just a grumpy old sod to whom noone should, or indeed does, listen.
- Internet Poetry: Poetry published as image macros, screenshots, etc, with textual overlay. So internet, much poignant. ARGH BLOODY DOGESPEAK.
- Popeye Panels: One a day, decontextualised. There’s quite a lot of TRUTH in these, I think.
- Great Naps: Vintage-ish photos of people napping and seeming quite happy to be doing so. May induce somnolence.
- Tales You Lose: Popular culture figures, painted onto coins, by Frankfurt-based Brazilian artist Andre Levy.
- Lego Albums: Album cover art, remade in Lego. I’m pretty sure that these are made digitally and automatically, as I’m pretty sure that you can’t get Lego in all those shades, but maybe I’m just being miserable (again).
- Craigslist Mirrors: Mirrors for sale on Craigslist. Almost certainly going to be for sale at Frieze this year for tens of thousands of pounds.
- I Still Shoot Film: A Tumblr all about the art of shooting photos on film, and with hints and tips on how to be better at it. Fcuk off, Instagram.
- All About Socks: One woman’s obsession with sock design. No, I have no idea.
- Tiny Little Love Stories: I have featured these before, but they weren’t on Tumblr (I don’t think – oh, who cares). Anway, these are brilliant, twisted vignettes of surreal love and sex. Recommended.
- No Wrong Way To Play: A Tumblr collecting examples of people playing videogames in usual ways – no-kill playthroughs, glitch exploitation, etc.
- Brushes With Strangers: A collection of sketches of strangers, drawn using the ‘Brushes’ app on the iPad.
- PR Is Difficult: A collection of dreadful promo photos issued by American theatres. Are these all real? If so, Jesus Christ.
- Life Advice From Machines: More poignancy, juxtaposing the unintentionally profound nuggets of advice occasionally found in technical documentation with wistful pictures. These will be a 2015 calendar (or even 2014, if you hurry).
- Brutal Knitting: The occasionally distressing knitted art of Tracy Widdess.
THE LONG THINGS WHICH I AM ALREADY SEEING EVEN MORE OF THIS YEAR, SUGGESTING THAT LONGFORM AS A TREND ISN’T REALLY GOING ANYWHERE BUT WHICH, LRB ASIDE, I’M STILL NOT SEEING ANYWHERE NEAR ENOUGH OF FROM THE UK FOR REASONS WHICH I STILL DO NOT ADEQUATELY UNDERSTAND BUT WHICH I WOULD BE VERY GRATEFUL IF SOMEONE COULD EXPLAIN TO ME PLEASE:
- What Would Yellow Ranger Do?: Kicking off this week with a not-particularly-long comic, this is cartoonist Shin Yin Khor’s exploration of growing up Asian American and role models and racism and all sorts of other stuff. Really rather good.
- Travel – A Moving Experience: An excellent essay about the essentially lonely and alienating nature of travel, and the false promises we’re sold by the media and the world at large around what it entails and can offer people.
- An Interview With John Waters: The Wall Street Journal chats with the perennially odd Mr Waters, who as ever has quite a lot of interesting things to say about all sorts of stuff, not least the idea of people in their 60s still being rebellious and ‘angry’ and how ridiculous he finds that idea when applied to successful auteurs.
- The Archive Is A Campsite: An interesting piece by one of the founders of Longform about how the resurgence in longer writing has meant a more reflective approach to content and as such a renewed degree of importance for archiving. Interesting if you’re in any way into or connected to the world of publishing, writing or curating – and sort of subtextually has a lot to say about the relative value or lack thereof of some of the more ephemeral content providers. What would an archive of Buzzfeed look like? Would we want one?
- Artisanal Toast: This has been everywhere this week, so sorry if you’ve already read it; anyway, this is ostensibly a look at San Francisco’s hipster food culture reaching its apotheosis – $4 toast. In reality, though, it’s more about the woman behind the cafe which pioneered the (ridiculous sounding) concept of artisanal toast and the way in which running the place has helped her sort her life out. It’s far more inspirational and heartwarming than a story about really expensive bread should be, although be warned – it will make you a bit annoyed at points, and the lady portrayed does have tattooed freckles which is just silly really.
- An Interview With The Inventor of Karaoke: The nicest person to be featured in Curios this week, Daisuke Inoue is the man whose fault it was that you now know all the words to ‘I Will Survive’. This interview which him, in which he explains how he came to invent karaoke, is just lovely.
- Whatever Happened To Tim Tebow: So this one’s less long than kilometric, and not helped by the unnecessary HTML5 formatting, but it really is interesting. You may recall a few years ago that the sporting world, and in particular the American one, was obsessed with a bloke called Tim Tebow, the not-particularly-great quarterback for the Denver Broncos who had unshakeable faith in the Christian idea of God and who, for a few short months at least, seemed to see that faith amply repayed by some really quite spooky last-minute game-winning performances. Tebow was a poster child for a whole swathe of right-wing Christian Americans, and his remarkable rise and subsequent crazy fall are brought to life very well indeed in this piece. You probably need to know a little about NFL for it to make sense, but not too much.
- The Inevitable Childish Gambino Piece: I’m not obsessed, he’s just about a lot at the moment. A good interview, this.
- The Architecture Of The Incredibles: A slightly obsessive but really interesting look at the architectural depiction of the world in Pixar’s classic animation. If nothing else it will leave you slightly boggling at the sheer amount of thought and detail and STUFF that those guys pack into things which the average viewer will literally never, ever notice.
- Growing Up Clown: What would it be like growing up in and around clowns, with a mother in greasepaint? Like this, apparently. Brilliantly written and elegiac and sad, this is worth reading for many reasons but mostly for the line ‘sometimes in life one just ends up cuddling on a couch with the ringmaster’.
- The Crucial and Unexpected Role Played By Monopoly in WWII: This one too is very long, but bear with it – it develops into a truly mental boys’ own tale of crazy escape attempts and spies and…er…board games.
- Hoop Dreams – An Oral History: Hoop Dreams is unquestionably the greatest documentary about sport ever made, ever, and potentially one of the greatest documentaries ever full stop. It’s 20 years old this year, and this piece looks back at the film, the characters and the story behind it in brilliant, loving depth. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favour and book out some hours this weekend to do so; it really is that good, I promise – you can get the whole thing here.
- Spending 24h In A Dive Bar: The concept of a dive bar is sort of uniquely American – does it mean anything more than ‘a bit scuzzy’? – but this account of a 24h cycle in one such venue’s life is the sort of lovely microcosmic portrait of a Cheers-style boozehole that you will want it to be your local.
- The Online Avengers Of Anonymous: A great piece from the New York Times looking at some of the (self-styled) White Knights of the anonymous movement, those who make it their mission to track down bullies, abusers and rapists and make their lives hell – you may not be surprised to know that the piece reveals them to be slightly odd bunch, and the world to be a marginally more complicated place than they think it is, but it’s a very good read in any case.
- When Ads Hated Women: More great stuff from Collector’s Weekly, this time looking at ads from the 40s and 50s which basically told women that they stank and that they were ugly (so that’s different from today how, exactly?). Some of these are truly incredible, and the accompanying interview with the collector / curator is fascinating from a cultural / social mores point of view.
- The Top 100 Things On Medium in December: In case you want more reading. Of COURSE you do.
By Randy Martin
1) This week, some very rich men who are good at sport got given some awards. This is a brilliantly strange / dreadful rap about that very thing, with a video which is oddly reminiscent of Money For Nothing by Dire Straits (younger readers – THIS IS WHAT CGI WAS LIKE IN THE 80s):
2) Technical achievement of the week goes to the fabulously named Rino Stefano Tagliaferro, who has taken a whole load of classic artworks and animated them ever so slightly, creating this very weird and dreamlike and slightly creepy composite. The nudity in all of these looks a LOT stranger when moves, though I’m not quite sure why. Anyway, this is called ‘Beauty’ and it’s very nicely done indeed:
3) This is a trailer for a pr0n film featuring women pretending to be magical ponies. Let me repeat – THIS IS THE TRAILER FOR A PR0N FILM FEATURING WOMEN PRETENDING TO BE MAGICAL PONIES. This is technically SFW, although obviously there’s a fair amount of flesh on display – who is this aimed at? Is there really anyone in the world who would actively choose to masturbate to this? I am boggling all over the place:
4) Adam Magyar did the high-speed filming thing on a subway train coming to Grand Central in NYC. It’s amazing – this is what we all look like when we go to work, webmongs. Can someone do this in London, please?:
5) My favourite animation of the week comes in the shape of this, for the band Alameda’s song ‘New Leaf’. It’s quite the most visually arresting thing I’ve seen in ages, stylistically – sort of handpainted 3d cgi all at once. The song’s nice too, in a slightly strummy, bedwetty fashion:
6) This, though, is my SECOND favourite animation (high praise indeed). I have featured The Young Punx on here before, and the work of their long-time collaborator Han Hoogerbrugge who’s animated all their vids. The latest effort from this fruitful collaboration is for their song ‘All These Things Are Gone’, a look back at things from the 80s which are now but distant memories. The song has echoes (thematically rather than acoustically) of St Etienne’s Fake 88, or Snapshot Memories by Just Jack, but the video’s all its own and SO GOOD:
7) What does it look like when a man stitches a portrait into his palm? Like this:
8) This week’s second reference to the terrifying safety videos of the 1970s comes with this new video from We Are Scientists for their sing Dumb Luck. Come for the hooks (not a little reminiscent of Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger), stay for the increasingly grotesque bloodletting:
9) UK HIPHOP CORNER! Well, sort of. This is feat.Giggs rather than being by him, but his cameo’s decent and I LOVE the woman’s voice and the production on this. Love love love. This is Lolo ft Giggs with ‘Gangsters’ – is this famous? It feels like it ought to be all over whatever radio stations kids listen to these days:
10) Finally, this. Trip out to a hyperlapsed, timelapsed, mirrored journey through some rather pretty landscapes. I love this technique. Happy Friday, everyone x:
That’s it for now