Webcurios 19/02/16

Reading Time: 26 minutes

HELLO AGAIN EVERYONE! Rejoice, for 2016 can finally properly begin – Web Curios is BACK FOR GOOD (barring additional holidays, sickness, a general continuation of the overall lack of anything resembling a regular audience for this, the publisher pulling the plug, death or serious illness, or just the eventual victory of the crushing sense of ennui and futility which is almost certainly what will claim me if cancer doesn’t)!

I would probably traditionally try and make some sort of SEMI-TOPICAL GAGS about the past few weeks’ internet here, but it was so nice not really bothering with it for a while that I’m going to pretend that it didn’t actually happen. Sadly I am having to drag myself back into semi-regular employment as of next week, so expect this bright, breezy and generally Fotherington-Thomas-ish tone to be a distant memory come next Friday – if you would prefer a happier and more carefree Curios, feel free to get in touch directly to discuss ways in which you could contribute to the as-yet-empty Matt Muir indolence fund.

But now, let us CRACK RIGHT on. Slather yourself in whatever protective creams you favour and prepare to once more step into the multimegawattage glare of FULL-BEAM internets – side effects of prolonged exposure include the sloughing of the skin, weeping sores and the sort of blindness traditionally associated with the sins of Onan. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!

By Jordan Eagles



  • Ads Coming to Facebook Messenger: In a move which should surprise a grand total of no people at all, leaked documents suggest that FB is planning to monetise its Messenger product by letting brands chuck ads into Messenger conversations. The CUSTOMER-FRIENDLY NUANCE to this (ha!) is that brands will only be able to advertise at you through messenger if users have initiated chat with them; which is why the leaked document contains the lovely snippet of advice to brands that they should encourage people to message them in advance of this being launched so that they already have a lot of tacit permissions in the bag. Which is lovely. Nothing earthshattering about this, but the cynicism of the last bit is wearyingly familiar. The platform’s also launched a deeplink button thingy (TECHNICAL!) which brands can put on Pages which will let users open a chat dialogue with said brand in a single click to better facilitate these IMPORTANT CONSUMER BRAND INTERACTION TOUCHPOINTS, which is kind of them. DO NOT TALK TO THE BRANDS. THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.

  • Better Metrics For Facebook Video: All sorts of new numbers available to publishers about their vids on Facebook, which basically came of age recently with OK GO’s decision to put their new video exclusively on the platform. Oh, and they also announced that you can now do autocaptioning on video ads in the UK, which is probably quite a useful thing to explore given that everyone browses Facebook on mobile with the sound off and therefore can’t hear your ad’s schtick AT ALL.

  • Facebook Live Being Rolled Out Everywhere: SOON! SO SOON! It’s a real shame that Facebook’s architecture won’t allow for Periscope Roulette-style webapp builds, as the mass-market nature of Facebook would make for some really interesting ‘THIS IS WHAT THE WORLD IS DOING RIGHT NOW’-type observations. Hey ho.

  • Instant Articles Coming To All On April 12: Facebook Instant Articles, whereby publishers can punt articles directly onto Facebook and we readers thereby have NO REASON TO EVER LEAVE, are being made accessible to all in mid-April. So there.

  • Facebook for Non-Profits: See? THEY ARE A NICE COMPANY! This is a new site which offers tips and hand-holding for not-for-profit organisations worldwide to maximise the impact of their use of Facebook in awareness and fundraising, with guidance on how to use some of the sectorally specific site features (‘donate’ mechanics, etc) and some more general stuff. I shouldn’t scoff, really – it is A GOOD THING – but it’s not like they’re giving away ad inventory for free or anything so let’s not go too far overboard on Zuck’s philanthropy.

  • Twitter Tweaks Customer Service Offering: In an interesting parallel with the Facebook thing, Twitter’s made some changes to how brands can use the platform fo customer service; not least, the possibility to put a link in a Tweet which will, if clicked by a customer, automatically take the chat to a DM thread. There’s also a whole host of stuff which lets brands collect data about users’ experiences with customer service, which ties into Net Promoter Score and other tracking services, which tbh makes my eyes glaze right over but which you might actually find sort of useful if that’s your idea of ‘fun’.

  • Share Videos In DMs: It sort of feels like it’s just playing a horribly belated game of feature catch-up, doesn’t it? Poor the Twitter.

  • Search Gifs in Twitter!: Expect the share price to arrest its ruinous decline any day now. Also, expect the percentage of BRAND FUNNIES which include gifs to increase by a factor of about 3000%.

  • Instagram Ups Length Of Ads To 60 Seconds: Continuing the apparent aim to squeeze all the joy from Instagram.

  • Imagining Snapchat’s Future: Interesting-if-long thinkpiece looking at UX/UI/functionality changes which the platform could implement as it hurtles towards mainstream ubiquity. Useful not only as a series of speculations but also as part of developing an understanding of how people might and do actually use the platform (NOT YOU ADAM JOHNSON).

  • The Battle For Live Events: An interesting comparison of how the ‘LOOK AT THE FAMOUSES LOOK AT THEIR FAMOUS FACES AND FROCKS” excitement at the Grammys played out on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Mainly tonal in its focus, but worth a read if you have to do live stuff for a living (not ‘realtime engagement’, thogh, that’s SO 2014).

  • Strava Cycle Tracks: To be honest there are a few branded websites which I should chuck up here this week, but they’re all so NICE that I want to forget about the branded aspect of them and just lump them in with the good stuff down there. So I will – Curios’ increasingly laughably inconsistent taxonomy be damned. Anyhow, you don’t care about that and, as it turns out, neither do it. This is a promosite by some company called Amplifon, which I think make hearing aids, which rather brilliantly takes data from mental cycling obsessives’ routes on Strava and turns them into music. I would LOVE to know what the ‘insight’ was that got them to spunk the cash on this – is there a massive crossover between ‘hearing aid wearers’ and ‘committed, self-quantifying cycling nuts who spend more money than necessary on Rafa gear’? I’m going to guess ‘no’, but feel free to tell me otherwise.


By Seung Hawn Oh



  • Anchor: It’s a REALLY lazy description, but it’s quite early and I’m sleepy and, frankly, if you’re looking for anything other than glib summaries with no actual depth or analysis then you’re reading the wrong thing. Anyway, Anchor is basically like Twitter for audio – you create an account and post short audio clips, which others can listen to and respond to, conversationally, with their own audio clips. To me, it sounds like a pretty huge waste of time – after all, it takes far longer to record, post and listen to a 10-second audio clip than it does to write a Tweet containing exactly the same volume of information – but judging by the number of people I saw over the past few weeks whilst on holiday using Whatsapp? as some sort of voicemail/chat hybrid I know nothing and should probably be ignored at all costs.

  • Over The Top Gear: A little graphic gif thingy showing how mind-fcukingly large the budgets for the new Amazon incarnation of Top Gear are, and what that could buy the creative team in terms of how much they spend doing stuff on the old show. Included mainly as it’s a REALLY stealable way of presenting information which you should consider…er…taking inspiration from next time you have some eye-gougingly tedious numberstuff to gussy up.

  • The Life of PabLOL: Kanye album cover generator, in case you want or need one for any reason.

  • Buy Me Once: The annoying thing about doing this weekly is…oh, who am I kidding, there are too many to list. ONE of the annoying things about doing this weekly is finding something on Sunday and then the sodding Guardian running it on Thursday. I FOUND THE CONCH, DAMMIT. Anyway, if you missed the rest of the media getting all frothy about it this week, Buy Me Once is a site which sells stuff which you should, in theory, not need to replace every 12 months – conspiracy theorists amongst you might well worry for the founder’s wellbeing, as she will almost certainly be murdered by the shadowy consumerist manufacturing cabal within a matter of weeks (NB – Web Curios in no way actually believes in the existence of any shadowy consumerist manufacturing cabal).

  • Yarn: I don’t really take photos, because I’ve basically got some sort of low-level beauty blindness which means that if I do ever take them they look like the sort of thing that happens when you give a 4 year old access to a lens. That said, if I did this service would probably be quite useful – Yarn takes your photos from all the different places they may exist (FB, Instagram, Dropbox, your desktop) and lets them all be organised in one place, with the opportunity to create albums, share them, etc. Not entirely novel, but from what I can tell it’s pretty functional and easy to use and so worth a go.

  • Walla: I really want this to take off, though it probably won’t. Walla is an app which lets users basically ‘tag’ real-world locations with digital graffiti  – these tags can be sent to other users using the app who get a map showing where the tag is. They then look at the wall in question through the app on their phone and see the tag as a sort of AR-light overlay – simple and cute, and there are all sorts of fun applications for games and stuff here, as well as a whole host of more nefarious ones for burglars (“THEY ALWAYS LEAVE THE KEYS UNDER THE GNOME”). Have a play. Actually, that crime idea is GENIUS. Obviously Web Curios bears no responsibility for any eventual incarceration or prosecution. Obviously.

  • Yes That Was The Joke: For all those times you (in this case, sadly, it’s quite likely that the ‘you’ in question will be a woman, because that’s just how the internet works ok?) make a joke on Twitter only for a bunch of people to leap into your mentions explaining exactly what the joke you just made is. Some of you may want to bookmark this, as you may be using it rather a lot.

  • The Long and Short: A really interesting online magazine, backed by NESTA, about how the world is CHANGING. Tech and sociology and STUFF – there’s loads of really interesting articles on here if this is your thing. If you like Imperica – and you fcuking well should, you ingrates – you’ll like this too.

  • Iris AI: TED talks have become sort of hideously uncool in the past few years, and seem to have been tarred with the line once applied to Stephen Fry (“a stupid person’s idea of a clever thing”); this site, though, might go some way towards making them useful again. Aside from anything else, it’s a really interesting AI project – the deal is that you plug in the url of any TED talk and Iris analyses it, quickly spitting out a series of breakdowns of key themes in the talk and eventually linking you to academic materials on or around said themes, moving from the often charismatic-but-shallow TED template to something far more rigorous. You can read the science behind it here – it’s fascinating stuff.

  • Book Scarves: Scarves (not the winter sort, the fashion sort) designed to look like classic books. Are scarves fashionable at the moment? I have literally NO IDEA, though if you’re the sort of person who would like one of these I imagine that you’re also the sort of person who would be similarly nonplussed by their status in the sartorial zeitgeist.

  • Textfiles: An incredible collection of old text files culled from bulletin boards in the EARLY days of the web. All pre-95 stuff, and if you’re of a certain age this is a pure hit of webnostalgia. Even if you’re not, as a piece of cultural timetravel this is fascinating; you can trace a direct line from this stuff to Reddit (some of the content is pretty much identical, despite the 25+ year gap).

  • EAR/ONS: VERY odd and obsessional website about a series of unsolved murders in California by someone going by the moniker of ‘The East Area Rapist’ or ‘The Original Night Stalker’. Interesting partly because of the slightly wild-eyed fervour with which it’s all pursued, but also because of the beautifully hopeful exhortation on the homepage – “If you are the East Area Rapist, click here!”. Hm, interesting entrapment technique there.

  • Smell Dating: This MUST have gone mainstream this week, so apologies, but it’s such a wonderfully silly idea. You know those speed-dating-type-events which got loads of press about 12-18 months ago, whereby you base your assessment of a potential partner’s attractiveness on the pheremones on an old tshirt? Well this is that, but mail order. You get a package containing a slightly malodorous garment in the post; you sniff it; you decide whether or not you want to meet the pheremonecarrier in question. I can’t help thinking that this is something of a retrograde step in our evolution, but hey ho. NYC only, but obviously soon-to-be-replicated over here because OBVIOUSLY.

  • 3d Object Scans: LOADS of them, all available for free, should you like that sort of thing.

  • Cardboard Tents: These are SUCH a good idea. The website’s all in Dutch, so I have no idea whether there’s a hidden catch, but it seems like a really sensible way of getting round the whole ‘oh god I’m coming down so hard that the thought of wrestling the tent back into the bag makes me want to cry and I haven’t had a poo in 3 days I’m just going to leave it all here and cry in a ditch I am never doing Glastonbury again’ feeling.

  • Sci-Hub: Basically Wikileaks for scientific papers, making them freely accessible to those of us mere mortals who don’t have academic credentials. Niche, but there’s almost certainly some really interesting stuff in here if that’s your bent.

  • Semantic Analysis of Reddit: This is really rather interesting, not just as a linguistic / academic exercise but also as a keyword identification tool for search and adbuying. Basically you plug in a term or phrase and the site will spit out a host of other stuff which, according to Reddit, relates to said term. Obviously its effectiveness is skewed heavily towards Reddit-y topics (it was depressingly good on ‘Manosphere’, for example) but it’s pretty fun to fiddle with and I think with some lateral thinking could actually prove rather useful.

  • Dabbl: Described as ‘The New, Simple Way To Start Investing’, this also strikes me as a truly fantastic way to lose loads of money REALLY QUICKLY. The tech’s very clever-seeming – you see something cool, you snap it, the app tells you info about the company and its share performance, and gives you the opportunity to buy in one-click – but you’d sort of hope there might be a bit of safeguarding to stop idiots from bankrupting themselves in minutes. Or actually, maybe not – maybe this is investment natural selection. Either way, caveat emptor and all that jazz.

  • Lorem Pixel: An easy way to get stock placeholder images of a variety of sizes / proportions. Superuseful, this.

  • The Handheld Spectrum Emulator: Can we all please stop with the retrofetishisation, please, and accept that whilst many of us remember old videogames fondly because they hark back to a more innocent time, they were mostly absolutely atrocious and, you know, the medium has moved on a bit? Oh, no, we can’t, because the internet is now seemingly run by a bunch of late-30/early-40something manchildren (eh? oh) who are incapable of LETTING GO. Ahem. Anyway, this got funded in like 10 minutes so will be gathering dust on your husband’s shelves within the year.

  • A Simple Response: One of those global projects which makes you feel momentarily a bit warm and fuzzy until you stop and think coldly and rationally at exactly how much difference it’s going to make to stuff like this and you realise the answer is ‘ooh, about none at all as it turns out’ and you go back to being glad you’ll be dead before any more future happens. A Simple Response is, to quote, “a non-for-profit, publically-compiled, Interstellar Radio Message due to be transmitted from Earth on a one-way journey to our North Pole Star in 2016…A Simple Response invites individuals from anywhere on the planet to consider and freely contribute their own unique [text-based] perspectives to the posed question; “How will our present environmental interactions shape the future?”” Add your own fiddle to the chorus as Rome continues to blaze around us!

  • Nottda: Want to know when dawn, sunrise, dusk, etc, are going to happen today wherever you are? OH GOOD!

  • Music Mappr: I am about as musical as soup, and therefore this is a TOUCH beyond me, but as far as I can tell this lets you plug in any MP3 or Soundcloud link and then analyses the track, breaking it down into its constituent audio parts, visually grouping them into clusters of similarity, and then allowing users to play with these constituent parts to explore common themes, etc. If you make sample-heavy music I reckon this could actually be pretty useful and rather fun.

  • Search Hillary Clinton’s Emails: Things I learned from this: Cherie Blair’s email style would induce a pretty spectacular episode of mouth-frothing rage in me within about 3 rounds of correspondence.

  • Tonescope: Website which picks up audio and tells you what note it is – ostensibly for tuning instruments or even your voice, but I mainly used it to discover exactly how incredibly hard it is to hold a note and to thereby remind myself why I should never, ever do karaoke.

  • The Patents Colouring Book: I reacted rather snarkily to a TREND REPORT last year which suggested that colouring books for grown-ups were going to be a thing; once again, I proved myself spectacularly incapable of seeing the future, as this Christmas they were the stocking fillers of choice for idiots (sorry, but). Anyway, this is a WHOLE BOOK to colour in, featuring weird US patents from history. No idea whether this will help you with MINDFULNESS, but then again if you use that word in conversation then I disdain you utterly (see also ‘blessed’).

  • Alternative Scouting Merit Badges: If you have a particular type of kid, godchild, nephew/niece, they will ADORE these.

  • Visualising Punctuation in Novels: Novels with all the words taken out. This blogpost analyses the diversity and frequency of punctuation types in a number of classic pieces of literature – the frequency diagrams at the end are rather lovely, and should probably be made available as posters for literary snobs and obscurantists the world over (I would totally buy one :-().

  • NASA Posters: A beautiful series of posters by NASA, all free to download and print, presenting imagined tourist destinations around the galaxy. Beautiful graphic design – were I a teacher and doing SPACE STUFF I would a) be really bad at my job; b) have these all over the classroom.

  • Answer The Public: This is SO USEFUL (potentially). Plug in any word you like and it will spit out a whole load of analysis drawn from Google and Bing searches around that word, in the form of questions and prepositions. If you’re doing bullshit insight work for a pitch, this is GOLDEN – if you’re not, it’s just a really interesting and fun way of exploring what people think about STUFF. Really rather good indeed.

  • Building The Butterfly: This is ODD. Apparently, “Really Useful Products is a UK based business that designs, develops, manufactures and distributes an innovative range of plastic storage products to help our customers save time through being better organised.” They are also building an office in the shape of a butterfly. Their website is really, really quite strange – take a look, it doesn’t seem to be a joke.

  • Amygdala: Another iteration of the ‘We Feel Fine’ mechanic (I will never stop linking to it, just FYI); this one takes sentiment data from Twitter (based on sentence parsing rather than keyword analysis) and turns it into a live light show. I’d rather like to see something like this applied to photos, please – we’re now at  point where rudimentary machine analysis of pictures is totally possible, so it would be fun to see what you could do with that plus Instagram for the artLOLS.

  • Soylent Dick: A penis made of soylent which ejaculates Soylent when people Tweet annoying phrases about how great Soylent is. Pointless and yet FULL OF MEANING (and unpleasantly thick, opaque pseudojizz).

  • The Malware Museum: A collection of old viruses which can be safely run in the browser to let you experience the spine-chilling terror of what eventually happens to your PC when you spend too much time looking at pirated bongo shared around the playground on 3.5” floppies (there may be some of you reading to which that sentence is literally incomprehensible, for which apologies).

  • The Plum Guide: Interesting idea adding a layer of additional curation to London’s Airbnb market – The Plum Guide purports to select only the BEST apartments for rent in the capital, separating the wheat from the chaff so you only get top-notch accomodation. As things currently stand, their perception of ‘best’ seems to equate with ‘most likely to induce frothing antiphipsterrage amongst those people inclined to such emotions’, but if you know people who want to come and stay here for a bit and their idea of a good time involves long, humourless conversations about denim and coffee, you know where to point them.

By Travis Huggett




  • Falling Fruit: Surprisingly GREAT website which maps places around the world where you can forage for fruit and veg and stuff. Not sure how up to date it is, but I am totally going scrumping round the corner this afternoon based on the info here – there is LOADS of London stuff.

  • 50s Hong Kong Photos: SO gorgeous, it’s hard to believe that these aren’t film stills. Absolutely from another era (erm, which I appreciate is a fairly spectacularly obvious thing to say, sorry).

  • Gastropod: A really interesting-looking podcast for those of you interested in food and science and stuff.

  • Tweexy: I don’t tend to paint my nails – mainly as they are so appallingly bitten-down that there’s about 1cm of real-estate on each one to play with – but if I did I would be ALL OVER this piece of design, which is SO CLEVER that I was left a bit speechless at its genius when I saw it the other day.

  • The Unsent Project: To quote: “The Unsent project is a collection of text messages submitted under the prompt  “State your first loves name and type what you would say if you sent them a text message. Also include the color that you think of when you think of your first love. The submissions are used in collages which are visual representations of the diversity and unmistakable similarities between submitters feelings toward their first loves. The submissions are also created into stickers that can be purchased and are put up everywhere for the public to read.” These are absolutely as good as you would expect.

  • The Captured Project: Billed as ‘people in prison drawing people who should be in prison’, this collates a selection of portraits drawn by US prisoners of people who perhaps should be in jail for their rather more socially acceptable white-collar crimes, usually of a financial nature.

  • Turtle Call: Look, I am really sick of featuring stuff like this and then having to point out that it’s US-only. WHERE IS OUR INNOVATIVE PHONEPRANKING GAME, UK PEOPLE? Hmph. This is a service which, for the meagre price of $2, will call up anyone you choose and pretend to be a turtle at them for up to two minutes. No, I have literally no idea whatsoever what that might entail, but it’s part of the joy (we’re all about finding the joy here at Curios).

  • Point and Clickbait: The Onion for videogames sites, basically. If the phrase ‘ethics in games journalism’ means anything to you then you will find a lot to laugh at here.

  • Infinite City: Procedurally generated cities which go on FOREVER and which you can fly through to your heart’s content. Strangely soothing with the right soundtrack (Nils Frahm worked rather well for me).

  • Photos From Vietnam Taken By The Winners: These are just wonderful. The one of the woman in a headscarf cradling the rifle’s particularly awesome, but the whole selection is brilliant.

  • Keep Alive: I love this – art project by Aram Bartholl which consists of a fake rock with a WiFi router hidden inside it, placed in a German park; the gimmick being that if a fire is lit under the rock, the heat powers the router which then turns itself on and makes available a whole bunch of PDF survival guides to download to anyone nearby. There are SO MANY applications for this – imagine the fun you could have with the same tech designed to work only when it reaches a certain temperature in direct sunlight which gives icecream vouchers or something (yes, ok, the physics here may be wonky and the idea’s a crap one, but YOU try coming up with stuff after you’ve been typing solidly for three hours).

  • Covenant Eyes: SO SAD. Covenant Eyes is a service whereby you, you WEAK WILLED SACK OF TEMPTATION AND GUILT, agree to have a report of your web browsing activity mailed each week to a nominated significant other, the idea being that this will SHAME YOU into looking at less bongo (I mean, they mention something about keeping track of your kids’ browsing habits, but the Christian rhetoric onsite makes me think it’s more about helping people master their SINFUL URGES). Imagine the sort of life you must have, just imagine.

  • Deleted: Want to make your life on social media even more nervous and approval-chasing and generally unhealthy than it already is? Install this, then, which will tell you who’s unfriended/unfollowed you on Facebook this week. Christ alive.

  • Clue: I get the impression there are probably LOADS of menses-trackers available, but this one seems not only really functional but also beautifully designed; if you’re into the quantified self and all that jazz you might find this one of interest (but of limited use if you’re a man).

  • World Press Photo 2016: These are all stunning.

  • Being: A really interesting idea, this one – Being is an app which lets you see the Instagram feed of anyone else as they would, effectively letting users experience a degree of ‘empathy’ (I use the word advisedly) for the experience of others on the platform. All it’s doing is presenting the stream of all those they follow, of course, but it’s an interesting experiment and is actually probably quite interesting in terms of researching how differing types of users experience the medium. Or something.

  • The Evolution of the Browser: Use the left and right arrow keys to explore how the way we view stuff online has changed in the past few decades. Children, THIS IS WHAT WE USED TO HAVE TO PUT UP WITH.

  • Follow: Wonderful NYC-based art project, whereby you apply to have an actual, real-life follower for a day. They will follow you, unseen, and at the end of the experience take a picture they snapped of you whilst they were trailing you. There’s almost certainly a big old high concept behind this, but I don’t care about that – I just love the gamelike element and the manner in which knowing you’re being benignly stalked will necessarily change the nature of your interactions with the world for that day. If anyone would like to stalk me for a day, you are WELCOME (I am often in my kitchen, should be pretty easy tbh).

  • Flowstate: An incredibly brutal app for writing productivity, Flowstate basically forces you to write continuously with no more than a 5 second pause between keystrokes for a predetermined amount of time – you stop, or pause longer than 5 seconds, before your time has expired and the app will delete EVERYTHING. There’s actually quite an interesting experiment in form and stuff that you could do with this if you were a proper writer.

  • The Magic 8ball Buttplug: I leave this here without comment.

  • Codeology: This is in fact a promosite for some payments company called Braintree, but it is SO LOVELY. It takes code from Github and turns it into beautiful images, each as unique as the code they’re derived from; the results are beautiful, and you can of course plug in your own code for a bespoke artthingy. Really gorgeous stuff.

  • Mmorph: One of the best and shiniest browser-based synthtoys I have seen in AGES. Have a play, it’s really very satisfying indeed and it’s surprisingly easy to make unshit musics.

  • Famous!: Do you remember ‘Stolen’? Waaaaaaay back in the early days of 2016 it was the first controversial app casualty of the year, pulled from circulation as people’s concerns over how, well, creepy it sort of was gained traction. But it’s BACK! Except now it’s called Famous, and it’s opt-in (your Twitter handle won’t be on it unless you opt in), and it has the backing of one of the most harassed people on the internet, so it’s probably all going to be fine this time. You can read more about the pivot here – it’s an interesting example of how to unfcuk a situation in smart fashion, I think.

  • That Leonardo DiCaprio Red Carpet Game: This has received an ASTONISHING amount of coverage for a pretty standard retro buttonmasher – well done the devs.

  • Infinite Sunset: There’s an exhibition which has being doing the rounds of galleries worldwide for a few years now called Suns by Penelope Umbrico, which collects prints of photos on Flickr tagged ‘sunset’ and displays them as a sort of overwhelming collage (it’s rather beautiful if you ever get the opportunity to check it out). Anyway, this is basically that but pulling images tagged #sunset from Instagram in what appears to be realtime. It’s HUGELY soothing, and a useful reminder that it’s always time for a booze somewhere in the world.

  • The Garden of Earthly Delights: the best piece of webwork in here this week, this is admittedly a few weeks old but it is SO GOOD that if you’ve not yet seen it you should drop whatever you are doing and have a play. An interactive exploration of ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by renowned painterly madman Hieronymous Bosch, this is a zoomable scrollable interactive which contains SO MUCH information about the painting, the context behind individual elements, the sociological background to the work and much more besides, all presented through audio and video and text…I would like every massively dense historical artwork to be presented like this online, please. Thanks.

  • Heart Music: But this is my FAVOURITE thing of the week. Unexpectedly from Puerto Rico (no offence, but it’s never struck me as a hotbed of digital innovation before), and a project by its largest hospital, this lets you tap along with your heartbeat and then creates music based on that rhythm JUST FOR YOU. My Spanish is sadly not up to translating the story behind the site’s creation (I think it’s a memorial to a particular patient), but I adore the fact it exists.

  • The Labia Library: Look, this is a GOOD THING, ok? Produced by the Victoria health service in Australia, the site is designed to show that labia come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and all are totally normal. I can’t quite imagine the NHS doing this, which is a damn shame imho. The only room for improvement here is the name – their reluctance to call it ‘The Labiary’ is, frankly, baffling. You are two clicks away from pictures of labia, FYI.  

  • Zebra: An FPS to give you a massive headache. Sort of beautiful, but best not to try it if you’re epileptic I’d have thought.


By Andrea Castro




  • Pop Culture Died In 2009: This is GOLDEN. Dispatches from mid-aughts pop culture, just in case you wanted to remind yourself what celebrity looked like all those years ago.

  • Every Album Is Aerosmith: A project seeking to seemingly reimagine every single album cover ever produced as an Aerosmith record (in this case ‘Sweet Emotion’).

  • Celebrity Close Up: Because famouses have ropey skin too.  

  • Made This For: A Shardcore project which scans the web for fan art posted on Twitter with the text “I made this for you” and autoposts it here. There is some WONDERFUL ‘content’ to be had here.

  • Protobacillus: My new favourite maker of arty abstract gifs. Part biological, part tech art, all wonderful.

  • Cronenburg Valentines: Yes, I know, but bookmark it for next year.

  • Seattle Volvos: No idea what the deal is with the city and these cars, but here are some volvos (some from Seattle, some not).

  • Upside Down N: Not technically a Tumblr, but hey ho – this collects all the many, many instances worldwide of people placing the letter ‘n’ upside down in signage by mistake (or perhaps as an act of strange typographical subversion, who knows?).

  • Algopop: Algorithms in popular culture. Lots of stuff about AI, machine learning and STUFF, if that’s your thing.

  • 69 USA: 69 USA is a clothing label from LA which purports to be gender-free – properly unisex in the truest sense. Whatever you think of the clothes, the Tumblr’s got an AWESOME aesthetic to it (and I like the fact you can pointlessly reposition the tiles).


  • Hunkering Down With the Survival Moms: I confess that I had thought until a few yeas back that the cult of the prepper had died along with the millennium bug, but it seems not. This is a great piece exploring the growing subculture of preparedness amongst otherwise mainstream(ish – I mean, they’re almost certainly all pro-gun pro-life Republicans, but) US mothers. It’s obviously a bit hatstand, but there was a bit in this when I was forced to confront the reality that in the event of some sort of breakdown in urban civilisation I would be all sorts of screwed *stockpiles Andrex*

  • A Very Good Buzzfeed Profile: Part of Fast Company’s series of profiles of its ‘most innovative companies’ list, this profile of Buzzfeed is fascinating and not a little scary – it feels a touch ‘resistance is futile’ by the end. Two main takeaways from this, though – firstly, next time your client asks you to make some COMPELLINGLY VIRAL VIDEO CONTENT, point them at this and ask them to take particular note of the sort of resources Buzzfeed throw at their vids; and secondly, even with some of the most sophisticated network analysis and tracking tools in the business, even they have to accept that making shareable stuff is at its simplest just really unpredictable and sort of hard.

  • People as Particles: I can’t really summarise this as, well, I’m not clever enough; suffice it to say that it is a VERY smart piece of writing about how concepts in physics map against concepts in economics and subsequently to models of human behaviour (and, equally, how sometimes they don’t and we should probably pay more attention to these things). Particularly interesting if you’re slightly sceptical of the ‘economics as science’ viewpoint.

  • Strokes of Genius: This is by no means a great piece of journalism, but I’m including it because there is SO MUCH unintentional hilarity in this tale of a ‘Christian’ (my inverted commas, because really) couple who are trying to build a future from teledildonic porn. Really, please do read this – the catalogue of misadventures would be sort of saddening were it not for the mental image it presents of a pair of tattooed, toothless rednecks with a BIG IDEA.

  • Trend Piece: The New Yorker channeling quite a lot of McSweeney’s to good effect here with this ur-example of the archetypal trend piece. Terrifyingly accurate.

  • An Oral History Of THE PUDDLE: Obviously methuselan in online terms, many of you will look back on that glorious afternoon many weeks ago as the pinnacle of the internet. Here, Vice dot com’s Joel Golby gives the Drummond Puddle the sort of in-depth investigative treatment it no doubt merits, talking to the key players in the year’s biggest news story to date (but disappointingly offering no editorial judgment on the bloke from Domino’s being really proud of sending a pizza to a fcuking puddle in the name of PR).

  • Neurogastronomy: Yes, fine, it features Heston, but this piece on how neuroscience can impact the manner in which we experience flavour is more than just the standard “and you listen to the sea whilst eating cockles!” guff recycled from a decade ago, honest.

  • Youth Hunting Season: A story about taking your 11 year old daughter deerhunting for the first time. Whatever your stance on hunting, it’s a good read – not least because it’s a pretty alien perspective on all sorts of things for a pinko liberal lefty like me (and probably you too, if my less-than-rigorous analysis of Curios’ demographics are right).

  • Young Thug Profile: Properly fascinating profile of Young Thug, a top-5 biggest in the game right now rapper from Atlanta (take a listen to Slime Season here for a taste) and someone whose lifestyle can politely be termed ‘uncompromising’. The article basically implies he’ll be dead or jailed in a decade, though TBH I could seem him being creative director at Topman too with those threads.

  • Inside TMZ: Exhaustive profile of the world’s biggest gossip site and the supersized ego behind it. If nothing else will teach you what TMZ actually stands for, which was news to me.

  • Everyone’s Offended These Days: Following Mr Fry’s latest decision to absent himself from Twitter, this is a brilliantly even-handed look at the culture of offense online, mob mentalities and the rest. Sample quote which gives a flavour – it’s really worth the time to read, though: “The subtext here is that cretinism is acceptable, but being a target is not. If you’re a total dick who only uses the Internet to seek out strangers and ruin their day for kicks, you are absolutely welcome. If you happen to be one such sought-out person, there’s the door. What kind of reasoning is that, and what kind of society does anyone think it’s going to create?” Well, quite.

  • Gore Vidal In Paris Review: Another classic piece of interviewing from back in the day, Vidal is always good value – familiarity with his work is a bonus, but even if you’ve never read him his waspish assessments of the literary world of the 70s make this a wonderfully bitchy and entertaining read. The arrogance of the man is quite startling – see, kids, people were doing this schtick waaaay before Kanye.

  • The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens: Making money and ruining lives in the Tumblr Jungle. Interesting look at the ecosystem as it matures, and at teen culture in general – still nowhere near as frightening as that Snapchat piece from the other week, though.

  • Infinite Jest Turns 20: Because it is still my favourite novel of all time and I will never stop suggesting to people that they really ought to read it because, I promise, it is not as hard as you may have heard and it rewards the hours you will put into it and it contains a dozen of the greatest passages of prose ever published in English, no hyperbole whatsoever. Go on, you know you want to.

  • The Bieber Profile: How fun does it sound to be Justin Bieber on a scale of 1-10? I would argue that it’s no higher than a 3. POOR THE LONELY BIEBER! Although I don’t have many friends either and am considerably less attractive, rich and talented than him, so Justin can conceivably still say he’s winning, should he care (he doesn’t care).

  • Why Men Fight: Finally, the best bit of writing of the week, about training for a white collar boxing match as a transman, and what that teaches you about masculinity and identity and yourself and stuff. Really, really lovely, in that occasional way that writing about boxing can achieve – do please read this one, it’s excellent.

By Richard Finkelstein



1) It can only be a matter of time before someone is televising drone racing, no? I mean, look at this – it is MENTAL, and about 3billion times more exciting than F1. If I were sponsorships director for a certain type of brand I would be VERY interested in this stuff:


2) A nice, bracing bit of pop-punk for you now, with this retrogame inspired lyric video for DVP by Pup:


3) I don’t normally bother with these mashed audioclip videos, but this one really is excellent – not least because of the inflection and timing of some of the clips. This is Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ as stitched together from an unconscionably large number of sources:

4) This is called ‘Spitting Image’ by the wonderfully-named Your Gay Thoughts; there’s something beautifully drawling and sloppy about the vocal on this which I find hugely appealing:

5) HIPHOP CORNER! I’ve featured NYC outfit Ratking on here quite a lot over the past couple of years – this is a track by one of their number, Wiki, from his recentish mixtape (available to stream free here). It’s called ‘Patience’ and it is EXCELLENT, as is the whole album – been playing this a LOT this week:

6) MORE HIPHOP CORNER! This is the new one from Aesop Rock, which is typically excellent. It’s called ‘Rings’:  

7) Lovely lowfi indie from Spanish outfit Hinds now – this is ‘Bamboo’:

8) UK HIPHOP CORNER! This is a bit of a weird one – it’s not ‘good’ in any way I’d expect you to acknowledge, but it’s surprisingly pleasing an sort of catchy, and it feels like it’s one decent remix from being an actual proper BANGER, as I believe the kids might once have said. It’s called ‘Don’t Like Going Out’ and it’s by The Manor:

9) Last up, this is a vision of hell in Simpon’s form. 500 episodes, at once, in 360-o-vision. Terrifying. BYE!!!!!