It does rather feel, doesn’t it, looking at the world over the past few weeks and indeed for much of the past couple of decades, that much of recent history has been, well, a mistake. Can we do it all again, please, but different?
HELLO HOW ARE WE ALL DOING? Is everything colossal and jagged and terrifying? Is the future – and, frankly, the present – looming at you in sinister, hefty fashion? Do things BODE, generally speaking, and not in a good way?
Yeah, I know, sucks. Still, for the next…ooh, probably two or three hours if you click EVERYTHING and pay close attention…you can forget all that in favour of the delicious, soothing, nourishing (not nourishing – Web Curios has approximately the same sort of nourishing qualities as an MP3player, probably a Zune) smorgasbord of links and words I have arrayed before you – there are some genuinely CRACKING things in Curios this week (none of them the bits I’m responsible for, to be clear) and so hopefully this will go someway towards soothing the fantods, at least for a short while.
I am still Matt, this is still Web Curios, and you are still beautiful, whatever THEY might be saying behind your back.
THE SECTION WHICH HAS SPENT A SIGNIFICANT PROPORTION OF THIS WEEK THINKING HOW INCREDIBLY HARD IT MUST BE TO BE AN ACTUAL PROPER JOURNALIST, PT.1:
- Riffusion: I have, up to this point in the CRAZY AI JOURNEY on which we find ourselves (a journey which feels like one along a road littered with increasingly urgent and dramatic and exclamation-mark laden signs bearing warnings such as “DANGER AHEAD!!!!” and “BRIDGE OUT!!!!” and “STILL TIME TO TURN BACK!!!!”, driven by someone who’s picking up speed and laughing increasingly-manically and not paying enough attention to the smoke on the horizon) been pleasantly-amazed by the advances in machine-created audio – well NO MORE. Riffusion’s latest iteration (this has been around for a while in various forms, I think) focuses on, well, riffs – the idea here is that you give The Machine a couple of lyrics (it works upto about 25 words or so) and tell it the sort of style and genre you’re aiming for, and it will in a few short seconds spit out a clip of those words being sung to a tune of the style you’ve specified…and yes, while technically that is exactly what does in fact happen, I don’t think that my low-quality prose can even begin to prepare you for what this stuff sounds like. Seriously, if you’re reading this before clicking the link, STOP! Click the link and have a listen to some of the pre-generated examples on there and MARVEL at the fact that we have apparently created an entirely-new kind of ‘uncanny valley’ phenomenon, specifically one around ‘music which could almost maybe develop into a tune at some point but which seems to be almost wilfully refusing to do so’ – honestly, this made me feel SO FUNNY (specifically, ‘odd’) in ways that I can’t adequately describe, like whatever had composed the clips had had the concept of major and minor chords, and, you know, the general concept of mathematical sequences, explained to them, and had nodded along diligently and given every impression of having understood, but, it turns out, really hadn’t at all. Anyway, once you’ve got over the initial weirdness and aural horripilations then you can start to have some ‘fun’ (I use the word advisedly) – the interface has quite sensibly got guardrails in it to prevent you from getting it to pen abusive ditties (I only know this because I tried to get it to sing about Rob Manuel being a bell-end and it got p1ssy with me), but with a bit of creative wordplay and some imagination you can basically get it to sing anything you like (as long as what you like is no more than about 12-15s long), and as such you can basically while away the rest of the day by sending your colleagues and loved ones sweet little billets douces sung by a vaguely-tone-deaf robot. WHO SAYS THE FUTURE’S SH1T, EH? Here’s one JUST FOR YOU.
- LucidBox: The vast majority of AI-generated content continues to be garbage, let’s be clear, although there are occasional exceptions (I was charmed by this short clip which images Star Wars as though filmed in 1923, even though it is literally impossible for me to give less of a fcuk about Star Wars in 2023 – special mention for the fact that the sounds here are by Osymyso, who you may remember as one of the original pioneers of mashups when they were a thing back in 2001, and who I used to go and see playing his new records every month at London’s smallest club night (it was literally in a room the size of your nan’s lounge, underneath a newsagent on Chralotte St, and it was called ‘Bstard’, and I loved it)) – if you’re interested in keeping track of what’s getting made and what it looks like, and general aesthetic/technical trends, LucidBox might be a useful site to keep an eye on – it covers animation and podcasts and spoof ads and faked movie trailers, and while the prevailing aesthetic and workflow for basically all of this stuff is, as far as I can tell, ‘Midjourney and then whatever bunch of animation tools you want to use to cobble it into moving pictures’ there are some interesting variations in style, etc, that you might find useful.
- Airplane: I don’t quite know how to explain this, other than to say ‘it’s a digital poem’ and ‘it is honestly absolutely beautiful, and takes about a minute or so of your time to play through in its entirety, and after it is finished you might just want to sit with it for a while’. Really, I thought this was genuinely wonderful and I hope you do too.
- Martin: For various reasons, I find the name ‘Martin’ almost comically-sinister – it’s basically down to the fact that there’s a very good, INCREDIBLY-CREEPY lesser-known George Romero film from the 1970s called ‘Martin’, about someone who may or may not in fact be a vampire – and as a result I occasionally find myself just sort of intoning the word ‘Martin’ to myself in sepulchral tones and giggling…but you don’t need to know that, and frankly it’s not hugely germane to this link, which has nothing to do with etiolated young men dressed in black and their exsanguinatory habits, but instead is AN EXCITING, PERSONAL, AI-POWERED VOICE ASSISTANT! Yes, as confidently predicted by me pretty much every week for nine months (if you throw enough at the wall, etc etc) we have what I think is the first on-phone personalised Siri analogue for you to play with! Sadly this is iOS-only, and as an Apple refusenik I’ve been unable to have a play with this and am therefore unable to verify whether or not ‘Martin’ (see, it really IS a sinister name!) will make your life better in innumerable ways with its sage counsel and reassuring demeanour, or whether it will instead slowly turn your existence into a waking nightmare of digitally-constructed paranoias and insecurities. “Meet Martin, your personal voice AI. Through natural conversation, you can ask Martin about news, movies, or restaurants near you. Debrief your week or brainstorm a new idea with him” runs the optimistic app store copy – there are no details as to what this is built on, but I do wonder what sort of indemnities the team behind this have in place for when Martin starts telling its users about entirely-fictitious events and films and restaurants…like, NOONE SHOULD BELIEVE LLMs ABOUT ANYTHING FFS, PRESENTING ONE AS AN INFALLIBLE ASSISTANT SOUNDS LIKE A TERRIBLE IDEA!
- Views From Mechanical Turk: I think it’s fair to say that the days of the Mechanical Turk marketplace are numbered – it seems reasonable to assume that in reasonably short time all the sorts of digital piecework that were undertaken by people on platforms like Amazon’s MT (or Fiverr, or Upwork) will simply be replaced by AI agents. I can appreciate that the natural reaction to this might well be ‘tant pis’, what with the fact that, well, it was repetitive drudgework in the main, but that’s also a steady source of income which has kept not-insignificant numbers of people in the developing world (and in the US tbh) solvent for the past decade or so which is going to disappear…anyway, leaving aside the semi-perennial thoughts about the coming jobpocalypse, this website is a project by Giacomo Nanni in which they paid people using the MT platform to send them the view from where they were working, and compiled the resulting images onto this site which lets you browse them on a grid. To quote Nanni, “As organisations use Mechanical Turk to create datasets, in this website a more private dataset is shown. Following the logic of the platform, for a small fee workers have been asked to show a glimpse of their private life, their view close to their desk, their working station. At the limit of ethics and labour exploitation we should ask ourselves whether this is an acceptable approach to use in research and in general, if employing randomic workers around the world is the ideal practice to shape future artificial intelligences. With this experiment, design becomes a critical tool, it investigates the sources of datasets, and it helps framing a critical discussion around the decisions that few individuals are taking.”
- Notes On Publishing Ecologies: By rights this should be in the longreads section as it’s basically an academic thesis but, well, I have only read about 3% of it and its inclusion here is more because of the fact that it tickles certain very specific parts of my brain when it comes to the interplay between form and function and the written word. It’s by Kim Kleinert, and here is their description: ““Compiling Edge Effects: Notes on Publishing Ecologies” resolves around forms of situated digital publishing and asks how technology can be a vector of a new materialist ontology, towards a “linking of kin and kind” and with that process, learning how to locate and orientate ourseleves within this world. The text does not follow a clearly linear narration, rather it orbits around myriad questions, relations, calls and responses. This is why the grid does not present the numbered sections in a correct order, but positions them depending on their relation towards each other. The site is operatable in three different states and its is interface consistent of text only. The states can be switched through by clicking the descriptive buttons in the top left corner. “Text” shows the main text of the thesis, “Chapters” will highlight the grid, revealing the headline to each of the numbers and works as a table of content, while “Numbers” will put focus on the grid, its numbers and structure only.” Look, this is VERY DENSE and VERY THEORY, but, also, there is something absolutely beautiful about the way the text – its positioning and its movement works in reaction to the user and the users’ position within it. Er, if that makes sense. Look, you really just have to click this one – I think it is beautiful, and were I not planning on going and giving myself gout as soon as I’ve finished writing this I would totally spend the afternoon immersed in it.
- Midnight Transmission: A site dedicated to helping you find interesting, fun bits of animation on YouTube – it’s literally just an autoplayer, fine, but from what I can tell the person who’s behind it has put some decent work into curating the videos that sit behind it, so if you are interested in animation and want somewhere where you can just sit and trust that someone else has put in the hard curatorial work then, well, HERE HAVE THIS.
- FileLife: This is imperfectly-explained (lads, would it hurt to have a little ‘no, but seriously, this is a simple explanation of this project and what we are doing here’ explainer? WOULD IT?!?) but I am going to take a stab at what’s going on here – I *think* that the project is about taking a USB stick around Europe, using it to store memories on, and share memories from, and the whole endeavour is part of the USB Club, which is an international network of people who are enthused by the idea of using USBs as a physical representation of digital information, and for whom the physicality of the medium is a pleasing contrast to the very much non-physical nature of digital information…Anyway, there’s something pleasingly homespun about this, and I am a sucker for an occasional travelogue in which nothing happens, and you may too.
- Ladies On Records: This is a very cool project which exists across multiple platforms – this is the main website, but you can find it on Insta, Soundcloud and elsewhere. “Ladies on Records is a curated multifaceted endeavour created to represent women’s contribution to global and local music of the past decades. Ladies on Records tells the stories of women by the music they created. Ladies on Records’ mission is to reshape and improve understanding and knowledge of female music from the 60s, 70s, and 80s from all over the world and make it re-discovered and appreciated again by the local and global audience. It sheds new light on female creation in music and exposes unspoken, forgotten, or neglected cultural, political, and aesthetic patterns. Ladies on Records’ main goal is to tell the stories of female artists from the past in a new, contemporary way.” There’s loads of interesting stuff in here, from DJ sets featuring some incredible mid-20thC Central European female-led music, essays on the role of women in the 20thC Turkish music scene…I get the feeling there might be one of you, possibly with a troublingly-large vinyl collection, for whom this might be something of a find.
- Heartbreak Cards: This is SUCH a cool idea – ok, the practice of making your own looks fiddly (you need to mess around with AirTable which isn’t actually that bad but, well, I’m lazy) but I LOVE the idea behind it. Heartbreak Cards is a concept by someone named Naoto, who writes: “ I started making my own collectible cards in 2022. Growing up with Pokemon Cards, Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and other card games, it was always my dream to make my own card game. Although what I imagined in my childhood was full of dragons and spells, as an artist, I decided to make autobiographical cards, i.e., stories about my life. The project is ongoing and never reaches an end; I keep adding new cards whenever I can work on this project This edition, 24-Hour Heartbreak Deck, is made between August 29th and 30th, 2023, this time having a journal in mind rather than a biography. In my example, the focus was about self-reflection, but you can use this tutorial to compile, for example, memories from your vacation a process of your latest dance performance or about your heartbreak.” So what this is is a system for creating a(n infinite) series of cards about anything you like, which can interlink in any way you choose (don’t worry, it makes more sense when you click through), and which you can use to present any sort of set of information you choose. There’s an example deck on the homepage which is obviously what Naoto has been working on – each card is about a different aspect of them or their personality, and each is its own series of symbolic hyperlinks that takes you to other cards in the deck, leading you on a sort of meandering, choose-your-own adventure path through Naoto’s head/heart/soul (delete per your belief in the existence of each). Honestly, I think this is so so so interesting – in part as a means of making your own sort of ‘Tarot Of Me’ (which, yes, sounds intensely eogotistical, but also quite cool) but also as a way of arranging and exploring information and ideas…if you’re a certain type of occultist, or a certain type of strategist (AND WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE, EH?) then you will like this a lot I think.
- AI Homer Sings Muse: Do you want to see a poorly-rendered 3d CG representation of Homer Simpson singing ‘Starlight’ by Muse, with the vocal performance imagined by AI as a cast of other poorly-rendered 3d CG characters from popular culture ‘dance’ around in dead-eyed splendour? No, you don’t, but I had to experience this earlier this week and see no reason why you should be spared.
- Fonts In Use: FONTS! IN USE! “Fonts In Use is a public archive of typography indexed by typeface, format, industry, and period. Supported by examples contributed by the public, we document and examine graphic design with the goal of improving typographic literacy and appreciation. Designers use our site for project research, type selection and pairing, and discovering new ways to choose and use fonts.” This has apparently been round in various forms since 2010, and so there’s every possibility you’ll already be aware of it, but it was new to me and that’s what counts so there.
- Why Some USB Cables Are More Expensive Than Others: Or, “why buying those crap ones from the ‘We Fix Any Screen’ shop on the high street isn’t always a good idea”. You may not think you wanted to read a Twitter thread about exactly what goes on inside a USB cable and what the difference is between one that costs £12 and one that costs £2 is, but, well, you are wrong and I know best.
- Space Weather: Would you like a site where you can find out everything you ever wanted to know (and, frankly, quite a lot more than that) about the phenomenon of SOLAR WINDS and, I don’t know, SPACE RAIN (I might be making up ‘space rain’ tbh – perhaps best to check that one before you go making any confident assertions to curious progeny) – I love this because a) it’s a wonderful example of ‘we haven’t updated our webdesign since 2003 and we don’t see why we ought to’; b) it’s about something VERY SPECIFIC AND NICHE; and c) they have the most charming and ‘your favourite uncle and aunt-ish’ AI disclaimer at the top of the page that I actually did a small, involuntary ‘awww’ when I read it (God I bet they enjoy being patronised to within an inch of their lives by pr1cks like me – sorry, space weather enthusiasts).
- The Skewer: I’ve been enjoying listening to The Skewer for a few years now – it’s basically an occasional radio show from the UK which takes news footage and chops it up and remixes it with audio to create a sort of ‘Cassetteboy takes a satirical look at the week’s events’-type product which will be very familiar to anyone who ever enjoyed Chris Morris’ work back in the day (I appreciate that this will mean very little to any non-UK people, but I promise that both Chris Morris and Cassetteboy are worth looking up). This is their latest episode which a) is very funny; and b) contains an excellent animated intro with AI wrangling by Friend Of Curios Shardcore, and as such is worth a click and a watch.
- Operator: Another AI assistant here – unlike ‘Martin’ (IT IS STILL SUCH A SINISTER NAME) from earlier in this edition, which is intended to be a conversational companion, Operator takes a more functional approach to the question of ‘how can we bend the AI to our will?’ – it’s basically a ‘notes, but with bells and whistles’ app, which a few neat gimmicks. Give it your lists and notes and it will, so the blurb goes, turn them into ACTIONABLE LISTS with PRIORITISED GOALS and clean up your data and sort everything into neat, appropriate job bundles – basically you just use it as a voicenote recorder, and, so the idea goes, the software will take your inchoate thoughts and corral them into something USEFUL and DIRECTIONAL. Which is all well and good, but I find there’s something interesting and…eventually-questionable about the degree of interpretation being required of The Machine here. Am I meant to just accept that the AI’s way of classifying and categorising this stuff is…’best’? Best for who? By what metric? Obviously this is me worrying unnecessarily at this stage – it’s just arranging your grocery list by ‘type of product’ to make aisle-based shopping easier ffs Matt, it’s not attempting to tell you which of your friends’ birthday gifts you should sacrifice due to the imminent energy price-based cost of living crisis! – but it’s not hard to imagine some of the interesting questions raised about the extent to which people are going to (or should) feel comfortable handing over initially-small-then-very-quickly-increasingly-significant questions like this to The Machine.
- The Regenerative Field Design Kit: My friend John has just made these available for sale – I am not going to try and explain this, just click the link and read what the idea is, and know that I am a horribly cynical person who finds basically no joy in anything and who is, at heart, basically just waiting to get a terminal illness so that I can decide not to get treatment and just STOP DOING THIS FOREVER, and despite this fact I have had one of these things for about a year now and have kept it in the inside pocket of my jacket and it has made me look at the world differently EVERY TIME I have used it – I promise you that if you are a ‘strategist’ or ‘creative’ or ‘designer’, or any one of those stupid jobs that involve you wearing the sort of clothes worn in previous generations by fishermen despite the fact that you spend your whole day at a desk and don’t NEED to wear a knitted cap or clogs ffs, then you will really, really like these.
- Soccer Slammers: A Twitter account which shares images of imaginary wrestling action figures inspired by famous faces from English football. Which, yes, fine, is perhaps the very definition of ‘a niche concern’, but is also very funny (or it is if you, like me, are inherently amused by the idea of Neil Warnock as a WWF character from the 1980s).
By Heeey Studio
THE SECTION WHICH HAS SPENT A SIGNIFICANT PROPORTION OF THIS WEEK THINKING HOW INCREDIBLY HARD IT MUST BE TO BE AN ACTUAL PROPER JOURNALIST, PT.2:
- The Unbrexit: I don’t ordinarily link to websites for venues that I have never been to – and, let’s be honest, that I am unlikely to ever visit – but I will make an exception for the website for this pub which is somewhere in Germany (the town of Ahaus, specifically – I have literally no idea why this nondescript town near the Dutch border, which according to Wikipedia is mainly known as a place where the German government, in its wisdom, chooses to store spent nuclear waste, decided to body the Brits this hard, but I am glad that they did) and which since 2017 has been a very weird-looking celebration of intensely-mediocre English pub culture. They do quizzes! It wouldn’t surprise me if they had the Only Fools and Horses pinball machine! This is very odd, but perhaps the strangest thing about it is how much it looks like a very, very bad pub built into a 50s council estate in South West London – honestly, it’s UNCANNY.
- The Early Office Museum: Two things here: firstly, this is a classic Curios site, monomaniacal and obsessive and poorly-designed, all the good stuff – if you want a really DEEP dive into the workings of the early office life, and a trove of images and information about how the world of work operated in the earliest days of organised, mass-scale white collar and clerical labour then WOW are you in for a treat; secondly, this has perhaps my favourite angry, impotent scream of rage about THE MODERN INTERNET I have seen on any website – specifically, the screed at the top of the homepage railing against people pinning images from the site to Pinterest and thereby royally-screwing the site’s traffic and general raison d’etre, which basically ends up saying “EITHER PINTEREST GOES OR THE MUSEUM DOES!”. Sadly the screed appears to have been posted several years ago, and, well, Pinterest persists, so I think that the forces of The Bad Web have once again emerged victorious – still, here at Web Curios we pour one out for the Early Office Museum and mourn its passing. Also, fcuk Pinterest, such a horrible website.
- Kinetic Verbs: Some glorious examples of typographic animation here – the work here is beautiful and clean and really imaginative, and will appeal to any designers or animators of typography-freaks among you.
- Romance Covers: The dataviz wizards at The Pudding have turned their attention to the romance novel market in their latest bit of analysis, or more specifically to the COVERS of said romance novels – how have the various hunks and beefcakes and damsels in varying degrees of distress depicted on the jackets changed over time to better represent the shifting morals and mores of the times? This is really interesting – I was particularly struck by the fact that it seems that 2015 was PEAK NAKED for the covers, with lovers depicted on books in subsequent years being more decorously-clad in what is perhaps another sign of the rather more stentorian moral times in which we live. The piece also looks at representations on diversity and the style of the covers (illustrative vs photographic, etc), and is, as ever with The Pudding’s work, a brilliant piece of digital design and usability – there are SO many nice touches here, including the ability to compile the covers that catch your eye from those referenced into ‘reading lists’, and frankly anyone working in the aesthetic side of digital publishing could do worse than learn from the work these people are doing at the moment imho.
- Goose Generator: Who wouldn’t like a website which when you click on it generates a selection of seemingly-always-different low-resolution images of the faces of geese in pleasingly-cheery primary colours? NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO!
- Photos Of Tiny Things: Or, to give it its full name, ‘The Nikon Small World 2023 Photomicrography Competition’ – but tbh ‘photos of tiny things’ tells you all you need to know. This year’s selection are, as per, VERY VERY SMALL, but equally are pretty fcuking amazing – I think the second-place pic of the match being struck is my personal favourite, although I appreciate that an appreciation for photos of fire is probably considered a bit basic, but I also very much liked the 8th placed shot which looked to me as though Klimt and Schiele had decided to team up and get into abstracts a bit – you, though, must as ever feel free to pick your own. NO YOU MUST.
- Musing: I really really like this idea – it’s not a novel one by any stretch of the imagination, fine, but there’s a certain unspoilt purity in the ‘just speke your branes anonymously’ model and it seems to be implemented neatly-enough here. “”Musing” is a deep and reflective thought or contemplation. So if you are looking for a place to share your thoughts, ideas, or just want to write something down, this is the place for you. No feedback, no likes, no comments, no followers, no friends, no ads, no distractions, no bullsh1t. just you and humains thoughts somewhere on planet earth. No account needed, only the date, the message, langitude & latitude “within an area of 500 meters” are saved. Your thoughts will vanish naturally cause only the first 100 messages are displayed. You can be shocked, surprised, amused, or just bored by what you read, but this is the beauty of it.” This feels like an early coding project by a kid tbh – not that that’s a bad thing – and I am pleased to be able to report that there is NOTHING HORRIBLE on there (at least at the time of writing), whether by accident or moderators’ design; most of the contributions seem to be from South and Central America at present, so a bit of Spanish might help if you want to take the emotional temperature of a small subset of the world’s population via this site.
- The Righting: This is an interesting idea, in a ‘know your enemy’ sort of way (NB – I don’t think that my politics will come as any surprise to anyone who reads this newsletter, but, for the avoidance of doubt, I can’t help but think of the right wing in modern western politics as being the ‘enemy’ – sorry to anyone of a more conservative bent who might be reading this, it’s almost certainly not personal) – The Righting presents a daily selection of headlines being served up by the right wing media (in the US, in the main, which means it’s obviously a very particular (very mad, very hateful) type of right wing we’re talking about) to give an overview of the talking points being pushed today. Obviously for non-US people this is of less immediate interest, but, personally-speaking, I think anything that the US wingnuts are shouting about now is increasingly-likely to be the things that your Badenochs and Bravermans (and, eventually, Melonis and the rest) will be shouting about in six months’ time (because, and sorry to be a conspiratorial broken record about this, but, IT’S THE SAME MONEY FUNDING ALL THESE PEOPLE) are yelling about over here in six months or so and as such this is worth keeping a vague eye on.
- Oort: This is so far from my area of expertise – or even, frankly, comprehension – that I feel a bit guilty including it, but I figure there may be a few of you who get a kick from it. Do you program? Do you do so specifically in Rust? Would you like a(n apparently) fun game which lets you both practice your coding skills AND control a fleet of spaceships and eventually code a sort of Star Wars-type AI that can compete in tournaments against other similarly-minded people? WELL GREAT YOU WILL LIKE THIS THEN!
- Neon Flames: This is quite a simple browser toy that lets you create rather pretty abstract images from a limited colour palette – it’s not that exciting per se, but I realised that everything you make with it past a certain point starts to look like an incredible image of deep space nebulae taken by Hubble, and when you think of it more as a tool to create an infinite number of imaginary galaxies, I don’t know, it becomes a lot cooler. There’s something quite soothing about this – seriously, if you’re feeling a bit frazzled I can highly recommend 5 minutes of abstract galaxy painting to take the edge off a bit.
- All Of The Slide Rules: OH GOD THIS IS PERFECT. Would you like access to the greatest collections of slide rules ever assembled by anyone ever? Would you like to access the combined archival knowledge of the six greatest collectors of slide rules ever to exist? WELL LUCKY YOU! This is the archive collection of the Oughtred Society, which apparently existed to celebrate how awesome slide rules are – each member has their own interstitial page before the site links to their archive of images of slide rules – let me just reiterate: THEIR ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF SLIDE RULES – and each archivist gets a small pen portrait and, look, I need to reproduce this in its entirety because it is SO GOOD and SO PURE: “Louis Gotlib grew up after slide rules had largely been replaced by electronic calculators. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from The Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina and has been a chemistry teacher for thirty-two years. One day around 1996 he saw a catalog from the MIT Museum Shop where old slide rules were being sold, bought a few, looked around on ebay and the web, and has been collecting ever since. Louis has been an Oughtred Society member since 1997 and was recently selected to serve on the Board of Directors. Louis has a special fondness for slide rules and calculating devices with a chemical orientation but his collection of 1300 items covers as many makers and specializations as possible. Louis has published papers and given presentations on slide rules, cell biology, and chemistry education. He also coauthors study guides for students taking standardized tests and plays chess. Louis can often be heard in his classroom saying things like “put that calculator away and just think for a moment!” We are privileged to present HERE Louis’s collection of slide rules.” Basically if you don’t love this then you are a bit dead inside. BONUS SLIDE RULE CONTENT: bizarrely I also came across this longread about the history of the pocket calculator this week which contains quite a bit about slide rules and which suggests to me that there is some sort of grand plan afoot and it involves units of measurement.
- Old People Reminisce: Or, to give this Reddit thread its full title, “what do young people get completely wrong about past decades?” Obviously this is ALL GenX/Boomer nostalgia and as such your mileage will vary immensely – I am linking it here, though, because there are enough of these that aren’t totally obvious that it made me think it might make an interesting read for anyone younger than, say 20, or something for those of you with kids to share with them as a futile way of attempting to bridge the increasingly cavernous gap between you (LOL!).
- Tooth Antiques: Have you been searching with an increasingly-frenzied degree of frustration for a one-stop-shop for all your dental horror-related needs? Have you been looking for that one, perfect, impossible-to-find gift for your odontophobic partner? WELL LOOK NO FURTHER! Tooth Antiques is an online emporium dedicated to selling stuff made out of old teeth – human teeth, to be clear. Stuff like jewellery and clothing and dolls and keyrings…the shop is based in Canada and ships internationally, and the FAQ is very clear to point out that all their teeth are legally and ethically sourced…so GO FOR IT! (thanks to Rina for the tip!)
- Literally All Of The AI-Generated Bongo: THIS IS A LINK THAT TAKES YOU STRAIGHT TO AN AWFUL LOT OF PICTURES OF A VERY EXPLICIT NATURE AND WHICH YOU MAY NOT REALLY WANT TO SEE SO BE WARNED! Ahem. I’ve been tracking the relationship between AI image generation and sex for several years here in Curios, and the main reason I include this – aside from the fact that it’s horrific and weird and gross and troubling and funny and awful and HORRIBLY FUTURE, obvs – is that it struck me when I saw it that comparing it to The Machine Gaze, Shardcore’s work on AI and bongo from three years ago, is a pretty amazing showcase of the speed of change of this tech. The link takes you to a website which is both a free AI bongo generator AND a rolling showcase of all the images being churned out by said AI bongo generator – to be clear, as with 99% of all AI-generated bongo, this is intensely cisheteronormative and you’re not going to find much here to interest you if you want anything other than a narrow range of waifu-level archetypes covered in wallpaper paste, and, honestly , there’s something really quite unpleasant about the same themes and styles of image occurring over and over and over again…look, I don’t have any particular viewpoint on the ‘generations have been ruined by bongo’ argument (I simply don’t have the data to draw on, tbh), but it’s hard not to think as you scroll, numbed to the spaff and the ahegao faces and the infinitely-recurring pixie noses, that something very peculiar has happened to male sexuality over the past few years. ANYWAY, this is sort of repellent and dizzying and mad (seriously, if you want to feel a moment of very real bodyhorror vertigo I suggest you go to the ‘generate’ tab of this website and look at the preconfigured tags that you can use to create your own smut – it…it doesn’t feel like a healthy way to conceive of sex, this, does it?), but I managed to find a small window of comedy by toggling the ‘tags’ view on the top menu and seeing exactly how badly the AI gets some of these wrong (seriously, there is some WONDERFUL unintentional comedy in there – ‘surfing’? ‘Lumberjack’ ‘NUCLEAR VAULT?!?’) – in general, though, I can’t pretend that this is anything other than depressing and a bit gross.
- Puzzmo: This is a) a great source of daily new puzzle games; and b) a really smart idea for driving interest and adoption of a thing (I think). Puzzmo’s gimmick is that it’s limited access to people with the SKILLS: “Puzzmo combines newspaper favorites like Crossword Puzzles, modern classics like Typeshift, and some brand new puzzles created by me and a small team of artists and designers. For now, Puzzmo is locked. Every day we’ll mail out 500 keys so that only puzzle-loving humans can get in early. If you’re interested in receiving a key – or just having some fun – the first step is solving today’s puzzle.” So anyone can play the daily puzzle, but access to the whole site is limited to people who are into puzzles enough to keep coming back and trying to get on the waiting list, and the competitive aspect will drive interest…yeah, I think this is smart (and the puzzles are good) and as a way of ‘growth hacking’ (sorry) it struck me as decent.
- Can You Break The Algorithm?: This is imho a bad title for what is an excellent game – by the same people (AlgorithmWatch) who made Moderator Mayhem a while back, this is another game which also works to educate the player as to the difficult questions and decisions inherent in managing content at scale. Here, you’re cast as the CEO of an imagined social platform (which is definitely Twitter), and over the course of about 30m gameplay (longer if you take your time) you’re asked to make decisions on moderation policy and platform functionality and how to spend investor money over several rounds of fundraising before you get to the eventual holy grail of the IPO – lots of the examples are drawn from the real world, and if you’re the sort of person who’s followed this sort of news at all over the past decade then you’ll recognise much of the material. This is fun, and does an excellent job of showing how incredibly fcuking difficult moderation and community management is – but it also does an excellent job of demonstrating just quite how hard certain platforms and, specifically, individuals have fcuked it of late. Yet ANOTHER example, by the way, of how good game design can work wonders in terms of helping to communicate HARD AND OFTEN BORING STUFF.
- Quest At The Museum: Ok, so you need to be able to physically make it to London’s Natural History Museum to play this, but I LOVE it as a concept and it’s the sort of thing that could be adapted for anywhere really with a bit of work and imagination. It’s basically a scaled-down, kid-friendly D&D adventure, using the museum as a game space, designed by…someone anonymous (sorry, brilliant person who designed this, but I can’t find your name anywhere on the site) who has made the whole thing available to download for free here – honestly, how good does this sound? “Ever walked the halls of the Natural History Museum and thought “this place needs more riddles, dragons, and sword fights?” If so, you’re in the right place. We created this game for my daughter’s 11th birthday. It was a lot of work-and fun! So we’ve chosen to make it available for anyone who wants to play. It takes you around the museum, using the exhibits as encounter arenas. The dinosaurs are dragons. The stairs are the Cliffs of Insanity! You get it.” Charming, a great idea, a generous thing to make it freely available, and totally the sort of thing that you can use as CREATIVE INSPIRATON for anything you like – I am serious when I say that the current boom in D&D means that you have never had a better chance to pitch that extremely-geeky activation that you have always dreamed of (also, if anyone can be fcuked, I reckon that there is genuine mileage in creating a ‘UK General Election 2024’ D&D module – I am 100% serious on this, I think you would be AMAZED at the interest if you scripted it right).
- Wind Waker: I have never been a Nintendo kid and so never played this version of Zelda, but you don’t have to be familiar with it to enjoy this remarkable little tech demo – someone’s basically recrated the whole sailing mechanic from the game and made it playable in-browser, and while there’s not really anything to DO per se there’s equally something undeniably soothing about pootling around the azure waters in your little vessel, collecting rupees – there’s also another mode where you can play a sort of endless runner-type game, but personally I’m just here for the aimless sailing.
- Little Chef: Can you combine all the different ingredients to make all the different possible recipes? This is charming – the look and feel is gorgeous, and there are all sorts of little easter eggs in the animations of the various different kitchen elements to discover, but, equally, I got so frustrated by my inability to find all the various combinations of ingredients after about 15m that I had to go and have a fag, so well, your mileage may vary (by the way, if you’re struggling to get things into the pot, aim for the right hand side – seems to help).
- Benjamin Davis: Benjamin Davis designs games – this is his personal website where he showcases his work. Several of his latest projects are app downloads, but if you scroll down the page a bit you can find a dozen or so small browsergames which are PERFECT for whiling away a few bored minutes while you choke back the tears between powerpoint slides and meetings (a few of these need Flash, but you can get a really nice modern emulator for that here if you want one) (this link via the always-excellent Paco, btw).
- Hands: It’s rare that you see something in the world of browsergames that stands out aesthetically – there’s a certain tendency towards pixelart or 8/16-bit, as a rule – which is perhaps why Hands charmed me so immediately; it’s got the very particular look and feel of a certain type of mid-90s CD-ROM game, the photos and stop-motion animations style giving it a very specific vibe which is enhanced by the lightly-surreal nature of the setting and the puzzles and…well, you’ll get the idea. Your goal is to get the hands to meet, and clasp – see how you get on. Can we maybe have more stuff designed in this style, please? It’s awesome, sort of ‘maximalist post-Soviet collapse’, if I had to name it (as you can tell, there’s a reason I don’t specialise in the creation of neologisms).
- Frasier Fantasy: Our final miscellaneous link this week is SO BEAUTIFUL and SO PERFECT and, honestly, if you like Frasier (the original, not the apparently appalling remake which I am refusing to really acknowledge) then you owe it to yourself to play this. Made in (I think) a Gameboy Colour RPG emulator-type engine, this game is a top-down, GB-style adventure in which you play as Frasier trying to get everything ready for one of his legendary soirees – except obviously there are hurdles to overcome. It will take you a while to get the hang of it, and there are some frustrations around the pace of the text at first, but you’ll get into it and once you do it is JOYOUS – I promise you, the writing is tonally superb and you will be reading all of the lines out in the character voices, and, seriously, I had 20 minutes of pure, unalloyed pleasure with this yesterday and I think you will too (one tip – when you save the game just hit the ‘action’ button when it says ‘saving’ as otherwise it’ll take ages) – this is just good, clean, healthy fun (and hopefully makes up for the AI bongo a few links back, for which I now feel sort of guilty).
THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!
- 140 Characters: Not a Tumblr! I don’t care though! This is amazing, like a time capsule to a VERY DIFFERENT TIME, when people thought that social media was nice and there was still hope that the digital REVOLUTION would change the world for the better – a decade or so ago, Twitter was a lot smaller and, for a certain type of person, its network effects were genuinely transformative – it’s not unreasonable to say that there are thousands of people in media and the arts and adjacent areas who literally made themselves on Twitter in that 2009-12 period, and this project from BACK IN THE DAY is sort of a chronicle of that – in 2011, Chris Floyd exhibited portraits of 140 ‘characters’ from Twitter who he’d shot as part of this project looking at the ways in which the platform gave voices to all sorts of different people to do different things with. It was a London project and the subjects here are very London Twitter, but it’s a really bittersweet relic of a time gone by – happysad in its hope and the way we all know everything turned out eventually. Still, I’m glad that some of these people got newspaper columns out of it all.
THE TROUGH OF (INSTA) FEEDS!
- Patrick Bergsma: Patrick is a Dutch artist who works with Japanese pottery and bonsai, and his Insta feed is just GORGEOUS.
- Salvos: This is a New York sandwich shop’s Insta account, which I discovered because of this lovely profile and which I am linking to not because the sandwiches are amazing (although they do look nice) but because there is something so lovely about the fact that it’s just a bloke, a bike, and Insta feed and a cooler full of portable snacks. This is exactly the sort of thing that also gets ruined by being profiled in the New Yorker and by being featured in newsletters like this (oh, ok, not like this – cooler newsletters with cooler readers, probably), so let’s hope that doesn’t in fact happen.
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG!
- The Trap: I’m not going to link to loads of things about The Fcuking Horror because, honestly, I imagine you have plenty of other places where you can consume more information about if if you so desire – I will, though, make an exception for this piece by John Ganz which I think is probably the best piece of writing I’ve read in the past fortnight about the whole fcuking awful mess.
- The Twitter Problem: I wrote something published this week making the point that anyone somehow trying to argue that the changes that Musk has made to Twitter over the past year have made it a somehow better or more useful platform for knowing what the fcuk is going on is either a moron, a blinkered ideologue or a pathetic contrarian (I didn’t say it quite like that, fine), and found a bunch of people attempting to suggest that the questions around exactly what happened at the hospital this week and who might have been responsible invalidated my point. Look, let’s just be very clear about this – while it’s clear that the world’s media made errors in their immediate reporting of the events, TWITTER DID NOT IN ANY WAY MAKE THE SITUATION BETTER. As this piece by 404 Media neatly points out, one of the side effects of the culling of moderators, the nerfing of the ‘report’ function, the removal of headlines from links and the massive sh1tshow that verification now is has been the proliferation of accounts spouting OSINT nonsense in an attempt to get enough attention to earn $30 from daddy Elon through the bluetick trickledown economy, and the related impossibility of telling who is a trusted source with a vague idea of what they are talking about, and who is a 17 year old kid from Bulgaria with a copy of Google maps making hasty annotations to grainy YouTube footage on MS Paint. Here’s more on the same subject from the New Yorker – it’s hard not to look at the past week and think ‘well, ‘objectively-agreed upon reporting was nice when we had it, wasn’t it?’.
- The Techno-Optimist Manifesto: On the one hand, it’s easy to laugh at this – Marc Andreesen’s latest screed (and it really is a screed) outlining exactly why technology is ALWAYS good and anyone who opposes it is ALWAYS bad (no, no, there is no room for nuance; you’d have to be a FOOL and a COMMUNIST and an ENEMY OF GROWTH to think that) and why it is therefore vitally important to smooth the path for people suspiciously like him and his valley plute mates to just get on with whatever they want because TECH KNOWS BEST is genuinely funny on some level – it’s wafer thin, it’s got an at-best undergraduate understanding of most of the topics it touches on and not even a *smart* undergraduate (seriously, just start reading it and have a biscuit every time Marc says something that is an unsupported assertion masquerading as an objective fact – you’ll have type2 diabetes by the second half), and it does rather read like someone who’s been at the Adderall and whiskey and gak for a few days. On the other, though, Marc Andreesen is one of the most influential men in the world – it seems silly, but it really is true – and the madness of the longtermist agenda which underpins so much of this thinking (which is where the whole ‘if you oppose advanced AI it is basically murder’ argument comes from – the idea being that if you have the opportunity to act in a way that will secure the future of the species in perpetuity (to whit, pursuing the development of AGI) and choose not to do so by, I don’t know, doing silly things like ‘regulating’ or ‘worrying about consequences’, then you are effectively morally culpable for the deaths of all the potential future people whose lives might have been saved the superAI that you didn’t let Marc build fast enough – THAT IS LITERALLY THE ARGUMENT, which even the least-sophisticated thinker out there should be able to see…doesn’t totally hold up) is being drip-fed into the ears of the Western world’s leaders on a daily basis. Which sorts of people do you think will be attending the UK’s AI Safety Summit in a few weeks time? What will they be talking about? I think, sadly, the answer is ‘people like Marc’ and ‘stuff like this’ – honestly, when people write things like ‘ethicists are the enemy’ with no apparent sense of self-awareness it might perhaps be time to start, you know, worrying a bit. Anyway, you can read more critique of this piece of sh1t ‘manifesto’ here and here, and you may enjoy this cartoon which is still far too relevant 25 years on.
- Labour Conference: For those of you with an interest in UK politics, it seems even more likely after last night’s byelection results that the Labour Party will win next year’s general election and become the party of Government – The Face sent Kieran Morris to Labour conference last week to soak up the vibes and offer a perspective on what it all felt like on the cusp of the party’s first taste of power in over a decade. I enjoyed this piece, which does a good job of capturing both the weirdness of party conferences and the people who choose to attend them – honestly, nothing more odd than the political fan who goes to these things IN THEIR SPARE TIME – and the sad reality of the fact that there is likely to be nothing transformative or revolutionary about any government led by Sir Keir Starmer (you may think that sounds defeatist, but, honestly, trust me on this – for example, I have it on reasonably good authority that Labour have directly promised the largest oil companies in the UK a pretty much total absence of meaningful additional regulation or taxation of their businesses over the coming parliament, regardless of prior manifesto commitments, which I think gives you a reasonable idea of the direction of travel here).
- The Whole AI Jobs Thing: I know, I know, it’s been done to death and you’re BORED of hearing about how AI is going to steal your job/allow you to achieve hitherto-unimagined levels of white collar productivity (delete per your preferred outcome), but I thought this piece was a decent update of the arguments to take into account the latest round of multimodal updates to the major models – it’s certainly the most clear-headed about the practical implications of the latest wave of tech, and I think it’s wise to bear in mind the closing line which I don’t feel we’ve quite internalised yet: ““If A.I. can do anything we can do, it does not just replace the boring tasks,” he said. “It replaces all the tasks.”
- Structured Missingness: OK, this is quite a…chewy piece on art and aesthetics and AI, and the idea of degradation and decay of information and how that relates to concepts of information in latent space…basically if you can enjoy paragraphs like this then you will very much enjoy this piece: “The decay of a photograph is the decay of memory, the decay of a memory is forgetting, and forgetting inspires haunting more than memory. If memory is the fulfilment of a promise to the past, then forgetting is a kind of neglect. What is not remembered is missing. What is missing still structures our models of the present. It structures the inferences that we make, whether we draw them from archives, memories, or datasets. If we automate these inferences — extrapolate patterns from data without regard to its gaps — the more that missing haunts the present.”
- Every App That Adds AI: With the slow creep of generative AI beginning to insinuate itself into existing products and workflows – first Adobe, now in early November the whole Office package gets the upgrade treatment – this piece is a very funny overview of what every single ‘a service you are familiar with, NOW WITH ADDED AI!!!!’ offering looks and feels like. Whilst I am broadly less sceptical than the author, this is also generally very accurate indeed and will feel eerily familiar to anyone who’s tried one of those ‘we can turn any document into a PPT in seconds…WITH AI!’ tools at any point in the past six months.
- Deb Chachra: Deb Chachra is someone who’s writing I’ve been reading for a few years now, and whose thinking I always find interesting – she tends to focus her thinking around questions of systems and infrastructure, which isn’t really my ‘thing’ but which she writes about with clarity and energy and intelligence, and in such a way which makes me think differently about all sorts of other things that have nothing to do with the ostensible subject of her work. The main link here is to one of a series of interviews she’s been doing to promote the book, which is with the excellent Scope of Work newsletter and which touches on all sorts of things, from systems thinking to network theory, and is just a brilliant and interesting conversation with a properly-fascinating mind. BONUS CHACHRA: there’s another superb interview with Frontier Magazine which you can read here, which covers similar-but-different territory and which included this bit which I think acts as a nice encapsulation for the whole: “We think about political or national citizenship as that we have a relationship to people by virtue of the fact that we have the same passport, we share the same flag. But the reality is that all humans have bodies and all those bodies exist somewhere on the planet and all of those bodies need resources to survive and to thrive. And typically those resources come from the land around you, whether that’s close or whether that’s far away. So we can think about infrastructural citizenship as the relationship that we have to the people around us by virtue of having bodies embedded in the landscape. What comes with that is that we have a relationship not just to the people who are around us today, but the people who will be living in the places we live well into the future, right? Whether you live in Boston or in Toronto, there will still be people living in this place in fifty, one hundred, potentially a thousand years. We have a relationship with those people, too, because they will also have bodies in this landscape and they will also have basic needs. So the idea of infrastructural citizenship is to recognize and think about that relationship we have to other people both today and into the future.”
- Why I Built Zuzalu: I think I featured a writeup of Zuzalu – the temporary cryptotown which sprang up for a couple of months this year, established by Vitalik Buterin and other Ethereum people to explore ideas of community and self-governance and coworking in a more ‘serious’ manner – earlier this year, probably with some mild and not-particularly-funny snark about how these people are always fcuking obsessed with creating their own communities (I mean, it’s true, they are) – now Buterin has written a short writeup of the experience, why they set the place up, how it worked, etc, for Palladium Magazine and, honestly, as with everything I read by this guy, it sounds…reasonable! Not mad! Not cultish (oh, ok, fine, a BIT cultish)! Could Vitalik be the one crypto person who’s not a dreadful caricature?
- My Hair Is Not: A project by the Wellcome Collection, “‘My Hair Is Not…’ is a natural-hair campaign that brings awareness to the microaggressions and discrimination that Black people experience due to their hair. This photo story explores the experiences of eight Black women, men and non-binary people with their natural hair and how each person’s different lives and circumstances directly affect their relationship with their hair.” This is a fascinating set of vignettes and I particularly like the way they’re written in such a way that preserves the original voice behind each.
- The Loneliness Economy: Dirt magazine is consistently publishing some of the best writing about digital culture and wHaT iT iS dOiNg To Us at the moment, and this is no exception – this piece by Daisy Alioto, all about the coming tomorrow we can already see in things like the Rewind Pendant from last week, or Martin from the top of this week’s newsletter, and the bongo and the ‘digital friends’, and how this won’t ever stop us from feeling alone because, as the author notes, “You can’t cure loneliness because you can’t cure the power of refusal and any entity worth being in a relationship with has the power to refuse, the power to render us lonely.” Don’t think about this one too hard or you might start crying, FYI.
- The Planescape Vision Statement: On the one hand, this is perhaps something of a niche link; on the other, it might be my favourite thing in here this week. Released in 1999, Planescape Torment is a videogame which even 24 years on still regularly appears on people’s ‘Best Ever’ lists – it is honestly one of the most incredibly feats of storytelling and worldbuilding ever conjured into digital existence – but it was only ever really a niche concern. This document is the ‘game vision bible’ produced by the dev team to ‘sell’ the idea to publishers (I think) and, honestly, I think this is one of the most amazing pieces of marketing/worldbuilding collateral I have ever seen. You start reading this and it IMMEDIATELY sounds like the most amazing game ever – and then it just keeps sounding cooler and cooler (ok, fine, this is very much ‘cool’ in the ‘late-90s XXXtreme!’ era sense, so there’s possibly a bit of a BRO DUDE AWESOME SWEARING IS EDGY vibe to it, but forgive them, they were young and it was the 90s) and, honestly, this feels like an object-lesson in how to sell a vision for something; what’s even better is that if you’ve played the title you know that this wasn’t in any way hyperbolic, and you really could do pretty much everything described in this document, however insane it sounds. Seriously, this really is quite a remarkable piece of writing – imagine how much fun it must have been to pull this together (as you sit there once again attempting to eke out three lines of copy about the transformative impact of a new car insurance product on consumers’ lives).
- The Swift Tour: Given the acclaim it received on publication – justified, I must concede – it’s entirely possible you’ll all have read this already in the week since it was published; if not, though, this is the only thing you need to read about the Taylor Swift Concert Experience, which is not so much about the Taylor Swift Concert Experience as much as it is about The Whole Phenomenon of Taylor Swift and Being Young and Being A Woman and The Relationship Between Artist And Work And Audience (but also quite a lot about the Taylor Swift Concert Experience, to be fair). This really is very good indeed, and if I sound less than laudatory about it it’s only because I’m basically jealous of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s ability to sustain this level of writing over 8,000 words (which regular readers will be well aware I very much can’t). BONUS CONCERT WRITEUP: this is less stellar, but also excellent; Pete Paphides on the current Madonna tour.
- We Are More Ghosts Than People: I wasn’t expecting to read a beautiful, moving essay all about Red Dead Redemption 2 in the Paris Review this year, but, well, here we are. Honestly, there is a real strand of emergent writing using the landscape of games to tell stories about their authors internal emotional landscapes which I am very much enjoying, and this is an excellent and moving example of that – it will helping you’ve played the game, but it’s by no means necessary for you to enjoy this gorgeous piece of writing by Hanif Abdurraqib.
- Orwell: This is a BRILLIANT essay – honestly, I kept stopping as I was reading it to go and make notes and open other tabs, and there was one line that sent me into a 15 minute (admittedly quite stoned, fine) tailspin about the self-other distinction and the degree to which social media has affected the porosity of said distinction, and it left my brain properly fizzing with ideas – all about Orwell, which, yes, I know isn’t necessarily a topic you think you need to read another 4k words on but whom I promise you will learn loads from this piece (unless you’re some sort of mad Orwellian scholar). This looks both at his thinking and his life, analysing his work and his socialism and the persona we’ve created around him, and what we think we mean when we say ‘Orwellian’, and generally this is erudite and interesting and educative and just wonderful (also, I had no idea Eric Blair was such a massive cnut) – also, it contains this line which struck me as a far more accurate definition for the term ‘Orwellian’ than the one most commonly in use by the pundit class: “Orwell’s direct statements of principle always sound like he’s standing up to the man and stating ‘blatantly obvious’ truths that other people are too scared or too dim to voice” – I mean, that’s…familiar, right?
- Ice Queen: Finally this week, a short story by Lisa Owens which is hands-down the best description I have ever read of being an English teenager at a school disco (girl teenager, in this instance, but wevs) – this is funny and well-observed and awkward and cringey and, crucially, warm and incredibly kind, and I promise you that you will be smiling by the end (obviously this may not be the case if your own personal memories of the school disco are particularly traumatic, but, well, I CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE). So so so so good.
AND NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!:
- I am a total sucker for wibbly 303s and the general squelchy acid sound, so I was always going to love this track by GoTo80 – but the video, a sort of moving patchwork quilt of BBC Micro-style computer art, elevated this beyond my expectations. You can’t see me, but I am doing VERY SILLY things with my neck and head as I listen along and type this – turn it up loud and you will do the same, promise.
- Our last music video of the week is one I’m a bit unsure of – my notes next to the link just read ‘trite?’ – but which I am including anyway because I just listened to it again and while, yes, it’s very much Of A Type, it’s also very very very very relatable and, look, we all feel like this and whilst that might be trite it’s also true. Anyway, I hope that this weekend you don’t feel like this and that instead you remind yourself of the fact that there are probably, hopefully, better things around you than there are inside the screen on which you’re reading this. Have fun, see you next week, bye.