Cool telegraph pole
Abingdon Road, Oxford
However bad your week’s been, it’s been better than that of the workman who shut the Victoria Line yesterday, and possibly Bieber’s as well (leaving aside Bieber’s youth, beauty and millions of dollars, which I am sure are providing some sort of small consolation to him). SO STOP WHINGING.
Obviously I have no idea whether that’s true – there are an almost infinite set of truly dreadful things which could have happened to you in the past seven days, for which I can do nothing but express my sincere sympathy and regret. All things will pass, eh?
The rest of you, though, for whom this week has been yet another in the infinite-seeming cavalcade of mediocrities which constitute LIFE, just need to get on with it. Think of this week’s collection of internet ‘goodies’ as a potentially painful but ultimately necessary medical procedure, webmongs – sort of like the opposite of trepanning (rather than letting stuff out, we’re STUFFING IT IN) conducted by a rickety sawbones with questionable hygiene and with what appears to be an incipient case of the DTs, without anything resembling anaesthetic. Bite onto this leather belt, webmongs, and ignore the hissing, grinding and whirring of the drill as it starts up – THIS IS WEB CURIOS.
By Eric White
THE SECTION ABOUT WORK-TYPE THINGS WHICH, I AM AFRAID TO SAY AFTER A FEW LEAN WEEKS, IS RATHER BIG THIS TIME AROUND AND WHICH I WILL TOTALLY UNDERSTAND IF THOSE OF YOU WHO DON’T HAVE SOME SORT OF SILLY MEDIA JOB SKIP OVER AS, QUITE FRANKLY, NO ONE SHOULD READ MOST OF THIS STUFF UNLESS SOMEONE SOMEWHERE IS PAYING THEM FOR IT:
- Facebook! Facebook is DYING! Oh, Wait, Hang On, Maybe It’s Not After All (Although Perhaps Journalism Is): This week’s ‘FACEBOOK IS DYING’-bleating came in the shape of a report from academics at Princeton, who published a paper suggesting that, based on analysis of what happened to MySpace, Google Trends, and some rather half-baked comparisons with epidemiological data, Facebook is destined to lose something like 80% of its userbase in the next 24 months. You don’t need to be some sort of massive academic datanerd to be a little sceptical about this claim – the most obvious rebuttal comes from the simple fact that comparing MySpace in 2007ish with Facebook in 2014 is a little like comparing apples with machetes, and that correlation does not equal causation – and yet this didn’t stop quite a few sections of the global media spazzing out about this left right and centre. Read this rebuttal for the full, academic-ese version of why it’s rubbish; or alternatively read this one, for unexpected proof of Facebook actually having a sense of humour.
- FB Newsfeed Tweak Penalises Brands: Well, it does a bit. In the never-ending quest for QUALITY CONTENT (sigh), Facebook’s slightly altered its newsfeed algorithm so as to mean that text-heavy posts from brands will be de-prioritised, whereas textual posts from actual real human beings will be given a bit of a boost. In practice, what that means is a) if you’re a Page and your updates are text-heavy, (even) fewer people will see them; b) if you’ve hired an expensive copywriter to pen your Page’s prose, you may want to reconsider that; c) Facebook are effectively telling brands to spam people’s walls with even more crap pictures and image macros. QUALITY CONTENT!!!! Thanks, Facebook!
- FB Launches New App Insights: If you make / shill Facebook apps, this is useful to know – more data on how, where, when, etc, people are ENGAGING with your app.
- Deadline Approaching For Facebook Studio Awards: If you’ve done anything to make the world a better place using Facebook in the past year, then y…ahaha, who are we kidding? If, on the other hand, you’ve made something shiny and exciting which has got a lot of other industry people frothing at the mouth with glee, you may want to nominate your work for a Facebook Studio Award – deadline for entries is next Friday, so get to it.
- Google Makes Changes To Guestblogging / SEO Stuff: So this is searchgeeky but worth knowing – Google announced this week that it was going to start penalising websites which consist solely of low-quality ‘guestblogging’ posts; obviously this doesn’t mean that having guest blogs per se is bad, just that it needs to be decent copy. Frankly if this announcement screws you in any way you were probably doing something a little shady already, so I’ve minimal sympathy.
- Google Adds ‘Extra Info’ To Search: Google’s going to start offering expandable ‘more info’ bits in its search results, apparently, meaning you can click on a link to get a little expandable dropdown of additional details on any site before clicking through. It’s not 100% clear where this info is going to come from – the example on the Mashable (sorry) piece suggests Wikipedia, but I doubt this will be the sole source. Anyway, worth knowing from a reputation management / PR point of view.
- Twitter To Launch TV Ratings Info In Europe (But Not UK) (Yet): This already exists in the US courtesy of Twitter’s partnership with Nielsen; this is the European equivalent, launching in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany and giving TV networks (and advertisers, obviously) a whole load of extra data on people’s Twitter usage during and around specific TV shows (themes, reach, INFLUENCERS, etc etc etc). The ad potential for this is obviously huge; I imagine it will come to the UK before the end of the year.
- Analytics Now Available For Twitter Cards: Remember Twitter Cards, the things which let you do all sorts of ‘exciting’ things within tweets like email signups, ‘watch later’ buttons, RICH MEDIA EXPERIENCES, etc? Well you can now get SUPER IN-DEPTH analytics for them. Useful / interesting, and even more of a rationale to explore the possibilities afforded by cards – details here, in case you need reminding.
- Vine’s 1st Birthday: Who can remember what the world was like a whole 13 months ago, before we were granted the almost infinite power of being able to make 6-second looping videoclips with our mobile devices? NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO! Anyway, in celebration of their service’s 1st birthday, Vine (aka Twitter) has released this rather nice collection of some of the highlights from the service.
- A Guide To Analysing LinkedIn Ads’ Performance: In case you might need / want such a thing, here it is.
- Pinterest Testing Ability To Pin Gifs: Not really much more to add to this, to be honest. Sorry.
- Pinterest Also Testing Personalised Homepages: This is a bit more interesting; Pinterest is looking into giving users a personalised Home/Landing page based on stuff they have previously pinned, accounts they have followed, etc etc etc. What does this mean? That’s right, kids, more exciting opportunities for ADVERTISING! Watch this space, and be sure to recommend that your clients set aside another £300,000 or so NOW to fire their promoted pictures of pugs wearing their clothing into the eyes of impressionable consumers of visual content.
- Brands Using Jelly: Biz Stone must be delighted that, just two short weeks from his new Q&A service Jelly launching, brands have already swarmed onto it to fill it with such ENGAGING and RELEVANT questions as ‘Do you like KitKat?’ or ‘How Do You Eat Yours?’. Truly, we live in a blessed age.
- Brand On Snapchat: This is purportedly a site to help people find popular accounts on Snapchat. It’s not great for that, but it does link to quite a few branded accounts which is quite interesting / useful from a ‘look, let’s see what other people are doing and try and derive some sort of half-hearted inspiration from it’ point of view.
- Oh, And There’s A Snapchat Variant For Desktop Macs Too If You Need One: Just in case, you know.
- Arsenal Reach 1/2 Million Followers On Soundcloud: Just a little aside here – audio is QUITE POPULAR, you know, despite the fact that no one ever seems to consider it as part of the CONTENT MIX (perhaps because it doesn’t go viral). Anyway, maybe worth thinking of next time you’re wanging on about this stuff.
- Brand As Patron pt 3029387 – The Dove Edition: First it was Grolsch teaming with Harmony Korine and VICE (did anyone actually see the film that resulted?) a few years back, now we have Dove, bringing its ‘real beauty’ schtick to Sundance courtesy of a film all about ’empowering the selfie’ (Jesus) directed by an Oscar-nominee. Leaving aside the slightly queasy nature of the premise, it’s quite a neat concept which ties into Dove’s BRAND IDENTITY and stuff – they have spent a LOT of money on this, though.
- Macklemore, On A Bus, For The Grammys: It’s the Grammys on Sunday, apparently – as part of the buildup for it, the ceremony released a video of Mackelmore performing on a bus. That in and of itself is cute, but not revolutionary; what’s interesting about this piece is the fact that it was all filmed on cameraphones and hidden GoPros, which meant that (leaving aside what you’d have to pay for any talent), this sort of thing is actually really quite cheap to do.
- VISA Annual Report: Obviously VISA Europe’s Annual Report is a work of skull-crushing tediousness to the average punter, but I’m noting it here simply as the manner in which its been presented online is actually quite nice; clean, fresh, and slightly less painful to look at than your more traditional 157-page PDF. It really is dull, though (sorry).
- All The Old Spice Prank Websites: Another year, another concerted bid for Lions glory by W&K, presuming it’s still them, on the Old Spice account. This year they’ve gone for a selection of spoof websites promoting hideous, tasteless products – all of which when visited eventually morph into a video of the now familiar bare-chested Isiah Mustapha berating users for their lack of taste and distinction (this lack of taste and distinction can, of course, be rectified through judicious use of P&G’s stinkgel). As ever, these are really nicely made and the writing’s actually very good throughout. Although I am sure that they have lifted the one with him on rollerskates from Shadrack and Abendigo.
- Newcastle Brown Spoof Admania: Last week I railed against the obsession with Superbowl ads, and the weirdness of people watching trailers for adverts. The people at Newcastle Brown Ale OBVIOUSLY read Web Curios (they don’t), as they’ve made this the centrepiece of this rather nice piece of work for the US market. Amazing that ‘bollocks’ really doesn’t seem to be a profanity in the US.
- Denham Jeans ‘Does’ American Psycho: In case you’ve not seen this already, this is very, very good indeed – great ‘content’, guys! Although I do worry that it makes its target audience out to be complete cnuts. Well, ‘worry’ is a bit strong, but you know what I mean.
- Canal+ Offers An Interactive Greeting Card for 2014: STROKE THE PONY! This actually rather nice, although eerily reminiscent of the mental Shakira perfume website from last year.
- Good Campaigns Of 2013: A good Slideshare, this, pulled together by Gregory Pouy and containing some decent and not overexposed examples.
- 70% Of Marketing / Marketers Fail To Drive Sales: You have to laugh, don’t you? Don’t you? Stop looking like that. It will be fine, honest.
- Imperica New Horizons Event – Lineup Now Confirmed: It’s looking very good indeed. Get your tickets at that link there, and don’t spare the horses.
By Mary Pratt
A COLLECTION OF OTHER THINGS WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY ACT AS SOME SORT OF PALATE-CLEANSING ANTIDOTE TO THE BRAND-ISH-TYPE STUFF UP THERE AND WHICH, I PROMISE, CONTAINS AT LEAST THREE REALLY, REALLY GOOD LINKS THIS WEEK, HONEST, Pt. 1:
- Clever API-Scraper For Any Website: This is potentially very useful indeed if you’re a developer; called ‘Kimono’, this apparently ‘lets you turn websites into structured APIs from your browser in seconds’. To the 9 of you for whom that is any use, you’re welcome.
- The Huffington Post Launches WorldPost: Just FYI, really – the Huffington Post this week announced its foray into what they hope will be a truly global journalistic offering (at Davos, no less). We’ll see how this goes – lots of grandiose rhetoric from Arianna in the announcement, but time will tell…
- Everyone Attending Davos This Year: Well, the delegates at any rate – it doesn’t mention all the assembled flaks, flunkies and other parasites rooting around the tables and waiting for the metaphorical crumbs to fall (bitter at not attending? Me?) – but this is still interesting not only for the way in which it presents the information (which is rather lovely) but also when you start to drill down into the demographics of attendees. WHAT GLASS CEILING?
- A Drone You Can Fit In Your Pocket: How do you feel about the idea of a future in which people can carry tiny flying robots in their pocket, which they can unleash at any time to fly around recording stuff? Well it doesn’t matter, because they’re coming anyway and there’s probably nothing at all that you can do about it other than hope that this Kickstarter doesn’t meet it’s fu…oh, no, too late, it’s coming. On one level this is all sorts of ‘ooh!’ and ‘wow!’ and ‘so future!’ (sorry for the dogespeak), and on several others it’s a bit scary. Let’s not think about that, though.
- The Ticking, Knitting Clock: This, though, isn’t creepy at all; quite the reverse. Designed by Siren Elise Wilhelmson, a Norwegian designer, this is a clock which, as time passes, automatically knits. It doesn’t admittedly, knit anything other than a massive tube, but I don’t think this detracts from the loveliness of it. Anyway, hipsters, this could be this season’s onesie. Get on it.
- BBC Launches ‘iWonder’: This is the BBC’s proprietary template for creating multimedia articles on-site, a la Snowfall (The NYT’s now-legendary multimedia page which sort of kicked off the increasingly ubiquitous longform multimedia parallax HTML-style presentation of journalism). Anyway, they’ve obviously created a back-end for journalists to use which relatively easily creates these sorts of things – expect to see other publishers following suit. Anyone who can create a white label-able one of these for brands and others will do quite well, I think.
- Typeface Glasses: Designers will, I think, like these. Spectacles designed to mimic core elements of Garamond and Helvetica; rather wanky, but I can imagine that there are quite a few people out there who would secretly (or openly; who am I to judge?) like a pair. Wait for the inevitable ‘comic sans glasses’ comedy variant.
- Gorgeous Cut-out Book-type Paper Art Things: An early contender for clunkiest descriptor of the week, these are, in my defence, quite hard to describe. Japanese artist Yusuke Oono makes these gorgeous works which are a cross between books and papercraft dioramas, telling stories through intricately cut-out paperscapes. Click on the link and marvel at the beauty; if I had kids, this is exactly the sort of thing I would buy them and which they would absolutely fail to appreciate, the jam-fingered little ingrates (it’s such a good thing I don’t have kids).
- A World Map Displaying Viral Outbreaks Which Could Have Been Prevented Through Vaccination: This takes us from 2008 to the present. Aside from the fact that this is another example of BIG DATA being mapped quite well (I know, I know, so 2013), this is just here so we can all look at Big Pharma and applaud their neverending altruism (and for Big Pharma to summarily ignore our disapproval and carry on making unconscionably large sums of money each minute).
- Tennis (The Band) Have A Nice Website: I have no idea whether this has been this way for ages, and I don’t really care. I found it this week and I like it, so it’s going in. Tennis, featured in the videos section of Web Curios passim, have a rather nice conceit on their webpage which is done out to look like Windows 95. Cute, and actually still pretty good functionally.
- Metagaming In GTA V: Now that all the fuss has died down around GTA V (a game which, on reflection, I didn’t actually enjoy playing anywhere near as much as I feel I ought to have done – I blame the horrendous protagonists and the on-reflection sub-par radio stations, but maybe I’m just not the target audience any more) and the online component is sort of working OK, we’re starting to see some interesting stuff emerging – not least this trend, identified via this sub-thread on Reddit, of people playing the online game as journalists, simply running around documenting the madness through screenshots and photos. What’s particularly interesting is the meta-game developing within it, with people role-playing being hacks down to driving around in particular vans, etc. Expect to see this stuff, or something VERY close to it, at at least one art fair in 2014. MARK MY WORDS (unless I’m wrong). Although someone mentioned online that this has actually been going on for a little while, so what do I know?
- 8-bit Music Cover Version Motherlode: You want a whole YouTube channel dedicated to cover versions (vocal and instrumental) of some of your favourite music in chiptune style? OH GOOD.
- The Tate Wants Your GIFS: Following from the Rijksmuseum the other week, now it’s the turn of the Tate to get people messing with its archives. On this occasion, the venerable institution is asking that people make gifs of some of its catalogue works and submit them to their website. These will then be screened, along with some commissioned works by ACTUAL ARTISTS (not that you’re not actual artists, but, you know), at a LATES event on 7th Feb. I like this idea, and I hope you do too – they’re taking submissions for another 10 days, so have at it.
- Glass And Sex: We’re now on wave 2 of the sexyapps for Google’s imminent facecomputer, but their not getting any less creepy. This one’s from the UK, though, so GO TECH CITY. The website really does seem rather parodyish (to stop the app from working, the vocal instruction is apparently ‘Ok Glass, pull out’ – REALLY?!?) but is apparently all real; it allows partners to stream the glass-view of their coitus, see each other’s perspective on the whole event, etc. Leaving aside the peculiar sort of narcissism that would compel someone to have their partner’s view of sex whilst having sex (“sweetheart, how would you like to get off this time?”; “Well darling, what I’d really like to do is for you to wear these glasses so that I can look at what I look like when we have sex while we’re having sex”; HMMMM), this is very clearly just a promopuffsite for something which will probably never be made. Something like it will, though, so don’t stop feeling a little bit grossed out by the whole thing.
- Wellcome Images: Have I mentioned on here how much I love the Wellcome Collection? I love the Wellcome Collection. They have SO MUCH interesting stuff there – it’s worth a trip for the shrunken heads, antique false limbs and slightly peculiar 18th-century Japanese sex toys alone. Anyway, as is now increasingly the norm for museums and archives, the Wellcome have put 10,000 images of their collection online; have a browse, there’s some awesomely odd stuff in there.
- Translate Upworthy Headlines With This Plugin: Downworthy takes clickbaity headlines (“Think you know about cheese? You won’t know what to think after you’ve listen to this fish sing the blues”. Hang on, that one doesn’t seem quite right) and de-clickbaitifies them. More novelty than anything else, but there’s definitely an idea in here somewhere for some decent satire (mabe).
- Cross-Platform Music Search: Quite a useful little toy which simultaneously searches for songs across YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and others.
- Odd-flavour Doritos From Japan:Japan is a country which quite evidently doesn’t have the same anti-MSG prejudices as we do. This is a collection of frankly mental flavours which Doritos have released in Japan over the years. Caramel? Sweet Christ.
- Strange Image Manipulation Toy Thing: I’m going to quote the blurb here: “Utilizing the infinite resources from the internet as a medium and WebGL as the canvas, Club Rothko Builder gives users the chance to build, experiment and share online digital sculptures”. So there. You can actually produce some rather interesting images with this, although playing around with your webcam with it at 7am does, as I discovered this morning, lead to quite a lot of soul-searching about quite how bad you look when you first wake up.
- App Signals Death Of Romance: Those of you who have ever been in a relationship will know that receiving messages from your partner at odd times of the day saying they are thinking of you is rather nice (except a) when those messages come at 5am when they are obviously jacked off their tits on drugs; b) when you’re with the person with whom you’re having an affair; or c) when you’ve got to that point in the relationship where the mere thought of your significant other makes you physically shake with revulsion). Now take that idea, and imagine that rather than coming from your partner, these messages are automated by an iPhone app. How does that make you feel. Yes, well, quite.
- Google Image Colouring Book: Simple but rather nice little site which searches Google for line-drawings and then presents them as things to be coloured-in. As with almost everything these days, there’s an MS-Paint-style art project waiting to be made of this (I am ashamed to say that one of the first thing I checked is whether it defaults to Google safe search – it does).
- Pictures of Britain From Above: Feauturing images captured between 1919 and 1953 and held in the Aerofilms collection, a repository of aerial photography which contains pictures up until 2006 (apparently – I suppose Google sort of superseded it from that point onwards). Anyway, this is brilliant as a look at what the UK looked like during and immediately post 2 World Wars – as with the National Archives War Diaries project from the other week, this also invites people to identify certain areas / details to assist with the classification and mapping of the pictures. So much good stuff in here.
- Shazam For Samples, Basically: Samplify (hideous name) is a clever mobile app which will listen to whatever song’s playing on your mobile at any given time and, apparently, identify the individual songs which it’s sampling. Good for DJs, musos and copyright lawyers, I would imagine.
- Teju Cole’s RT Narrative: Teju Cole is one of those people on Twitter who tells very short stories very well indeed. You should follow him. The link back there is to a piece about a little storytelling game he played the other day, building a story fragment by fragment from RTs of other, unconnected, users’ tweets. Does that make sense? Sorry if not, the article explains it better I promise. Anyway, trhe first brand to copy this / rip this off in some way is officially hideous and an enemy of all that is beautiful and pure.
- Arctic Snow Trees: Trees in very cold weather look AMAZING.
- Drake Weather: Ever wanted to know / see what the weather’s like where you are via the medium of an oil-painting of musician Drake’s head, in profile, with a backdrop showing the meteorological conditions currently prevailing around your computer or mobile device? OH GOOD.
- The Chandelier Of Lost Earrings: I love love love this. An art installation currently on display in St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, this takes hundreds of single earrings, donated by women who’d lost one of the pairs, and crafts them into a rather beautiful chandelier. Each earrings of the earrings is attached to a small tag, telling a tiny story about who and where it’s from. SO MANY FEELS.
- Design The Perfect Logo: Despite regularly wanging on about design and related things on here, the amount I actually know about the practice can be written on the back of a very small envelope., As such, I have no idea whether this set of instructions for creating a perfect logo is bollocks or not; it..er…looks quite nice, though.
- WTF Is My Wearable Strategy: This is a whole week old now, so I imagine you’ve all seen it; if not, though, some zeitgeisty 2014 agencyLOLs for you, right here.
- Beautiful Fcucking Sh1t: If you’re a designer (see ignorance caveat above) who wants a repository of slightly trippy graphics, or if you’re a psytrance head who had their heyday in 1996, this website will be right up your street. Oh, the same applies if you still make club fliers and want a whole host of psychedelic backdrops.
- Your Name On A Spaceship: NASA is, apparently, sending a spaceship on a round-trip to visit the asteroid Bennu (a great name for an asteroid – say it aloud, go on; does’t it sound pleasingly Tellytubby-ish?) – if you want, you too can have your name etched onto the outside of said spaceship. Web Curios bears no responsibility for what may happen should alien life forms intercept the craft and decide that the names on it are the list of ‘chosen ones’ earmarked for abduction.
- Twitter ‘Flashmobs’: This is silly and childish but did make me laugh quite a lot. The idea is that someone with rather a lot of Twitter followers takes a mundane tweet from a total stranger, tweets it to their followers and encourages them all to RT / favourite it, to the utter bafflement and confusion of the initial person. Obviously this is only funny if people are NICE, which given that this is THE INTERNET (sorry, Evgeny) is pretty unlikely. Still, the concept amused me and I’m pretty sure that there are twists on this for brands should they want to employ them.
- Nice-looking Beta Recipe Site: This is called Counter Chef, and whilst it’s not yet live you can see enough of how it looks / works to get a feel; it uses a rather nice visual representation of ingredients, etc, which I think make recipes a lot easier to scan; imagine this will be very good for in-kitchen tablet use. Clever UI.
- TINY BATMAN ACROSS THE WORLD: Look at his little ears. LOOK AT THEM.
Not sure who this is by, but found it here
A COLLECTION OF OTHER THINGS WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY ACT AS SOME SORT OF PALATE-CLEANSING ANTIDOTE TO THE BRAND-ISH-TYPE STUFF UP THERE AND WHICH, I PROMISE, CONTAINS AT LEAST THREE REALLY, REALLY GOOD LINKS THIS WEEK, HONEST, Pt. 2:
- A Selection Of Images From Kiev: It’s not been a great week in the Ukraine; this Livejournal page has collected some pretty amazing photos of the civil unrest that’s been seen there this week. Obviously I can’t read Russian so I have no idea what the accompanying text says; apologies if it’s anything dreadful. Here are some other excellent pics from The Atlantic, while we’re about it.
- Buster Keaton Was Amazing: He did all of these stunts himself. All of them. Tom Cruise can do one, frankly.
- Marijuana-based Fine Dining: You know what, I personally can’t think of anything worse than getting stoned out of my gourd with a bunch of strangers as I’m confronted with a selection of elaborate marijuana-based dishes; the intense couchlock I can imagine kicking in around the third course, and the subsequent conversational ‘issues’ that might entail’ make the whole exercise sound like an exercise in horror. Nonetheless, this website for an LA-based stoner dining experience offers exactly that – come on London, don’t let illegality stand in your way.
- Yeezianity: Were this website dedicated to anyone else I would suggest it’s a not particularly funny gag; the fact that it purports to be about Kanye West’s status as a godhead, though, there’s every possibility that West’s actually behind it himself in some small way (seriously, read the interview with him down there. The man’s self-confidence is INCREDIBLE).
- Diabetes Deutschland Has The Website Of The Week: Diabetes is obviously a serious issue, but this website makes me laugh SO MUCH. The video which loops on the homepage is amazing – check out the woman on the left, getting increasingly perplexed as to exactly why she’s holding a couple of apples.
- The Selfie Police: Quite a nice idea, encouraging people to donate money to charity to atone for their narcissism, and encouraging their friends to do the same. There’s a charity spin on this for Comic Relief or similar waiting to be exploited, although obviously I haven’t bothered to think through the mechanics as frankly that’s your job.
- NYC Audio As Sculpture: Tying with the earring chandelier for the title of ‘best artthing I found this week’, this project by Erica Sellers takes sound files from New York locations, turns them into 3d wave models, and then grinds those 3d wave models into wood which has been reclaimed from the same area as the audiofiles were recorded to make sonically-influenced sculptures. Aside from the clever-clever HIGH CONCEPT, they look lovely too.
- Abandoned Italian Discos Of The 80s/90s: This brings back memories of me being on Summer holidays in Italy in the mid-90s and being just too young to really feel comfortable in these sorts of places. It also brings back memories of seeing Italian men dancing AT THEMSELVES in the mirror of a club in Perugia a few years later.
- The GIF-y Awards: There’s an awards ceremony for GIFS, it turns out. Inevitably it’s an ad agency side-project, but it’s actually a cute idea although if I’d pulled my finger out 12 months ago this would have existed then instead (but I didn’t, obviously).
- Impressive Art On Coffee Cups: This man draws some rather incredible things on standard coffee cups. Costa / Starbucks / Nero / AN Other coffee chain – this one’s just waiting for you to jump all over it and shower the man with the monies.
- Nursing Home Residents As Film Stars: I’m not 100% sure why these exist – they’re from Germany, but I don’t know whether it’s a promo for anything or simply a lovely initiative from a senior residential home – but these pictures showing senior citizens dressed as film stars are lovely. Also a lovely alternative to Bill Hicks’ ‘Let your grandma meet Chuck Norris‘ bit.
- NYC Really Was Scary In The 80s: There was an article the other week about how there’s a lot of false nostalgia about for THE GOOD OLD DAYS on New York, when it was all edgy and real. These photos rather fantastically point out that it was also very, very scary-looking indeed. Would you go on that subway after dark? You’re braver than I am (admittedly not a huge accolade, but still).
- Fashion For Pregnant People: Not something that I’m personally interested in, but this is a very nicely done website indeed. The homepage in particular is excellent – the video really works well.
- The Surreal World Of The Sims: Personally I think that this is one of the best things in here this week. The Sims, as I’m sure you all know, is the long-running videogame in which players can create their own miniature people living in their miniature houses with miniature furniture and miniature relationships while you play GOD above them. This is a list of some of the more bizarre software patches which have been released for the game in the past few years; they make the BEST starting point for surreal stories / images I have seen in ages. If you’re not amused / inspired by gems such as ‘The Murphy Bed Has Been Made Less Lethal’ then we probably can’t be friends.
- Get Your Hallowe’en Mask In Early: Animal masks. Really, really creepy animal masks.
- Instagram Experiments: A collection of cute / clever drawings which integrate real-world objects, photographed and collected. Again, crap description – click the link, it’s actually really quite good.
- An Incredible Collection Of Light Painting Photos: Long-exposure photography of light stuff isn’t really very cool, is it? It always feels a little bit like the photo equivalent of white people with dreads, waving poi. Still, ‘cool’ is something with which Web Curios (or at least its author) has no truck whatsoever, and as such I have no shame in presenting this AWESOME collection; some great stuff and really interesting techniques here, I think.
- The Machine To Be Another: A really interesting project, using the now-ubiquitous Oculus Rift in order to play with ideas of self-perception and gender. Effectively it uses cameras and the Rift device to present a different first person view to an individual, which presents a different body to their own whilst still ostensibly mimicking their movements, etc. Oh dear God, that was nonsensical – sorry, early start this morning. Just look.
- The Bum Alphabet: This is more my speed. An app for tablets / phones which attempts to teach kids the alphabet via the medium of a font made up of…er…bums. I imagine small children would find this HILARIOUS (and some adults too, to be honest).
- Behind The Scenes Pictures From Ghostbusters: You know the drill by now. These are pretty good, though, particularly the ones of the Slimer model (they called it Onionhead? Really?).
- Personalised Carved Ice Lollies: Very clever – using facescanning and a carving drillbit, this project aims to create a portable machine which will carve bespoke icelollies into whatever shape is placed in front of it. Coming to a marketing campaign near you later this year, no doubt.
- Rub Lutter Cycles The World: Rob Lutter’s an OCD man who’s cycling around the world to raise money for charity. It’s an interesting project, and the website which accompanies it is really rather nicely put together; well-designed, clear, and with lots of decent pictures, info, etc.
- 5TFU: Quite an interesting idea, this one. Sort of like Chatroulette for audio, this site allows anyone to upload an audiofile anonymously; visitors to the site get streamed a file at random, which they can either listen to or downvote in favour of moving on to the next one. All the files are available to download, too, which is obviously legally quite tricky, but a nice touch. I’ve had it on for the past 20 minutes, and there’s some really, really interesting stuff on there, and quite a lot which sounds like washing machines having angry sex. I like it (the website, not the sound of washing machines having angry sex).
- Edgar – The Story Builder: Another week, another website which purports to let users create multi,edia narratives in an easy, attractive fashion. This one’s called Edgar, for some reason – it actually looks very nice, and the interface is pretty decent. It’s not quite the ‘make your own snowfall in 3 minutes!’ magical doohickey I allude to above, though.
- Best / Worst Headline Of The Year So Far: Frankly it’s hard to tell how it could be bettered.
- Wages For Facebook: A manifesto, really, demanding that people start claiming remuneration for the data which they have given up to companies like FB. Obviously that’s not ACTUALLY what it’s asking for – it’s about how we consider value in the context of information, and how we consider labour in a digital age, and all sorts of other things. The unskippable autoscroll irritates me no end, but the prose is actually very interesting whether or not you agree with its central premise.
- A Very Strange Hollwood Photoshoot: Jeremy Cowart is a photographer in the US who photographs famouses. He did a shoot recently for some TV show or another in which he felt a strange ‘connection’ with one of said famouses. I’m just going to leave this here – I have my own thoughts about this, but, y’know, who am I to judge. I just find it all VERY WEIRD as a way of reacting to some pretty bad news.
- Stork Fountain: Finally this week, a poem. It’s from 2013, but I only saw it this week and anyway, it’s very good indeed. All about online activism and activity and inactivity and clickbait and news and information DOING THINGS and and and. Read it.
By Louis Draper
THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS! (IT’S JUST AS FCUKED AS FACEBOOK, APPARENTLY):
- Animals Sitting On Capybaras: We must surely be fast approaching a point where we’re going to need another addition to the Laws of the Internet which states ‘if it can be conceived of and articulated in writing, there will be a Tumblr of it’.
- 80s Art: Photos of fine art, often in-situ, in the 1980s. Some quite remarkable stuff in here.
- 70s Sci Fi Art: Erm, scifi art, from the 70s. These descriptors are sort of redundant really, aren’t they? People who make mood boards and STUFF might find this useful.
- The Videogame Art Archive: A collection of art from videogames – not concept art, but depictions of art. Interesting and , as per the GTA thing above, I would be AMAZED if this stuff isn’t actually *ahem* ‘reapppropriated’ by the fine art establishment this year.
- Critical Hand Gestures: See how many you can use at work this afternoon.
- Tate Collectives: Seeing as we mentioned Tategifs above, here’s a whole Tumblr of them (and other things too). Some really nice things on here.
- Deep Dark Fears: Cartoon depictions of people’s deepest, darkest fears. You can even submit your own, if you like. This is simultaneously sort of cute and funny and really, really distressing in a low-key sort of fashion.
- The Association Sketchbook: An interesting little project, using word-association through prose, poetry, images and video. Will be interesting to see what results over time, but I like the concept.
- Then & Now Photos: If these are yet to be in the Mail, it can’t be long. Two English brothers recreate their childhood photographs, to comedic and occasionally slightly creepy effect.
- Truthgraphs: Graphs which…er…tell the truth. Sort of.
- Datasonfication: Here we go – turning data into sound is officially a THING – it has its own Tumblr and name and everything. Anyway, this collects examples of audiomanipulation of datasets; I was wondering the other day to what extent audio could be used as an predictor of things / alerts system, from a datamonitoring sort of way. Then I started boring myself, so I stopped.
- The Invisible Men: Finishing on a less than cheery note here, but this is a sobering and rather excellent / sad project. The Invisible Men collects critical reviews written by men who use prostitutes, and presents them as a series of texts pasted onto blank female masks, each with a pricetag showing how much each man paid for the right to complain about his experience. Not going to lie, this is very grubby indeed.
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG AND REALLY, THIS WEEK ESPECIALLY, ARE QUITE EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD AS WELL AS BEING SORT OF INSTRUCTIVE IF YOU’LL EXCUSE MY IRRITATING DIDACTICISM FOR A SECOND:
- Stoya On Sex: Hopefully acting as a slight antidote to the last Tumblr, this is a great piece of writing in the New Statesman of all places by pr0nstar Stoya, who’s moderately famous in the non-bongo world for being a prolific writer and commentator on all sorts of things. Anyway, this is her guide to sex for young people, which I would modestly suggest should be required reading for anyone 12 and above.
- Bill Murray AMA: Another week, another famous getting intimate with Reddit. This time it’s the turn of internet favourite Bill Murray, who gives a wonderfully candid series of answers; dear God, wouldn’t it be nice if all famouses were able to be this honest and unguarded about stuff, eh?
- The Death Of The Expert: A great piece on the troubling rise of the dilettante in almost every field, and how it’s increasingly seen as somehow rude and patronising to claim a superior or more valid perspective on any issue based on expertise or increased knowledge of said issue (it’s not rude; it’s just true). A great piece, with a slightly depressing overall tone which suggests that we’ve crossed the Rubicon on this one.
- Some TED Talks Are Just Wrong: It’ll be interesting to see whether the mainstream TED backlash gathers any real weight or not; nevertheless, this piece on The Awl neatly skewers one of the reasons why people are often uncomfortable with the format and premise; that is, the presentation of what are at best theories and at worst factoids as fact, in an environment which offers no opportunity to challenge and presents the speaker’s thesis as gospel. Obviously this only looks at a few examples – not all TED talks are like this, obviously – but it’s worth bearing in mind the next time you hear Gladwell or someone else wanging on about something INCREDIBLE and REVELATORY.
- McQueen Vs Kanye: I do wonder what Steve McQueen, who lest we forget was a visual artist before he was a Hollywood filmmaker, thought of Kanye’s assertion that he was from a tradition of visual artists himself, but that noone had ever been smart enough to see it. Anyway, as ever West gives GREAT hubris here; whatever you may think of the man, personally or in terms of output, he’s very entertaining indeed. I wouldn’t really like to be stuck in a room with him, though, which feeling I am sure would be mutual were he to have any inkling who the everliving fcuk I am.
- The Best Music Journalism Of 2013: The last ‘Best Of 2013’ thing I will post here, honest, but there’s some really good writing linked to from this Red Bull Academy post.
- Why Friends Ruined Everything: VICE doing what it does best here, skewering popular culture in slightly self-conscious and affectionate fashion. Thing is, and this is why Buzzfeed is less good than VICE, they could have done this too but it would have been ‘7 Reasons Why Friends Killed The 90s’ or something, and it would have been dreadful. In fact, maybe they’ve aready done it and VICE have just ripped it off, which sort of invalidates my thesis. Oh. Whoops.
- Virtual Girlfriends And Slightly Sad Men: Wow, well this is quite bleak too. All about the increasing number of men in the Far East (although let’s be honest, it’s still a VERY small number overall) who are becoming more comfortable having relationships with virtual girlfriends than with the real thing. Although having recently witnessed a friend trawling through OK Cupid, I can almost begin to see their point.
- Hacking OK Cupid: Speaking of that…one VERY geeky man applied algorithms to his search for love. Inspiring and a bit saddening in equal measure.
- An Oral History Of ‘Swingers’: Before Jon Favreau made millions directing the Iron Man films, and before Vince Vaughan decided to become th go-to guy for every mediocre romantic comedy made from 2006 onwards (or so it feels), there was Swingers. If you watched this when you were in your teens / early 20s, you probably wanted to be a bit like the characters in it (watching it now, you’re really glad you’re not). This is a really interesting piece, with the principals all talking about how it got made – interestingly, whilst there’s obviously LOADS of hard work and stuff in here, there’s also a healthy slice of familial money – note the passing references to ‘my dad got me a Hollywood scriptwriting course as a gift’, and ‘$200,000 from my father’s business associate’. Every little helps.
- What It’s Like Being A Drug Dealer: Clue: a massive logistical nightmare, and really not very much fun at all, it turns out. BONUS: a similar but different piece on what it’s like selling through the Silk Road, which frankly sounds LOADS easier.
- Indian Sex Tourism In Uzbekhistan: This is REALLY long, but very interesting indeed – not least as it shows sides to Indian culture that I personally haven’t read about before, and also tells you quite a lot about Uzbekhistan (it doesn’t sound fantastic, to be honest).
- The Poignancy of Sad YouTube: Long-term readers may remember Sad Youtube from the Tumblrs section a few months back; anyway, this is Buzzfeed’s in-depth look at the site and the commentors whose poignant memories sparked the whole thing. You want to get poncey, you call it Proustian; you don’t want to, then it’s just a really interesting read. Your call.
- Obama’s Second Term: Again very long, but SCH good political writing / profiling. Maybe I don’t read as much as I ought, but I struggle to think of profiling like this on UK leaders whilst they’re still in situ, although maybe that’s just because noone cares quite as much. In any case, this is a great look at Obama as he enters the final 2.5 years of his leadership; a very good close-up look at a man doing what I can only imagine is the worst job in the world (slight hyperbole, but only slight).
- On Not Knowing Anything About Bob Dylan: Esquire, on the absolute inscrutable unknowability of Mr Dylan. Fans will lap this up; others will be slightly perplexed about how it’s possible to write this much about very, very little indeed.
- The Evolution of Tarzan’s Roar: This is silly and fun and very OLD HOLLYWOOD, and also autplays the roar when you click the link. Go on, go to the toilets and practice it NOW.
By Korneel Detailleur
FINALLY, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!
1) To start with this week, we have a teaser short which is sort of advertising a full-length film which I think is being made RIGHT NOW. This is called First Wave, and is a very clever take on the by-now played out zombie apocalypse mythos. Have a watch – interesting that this perspective doesn’t quite seem to have been explored before. Impressive:
2) It’s that time of year again when advertisers prepare to duke it out for the biggest prize in the American calendar, and to which a sporting event is a small, welcome distraction. On the offchance that you don’t ‘get’ American Football, this is a BRILLIANT animation explaining to you. The art style is awesome, as is the tone – very much enjoyed this:
3) You may have seen this already as it’s done a couple of million by now, but it’s so, so cleverly done. It’s by a French band / artist called Boggie and it’s called ‘Nouveau Parfum’, and it’s probably about self-image and stuff (erm, my french isn’t quite up to snuff to tell). Anyway, check out the below with its jaw-dropping ‘real-time photoshop’ effect (NB – two videos, one with makeup, one without; the rest is after-effects. My pleasure):
4) Damon Albarn’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I appreciate, but I really, really like this video for his latest single ‘Everyday Robots’, in which you see his head being sculpted from the ground up in 3d. Aside from anything else, it gives you a real sense of quite how HARD 3d modelling must be:
5) It’s quite hard not to love a band who call themselves Marijuana Deathsquads. It’s also quite hard not to love the video for this song, the rather trippy and underwater-sounding ‘Ewok Sadness’ with its titular sad Ewok. POOR THE SAD EWOK:
6) Sorry – this is 7 months old, but I only found it this week and it has cheered me no end over the course of 7 days in which the weather’s just started to feel a bit burdensome and oppressive. This is ‘Riptide’ by Vance Joy, and it’s PURE SUMMER HAPPINESS:
7) Starlings, when they congregate, are said to form ‘murmerations’. Isn’t that beautiful? Oh, please yourselves. Anyway, this is an excellent video taking the movement of birds in the evening sky and creating a beautiful semi-geometric tracer landscape out of them. Gets good around 6 mins, but it’s very relaxing indeed to sit through the whole thing:
8) Would you like to see a piece of video which looks like a whole host of slightly distressing Francis Bacon portraits come to life? HERE YOU ARE THEN:
9) FULL DISCLOSURE – this song bores me to tears. I just don’t really ‘get’ this sort of thing. Nonetheless, the video’s a wonderful riot of pastel colours and flowers being destroyed all over the place. It’s by someone who calls themselves Karanyi, featuring someone else called ‘Big John Whitfield, the song’s called ‘Celebrate Life’, and I really couldn’t have sounded any more sniffy in this description if I tried. Sorry, Big John:
10) Finally, this. We have featured Rubberbandits on here multiple times before (remember ‘Horse Outside‘? Remember ‘Spastic Hawk‘?) – this is their latest, it is called Dad’s Best Friend and it is HORRIBLE and I love it. HAPPY FRIDAY (or whenever you’re reading this):
That’s it for now