Webcurios 27/11/15

Reading Time: 28 minutes

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Everything’s fixed! All that talking and opining about What Must Be Done has sorted EVERYTHING OUT! Praise be!

ONLY JOKING! It’s all still a total fcuking mess, whichever way you look.The only people with reason to look happy at the moment are the arms manufacturers, and they tend to grin suspiciously most of the time anyway. The rest of us, though, can only reflect on how banjaxed everything is and self-medicate to take the pain away.

Which, in a SEAMLESS segue, is exactly what I am going to be doing this weekend, and I visit Fat Bob in Amsterdam and try not to let him tempt me into doing crack with strangers. Presuming I survive, I’ll see you in a fortnight – Web Curios will be taking next week off to deal with the inevitable empty feeling that comes from TOO MUCH FUN. In the meantime, though, enjoy these hand-foraged, artisanally-crafted nuggets of web, sourced from all over and served to you with the now-mandatory garnish of prolix ennui that literally DOZENS of you have come to…well…tolerate, I suppose, is the best way to describe it. Hold your nose, scarf them down, and don’t think too much about exactly what all of this is doing to you –  THIS IS WEB CURIOS!

By Kyle Thompson



  • Facebook And Google Make Friends (Sort Of): This is actually a few weeks old, meaning that noone ACTUALLY cared enough to write it up / notice (other than We Are Social, who I should probably thank for bothering to alert me to its existence), but I think it’s worth noting. Obviously most of what goes on on Facebook is still stuck behind the Great Wall, but as a result of an update from a few weeks back, non-privacy-locked info is getting indexed by the GoogleBots, meaning it actually becomes slightly more useful for companies and brands to have at least some publicly available info about themselves on Facebook if only to, you know, OWN THEIR SEARCH PROFILE and stuff like that.
  • Facebook Testing Ephemeral, Snapchat-style Disappearing Messages: Facebook might be aping Snapchat even more than it does already. I mean, they’re only testing this feature, but as Web Curios has previously observed, the great platform consolidation is now well underway and this is basically a nailed-on cert, right? Because the only certainty we have for 2016 is that all of these fcuking platforms will do exactly the same thing but with small, maddening variations which will serve only to make the lives of digimongs like us marginally more complicated than they in fact need be. There, that’s my prediction for next year, bank it. 
  • Facebook At Work Gets Own Messenger: Not that the majority of us peons have had a chance to play with the bloody platform (aside from those of you working for RBS or whichever other corporate behemoths have been earmarked as guinea pigs), but when you’re writing up your speculative ‘things we might want to consider in 2016’ roundups, be sure to note that Facebook At Work, looking like it will launch in January next year, will have its own messenger app, to give office monkeys an alternative to Communicator for sending lewd and potentially libellous opinions about the Accounts team to colleagues without leaving a paper-trail. Thanks, Facebook!
  • YouTube Adds International / Translation Tools: Google this week announced a raft (well, three) updates to its translation services for videos, which is worth a look if you do stuff that you’d like to potentially spread to more people than just those who have the common decency to speak English. A small note – there’s something sort of awful about their case studies being VICE and TED – two multi-million dollar media brands – waxing lyrical about how the community helped them double their reach by translating their videos FOR FREE. Without wishing to come over all self-help here, if you can contribute to a translation project then you can probably afford to charge for it, you DICKS. STOP GIVING LARGE CORPORATIONS THIS STUFF FOR NO MONEY PLEASE. Aside from anything else, how am I meant to charge extortionate freelance rates for anything when you lot are doing legitimately useful things for nothing?
  • Snapchat Story Explorer: As the slightly undignified scramble to OWN SOCIAL NEWS continues apace (so ugly, really), Snapchat is launching another feature – a feature so new, and so US-only, that the sole piece of coverage I have seen on it is this truly appalling piece on Mashable, a website which has long been the yardstick for lazy, poorly-written tech ‘journalism’, but which has of late actually surpassed itself when it comes to the sheer horror of its prose (thanks, Mashable!). Basically this is me apologising for the fact that, as a result of this, it’s actually pretty hard to find out exactly how it actually works or what it is going to do when it is rolled out wider than just LA & NYC (the two cities it’s launched in) – basically, though, it’s going to aggregate Snaps in a sort of ‘BREAKING NEWS!’ format for your city. Here’s the spiel, in case you care enough to read it: “…will offer users a closer look at significant events in their city as they happen, via the city’s Live Story. Snapchat is rolling the feature out to New York City and Los Angeles at first, but says it will make it available in more cities “very soon.” When browsing a Live Story for either city, you’ll see a new “Explore” tab at the bottom of certain Snaps. Swipe up and you’ll be able to see more Snaps about the same event.The goal, the company says, is to allow users to see breaking news and other important moments from more perspectives.” So there. 
  • Choose Your Own Adventure Vines: I think that this is a rather nice twist on the standard CYOA Twitter game which we’ve all seen rather a lot of and are probably a touch bored by (although it IS about football, for which apologies). As is this, too, by Azeem Anzhar and experimenting with the use of Twitter polls as a mechanic for filtering people through the story. Have a play, they are fun. 
  • Spotify Thanksgiving: I’m largely ignoring Thanksgiving stuff because, well, America has managed to foist Hallowe’en hysteria on us, and Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, and a whole host of other things, and I am buggered if I am going to be complicit in making their sodding festival of candied yams (THAT IS NOT AN ACTUAL FOODSTUFF, I AM SORRY) a ‘thing’ here too, but I rather liked this and so am breaking my own embargo. A really nice little idea from Spotify – input the weight of your turkey, select your preferred genre, and Spotify churns out a playlist designed to match the ideal cooking time for the bird. Sort of like the cooking playlists from last week, there’s a lot of ‘inspiration’ potential here, I think. 
  • Target Does Star Wars: Can Star Wars please fcuk off? Eh? Oh. Fine. This is sweatshop retailer Target’s own attempt to get in with the BUZZ, included mainly because it is sort of pretty – OOH LOOK AT THE LOVELY FLOATING STAR WARS FACES! – and because of its utter pointlessness. Visit the site, express your preference for a particular moment / character from the Star Wars mythos, claim your place in the star system where your anodyne little message (“I LOVE BOBA FETT LOL!”) will live forever…I mean, yes, fine, it’s nice to look at, but WHY IS IT THERE? My favourite sort of poignant part is that all of these pathetic little thoughts have a ‘share’ functionality built-in, so you can spread your “I LOVE BOBA FETT LOL” message to all your friends, who will doubtless be thrilled. A wonderful example of some obviously talented internet makers phoning it in really hard. Oh, and look, here’s exactly the same thing but done for the new Halo game. Can you all stop making these, please? 
  • Content Marketing Guidelines 2016: Included solely because a) it’s about TRENDS!; and b) it purports to be a guide to content marketing (can we stop using that phrase now? Thanks) with all sorts of useful tips and tricks and hints and trends, but it then just talks about companies doing content who have access to stuff that people actually like and are interested in already (sport, food, fashion, etc). GYAC GUYS THESE PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE CONTENT THING SO MUCH; WHY NOT FOCUS ON THE POOR BASTARDS WORKING FOR A MAJOR INSURANCE COMPANY OR SOMETHING? What’s that? Because noone in their right mind is ever going to want to consume ‘content’ from a major insurance company, however many ‘tips and tricks’ slideshows marketers may read? Ah, right, ok. Can everyone stop filling the web with branded sh1t, please? PLEASE?



  • Netspeak: I was slightly blown away by this; it is VERY clever. Netspeak is a sort of online…er…pseudothesaurus-y thing with knobs on, which effectively helps you find words for any occasion using a very, very clever and surprisingly flexible Googl-style interface. type in a phrase with ‘?’ characters where you want word suggestions and the site will spit out a raft of potential linguistic solutions – along with usage examples, frequency data, all sorts of stuff. As a tool for helping people learn English this seems SUPER-useful, and it’s actually quite fun to play around with if you’re a bit of a word-obsessive.

  • Thanksgiving For Syria: Yes, ok, fine, it’s ANOTHER Thanksgiving link, but. This one lets you tell it what you’re cooking for Thanksgiving and how many people you are cooking for, and then gives you a nice per-person donation figure that you can donate to assist the Syrian people through what it’s fair to describe as a somewhat trying time (OR IS IT??? That was some pretty heavy foreshadowing, for those of you immune to this sort of stylistic horrortick). Suggest someone do something similar for Christmas, please, but with a choice of charitable cause.

  • Voter: As we labour through one of the more morally and politically ambiguous periods in the history of international relations, and as we struggle to make sense of the various positions being held by our elected leaders, are we not all crying out for a better way of making sense of this crazy, messed-up world? We are, right? What we need is TINDER BUT FOR POLITICS! Yes, that’s right, Voter uses the Tinder-style left/right swipe to let users indicate their support or disdain for a variety of policies, eventually spitting out a recommendation as to who they should vote for based on their preferences. Actually, this is just a slicker and more cosmetic variant of the old-style ‘political compass’ toys, so I’m just being a bit reactionary in my disdain for it (though expect me to get all upset about it again when it expands to the UK).

  • This Is Miles: I don’t know who Miles is, or who his dad is (it’s not going to be a woman who made this, is it? This is a total father’s vanity project), but this is a 3d scan of him on the internet to celebrate the fact that he exists. I think that everyone should have one of these done for them – I would like us all to have a website which collects scans of us at various points in our life, please, to exist in perpetuity.

  • The Raspberry Pi Zero: Chances are that if you’re reading this then you’re probably already well aware of the AMAZING news that they are now selling an actual computer for about £5. There is literally NO excuse for not getting one for your kids to mess around with – seriously, the pricepoint and size and weight make this latest iteration of the Pi series an almost must-own for anyone who wants to apply a little bit of creativity to their computing.

  • The Poco Supercomputer: In what is possibly a slightly pre-emptive bout of predictory hubris, I am calling this as vaporware RIGHT NOW. Ok, so it has a semi-famous behind it (one of the Sinclair dynasty, a heritage amusingly referenced on the crowdfunding page with notes on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the watches, the stereos, but not, sadly, the C5. WHY YOU NO MENTION THE C5, GRANT??), but the promise looks FAR too good to be true – a Rasberry Pi-powered minisupercomputer which does games and photos and 18x better than MP3 music playback…I mean, this is NEVER going to exist. Until it does, obviously, and I am forced to eat my words. Tasty, tasty words.

  • The Museum of Online Museums: All of the links to all of the museums on the internet (oh, ok, not ALL of them, but a shedload and frankly you’re not going to click on all the links because I know you’re lazy like that so what does it matter, eh? EH????).

  • Old Maps: A website containing all of the links to all of the old maps on the internet (may not in fact be ALL of the old maps on the internet, but it’s not like you’re going to now go and check so frankly it might as well be you dreadful pedant).

  • Urthecast: RIGHT NOW, the international space station is zooming around overhead, snapping pictures of everything and everyone (but not in a creepy way, honest) and generally being all amazing and future. Urthecast is the online portal for the ISS’s camera, through which you can see a pretty amazing gallery of spaceshots of earth as well as playing with the API which opens up all sorts of fun possibilities of hacks you can pull together using this awesome photography. I’d really like the ability to get a photo from space on my phone of wherever I am standing RIGHT NOW, for example, pointless as that might be. I’m sure you have better ideas, what with you being all CREATIVE and stuff.

  • Spotificator: With Rdio shuffling off to the great online graveyard in the Cloud, there’s probably a need for this service – Spotificator will export your playlist from Rdio and Deezer (do they know something we don’t about its likely longevity) and punt it into Spotify. Useful.

  • TemplateMaker: If you, unlike me, are the sort of nice person who actually bothers to wrap presents nicely rather than just getting some old newspaper and making some sort of sellotape-enabled mummy out of whatever old tat you’ve bought someone, then you might quite like this website – tell it the dimensions of your gift and it will produce a printable, downloadable box template to fit it. Might distract the recipient from the fact that you’ve bought them something painfully generic and anodyne because you don’t care about them enough to think about their actual desires.

  • Would You Rather…?: Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly? Would you rather know when or how you are going to die? Would you rather leave your home and family forever in the attempt to find a better life, or stay put and hope that you aren’t imprisoned and tortured by a corrupt regime? A rather nice mechanic to raise awareness and funds to help prevent human trafficking – clever, and another example of a site which tricks you into caring by misrepresenting itself, which after last week’s North Korea-LOLs I am now officially calling a THING.

  • Google Streetview in Jordan: I realise that saying stuff like this is pretty much demanding a slow handclap and the world’s smallest violin sonata, but I had one of the worst holidays of my entire life in Jordan about 9 years ago – it was WELL TRAGIC, mate, and included getting caught in an actual, proper blizzard whilst attempting to get a look at the awesome place from Indiana Jones. Anyway, I spent a few minutes earlier this week looking at it all again on Google Streetview’s new exciting JordanViewer and it made all the horrible memories come flooding back – THANKS,GOOGLE!

  • The Jules Verne Tropy LIVE: LIVE map showing progress in the slightly mental round-the-world boat race. Admittedly the nature of round the world boat racing means that the map isn’t all that dynamic, but points for effort and all that. Note to developers – some things, perhaps, don’t lend themselves to the LIVE thing quite so much.

  • Terrifyingly Realistic Celebrity Tie-in Dolls: You know how whenever a famous gets cast in a franchise these days they have at least one stop on the interview junket circuit where a presenter will pull out the hilariously dead-eyed representation of said famous from the film’s cash-in toy range for some lazy LOLs? Meet Noel Cruz, an artist who takes those dolls and through what I think can only be dark voodoo remodels them so that they look like their actual famous counterparts. On the offchance that any researchers for Jonathan Ross / Graham Norton read this, commission him to do one for a guest and get a good 10 minutes of chummy BANTZ out of the whole thing.

  • Forecast Lines: A lovely little weathersite, which not only tells you what the weather is like and what it is going to be, but which does so through a gently beautiful linear visualisation of how that is going to vary over the coming hours. Simple but really nice.

  • Tilt-shifted Space: You remember tilt-shift photography, right? That technique that was really popular about 5 years ago which made everything in a picture look like it was a tiny little model version of itself? This is that, applied to photos of space, which makes nebulae look like weird splashes of paint in water and is a generally wondrous effect. Gorgeous, these.

  • Mancan: This week’s example of a brand going hard on the ‘no publicity isbad publicity!’ front is ManCan – WINE IN A CAN FOR MEN! Because NO MAN could possibly drink wine in a bar from a glass – that would be ruinous to their masculinity, and lead to all sorts of not-so-gentle ribbing from THE LADS – society has seen fit to invent wine in a can, for REAL MEN. And tramps, probably. Is there anyone else who thinks that this feels a little bit like Richard Littlejohn continually going on about the homosexual practices he purports to be so disgusted by (ie trying a little too hard to assert one’s machismo)?

  • Telepromptor: Free teleprompter kit from this website, which may well be used to those of you less comfortable with public speaking or presenting but which I am including mainly so that you can all spend the afternoon using it to script workplace conversations in the style of a political press conference.

  • Bongolicious: Included solely because the URL made me laugh in a childish and prolonged fashion.

  • Pokemon or Big Data: Literally no idea at all what the demographic crossover between data people and Pokemon fans is, but just in case.


By Paolo Porto




  • Unmade: Unmade is a London-based clothing startup which sells clothing whose patterns you can choose and warp using their LOVELY web interface. I can’t stress enough how much I like this website and the idea of being able to apply / shift your own pattern onto the clothes; it uses the same sort of basic interface as an Oreos promo I linked to the other week, but to lovely commercial effect. I am too ugly and unfashionable to wear any of the clothes, of course, but perhaps you are a beautiful clothes horse with glass-cutting cheekbones and posture to die for, rather than a pasty, hunched webmong with ragged cuticles and incipient male-pattern baldness. I really hope you are, to be honest, because the alternative’s pretty bleak, let me tell you.

  • DigitTatts: This is a proof-of-concept video rather than an actual thing, but all sorts of amazing still – these are electric ‘tattoos’ (made from conductive ink and circuitry) which, the idea is, could be applied on an annual basis to allow for the monitoring of certain health indicators on an ongoing basis, removing / reducing the need for patient / doctor interaction. SO FUTURE! I mean, obviously there’s a whole load of questions as yet unanswered about, you know, showering with these things and stuff, but still.

  • The Case Study Club: One for the designers, a lovely selection of case studies to browse through and STEAL THE IDEAS OF.

  • TypeMedia: TypeMedia is a Masters programe in typography which takes place in the Hague – this is a website collecting the outputs of this year’s students, original typeface families created specifically for the course. If you are into fonts and things, you will very much enjoy these. The one called ‘Emil’ is particularly lovely, I think.

  • VR-Enabling iPhone Case: Yes, I know that that’s an ugly descriptor, but the thing’s called ‘Figment’ which is just silly. Anyway, this is a smartphone case which has beaten its Kickstarter target with over a month to go – the gimmick is that it has a flip-out viewer attachment which you can use to enable VR-type stuff through your phone. Designed for those of you who think Google Cardboard just looks a touch too povvo.

  • Addressage: A really interesting idea which will NEVER catch on, Addressage takes the same basic principle as that other website whose name I have temporarily forgotten and which applies a unique three-word descriptor to every single 5m square patch of land on earth (oh, this one) and gives an ‘inbox’ to every single address on the planet – the idea being that, if everyone uses it, you can send a message to anyone you like as long as you know where they live. Which, obviously, is a pretty terrible idea if you’re a woman. THANKS, MEN!

  • Readbug: Spotify for magazines, basically, but a really good resource if you’re the sort of person who likes occasionally dipping into hipster rags such as ‘Oh Comely’ and the like. My mate Paul once went into Smiths and complained, loudly and angrily, that there were “too many magazines on the shelves” – he was right, there are.

  • The iHit: Have you ever wanted a smartphone case which has a hidden compartment in which you can store some pre-rolled spliffs? Hm, you are obviously 15, but OH GOOD!

  • Millennial Insights: An auto-insight generator about Millennials. Which is sort of funny, but nowhere NEAR as good as the Thought Leadership one that my friends made and which I am going to plug here again because, well, I can.

  • Peephole: This looks like a gag site, but it appears to be straight and so I will present it as such. Do you get frustrated at the lack of CONTENT at your fingertips as you are waiting for a webpage to load? Do you wish those dead 5 seconds could be filled with MORE STUFF? Then this Chrome extension is for you. Peephole basically shows you THINGS while your webpages are loading up – from Facebook statuses to news headlines. There’s actually quite a nice idea at the kernel of this – and perhaps an interesting ad-funding model, maybe – but it’s a little too shonkily made and presented to work here, I think. HARK AT THE CRITIC.

  • Kiskiloszki: Annoyingly this is an Instagram feed rather than the Tumblr it ought to be, but this is a wonderful source of slightly odd classical art-inspired gifs.

  • The Edit – Reply Yes: SUCH a clever idea – is anyone else doing this? The Edit is a service which offers you the chance to build a curated collection of classic vinyl, one step at a time. Sign up, and each day the service will send you a text with a suggestion as to a record to buy for your collection; simply reply ‘yes’ to purchase said record and to have it delivered to your house. SUCH a smart, low-friction sales idea I am amazed I haven’t seen it used before.

  • Porcelain Figures With Insect Heads: I have no idea whether this is the sort of thing you might like, but it ought to be. Why WOULDN’T you want one of those porcelain figures like your grandmother used to have on her mantelpiece only with the friendly balloon-seller’s face replaced by that of, say, a praying mantis? NO REASON!

  • The Cassini Photos: 11 years of space photography from the Cassini probe, presented in beautiful fashion on this rather lovely page from the Wall Street Journal. All the shots have been turned into short films, tracking the probe’s progress through space, which turns the otherworldly experience of looking at Saturn and her moons into footage reminiscent of the early days of silent movies. Which is a weirdly really cool, in case you were wondering.

  • Darth Vader Everyday: Because it’s apparently against the law not to include something about St*r W*rs in every blog at the moment. This is Darth Vader, photographed being ordinary.

  • Nailbot: Included mainly because it’s a masterclass in spin, this is a crowdfinding campaign for a nail art robot that will print designs onto fingernails in 5-seconds flat. It’s using two GREAT zeitgeisty hooks as part of its campaign – first, EMOJI FINGERNAIL PAINTINGS (fcuk’s sake), and second, TEACHING GIRLS ABOUT TECH! I mean, fcuk knows exactly how they figure that a shopping centre machine which prints a smiley face on your fingers is going to do for women in STEM, but fair play to them for the chutzpah here.

  • Inside Russia’s Closed Cities: Quite remarkable photography of old, hidden Russian cities. From the descriptor: “Closed cities (known in Russia as ZATOs) were established in the Soviet Union from the 1940s to serve as nuclear weapon development or disposal sites, and were home to the navy and missile forces. These cities were not on any maps, had encrypted names and were called “mailboxes” by analogy with the classified institutes or secret manufacturing facilities situated in them. The residents were told not to mention their place of living, but to use the name of the nearest major city instead.” Weirdly beautiful.

  • Faceparty: Interesting little app which lets users create four-panel collages of Gifs. Not sure how embeddable, etc, they are, but the potential aesthetic outputs are rather cool, I think. I particularly like the idea of being able to make standardised 4-panel gif comics in series. Can someone go and do a load of them please? Thanks.

  • Banter Ventures: A VERY slick joke (it is a joke, right) lampooning VC culture here in London’s TECH CITY STARTUP MEGALOPOLIS. If you do anything startup-ish then you will find a lot to LOL at in here. Really nicely presented, and I particularly like how deep the rabbithole goes – there’s a lot of thought gone into the other sites and pages they’ve built around it.

  • Rabbit: SUCH a clever idea, this one. Rabbit is a simple premise – so simple that I can’t believe it’s not been done before – whereby two users, on smartphone or desktop or any combination of devices, can screenshare to be able to watch a film, say, simultaneously. Lots of applications, and if this works slickly then this could be a very useful thing indeed. If you’re a parent who travels a lot, this could be a really nice way of doing bedtime stuff with your kids, say. Jesus, what an INCREDIBLY saccharine thought, sorry.

  • Magic Transistor: One of the best online radio stations / playlist curators I have ever seen. This is honestly WONDERFUL, bookmark and enjoy.

  • Blab: An interesting online video discussion platform, Blab lets 2-4 people have an on-camera chat, filmed with webcams and presented in a 2×2 grid of talking heads with attendant chat functionality and the rest. Potentially a really useful way of recording discussion shows, etc, as evidenced by the very high-profile guineapigs they’ve already had using it (Scoble! Er, Heidi Montag!).

  • Shareable Readymades: Want to get someone a beautiful, 3d printed version of a classic Duchampian readymade? OH GOOD! Actually really nice gifts for art lovers, these.

  • Headliner: God, the news, eh? Bleak! Sad! Lacking in LOLs! What would improve it, do you think? I KNOW! I KNOW! How about consuming the news not from an actual news outlet but instead through this app, which presents a bunch of people sharing their HOT TAKES on the news! Headliner lets anyone (seriously, anyone) record their own ‘funny’ takes on whatever news event they fancy, which can then be browsed, commented on, upvoted, etc, by other users. The creators obviously want this to become a breeding ground for comedians in training, but can you IMAGINE the dross you’ll wade through in the search for 30 seconds of genuine funny? Probably a GREAT place to find dreadful internet wannabes, mind.

  • Behind The Scenes of Taxi Driver: Great collection of photographs. Man, Scorsese was COOL, eh? Bastard.

  • Neural Talk And Walk: Brilliant and slightly jaw-dropping video showing what happens you take a laptop running visual recognition code out onto the streets of Amsterdam and ask it to tell you what it’s seeing. It’s almost cute in a weird way – like a little kid pointing out of the window of a moving car at everything they see. Also, though, proof that we are actually really not that far away from this being an ACTUAL THING – take a moment to think about what this will mean for surveillance culture and then have a little cry.

  • Kaos Edge: Excellent and weird website which has apparently been created as a promo for Oneohtrix Point Never’s new album (see last week’s vids and quite a few other Curios for more of his stuff). It’s perfectly odd and VERY loud.

  • Good Music: This is the website for Kanye’s record label, which as far as I can tell does nothing other than play a track on clicking which loops back to the beginning when you stop clicking. I LOVE IT.

  • Holiday Christmas Music: Literally the only website you will need to drive at least one of your colleagues to the brink of homicide in the coming 4 weeks.

  • Teleport: Is this really necessary? I mean, ordering a cab is PRETTY EASY, right? Anyway, Teleport makes it EVEN SIMPLER, by offering a one–click service to order a cab to take any of your friends to wherever you are right now, courtesy Uber. Is this a thing now – the elimination of even microfrictions from already simple webservices? GREAT, LET’S ALL LET OUR THINKING FACULTIES ATROPHY SOME MORE!

  • Luna: Are YOU a witch or a werewolf? OF COURSE YOU’RE NOT, THAT STUFF IS MADE UP YOU IDIOT. Ahem. If you are, then this app about lunar calendars is probably quite useful.

  • The Infocom Cabinet: If you are of a certain age, you will recall Infocom text adventures with a mix of fondness and very real horror (“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND “USE”????”) – this is a WONDERFUL archive of many of the design documents, etc, from the golden age of text adventure development, with notes and maps and all sorts of other things. Includes, wonderfully, all SORTS of stuff from the Hitchhiker’s Guide game, which is not only great for fans but is a wonderful insight into how these things were built in general (spoilers: apparently very haphazardly).

  • Battlecoin: Play Bomberman online, win REAL BITCOIN! Tiny, tiny amounts of Bitcoin, but, you know, every little helps. Has only worked about 50% of the times I’ve tried it this week, but when it does it’s a lot of fun.

  • The Realtime Map of Berlin Public Transport: Hypnotic. Look, there’s one for Vilnius too! WHERE IS OUR LONDON VERSION, TFL? Come on,sort it out please.

  • Hire Peter: 100% the weirdest, most future thing I saw this week, Hire Peter isn’t, as far as I can tell, a joke, or indeed a tie-in to Amazon show Mr Robot as somone online speculated. It is, instead, an ACTUAL VIRTUAL LAWYER, who can notarise documents and fulfil base level legal functions, given legal validity (in the US only, as far as I can tell) through permanent Blockchain records. I can’t even BEGIN to get my head around this in terms of questions of personhood, the law, guarantees and recourse…I am boggling, EVERYWHERE. LOOK AT ME BOGGLE (my eyes are always like this, I’m afraid).

  • Lovely Interactive Music Website Thingy #1: Beautiful interactive vid for this track by Livyatimin from…er…somewhere whose language I can’t readily identify, which lets you gaze around a gorgeous, monochrome landscape rendered in pointillist-ish wireframey minimalism and featuring some pretty sweet floating whale-type dolphin things. I’m really selling this, aren’t I? Sorry.

  • Lovely Interactive Music Website Thingy #2: This, though, is WARPED. You have to try it  – you need a headshot of yourself to plug in, and a strong enough sense of self to not get too weirded out by what it subsequently does with your face. Go on, TRY IT!

  • The Best Google Trends Timesink Of The Year: I lost HOURS to this this week. I hope you do too. A simple game which asks you to identify a particular search trend from Google, based on looking at its Google Trends graph. Is that searches for “miley cyrus” or “teen milf creampie”? WHAT EVEN IS THE DIFFERENCE? (NB there is, insofar as I have yet seen, nothing even vaguely rude in any of this, so feel free to play it at work with impunity).

By Crystal Morey



  • Relatable Pictures of a Tiny Whale: Small, cute pictures of a small pink whale. Sometimes it’s helpful to look at things like this.

  • Suzie Q: Beautiful pen & ink illustrations of naked women (and some other things, but also lots of naked women).

  • Fiver Fun: Nice idea, this – just a collection of fun stuff on Amazon UK available for under £5. Combine this with push notifications and the simple ‘text yes to buy this’ mechanic above and I reckon you have a GREAT and simple presentbuying hack.

  • JSTOR: For those of you who have an inexplicable but real nostalgia for those days spent plagiarising other academics’ work in pursuit of a largely pointless MSc (was that just me? Oh).

  • Sheila Ford: Sheila Ford is a Canadian artist who posts simple line portraits on her Tumblr, all of which are available for sale for $50. I really, really like the style of these – you might too.

  • Bookshop Dogs: I met a bookshop owner this week whose dog has its own Twitter account. APPARENTLY THIS IS A THING NOW. Anyway, if you like dogs and bookshops then this might well please you to some degree.

  • When You Work At A Museum: Anecdotes and frustrations of museum workers, in Tumblr form. People are IDIOTS, it turns out. WHO KNEW?

  • What Are Millennials Doing?: Collecting bullshit statements and headlines about Millennials. Things I would like to see in an idealised version of 2016 – an absolute moratorium on the use of fcuking bullshit made-up terms like ‘millennial’.

  • The Triumph of Postmodernism: Just a lovely collection of photos of postmodernist architecture, which is particularly useful if, like me, you weren’t 100% certain exactly what postmodern architecture was in the first place.

  • Pundemonium: Illustrated puns. Silly, but if you don’t laugh at at least one of these then there is almost certainly dust where your soul should be.

  • The Sisterhood of Females Ruined By Chris Evans: Occasionally I stumble across a corner of Tumblr fandom that is so joyously unabashed in its slightly pervy sexualisation of A N Other Hollywood star that I am slightly entranced. This is such a Tumblr  – some of the erotic fanfiction on here is GLORIOUS. Enjoy!

  • The Last Message Received: This weeks dose of massive emofeels comes in the shape of this Tumblr, which collects the last messages received by people from A N Other person in their lives. Breakups, deaths, lost friendships, all are here collected in what is, as you’d expect, an occasionally intense set of textfragments.



  • 7 Things We Learned From Reading The ISIS Magazine: I don’t normally go to Cracked for political analysis and commentary, but this piece analysing what can bel learned by scrutinising IS’s own propaganda materials is legitimately fascinating, not least as it debunks that whole ‘Call them Daesh’ thing which I put in here last week (I say ‘debunks’ – as per with this conflict, noone actually appears to have the first idea about anything at all on this and seems to be making it up as they go along. RIGHT, DAVE?.

  • Magical Thinking About IS: This week’s must-read thinkpiece about the horror is from the London Review of Books, where Adam Schatz cogently runs through a lot of the misconceptions and how we have arrived where we are. Again makes the point, as raised in the Esquire piece linked to last week and increasingly being taken up across the liberal left, that we need to look at the region as a whole for responsibility for the rise of the bastardy.

  • A Trip To The Caliphate: It’s quite hard to know what to make of this – on the one hand, I’m sort of automatically inclined to dismiss it as IS propaganda; on the other, why shouldn’t it be true? The piece, from Syria Comment, paints a picture of life inside the caliphate which is far from the tyrannical horror we might imagine, and suggests that the refugees we’re seeing streaming from Syria aren’t in fact running from IS at all. No idea WHAT to think here, but it adds an interesting spin to the general ‘Clash of Civilisations’ narrative.

  • The Gruesome Tale of the Galapagos: This is a film or novel waiting to happen – the crazy story of the first people to colonise the Galapagos islands, and how basically they were all MENTAL. If you’ve been yearning for a good tale of snobbery, murder, madness, disease, conspiracy, minor aristocracy and madness then this will be all of your Christmases come early – seriously, if you’re after some writing inspiration then this story has everything.

  • The Women Of Hollywood: A great, if depressing, New York Times piece interviewing a variety of Hollywood’s most high-profile and successful women about the fact that the whole movie industry still seems to treat their gender as some sort of weird novelty whose sole purpose is to cry, bankroll Jennifer Aniston’s film career and provide breasts for blockbusters. Not brilliant for maintining a positive worldview about gender politics, mind.

  • How Nike Sold Us Air: Fascinating history of the Air Max trainer, and proof (admittedly 20 years too late, but still) that I was RIGHT in the playground when I said that the air bubble didn’t do anything and that everyone who bought them was a gullible idiot and which sort of makes it ok that everyone made fun of me for having significantly less cool trainers than that. Oh, who am I kidding, the scars have NEVER HEALED. Parents – buy your kids whatever they need to fit in, lest they turn into the sort of pathetic misanthrope who is forced to read all of the internet every week in some sort of desperate, doomed search for personal and professional validation.

  • The Upsides Of Being 25 And Having A Crapsack: The author’s term, not mine – ‘crapsack’ refers to a colostomy bag, which the 25 year old author will shortly be fitted with and which she will have to wear for the foreseeable future. The funniest set of observations you are likely to read this week about having to carry your fecal matter around with you in a small bag at all times, the line about looking someone right in the eyes while defecating made me laugh and wince in almost equal measure.

  • Can Women Build A Better Tinder?: You’ll be unsurprised to learn that this piece doesn’t actually answer that question, but it’s an interesting look at the world of female-focused dating apps. It also contains a lot of stuff about how most dating apps and services are designed to meet very particular male needs, which is an interesting perspective that I as a man had obviously NEVER thought about. I realised the other day that the fact that I have never used a dating app or website or anything actually makes me pretty anomalous in 2015, which is pretty much the direct opposite of a decade ago.ODD.

  • On Who Framed Roger Rabbit: God I love this film. Roger is 20 years old this year, and if you’ve not seen it recently I urge you to revisit it – it’s still charming and funny and the techniques used to splice Bugs and Donald et al into shot with Hoskins actually all stand up surprisingly well after all this time. This is a comprehensive look at pretty much all aspects of the film, including an interesting set of diversions on the gender politics of Jessica Rabbit (a sentence I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have expected to write) – go on, read this and then watch it this weekend, it will make your life better.

  • NinjaTune at 25: When I was 17, Ninja Tune was probably the coolest label on the planet. I religiously spunked my grant money (yes, I am THAT OLD) on their compilation CDs, got ruinously stoned and went and shuffled to DJ Krush’s live sets at Dry Bar, made my mum listen to Funki Porcini, much to her tolerant bemusement…I was an irritating prick. Anyway, you don’t care about any of that – if you too, though, were a Ninja fan BITD then you will very much enjoy this 25 year lookback at the label and the people behind it (Coldcut, basically). Also, there’s a new Coldcut album in the works, for which REJOICE.

  • The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art: The best art collection you have never seen or heard of resides, apparently, in Tehran. Another interesting perspective on Islam’s relationship with Western culture when you consider the amount of column inches which have been devoted to examining the East’s supposed issues with Western culture.

  • Your Social Media Posts Are Fueling Police Surveillance: Creepiest piece of the week. You think that you need the NSA or GCHQ to be able to see what everyone’s doing? NOPE! I had no idea that companies like Geofeedia existed – they effectively provide geodashboards for law enforcement professionals to monitor everything that’s being posted from a certain physical radius – but now that I do I for one WELCOME the increased security that I know this sort of intelligence can provide!

  • The Problem With R Kelly: With thanks to Rich for the tipoff on this, proof if any more were needed that R Kelly is absolutely the creepiest man in music at the moment – or at least the creepiest man in music who unaccountably doesn’t seem to need to pretend that he’s anything other than a massively predatory sex criminal (COME ON R KELLY LET’S SETTLE THIS OUT OF COURT I COULD DO WITH THE MONEY TBH). Noone ever mentions the Aaliyah thing anymore, but HE MARRIED HER WHEN SHE WAS 15. Crazy, and pretty skincrawly on all counts.

  • Driving In Greater Noida: One of the top three pieces of writing in here this week, this is a wonderful essay in Granta about the Greater Noida suburb of New Delhi, which is both a picture of urban India I’d not seen before and also THE most Ballardian piece of writing I have read in ages. Superb on the sense of place/no-place engendered by the sort of megacity development which you see so much of outside the UK.

  • David Beckham – The Sexiest Man Alive: I was in stitches reading this. Reimagining People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ poll as some sort of dystopian coronation of horror, this is SO GOOD.

  • Dialed Up: Last up, a truly excellent scifi short story imagining a world in which we all take smart drugs to cope with LIFE and WORK and STUFF. Just on the edge of near plausibility, and all the better for it, this is very good indeed.

By Jeffrey De Keyser


1) First up, Rube Goldbergish techno. No, wait, it’s REALLY GOOD, honest – I was expecting to hate it, but the gimmick really does work:

2) Do you remember amongst all the Deep Dream stuff a couple of months ago there was a program which took photos and displayed them in the style of various artists using neural networks? No? Oh. Anyway, this video, to a rather gentle breakbeat soundtrack, does that with video. The results are rather beatiful, I think:

3) This is a short film called ‘Hide’, which shows money decaying in ultracloseupslowmo. I am sure there’s a lot of DEEP STUFF here about capitalism and things if you care to look for it, but I just rather like the imagery which is sort of bleakly hypnotic in its own special way:

4) This is called ‘Borrowing’ and it is by Thomas Rosenthal and it is BEAUTIFUL. What a voice:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! I didn’t think much of this brag track by Stormzy on first listen, but it grew on me LOTS. You will like it, honest – it’s called Standard:

6) Fair warning – this is a DREADFUL song, but the papercraft animation is lovely. Hang on, I think it’s dreadful but maybe I’m just old. Can someone who’s not tell me if I’m right? Thanks. It’s by the laughably named Kill The Noise and it’s called, equally laughably, “Kill It 4 The Kids” (their ‘4’ there – so cool!):  

7) I really, really like this CGI what with all the SKIN and stuff. It’s called Diffusion:

8) Finally this week, this is an OLD song, but I am having some big nostalgia kick this week and the video is BRAND NEW and very very cool indeed, and, let’s be honest, EVERYONE loves Born Slippy. See you in a couple of weeks; try not to die:


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