Webcurios 29/01/16

Reading Time: 32 minutes


Yes, look, fine, I know that noone really reads this and therefore noone really cares, but I care, OK, and I need to do something ease the frankly terrifying buildup of internetpressure inside my skull in order to avoid painting my kitchen an unpleasantly bloody shade of grey matter like something out of Scanners.

Anyway, HOW HAVE YOU ALL BEEN?! 2015 seems like AGES ago, now that we’re all living under the pseudo-benign dictatorship of a stick-figure arbiter of acceptable behaviour. We’ve already birthed and killed a brand new social network, and it’s not even February – trul, this year promises to be full of excitement and VIM!

What it actually promises to be full of, if the first few weeks are anything to go by, is a continuation of the pathetic bleating about everything in the world ever which characterised much of 2015, along with an added and unwanted sprinkling of famous artist death. GREAT. Although it will ALSO be full of BRAND NEW IMPERICA – that’s right, the site’s getting a redesign and a relaunch in the next few weeks, which you can read about here.

In any case, I won’t be around for it as I am going on HOLIDAY next week. Yes, I know that I am basically unemployed at the moment and as such the idea of a holiday is sort of redundant, and I know that Christmas was only a few weeks ago, but frankly I need one and I don’t care. So consider this a stopgap, a snack, an appetiser, an amuse bouche before the full 46-week tasting menu of Curios kicks off in earnest in mid-February (even typing that made me feel a touch sick if I’m honest); tie on your napkin, hold your nose and trust the chef’s intuition and judgment as he prepares to stuff a full 6 weeks’ worth of internet RIGHT IN YOUR FACE. This, as ever, is Web Curios.

By Jo Broughton




  • Facebook Quarterlies AGAIN: Just in case any of you need to pretend to know or care about the BUSINESS STUFF, here’s a brief rundown of all of the EXCITING STATISTICS Facebook punted out this week. Topline: STILL REALLY, REALLY POPULAR EVERYWHERE! There is something implacably and bleakly impressive about their dead-eyed brilliance at monetising every single last aspect of the service. WELL DONE, FACEBOOK!

  • Facebook Reactions Coming Everywhere SOON: This is actually a pretty long and rather interesting read about Facebook Reactions in general, and worth reading in full if this is your THING – the nugget, though, is the information that the 6 ‘Reaction’ emoji they have been trialling in Ireland and a few other places will be rolled out worldwide ‘in the next few weeks’. Cue some pretty frantic ‘strategising’ from mediocre agencies about how they can tweak their meaningless metrics slightly to take into account all this NUANCE and sell their clients more exciting community management opportunities (come on, you all know it’s true).

  • FB Launches Audience Optimisation for Organic Posts: I’m sort of surprised that this hasn’t received more attention; I thought it was rather big news, but then my position as a largely unemployed webmong suggests that perhaps my opinion is worth less than I may have once thought. Hey ho. Anyway, Facebook las week announced that they were giving Page admins the opportunity to target their non-promoted posts in much the same way that they can target promoted posts – that is, selecting a variety of interest categories whose members will be more likely to see a post than others. Want to optimise your THRILLING UPDATE about your brand’s sponsorship of AN Other footballing event? Choose to target it specifically at football fans, then. Similarly, you can also use the service to exclude people by demographic data, which is obviously hugely useful for multi-territory pages, etc. Obviously this in no way changes the central tenet of the platform (cf GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY FOR ADVERTISING YOU PEONS), but it’s nice to see them at least paying lip service to the long since discredited concept of organic reach. Here’s quite a good post about how to use it.

  • Facebook Livestreaming Coming To EVERYONE SOON(ish): I’m sure I wrote this last year. Anyway, it’s COMING (to iOS users. In America). Here’s how it works.

  • Facebook Sports Stadium: Sort of like Trending Topics or Twitter Moments, but, er, on Facebook and for sports. Basically sporting events will start to get their own aggregated pages where people can kep up with what a bunch of other people are saying about a sporting event on Facebook. Which, let’s be honest, is just going to turn each and every one of these things into a repository for horrendous sponsor content and endless, soulless BRAND BANTER between Budweiser and Barclays while the actual real people who still care about sport slowly come to the crushing realisation that none of it is really about them any more.

  • Facebook Canvas Coming To Everyone SOON: It’s a big, immersive ad unit, basically, and I think I wrote about it last year when it was announced. Anyway, it’s apparently rolling out to everyone SOON, but you can sign up for more news here if your life’s really that void of other joy.

  • I really can’t be bothered to write anything about the Twitter 10k character thing. We’re done with that, right? We all understand that it’s basically like Facebook Instant Articles and is simply a move to attempt to replicate Facebook’s ‘walled garden’ approach to the internet, and probably won’t actually change the way Twitter looks and feels for most users? Ok, good.

  • Twitter Conversational Ads: Old, but still moderately interesting – Twitter’s launched a new ad unit which works a little like polls, in that it gives users the opportunity to…oh, sod it, I’m just going to lift from the article here: “the modified promoted tweet presents people with one or two buttons for branded hashtags that look similar to the interactive polls Twitter has been letting people include in tweets. After someone clicks on a branded hashtag button, a tweet box will appear pre-populated with the message the brand wants the person to tweet, including the hashtag and photo or video that appeared in the brand’s promoted tweet. The person can change that message, including removing the brand’s photo or video, or leave it alone and then tweet it out to his or her followers.” I mean, obviously I can’t personally imagine any real people actually wanting to do this, but I’m increasingly learning never to underestimate humanity in the face of POSSIBLE BRAND ENGAGEMENTS. Although, now I think of it, does this mean advertisers will still get charged if people click the button but then replace the message and picfture with, say, “I HATE COKE” and a thumbnail of some bongo? COUNT ME IN.

  • Twitter Will Let You Turn ‘Fan’ Tweets Into Ads: This is rather smart, I think – a potential new ad unit whereby brands can pick nice Tweets from REAL PEOPLE to turn into ads; Twitter will do all the tedious legal legwork of contacting said users and getting their permission before turning the Tweets into an ad unit for you. Great if you’re an occasionally well-loved brand; almost certainly of less interest if you’re a UK train operator (TOPICAL!).

  • Vine Trends: Want to know where the latest HOT MEME on Vine started, and enough information out of it to support your brand’s late and lame attempt to hijack it for commercial gain? You’ll want this site, then. Brought back horrible memories from 18 months or so back of that dark time in which pizza companies started saying that things were ‘on fleek’, which we should never allow to happen again.

  • Periscope Now Embeds On Twitter: But you knew that, right? Unrelated, but I will personally award a prize to the first one of you who puts a twist on that brainstorm classic of ‘LET’S FLOAT IT DOWN THE THAMES!’ by adding ‘AND WE CAN LIVESTREAM IT ON PERISCOPE LIKE THE PUDDLE!’ (not joking – if you can prove you said this in a meeting, and ideally capture the reactions of the others in the room, there’s a prize for you).

  • Twitter Toying With 30-Second Skippable Preroll Ads: They really, really don’t understand user need, do they? Still, based on the article’s prediction of autoplay and a 3-second ‘view’ categorisation it will probably help a bit financially.

  • Tesco Does A Promoted Moment:This was bang slap in the middle of the ‘Moments’ tab all day yesterday, making Twitter the first brand in the UK to pony up the cash for the ad unit. Given that initial reports suggested that the ad buy for promoted Moments was $1million or thereabouts, and that the ‘Moment’ itself consists of 10 gifs, I’m going to say AHAHAHAHAHAHA TESCO YOU MUGS. Obviously I’m pretty sure they didn’t pay anywhere near that much, but still – I mean, this is pretty fcuking pony, right? Oh, and if you’re one of those people who unaccountably really hates even SEEING the ‘Moments’ thing you can kill it with this extension. You’re welcome.

  • YouTube Creators Can Now Let People Donate Straight From Their Videos: Through a neat little payment popup. This is surely a precursor to more sophisticated ecommerce within the platform, right? I mean, it’s not going to stay this small.

  • Snapchat Planning Audio & Video Calling: Because it’s not enough that everyone wants to be Facebook; now we all need to be Skype as well. Useful to know, particularly if you deal with a lot of kids and want to put together some bullsh1t, never-to-be-activated plans around customer service on Snapchat for your MILLENNIAL USERBASE. Oh, and seeing as we’re here, Snapchat will probably start ruining itself with self-service ads soon FYI.

  • Pinterest Considering Video Ads: Just FYI really, but I still think Pinterest is somewhat underexploited by advermarketingpr folk here in the UK.

  • Uber Trip Experiences: File under ‘coming soon, and we won’t like it’, this is potentially a hugely interesting extension of the Uber API which would allow third party developers to create ‘experiences’ for Uber users based on journey data (where you’re travelling, journey duration, etc). So you could get BRANDED CONTENT (adverts, innit) tailored to where you’re going and stuff. SLIGHTLY sketchy about whether this is being delivered through the Uber app or through the third parties, but either way I think it’s quite a big (evil) opportunity.

  • State of the Union and Digital Comms: Yes, fine, he is Obama and you are a BRAND, and people care about him and noone cares about you. That aside, this short post on how the State Department approached the State of the Union address from a digital point of view is sort of a masterclass in digital comms. See where your audience is; put out stuff appropriate to each individual platform; I mean, it’s hardly groundbreaking but it has the benefit of being eminently sensible.

  • Goldman Sachs and MILLENNIALS: Disappointingly it doesn’t seem that we’re quite over the sodding MILLENNIALS thing. If you’re going to have to spend some time in the next few weeks waffling aimlessly about this oh-so-VITAL demographic, you could do worse than pull some bullsh1t stats from the noted finger-on-the-pulse-of-the-youth Vampire Squid that is Goldman Sachs. It’s quite nicely presented too, fwiw.

  • We Are Social’s Digital Motherlode 2016: As ever, they do this sort of thing very well indeed. A whole load of stats about how FCUKING MASSIVE social media is all around the world, presented in a nice, easy to steal Slideshare for your delectation and pleasure.

  • The Best Swanky Corporate Website Of The Year So Far: Yes, fine, it’s about train engineering, and yes, fine, it has the temerity to be all in French, but this is so, so impressive from SNCF (or more accurately some agency or another on their behalf). The mobile/desktop integration alone is probably the slickest I’ve seen to date – contrast with this effort from Peugeot, which simply doesn’t work anywhere near as well (also, an aside – is there a law that French brands have to have preposterously overblown web experiences? There’s a LOT of this sort of stuff with a very gallic flavour ATM).

By Maxi Cohen




  • Slinger: SO 2016! Slinger is an app designed explicitly for the discovery of vertical videos – yep, ONLY vertical videos. Actually rather interesting if you’re on your phone and have time to kill, and pretty useful if you’re after a quick and dirty way to find some Snapchat or Periscope INFLUENCERS to shill on your brand’s behalf. Having played with this a little bit, I can only say that from my perspective all this vertical video makes me feel OLD.

  • Fabulous Beasts: FULL DISCLOSURE – I know one of the people behind this reasonably well. That said, I’d be plugging it anyway because it is SUCH FUN. Fabulous Beasts is a game whose Kickstarter launched this week; the lazy, crap non-journalist in me (which sort of implies that there’s a dedicated, talented, real journalist also in me, a fact which is so painfully false that its contemplation has just caused me some small early morning soulpain) wants to describe it as ‘Jenga For The 21st Century’, which sort of explains it a bit. It’s a game where you stack shapes in the real world which affect the development of the world you are building in the virtual, and it is a LOT of fun. If you can spare some money, chuck them a few quid.

  • Songlink: Really clever idea, this – you just plug in a song url from YouTube, Spotify or wherever and this punts out a shareable URL which lets whoever clicks on it play the song from anywhere it’s available (including Apple Music, Google Music, Deezer, etc). Simple but quite clever, am sure this can / should be wrapped up in something Slack-like.

  • Status: Do you worry that social media doesn’t quite let you share your movements and activities with your friends in forensic enough detail? No, thought not. Nonetheless, Status exists – an app which effectively lets anyone share details of what they are doing, where, at ALL TIMES. Described in one of the made-up quotes on the website as being like ‘a real-life marauders’ map!’ (TERRIFYING), it also apparently lets users receive alerts when certain specified contacts move or change their status. Want to know when someone is leaving work, or when they leave the house? Well, now you can! Think there’s anything creepy about that? Nope, me neither!

  • FriendsFeed: I found this weeks ago and was sort of expecting it to be shut down by now; nonetheless, it persists in persisting. FriendsFeed is a Chrome plugin which basically strips your Facebook Newsfeed back to the bare bones, eliminating all promoted posts and ‘your friend liked this, you might too’-type activity. Unless you actually like being reminded of which of your remedial acquaintances are playing Virtual Hair Salon, this is  godsend.

  • Reality Editor: Pretty incredible tech, this – a differential interface for physical objects which…oh, sod it, here’s the blurb: “The Reality Editor is a new kind of tool for empowering you to connect and manipulate the functionality of physical objects. Just point the camera of your smartphone at an object built with the Open Hybrid platform and its invisible capabilities will become visible for you to edit. Drag a virtual line from one object to another and create a new relationship between these objects.” So basically your can turn your phone into a remote control for anything built on this tech. Obviously this version of this stuff will never catch on, but as an illustration of future potential this is sort of amazing.

  • The Land of the Magic Flute: I rather fell in love with this – it’s actually almost a year old, but seeing as THE INTERNET IS NOT A RACE (if I keep repeating it, will it make it true?) and noone else seemed to notice it then either I think I can probably get away with chucking it in here. I think it was built to accompany an animated film version of Mozart’s piece, but it works wonderfully as a standalone digital experience. A wonderful interactive cartoon, presenting the music and the story of the opera as a part-animation, part-graphic novel, the whole experience is just gorgeous and well worth 10 minutes of your time.

  • Alice: Alice is a rudimentary facial recognition AI. Draw a face and Alice will attempt to work out what emotion is being displayed on said face. Based on limited experimentation, Alice is at present incapable of adequately distinguishing between ‘happiness’ and ‘abject terror’ (or maybe, on reflection, I am; that would explain one or two awkward moments from my past); with YOUR help, though, she could learn.

  • Make Me Pulse: I don’t know what this is for or why it exists, but it’s soothing and it made me feel happy and I rather like the music. Little WebGL (I think) experiments themed around gently ‘inspirational’ words (no, wait, come back!), it’s very nicely made indeed.

  • Tinder Me Cards: Brilliantly silly idea, this. Plug in your Tinder username and this creates a card you can hand out to people in REAL LIFE MEATSPACE with a QR code on it (did you not hear? We’re not allowed to laugh at them any more. THANKS, BANKSY) and a ‘Find me on Tinder’ call to action. Included mainly because I can’t think of anything as simultaneously flattering and mildly offensive as handing someone a card which basically says ‘Hi! Would you like to join the kilometric list of people I might one day consider sharing erogenous mucus with but which equally I might decide I can’t really be bothered to interact with?’.

  • The Fantom: An app to accompany Massive Attack’s new EP which uses the same tech as now-defunct app RJDJ (which I did the PR for, really badly, back in the day) to take ambient data from your phone’s sensors (accelerometer, mic, etc) to create bespoke, on the fly remixes of the tracks. When I first saw this sort of tech about 7-8 years ago it was MAGIC, and it still sort of is – I’m convinced there’s a lot more which can be done with the idea, though obviously my thinking doesn’t go beyond that because I am a fundamentally glib and shallow person.

  • My First Insta: Want to see the first thing that someone posted on Instagram, ever? Well this lets you. Its sole purpose, as far as I can tell, is to quickly make a call as to how curated someone’s profile has become since they joined and to then CALL THEM THE FCUK OUT on it, because, you know, that’s how we apparently work in 2016. Jesus, the future.

  • How To Find All The Films on Netflix: I mean, this has been everywhere, but I like to think of Curios as a public service so I’m just leaving it here in case you missed it in the Metro and stuff.

  • Blindspot: Probably the most ‘really, you actually think this is a good idea do you? You DICKS’ app of the year to date, Blindspot lets users anonymously message anyone in their phonebook. Because there’s obviously NO WAY in which this could ever be a bad idea, ever. Although, and I’m slightly ashamed to admit this, I have been VERY TEMPTED to engage in some low-level social terrorism, so I can understand its dark appeal. DON’T DO IT, KIDS.

  • Vina: Are you a woman? Do you feel ALONE and FRIENDLESS (or, possibly, just a touch curious)? Well this app is here to help. It aims to match women with others who share their interests and passions – not ostensibly in a sapphic sense, but there’s a sensation that it might be a little like this one for men seeking men. Anyone want to give it a try and tell me what it’s actually for? Thanks.

  • Spotcaller: Gigfinders are ten a penny online, admittedly, but this one seems pretty good – it was able to pull out a pretty comprehensive list of stuff going on around where I live, including all the slightly fist-y clubnights under the arches. In fairness I can’t speculate as to how good it is if you’re after more bass and less fisting, but there’s no harm in giving it a go.

  • You Are Dog Now: You’ve all seen this by now, right? £20 to the first of you to suggest that a client does the same thing but replacing dogs with whatever thing it is that they shill (PIZZAS!).

  • The 100 Best Infographics: I don’t ordinarily care for these sorts of things, but it’s actually a pretty good rundown of different styles and levels of interactivity; the filtering system is pretty good too, letting you quickly narrow down your selection by style, most-covered in the media, etc. Oh, and while we’re here, let me put out once again my annual plea for agencies to STOP MAKING DREADFUL GRAPHICS PLEASE. Noone, and I mean noone, will use them. It’s not worth the time, I promise you.

  • Astrometry: Weirdly I know several people who are planning to get into astronomy this year – the Tim Peak effect, perhaps (lovely, lovely Tim Peak). Anyway, this site lets you upload any photo you take of THE MAJESTY OF SPACE (imagine that delivered in Brian Cox’s dulcet Lancashire tones, as he compares the universe to an egg or somesuch) and will then tell you what exactly it is that you have captured (some stars, is the short answer).

  • Concepter: Actually, this might be slightly more chilling than the other horrible apps I’ve featured already this week. Concepter, launching next month, purports to let you track and monitor the amount of time you spend with different people in your life, thereby optimising your free time to make sure you’re not spunking it on the wrong people. Because that is in no way a horrible or dehumanising way in which to approach the relationships in your life. “Fancy a coffee?” “No, sorry, I’ve already spent my allotted 15 minutes with you this week and frankly the additional time investment simply isn’t worth it”. Actually, on reflection, perhaps I’m coming round to the idea.

  • The Political Ad Archive: Tracking and filing US political ads in the run-up to the elections later this year. American politics, in case you ever need reminding (and after this, you shouldn’t), really is utterly mental.

  • That Weird Floating Bonsai Thing On Kickstarter: You all saw this, right?

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Online: The whole collection, or at least nearly 1/2million pieces, presented online. SO MUCH FASCINATING STUFF IN HERE.

  • OpenBazaar: Coming soon to a ‘The New Silk Road’ thinkpiece near you soon, OpenBazaar is a soon-to-launch marketplace whose USP is its peer-to-peer nature; you download an program which connects you directly with a potential buyer or seller on and lets you set the terms of your transactions directly. There’s no website, no trace, and it’s all done through Bitcoin. This will NEVER be used for anything illegal, ever.

  • The Tor Data Map: Speaking of the potentially illicit, this is a rather wonderful visualisation of all the data being passed across the Tor network worldwide. Abstract glowing data representations are BEAUTIFUL, aren’t they? This should, but won’t, be the year in which a major financial institution builds one of these showing money flows around the world in beautiful and semi-interactive fashion.

  • Portraits of Burlesque Dancers: These are GREAT – some of the outfits here on display are amazing, and show a level of art and industry far removed from the gussied-up stripping which often passes for burlesque. A wonderful range of body shapes and sizes and genders, which deserves a special shoutout for featuring Mat Fraser who’s been something of a hero of mine for time.

  • Blume: When I was in Amsterdam before Christmas, my friend Chris (who is YOUNG and therefore still entitled to do this sort of thing) showed me the array of dating apps on his phone, an experience which was as giddying as it was vaguely enevrating. How DO people do this stuff all the time? Anyway, if YOU feel like Tinder or Bumble or whichever of these bloody things you use isn’t quite doing it for you then you might want to give this one a go; Blume’s gimmick is that users match via ‘freshly taken’ selfies, meaning you can’t spend time filtering and tweaking your pictures to fool someone into letting you get within three feet of your pants. I’m going to throw this out there – humanity is too vain for this EVER to catch on.

  • This Changed Me: Part of me thinks that this is almost unspeakably twee, but maybe I’m just an incurable cynic. This Changed Me is an app which lets you share experiences which…er…changed you, along with a picture and some blurb about, oh, I don’t know, how it helped you GROW or somesuch guff. Oh, look, sorry, I’m sure it’s a really nice idea and some of you might find some joy in it, but let me be very clear with my position here – that which does not kill you does not in fact make you stronger; it is simply working in close concert with that which eventually does.

  • The Robot Beauty Contest: Odd, this. I found it a few weeks back and have been keeping an eye on it – the idea was that it would be the first beauty contest to be judged solely by AIs. They were looking for people to submit algorithms to judge the contest, as well as entrants to be judged by the pitiless, inhuman aesthetics arbiters; judging by the site, I’m not sure that they got either of those things. Still, there is definitely the germ of a VERY thievable idea here if you happen to work for one of those dreadful, mendacious cosmetics companies which pretends to care about people’s feelings and self-image just enough to persuade them to buy a shittonne of cosmetics that they don’t in fact need *cough*DOVE*cough*. Oh, and in case you missed it here’s that Swiss site that tells you how hot you are (I am ‘OK’. I’m fine with that, honest *cries*).

  • Swiss Design in CSS: Wed developers / designers, you may like this. Not sure it’ll mean much to the rest of you, but it’s sort of gently soothing.

  • MeetingsBot: I am by no means the first person to say this, but the seemingly inexorable rise of chat software (cf Messenger, Slack, etc) means that I’m pretty confident in predicting that 2016 will see an absolute shedload of bots being developed for increasingly mainstream purposes. X.ai is onesuch bot, designed to take the hassle out of arranging meeting times and places for a group of people; give it access to your calendars and it does EVERYTHING as if by magic. What with Facebook recently announcing it was opening up the Messenger API, any and all large brands should be all over this sort of stuff like the sky. LOOK, FREE CONSULTANCY! God, you’ve missed this gold eh?

  • Arq: I have no idea whatsoever whether this steering wheel-shaped synthtoy is actually any practical good or not, but LOOK HOW COOL IT LOOKS!!!!

  • The Reddit Recap: I confess to having found this during my 6am trawl this morning and as such not been able to actually listen to it, but the premise is intriguing. A podcast which somehow (magic? probably) creates daily podcasts summarising stuff in the ‘Things I Learned’ subReddit. An intriguing idea, more in terms of the automation than anything else.

  • Rebtel: Really clever, this, if it works – it purports to offer internet free cheap international calling. I can’t be bothered to explain how it works, to be honest – if you’re interested in this sort of thing, click the link and read all about it.

  • Sort By Dislikes: Find the most disliked video on any YouTube channel. God knows why you might want to, but there’s some interesting rabbithole potential if nothing else.

  • Doc Club: Like documentaries? Want to watch more of them? WELL GOOD! It’s  subscription service, but if you want high-quality curated documentary programming it looks like a pretty good deal at about £2 per month.

  • Pathetic Motorways: Because you never knew that you wanted a website all about the UK’s forgotten transport infrastructure, but it turns out you really, really do!


By Juana Gomez




  • The Dicture Gallery: Penises, dressed as famous dictators. I can’t really beany clearer than this – this link takes you to a selection of photographs of penises, wearing tiny costumes to make them look a little bit like megalomaniacal leaders from history. I probably don’t need to stress this, but it’s a touch on the NSFW side (but if your employer can’t raise (*ahem*) a small smile at the sight of a slightly unimpressive dong wearing a Napoleonic tricorn then you should probably quit).

  • The Forecaster: Martin Arnstrong was a notable economic analyst in the 1980s who is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary about market manipulation and economic forecasting and the like. This website has been produced to accompany the film, and it’s unlike any other movie promo site I’ve ever seen – the depth of information in here is STAGGERING, and I love that they’ve aped the FT in its design look and feel. Really very impressive indeed, I think.

  • The British Museum With Google: Following on from them giving the Museum the StreetView treatment last year, this is an interactive dive into the institution’s collection which is presented SO beautifully that you may get a little lost in it. Processor heavy, so perhaps might not work on your creaking office machine, but worth persevering with until you can make it work properly as it is GORGEOUS.

  • Men Wearing Beards Made Of Bubbles: Surely one of you can rip this off for something.

  • Browse Reddit Whilst Pretending To Code: For all the developers out there who plan on getting the sack in the second month of 2016!

  • A Wonderful Model Railway on Google Streetview: I have a real thing for model villages and stuff, in particular really shoddy ones; there’s a set of model houses in Vauxhall Gardens which are SO shonky that they actually make me come over all emo every time I see them (I am unsure why this is so, and don’t really want to investigate these feelings too deeply). Anyway, this is Google Streetview doing its thing on a BRILLIANT model railway in Hamburg, which is very cool indeed (if you take a particularly elastic conception of the term).

  • SampleStitch: This is a lot of fun. Samplestitch lets you play around with the constituent elements of three tracks by J Dilla, 9th Wonder and Kanye to see exactly how hard it is to make things sound like they do. Will make you really appreciate the skill involved in hiphop production, but will also make you realise that it’s surprisingly easy to make stuff that sounds sort of OK by just pressing stuff.

  • Lutheran Insult Generator: Just in case you’re feeling bereft of interesting and creative ways to slag off your friends, family and coworkers, this occasionally spits out some gems. “You are the white devil and a glittering Satan.”, for example, is going on The List.

  • A Short Journey: No idea what this is for or why it exists, but it’s a nice piece of webdesign showcasing some simple-but-pleasing design and interaction techniques in telling the ‘story’ (I mean that very loosely) of someone going somewhere and then coming back again. Christ, that’s a really piss-poor description, sorry, I’ll try a bit harder from now on.

  • Screensaver Jam: Screensavers are now totally pointless, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check these ones out – submissions to a recent design competition, some of these animations are GREAT.

  • Bitpoem: Aside from the fact that it has introduced me to the term ‘iPhoneographer’ which made me briefly consider just stopping with the internet forever, this photoediting app for iPhone actually looks rather powerful and quite useful if you do a lot of that sort of thing.

  • The Void 2: When I wrote about the first of these last year, I wrote something about it being slightly baffling webart with no discernible purpose but a very pleasing aesthetic. I’ve not got much more to say about its second iteration, other than to add that it’s really worth clicking around as it’s oddly compelling.

  • Guesstimate: REALLY clever and potentially very useful indeed, this. Guesstimate is a spreadsheet service which works with fuzzy values, helping you calculate likely ranges of STUFF using Monte Carlo modelling (that’s basically where you run a bunch of simulations of an event to work out probabilities, risks etc). Sounds boring, and actually sort of is, but potentially really helpful for…er…people who deal with numbers and stuff.

  • I Hate Butterflies: Do YOU hate butterflies (or moths)? Have YOU longed for a community in which you can safely discuss that hatred? OH GOOD!

  • Cheateo: Let’s be clear at the outset – Web Curios IN NO WAY ENDORSES this sort of black hat activity. That said…Cheateo is a portfolio of services which effectively sets up networks of bots to send fake traffic to your website, upvote pages on social media, etc. HUGELY dodgy, but I’d be quite interested to see quite how far this goes and to what extent it can dodge Google’s police.

  • The Public Domain Project: Literally THOUSANDS of media files from old times, digitised and made freely available to do with as you wish. Images, audio and video of all SORTS of stuff, from Chaplin clips to old newsreel footage, eminently remixable should you desire. If you’re a filmmaker of any sort this is probably worth a peruse.

  • Pilot: I tend not to do Podcasts here, mainly as I never listen to the bloody things and therefore feel like a fraud recommending any. I’ll make a rare exception for Pilot, though, mainly as I think the gimmick is cute; each episode is a pilot for a fictitious new podcast series, letting the creators experiment with all sorts of genres and styles and things. Your mileage may vary, but it’s a nice conceit – they’re also quite happy with anyone taking any of the concepts they come up with and running with them, which I think is a nice touch.

  • Stock Photos of Sexual Harassment: Presented mostly without comment, although the fact that this category even exists is cause for no little sighing and headshaking.

  • The AutoHelply: SUCH a great idea, this. A project which encourages people to donate their Out of Office replies to a helping to find missing persons – it provides you with suggestions for people missing in your local area, and provides you with the code/copy and instructions on how to apply it to Outlook or Gmail or whatever. Someone steal this and win yourselves a Lion, go on.

  • 1080 Plus: I love this – PURE INTERNET, right here. 1080 Plus is a site which lets you collaboratively view YouTube videos and chat around them, all delivered through a bafflingly and wonderfully 80s fake-console interface. Try it – all the buttons ACTUALLY WORK, and there’s some real rabbithole pleasure to be found in watching whatever it is that a selection of internet oddities are choosing to stream and discuss with the world.

  • Le Dernier Gaulois: ANOTHER swanky French site, this one to promote a new French TV show about, er, The Last Gaul (I confess to not having researched this particularly thoroughly, sorry). Very slick indeed.

  • The Grey Tales: A beautiful passion project sharing four stories about the lives of elephants. So, so lovely, this, from the music to the illustration to the navigation – really excellent webwork.

  • Call To Wait: Wonderful gag / webart project which invites people to call a number and stay on hold for 7 years at which point SOMETHING will happen. Please, please, please can someone set up an office phone to do this, ideally at a tobacco company for maximum phone bill lols? Thanks.

  • Cybersquirrels: Mapping all the instances worldwide of animals fcuking up internet connections. This is, it turns out, so common that the more paranoid amongst you might start wondering whether they’re conspiring against us (they almost certainly are, FYI).

  • Fiera: Ever wondered what ‘Beforeplay’ was? No, me neither, but now I know and I feel compelled to share it with you. Apparently it’s pre-arousal sex play, so pre-foreplay-foreplay. No, me neither, but Fiera is a new sex toy which purports to help with that sort of thing should you so desire. I’m passing no judgment here – hey, whatever works for you – but can I just point out how utterly horrific the business end of the machine looks? Wouldn’t put it anywhere near anything of yours were I you.

  • Literally THE Most Hipster Musical Toy You Will See All Year: ETA to appearance at a Deptford rave? I reckon WEEKS.

  • Babypod: Ok, this is from WAY back in week one of 2016, but it’s so utterly mental I couldn’t not remind you of its existence. In case you missed the Mail’s inevitable coverage of it, this is the device which lets women play music to their unborn foetus through the judicious insertion of a speakerdildo into their vagina. I was all sorts of baffled by this when I first saw it, and this hasn’t changed one iota.

  • Make Your Own Pet Planet: Look, realistically this trumps anything else you’re likely to achieve this afternoon, so get modelling. It is really, really soothing and beautiful, and should really be an app – I would love to have my own planet complete with mini ecosystem etc on my phone, although the size of your personal God complex may vary.

  • The Earth From Space: 24h of the earth from space on one website. Hypnotic and gorgeous.

  • We Feel God: Not technically called that, but this is basically We Feel Fine but using mentions of God (Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, etc) to populate the visualiser. The audio on this makes it about tenmillion times more sinister than it would otherwise be; no real idea about why it creeps me out so much, but it properly gives me the heebies, this.

  • Eagle Fine Art: Now, I’m no art historian but I am pretty sure that the stuff being sold on this site is, perhaps, not QUITE kosher in terms of its relation to its stated maker. Is that really a Modigliani? HMMMMMMM. Kudos to them, though, for their admirable chutzpah.

  • B Sensory: Closing out this week’s array of questionable sexual aids is this PEACH of an idea, which syncs your vibrator with the book you’re reading to provide appropriate stimulation during the right passages. I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE. How is this meant to work? How does it know how fast you’re reading? How do you teach it which bits you like and which you don’t? Can you hack it to work with, say, the FT website? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

  • Seadope: Ever wanted to explore the story of the zombie apocalypse via a really quite insanely deep fake 90s computer desktop interface? OH GOOD! This is really rather impressive if you can plough in the time – give it 5 minutes and see how you like it. Text adventure fans will get a kick, I think.

  • The History of Billboard Hiphop #1s: Best thing of the week, this. An interactive history of all the hiphop #1 singles on the billboard chart from the mid-90s onwards, with audio and info and links and…oh, it’s just SO GOOD. Click and play and ENJOY.

By Filip Hodas




  • MRA Dilbert: Contrasting the gentle office satire of the strips with the often jaw-droppingly stupid meninist rantings of creator Scott Adams. Oh, Scott!

  • Real Businessmen: All business, all of the time. LOOK, SO BUSINESS!

  • Polish Priests Blessing Things: Just that, really.

  • The Villa of Ormen: A collection of incredibly creepy and gothy photos from all over the place.

  • Scenic Design: Photos of theatre and film set design, which is sort of niche, admittedly, but more interesting than you might think (although I appreciate that based on this SCINTILLATING writeup not enough for you to click the link. Sorry, there are LOTS of these this week and time’s a wasting).

  • Ugly Belgian Houses: Apart from in one or two very specific matters and cases, Belgians have NO TASTE WHATSOEVER.

  • Bat Labels: Labels on stuff from the original Batman TV Series. If someone doesn’t start selling ‘Henchman’ and ‘Goon’ sweatshirts off the back of this I will be very disappointed.

  • Recent Google Searches: This smacks of fake to me, but apparently these are all real and collected by a bot. See what you think. We can’t be that thick, can we?

  • Ask Cat: Text Cat with your problems, and she’ll post her advice here in the shape of an animated Gif. I am WELL using this – see if you can guess which problem is mine in the next week or so! (please don’t).

  • Instagram Husband: A tumblr for that meme that briefly blew up four weeks ago but which I bet none of you can now remember OH GOD WHY IS IT ONLY I WHO IS CONDEMNED TO REMEMBER ALL OF THIS CRAP?

  • Black Shops, White Writing: If you haven’t already noticed this trend, prepared to now see it EVERYWHERE after clicking this link.

  • Calming Manatee: Everybody needs some help sometimes.

  • ECDs With Folded Arms: For all you adland wageslaves out there.

  • Pokemon Pickup Lines: There’s at least one of you reading this who will read these and laugh but secretly inside think “when I can use one of these on someone, I will have found true love”. That’s ok, you know.

  • Sloppy UI: Pointing out bad design. I’m sure nothing YOU’VE worked on would ever feature here, though, obviously.

  • SwearyBox: Swearing is obviously neither big nor clever, but this small site selling very profane cards made me laugh more than it probably should have done.I’m closer to 70 than birth; I probably should at least attempt to grow up a bit really.

  • Masa Photo: Gorgeous photos of Tokyo and other Japanese locations. Really beautiful shots.

  • Crazy Walls: Screencaps of the wall-mounted mind maps ofCRAZY PEOPLE from films and games. Makes an EXCELLENT point about the prevalence of red string in many of these shots, which now they mention it is sort of baffling.

  • Making A Murderer Hairstyles: Celebrating the hairstyles which are the REAL secret behind the series’ popular appeal.

  • Nitrate Diva: The best collection of gifs sourced from films I’ve seen in AGES. Bookmark this for all your HOT ZINGING COMEBACK needs.

  • Trudeau P Milf: Celebrating the hotness of the Canadian premier.

  • Cool 3d World: A collection of some of the more disturbing 3d animated Vines you are ever likely to see. I LOVE THESE SO MUCH.

  • Mondays: I don’t normally do failgif collections, but some of these really are spectacular.


  • MDMA Team: I have to applaud the chutzpah of this page, which basically showcases the insane variety of pill shapes and colours and sizes currently in circulation. If you’re a certain type of person, this will make you VERY GLAD it’s the weekend (as an aside, this is a new thing, right? When I was a kid, the stamp was about as exotic as it got; last year there was some stuff going around which was shaped like massive green Heineken cans and which was so strong I actually thought my hair was vibrating. I’m probably too old for this).

  • Butts: This page promises one butt a day, and so far it has AMPLY delivered. Drawings only, so perfectly SFW.




  • The Facebook Loving Farmers of Myanmar: Brilliant piece of writing about how the mobile phone is changing the lives of people in Myanmar. Less about the tech than the social aspects, it nonetheless offers a really interesting picture of the progress of digital in the developing world, and should give you a reasonable set of arguments as to why Facebook’s numbers were so crazy good this week (and why Twitter really needs to sort itself out).

  • How The Facebook Newsfeed Works: Basically a massive puffpiece for Zuck’s engineers, this talks about how the Newsfeed filters what it shows you through its unique and unfathomable combination of algorithmic and human intervention. If you read this and don’t get the slight frisson of filter bubble fear then you are, sorry to say it, an idiot.

  • No Filter February: My friend Fritha (I know, but she’s a Kiwi) penned this about something she’s experimenting with next month – presenting a more realistic portrait o her life to the world through social media. As someone who never posts photos anywhere and doesn’t use Instagram this is all moot to me, but some of you children might find some inspiration here (and there’s an obvious brand tie-in if you’re looking for something to sponsor next week).

  • My Life as an Atrocity Tour Guide: I’ve mentioned old school shock sites like Ogrish and Rotten (as per, strongly advise you going much past the homepage on either of those FY) – this piece examines what it’s like to run one of these things, and what it feels like to have a seemingly neverending cavalcade of mutilated corpses passing before your content-hungry eyes.

  • 2050 Demographic Destiny: Interesting bit of futurology from the Wall Street Journal looking at how the world’s set to change over the coming three decades across a variety of areas (labour, environment, etc). As will all of this stuff, the value of the predictions is questionable at best, but it’s all an interesting read and it’s very nicely presented in classic WSJ longform interactive fashion.

  • On Website Obesity: Not super new, but a great piece of writing about the bloat in website size we’ve seen since the web’s inception, why it’s bad design, and what we should do about it. If you make websites, or get other people to make them on occasion, you ought to read this.

  • The Robin Hood Strippers: A great yarn about strippers taking advantage of dumb clients by means fair and not-so-fair, this feels like a TV movie in the best possible way – like being a touch drunk in the mid-afternoon whilst snacking on bad food and wearing tracksuit bottoms. You get me, right? Good.

  • The Custodians: This is a wonderful piece about the art of art curation and restoration, and the manner in which this has evolved over time and is continuing to do so as digital artworks transform the nature of the relationship between artist, curator and audience. Really, really fascinating and very highly recommended, even if the description makes you want to gnaw your own hand off with boredom.

  • On That Dragon Cancer: That Dragon Cancer is a ‘game’, recently released on PC, about two parents’ experience of seeing their young son die slowly of cancer; this piece in Wired tells their story and how they transformed their experience into art. This made me do quite a big sad, FYI, so be warned.

  • The Search For The Killer Bot: Included in part to bolster my ‘this is the year of the bot’ argument above, and in part because it’s a really interesting look at how the communications ecosystem in the West is slowly evolving to match what already exists through WeChat et al in the East.

  • A Brief History of Books Which Don’t Exist: About books and worlds and authors and imagination and coincidence and STUFF, this is a lovely read for the literarily inclined amongst you.

  • A History of the Occult in Rock & Roll: Terrifyingly encyclopaedic in its comprehensiveness, this will teach you stuff even if you’re an absolute music bore who knows EVERYTHING about this sort of stuff. I had no idea whatsoever that so many people were so into Crowley, for example, or that Black Sabbath fans were quite so…well…stupid (although I might have guessed the latter).

  • Suicide of the Ceasefire Babies: A beautifully written piece about the hitherto-unexamined explosion in suicides in Northern Ireland since the end of the Trouble, and what it might tell us about NI society and the manner in which people sublimate grief.

  • Lolita Turns 60: I found this at the tail end of last year, but thought it worth saving – a brilliant analysis of the novel, from a variety of different perspectives, which I found particularly illuminating about the tricky final act. Reminded me quite how much I love the book, and quite how many phrases from it I have basically lifted wholesale to use in conversation (I am, I acknowledge, a dreadful pseud).

  • How Meeting Lemmy Saved My Life: I’ve featured Jeremy Allen’s writing quite a lot recently, and this is another great piece on how Lemmy offered some surprising encouragement to a man a few days into nascent sobriety. What a lovely-sounding man.

  • Bowie Vs Burroughs: Whereas this paints a far less sympathetic portrait of its subjects. A sort of amazing treasuretrove, this, in which Rolling Stone basically just sits Bowie and William Burroughs down together and transcribes their conversation. There is SO MUCH in here, but my overriding impression was of two overwhelmingly cold people, detached from both their work and their audience – overly analytical of the former and borderline-contemptuous of the latter. Bowie’s line about people being basically too stupid to ‘get’ his stuff is a killer. There’s a lot of gold in here, too – they are obviously both super smart and get off on the intellectualising, and the line about ‘the picture of you’ that Bowie comes out with is one for the ages. Still, a really interesting counterpoint to the somewhat one-sidedly hagiographic post-mortems coronations.

  • How Wil-E Coyote Explains the World: Wonderful deconstruction of the gags in Road Runner which is incredibly instructive about rules and exceptions in storytelling and joke creation.

  • The Eleven Most Boring Conversations I Can’t Stop Overhearing: Tim Rogers on particularly excellent form about some of the irritations of modern living (if you’re, like him, an educated straight white man living in San Francisco). As ever, Rogers is just a brilliant prose writer.

  • The Fcuk Off Fund: What one is and why you need one. Brilliant piece.

  • Holding The T: Finally, the best piece of writing of the week – this piece about playing squash as a middle-aged man is sort of about squash but also, mainly, about middle-age and a certain degree of acceptance and LIFE, and should be read by everyone mainly because it’s just so effortlessly clean and well-constructed. Would that I could write like this, seriously.  

By Christina A West


1) Let’s kick off 2016 with a very early contender for best, oddest video of the year. This is The Chickening, and it is SO GOOD that I am practically demanding that you watch it all (I’m obviously not demanding anything, I’m just pathetically grateful you’re hear at all DON’T LEAVE ME):

2) This is probably on balance less ‘good’ but equally odd. It’s called The Summoning of the Skylark, and no, I have no idea whatsoever:

3) Let me just say upfront that I think the song here is REALLY GOOD and is worth listening to; now we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s focus on the video which is all the WTF you could possibly hope for and more. This is Yeasayer with ‘’I Am Chemistry’:

4) Cheers to Shardcore for the tipoff on this one – it is MESMERIC. Trust me, give it a minute or so and you will be hooked – this is called ‘A Brief History of Time’:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! Well, garage I guess. You will all have heard this already, obviously, but I’m chucking it in because Web Curios has been a fan of Narstie for TIME and is very happy to see him getting a bit of proper success on this. Craig David x Big Narstie with When The Bassline Drops:

6) MORE UK HIPHOP CORNER! This is a cracking track from Kano and Giggs – it’s called ‘3 Wheel -ups’:  

7) This is SUCH a nicely made vid, even if the idea’s not 100% fresh. All done by hand too, which is crazy. This is ‘Cliche’ by Hierophant:

8) Next up, the latest video for B3ta alumnus Cyriak whose star just keeps on rising – this time he’s knocked out this feline oddity for El-P and Killer Mike (aka Run the Jewels); this is Meowpurrdy:

9) Last up, an oddity that’s sort of sleazy hiphop in a way which reminds me a bit of Boyfriend (Can we just take a moment to recall how great this song is, by the way? Good) but which is rather good in its own right. This is by Louis The Child, feat. K.Flay and it’s called It’s Strange. See you in a few weeks, everyone.