Another week in which it feels like he’s doing this to all of us, all the time. I’m KNACKERED, I don’t know about you. Still, nothing to be done but keep on keeping on - I know that you’re all grateful for my indefatigable devotion to scouring the web for fresh, soothing content (no, really, no need to tell me how grateful you are) (please tell me - I am awfully needy and fragile).
Anyway, as I type this the dulcet tones of Mr Tony Blair are piping from the wireless, which is EXACTLY what the world needs right now and is a pleasing throwback to a simpler time two decades ago when none of us even knew what reality TV was, let alone that it could spawn a world leader.
Before I slip into a reverie and spend the afternoon wallowing in nostalgia for time in which I had both curtains and a girlfriend, though, let’s me first present to you this week’s offering of links - if you could see me right now, you’d know that I am looking at you all doe-eyed and expectant, hoping that you will look favourably on these leavings and pat me on the head rather than looking askance and wrinkling your nose at the bloody mess that I’ve sullied your digital carpet with. Look, kids, it’s the sanguinating carcass of the week’s web, here splayed for you to scry with the viscera - WEB CURIOS!
Look, shall we just not talk about any of it this week? Shall we just agree that, if only for these few opening lines, we’re going to leave The World alone and just focus on the good things?
Eh? Oh. Turns out that I currently appear to be incapable of focusing on anything other than THE PARLOUS STATE OF EVERYTHING right now, which make doing a breezy intro (even more) problematic (than normal). So, given that, let’s CRACK RIGHT ON with this week’s Web Curios - picking at the scabs of internet culture and presenting them to you on a slightly soiled pewter salver with an obsequious flourish! ENJOY!
Right everyone, hands up who thinks they understand the world at the moment. No, thought not. Is everything a gigantic conspiracy or a gigantic mess? CAN IT PERHAPS BE BOTH? IT’S SCHRODINGER’S FCUKUP!
Anyway, I am TIRED and I simply haven’t the stomach for ‘funnies’ about how utterly FUBARed everything seems to be; make your own if you feel the need, I have nothing for you this week.
Instead, though, what I DO have is a beautiful selection of hand-foraged (seriously, foraged is the right verb; you’d never guess quite how *dirty* I got pulling this out of the websump for your delectation) links designed to explain everything, assuage your fears and generally ameliorate your life before this whole tedious merrygoround begins aga...eh? What’s that? It literally never stops? This is what it’s going to be like until we fcuking die, perhaps getting marginally worse over time?
Well, on that CHEERING note, let’s crack on - welcome, one and all (mostly one), to this week’s WEB CURIOS - picking the scabs off the web so you don’t have to!
Ok, maybe do a little panic. Is the future a race between Musk and Trump, to see whether we manage to flee the planet before we irrevocably eff it in the a? Well, no, it almost certainly isn’t - for a start we’re all far more likely to die slowly and painfully by an infinity of self-inflicted papercuts than we are in some sort of extinction-level event, so relaaaaaaaax a bit and ENJOY THE SHOW!
I mean, it does feel ever so slightly like all we can do at this juncture is to open the metaphorical popcorn (though personally I’m advocating something less metaphorical and significantly stronger and more dulling) and see what lunacy happens next. Now, though, forget about all the mess and horror out *there* - focus on all the mess and horror in HERE instead. Welcome once again to the (mainly) weekly autopsy in which I slice from clavicle to colon and splay the still-warm viscera of the web onto a glistening slab for us to ponder. What can we scry from this week’s messily-piled infoguts? ONLY BY READING ON WILL YOU EVER LEARN. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!
Reading lists... is a short, snappy newsletter weekly article with a bunch of high-quality long reads to get you through the week. Written by Liz Elfman, founder of US agency E-Squared, Elfman's commentary analyses exactly why and how each article will add value to your precious time and absolutely underline our own commitment to expanding into other areas beyond arts and tech. We'll publish it at the beginning of each week.
Here's a sample of an issue.
1. The "Breitbart of the Left" - Is this a trick question? Can there be a "Breitbart of the left?" Vanity Fair explores the premise in this interview with David Brock. Brock founded Shareblue, the pro-Clinton website shilling for "Blue America" during the election. Now, Brock is turning Shareblue into a progressive war room of sorts: "Our approach is going to be to tell the truth as we see it about both sides, not just the Republicans." Brock has taken a lot of flack, perhaps deservedly so. But there's something to be said for a pundit who admits he was wrong, and in light of new information, pursues a different course.
2. On Suffering and Sympathy - This is an extraordinary essay from Matthew Clair in The Rumpus. Clair examines the visibility of injustice. In our photo and video-laden world, we witness suffering in real time, from Ferguson to Syria to Standing Rock. What does that awareness accomplish, in and of itself? To Clair, sympathy is only the first step: " 'Fuck your breath,' a police officer hollers as he pins an already-shot man to the ground, his body camera be damned. Power no longer hides; it strides above us, unapologetic.'"
3. Remaining Angry - The case for staying furious. Elwes, a Brit, notes that "The ugliest aspects of the US culture war have been, deliberately, imported into our public life."
4. In Honor of "30 Under 30" - The most disappointing 30 people under 30, from The New Yorker. Just in time for Forbes' tiresome "30 Under 30" circle jerk, which has now grown to include segments like "30 under 30 in consumer tech", "immigrants", and "celebrities." Cause celebrities need more attention, y'all.
5. The Conflicts Keep Coming - Trump's new SEC head, Jay Clayton, is a Wall Street defense lawyer. The revolving door between Wall Street and Washington isn't news to anyone. But Clayton gets extra credit for being married to a Goldman Sachs executive. "Clayton's family income while in office will presumably be coming from a company he is charged with policing," says Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone. And our standards slip ever lower.
6. All Ambassadors Told to Scram - No exceptions, all ambassadors must leave their posts by Inauguration Day. This mandate is uncommon and spiteful. Career diplomats are usually granted a grace period of weeks or months to finish their children's school terms: "'With the world already primed to be worrying about such an abrupt change, 'this is just a very concrete signal that it is going to happen.'" No kidding.
7. The Brave French Smuggler - Cedric Herrou keeps getting arrested for helping migrants into France from his farm on the Italian border. And he will not be cowed: "If we have to break the law to help people, let's do it!" he said. He's part of a network of activists who resort to "semi-clandestine tactics" to aid migrants. Outlaw, or hero? Look to the past and the resistance fighters in WWII; you can be both.
Is being accused of watching a bunch of sex workers urinate on an expensively-hired mattress more or less embarrassing than being accused of putting one’s penis into the mouth of a dead pig? It’s not a question I was expecting to pose myself this week, and yet here we are. Are the Russians controlling everything? Are the Russians simply working to make us think they control everything? Is Elon Musk right? Is this all just a simulation, some sort of pan-dimensional higher being’s version of The Sims (this being that point in the game when they’re so bored that they decide to just fcuk with the computerpeople; we could, in this reading of events, see much of what’s happened in the past week as their equivalent of removing all the in-game toilets)?
WHO KNOWS?! The only thing that’s been of comfort this week is that, whilst there may be a few dozen people currently alive on the planet with a reasonable grasp of what’s happening, none of those people are currently talking. Frankly, would you? Watching all the speculation would be TOO MUCH FUN.
Suffice it to say, gentle reader, that I am as baffled and scared by all of this as you - probably moreso, frankly, what with my legendary sensitivity. Thank the Lord, then, that I’ve spent the past week stitching together this poorly-woven comfort blanket of internet scraps for us all to cling to together; it’s ugly, fine, and please don’t ask me about the things you can see moving amongst the seams or why the smell simply won’t go however much you scrub it - just clutch it to yourself and think about how weird things must have gotten already in 2017 that this poorly-curated (ha! ‘curated’!) load of webspaff is sort of reassuringly normal and familiar. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!
And so it begins again. We return to our pens, fattened, bovine and docile after a fortnight’s enjoyment of the illusory promise of freedom, ready to once more face the uncertain future with a faltering smile and the deep-yet-unspoken hope that maybe this year will be the one in which it all just stops, just for a second.
But it won’t be. In fact, it’s all going to get faster and busier and more congested, more thick and clotted with signals and information and data and ephemera and news and anger and frustration. So, you know, deal with it. But don’t worry! Web Curios - part of the problem, definitely not part of the solution - will be here to hold your hand through what promises to be a truly interesting twelve months (in the most Chinese of senses).
Strap up, then, buckle in, and ready yourself as we start the long, slow descent into the very bowels of the information beast. IT IS ALL PROBABLY GOING TO BE FINE.
This is Web Curios.
And so, we come to the end. You don’t need to read another tired ‘wow, wasn’t that all terrible’ wrapup - we all know just how dreadful it’s been, so let’s not labour the point. Here’s hoping that we all manage to not get everything quite so wrong next year and that humanity’s signature ability to learn from its mistakes helps us out yet again.
Anyway, pretty much as soon as I hit ‘Send’ on this fcuker I am turning off the internet for the year - I suggest that as soon as you’re done clicking EVERY SINGLE LINK in here that you do the same thing. For now, though, get ready to put yourself through the webwringer one last time - let’s squeeze this bastard until the pips veritably squeak. For the final time in 2016, THIS IS WEB CURIOS - God bless us, everyone.
There's a new way to get your word's worth: by adopting one for a year on the dictionary site Wordnik. A US-based nonprofit, Wordnik raises funds by offering words for adoption, and they have more than 8 million words to choose from. For US$25, adopters get their name (and a link to their Twitter or website) on the word, a set of spiffy stickers in the post, and a downloadable certificate (suitable for framing).
Wordnik strives to include all the words of English, so you can adopt a word even if it doesn't have a traditional dictionary definition yet—and you can also give words as gifts. (Don't think you can pick some disparaging term and slap your least favorite politician's name on it: Wordnik checks with the recipient first for anything that seems prankish.) The site then turns off advertising on the adopted words for the year, so everyone wins. If you're curious about what words have been adopted, and why, Wordnik has interviewed some of their early adopters about their choices...
This past summer, The Lost Palace allowed people to explore the lost Palace of Whitehall, 300 years after it burnt to the ground, of which only the Banqueting House remains.
Historic Royal Palaces worked with Chomko & Rosier, and a diverse team of collaborators including theatre makers Uninvited Guests, sound artist Lewis Gibson and app developers Calvium, to create an experience that allowed visitors to uncover the lost palace on the streets of central London.