YouTube has become a perfect destination for ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos, and Ikea has now joined in. A 25-minute video from Ogilvy, IKEA ASMR, features hands slowly moving sheets onto a mattress amongst other excitements, accompanied by a soothing voiceover.
Within the past couple of weeks, the resurrection has been announced of two famous but very different computing magazines: Crash, and Mondo 2000.
If you've spent any length of time as a jobseeker, data scraper or sales researcher, chances are you have been initiated into a select club of internet cognoscenti: those who can comprehend the select terror of a seemingly innocuous tab on the average corporate website. Like the opening of any decent horror, it begins with a door into a homestead that seems welcoming at first, even charming. But the more you look around, the stranger it becomes: the more uncanny and less benign. It’s a phenomenon that goes by the same name everywhere you turn: Meet The Team.
If there is one style of corporate branding that defines the 2010s, it is this: sans-serif lettering, neatly presented in black, white, and ultra-flat colors. Cobalt, for example. Its goal is noise reduction, accomplished by banishing gradients, funky fonts, and drop shadows, and by relegating all-caps to little “BUY” buttons. The abundance of white space around words, photos, and playful doodles exudes a friendly calm. You’ll find the information you need in seconds, and what a pleasing few seconds they will be.
Sans-serif typefaces have been in circulation since at least the 18th century. (Serifs are the little lines that decorate the ends of letters in fonts like the one you’re reading right now. Sans serifs omit them.) Minimalist design in marketing isn’t new either, but this genre of branding has become especially, almost predictably, concentrated among venture-backed lifestyle startups like Outdoor Voices, Bonobos, Frank And Oak, Lyst, AYR, Reformation, Glossier, Allbirds, and Thinx. Some use it for nearly everything on their websites but the logo, and some use it for nearly everything, including the logo.
Read more (Racked)
Artificial Intelligence is colossally hyped these days, but the dirty little secret is that it still has a long, long way to go. Sure, A.I. systems have mastered an array of games, from chess and Go to “Jeopardy” and poker, but the technology continues to struggle in the real world. Robots fall over while opening doors, prototype driverless cars frequently need human intervention, and nobody has yet designed a machine that can read reliably at the level of a sixth grader, let alone a college student. Computers that can educate themselves — a mark of true intelligence — remain a dream.
Read more (NYT)
There has been a flurry of interest on Twitter in the past 24 hours regarding The Unbrexit, a wonderfully-named British-style pub in the German town of Ahaus. Although many have enjoyed the joke, the pub has an interesting underside which was less apparent to many.
New York-based copywriter Alysia Lewis has got straight to the point with advertising her services on Facebook, starting her ad with the title Your agency hates black women.
In a largely unanticipated development this week, the discovery by the idiot rump of the world that moral philosophy is A Thing and that it is HARD and COMPLICATED has made me almost wish for the return of politics, not to mention making me agree with Melanie Phillips. UNPRECENDENTED.
Anyway, that was the week that was - how was it for YOU? I am in the temporary abeyance that precedes me once again doing something really stupid, to whit attempting to do three and a bit jobs in a 5 day week period, doubtless meaning that literally each and every one of my paymasters will feel slightly short-changed and I, as ever, will spend far too much time chumming for content yam across the web rather than doing that which it is that I am nominally paid to do. So it goes.
Until then, though, I am LUXURIATING IN TIME. Which is why it was such a disappointment to note that the internet was pretty light on content over the past seven days - PULL YOUR FINGERS OUT, CREATORS, I HAVE A FCUKING KILOMETRIC NEWSLETTERBLOGTHING TO POPULATE. Nonetheless, much in the way the food industry has learned to scrape the smallest scraps of flesh and sinew from the mouldering carcasses the premium meat trade leaves behind in order to fashion 'nuggets' from the detritus, so I have skilfully fashioned the material available to me into a simulacrum of a Curios - perhaps slightly lighter on content, fine, but with the same unmistakeable carrion tang of disappointment. Open wide and let me regurgitate the half-digested remnants of a week lived largely online - this, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!
(oh, and for those on you on the web, we're experimenting with the ability to SKIP BETWEEN SECTIONS. Except, er, it's the first time and I think I might have fcuked the formatting, but, still, worth a try, eh?)
Jettzen Shea has a mop of pale blond hair and a voice that rings out like a little bell as he chimes in from the middle rows of Claremont McKenna College’s Pickford Auditorium. “I’m on Twitter,” he says. He’s just shy of age 10, and his claim to fame is a brief part on the TV show Chicago Fire. His seat looks as though it might swallow him up at any second. “When I go on a show or movie, my mom — well of course after the movie airs, otherwise you're gonna get in trouble — she posts a picture of the cover of the movie or the show.”
Next to him, another boy pipes up. “I use [social media] for every time I'm on my way to an audition. I start posting stuff on social media and Twitter, and then right after I make a YouTube video.”
These two young social prodigies aren’t alone. Around the room, kids are volunteering their favorites kinds of social media. YouTube and Snapchat are big, but Instagram is bigger. One girl proclaims that she is “sooo over Facebook” and a few others agree. On the auditorium stage, Michael Buckley is diligently taking mental notes. He paces and nods. He quips in response to each child’s answers and offers fatherly advice: don’t get tattoos of the YouTube play button like he did. Make good choices on Snapchat. And, as the conversation takes a more earnest tone, he sagely tells the group that you get back what you put in.
Read more (The Verge)
South Park turns 20 years old this summer, meaning that if those foulmouthed, crudely fashioned 8-year-olds that were first introduced on August 13, 1997 followed the rules of linear time, they’d all be adults farting down the barrel of 30. Similarly, there’s now an entire generation of people—spanning high-schoolers to middle-aged people who remember watching its early seasons in college, and who can’t believe they’re reading/writing 20-year retrospectives on it now—who were actually raised on South Park.
The show celebrated this existential crisis-inducing fact last year with a tongue-in-cheek ad, depicting South Park as a sort of benevolent guarantor keeping reliable watch over a girl from infancy until her first trip to college. It was a typically self-effacing joke, but it’s true: Our world is now filled with people for whom South Park has always been there, a cultural influence that, in some cases, is completely foundational to their point of view. The ad doesn’t end with the girl logging onto Twitter to complain that social justice warriors are ruining the world, but otherwise, spot on.
Read more (AV Club)
In an near-perfect re-enactment of Milkshake Duck, the CEO of iRobot has announced that cute vacuuming robot Roomba has, in fact, been mapping your home.
In 2005, British student Alex Tew had a million-dollar idea. He launched www.MillionDollarHomepage.com, a website that presented initial visitors with nothing but a 1000×1000 canvas of blank pixels. At the cost of $1/pixel, visitors could permanently claim 10×10 blocks of pixels and populate them however they’d like. Pixel blocks could also be embedded with URLs and tooltip text of the buyer’s choosing.
The site took off, raising a total of $1,037,100 (the last 1,000 pixels were auctioned off for $38,100). Its customers and content demonstrate a massive range of variation, from individuals bragging about their disposable income to payday loan companies and media promoters. Some purchased minimal 10×10 blocks, while others strung together thousands of pixels to create detailed graphics. The biggest graphic on the page, a chain of pixel blocks purchased by a seemingly defunct domain called “pixellance.com”, contains $10,800 worth of pixels.
Read more (Law Innovation Lab)
Everyone’s done it. Well, at least lots of people have, given 70 million customers visit Starbucks each week.
You’ve gone to Starbucks, given the barista your order and name, waited patiently for your drink and then received a surprise at the counter. “That’s not how you spell my name!”
The entitled monster inside you might be tempted to complain. You decide not to be that monster.
Instead, like thousands of others, you take your seat by the window, position your sunglasses so the sun glints magically just below the Ray Ban sticker and snap the obligatory Starbucks cup shot, captioning it “Lol why can’t @Starbucks ever spell my name right”. Cue a couple of consolatory likes. Then move on with your deadpan scroll through other people’s lives.
The Brandwatch React team, who are feeling a little existential before their morning coffee today, decided to take a look at this phenomenon.
SURPRISE CURIOS! Yes, that's right, despite having spent the better part of the past week in a somewhat parlous state and certainly very far away from the web, I have still managed to find enough webspaff to fill the strangely-shaped receptacle that is this blog/newsletter/mess. Aren't I clever - or, more to the point, isn't it nice of all of the rest of the web to keep making interesting stuff which I can lazily dismiss and make fun of in tediously nihilistic prose?
Anyway, Holland is lovely, I saw friends and a godchild and basically ate no vegetables for a week, and now have the slight fear that I have no career and am going to die in solitary, penurous misery as my body decays along with what remains of my mind; but that's pretty par for the course after a few days with Fat Bob, who I know will hate himself for smiling when he reads that.
ANYWAY, you're not here for tedious self-referential lines about my 'friends' - you're not really sure why you're here at all, frankly, particularly not this week when you were probably looking forward to not having to guiltily delete this from your inbox, unread. Still, I am here, and so's all this internet, and seeing as I went to all the trouble of gathering it up and laying it here at your feet and staring up at you expectantly like some sort of ugly, malnourished puppy you know you ought to pet but which you are equally sure has fleas and ringworm and whose eyes you don't quite trust, then the least you could do is fcuking well READ some of it.
Yeah, yeah, Web Curios, wevs.
So far, artificial intelligence has not gone beyond the first level – ANI. This technology is embedded everywhere, from the navigation system on your smartphone, to the spam-filter on your email account.
Compared to previous inventions, ANI has evolved, and transformed our lives, at an unprecedented rate. In science speak, this is the law of accelerating returns. Progress made during a set duration of time (say 100 years) accelerates over time (from one century to the next). In everyday terms, it’s why printed maps now seem about as helpful as a telegram.
Despite this progress, the second level – AGI – has not yet emerged. It would require not only an increase in computing power, but also a boost in machines’ intelligence. In other words, machines would need to be able to learn.
Read more (Rightsinfo)
After conducting a major review into the subject, the UK's Advertising Standards Authortity has published a report on gender stereotypes in advertising, entitled Depictions, Perceptions and Harm.
Lots of algorithms go bad unintentionally. Some of them, however, are made to be criminal. Algorithms are formal rules, usually written in computer code, that make predictions on future events based on historical patterns. To train an algorithm you need to provide historical data as well as a definition of success.
We’ve seen finance get taken over by algorithms in the past few decades. Trading algorithms use historical data to predict movements in the market. Success for that algorithm is a predictable market move, and the algorithm is vigilant for patterns that have historically happened just before that move. Financial risk models also use historical market changes to predict cataclysmic events in a more global sense, so not for an individual stock but rather for an entire market. The risk model for mortgage-backed securities was famously bad – intentionally so – and the trust in those models can be blamed for much of the scale and subsequent damage wrought by the 2008 financial crisis.
Read more (Guardian)
DOES Liverpool really need another work of art about the KLF? That's the question I'm asking myself, as I stand in front of Lime Street Station, on this impossibly blue-skied day, in the spiritual home of the most famous band in the world.
Of course, you don't need me to tell you the story. There's probably no one alive on Earth who doesn't know the basics. The prelude: two young lads, Bill and Jimmy, lynch-pins of the 1980s Liverpool scene. Hanging around at Eric's, managing bands, becoming the JAMS, making northern hip-hop, stealing stolen samples. Then the story itself. Turning into the KLF: the stadium house, the screaming crowds, the drugs, the robes, the American Tour. The Manual, the Timelords, the hysteria, the hype. Then the breakdown, the Brits, the machine guns, the Turner Prize, and the big pay-off, the show-stopper, the special effects budget: burning one million pounds. The greatest pop story ever told.
You know this. Everyone knows. The music of the KLF isn't something you like or dislike. It's just part of life. Played on the car stereo on family holidays. Whistled by the postman every morning. It's like Christmas, or Sunday lunch, or the moon. It's just there. It just is.
And, though they were only met here, didn’t even record anything here, and left for London once the going got good, this city has claimed Bill and Jimmy as its own. Liverpool offers you KLF taxi tours, and KLF Experiences. It has statues, and gift shops, and shopping centres named in Bill and Jimmy's honour. It has Justified and Ancient Ice Cream vans. There's even Liverpool KLF airport, with its pithy slogan, 'All Bound For Mu Mu Land', and a pencil drawing of Bill Drummond's face as part of the logo. But I'm not here to see any of this. I've been summoned to see something new, one more piece of art about the band.
Read more (Confidentials)