We have all seen funny quips in T&Cs, either of the "If you have got this far, you're obviously bored" or the "You consent to have your soul owned by Satan" variety. Public wifi provider Purple has taken it one step further; it buried degrading tasks in its terms, which over 22,000 people subsequently agreed to.
The Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam of presenting fake documents on two 2006 declarations to the probe team using the "Calibri" font which was not commercially available till 30 January, 2007.
The JIT, which is probing allegations of money laundering against Sharif and his family, said Maryam Nawaz, her brothers Hussain and Hassan Nawaz as well as her husband Captain Mohammad Safdar (retd), had signed false documents to mislead the Supreme Court.
The team that probed offshore assets of Sharif family said in its report that Maryam Nawaz claimed herself to be "trustee not the owner" of Avenfield properties in London, which linked her to Minerva Services and Samba Financial, Geo News reported.
Read more (First Post)
Burying intricate added content into popular music has been with us at least since Sgt. Pepper. Radiohead's 20th anniversary release of OK Computer goes one further, offering a program running on classic 8-bit computer, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
A bot has gone somewhat off the rails in Amazon's Marketplace. Entitled My-handy-design, it is offering hundreds (thousands?) of mobile phone cases, with the picture on each case seemingly made from a scraped image search query.
I overslept this morning, not that you care, and as such this has all been a HUGE RUSH. Apologies, therefore, for any perceptible drop in quality of what follows; rest assured that despite appearances I have poured exactly as much love, care and attention into this as I always do (you may speculate as to exactly how much that actually is).
Anyhow, this is the last Curios for a couple of weeks; next Friday I will be in Amsterdam with Fat Bob preparing to go to some terrifying-sounding techno festival, and the following week I will either be dead or, less excitingly, at a meeting in Chippenham. Take care of yourselves in my absence, kids, and don’t, whatever you do, attempt to roll your own Curios in my absence; you’ll never get the dosage right, and you really don’t want to know what an incorrectly-calibrated shot of webspaff does to a person - it’s UGLY. Until next time, then, assume the position and brace yourselves; IT’S WEB CURIOS!
A father finds out his daughter is pregnant after algorithms identify tell-tale patterns in the family’s store card data. Police charge suspects in two separate murder cases based on evidence taken from a Fitbit tracker and a smart water meter. A man sues Uber for revealing his affair to his wife.
Stories such as these have been appearing in ever greater numbers recently, as the technologies involved become ever more integrated into our lives. They form part of the Internet of Things (IoT), the embedding of sensors and internet connections into the fabric of the world around us. Over the last year, these technologies, led by Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home, have begun to make their presence felt in our domestic lives, in the form of smart home devices that allow us to control everything in the house just by speaking.
Curios in successive weeks - truly, you are BLESSED. Thanks one and all for the overwhelming reaction to our return last week (there obviously wasn't one, but my Mum reads this so it's nice to occasionally give her the illusion that she's not the only one); it's so good to be back!
Anyway, it's been another largely dreadful week leavened only by everyone's HILARIOUS jokes about magic money trees. I spent Tuesday morning in a ping pong club, helping executives from a multinational corporation write down inspirational facts about their job on carboard ping pong bats. Frankly my mood never really recovered, and I've largely been tearily catatonic since; you're lucky I managed to rouse myself from my torpor long enough to spaff this out, frankly.
So, as we limp to the end of yet another seven days of disappointment and prepare to dull the pain with the usual combination of poisons - and those of you who don't, who are healthy and sober, how do you do it? I really mean it; how do you make all the noise and the shouting stop? - get ready for your informational pre-loading, shots of pure content delivered via the eyeballs! Lads! Bantz! WEB CURIOS!
(oh, and apologies to those of you who didn't get the newsletter last week - a few teething difficulties with the new mailer, but hopefully this should all be working fine now).
(although if you're not reading this then it isn't).
Block Bills is a series of 64 banknotes derived from the blockchain and produced by Los Angeles-based artist Matthias Dörfelt.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
William Shakespeare, extract from Sonnet 18, written between 1593 and 1601
It’s so hot outside! I love the summertime. How are you?
Roisin Dunnett, text, June 2016
It’s impossible to guess where Shakespeare was when he rhetorically suggested to an unknown person that he might compare them to a summer’s day. I remember where I was when I wrote that facile text though. I was in my back garden with my feet up on the fence, and it was, truly, so hot outside. It was a happy moment because I do love the summertime, and because I was thinking of the person to whom I sent the text.
I know that none of you asked for this, but here we are, back again like Daniel (retro meme reference for you there, don't ever let it be said that late 30s advermarketingprcunt is out of touch with the kids, yeah?). It's good to see you again; you're looking well, if a bit tired and, well, frayed around the edges; actually, are you ok? Honestly, you can tell me. I won't even pretend to care.
Anyway, figuring out a new CMS for the mailout has taken far more time than I'd expected so I have minimal scope for opinion-wanging; let's get cracking, then. Grab whatever you can which will serve as some sort of tourniquet, tie yourself off and lie back, supine, waiting for the slight pressure before the skin breaks and the plunger drops and oh god that sweet, dull flood to the base of the brain and yes yes yes this is WEB CURIOS!
A hand, pale, slim and with appallingly-bitten fingernails, gingerly slips between the curtains, fingers curling to pull back the material just enough to afford a glimpse onto the stage and to the empty seats beyond.
The vaudvillian slinks disconsolately onstage and addresses the silent, deserted house.
HI THERE! I’M BACK! DID YOU MISS ME?? No, no, you didn’t, did you? And yet, like the proverbial bad penny, the slinking cur which returns after each kicking to receive another dose, here I am again.
So, what’s been going on? Well, Imperica’s had a bit of a wobble but it is STILL STANDING - normal service, or what passes for normal service, will be resumed at some point over the summer, so HANG ON IN THERE, kids. To be honest, I wasn’t really planning on writing anything until everything was all sorted out but then I found myself staring at a 12-page Google doc full of links and knowing that I basically wouldn’t be able to delete them unless I’d filed a Curios out of some weird, damaged info-OCD.
So, here we are then - a BUMPER Curios! Full of the very best - and indeed much of the worst - of the past month or so’s web. Christ alone knows when you’ll get the next one - but you will, rest assured, it seems I can’t stop doing this even if I try - so enjoy this; use it as some sort of distraction from the current malaise. So lie back, close your eyes, let me draw the hood over your head and set the tap running; I promise, this is non-fatal. LET ME VOID MYSELF OF WEB! This, as ever, is Web Curios.
So much excitement! Whether it’s the looming potential threat of international thermonuclear conflict, mental sci-fi technologies or the fact that we lucky, lucky people of Britain once again get to DO A DEMOCRACY, it seems that the future never stops happening at us. It never stops. It is never going to stop, until we do, and then it will carry on without us anyway because we do not matter one iota, regardless of what our parents may once have told us.
Except obviously we DO matter, at the very least in a narrow electoral sense, so, er, make sure you’re registered to vote and stuff, whichever of the fcukers you want to watch screwing everything up for the next 5 years. WEB CURIOS POLITICAL OBSERVATION KLAXON! - the fact that this is all happening so quickly means that I can confidently predict we are in for some CRACKING ‘sex text skeletons inside candidate’s sexy closet’ scandals over the next few weeks, and we are going to have some truly woeful new elected representatives come June 9th - there is no WAY there aren’t going to be some spectacular oddities falling through the cracks, right? So that’ll make up for the next 7 weeks of painful, wafer-thin policy promises, attempts at ‘relatability’, and grin-through-gritted-teeth memebantz, then.
Anyway, you don’t come here for politics (or if you did you are a fool). You come here to have more links than you can possibly click on fed to you by a tired, misanthropic loner with an increasingly doomy outlook and a prose style which can most charitably be described as ‘lightly enervated’. Brace yourselves to receive a fortnight’s worth of internets straight to the frontal lobes - it’s *like* a lobotomy except without any spurious claims to efficacy. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!
How do you take the measure of what a nation believes? How can you, in a fractious political moment – given to strawmen and symbolic threats which are founded in something perhaps a little less than objective reality – get inside of people’s heads and separate the pap of suspicion from the hard kernel of belief?
At a point in time which seems, increasingly, to be defined by the opposition between insiders and outsiders (those included, and the preterite left-behind), it seems reasonable to investigate the interior. And since we can’t comfortably examine what we’re all putting in our heads, we may as well look at what we’re putting in our stomachs. In an age of unparalleled consumption, let’s look at what we consume to stay alive. Assuming that food is as good a place to start as any, let’s look at our habits of nutrition and try to take a pulse by poking our bellies.
Singapore, 2013. I was in the Lion City for a residency at the Singapore-ETH Zurich Future Cities Laboratory to collaborate with their scientists who worked on sustainability. As an artist who works on environmental issues, I had a problem. Despite the fact that climate change affects everyone, it’s hard to get people to care about it enough. “Climate change” are two big ominous words that feel far removed from our modern quotidian existence. Even the other buzzwords around it—“Anthropocene” and “sustainability”—seem too heavy for non-academics to pay much attention to. It was two months into my art residency and I was starting to panic; none of my initial ideas had seemed cool enough, and the clock was ticking.
The problem with writing this on a Friday is that, sadly, by the time I get round to doing the opener the commentariat have had a whole WEEK crafting their INCANDESCENTLY HOT TAKES on the pressing issues of the week and they’ve consumed all the oxygen around the news, leaving me a gasping, suffocating wreck desperately seeking to find a crack in the media bubble in which I exist online through which to suck down a few microns of fresh air.
That’s by way of a non-apology for my failure offer any coruscating opinions on Kendall or school meals or Easter or Saudi or Syria or any of that stuff. Mainly because, I am coming to realise, current affairs commentary online in 2017 is much like Playdoh - all looks different and multicoloured, but spend a bit of time playing with it and it all blends into the one sh1t-hued morass. Opinions, bottoms, proctology innit.
So before you go back to watching politiTwitter desperately trying to work out what the most woke response to The Donald suddenly remembering all the fun toys he now has at his disposal (as an aside, does anyone else think that Assad looks a little like a drawing from one of the Molesworth books? No? Oh), enjoy this cannonade of STUFF off the web, fired at you at high velocity and close distance - you probably can’t avoid it at this stage, so just open your mouth and pray the bleeding eventually stops. THIS, AS EVER, IS WEB CURIOS!
There’s mail I hate receiving in the Philippines – the postcards notifying you have parcels to pick up at the local depot. PHLPost officially denies reports of ‘bartering’ and ‘haggling’ of monetary taxation dues, but the overall experience remains rather shitty.
I am child of the mid-eighties - born in the last year of being a Digital Native but somehow still a Millenial - so the punk, lo-fi indie, grunge and all other "underground" movements of the 90s and earlier largely passed me by the first time around. These movements were celebrated for going against the mainstream, led by visionaries who would, the media proclaimed, eventually give us the tools for free thought and bring an end to bland pop culture.
But a strange thing happened. They were absorbed by the mainstream media and what they had achieved - an aesthetic, a music genre, a fashion - was sold back to us at a premium as a way for us to buy into the culture. Take, for example, urban culture. In her 1999 book No Logo Naomi Klein highlights how brands would "search out pockets of cutting-edge lifestyle, capture them on videotape and return to clients like Reebok, Absolut Vodka and Levi'".
So that’s it - WE ARE TAKING BACK CONTROL! Do you feel in control? Do you feel like you know exactly what’s happening, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there? Do you feel that The Triggering is going to somehow resolve the creeping feeling that everything now happening is so far beyond our ken and influence and that the only reasonable response is to hide and cry?
No, you don’t. Still, CONTROL, EH?
Web Curios cannot, in all honesty, make any claims towards being able to help in that regard, but at the very least you may find one or two things in the following mess of html which put a smile on your face; or, alternatively, which finally convince you that it’s time to build the bunker and nail down the hatch.
So, then, come with me into the past - my past, the week I have just lived online. Slip into my digital skin, so to speak - I’ve always found it to be terribly uncomfortable, so, frankly, you’re welcome to it. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!
The subject of the mind has been one of the most discussed issues in arts and science. Nevertheless, only a few understand that that thinking may not happen in the brain, being an embodied activity. Perhaps, because since schoolbooks that get the image of the brain mapped into different thinking areas. Even the most innocent games at the playground involve pointing to the head to mean thinking or to the eyes to refer to seeing.