Web Curios 03/02/17

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?

Hm.

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!

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Web Curios 27/01/17

DON’T PANIC! DON’T PANIC!

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!

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Web Curios 13/01/2017

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!

(A SHORT EDITORIAL NOTE: Firstly, thanks to all of those who've been in touch with Imperica about contributing to the forthcoming magazine - my editor is VERY GRATEFUL. If you're interested in writing about art, society, culture, tech, the future and LIFE, you still have time to get in touch with your pitches to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.- DO IT. Secondly, there is a NEW NEWSLETTER coming. I know nothing about it as it's not mine, but I can categorically guarantee that it will be both shorter and better-proofed than this one, and will function as a sort of 'cultural reading list' to the week ahead. So, you know, ANTICIPATE)

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Web Curios 06/01/17

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.

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Web Curios 16/12/16

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.

Eh? Oh.

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.

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Web Curios 02/12/2016

Oh look! Everything got magically better while I was taking a break and everything is fixed and the Lib Dem victory will set us on a course towards a political future which looks more like a light at the end of the tunnel rather than every single train ever invented hurtling down said tunnel towards us at 100mph!

HA! OF COURSE NOT! Everything is still awful, but frankly I’ve basically checked out for Christmas already and so I don’t care one iota. It’s almost literally impossible that the next month of my life can be any worse than the corresponding period last year, so on that basis I am going to declare 2016 officially DONE, and the remaining 29 days in this calendar month to be a weird sort of liminal space - consider this 2017’s waiting room, if you will.

And while you wait, you’ll need distractions and entertainment and FOOD FOR THOUGHT - consider the following, then, the yellowing, dog-eared Readers Digests of this particular antechamber - let’s not dwell on what exactly the appointment we’re waiting for entails, or indeed what’s making the sounds coming from the other side of that door which, now we mention it, is bulgingly unpleasantly with all sorts of dreadful portents. This, my children, is WEB CURIOS - it’s all probably going to be OK, I promise you.

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Web Curios 18/11/16

Well, I got that pretty spectacularly wrong, didn’t I? Two years of ‘look, guys, calm down, IT CAN’T POSSIBLY HAPPEN’ doesn’t half make you feel like an idiot when you wake up with a wall-eyed hangover to discover that in fact you know nothing about anything and that a startlingly large proportion of the US population decided that what they really wanted to do with the next four years was to fcuk each other, us and indeed themselves with knives.

Anyway, NOONE needs my opinions on this or indeed anything any more - I hereby promise never to predict anything again, or if I do then to keep VERY VERY QUIET about it. Man, what a sh1tshow.

Still, it’s not all bad - the Black & British stuff I’ve been working on at the BBC launched, despite Newsbeat’s attempt to fcuk me over with fried-chicken based content, I’ve worked on some brilliant live radio and I have the afternoon off. So, you know, the world is probably fine.

With that cheery thought in mind, then, let’s gaze right at the heart of the blossoming mushroom cloud of web looming large on the horizon - feel the hot nuclear wind of INFORMATION zooming towards you at pace, and, er, don’t mind that ripping feeling as it takes the flesh from your bones and leaves you standing, cold and alone, in what is set to be a very, very cold winter indeed. THIS IS WEB CURIOS!

(Oh, by the way, if you’re reading this then I imagine you have already signed up - but if you want to read this, you’ll have to sign up to Imperica now. It takes 2 mins and they won’t spam you, honest).

(Oh, and I’m not around next week, just in case any of you care) (no, I know).

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Web Curios 04/11/16

This week’s edition of Web Curios is specially dedicated to the person or people who somehow contrived to absolutely screw the project me and a whole team of people have spent the past quarter working on, approximately 12 hours before it was going to go live. THANKS, PERSON OR PEOPLE! You fcuking idiot(s). For those of you who I’ve not already bored with the anecdote, this (blistering hot and very funny, for which props to Mr Rants’n’bants here) take may give you a clue.

Anyway, no matter. Hopefully it will all get sorted on Monday and we’ll only have lost a week, and anyway as long-term readers doubtless know I am WELL zen and therefore minor setbacks like this won’t even touch the sides. It’s all going to be FINE. Fine, I tell you.

Which is exactly the sort of attitude we all need to adopt as we careen headlong towards BIG YANK DECISION DAY, and close our eyes and cross our fingers in the hope that we can’t have two seismically stupid democratic decisions in the English-speaking world in one year. That said, if next time you read this there’s a Trump presidency then at least you can all laugh at me for being so utterly, spectacularly wrong with my whole ‘oh, no, it’s impossible that he should win’ rhetoric. So, you know, small mercies.

Oh, and a further update on WHAT HAPPENS NOW WITH IMPERICA can be found here - basically it's all good stuff, and you can now chuck a few quid their way if you'd like to put some money where your eyeballs are. 

Anyway, as per usual I need to get moving - let’s get this show on the road! And when I say ‘show’, I mean the full-on sideshow geek experience - step back, kids, this chicken blood gets EVERYWHERE. THIS IS WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 28/10/16

HELLO AGAIN EVERYONE! There’s a slight air of demob-happy devil-may-care about Curios this week (only in my head; the following links’n’prose is, be assured, as depressively turgid as ever, so DON’T WORRY) as next week a project I have been working on for the best part of three months drops and I get to go back to being a part-time wageslave again rather than TOILING for 5 full days each week (yes, I know that that’s the norm, but some of simply don’t have the constitution for it. What’s that? The sound of no violins whatsoever? FINE).

Brief bit of housekeeping before we kick off this week - THANK YOU to everyone who filled in the Imperica Reader Survey thingy which I’ve been pimping here for the past few weeks - the summary of what you all said can be read here, but the upshot is that I GET TO KEEP DOING THIS, at least for a bit, for which infinite thanks (tbh I would totally have carried on anyway, as I am now at the point where sometimes it feels like the routine of this thing is the only element of my life tethering me to something resembling sanity, but that’s not the point). Thanks, seriously, it’s very much appreciated.

Anyway, enough of that - veered worryingly close to sincerity there, and we can’t have that oh no siree. Step once again into the bathysphere as we prepare to sink to ever lowe depths, plumbing the web’s very own Marianas trench(es) for the weirdest, toothiest specimens of webspafffish (this one really doesn’t work at all, does it? Hey ho) - THIS IS WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 21/10/16

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final week to complete our annual Imperica reader survey. It only takes a minute or two, and we're sincerely grateful for everyone's feedback.

 

Let’s be clear about this - as a nation we’ve seen the pound plummet, racism and hate crime increase, our elected leaders display a lack of...er...leadership which would shame a tinpot dictator and yet the one thing we choose to throw our toys out of the pram about is the fact that we let a dozen kids into the country. TAKE A FCUKING BOW, BRITAIN!!

Anyway, welcome once again to Web Curios, which this week is slightly shorter than usual what with my basically not having quite as much time to read all of the web as I usually do (you can ACTUALLY blame the BBC for this, should you want to). On the plus side, though, that does mean that you’re getting this about an hour earlier than usual on a Friday so, you know, BE GRATEFUL.

Follow me, then, Dantes to my Virgil (I think, on reflection, that’s almost certainly the most hubristic and pretentious opening gambit I’ve ever essayed, so WELL DONE ME!), as we sink ever lower into the Stygian underbelly of the web and mine for webspaff - THIS, AS EVER, IS WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 14/10/16

Pray God the wheels are coming off. I mean, he can’t possibly come back from this, can he? Although the impossibility of The Donald does mean that we’re going to have to start focusing on our very own clusterfcuk of politico-legislative incompetence, which it’s been sort of nice to ignore for a few months while all this has been going on.

Anyhow, there is a LOT to get through this week (when is there ever not? Digital Sisyphus, me) so let’s CRACK ON. Roll up your sleeves, lube up to the elbow and prepare to help me clear this week’s infoblockage - you may want to stand to the side, as the effluvial spray’s likely to be a gusher. THIS, AS EVER, IS WEB CURIOS!

(Oh, and if you didn't do it last week, please take the 3 minutes required to fill in the Imperica Reader Survey as we struggle to determine what the future ought to look like. THANKS!)

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Web Curios 07/06/16

Isn’t Tory Party Conference a heartwarming thing? There’s nothing like seeing a bunch of socially awkward oddities indulging in their peculiar interpretation of ‘fun’ whilst simultaneously working out exactly how hard they can get away with fcuking the country over the course of the coming 5 years. Thanks, Theresa! Thanks, Amber! Thanks, Jeremy! Thanks, all of you!

Actually, in fairness to the Tories, all Party Conferences are a weird and hideous experience. I used to have a job which for a few years required me to go to all three of the damn things, by which point I was basically a jaundiced mess who hadn’t seen a vegetable for the best part of a month; I recall the moment where I decided that I absolutely had to leave the lobbying industry, which happened at Labour Conference in 2005ish, when I found myself at 2am drunk and angry and alone in a Young Labour disco (no, really) watching a bunch of MPs and activists actually holding lighters in the air and singing along to Brian Cox’s 1997 electoral anthem ‘Things Can Only Get Better’. THAT IS THE SORT OF THING THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS AT PARTY CONFERENCES. They are awful, and generally full of awful people.

Anyway, blanket-slagging of the political classes aside, HOW ARE YOU? Good? Good! I have a favour to ask - could you possibly take 2 minutes (really, it is that short) to fill in the Imperica Reader Questionnaire? If you ever wanted the opportunity to STOP WEB CURIOS and make me give this up for good, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO TELL ME. Don’t let me down now.

Right, onto the webspaff, arrayed before you like the bloody leavings of a faithful pet who doesn’t seem to fully understand why you’re not leaping for joy at the assortment of bloody viscera it’s just deposited at your feet - WELCOME ONCE AGAIN TO WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 30/09/16

Hey! Hey YOU! Want a hot fix of web? Want to feel the warm glow of soma-like euphoria as this week’s infospaff courses through you like so much Fentonyl through a dying man? OF COURSE YOU DO, that’s why you’re here! This week’s Curios is a touch shorter than normal, because REASONS, but I hope that those of you who attempt to chew through this edition of what I’m increasingly of the opinion is the information equivalent of the power bar - noone actually likes it, it probably contains more than you need, but it does a job of sorts - find what you need.

Christ, even by my standards that was a pretty tortuous opener. Sorry. Anyway, kids, settle down for more of the usual mix of links-and-prose, delivered in a manner which I’m pretty sure is akin to an aggressive infoenema - THAT’S RIGHT IT’S WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 23/09/16

So it was an unexpected two week break from the internets, which obviously was no break at all as all that happens when I’m not writing this is that I store up all of the webspaff in my secret pouch until I can regurgitate it all again for your pleasure. Two weeks in which I unaccountably once again failed to win a Mcarthur genius grant AGAIN (DO THEY NOT READ WEB CURI...oh), and during which we slipped seamlessly into decorative gourd season once again. What a fortnight, kids.

Anyway, no time for reflection and rumination, which is just as well really. Brace yourselves to receive the full force of a fortnight’s pent-up internet full in the face; and yes, it may cause bleeding to the eyes and nose and mouth and ears, but, seriously, you have no idea what it does to me. This, as ever, is Web Curios.

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Web Curios 09/09/16

SHINY NEW TOYS! DISTRACTIONS! NEW, BETTER SCREENS! Yes, that’s right, it’s been another BIG WEEK for the world, with the announcement of a brand new expensive distraction box for us to mindlessly covet; oh, and there’s been some geopolitics and stuff, but let’s not worry about that.

How are you all doing? Are you ok? It doesn’t really matter either way, or course, but I’m told that it’s important to attempt to engender a sense of rapport with one’s readers, however superficial, in an attempt to make some sort of connection. Do you feel connected with me? PLEASE CONNECT WITH ME.

Ahem. It’s been a long couple of weeks, the nights are drawing in, Summer’s but a distant memory and all we have to look forward to is John Lewis advert day looming large on the horizon like some sort of beacon of hope in an otherwise black, black night. So draw in close and huddle round the infofire as I stoke it with links and attempt to bring some light and warmth into existences which, let’s be honest, are growing darker and colder by the second; don’t breathe too deep, mind, as the fumes are awful. This, as ever, is Web Curios.

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Web Curios 26/08/16

Another week, another example of how the web has basically ruined political discourse forever (not to mention journalism - I do feel a very sincere twinge of pity for the media forced to replicate Jeremy’s Train Funtime in the ceaseless pursuit of truth, justice and the hottest of takes). Please can we all just STOP - look, there are enough tedious obsessives devoted to cataloguing the minutiae of the Labour Party’s descent into full-on madness on the fringes of the web, so can the mainstream media which these people so disdain simply just stop covering it, please? It’s boring, and frankly this week absolutely ruined the silly season for me. FFS, JEREMY.

Anyway, it’s a bank holiday and I am preparing to celebrate it by, as is traditional, spending as much of it as possible disconnected from the sordid quotidian reality of of existence. You should too - after all, you won’t have to worry about the comedown until Tuesday, and that’s frankly so far away as to be basically fictional. Consider this a preparatory lining of the stomach, if you will, ballast to keep you going through the next 72 hours of hedonic joy and right up to the point of desktears and unpleasantly syrupy urine - GET YOUR INFORMATIONAL PRELOADING SORTED RIGHT HERE WITH WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 19/08/16

Ordinarily I’d kick this off with some sort of tedious screed about how terrible everything is - I’d be right to do so, everything is terrible - but seeing as we’ve only got three more days of TEAM GB OLYMPIAN SOMA left in the can, let’s just crack right on with the GOOD INTERNET STUFF - regular opening paragraph misanthropy will doubtless be resumed next week when the golden glow has worn off and we all remember that no matter how much effort most of us put in we will still never amount to anythi...oh, look, I just can’t seem to stop myself. Sorry.

Anyway, prepare for this week’s hot injection of performance-enhancing internet - tie one off, slap the vein and prepare for the hit, without of course thinking too much about what all this content is actually doing to your ability to think or feel or love or empathise or care or oh god make it all stop please. This, as ever, it’s WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 12/08/16

Every time I take a break from this I forget how utterly terrifyingly huge the mountain of internet I have to wade through becomes (seriously, you think there’s a lot of crap in here? IMAGINE HOW MUCH STUFF I DON’T INCLUDE), and each time I basically have something of a small, internalised nervous breakdown at 6am on Friday when I look at the linkdump and know that I am going to be typing for 6 hours solid. And yet, here we are once again - it’s a compulsion, I  tell you.

Anyway, how are you? DID YOU MISS ME? No, you didn’t, but that’s ok because I didn’t miss you either. You mean nothing to me (no, I don’t mean you- you’re special). While we kill time waiting for the superhuman parade of athletic achievement to kick off again in a few hours’ time, let’s embark upon our very own long-distance endurance test; stay hydrated, stock up on nutrional gel packs, and settle in for the long haul. The web is a marathon, not a sprint - and just like in a marathon, you may feel an almost irresistible need to void yourself at around the halfway mark. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 22/07/16

It’s probably not going to happen. It’s probably not going to happen. It’s probably not going to happen.

If we all repeat this, mantra-like, whilst thinking only of the good things, then surely by collective will we can stop the Trump horrorshow, can’t we?

NO OF COURSE WE CAN’T. What we want has at best a passing influence on our own lives, let alone the collective global experience; free will is largely illusory and the quicker you suck it up and accept that the better.

With that cheery opener, let’s move STRAIGHT IN to what is going to be your last dose of webspaff for a week or two (timescales as yet unspecified), what with me being away next week and planning to devote literally no time whatsoever to internetting. Til then, though, console yourselves with this BUMPER CROP of links and prose; like all modern crops, it’s best not to think too much about what it’s all been treated with and what the potential side effects of prolonged exposure might be (clue: like everything else, the answer probably involves death and pain). Welcome, one and all (though in all likelihood it’s closer to one, isn’t it?), to WEB CURIOS!

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Web Curios 15/07/16

There’s something horrible about language sometimes, and a cruel sort of irony in the fact that we’re seeing NICE ATTACK everywhere.

Another week, and another load of stuff too dreadful to even think about waxing funny about. So it goes. Focus on the Pokemon. The Pokemon are your friends.

Here we are, then, as I once more sit eagerly before you, proffering up the eviscerated, bloody corpse of another week’s internet for you to sort through in search of value. Pick through the blood and the viscera and you may find something to excite you - and what strange auguries can be scried in the intestinal scrawls? Here’s a clue - literally none, because NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANY MORE. This, for all the good it will do you, is Web Curios.

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