Friday 02 February 2018

Web Curios 02/02/18

Crikey. For reasons you really don't want to know about but which can accurately be explained by the first picture in this week's Curios I am slightly up against it this week, timings and deadlines wise. 

So that means NO TIME to say a super-special HELLO to all the people who might have come here on Warren Ellis' very kind recommendation (I promise to buy everything you have ever written and will ever write in triplicate, Warren), no time to talk about Auntie May in China or the State of the Union or the honestly chilling sight last night of the Telegraph's Tim Stanley saying - honestly, he really did - that what this country really needs is Jacob Rees-Mogg as Prime Minister and a return to Thatcherism. NO TIME! Which is a shame. 

Still, there's just enough for me to say an extra WELCOME to all the people reading this on Matt Hancock, and to tell you to strap in tight - no, tighter, TIGHTER, by the time we get to the bottom you will practically RELISH the reduced bloodflow to your extremities. This, as ever, is ALL OF THE INTERNET (or the bits that I saw this week) in the form of Web Curios.

gregory jacobsens

By Gregory Jacobsen

 

FIRST UP IN THE MUSICAL SELECTIONS, WHY NOT TRY THIS AMBIENT-Y MIX BY MINOR SCIENCE?

THE SECTION WHICH ONCE AGAIN ADVISES YOU TO LOOK AT AMAZON’S NUMBERS AND THINK ABOUT WHICH OF THE BIG SCIFI CORPORATIONS IS MOST FRIGHTENING OVERALL:

  • The Facebook Numbers: Topline, they made another fcuktonne of money. Obviously the big Q4 earnings headline was the drop in time spent on the platform in the US and Canada, which has prompted one or two analysts to write somewhat breathless pieces about how this could be the start of a downward trajectory and all the rest; as previously discussed, after 2016 Curios really doesn’t do predictions any more, but if you look at year-on-year growth in ad revenue Facebook’s doing terrifyingly well, even compared to Google. Which, frankly, is mostly the point - as long as we keep happily telling Facebook everything we do and think and want and do and love, the ad product’s only going to get better; other than the Bezos Meatpuppet, where does the competition come from? Don’t think too hard on that, it’s a MISERABLE line of inquiry for this early on a Sunday.
  • Facebook Privacy Principles: In a splendid display of arsecovering, Facebook this  week announced its PRIVACY PRINCIPLES ahead of the introduction of GDPR later on this year (and by the way, as soon as I find a decent guide to the implications thereof I’ll share it, but everything I’ve read so far has been a thinly disguised sales pitch by the sort of people who I imagine wear shiny suits even to bed) - oh, and promised to roll out a PRIVACY CENTRE where users will be able to find all the controls pertaining to their FB privacy settings in one place. The PRIVACY PRINCIPLES themselves are beautiful in their aspirational meaninglessness - ‘We give you control of your privacy!;, they say; ‘We help people understand how their data is used!’; and, most beautifully, ‘You own and can delete your information!’. Well, yes, fine Facebook, that last one is technically true, but it’s equally technically true that anyone can win the Booker if writing in the English language - it’s possible, but it’s fcuking hard and, frankly, most of us won’t bother as it’s simply too much bother (because it’s that that’s stopping me from writing the Booker-winner I just know I’m capable of). No word on what the PRIVACY CENTRE will look like or do, but that’s not really the point of this non-announcement.
  • More Local News Coming To FB’s Newsfeed: The sort of thing which will make all the execs at Trinity Mirror whose local offering’s been decimated over the past few years shake their fists at the sky. OBVIOUSLY no detail on how this might work, but there’s potential good news in here for local brands and businesses - a content offering focused on hyperlocal news and community engagement might (a big MIGHT) let you achieve a bit of semi-organic reach in the brave new post-Newsfeedshakeup world (note the ‘semi-’ doing a lot of work in that sentence, though).
  • Facebook Lures Game Streamers: Basically I had the link to this earlier in the week and now it’s GONE and I’ve had to hastily Google a half-remembered story and so the explainer link is a bit shonky (THIS, you see, THIS is the high-quality ‘journalism’ that people expect from Curios!), but BASICALLY the nub of this is Facebook wants more videogame streamers to use its platform and is going to improve its monetisation options, etc, in order to do so. I would imagine that if you’re a games company, Facebook will be offering some HEFTY INCENTIVES to get you to do some big streaming promo.
  • You Can Now Schedule Instagram Posts: Officially! Through the API! You’ll need to use one of Facebook’s Marketing Partner services such as Hootsuite to do so, but I imagine you all mostly do, so it’s ALL GREAT. Fun game - see how long you can hide this fact from your community managers, purely from a sense of schadenfreude.
  • You Can Now Add Carousel Ads To Instagram Stories: I know, I’m excited too! Not just ONE piece of video or imagery as an interstitial between Story elements, but up to THREE! Truly, we live in a golden age in which everything happens for the best in the best of all possible worlds (oh Cunegonde!).
  • Twitter Now Offering ‘Sponsored Moments’ Ad Product: This is quite interesting; it’s a limited offer, but brands can now bid to sponsor Twitter Moments produced by any of 200 of Twitter’s ‘premium publishers’ like Bloomberg - the example given in the piece is Bank of America sponsoring a Twitter Moment by Bloomberg from Davos, to give you an idea of how it works. It makes a lot of sense - why pay to make your own less-good content when you can piggyback on an existing publisher’s which is likely to get more eyeballs than yours - and I found it quite an interesting approach (it’s been a long week).
  • Twitter Offers ENTIRE HISTORY OF TWEETS To Developers: I’m going to need to caveat this - there are restrictions, in the sense that it’s free upto 50 API requests per month and then priced on a sliding scale beyond that - but overall it is A Good Thing and has lots of quite interesting implications. If nothing else, you can make some LOVELY and probably quite weird ‘On This Day’-type stuff using this and still sit well below the 50 threshold.
  • Snapchat Lenses Studio Challenges: Now that ANYONE can make Snap lenses, Snapchat’s running a monthly contest to reward the best creative made on the platform. A nice idea - good source of inspiration and of talent, potentially.
  • Snapchat Opens In-App Merch Store: So you’ll be able to buy, say, a DANCING HOTDOG SOFT TOY, thereby contributing not only to landfill but also to the slow cultural degredation of society. Pretty sure that this stuff will only ship in the US at present, though I confess to not having checked yet - there’s going to be monthly ‘drops’ (ugh fcuk OFF with your SUPREME-aping) of new stuff, but Snap insists that this isn’t intended to be a revenue driver. Between this and the Musk flamethrower thing, though, I do like this trend of people taking VC and shareholder money and going ‘nah, sod it, we’re going to do something SILLY’, although not as much as I’d like it if they did something, y’know, good.
  • Google Bulletin: Just a note here, but Google seem to have launched this very quietly in beta; Bulletin is only testing in a couple of US States, but if this is anything to go by then it’s seeing local news as a potential growth area, just like Facebook. Seemingly some sort of citizen journalism service, the big draw here of course is the little line in the blurb about how ‘Bulletins will be discoverable on Google Search’ - worth keeping a small eye on this to see how it goes.
  • Digital In 2018 WORLDWIDE: The nice people at We Are Social have, as they do every year, compiled a motherlode of all of the global social media and digital and mobile usage stats you are likely to need, at least for the first few months of the year. Particularly useful if you need some graphics to point at whilst saying “2018, you see, really IS the year of mobile!”. As ever, the section on Asia is sort of mind-boggling.
  • Ste Davies’ Guide To The Algorithms: This is a really helpful thing put together by Ste Davies to offer an admittedly-simplified guide to how the algorithms on the various main platforms work, from FB to YT. Obviously a lot of this stuff is simply unknowable (because obviously competitive advantage), but as a primer on how to think about CONTENT AND ENGAGEMENT on each of the big networks this is a really useful starting point.
  • All Of The Superbowl Ads: Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve seen a lot less advermarketingprwank analysing the fcuk out of this year’s crop of multimillion dollar exhortations to BUY MORE STUFF; still, if you care about THE PINNACLE OF HUMAN CREATIVITY (cf adverts for fizzy sugarwater and large trucks) then this is a useful collation of all the ads released to date). A friend of mine pointed out that it does rather feel that a few of these are trying to make ‘WASSSSUUUPPPPPP?!’ happen again, or something like it, to which can we all heartily say ‘no’ (seriously, be thankful if you’ve managed to stay blissfully unaware of the bloody ‘Dilly Dilly’ Bud Light thing (although if they don’t now try and make it cross the Atlantic by using Claudio Ranieri in the crossover spot I’ll be VERY disappointed)).
  • Places Of Intimacy: Another in the occasional Curios series of ‘really shiny websites which don’t need to be as shiny as they are and which, if I’m honest, don’t quite work, but which I am sort of glad exist anyway’, this is for condom brand ‘Skyn’ and I would imagine that the creative went something like ‘You know what people like doing? Fcuking in hotel rooms (or more accurately, in a stranger’s kitchen courtesy Airbnb)! Let’s make a site celebrating the beauty of fcuking in hotel rooms! Like a sexy Mr & Mrs Smith, with lifestyle photos and smouldering prose!’. Then they actually had to get approval and jump through hoops and the whole idea got squashed to the point where they ended up with this VERY pretty site which, if I didn’t know was to do with condoms to start with, I would have been pretty surprised to learn was all about fcuking. Seriously, if you’re going to do this sort of thing just go full bongo and be done with it. HIRE ME AS A CONSULTANT FOR MORE OF THIS SORT OF KILLER INSIGHT!
  • Valentine’s Vaseline: I love this. Vaseline does the ‘personalised tin to give to the person you want to kiss on the Hallmark Holiday’ thing - or at least that’s the ostensible vibe, but OBVIOUSLY they know about the Vaseline usage stereotype and are playing to it. Or, er, am I just projecting really hard here? Hm.

atisha paulsen

By Atisha Paulson

NEXT UP, KICK RIGHT ON WITH DAVID BYRNE’S SUPERB MIX OF MUSIC FROM ‘SHITHOLE’ NATIONS!

 

THE SECTION WHICH HOPES YOU ALL ENJOYED MATT HANCOCK YESTERDAY BECAUSE IT IS OVER NOW, PT.1:

  • Glittering Blue: If you’re feeling a little enervated, a touch frayed, ever so slightly like your face is vibrating and your bones might be starting to shatter from the inside (it was a long January, wasn’t it?) then perhaps take a few moments with this site. Glittering Blue presents a view of the Earth from space, and using real satellite imagery cycles through a 24h day/night cycle over a 12-second period and seriously, I could watch the Earth like this for HOURS. Hours, I tell you. Put it on on a big telly in the office and watch everyone get mesmerised (and then RUN FOR THE HILLS).
  • Eristica: Probably the first ‘oh wow, this is really stupid’ thing I’ve seen this year, Eristica is, very simply, a site where you can challenge people to take ‘challenges’ (read: do dares) in exchange for cryptocurrency; they get paid once they’ve uploaded a video matching the challenge specifications as proof of completion. Ok, fine, that isn’t quite live yet but that’s the direction they’re planning on taking it, and let’s take a moment to imagine exactly the sort of quality ‘challenges’ and resulting ‘content’ you get on something like this when we’ve already done suicide-for-clicks in 2018. On the other hand, if you want to win fractions of crypto in exchange for eating, I don’t know, a fistful of thumbtacks or for breaking the world record for cocktail umbrella/urethra interfacing, then BOY are you going to have a good 2018!
  • Verena: This is a really good idea, and from what I can tell it’s been really nicely designed. Verena is a safety app developed with the LGBTx community in mind but which I see no reason couldn’t be used by anyone; it’s designed so as to allow users a safe way to record incidences of abuse, find help and assistance and, and this is really clever, to contact a number of approved ‘safe’ contacts from within the app whilst keeping that contact hidden from elsewhere on the phone. Obviously this is not perfect and not a ‘solution’ to anything, but as a tool for potentially making people feel more secure and offering them avenues to reach assistance in the event of any abuse, it is A Good Thing.
  • Animated Pixel Gradient Maker: Yes, yes, I know that SOUNDS boring, but click the link! Look what you can make! A lovely, pixellated, left-to-right-colour-shifting-with-foreground-text MASTERPIECE! Just like this one! Look, fine, I like it.
  • Mycroft II: Not the first open-source Voice Assistant I’ve seen, but given the inexorable march of MECHA BEZOS to the point of total world domination I thought it apposite to include this one. Mycroft II’s currently seeking funding but is already over the target with three weeks to go; the speaker does, well, all the stuff you’d expect one of these things to do by now, but the software’s open source and rather than using Google for search it uses Duck Duck Go or Wolfram, and it NEVER listens (though I wouldn’t bet on its security being better than the Echo, much as it pains me to say so, so whilst it might not listen I don’t doubt its hackability). Obviously if you aren’t a techy then tbh it’s probably not going to be the device for you (I imagine the onboarding experience for something like this is pretty brutal), but if you like the idea of having a voice-activated butler ‘brain’ in your home but would prefer that not to be contributing to a future in which MECHA BEZOS stares down at us benignly from every wall then give it a go.
  • Cryptotulip: You will doubtless have heard a million and one references to the Dutch tulip bubble already in 2018, what with Bitcoin and all - now, the logical conclusion lets you ‘grow’ tulips on the blockchain! This is a similar idea to the Cryptokitties thing which I featured before Christmas, although as far as I can see they’re keen to point out that it’s an art project and the tulips, despite having a nominal cryptovalue, are worthless (although you wait til the web decides that actually no EVERYTHING MUST BE AVAILABLE TO BUY AND SELL and makes a boom market out of the whole thing). It’s silly and pleasing and the tulips are abstract and actually quite cool looking, and frankly this is the first crypto-related thing that hasn’t made me massively roll my eyes this year.
  • Mute: One month into the year of our lord two k eighteen and I’ve already seen a spate of commentary about how important it is, yeah, to DECOUPLE from our phones and spend less time on TOXIC SOCIAL APPS and you know what I’ve been saying this for YEARS and noone bloody listened *sulks*. Still, now everyone’s caught up there’s a whole new spate of ‘spend less time staring at idiots you barely know lying about their lives’ apps, of which Mute is one. It lets you block access to certain apps and sites, tracks your phone usage (unlocks, time spent, morning and evening usage) so you can attempt to wean yourself off gradually...I mean, it’s not a bad idea, but might I also suggest that DELETING THE FCUKING APPS is a start? You’re welcome!
  • 404 Pin: A lapel badge depicting the universal ‘image not loaded’ symbol which will, in very specific situations, prove a great icebreaker and conversation starter but which will in most other situations ensure you’re treated like the social pariah you know deep down you deserve to be (we can work out the secret handshake or similar gang sign later).
  • Keep Yo! Alive: A strange and slightly sad corner of the web here - a Patreon Page which is seeking to attract 5,000 backers to keep novelty app Yo! (you remember Yo!! You had a Yo! Strategy once, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU????)  alive. I’m just leaving this here as a sort of memento mori (mementYO amirite oh god) and as a reminder that this app ACTUALLY RECEIVED FUNDING.
  • Flixable: This looks pretty useful - Flixable is a site which lets you know what new stuff is available to view on Netflix on a country-by-country basis. Includes the UK, the US, Finland and several others, and is a slightly less-painful way of checking on what new crap that you would never, ever want to watch they’ve added. “Emo: The Musical”, added to the UK selection just this week? No, of course not.
  • 2000 Days On Mars: Amazingly, it’s now been over 2,000 days since the Curiosity Rover touched down on Mars to begin documenting its lonely progress around the Red Planet - this is a very small selection of the nearly-500,000 images it’s so far returned. Disappointingly light on space aliens or the decaying remnants of long-forgotten civilisations, true, but on the plus side it’s basically Wall-E in real life. So much so, in fact, that I just did a tiny bit of a cry whilst looking at a few of these and imagining Curiosity up there all alone, which suggests that I’m possibly reaching *that* point in Friday morning’s fatigue/wordcount graph and should possibly make more tea. Oh, and an interesting contrast here is this selection of photos taken by Cassandra Klos which showcase some of the recent ‘Let’s pretend we’re on Mars’ experiments in astronaut isolation undertaken by space agencies worldwide.
  • Financial Classic Films: Do YOU want a collection of 89 videos from THE PAST all about money and financial services and stuff? No, I appreciate you probably don’t, but I found these and they’re cluttering up my linkbox, so here you are. Except these are actually really interesting - they’re all US, as far as I can tell, but they span ‘How The US Financial Institutions Work’ animations from the 50s, videos of smelting dollars, frankly hilarious ‘How To Get An Office Career’ instructionals from five decades ago...there’s loads of great material here if you want to cut some potentially comedic out-of-copyright video, or indeed to study the style and tone of old-style comms. If you want a flavour, try this ‘salesman training’ video from 1948 which is possibly the most soothing thing I have seen in years whilst being, simultaneously, a chilling look at how we’ve ended up here and now (no, really, I’m not exaggerating at all).
  • Observable: Observable SAYS it’s a new way to code. As far as I can tell, it’s a pretty regular way to code except for the fact that it renders changes in realtime to allow for easier understanding of what your code is doing and where, but if someone else can explain to me what’s so good about it that would be ace thanks.
  • Gone Froggin: A twitter feed presenting ALL your amphibian news and photo and fact requirements in one place. You won’t think you’d been missing out on ‘Frog of the Week’, but let me assure you that you really, really were.

david lyle

By David Lyle

">NEXT, HAVE SOME CRACKING HOUSE MIXED BY JOE MUGGS!

THE SECTION WHICH HOPES YOU ALL ENJOYED MATT HANCOCK YESTERDAY BECAUSE IT IS OVER NOW, PT.2:

  • Truisms: This site simply collects a succession of supposed ‘truisms’, displayed in alphabetical order in black and white. Many contradict each other, many are flat-out wrong, each has its own url and can therefore be sent to anyone as a sort of koanic instruction which I personally really like the idea of. Why not try communicating with one of your colleagues solely using lines drawn from this website for the next few days? If nothing else you’ll gain some potentially much-needed distance as they work to avoid you as much as possible.
  • Bill Elis: The Insta feed of Bill Elis, who makes art with skulls. Lots and lots of skulls. And gold, and other stuff - I can’t quite decide if I like it or if it’s ‘Hirst-commissioned-by-morbid-oligarch’-levels of vulgar, but either way it’s a consistent aesthetic.
  • Hostile Design: Stuart Semple’s been cropping up in Curios rather a lot over the past year or so; here he is again, with a project drawing attention to - and decrying - what he terms the practice of ‘hostile design’; that is, items or spaces “made specifically to exclude, harm or otherwise hinder the freedom of a human being. Quite often they aim to remove a certain section of a community from a public space.” So, pavement spikes to deter rough sleepers, kerb bumps to deter skaters, that sort of idea. Semple’s going to collect examples of ‘hostile design’ and is making stickers available through the site (free to those who can’t afford them, 50p otherwise) to enable anyone to mark hostile design when they see it. You could spend a productive few hours around the City with these should you so desire, just saying.
  • In Depth Sound Design: I find this really interesting - not so much for the subject matter, which, fine, I’m sure is fascinating but I know literally nothing about sound design at all, but for the fact that it’s using Insta Stories to basically explore and deconstruct how sound design’s been done in different Hollywood films and what students of the discipline can learn from the examples in question. No idea what the numbers are like on these, but it’s a really nicely-executed series.
  • Pop Up Zine: I really like this idea. To quote the site, “Pop-Up Zine is a DIY opportunity for fans of Pop-Up Magazine—or of creative collaborations in general—to create their own unique versions of our “live-magazine” experience in their local communities. The content, contributors, and locations of each Pop-Up Zine will be unique but will contain the following elements: 1 live-narrated photo essay. 1 live-narrated, reported, print-style story. 1 short documentary film, 1 onstage interview, 1 live-narrated radio story, 1 or 2 live songs from a local musician or band (optional). Each Pop-Up Zine lasts around 60 minutes and is intended for venues with a stage, a microphone, a screen, and enough space for 50-200 people.” SUCH an interesting approach to events and franchising an event around a brand; like TEDx but, potentially, less tediously self-regarding.
  • Whipnote: If this works - and fine, it’s a big if, but IF - it’s a godsend. Whipnote’s an automatic speech-to-text converter which you can schedule to dial into your conference calls and do the horrorwork of transcribing them for you. Although, that said, given that 90% of any conference call involves people shouting over each other about whether or not X is on the line, you’ll probably have to do some significant pruning of the output by hand.
  • Find A Grave!: Fine, so I added the exclamation mark myself, but the site warrants it. It’s a database of, seemingly, all the graves in the US - you can search by forename, surname, date of birth/death, geography...I suppose if you have US ancestors and want to do a roadtrip grave pilgrimage then this is super helpful, but otherwise it’s just a really excellent, macabre way of seeing how many dead people with your name are currently taking up space in North American burial plots. Oh, and please take a moment to appreciate the site’s logo, which, well, perhaps doesn’t have quite the degree of sober respectfulness you might expect here.
  • Lettering The Underground: “Lettering The Underground is a series of 13 hand lettering illustrations that visually celebrates the rich character of the 13 historic London Underground tube lines.” These are good, but I confess to having fairly strong feelings about quite how much the ‘character’ of some of the lines is being misrepresented here. I mean, WTAF Jubilee Line?
  • Silks at Linklaters: This is the Instagram account of the in-firm restaurant, called ‘Silks’, at Magic Circle law firm Linklaters. Designed, I presume, to give a mouth-watering glimpse of what the future might hold to eager graduate trainees - “Look at what you could shovel down your throat in three minutes flat as you take a tiny break from the 19-hour days prepping for yet another case of international shipping law in which you will protect the interests of yet another ethically-dubious but financially-heavyweight pan-global interest!” - this shows some of the food they’re prepping and basically gives a slightly odd insight into how the other professional half live.
  • Mini Boat: A tiny, working, motorised boat which is just about large enough for a grown man to sit in as he pootles around the local park pond. You can order a kit for $950, or alternatively just a set of plans and instructions for $95, and if you’re the sort of person who loves a PROJECT and has some sort of weird and unrealistic idea of doing Danny, The Champion of the World-style construction-led bonding with your offspring then GO FOR IT!
  • Review For Science: You may have seen coverage of this elsewhere, but even so it’s worth enjoying the #reviewforscience hashtag, in which scientists post on Twitter the odd uses to which they have put ostensibly mundane objects in the pursuit of scientific endeavour. Used film cannisters as containment vessels for the weighing of tiny chicks is possibly the cutest thing I have read all week; you will MELT, I tell you (and then start wondering about what exactly a lizard cloaca looks like). If you love critters - yes YOU - then this is the link for you this week.
  • Queer Kid Stuff: Exactly the sort of link which would make a certain type of person APOPLECTIC with rage and thread-veined fury, and as such RIPE for inclusion, Queer Kid Stuff is a series of videos aimed at the LGBTx community  - “Creator and host, Lindsay and her best stuffed friend Teddy explain queer topics through a vlog-style conversation with young viewers focused on love and family. The short videos are a tool for parents, teachers, and LGBTQ+ adults to help them explain these words and ideas to young children in their lives, recommended for ages 3-7. A free, printable activity sheet accompanies each episode to further instill the lessons of the videos through activities which can be done at home or in the classroom.” There’s probably a market for something like this with an anglo rather than US slant, come to think of it.
  • Cake: Not, sadly, anything to do with the drug (although, God, I just watched that again and GOD it stands up in 2018). Instead, Cake is a browser alternative for mobile which matches search with a Tinder-style interface - you search through the app and rather than presenting you with a list of links to pick from Cake instead gives you a swipable view - the first link to appear is the first site you’ll see the homepage of, swipe to move to the next one til you’ve reached the result you want. Hugely inefficient, but based on the fact that noone appears cabable of understanding ACTUAL WORDS any more (it’s the only possibility I can conceive of for why Curios has yet to attain breakout hit status) then probably quite useful to some of you (and the interface is really nicely done).
  • Timeflip: Here’s a new rule for 2018 which I’m going to implement and you can too if you like - if any product or service or THING proudly states upfront that it’s going to ‘hack’ something (unless said product or service is an axe, or a ‘rent a psycho’ offering) then it is BOLLOCKS and you should run like the wind from it. Timeflip promises to let you HACK YOUR TIME - time travel? A rift in the space-time continuum? NAH MATE IT’S A FCUKING MASSIVE DIE, INNIT. But it’s a SMART DIE! Simply place it with the appropriate face uppermost - each face corresponds to a different activity, you see, and can be customised to pertain to whatever you want - to have it track the time you’re spending on that particular activity. Turn it so the photo of the games controller is uppermost and it will record how long you’re spending gaming; turn it..,oh, Christ, this is too stupid to explain more fully and you get the gist. WHAT THE FCUK IS THE POINT OF THIS? WHAT IS WRONG WITH USING YOUR PHONE’S ORDINARY TIMER? HOW IS THIS ‘HACKING’ ANYTHING? It’s timesheet software for people with an IQ in double figures.
  • HappyHappy: “Random selections from a collection of 100,000 crowdsourced happy moments, posted daily.” Honestly, this is SO NICE and you won’t fail to be cheered.
  • Virginia Woolf’s Photos: A wonderful find, this - a scanned album of Virginia Woolf’s photos from 1890-1847 - if you have any interest in the Bloomsbury Group then this is obviously wonderful, but anyone with any sort of curiosity about liberal intellectual lifestyles at the time (a Venn Diagram which includes ALL OF YOU, right? RIGHT!) will also enjoy. Sadly doesn’t contain any of the ‘specialist’ photography that you just know Ginny and JM Keynes almost certainly shot together.
  • Dea Vivente: Every now and again online you get photos of anatomically-jointed versions of Michelangelo’s David or Botticelli’s Venus doing the rounds - they’re available from a Japanese company, I think, and look undeniably cool, but they have nothing on the WTF-ery of Dea Vivente, an online shop selling, as far as I can tell, bespoke, anatomically jointed figures of, well, beautiful women. The woman who makes these is obviously insanely talented, but I can’t help but think that there’s something insanely creepy about the whole thing (but if you want to commission a small, jointed doll version of your long lost love then don’t let me stop you).
  • In A Parallel Universe: “In a parallel universe” is a series of fictional images, recreated from real ads in the mad men era, that question modern day sexism: showing it through a humorous light to spark a conversation through role play.” Some of these are available as prints and they are ACE.
  • Kiyomi: Wonderful Insta feed depicting the insane skill of this particular Japanese maker of impossibly small miniature stuff. LOOK AT THE TINY BOTTLES!
  • Pixel Gustavo: The best pixel artist I have seen in ages, Gustavo’s Instagram feed is a thing of genuine beauty and should get him all the commissions in the world. So, so impressive.
  • Jazz Compostions: A beautiful drawing tool which lets you make abstract images in the style of, well, jazz. You sort of need to try it out to appreciate it, but you can make some honestly gorgeous pieces with this and it’s genuinely love to play with whilst listening to something like Count Basie.
  • Make Me Pulse: Do you remember when you were me as a small child and my grandad used to take me to the Gianicolo in Rome where there was a small, shonky ‘arcade’ with those superb 1970s machines which disgorged a marble which you had to carefully guide along a wobbly racetrack covered in perilous holes using a steering wheen and your rudimentary sense of 6 year old’s balance, in hope of potentially winning said marble at the end if you were REALLY lucky? No, you don’t, do you. You know what your problem is? NO EMPATHY. Anyway, this is a digital version of one of those and is actually really fun to play as well as being quite pretty.
  • Revenge of the Kid: This week’s ‘browser game included to attempt to get you all P45d on a Friday afternoon’ is Revenge of the Kid - sadly needs Flash, so desktop only, but it’s ACE in a sort of Wild West-themed pseudo-Angry Birds but not really puzzle game style. Lots of fun, nice art direction and a decent learning curve, plus a better-than-it-ought-to-be soundtrack - have fun, and don’t get sacked.

malgorzata sajur

By Malgorzata Sajur

WHY NOT TRY A LOUD AND DUMB AND FUN SET BY LOUD AND DUMB AND fUN DJ TYCHO?!

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!

  • Rotary Signal Emitter: Artwork by Reuben Sutherland for Audiovisual duo Sculpture. Black and white and a bit glitchy and generally rather good.  
  • Woshibai: An illustrator and comic artist from Shanghai whose work I rather like. There’s something of the Perry Bible Fellowship about these, in a certain small way.
  • Times Bestsellers: Not actually real Times Bestsellers, you understand, but made up ones which are better than the real thing. Who wouldn’t want to read “PLEASE SEND NOODS, by Grismalda Shernandez. (Quizmaster Romance) - The owner of a neighborhood noodle shop tries Tinder.” NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO!
  • Choker A L’Epicerie: Things I love about the web sometimes - last week I included a Tumblr of goods abandoned in supermarkets before the checkout; via the magic of the internet, it got tweeted out by someone and ended up being seen by some French person (un cordiale salut a Marie A Labbe) who shared this back - IT’S THE SAME EXACT CONCEPT BUT IN FRENCH! AND THERE’S A TUMBLR FOR IT! ALL THE WORLD IS BUT A VILLAGE AND WE ARE ALL THE SAME UNDER THE SKIN LET US UNIFY UNDER THE BANNER OF ABANDONED SUPERMARKET GROCERIES!! This made me very happy, as you may be able to tell.

 

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG:

  • The Female Price of Male Pleasure: I sort of expect that most of you will have read this one already, but if by chance you haven’t then I can highly recommend it - especially the men amongst you. There have been a few things in the past 4 months that I’ve read and have made me do a sharp intake of breath and a fairly unpleasant spot of self-interrogation - this has been another. The stats about sex and pain and not reporting were honestly shocking to me, not least when I saw the number of women doing the textual equivalent of nodding in recognition when discussing this; this piece is one of the best I’ve read so far this year on the current problems with gender politics around the male-female sexual act.
  • Off Peakism: A look at the idea of the ‘Off Peak’ lifestyle, focusing mostly on internet finance guru Mr Money Moustache, who’s possibly the most famous exponent of the whole ‘if you live in a completely regulated manner designed to take advantage of software-like exploits in the way society currently works, you TOO could optimise your existence for massive financial gain’ lifestyle schtick. Fine, mate, but you will also find yourself shopping for groceries at 4am and only having friends who want to do the same thing, and, frankly, life is TOO SHORT and mostly crap enough as it is without taking steps to make it crapper. I’m all for not conforming to the working 9-5, but there’s something a bit efficiency-Nazi about much of this.
  • Fat People and Videogames: A really interesting piece about the representation of larger bodies in videogames, noting (unsurprisingly) that it tends almost exclusively towards the grotesque. There’s an interesting argument here about the maturation of the medium and whether that should be accompanied by a more nuanced representation of physicality; then you remember gamergate and you’ll be forced to acknowledge that we do not yet live in a world where the majority of people laying down serious cash on AAA titles will accept a female character who doesn’t look like something drawn by Rob Liefeld.
  • Sam & Max - The Design Document: Are there any of you who recall the EXCELLENT 90s point-and-click adventure Sam and Max Hit The Road? Anyone? Featuring the adventures of the titular canine gumshoe and his psychotic rabbit-creature sidekick Max, it was honestly one of the funniest things that 13 year old me can remember; this is the design document around which the game was built, and if you have any fondness for the title it is a JOY - gags and the series’ tradematrk humour, as long as great descriptions of characters and locations. If you DON’T remmeber the game but are interested in game or experience design then this might still be interesting  - otherwise, though, you may want to skip this one.
  • Gigi Buffon: A charming interview with one of the last great iconic footballers of his generation, and an interesting and complex character to boot (whose politics have been weirdly glossed over, after a period a few years ago when he appeared to go a *bit* fashy). Good, solid football writing although possibly lacks a touch of brilliance - no matter, though, the Italian half of me LOVES this man (leaving aside the aforementioned potentially fashy bits).
  • In Goop Health: In know there have been ‘an up-close-and-personal look at the MADNESS of Goop and wellness fads’ pieces in the past, some of which I’ve featured here, but this is a classic of the genre - this has the lot. Innocent abroad, insane pricetags for treatments on a par with homeopathy when it comes to their scientifically-validated effectiveness, wide-eyed, froth-mouthed zealotry, and all sorts of crazy, damaging, potentially unhealthy lies. Read this, read the skincare thing, go back to soap and water and the cave.
  • Woody Allen vs Diane Keaton: This is a very, very strange story - not least the fact that it’s taken this long for it to come out, or indeed that it’s picked up so little traction from what I’ve seen. Last year, Woody Allen presented an award to Diane Keaton, specifically a Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Film Institute - and then delivered a speech about her. WOW, what a speech. This is quite something, and will make you think ever so slightly differently about how Hollywood actually works - and what you might think about people defending Woody Allen for stuff. Without wishing to be too clickbaity about it, I don’t want to give you quotes; just drop in and have a read and see what you think.
  • The Disaster Tourist: This is brilliant - taking a trip with ‘Dark Tourists’, those people seeking EXTREME THRILLS by going on organised trips to Chechnya and Libya and North Korea, the author explores what it is that motivates people do to these trips, what happens on them (drinking, in the main, it would seem), and what they look like to the residents of the countries hosting these weird international Redditor tours (which is what this totally reads like, I promise you). It is...unlikely you will want to go on one of these trips as a result of reading this, but you might want a bit of a shower.
  • The Encyclopaedia of the Missing: This is an astonishingly good profile of  Meaghan Good, who runs an incredible network of volunteers investigating missing persons cases across the US. As ever with these things, part of the fascination is the personalities of those involved - it’s fair to say that the majority of people dedicated to spending free time conducting unpaid missing persons investigations might be...outliers in terms of the whole societal conventions of normality - but there are so many good stories in this piece.
  • On The Road: You wouldn’t think that a piece of writing about the road markings found all over the Capital’s tarmac would be interesting, but it is. No, really, I promise.
  • THAT Quincy Jones Interview: You’ve probably read it by now, but if not then open a tab and prepare for a WILD RIDE, as Quincy Jones talks you through anecdotes about...well...everyone, really. Pretty much the only significant figure missing here’s the Dalia Lama, but most everyone else gets a look-in as Jones rattles through a frankly incredible selection of ripping yarns including the three times he nearly died, hanging out with Picasso and telling the Pope he was wearing ‘pimp shoes’. It’s AMAZING and an awful lot of fun, and, weirdly, the line about Bill Cosby is the one that really stuck with me as telling.
  • Planet Of Cops: Thanks to Katie for pointing me at this essay - it’s not new, but I’d not come across it before and its portrait of us all as ‘Cops’ out here in modernity, willing to snitch on each other for the slightest misdemeanour. “People are alienated and worn down and hopeless, and so they see their opportunity to finally be the one pulling over somebody else’s car, lazily tapping the glass with their flashlights. “I’mthe one in charge now,” he thinks, as he sends an email to somebody’s boss over a Facebook status he doesn’t like.” This was a good take, I thought.
  • //medium.com/@hondanhon/it-s-preschool-open-house-season-motherfuckers-6a1f8885cae0">It’s Preschool Open House Season: Dan Hon here on sparkling form, pastiching the classic McSweeney’s ‘It’s Decorative Gourd Season…’ post for this, the time in which the parents of young children in the US start looking at preschool options. This feels like me to be a pretty accurate pastiche of a certain type of parenting trope.
  • //medium.com/@nickw84/weaponising-the-search-box-with-james-bond-and-friends-5257e3f1d93c">Weaponising The Search Box: This is a very smart piece of analysis by ‘funniest man on Twitter who works in telly’ Nick Walker, who apart from running the excellent Daytime Snaps Twitter feed is also very clever. This piece, looking at how journalists are increasingly using ‘stuff that perhaps three people actually said on Twitter’ as fodder for sweeping articles about GENERATION SNOWFLAKE, is an astute piece of ‘how the media works, and don’t we wish it didn’t?’ writing.
  • Primo Levi on Surviving Auschwitz: From the archives, a piece from 1986. If you have never read ‘If This Is A Man’ or ‘The Truce’ or any other of Levi’s writings, this is an absolute essential - if you have, it’s worth reading his words again. Not only a superb writer but a superb human, if you can read this without being absolutely tied into internal knots then you’re a stronger person than I am.
  • Joel Golby On Take Me Out: Finally this week, we have perhaps reached Peak Golby with this one - his take on Take Me Out, the Saturday night meat market nightclub in TV form and the only reason that I can see for the continued existence of Paddy McGuinness, is very funny and, as ever, contains some DEEP TRUTHS, not least his characterisation of every single one of the male and female characters which is deeply and disturbingly accurate.

helene belmaire

By Helene Delmaire

AND NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!

  1. First, this is a brilliant collection of Instagram WE WENT TRAVELLING cliche shots, wonderfully compiled and animated and coming to an ad campaign near you for adventure-type / alternative holidays as a ‘Don’t be like them, be DIFFERENT’ signifier in 3, 2, 1…:

2) This is by King Tuff and it’s called ‘The Other’ and the video is dull-but-meditative and the SONG, oh wow, this is 7 minutes of the loveliest, dirgey tunefulness I have heard in a while. This is gorgeous, imho:

 

3) Concussion Protocol, this is called - it’s BRUTAL, a collection of every single concussion suffered in the NFL to date this season, slowed anc edited and soundtracked for maximum impact. This...this shouldn’t be a sport in this form, should it, really?

 

4) Sufjan Stevens still owes us all a LOT of music - WHERE ARE THE OTHER STATES, EH??? - but if he keeps on producing things that are this lovely then I don’t really care. This is a remix of his song ‘Life With Dignity’ and it is glorious:

 

5) UK YOUNG KIDS MAKING MUSIC CORNER! So my friend Cal runs a little side-project called Homegrown, which he uses to showcase new young artists doing urban-type music - this is their latest offering, featuring Ghervana and Asa Greenwood, and it’s a nice primer to the sort of stuff you’ll find on there. Lovely beat here and the vocals are gorgeous - there’s a lot of decent stuff on the channel, do take a look:

 

6) Last up, this is called ‘Cautionary Tales’ and it is honestly GREAT and will put a smile on your face which, frankly, we could all do with. HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE I LOVE YOU BYE BYE BYE THANKS FOR READING AGAIN AND FOR BOTHERING TO GET TO THE END I REALLY APPRECIATE IT SEE YOU SOON BYE BYE BYE!

 

Matt Muir

Matt Muir is interested in lots of different things, and as a result rather likes the internet. Web Curios is a weekly(ish) snapshot of what he has found interesting this week. You can find Matt on Twitter, where he's quite good. In his spare time, Matt tries to ignore the web as much as is humanly possible (not very much, it turns out).

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