By Ahmad Barber
THE SECTION WHICH IS SORT OF QUIETLY IMPRESSED WITH TWITTER’S ‘NO, LOOK, YOU LOT JUST SORT IT OUT’ APPROACH TO FIXING ITSELF:
- Facebook Jobs Rolls Out To 40 Countries: Are YOU a recruiter? Would YOU like to be able to spend more time ‘doing your job’ whilst on Facebook with all your friends rather than on LinkedIn with all the boring people? Well HUZZAH! Facebook’s jobs listing service, having been live in the US for a bit, is now extending to a whole bunch of other territories including the UK - Business Pages can now create job listings, in much the same manner as you can on LinkedIn, with users able to browse jobs in Marketplace. No clarity as to whether you’ll be able to advertise positions, but, well, it’s a monetisation opportunity so let’s take a moment to consider the likelihood. I’d imagine this is going to skew local - remember, Facebook’s all about YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY in 2k18 - but I don’t doubt there are some incredibly creative applications to which you can put this from an advermarketinprcampaign point of view also. Time before a Facebook reboot of THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD tactic goes viral?
- No More Facebook Explore: Do you remember a few months ago when Facebook experimented with splitting the Newsfeed into ‘Friends’ and ‘Everything else’ in a few territories, and people went momentarily apoplectic with fear and uncertainty? I really hope not, it’s a pointless thing to have your headmeat filled with. Anyway, don’t worry - they’re discontinuing the experiment, although given the fact that they gave organic reach a final, crippling kick in the face back at the beginning of the year this is potentially sort of a moot point anyway.
- You Will Eventually Be Able To Make Phonecalls Through Instagram: I. Don’t. Care.
- YouTube Live Gets Improved Replays, Etc: It was something of a surprise to me that YouTube didn’t already do synced commentary when replaying a Live, but apparently it didn’t - now, though, if you re-watch a YouTube Live broadcast you’ll be able to see all the lovely, hateful comments played back to you as though in realtime. Which is, er, well, horrible really, but what can you do? There’s automatic captioning being introduced too, for English broadcasts, as well as location tagging for Live broadcasts and the extension of Super Chat (where commenters can pay to have comments featured right in the broadcaster’s eyeline) feature and OH IT’S ALL TOO MUCH.
- Twitter Health Metrics: You sort of have to admire this, in a weird way. Yesterday Jack takes to Twitter and posts a bunch of slightly apologetic, mea culpa-ish messages about how talking is GREAT and isn’t Twitter GREAT for that but, er, all the hate and the Nazis are a bit rubbish, aren’t they and, well, does anyone have any ideas to make it a bit less awful sometimes because, frankly, they’re all out of them?
This by way of announcement of a call for submissions to find “outside experts to help us identify how we measure the health of Twitter, keep us accountable to share our progress with the world and establish a way forward for the long-term.” So, to be clear, they are going to pay what will probably be an awful lot of money to an organisation or organisations who can help them measure exactly how much of a burning cesspit of anger their platform is, and then maybe have some thoughts as to what to do about it. I do love this approach by founders - “sorry I invented something with the foreseeable but unintended consequence of murdering babies; anyone got any ideas about how I put that genie back in the bottle again?”
- You Can Now Bookmark Tweets For Later: So now you can keep your favourites for expressing TRUE APPRECIATION for someone’s Tweets. Which is nice.
- Google Hangouts Chat Rolls Out For All: This is basically Google’s version of Slack; it’s now widely available, and is an interesting alternative for those who find Slack an horrific, confusing mess; it probably won’t be any less horrific and confusing, in all honesty, but it will integrate really nicely with GDocs, Calendar and the rest. If you’re business uses GSuite tools, this is probably worth a look.
- The Inclusive Internet: A whole bunch of NEW DATA from Facebook about online connectivity worldwide - doesn’t say anything hugely surprising, but if you ever need a bunch of numbers about how fast or otherwise internet connections are in French Guyana or Burundi or wherever, this might be of use.
- DIY Toolkits: This is an interesting (look, right, it’s not really interesting - it’s just potentially a bit workuseful. I feel I need to be honest with you about this sort of thing) set of planning and thinking tools, showing a whole host of models and processes for interrogating business problems; it describes itself as being for ‘Development’, but generally any sort of consultancy-types might find stuff in here which you might find useful. Some of it will obviously be beneath you - I know how sophisticated you planners are - but it’s worth having a dig through if you’re bored of always using the same bullsh1t processes to screw money out of idiots.
- Ouigo Pinball: I have a very strong memory of having featured this before, but a cursory trawl of the archives has thrown up nothing and, frankly, it’s enough fun that I really don’t care. This is a site promoting French tourism or something - who cares about that, though, it’s PINBALL! An excellent, really beautifully-designed pinball table, in pastel colours, with the Eiffel Tower and all sorts of other French stuff on it! This is honestly GREAT, although it is very, very obviously a game of pinball and as such slightly harder to pass off as ‘work’ than is ideal. Still, it’s a noble way to get that first verbal warning of 2018.
By Jason Parker
THE SECTION WHICH WOULD LIKE TO GENTLY SUGGEST THAT NOW MIGHT BE A GOOD TIME TO DONATE TO ONE OF THESE HOMELESSNESS CHARITIES IF YOU CAN SPARE A FEW QUID, Pt.1:
- Six Degrees of Wikipedia: I had no idea when I found this earlier in the week that its existence would perturb so many people. “YOU ARE RUINING A MUCH-LOVED INTERNET PARLOUR GAME!”, said, er, well, about two people actually, but still. Is ‘how can you get from x to y on Wikipedia in the fewest steps?’ such a popular thing? Anyway, sorry, but the ineluctable march of progress continues in typically relentless fashion - this has now been AUTOMATED. Plug in any two concepts, and this marvellous site will show you all the different ways in which you can get from one to the other, jumping from Wikipedia entry to Wikipedia entry; there might be some serious applications for this (in fact I’m sure there are), but the obvious use is for COMEDY PURPOSES. Look! You can get from ‘David Icke’ to ‘Truth’ in three steps! LOL! You can get from ‘Donald Trump’ to ‘Armageddon’ in TWO STEPS! Lo...oh.
- Vero: I didn’t want to feature this, but completeness demands it. So Vero, you doubtless know, is a ‘new’ (not new, been around for a few years) social network which is basically visuals-heavy like Insta and which is meant to be for films and music and photos and stuff. The gimmicks are a) the feed is in chronological order rather than algoderived; b) you can assign degrees of closeness to everyone you’re connected to, in the manner of G+’s ‘circles’ (no, of course you don’t remember), from ‘friend’ to ‘follower’; c) the app pulls in rich media from links, making the feed a RIOT OF MULTIMEDIA; and d) it’s buggy as fcuk, barely works, has nothing interesting on there at all, and is seemingly full of dreadful advermarketingtech early adopter types (er, like me. Dear God, self-awareness is horrid). Oh, and it’s super-rich founder is apparently an unpleasant human being to boot. Look, you don’t need a Vero strategy (please God don’t let this sentence come back and bite me) - ignore and move on!
- Sheldon County: This is HUGELY interesting. Sheldon County is - or is going to be; it’s going to launch next year, this is just the sort of prototypical example - a generative podcast, which (and this is a bit hard to explain, so bear with me) will effectively create a potentially infinite series of imaginary places, characters, etc, each unique to an individual listener’s experience, which will become the setting and characters for a series of podcasts which will be generated procedurally. This is creator James Ryan’s explanation: “Sheldon County is more specifically a collection of podcasts, each of which is procedurally generated to recount the events of a particular instance of a simulated American county...the idea is that each listener will claim a particular random seed, which allows them to claim a particular simulated universe, which means the characters and stories in their county will be unique, and uniquely theirs”. Click the link and listen to the example - THAT HAS BEEN CREATED AUTOMATICALLY! Imagine having your very own imaginary town about which you can hear stories that noone else will ever hear - SO exciting. As well as being a decent premise for some sort of Twilight Zone-esque Truman Show ripoff, now I come to think of it. This is really, really exciting (no, I promise you, it is).
- The Ring In AR: AR, we all know, isn’t as good as we would like it to be. Fine. Now watch this video and think long and hard about exactly how good you want it to get. This scared the bejesus out of me, and I’ve not even seen The Ring - another of those examples which will open up a whole slew of creative applications for the tech here.
- JQBX: There may be loads of these out there, but this is the first I’ve seen; JQBX (sorry, but I didn’t name it) is an app through which multiple users can simultaneously listen to the same Spotify audio, with shared controls, the ability to cue up tracks, upvote and downvote other people’s selections and chat. I mean, you don’t need anotrher fcuking place to type inanities to your friends, but at least this one means you can all listen to the same track while you do so.
- Cocaine and Rhinestones: How can you not love a podcast with that title? Country music gets a bad rep - although to be fair much of it is godawful - and its fans are often treated with slight suspicion in the UK, where the genre doesn’t really, well, fit. Do you remember the slightly odd linedancing craze of the late 90s, that which sort of begat Steps? Do you remember how weird it was having couples from, say, Basingstoke wearing tasseled cowboy boots and pearl-button shirts whilst doing a poorly-coordinated do-si-do to a 140bpm Rednex remix? I bet it went hand in hand with swinging. Anyway, sorry, that was a digression - this is a podcast about the history of Country & Western music in the 20th Century, and primarily the people who made it - I broke my ‘I don’t really bother with podcasts’ rule to listen to one of these out of curiosity and MAN the stories. Guns and crime and drugs and sex and lust and murder and barbecue, basically. Really interesting, even if you, like me, couldn’t give an H for the music.
- Moxie The Cat: This is, I’m pretty sure, SERIOUSLY OCCULT. I mean, it’s just an 8-bit gif of a cat with slightly mystical music, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some NEW WITCHES behind this.
- Birth Becomes Her: It’s that time of the year again when we celebrate the miracle of childbirth via the medium of really, really intimate photos of the whole experience. WOW. WOW. There’s no (well, not much) blood on show, and these are all really superb photos, but it’s all, well, quite intense. All of you reading this who’ve had kids, WELL DONE, it looks absolutely terrifying if I’m honest with you. SO MUCH MUCUS AND UMBILICUS IN THIS ONE.
- Little Moving Things: This is either cute or infuriatingly whimsical - your mileage may vary. This Insta account presents photos of small vehicles - cars, planes, trucks, bikes, etc - along with a small slightly anthropomorphised story from said vehicle about what it is. If you like, er, small moving things this might well be up your street - it’s a bit sickly for my tastes, though.
- Secret 7s: I do love this project. Once again, Secret 7s is ON - the gimmick, if you aren’t aware of it, is as follows: “Secret 7” takes 7 tracks from 7 of the best-known musicians around and presses each one 100 times to 7” vinyl. We then invite creatives from around the world to interpret the tracks in their own style for every 7”. 700 unique sleeves are exhibited before going on sale on a first come, first served basis priced at £50 each. You don’t know who created the sleeve, or even which song it’s for, until you have parted with your cash - the secret lies within.” Artists are invited to submit designs - I have one of these from 2013 knocking around somewhere, and they are lovely objects. Also worth keeping an eye on when the exhibition of the eventual covers is on, as that’s always a really interesting show.
- One Hour One Life: This is SUCH an interesting concept. A game - which requires a download, be aware - based around the concept of life; each player is born into an infant’s body in the gameworld, and over the course of the titular hour will grow to adulthood, then old age, before eventually dying. In that hour, you will share the world with other players, who will have to look after you when you’re an infant and to whom you’ll have to extend the courtesy as they are born and age. A hugely innovative multiplayer mechanic, this, and whilst there are ‘issues’ with the presentation (it’s entirely heteronormative, for a start), the idea of a persistent, collaborative, co-operative world experienced in one-hour bursts is SO clever. Watch the trailer on the homepage - it’s fascinating.
- Canada Modern: You want an archive of 20th Century Canadian graphic design? YES YOU DO! “Canada Modern is a physical and digital archive of Canadian graphic design, with modernism central to its glowing heart.” It is! Lovely archive of modernist design, this.
- Lent Madness: How’s your fasting and abstinence going? Good, I’m glad, KEEP IT UP. Seeing as it’s Lent, why not spend a little while getting involved in LENT MADNESS! Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints. The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.” SAINTLY KITSCH! I don’t know about you, but I live for saintly kitsch! I don’t mean to be snarky, honest - this is actually rather interesting (this may be my Catholic upbringing talking, I concede).
- David Lynch Teaches Typing: You are unlikely to learn much actual typing with this tutorial, but it is an excellent little narrative game and LYNCHIAN EXPERIENCE, with all sorts of nice Easter Eggs for fans of the weirdo and his works. Seeing as we’re on Lynch, if you’ve not read it before DFW’s profile of the Director, in which he totally fails to actually interview him in the classic Sinatra style, is GOLDEN, not least for the very open and bitter hatred of Balthazar Getty.
- Pullstring: This is a potentially really useful service, which effectively seeks to provide easy-to-use frameworks for developing your own voice assistant software for Amazon Echo, Google Home or whichever other platform you fancy. It’s ‘thing’ is a simplified GUI to help you build the thing, and a promise that NO CODING IS REQUIRED. In theory this could be hugely useful, although the pricing structure is somewhat opaque. Still, worth a look if you fancy playing around with this but are a useless non-coding throwback - seriously, what is the point of you?
- Jellykey: This site is written in what can charitably described as ‘cheerfully crap’ English which makes it look possibly more scammy than I think it is - as far as I can tell, it’s entirely legitimate and sells custom-made 3d model...things which you can stick over the keys on your desktop keyboard. Want to replace Num Lock and the other ones you never use with a bunch of Hello Kitty faces? Want a beautifully-sculpted resin mountainside instead of an escape key? Of course you do! Treat yourself! For maybe one of you, this will be VERY appealing indeed; no idea what the rest of you will make of it, mind.
- Piccolo Labs: Voice assistants are SO YESTERDAY! The future is going to be all about VISUAL ASSISTANTS - that is, home surveillance systems which track your location, movement and gestures to enable you to do things like turn on lights by pointing at them, or opening the curtains with a Force-style sweeping hand gesture. No doubt that this is HUGELY future, although obvious concerns maintain about security as with any IoT stuff - if you want a scifi home, though, this is probably de rigeur. This is very much in Alpha, although apparently they will be selling 20 of the kits to LUCKY PEOPLE later this year based on a ballot. One important caveat, though - I don’t care how cool you think you look, you will inevitably come across as something of a prick the first time you do the whole ‘sexy slow hand gesture to lower the lights’ thing.
- Hugh Cards: This is a quite amazing archive of art drawn on the back of found business cards by, er, Hugh - his style’s reminiscent of another cartoonist whose name momentarily escapes me, but the sheer volume of these is staggering (as is the consistently high quality). It’s, er, a touch obsessional, perhaps, but there’s some really great work in here - examples from 2017 onwards are available to buy if one takes your fancy.
- All The Hokusai: A salutary reminder that there was more to Hokusai than The Great Wave, this is an archive of scans of over 1400 of his works spanning his whole career. Fascinating, not least to see the extent to which some of his compositional techniques and quirks have become appropriated into artistic canon; influential doesn’t even begin to cover it.
- Shusaku1977: Insta feed by Japanese graphic designer Shusaku Takaoka which combines stills from film with drawings, whether from art or cartoons or whatever - from vitruvian man to Snow White, the combinations here are really impressive and technically perfect.
- Future Fonts: A marketplace for fonts! Designers can display their prototypes or works in progress, and anyone can bid to buy them; effectively like a Kickstarter for fonts, ish. There’s some really good, and really interesting, work featured on here, have a browse.
- Garlicoin: On the one hand, this is a garlic-themed cryptocurrency because LOL isn’t this whole cryptocurrency bubble thing funny! On the other hand, this is a garlic-themed cryptocurrency which is according to its supposed market value already has a total worth of over $1million. I don’t understand anything any more - perhaps more worryingly, it would appear that literally noone else does either.
- The Shaolin Sound Chamber: Thanks to Ged for pointing this my way - this is a collection of samples from kung fu movies which you can either play in-browser or download for your own pleasure and edification. Suggest keeping this open on your phone and using it as a soundboard next time you’re in a meeting or on a conference call.
By Kota Yamaji
THE SECTION WHICH WOULD LIKE TO GENTLY SUGGEST THAT NOW MIGHT BE A GOOD TIME TO DONATE TO ONE OF THESE HOMELESSNESS CHARITIES IF YOU CAN SPARE A FEW QUID, Pt.2:
- The MIT Centre for Advanced Visual Studies: “Welcome to the online repository of MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) Special Collection, part of the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) Archives and Special Collections”, says the blurb, “The CAVS Special Collection documents a nearly 45 year history of collaborative and time-based productions generated by the tenure of over 200 internationally recognized artist-fellows. This digitized, “virtual museum” includes images, publications, posters, documents, portfolios, videos and other materials of historic importance documenting the process of creating art-science-technology projects at CAVS. This site presents experimental ways in which to explore collection materials.” Yes, fine, whatever, JUST LOOK AT THE MENTAL SCROLLING HERE! This is a total mess from a UX/UI point of view, but the parallax or whatever it is that they’ve used is honestly insane - I am in awe.
- Dogs In Food: An Instagram feed of dogs photoshopped into foods.
- Taste of Streep: An Instagram feed of Meryl Streep photoshopped into foods. Whoever decided not to call this ‘Streep Food’ wants a dry slap.
- Van Secrets: Is ‘Van Living’ still trendy and aspirational, or have we all switched opinions now and decided that in fact living out of a VW camper would be cramped, smelly and - this week at least - incredibly fcuking cold and miserable? Whatever, if you’re still of the belief that all that’s standing between you and happiness is some espadrilles, some sort of tribal tattoo, slightly matted incipient dreads, a van and a driving license, this site will be PERFECT for you - it’s a map listing free van parking spots around the globe (but mainly Europe) with details about facilities, local regulations, all that sort of thing. JACK IN YOUR JOB AS CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND GO AND LIVE IN A VAN ON THE WEST COAST OF PORTUGAL GO ON YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.
- 3 Word Weather: This is an adorable project by the Met Office, not least because the interface is so nicely done. Anyone can contribute - just tweet a description of the weather where you are in three words, with the hashtag #3wordweather; the site will aggregate all the descriptions and map them across the UK, the idea being that this can also be used to gauge the accuracy of forecasting - does lived experience (or at least reported experience) bear out the predictions? Unsurprisingly, the map is pretty uniform right now - shout out Lincoln, which forewent the third word in favour of the simple ‘Cold. Grey.’ - but it’s still fun to explore, and the way the annotations move dynamically as you zoom is really rather lovely.
- Mentour 360: This, for the dozen or so of you who probably really wanted to be pilots when you were little kids, is rather cool - Mentour is a company which specialises in creating VR training models for flying planes, offering you an interactive 360 cockpit view and the opportunity to experience what it’s like to fcuk around with a throttle and flick all those exciting switches. There is an app to download through which you can access all the content, and there’s a load of pilot-y stuff to enjoy if you like the idea of dressing up in a shirt with epaulettes, wearing a hat and exuding a slightly patrician air of superiority.
- Dissent Pooh: Not a rebellious bowel movement (sorry), but instead a Twitter account presenting Winnie the Pooh as an anti-Xi Jinping dissident. Thanks to Curios’ Man In China Alex Wilson for this, as well as for the explanation as to why it is a thing. Funny even without the slightly terrifying geopolitics which accompanies it (funnier, in fact, if you don’t consider the fact that Xi Jinping may be in power FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER).
- Witeboard: A collaborative whiteboard - draw something, it creates a unique url which you can share with anyone else; it also allows for simultaneous multi-user input. Potentially a useful creative platform, but also the sort of thing which you could usefully use to take the measure of the office’s collective ID this afternoon - why not send an all-company email with the link and just watch what develops? THIS IS A GREAT IDEA, PLEASE DO IT.
- Stamp Yo Face: This is obviously a terrible and narcissistic thing if you do it for yourself, but an EXCELLENT and very fun thing if you use someone else’s countenance. Provide them with a picture and they will create a physical stamp of that picture to use - so you can stamp documents with your own face, or, more comedically, anyone else’s. HOW MUCH FUN would it be to go on a merciless campaign of face-graffiti-ing, slapping an unwitting mate’s gormless inky fizzog across London billboards and posters? It would be lots, is the answer. If you’re a boss, why not pick one employee to be the face of ‘Approved’ and another to be the face of ‘Denied’ and get two stamps ordered as such - I mean, there’s probably an industrial tribunal waiting to happen there, but it would definitely be at least momentarily amusing.
- The Best Free Software: This is SO USEFUL - bookmark it now. A Reddit thread where users were invited to list the best free software they know - being Reddit, the breadth of stuff here is VAST, and it’s all been nicely categorised up top for ease of use. Some of the stuff’s obvious, fine, but there are some hugely useful links in here.
- Sycamore Giant: This is just perfect. “For the next 52 weeks, from the same angle, I'm going to take 3 photos of this glorious Sycamore in a daft attempt to capture something of its wonder.” Nature in (very slow) action.
- Realistic Scenery: Statistically-speaking, it’s sort-of likely that at least one of you is a model railway enthusiast - possibly you’re a long-term reader and have been waiting YEARS for me to feature something which panders to your TINY LOCOMOTIVE FETISH. Well HAPPY DAYS! This is a whole YouTube channel in which...some bloke makes incredibly detailed, hugely skilled tiny dioramas for his model railways. The skill and technique is really impressive, and whilst I personally have very little interest in TINY LOCOMOTIVES I did fall into a complete ASMR hole when I found this, so there’s something for (almost) everyone.
- The Scottish National Galleries Archive: LOTS of art from Scotland’s museums here to explore and enjoy. So, er, explore and enjoy.
- Micah Lexier: An Instagram feed of pleasing found objects - “images, numbers, letters, shapes, diagrams, double-page spreads, packaging, stuff on the street, hands holding things”. Simple and very soothing, though I couldn’t exactly tell you why.
- Webcomic Name Mashup: Create your own, randomly remixed version of ‘Webcomic Name’ - you know, the brightly-coloured three-panel one, where every strip ends with a character saying ‘Oh No’. You can make some beautifully surreal stuff with this - the format lends itself wonderfully to this randomness; I mean, I just loaded it up and it spat this out at me, which gives you a decent idea of how it works.
- Buttrcup: What are we all these days? Well, yes, STORYTELLERS, obvs, but also CREATORS! We all CREATE! And why ought we not be able to monetise this creation? WHY, I ASK YOU??? Of course, some of us are more easily able to create than others, but we do have a wonderfully democratic means of making stuff at our disposal - our phones and our nudity! Anyone can MONETISE THEIR NOODZ! Or at least they could if certain PESKY platforms weren’t so down on that idea - enter Buttrcup, which provides a platform for anyone to upload naked pictures of themselves and then charge people to look at / download them. Which, if you fancy making a living as a static camwhore, may not be a bad idea. Alternatively, it’s ushering us into an era where people are reduced to doing softcore bongo piecework to pay for bread; YOU decide which particular version of this you want to believe!
- Castle of the Winds: Timewasting browser game of the week #1! This is Castle of the Wind, which is a VERY old RPG originally on Mac and which you can now play in-browser. It’s obviously a bit crap, but in a fun way - and if you’re my age or older, you’ll get some sharp little nostalgiapangs from it.
- Jelly Mario: Timewasting browser game of the week #2! This is Mario, except Mario is made of jelly - more of a physics experiment rather than a game per se, it’s still fun to mess around with. Move offscreen to the right when the title screen appears to commence.
- Jehovah’s Witness: Games-as-vehicle-for-personal-memoir are underused imho, particularly with the plethora of lightweight game creation engines now out there and available for free. This is a really interesting - and really very bleak, at heart - exploration by one former Witness about the life of a child amongst the Watchtower-peddlers; it’s short and simple but it packs something of an emotional punch and will make you very glad that the maker isn’t in that world anymore.
- Songbird Symphony: Timewasting browser game of the week #3! Songbird Symphony is simply GREAT. Play this. If you remember New Zealand Story from the early 90s on the Amiga or ST then this will ring all sorts of aesthetic bells, but it’s MUCH smarter than that - really, I can’t stress enough how good this little platformer is; from the audio to the art style, an absolute delight.
By Nick Gentry
THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!:
- Gov Bins: Not technically a Tumblr! Still, though, the most Tumblr of websites I’ve seen in an age - this is one man’s project to photograph every single type of council bin in the UK and catalogue them here. WHY??? But then again, why not? I know I say this all the time, but I LOVE stuff like this - well DONE, Harry Trimble!
- Un Gif Dans Ta Geule: Truly superb cinemagraph-style gifs, of a sort you don’t see so many of these days - these are ace.
- Konczakowski: Slightly terrifying zooming recursive gifs which, if you stare too long, may well hypopotise you into doing something awful (I have no proof of this, it’s just a feeling).
- RAL7016: “A collection of architects greys (RAL7016) in and around the city. Architects grey has become the default finish for many architectural ‘final touches’ – exterior panelling, doors, windows, signs, planters as well as huge swathes of hoardings all around the city are painted in the same RAL colour. For me it has become a symbol that the developers have or are moving in. It's quite a nice colour, it gets around decision making, doesn't put people off – it’s neutral and inoffensive, saleable – magnolia. I imagine an entire city, finished in the same RAL colour.” So there. Thanks, Dan, for the tip.
- She F Eld: Sheffield, in a Tumblr. SUCH CONCRETE!
- Atomovision: A Tumblr of funny, creative stuff made by Michael M (no further name data available). This is dark and amusing and clever - lots of really good stuff in here.
- Reklame In Der DDR: Old pre-1989 German design, adverts and the like. Stylish.
- Marshall Manson: Marshall used to run Ogilvy in London, but now he’s going on a tour of the Southern States to eat BBQ and other fine things; he’ll be writing up his musings on the food and culture he finds on this Tumblr. Marshall knows his meats, and writes passionately about food - worth bookmarking, this one, if you’re into your eats.
- Me Vs An Post: One man, messing with the Irish postal service one parcel or letter at a time. This is wonderful and quite, quite mad, but very funny indeed.
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG!
- America’s Opioid Epidemic: Another week, another exploration of the terrifying scale of America’s skag epidemic. This is a superb piece of journalism, taking a dispassionate look at the drugs; appeal and making an interesting and cogent case for their current popularity being very much a post-internet thing; this passage is, to my mind, almost heartbreakingly sad: “One of the more vivid images that Americans have of drug abuse is of a rat in a cage, tapping a cocaine-infused water bottle again and again until the rodent expires. Years later, as recounted in Johann Hari’s epic history of the drug war, Chasing the Scream, a curious scientist replicated the experiment. But this time he added a control group. In one cage sat a rat and a water dispenser serving diluted morphine. In another cage, with another rat and an identical dispenser, he added something else: wheels to run in, colored balls to play with, lots of food to eat, and other rats for the junkie rodent to play or have sex with. Call it rat park. And the rats in rat park consumed just one-fifth of the morphine water of the rat in the cage.”
- The Worst Roommate Ever: Genuinely unsettling account of the life of Jamison Bachman, who for several decades led an itinerant existence wandering around the US and making a series of housemates’ lives a living hell - this starts odd and then gets VERY odd and quite dark and doesn’t really let up. You will be disinclined to find a flatmate off Craigslist after this, put it that way.
- The Lonely Life of a Professional YouTuber: If you’ve got an adolescent at home whose main ambition in life is to join the shiny, floppy-haired ranks of your Zoellas or Alfies or, heaven forfend, Jake’n’Logans, make them take 15 minutes to read this honest account of the life of mid-level YouTuber WillNE. Having become famous for breaking the Blackpool Grime scene a few years back, Will now makes a living YouTubing full time - this paints a sobering picture of how incredibly lonely and what insane work it is to churn out this stuff on the regular. Obviously there’s a tier above this where it all becomes gravy again - I am reliably informed, for example, that Zoella only works one day a week (to the point where she literally will not answer emails outside of that allotted time) - but for the strugglers and the stragglers this is basically a 12h a day gig and you are ALWAYS on. It sounds awful, frankly. Go and work in comms instea...oh, no, that’s awful too, hang on.
- Whatever Happened To Brendan Fraser: US GQ really is doing some of the best interview/profile pieces going at the moment; this one, presenting Brendan Fraser as he reenters the public eye after about a decade-long hiatus, is as ever a sympathetic portrait of its subject but one which reveals a few interesting details about the Hollywood machine and about how much action movies fcuk a body up (on which note, after reading this I am even more convinced that Tom Cruise is not a real man and is instead a cyborg replica of himself - I mean, there’s no WAY that that man has human knees at the age of 50+ with all that rooftop gallivanting.
- Hawaii’s Outlaw Hippies: In a remote part of a Hawaiian national park, a bunch of people have been squatting for years - depending on your perspective, either living free off the land, or alternatively messing with an ecosystem and generally being a pain in the arse. This piece follows a reporter embedding with the community for a bit - in the main, I came away from this piece bemoaning the fact that none of the people who tend to hang out in island paradise situations like this are ever the sort of people I would want to share an island paradise situation with.
- The Hollywood Pay Gap: A fascinating piece on how exactly pay in Hollywood works - what’s basics, what’s added on, and exactly what sorts of fabulous sums are involved. It goes some way to explaining - not, to be clear, justifying - some of the reasons behind differential pay in Tinseltown, but the main point of interest to me here is the sums involved. HOW MUCH did Jim Carrey get for The Cable Guy? FFS.
- How To Bake A Pie In Prison: This is such a beautiful piece of writing. May Eaton, who spent time as writer in residence at a male prison, recounts the relationship that the prisoners had with food, and how they managed to prepare meals and treats and hooch from the barest of ingredients. It’s a warm and affectionate and superbly-written essay and I promise you it will prove warming on a chilly day.
- How To Scam Spotify: This is SO clever and I wish I had thought of it, and by the end of this you will too. I presume that this loophole has been closed, although now I think about it I’m not 100% certain as to how you’d go about preventing people from repeating the trick - tell you what, you give it a go and I’ll take a 15% cut for ‘creative consultancy’, ok? Good.
- My Life As A Woman With Colourblindness: I confess that prior to reading this piece I had no idea that it was possible for women to be colourblind, which shows how much I know. This is a really interesting exploration of the particular issues that a woman faces when unable to determine whether something is read or green - as you’d imagine, makeup presents its own particular set of difficulties, and not wanting a man’s standard getout of ‘Oh, I’ll just make my whole wardrobe monochrome so it doesn’t really matter’ also presents the odd sartorial problem.
- Why Lisa Simpson Matters: You may not think we need ANOTHING thinkpiece about the Simpsons, all these decades on, but you’d be wrong; this is a great essay examining the character, her development, her place in the American (and Western) psyche, her role as a champion of effort over adversity...smart cultural criticism, with the added bonus of featuring a lot of interview material with the voice of Lisa, Yeardley Smith, who apparently just talks like that and who I learned is currently voicing a True Crime podcast called ‘Small Town Dicks’ which means that, if you like, you can hear Lisa Simpson talking about some pretty grisly murders (you SICKO).
- Big In Russia: The slightly strange world of smalltime US rappers who are inexplicably making it big in Russia. There’s an interesting line in here about the sort of cultural parallels between the bleakness of rural Russia and the hopelessness of smalltown America which seems rather apt; also, there’s some pretty curious niche hiphop in here also.
- What Is The Perfect Colour Worth?: A profile of the people at Pantone, who determine the world’s palette on a yearly basis. In part hugely interesting and impressive; simultaneously, though, it’s obviously all quite a lot of colossal bullsh1t, as noted by the end-quote in which a senior Pantone person describes the annual selection of THE PANTONE SHADE OF THE YEAR as, basically, a load of bollocks. I’d be really interested to see a piece like this looking at how chromatic aesthetics have changed (if at all) in a post-screen world, in case anyone’s after writing one.
- Rethink Your Commute: Profiling the DIGITAL NOMADS, 30- and 40-something people who travel to the second world (not always, but mostly) to work remotely in shared living and coworking spaces, mostly doing app/web design or general, non-specific consultancy. I’ve always been interested by this - it’s the sort of thing I could theoretically do, just about - but this piece makes it sound endlessly unappealing. The people profiled mostly seem like dicks, there’s a fairly high degree of cultural parasitism implied here, and, I don’t know, the prospect of spending my life, albeit in a nicer environment, surrounded by the sort of people you meet at Ko Pha-ngang fills me with pretty existential dread.
- A Complete History of Happy Slapping: Crikey, this feels like even longer than 15 years ago. Were you ever happy slapped? No, because turns out it wasn’t ever really a thing, it was just a classic case of tabloid hysteria bolstered by a healthy dollop of new tech confusion. Still, take a moment to flash back to the good old days when you could let anyone film anything they wanted on their phones because the resulting footage would be so incredibly pixellated that it looked like genitalia in Japanese bongo and you wouldn’t have anywhere to put it online anyway. BETTER TIMES.
- Inside the OED: WONDERFUL piece looking at the OED in 2018 - how it maintains relevance and utility in the post-internet age, and what its role is evolving into. As a piece on etymology and the history - and indeed custodianship - of language, this is fascinating. Also, I would absolutely LOVE my job to involve spending 6 months researching and summarising the history of the verb ‘to go’ (obviously I would be bored senseless within two days, I know this, but it’s the sort of person I want to be).
- Mr Grizzly: Before the web, there was a documentary called Mr Grizzly about an eccentric American inventor who’d built a home-made anti-bear suit and wanted to test it out by being attacked by a Grizzly. It never quite happened, but the inventor attained a moderate degree of celebrity in the aftermath of the film’s opening - this is what happened to him afterwards. Very sad, in all honesty, but it’s a sympathetic portrait of a man who you get the impression isn’t all that sympathetic in actuality.
- We’ve Always Hated Girls Online: Remembering online bullying back before it was even a thing, and how even then it was women who got it in the neck. This is part memory-essay about the old time web, pre-Geocities even, and part sad examination of what it is about online culture that has always seemed to make it a more unpleasant experience for women than men.
- Why This Week Was Great: A few thousand words by Golby about why snow is wonderful, even in London, even when you’re a grown-up (but not, to repeat, if you’re homeless). Characteristically good writing, the bastard.
- In Search of Warriors: This is a truly AWESOME photo essay, in which the photographer Frederic Lagrange and writer Kim Frank travel to Mongolia and document their experience. The images are WONDERFUL - honestly, I can’t recommend this enough, it’s a wonderful collection of pictures. My favourite part of this is the skin of the subjects - you can feel the wind off the steppes taking off a few layers of epidermis as you scroll.
- Fish Jokes: Finally this week, a stylish and clever and neat and pointed piece of fiction, Me Too-ish in inspiration, about a woman and her boss and their emails. This is very, very accomplished indeed - enjoy.
By Bang Sangho
AND NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!
- First up, a short film adaptation of the artvideogame Papers Please, which explores issues of agency and acceptance by putting you in the guise of a border guard, granting or denying ingress to migrants attempting to enter. This is EXCELLENT:
2) I’ve long been a fan of the supremely talented mathematician, musician and YouTuber Vi Hart - this is her latest video, in which she plays piano and sings three pianos simultaneously in 360 audiovisual splendour. This is obviously a stitched vid - noone can actually play three pianos, or at least I don’t think they can, though Nils Frahm definitely did two last weekend - and there’s actually some mathematical theory underpinning it, but it’s also a quite simply lovely piece of music, and it really fits with the weather:
3) Aidan Moffat was once part of Arab Strap, but has since carved out a very successful solo career for himself. This is his latest, with RM Hubbert, and in common with all the songs this week it is just PERFECT for a snowy winter’s day. It’s called ‘Cockrow’:
4) This is called ‘Second Hand Lovers’ - the conceit of the video is that the protagonist is haunted by the ghosts of all his former partners, who have to come to terms with his new girlfriend. The premise is nicely handled, and this is beautifully shot throughout; it’s by Oren Lavie:
8) Finally this week, my favourite video by a mile This is GLORIOUS - drawing over video isn’t new, fine, but the style here is SO GOOD. Enjoy it - the song’s rather wonderful too, it’s called ‘I Was In New York’ by The Shy Kids. HAPPY FRIDAY I HOPE YOU AREN’T TOO COLD WHY NOT GIVE SOMEONE A HUG AND WARM UP BUT MAKE SURE TO ASK THEM FIRST AS CONSENT IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF GOOD HUGGING OK GOOD BYE I LOVE YOU SEE YOU SOON BYE!