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?
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!
By Pia Guerra
LET’S START THE MIXES WITH THIS SELECTION OF MUSIC FROM COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY THE US IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS, SELECTED BY FOUR-TET!
THE SECTION WHICH HAS ALREADY SEEN ONE PERSON LIKEN THE SNAP IPO TO KING AND ZYNGA, WHICH SEEMS A TOUCH UNFAIR TO ME BUT WHAT DO I KNOW?
Snapchat IPO ACTUALLY HAPPENING!: Sort of just putting this here because I feel I ought to rather than because I actually care (further comment here about my ability to ‘care’ is probably otiose); that said, some of the numbers in the filing are interesting, not least the stark extent to which Facebook’s wholesale stealing of Snapchat features through Instagram has kiboshed their growth since late 2016. This is another look at the numbers, which makes the excellent point that one of the things this IPO proves is quite how much Google and Amazon have the future sewn up from a ‘hahaha we own ALL THE INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE STUFF’ point of view.
Snapchat To Allow Easy Linksharing Using Snapcodes: Apologies, this is a link to a Mashable article - it won’t happen again this week, promise. This is, I think, a really significant update for brands; Snapchat users can now plug in urls which in turn generate their own unique Snapcodes which can then be shared within the app (or via text, or other messenger platform of your choice (though at that point you’d just, er, share the url, surely?). Anyway, you should be able to see that this is REALLY HELPFUL for brand stuff, driving traffic to a sales page for example, and goes a significant way to adding a layer of tracking and attribution to stuff you do on Snapchat - if you *can’t* see that then frankly we’re probably done here and I’d quite like you to leave.
ALL THE FACEBOOK NUMBERS: Another year, another set of fcuking great numbers from Zuckerberg’s Big Blue Misery Machine, showing that despite the fact that we are fast approaching the platform’s 13th birthday (difficult age, that) the damn thing is still growing, with fast-approaching 2billion MAUs and...oh, look, just read the damn earnings report, it’s all in there and all you need to know is that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Unless, and this is a radical idea, we all just decided to stop using it. Shall we? Just imagine for a second how nice that would be. Together, you know, we can MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Facebook Ads Integrate With Mailchimp: This is exactly the sort of thing that we should really be testing out with Curios, but frankly we don’t have any money and it’s hard enough for me to bear the world’s crushing indifference to my weekly outpourings without having to waste cold, hard cash on further proving that noone cares. Nonetheless, this is BIG NEWS - you can now build a Facebook ad campaign promoting your newsletter from within Mailchimp, with a streamlined interface and the ability to do all the fancy targeting stuff you’d expect, as well as the creation of lookalike audiences from your mailing list, etc. This is basically newsletter marketing 101, kids - PAY TO GROW YOUR AUDIENCE, IT IS THE ONLY WAY (apparently one could also just write stuff that people actually want to read, but I have little truck with such highfaluting concepts).
ANOTHER Newsfeed Tweak: This one’s all about AUTHENTICITY (FAKE NEWS!); the update’s designed to...oh, look, just take their word for it: “With this update, we’re adding new universal signals to determine whether a post might be authentic. To do this, we categorized Pages to identify whether or not they were posting spam or trying to game feed by doing things like asking for likes, comments or shares. We then used posts from these Pages to train a model that continuously identifies whether posts from other Pages are likely to be authentic. For example, if Page posts are often being hidden by people reading them, that’s a signal that it might not be authentic”. So there. Apparently this won’t affect Pages, mainly because you’ll still have to pay for visibility.
Instagram Testing Multiple Images In One Post: We continue to hurtle towards the social media consolidation singularity whereby EVERY PLATFORM IS THE SAME - this is the latest step, with Instagram testing the ability for ordinary peons to use carousel image posts (you will, of course, be aware that these are currently only for advertisers). Do we care? You may, I couldn’t possibly comment.
Pinterest Rolling Out Search Ads: Another really rather useful THING from Pinterest, which continues to be a really good platform for advermarketingprstuff which is consistently ignored by advermarketingprdrones because SHINY MILLENNIAL SNAPCHAT OBSESSION. You will soon be able to buy ads on the platform against category search terms, which, if you sell furniture or clothes or...er…other Pinterest-friendly stuff, is A Good Thing.
LEGO Life: One of the OLD TRUTHS of consultancy is that you always tell clients that they should never, ever build their own social network as it’s a complete waste of time (I was once involved in making a series of forums for osteoporosis sufferers in Switzerland - oh me oh my was that a wild and crazy professional ride!); completely bucking that trend is LEGO, which launched this this week - an online space where people can share their LEGO creations and chat in emoji and generally share their love for all things LEGO. Smart move, I think, particularly based on all the nice incentivisation they can build in to BUY MORE LEGO. It’s weird; no idea why I feel compelled to stick to brand guidelines when I type this brand - lego lego lego lego lego lego. That’s better.
The Douchebag Strategist Bot: A spin-off the excellent Twitter account by Roberto Estreitinho, this FB Messenger Bot lets you get bullsh1t insights and fatuous advermarketingpr straplines at the press of a button or two. Which would be funny, were about 90% of this stuff totally usable in meetings. FUN GAME! Why not see how many of its outputs you can successfully smuggle into YOUR next client meeting before attempting to eat your phone in frustrated impotent rage at exactly how stupid everyone is and how this is all bullsh1t, isn’t it, and how we should all just give up now and enjoy the final days before the apocalypse going for walks or baking or something,.
">NEXT UP, AN EXCELLENT MIX OF HIPHOP BY WANE ONE!
THE SECTION WHICH REALLY DOESN’T WANT TO MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT BLOODY MAN AND HIS FAMILY, BUT WHICH REALLY DOES SORT OF HOPE THAT THIS IS GENUINE, PT.1:
Black History Month on Twitter: A really nice example of how Twitter bots can and should work, this is one they’ve built for US Black History Month; users can ask the bot to give them a ‘today in black history’ fact, or snippets celebrating black culture, or find BHM events in their (US) cities...it’s a simple system but it showcases what a nice interface the Twitter bot actually is and is, aside from it being A Good Thing, a rather good example you can wave at people when you’re trying to persuade them to do something marginally more interesting than a fcuking hashtag campaign.
Track Trump: A site which is looking to track Trump’s progress against his campaign pledges and which monitors how many of his promises are kept over the first 100 days. Right now it’s most useful as a convenient reminder of exactly how much awful stuff we can expect over the course of the next couple of months from that awful, parping sphincter of a man.
What The Fcuk Just Happened Today: As we continue to struggle through a news environment which right now feels a little bit like being strapped into a wind tunnel and pelted with faeces, this site seeks to provide a daily recap of what the fcuk has been happening. Click this and scroll back over the past fortnight and MARVEL at the crazy hellbound gradient we’re currently on!
Favcleaner: Given that it’s looking increasingly likely that entrants to the US are going to be asked to share details of their social media profiles with people at the border for vetting purposes, those of you planning to travel there anytime soon may find the following useful - Favcleaner slowly and methodically deletes all the the favourites from your Twitter account, meaning that at the very least they won’t be able to ban you for having fav’d that pro-Iranian Al Jazeera tweet back in 2011.
She’s With Him: Profiling some of the women who voted for Trump, their reasoning and their thoughts post-election. A really interesting project, not least because it’s at pains to avoid some of the more obvious cliches (‘rust belt’, ‘blue collar’, ‘white’, etc) that have been attributed to the voter base. Fascinating.
Trump Donald: AHAHAHAHA THIS WILL SHOW HIM WON’T IT? WON’T IT? LOOK AT THE TRUMPET MAKING HIS HAIRPIECE BLOW! THIS IS SATIRE! SATIRE IS OUR WEAPON! Christ on a fcuking bike, kids.
Fake Executive Order Generator: Because the best way of protesting against a tsunami of poorly considered, barely-legal legislative change is to make your own crap non-memes out of the whole thing!
Dicktator Don: Someone’s made a Donald Trump voodoo doll! You poke it in the penis with a pin and its eyes light up! It’s selling for $100, excluding shipping! It’s good to see that someone’s getting rich off this whole sh1tshow (apart, obviously, from Don!).
Trump Draws: You’ve probably seen this, but in case not it is honestly one of the only truly funny things to come out of the past fortnight - watch as Donald Trump shows off his EXCELLENT drawings to the world! The one with the hands is legitimately brilliant.
Punch A Nazi: A not-particularly-good phone-and-browser game, which lets you ACTUALLY PUNCH Nazis (you’re not ACTUALLY punching them, of course, but you do get to flail your arms in spastic fashion at a retro-pixellated succession of alt-right faces (and an ACTUAL Nazi). Included mainly because I got a really worrying rush of pleasure from level 2 when I tried this out at 630am.
Future CNN: A Twitter account sharing screencaps from CNN at various points over the next 4 years. The aston ‘SPICER: HURT FEELINGS ARE DANGEROUS’ elicited a hollow chuckle, but the fact that these are almost halfway plausible (‘WILL NUKE LAUNCH BRING MUCH-NEEDED HUMILITY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP?’) is not actually very funny at all.
Read Any Book: I’m sort of in two minds about whether I ought to share this; on the one hand, I love books and firmly believe that authors and publishing houses should be remunerated fairly for writing and distributing them; on the other hand, FREE BOOKS MOTHERLODE. Pretty sure that this is hugely illegal and will get taken down in short order, but for now there’s a seemingly VAST collection of books, readable in PDF online and downloadable in a whole range of formats. Contains the whole Potter series, which makes me think it can’t be long for this world - suggest you fill your boots while you can, and then guiltily go and buy a load of hardbacks at your local indie bookstore to assuage your liberal, middle-class guilt.
The Rare Pepe Directory: I confess to being a *touch* baffled by the memetrading on display here, but this is a certified compendium of the rarest of rare Pepes, all certified on the blockchain to preserve and determine their scarcity. There’s a Pepe-based currency at the heart of all this, which you can buy and sell rare Pepes with - which purchases you can of course keep in your rare Pepe wallet (of course you can). Economists and econo/sociologists (is that a thing? It’s probably a thing) will probably find a lot to interest them in here; the rest of us can only sit and marvel at the inexorable rise of Kek.
The Pr0nhub Sexual Wellness Cente: Pretty spectacular CSR effort here from popular bongo purveyors Pr0nhub, who now have a whole section of their site devoted to sex-ed. Part of me thinks that they possibly ought to have chosen a different root url (sorry) for this, but there’s quite a lot of material on there and stuff about trans 101 guides and ‘what is consent?’ and all the rest. Still, quite a large part of me is seeing something of an intellectual disconnect between a site trumpeting the benefits of intimacy and connection and some of its other content, available only a few short clicks away, which features some interesting interpretations of ‘intimacy’, ‘connection’ and indeed ‘consent’. I believe it’s what the kids might term ‘problematic’, were they so inclined. NB PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS LINK IS TOTALLY SFW BUT DOES IN FACT TAKE YOU TO A WWW.PR0NHUB.COM URL SO IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE COSIEST RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR IT PEOPLE THEN, YOU KNOW, TAKE CARE.
Azar Live: Apparently this has been going for years, but the first I heard of it was this morning which shows exactly how divorced I am from the pulse, whatever that is. Azar Live is basically Chatroulette on mobile (weirdly have been speaking about Chatroulette a LOT this week), which lets you do live video chat with strangers through your phone, on the same ‘don’t like this one, next!’ basis, and, as you’d expect, with a significant number of men on the platform who seem to get some sort of low-level jolly from playing the ‘hey look! Surprise penis, motherfcuker!’ game with all and sundry (why? Seriously, why is this a thing?). There are some additional gimmicks, though, with the ability to save people who you like so you can reconnect with them later (presuming you both agree), the ability to use filters and stickers (OBVS) and, really usefully, simultaneous audio translation. I can see this being a LOT of fun and also sort of immensely troubling; in any case, there’s some obvious Chatroulette ripoff FUN BRAND STUFF you could do with influencers and storytelling and oh you get the idea.
Full Stop New Paragraph: One of the neatest pieces of webwork I’ve seen in a while, on the personal site of...er...Jon, a copywriter. Really, will make you want to hire him in a heartbeat.
Tactical Breathing: Apparently ‘Box Breathing’ is a Navy SEALS technique designed to calm people in moments of intense stress. This website helps you train yourself to deploy that technique. I’m sort of horrified that I looked at this this week and thought ‘yep, that might be useful to someone’.
Joseph’s Machines: Wonderful, silly, frivolous collection of videos featuring John’s over-elaborate Rube Goldberg contraptions. Seriously, you cannot failed to be slightly cheered by these hugely pointless contraptions unless you’re a bit dead inside - also, exactly the sort of thing I can imagine entrancing a 7 year old for 15 minutes (until they ruin your weekend by demanding that you make one yourselves, and then losing interest halfway through).
British Gardens: A Twitter bot which every six hours posts a short, surreal description of an idealised British garden. “You are in a British garden. In front of you is a maypole. The pigs are cracking. The moon is telling white lies.” Actually beautiful (and silly).
Taxi Startup: UBER IS BAD. We have all decided, it is written. How timely, then, that Taxi Startup should suddenly appear this week, offering anyone the ability to start up their own ‘car on demand’ service anywhere in the world. The system offers fleet management, payment, booking and navigation services - for a price, obviously - which is a pretty interesting offering. Aside from anything else, I reckon there’s got to be a market for motorbike Uber-style transport, particularly during peak traffic times; someone build it, you’ll make a killing (although you’ll also be crippled by insurance costs, on reflection, so maybe that’s why noone’s done it yet).
Maps 3d: This is really rather cool. Navigate to anywhere in this map tool, mark a particular area with your cursor and the software will pull out a 3d render of the topography of the area showing hills, valleys, etc - you can then export the visualisation, embed it, etc. REALLY useful for property-type stuff amongst other things. It’s still in beta, so customisation options aren’t quite ready yet, but this has a lot of potential.
Coda Story: A new news platform, with a stated mission which reads as follows: “Coda Story is a single-issue web platform that puts a team of journalists on one crisis at a time and stays with it, providing unique depth, continuity and understanding to events that shape our world.” Loads of really interesting reporting, combining prose and video and audio, presented in a really rather nice fashion - you can see how over time the interface will allow for the buildup of some really deep reporting on individual topics.
Perk: Because drinking a cup of coffee is TOO TIME CONSUMING and feeling all full of liquid is INEFFICIENT, we now have Perk, a system of caffeine delivery which involves people wearing a bracelet to which they can affix caffeine patches which slowly deliver the drug through the skin rather than orally because why would you want to experience the actual taste and aroma of coffee you appalling, functional monster, you.
Line-us: Neat little project on Kickstarter, now funded, which is promising backers a miniature line drawing robot - you know, one of those things which replicates your hand gestures so you can make a simultaneous on-paper copy of whatever it is you’re drawing. I am sure that there are myriad interesting and useful applications of this for artists, designers and the like - I just quite like the look of it, and the fact it’s all TINY, and the fact that the shaky nature of the drawings it produces are sort of Shrigley/Parkinsons-esque.
">NOW HERE’S A SLIGHTLY BELATED JANUARY BLUES MIX BY THE LOVELY JONATHAN MAY FOR LONDON FIELDS RADIO!
Winnie Dancing: He’s been around for a while, but the dancing CGI Winnie the Pooh is the meme of 2017 so far. Much like Spiderman, he can dance to anything and he provides comfort and succour in these troubling days.
Localingual: This isn’t the first website collecting clips of human speech from around the world so as to highlight and preserve regional accents and dialects, but it’s certainly one of the easiest to use. Really fascinating (but also allows you to upload your own clips, should you wish to mess with the project significantly) (please don’t do that, though).
The British Design Fund: This isn’t a Curio so much as a Really Good Thing - The British Design Fund is ‘an early stage investment fund that specifically invests in, and provides support for, early stage UK product design and manufacturing companies. The Fund seeks to work with extraordinary entrepreneurs, with scalable products, who are ready to accelerate growth into the retail space and build long term value and thriving stand-out businesses.’ Which is pretty cool, so if you or anyone you know makes stuff then take a look as it could potentially be a huge help.
The Web Field Manual: MORE useful stuff (if you’re a web designer) - this is an excellent collection of resources, both design and code, to help you out. Probably not one for the pros amongst you, but dilettantes will probably find much to love in here.
Newswordy: A linguistics project looking to track the use (and misuse) of ‘buzzwords’ (my inverted commas there) in media; the site takes a different word each day, offers the actual definition of it, and then examples of how it’s being used in media and on Twitter; really interesting in terms of the development and malleability of language and meaning, as well as as an indicator of how appallingly we misuse words every single day (I say this as someone who was rejected from Cambridge for ‘linguistic imprecision’, as well, er, as being ‘arrogant and nihilistic’. Good to know I’ve moved on and am in no way still bitter about that, oh no siree).
Storytrail: Travel guide sites are by no means new, but this is a lovely example of the genre - Storytrail presents walks around cities (only 4 so far, but they are adding new ones every couple of months), arranged as narrative explorations with accompanying historical and sociocultural information; these can either be used as walking guides when you’re there, or as a lovely way of exploring the city from the comfort of wherever you happen to find yourself. I had a bit of a play with the Rome one and it’s really rather good; take a look.
Captain Euro: Captain Euro! The best suerhero! Why exactly the European Union thought it needed a superhero mascot we will, I suspect, never really understand; nonetheless, here we are. Captain Euro has been a bit quiet recently, but you can catch up on lots of his exciting adventures on these pages - I would LOVE to know both the spend on this and the Pageviews for each strip. Much as I love the EU, this is exactly the sort of thing that gets people like Farage all mouthfrothy at WASTE and EXCESS. I have to say that there’s something about the earnestness of Captain Euro that makes me a little sad, but that’s probably just me.
Avengergram: An Instagram account sharing photos of toys from the Avengers films getting into scrapes because...oh, Christ, I don’t know, none of this stuff means anything anyway, just enjoy the absurdity and stop being so fcuking critical all the time, Jesus,.
The Curvy Sewing Collective: I am, it may not surprise you to learn, not exactly big on craft - I had, therefore, no idea at all that sewing patterns don’t necessarily tend to work for the less svelte among us. This is a community for larger sewing aficionados, sharing plus-size friendly patterns and the like, which if I were Weight Watchers or similar I would totally get on board with (or if I were not anorexic and liked sewing).
LandSatBot: Sometimes the only thing that is going to make you feel better is a satellite image depiction the gorgeous wonder of the Earth from space. Most of the time, obviously, it won’t do anything to mitigate the horror of being alive, but it’s probably worth following this Twitter account for those rare occasions when it does make it marginally better.
Story Constellations: Literary design project by Nicholas Rougeaux which visualises the opening chapters of famous works of literature based on the words contained within it. Which description is horribly clunky but if you click it will make loads more sense. Available to buy as posters which I am sure for at least one of you will be a must-purchase.
Killing Magazine: Killing was a HUGELY tasteful (in no way tasteful) Italian photostory magazine from the 60s/70s which featured tales of MURDER AND SEX AND DEATH, and inevitably involved a lot of lingerie-clad screaming women. This is a Flickr collection of the magazine’s covers, which are wonderful from a genreal sexploitation point of view (and, occasionally, just wonderfully funny - some of the ‘action shots’ featuring the man in the skeleton leotard (no, really, you do have to click this, it’s ace) need to be seen to be believed.
Jollylook: You thought the hipster was dead or at the very least in abeyance? THINK AGAIN, MOTHERFCUKERS. Early contender for MOST hipster Kickstarter of 2017, Jollylook is a vintage-style cardboard camera, designed to look like some sort of turn-of-the-century concertina-look job and which produces Polaroid-type snaps. The whole thing, down to the hand-crank mechanism for photo deliver, screams ‘steampunk aficionado’ which on reflection isn’t anything to do with hipsters at all, so forget the opening line of this entry as I have now utterly contradicted myself. God, it’s been a long week.
Ridleyville: You like Ridley Scott? Not as much as this person (got to be a bloke, hasn’t it?), who’s put his insane collection of Scott props and memorabilia online for perusal. There is SO much stuff in here, and the bits from the Alien movies are worth a browse on their own.
RNDRD: If you’ve ever dreamed of a website which collects architectural renderings from all over the world in one place then, my dear friend, your dreams have come true. Actually really rather fascinating, particularly if you’re a fan of urban design.
Nuage: Dull-but-useful, this lets you set up a whole load of other email addresses all linked to your gmail. That’s literally it, but it’s free and if you’re trying to look more professional than you are - or, alternatively, looking to set up an elaborate network to perpetrate fraud - then it might be of use.
Swiss Posters: An Instagram feed of Swiss poster design, which is ACE.
Demonz I: This is a REALLY cool tech demo for software which basically (very basically - look, I am not a techy and so I think this is basically witchcraft) lets you project games onto walls which users can then physically interact with; so in this example, there’s a whole load of cartoony demons projected onto some shelves on a wall which are taken out by a bunch of kids by throwing balls at them. It’s a simple example, but the potential here is HUGE and with a bit of imagination there are some really interesting use cases here.
Connect: A wonderful idea, this - an app for the hearing impaired which turns standard smartphone speech-to-text functionality into a nice, simple interface to help people with hearing impairments communicate with strangers - to ask questions and to get answers back in a form they can make sense of. Simple, but a really lovely concept.
3d Printable Cat Armour: Do you own a cat? Do you have access to a 3d printer? MAKE THIS NOW AND TURN IT INTO BATTLECAT THEN.
The AK47 Chair: It’s a throne, made out of actual decommissioned AK47 rifles. ETA of this in a UK Grime video, plonked incongruously into the stairwell of a Clapton estate? I reckon 2 months, tops.
Glimmer Industries: Dating apps are obviously EVERYWHERE, but this is a nice spin - Glimmer lets people sign up and, if they so desire, share details about any disabilities users might have - whether physical or emotional - and to look for people who have similar conditions. Almost certainly also a massive hunting ground for amputee fetishists, but, hey, you can’t have everything.
Hater: SECOND dating app of the week, the gimmick here is that Hater will match you to people based on shared dislikes. So if you REALLY dislike people chewing with their mouth open, or ‘the stupid’ this is where you come to find similar misanthropes. One presumes that there are checks and balances in place to prevent this from becoming the hate-filled cesspit you sort of immediately imagine it morphing into, but it’s a startup so WHO KNOWS?
A5405: Produced, I think, for Holocaust Memorial Day, this is a lovely project and site from Italy, seeking to preserve the memories of an Auschwitz survivor who has now been affected by dementia and whose recollections of the time in the camps is being eroded by the disease. A5405 invites visitors to read Nedo Fiano’s story, to hear his words being read by others, and to contribute their own recordings of his words to create an archive of his story composed of modern voices, keeping the memories alive and somehow contemporary. A really rather beautiful piece of work on all levels.
Selling The Soviet Past: Gorgeous storytelling project, this, taking a HUGE cartoon-style mural drawing of one of the largest markets in Tblisis, Georgia, and annotating it with the stories and memories of the people who inhabit it. Scroll around and click on the characters to hear their narratives about the Soviet era, independence, current events and the day-to-day life of the market and its denizens; there’s writing and audio and video and it’s genuinely fascinating. Definitely worth losing yourself in for 20m.
Reaction Gif Generator: Have a particular feeling you want to convey but can’t find the right reaction gif? FEAR NOT. Just pull whatever facial expression best conveys your emotion, turn on your webcam and BINGO, a reaction gif appears matching your mood (sort of). Actually REALLY fun in a strange sort of way.
Warm: What’s the WORST thing about having a toy-assisted wnk? Yes, that’s right, a COLD DILDO. Well thank GOD for this new product, then, which presents a tastefully-designed warming dildopouch for you to keep said toys in and which promises to ‘heat your intimacy’. Look, I am genuinely curious - is this meeting an actual need? Have any of you been shaken from a comfortable erotic reverie by the uncomfortable realisation that your penetrative partner is a touch on the chilly side? I MUST KNOW.
The Founder: A BRILLIANT browser game, placing you in the shoes of A N Other startup - you start small, designing low-key tech shovelware, but as you progress and hire better staff and research more innovative products, you’ll soon be pulling down millions in revenue and upgrading your offices and giving your staff perks and...look, it’s not a spoiler to suggest that as you delve deeper you start to realise that there’s a certain fundamental incompatibility between pursuing business success and not being a total cnut, but the way in which the game shows this is lovely. Crucially, the whole thing is actually FUN - this is potentially a couple of hours of your life if you get sucked in, so be warned.
Everything Is Going To Be OK: My favourite thing of the week, and not just because of its wonderfully soothing title (is it? OH GOOD!); you will need to pay (but it’s only $1, which goes to the ACLU and so is A Good Thing), and you’ll need to download it (yes, I know, LONG), but, please, take the time to do both those things because the resulting zine/game/THING is just so, so good - tonally and aesthetically and functionally, it works both as a piece of art and sort of a story and sort of as a non-game and, look, just give it a go, it’s brilliant and should be applauded. DO IT.
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG AND WHICH THIS WEEK APOLOGISE PROFUSELY FOR THE SOMEWHAT SERIOUS TONE OF MOST OF WHAT FOLLOWS:
Who Goes Nazi?: I’m not making any specious comparisons - honestly, really I’m not - but it’s funny that this stumbled across my field of vision this week. This is from Harper’s magazine in 1941, and is a really rather strange series of imaginings about which sort of people in a drinks party drawing room setting are more or less likely to ‘go Nazi’ and collaborate with Hitler. The tone is, let’s be clear, very much OF ITS TIME, but it’s a really interesting insight into how people in the US perceived of collaborationism and its proponents at the height of the Hitler regime.
It’s A Coup!: Or, rather, it’s a dry-run for a coup! You will probably have seen this piece which did the rounds at the start of the week, but if not it’s an interesting (if, as subsequent links will explore, somewhat breathlessly conspiracy-ish) set of theories about what the past week’s flurry of executive orders means. CLUE: they don’t mean anything good.
It’s NOT A Coup, Stop Being Paranoid: This, though, is the opposite position, suggesting that the above account is at best hyperbolic and at worst scaremongering, and suggesting that we’re all ascribing far too much strategic planning and long-term vision to what is in fact a barely coherent set of tactical lurches by an administration which would currently struggle to locate Trump’s copious posterior with an atlas. The idea that we are all giving Bannon et al too much credit as regards this stuff is a tempting one, although it does leave us in the slightly odd position whereby believing that the current leader of the US and the team around him are all largely incompetent is the *best* case scenario, which frankly doesn’t sound like a grea place to be.
This Medium Essay Kills Fascists: This made me laugh a LOT - I appreciate the irony of my saying this, as someone who spaffs out 7-8,000 words of dense webspaff every week, but I think one of the side effects of everything being a total mess is that I am going to get really, really sick of reading people’s lengthy and overintellectual takes on exactly what it all means and how we can RISE UP. Which, perhaps, is playing right into THEIR hands. Oh God it’s all so confusing.
How To Build An Autocracy: This is the slightly less hysterical/hyperbolic version of the coup post; The Atlantic starts by imagining a post-Democratic future America under Trump and then rolls back to explore how autocracies worldwide come to power, and how certain characteristics of the first fortnight (seriously, only 14 days, MADNESS) are pointing in certain potentially troubling directions. Maybe.
Witches Vs Fascists: Do any of you remember that 2017 trends in advermarketingpr document I linked to before Christmas, one of whose stated predictions for a 2017 trend was NEW WITCHES? Well LOOK! Here are the witches! This is...I don’t know what it is, frankly, aside from a 43-page PDF of incantative poetry railing against Trump and the rest. It is BATSH1T but also ace; seriously, the writing’s really rather good in its own way, and it does sort of feel like stripping naked, daubing yourself in menstrual blood and chanting this around an open fire at midnight could enact some serious occult stuff. WHO’S WITH ME?? Oh.
Meet Kellyanne Conway: You know Kellyanne! Miss ‘Alternative Facts’, Donald’s campaign manager and now Counselor and, as outlined in this excellent piece of linguistic analysis by The Week, some sort of dark master of rhetoric. This is really, really interesting, particularly given that it all SOUNDS so stupid. Hang on, are we back at the point where we have to take these people seriously again? I just don’t know what to think.
Meet The Christofascists: Weirdly, this was one of the scarier things I read this week. It’s the account of one former member of the religious right in the US, talking about the nationwide network of evangelical Christians using homeschooling and their kids as a front to push hardline evangelical ideology at a national level. Breeding for Jesus, religious war, the whole deal. They think Pence is ACE, fyi, which is...er...nice.
Black History Month: The fact that McSweeney’s can print the actual transcript of Trump’s speech and present it as their satirised version thereof gives you some idea as to the jaw-dropping inarticulacy of this - if you haven’t read it, please do take 5 minutes to experience the incredible feeling of actually becoming more stupid as you go through it.
Screaming Into A Well: This is ACTUAL McSweeney’s writing, and it would be hilarious if it weren’t, well, actually real life. The ‘This is Fine’ of 2017, in longform.
China’s Livestreaming Factory: A fascinating look at the business of Livestreaming, which is to China in 2017 what YouTubers were to us in 2013 (exciting, new, shiny, MONEYMAKING OPPORTUNITY). Sort of baffling on a certain level - I mean, I don’t understand why you’d sit and watch people just sort of sitting there, which according to Wilson in China is about 70% of all this stuff, let alone why you’d pay for it - but equally the sort of thing which is liable to take off here this year in some sort of niche and not-entirely-predictable manner.
Redditors Do Salvia: Accounts of Reddit users’ experiences with Salvia Divinorum. I’ve never done Salvia - it didn’t seem to exist when I was a kid and EXPERIMENTING - but these accounts make it sound frankly terrifying. They are also near-uniformly hilarious; the one about the person being a fence, ‘just doing fence stuff’, had me crying.
Money Talk: OK, so this is perhaps a *touch* technical, but I promise it’s interesting; this is an explanation by...er...someone at fashion label Elizabeth Suzann, talking about why their clothes cost what they do, and why some other clothes are more or less expensive. Clear and well-explained on supplychain issues and labour costs, and an excellent reminder that - as I have said more times on here than I care to remember, but which bears repeaying - if you are buying a pair of jeans made on the other side of the world for £10, someone somewhere in that process is getting royally fcuked during the process.
An Oral History of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater: If you’re a man in your 30s/40s you will probably have the soundtrack to this and its sequels seared onto your soul; I still can’t hear ‘Superman’ by Goldfinger without actual proper muscle memory flashback twitches. This is a lovely little account by some of the principles about how the game came about - there’s apparently going to be a documentary made about the game, which I think sounds GREAT (your mileage may of course vary).
Losing Their Minds: A fascinating piece from the TLS looking at the history of lobotomies in America, and exactly what sort of massive, massive bastards were involved in pioneering the techniques which were popularised in the 20th Century. Will make you very glad indeed that medical ethics has moved on a bit since then - the treatment of Patient H.M after his lobotomy is jaw-dropping in its callous disregard for his humanity.
The Little Grey Wolf Will Come: Surprisingly excellent piece on MTV dot com about Russian animator Yuri Norstein, who’s a national icon in his home country and whose style you might recognise from 80s showings of his masterpiece ‘Tale of Tales’. This is a wonderful essay, exploring Norstein’s decades-long obsession with creating an animated adaptation of famously cheery fellow-Russian Gogol’s short story ‘The Overcoat’, interwoven with his life story and a surprisingly evocative picture of attempting to produce art in the State-controlled Russia of the mid-20thC. Really rather excellent, this, and well worth the 10 minutes it will take you to read it.
The Lost Girls: I’m not really sure how to describe this, other than that it’s an essay about family and worry and loss and the anticipation of loss and all sorts of other things. The prose here is lovely and it deserves your attention.
How To Murder Your Life: This, on the other hand, I’m a lot more ambivalent about - I found the style to be a huge Easton-Ellis-pastiche, and the ‘I’m so crazy and damaged yet living in NYC and somehow amazingly successful despite being a total carcrash of drink and drugs’-style narrative a touch on the cliche side, and yet it has stayed with me all week in a manner little else has done, which suggests either that my subconscious has terrible taste or that it’s better than I at first gave it credit for. See what you think.
Lonely Hearts: Finally this week, this absolutely DESTROYED me when I read it so be warned. The story of a man who scammed a bunch of other lonely people with letters from fake girls, this is by turns fantastical and funny and then really rather heartbreaking in the way that only stories of the truly alone can be. It’s a transcript of a radio piece, but no less beautiful for that - there is SUCH a good novel to be drawn from this, I think (although Serious Sweet did sort of almost touch on similar territory). Read this, it is ACE.
1) First up this week, the first skate video I’ve featured in ages - this is not only ace because it’s London, but also because the technique - printing frames onto paper and then animating to create a strange sort of videoanimationhybridthing - is really rather cool. It’s by Philip Evans, so well done him:
2) Sam Duckworth was sort of almost famous a few years back as Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly - this is his latest single, released under his own name, called ‘1986’. It’s a simple piece of acoustic guitarwork, and is really rather gorgeous - ‘the rebellion you craved is dying in the hands of online pharmacists’ is a lovely lyric, imho. Visuals are beautiful too, and perfectly complementary:
3) More indiepop! This is called ‘Thinning’ and it’s by Snail Mail, and it’s SO wonderfully Volume-ish that it took me right back to 1993 and being YOUNG oh god where did it all go so wrong?:
4) Another bit of retrorevivalism here in the form of the new track from James Lavelle AKA UNKLE, here featuring Keaton Henson on ‘Sick Lullaby’. I went to the exhibition of UNKLE art and design and memorabilia at Lazarides the other week; the exhibition itself is basically just a bunch of sub-BAPE manchild fetishising, but this is on a big screen upstairs and the visuals and music are mesmerising, and I think this is a glorious piece of music:
5) HIPHOP CORNER! Missy Elliott’s back, and yet again she has made a piece of legitimately sui generis-sounding music with a video so intensely stylish it’s like it’s from another planet; this is SO excellent all-round. It’s called ‘I’m Better’:
6) I’ve featured Korean hiphop outfit XXX before, but I love their stuff and this is another excellent video by Mattis Dovier whose style I would LOVE to see applied to a full-length film somewhere down the line. This is called ‘Liquor’:
7) Finally this week, if you’re one of those men in the UK who is causing the spike in searches for gigantobonho, you will LOVE this. The rest of you will just think it’s weird, but hopefully also quite good. This is called ‘Shock Horror’ by Shy Luv. BYE SEE YOU NEXT WEEK BYE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES AND EACH OTHER BYE!: