Web Curios 07/07/17
I overslept this morning, not that you care, and as such this has all been a HUGE RUSH. Apologies, therefore, for any perceptible drop in quality of what follows; rest assured that despite appearances I have poured exactly as much love, care and attention into this as I always do (you may speculate as to exactly how much that actually is).
Anyhow, this is the last Curios for a couple of weeks; next Friday I will be in Amsterdam with Fat Bob preparing to go to some terrifying-sounding techno festival, and the following week I will either be dead or, less excitingly, at a meeting in Chippenham. Take care of yourselves in my absence, kids, and don’t, whatever you do, attempt to roll your own Curios in my absence; you’ll never get the dosage right, and you really don’t want to know what an incorrectly-calibrated shot of webspaff does to a person - it’s UGLY. Until next time, then, assume the position and brace yourselves; IT’S WEB CURIOS!
THE SECTION WHICH REALLY HOPES THAT WHICHEVER BRAND IS THE FIRST TO RIP OFF THE SMASH MOUTH TWEET THING THIS WEEK FEELS INCREDIBLY GUILTY FOR RUINING SOMETHING GENUINELY GOOD AND PURE:
- Stop Posting So Many Links On FB: We all have that friebnd, don't we? Look at them, on Facebook, posting their links to the 'funny' Mail Online pieces and the Lad Bible, with their innocent, normie commentary and slightly bemused reaction to the content tsunami they're unleashing. WELL NO MORE. Facebook is CRACKING DOWN on accounts, Pages and the like which spam links throughout the day - meaning that, in the unlikely event that you run a Page which, oh I don't know, autoposts each time you publish new content, for example, that said Page will get absolutely nerfed in terms of reach. So, er, STOP IT.
- You Might Soon Be Able To Add Text To Your FB Cover Photo: You might! The feature is being tested! Such excite! Think of the calls to action! The opportunity for brand messaging! The fun conversations you can have with YOUR clients in which you spend 40 minutes talking about the 100-character copy they want to use, with neither of you acknowledging that noone - literally noone at all - willcare outside of your clients' offices! Can we all stop, please?
- Facebook Household Ad Targeting 'Coming', Apparently: This is really smart and not a little creepy; Facebook is, reports (SOURCES!) suggest, goingto launch an ad product allowing people like us to target people like them based on whether they live in the same houshold, based on a whole load of datapoints (not least IP address on login). Which in terms of being able to do smart ad sets, exclusions and the like is really rather useful. Also, depending on what it's possible to do with microtargeting on this basis you really could mess with people's heads to a chronic degree - just think of the Hallowe'en potential here.
- Facebook Find WiFi For All: Those of the two billion livinfg in the US have had this for a while now, but apparently this is now available to all; the ability to find WiFi networks through Facebook! Yes, no real idea why this is actually useful - what with the fact that all phones scan for Wifi all the time, and you know, YOU DON'T FCUKING NEED TO USE FACEBOOK FOR EVERYTHING CHRIST WHAT IS IT A FCUKING DUMMY, A PACIFIER, SOME SORT OF COMFORT BLANKET? WHAT IS WRONG WITH US THAT WE HAVE TO SEE EVERYTHING THROUGH THE VIAGRA-TINTED FILTER OF THE ZUCKERBERGIAN DYSTOPIA??? Ahem. Anyway, this is useful if you are a place, or if your client is, and you want to have some EYE-CATCHING LOLS with your wifi name or whatever, I don't know, it's really hard to care in this heat tbqhwy.
- You May Soon Be Able To Do Group Video Chat In FB: I have little or nothing to say about this; I mean, you might be able to do group video chat in Facebook. How excited is it possible to be about this? Not very, is the answer that immediately springs to mind.
- New Instagram Features!: "Starting today, you can reply to stories with a photo or video. From selfies to Boomerangs, now you can be even more fun and playful when you respond to friends. To reply with a photo or a video, tap the new camera button while you’re watching a story. You can use any creative tools in the camera, including face filters, stickers and Rewind. Replies also include a sticker of the story that you can move around and resize. When a friend replies to your story with a photo or a video, you’ll see it in your inbox. You can tap to view it and also see a sticker of the original story that’s only visible to you. As with disappearing photos and videos in Direct, your friends will know when you’ve taken a screenshot or replayed a reply." Do you know, I hate social media with every single fibre of my being? I really do. Oh.
- Instagram 'Cracking Down' on 'Fake' 'Influencers': An odd story, this, not least because it has all the substance of a tabloid sting, with no real sourced information and a lot of slightly nebulous non-detail about how this might actually work. The main point here is that, apparently, Insta is WELL ANNOYED about the fact that it's basically been totally devalued as a platform by autoliking spambots, etc, and is CRACKING DOWN on this stuff; the main reason I'm including it here is that the piece suggests that one of the measures they'll be taking is cracking down on accounts which overuse hashtags (#no #really #it #IS #possible #you #awful #vapid #waste #of #skin!) and limiting their reach, which should any of you rep, say, a protein drink or a parasitic Insta fitness guru or whatever, is probably worth being aware of.
- You Can Now Link Out From Snaps: NO REALLY WE'RE A CAMERA COMPANY NOT A SOCIAL NETWORK HONEST GUV. Hm, yes. So with this update, whereby users (aka brands and 'influencers') can add links to Snaps, Stories and the like, Snapchat enters the big boy land of ATTRIBUTABLE ACTIVITY! This is a really big deal, not least because now (unless you're really sh1t at your job) you will be able to track exactly how much traffic or sales or whatever is being driven by activity on Snap. QUANTIFY EVERYTHING! HACK THE GROWTH! You know, I have been having conversations about 'growth hacking' recently and it makes my soul so tired (ha! like I have one of those).
- Go And Work For Jamie Oliver: I don't really understand all the Oliver hate; I mean, fine, he's a bit Nando's in his mainstream ubiquity but the man's heart is evidently in the right place and he can obviously cook (you don't work the River Cafe if you're useless, right?) and he does lots of work for charity and, you know, LEAVE JAMIE ALONE! Anyhow, he (or his business) is looking for a SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER - if you like food and are sh1t hot on Snap or Insta this is basically a DREAM GIG and I would honestly have leapt at it like a salmon were I a) 1 decade younger; and b) not quite so appallingly bad at visual comms.
- You Want A Load Of Research About How And Why People Do 'Selfies'?: I mean, really, this is as self-explanatory as you like. You want a whole bunch of slightly spurious data about how and why people take photos of themselves which you can use to justify YOUR forthcoming selfie-led campaign? Yes, fine, of course you do. Go on, use this to justify foisting more of this crap on us why don't you.
- RUN!: This is pretty rubbish, but oddly equally really quite compelling - this is a (mobile-only) mobile site from Nike Japan to promote some new sweatshop gear or another, where you get to 'run' through Japanese streets and beat other racers and then, at the end, BUY THE TRAINERS. I think I was most impressed by the way it shook me down for cash almost as soon as the race was over - admirable commitment to measurable goals there, Nike people!
- That Twitter Smash Mouth Thing: Richard Cook, you are a VERY SMART MAN, who is wasting himself working in social media. You all saw this, right? So can we all agree that actually, on reflection, it's best that we all just leave it as is, as a happy, wonderful moment which isn't going to get ripped off by a brand in three weeks? Good. Seriously, though, just don't. Although I wrote this to someone yesterday and it's a great idea so, er, fill your boots: "My bet for the next version of this whch will go big (and also a GREAT promo idea for a film) - do the same gag but with emoji at the end, from the account of a film/game; the resulting emoji string tells the story in pictures of a key plot reveal or piece of fan service".
- Comms Unplugged: Prediction: this is going to end in a law suit, a murder, tears, or possibly all three. I mean, you just wouldn't, would you? GUYS LET'S HANG OUT REALLY INTENSELY IN A FIELD AND TALK ABOUT COMMS.
THE SECTION WHICH LEARNED LAST NIGHT THAT THE BOSS OF A CAMBRIDGE-BASED ANALYTICS COMPANY IS A COKEHEAD WITH A QUESTIONABLE LINE IN CHAT-UP PATTER, AND WHICH IS IMMENSELY CHEERED BY THAT KNOWLEDGE, PT.1:
- Wikipedia: The Text Adventure: Very much one of those 'I could probably just link to this and leave it here this week tnh' (no, ha, don't think you're getting off that lightly), this is, frankly, mental, and I have no idea why it exists. Mavigate Wikpedia as though it were a text adventure (you know! Zork! THG2TG!), taking a starting point and then wandering through linked entries and having a wonderful time EXPLORING KNOWLEDGE! I can't stress enough how easy it is to lose yourself in this; I just went on a 15-minute jaunt from Glastonbury to Kraftwerk which has totally fcuked my timing this morning, so, er, if this is late then blame this link.
- WATCH THE BEARS!: I was slightly confused by this when I found it yesterday morning; it CLAIMS to be a Google Earth add-in which now allows livestreaming from anywhere on the Earth map (OMG IT IS THE CIRCLE MADE LIFE!), but then I clicked on the bears and was confronted, despite the 8h time difference, with a perfectly visible stream of ACTUAL BEARS frolicking and catching salmon, which struck me as somewhat unlikely, But hey, what do I know? Maybe the camera's far enough north that night never falls? Maybe the areas are lit? In any case, CHECK OUT THE BEARS! BEARS! CATCHING SALMON! HAVING A FROLIC! Name them! LOVE THEM! God they're adorable, whether actually live or not.
- Slab: A magazine of anonymously-published writing, this...er...'zine' features contributions (anyonymous, obvs) from some very big-name writers on the topic (loosely) of 'Brexit' - wortha couple of quid, I reckon.
- Level Up: FULL DISCLOSURE: I half-know Carys, who's one of the people behind this (but only in the very vague 'i've been drunk near you' way, which I think excuses me from any conflict here) - Level Up is a new feminist organisation seeking crowdfunding at the moment, with the stated aim of: "[mobilising] the energy and potential of feminists in the UK. We’ll use digital tools to build a community of hundreds of thousands of people, and equip them with the tools to tackle sexism wherever they find it." Which, whichever way you look at it, is A Good Thing.
- Guide To Allyship: I have to say that this is one of the more exhausting things I have read this week. Not that I don't get it - the concept of the 'ally' amongst minorities, the idea of the privileged supporting the non-, etc - but FCUK ME is this stuff draining. I appreciate that this is probably a very non-woke POV, but when did not being a cnut become so exhausting? Yes, I know, being a straight white man is always less exhausting than any of the other options - I get that, I promise - but all of this stuff does rather make me feel like all the oxygen is being rapidly removed from my immediate vicinity.
- Motto Press: Expensive and self-indulgent, but also SO NICE; Motto Press is a project by a couple of designers which lets you get prints made - proper prints, made on a proper printing press - of whatever you choose to type; you have a certain number of characters, but beyond that you can get a unique, hand-made printed poster of whatever you like (in fact 2 of them). So if you've always wanted a large poster which reads, in tastefully-arranged font, "Fist me, Santa, take me right up the chimney!", or indeed whatever you fancy, it's your LUCKY DAY!
- Simplify: Wonderful, this - drag any image onto this website and it will respond by spitting out an ultraminimal interpretayion of said picture, in block pattern and colour. Works better with some things than others (you'll want to try using something with easily identifiable and distinct elements to it) but try it with, say, a scene from The Simpsons and it looks GREAT.
- Packwire: There is, obviously, nothing sexy at all about cardboard packaging; that said, this is about as cool as this sort of thing gets. Packwire lets any business commission affordable, customised cardboard boxes fpr theor products, which if you need to do anything remotely fun or creative with the way in which you send people stuff might be useful. Might. Look, not everyting in here can be all FRIVOLOUS and stuff, Christ, stop looking at me like that.
- Tonsser: I think this is Danish, which might explain the awful name; in any case, Tonsser is an interesting / appalling idea, depending on your perspective; it's basically a social network for aspiring footballers, allowing them to create profiles showcasing their skills, stats, progress in training and the like, all in the hope that they will be scouted by clubs who, the founders hope, will get on board with using this as a means of keeping tabs on young talent. They're apparently going to be pushing this hard in the UK in 2018, and they've just got investment from Nike which suggests that there might be mileage in it - if you or your clients do stuff in and around sport and want to sell stuff to kids who, in a few cases, might one day end up being violently wealthy...well, GET IN THERE. God I felt grubby typing that.
- The VR Trainer: Hipster footwear purveyors Onitsuka Tiger have made a VR trainer. It's SH!T. Seriously, look at it - you point your phone at it, after downloading a specific 300mb app, and...er...the logo pops out a bit. FFS! I mean, really - someone got paid to make this happen. IT'S STUFF LIKE THIS THAT MEANS THAT THE FUTURE ISN'T HAPPENING YET! Stop ruining the AR future with shovelware, please.
- Nuclear Trains: A Twitter bot which shares the location of the trains which crss-cross the UK carrying nuclear waste. One presumes and hopes that this is not quite in realtime, as, you know, TERROR.
- The ESPN Body Issue: It's that time of year again when we spend 10 minutes gazing on the impossibly perfect naked bodies of athletes and then prodding ourselves disconsolately wondering why we don't have the mental fortitude to achieve that sort of physical perfection (because we are WEAK, in case you wonder). These are, as ever, SO BEAUTIFUL; the climber with the prosthetic is a partcular favourite of mine, as are the bearded hockeybros and, frankly, everyone else too. The BOTTOMS on these people, people - seriously, callipygian doesn't even begin. Technically almost sort of NSFW, because nudity, but it is SO tasteful that any employer who has a problem with you clocking this has ISSUES. Click, look, marvel (and then consider the gym).
- Factitious: My friend Paul (HI PAUL!) has taught his son to say 'Fake News!' in the style of Donald Trump, which is simultaneously wonderful and very, very mean. Anyway, this is a game/quiz thing which asks you to see if you can identify whether headlines are in fact real news or FAKE NEWS - this will, in very short order, make you think that a) everyone is a fcuking idiot; and b) that we are all so, so screwed.
- 55 Football Nations: Matt Walker has decided that he wants to see a football matcgh in each of UEFA's 55 offiically identified footballing nations over the course of a single season; this is the blog whereby he documents that effort. Look, this is only of interest if you like football, but Matt seems like a lovely man (he self-describes as 'quite white and very tall', which is the sort of charming I can very much get on board with) and there will be some interesting stories out of this. Also, brands, SPONSOR HIM.
- Muzzle: This has the best onboarding video I've seen in ages, FYI - Muzzle is a really clever idea, a program which prevents pop-ups appearing on your device's screen to prevent the embarrassment of, say, 'bigbeargoeshardcumswap.avi has finished downloading!' appearing on your screen at an inopportune moment. Look, you might demur but tell me that this isn't useful.
- Glitch Art: I confess to not 100% knowing what Glitch is - it selfpdescribes as 'the friendly community where you'll build the app of your dreams' and seems to act as a repository for all sorts of different web experiments - anyway, this section is devoted to people who've made 'art', or more accurately webtoys; you should check them out, they are ACE, not least this one.
- Rare Colour Photos of Post-WWII Japan: Just that. It's interesting, to me at least, that it's now starting to feel like, yes, this actually was almost a century ago.
- Sampulator: The web, it's fair to say, isn't short of simple browser-based music toys; here's another, which lets you compose a 2 to 16-bar composition of drums and chords and keys, using keyboard presets, and save/share them to your heart's content. There are better and more sophisticated things of this ilk out there, but I really rather like the way this is set up; it's fun to play with, although (if you're me) it all sounds DREADFUL.
- Physical Podcasts: This is SO LOVELY. Seung Tae Oh is a student at a design school (it's not clear which; sorry, Seung) who has created this frankly AMAZING proof-of-concept work whereby they've taken podacsts and transformed them into physical artifacts; Serial, for example, becomes an RFID-enabled book into which you can insert different cards which correspond to different episodes of the show, with accompanying materials to illustrate the story - photos, documentation, etc. SUCH a beautiful concept, this - taking the medium an denriching it through tech. This sort of thing is where I thought/hoped publishing was going to go in that weird period around the (hugely disappointing) Raw Shark Texts and others of that ilk, when it briefly got infatuated with play and ARGs and stuff. Someone pay this person proper money to do this at scale, please.
- Harold Halibut: I wouldn't ordinarily bother featuring a videogame Kickstarter here, but the art style these guys are going for - all stop-motion animation andhand-made puppetry - is exquisite and like nothing else I've ever seen.
Sculpture by Bernini, photo by Howard Lyon
THE SECTION WHICH LEARNED LAST NIGHT THAT THE BOSS OF A CAMBRIDGE-BASED ANALYTICS COMPANY IS A COKEHEAD WITH A QUESTIONABLE LINE IN CHAT-UP PATTER, AND WHICH IS IMMENSELY CHEERED BY THAT KNOWLEDGE, PT.2:
- Thermoreal: We've all tried AR, right? Are we all in agreement that the only thing preventing it from becoming THE entertainment medium of the 21C is the current inability of the medium to transmit feelings of pain to its users? No? SHAME, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT'S COMING. Well, sort of - Thermoreal is a VR add-on which promises to enable its users to feel heat, cold, and, er, even pain, linked to the in-game experience. Which sounds, frankly, AWFUL, but I suppose I'm simply just not avant-garde enough to 'get it'. Oh God, the applications for cocknballtortureporn just struck me :-(
- The Miama Serpentarium: One of the occasional "wow, what an odd thing this is" finds from the US, this is the website of Miami's centre for snake and snake venom materials; the crazy thing about this is that you can buy ACTUAL SNAKE VENOM from them online. You email them with your order and they get back to you to process payment (and, one would hope, to ask at least a few searching questions about who the actual fcuk you are and why you want to buy, say, 15ml of Alpha Cobratoxin) and then they send you the ACTUAL SNAKE VENOM. No idea what most of this stuff is (aside from ACTUAL SNAKE VENOM) as the names of the products are all in Latin, but let me just draw your attention once again to the fact that they sell something called Cobra Alphatoxin - I mean, that doesn't sound great, does it? Do they ship internationally? Let's find out!
- How Will You Die?: This is 18 months old but got weirdly web-resurrected this week; it's a site which uses data on death causes and ages to (very roughly) calculate when you're likely to cark it and why. According to this, I am likely to live til I'm 100+ and will most likely shuffle as a result of cardiac issues - this is obviously rubbish, as it'll be the cance that gets me sometime in my 50s (and if not that it'll be the boredom), but see how YOU get on. I warn you, this is morbidly compelling.
- Emancipation Memorials: A Twitter Moment collecting photographs of emancipation memorials around the world. Honestly really rather lovely and hopeful and generally NICE.
- You Did Not Sleep Here: I honestly didn't know that this was a thing, but there you go. This is an Instagram account calling out photos of people camping / wild sleeping in improbable locations - you know the type of thing, people on improbable overhangs or bivvying on a mountaintop with improbably packed skies behind them, that type of idea. If you're a travel company or similar there's probably something in this from an ad campaign point of view, maybe, perhaps.
- Amazing Undersea Pictures: The Flickr page of one Alexander Semanov, who photographs (mostly) invertebrates underwater and whose pictures are really quite astounding. Really, though, these are quite spectacular and I recommend you losing yourself in them and imagining that instead of a sweltering, joyless office you are instead inhabiting the azure vastness and frolicking with some jellies.
- Paleophilatelie: Come on , fess up, you've been YEARNING for a website which explores the intersection of paleontology and philately, haven't you? HAVEN'T YOU? Eh? Oh. Still, here it is.
- BBC Food Techniques: Thanks to Saz for this; a WONDERFUL find on the BBC website, with links to a few dozen explainers as to a wide variety of culinary techniques, from butterflying lamb to poaching eggs. This is well worth bookmarking as it's genuinely useful and the sort of thing which, if you don't have access to Larousse (ha!), is a really useful primer on a range of cooking and prep methods.
- Hoodass: Some EXCELLENT 3d iCG illustrations here, not least the series where the artist imagines pop culture figures as decaying megaliths in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Look, just click the link, you'll see what I mean.
- Gameboy Astrophotography: Have you ever wondered whether it's possible to take photos of the stars with the old 8-bit Gameboy camera? Well it is, so now you know. You're almost certainly never going to do this, fine, but it might provide some sort of inspiration for other ways of, er, pointlessly taking super-low-res photos of stuff.
- Legal Lean: So this website sells two things; firstly, 'legal lean', a supposedly-legal (in the US at least) knockoff of codeine syrup popularised by rappers since time immemorial and the key constituent in purple drank, and secondly some sort of God-awful-looking CHOCOLATE FLAVOURED SNUFF. Yes, that's right, snortable chocolate. Dear CHRIST, can you imagine the state of your snot after this? I mean, aside from everything else. Can't say I'm not tempted, mind, so if anyone fancies going halves on a load I am ALL IN.
- Scuffle Business: Comedy Twitter Bot King Rob Manuel made this, which rather wonderfully attempts to find synonyms or alternative words for anything you send it. Tweet it with simple phrases and it will come back to you withalternatives; so, for example, 'Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher Rees-Mogg' becomes 'Sexists Demoniac Bonfire Christ Restock'. Of course it does!
- Lightyear One: Teslas? PAH! RUBBISH! It's all about the Lightyear now, which is AN ACTUAL SOLAR-POWERED CAR! No matter if you live in rainy old London town; the makers insist that you'll still be able to get 10k a year out of it from solar charging alone, and on days when it's all pea souper-ish you can plug it into the mains like any other good electric vehicle. I really, really want this to be real - how cool is the concept? - but the slightly-too-goodlooking guy at the en of the video weirdly put me off. Why don't I believe that attractive people can also be design geniuses? WHAT IS MY PROBLEM? No idea, sorry.
- London Street Nameplates: An instagram account documenting all the different lovely fonts and typefaces and suchlike being used on London street signage, which, fine, might not sound like much but you just click the link and admire the beauty of our city you ingrate.
- Free Language Resources: I can't remember where, but I read something this week which mentioned in passing that 'wanting to learn Italian' is pretty much the acme of weak aspirational self-improvement cant people start to talk about at 5am when the gramme's empty and you know that you're staring down the barrel of a LONG Tuesday and you need to say something to make yourself feel better about what you've been doing for the last 5 hours. Anyway, when YOU hit that point this weekend, console yourself with the fact that you have this link of excellent free lanmguage learning online resources through which to better yourself.
- The Third Thumb: ANOTHER excellent student project, this from Dani Clode, a recent RCA grad, whose imagined and made a 3d-printed extra thumb, motorized and independently controllable. I really like the idea behind this, amongst other things, which focuses on the original meaning of prosthesis as an addition rather than a replacement. HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO HAVE AN EXTRA THUMB? I saw this and flashed back really hard to the sort of stoned conversations you have when you were 16, where you spend 2 hours arguing about how different human progress would have been had we had, say, an extra arm, and then forget about that and argue whose turn it is to make the mix this time and whether anyone wants to go to the shop because I don't know about you but I could really go for a can of Lilt and some Frazzles right now, pass the skins.
- The Roller-Zuku: THE best collection of photos of Japanese biker punks you will see all week. LOOK AT THE QUIFFS!!!
- Seat 14C: This, if you're a writer of any description, is rather interesting. A short story contest by a Japanese airline and, er, some other people (sorry, I'm running late and can't be bothered to check), this asks entrants to imagine themselves as passengers in seat 14C of a certain flight which, through a magical and unexplained quirk of physics, magically travels into the future. What is it like when you step off the plane? Fine, the prompt isn't HUGELY inspiring, but the prize - which is flights to Tokyo, spending money, some schwag, all the publicity and honorary membership of the Sci Fi Advisory Council - is nice, and given they only want 2-4k words it's not too much of an onerous task. Take a look, see if you feel inspired.
- Purrli: Do you have an office cat? No, you don't, do you, and even if you do I bet it hates you. Imagine, though, that such a thing is not in fact IMPOSSIBLE DREAM with this cat noise generating website. Put it on at home to REALLY antagonise your pet.
- The Breakfast Bowl: I've never been one of those people who's able to wake up and spark a spliff; more accurately, I've never been one of those people who''s able to wake up and spark a spliff and then do anything else. You, though, might be made of sterner stuff and therefore might appreciate the idea of this, a combination cereal bowl and bong. Obviously an awful, preposterous idea and yet, oddly, sort of charming.
- Bullet Bras: As a man I spend quite a lot of time feeling very grateful for my gender; this is only reinforced when I come across things like this collection of photos of women from the 40s and 50s wearing the sort of conical brassieres I'd only previously seen on early-90s Madonna. People actually wore this stuff? Seriously, these could pierce skin they're that pointy.
- Cartoonists of Colour: Should you ever want a database of non-white cartoonists, here is such a thing.
- Hidden In Plain Sight: I really, really like this project. NYC artist Michelle Hessel has interviewed various street vendors around the city and memorialised them in 3d prints; to quote, "High fidelity 3D scanning techniques were explored in order to use the physical model of the cart as small canvas. When users interact with it, audio is triggered and the vendor starts sharing their stories in their own words. As the narrative unfolds, minimalistic animations that complement the audio tracks are mapped on top of the cart." Such a lovely concept, and the sort of thing which you really ought to be able to use as *ahem* 'inspiration' for a host of other things too.
- Send Trump Rubles: Send the Donald some fake Rubles with his likeness on them! Topical! LOLS! Meanwhile, he's still President and we're still all fcuked. LOLS!
- A Game of Legacy: A beautiful story and project and Kickstarter that I urge yo uto chuck a tenner at if you can spare it. Bernie is dying; he's got cancer, it's terminal, so it goes. My friend Tassos, to whom Bernie has been an inspiration and mentor through his development as a maker of theatre and games over several decades, is visiting him now to say goodbye, and to work with Bernie on devising a game about people, life and legacy which will live on after he dies. We don't know what the game is going to be, how it will work, what it will look like; the only thing that is known is that there will be something. I find this so, so beautiful and not a little poignant, I hope you do too.
- Made With ARKit: I'm trying quite hard not to get too excited about the FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES OF AR what with the fact that it's all still a little too far away to be tangible yet, and then I look at stuff like this - collecting all sorts of super-cool AR experiments which are being built with people using ARKit software - and I can't help it. The stuff with the portals! The kids playing basketball! This is all really quite incredible, I promise you.
- What Is The Most Cringeworthy Thing You Ever Said To Your Crush?: Ignoring the horror of the Americanism in the title, these are some beautifully embarrassing anecdotes from the Reddit underbelly.
- An Easy Lay: A brilliant short piece of interactive fiction, in which you play a wasp seeking to impregnate a partner with your eggs - a process which will, inevitably, lead to them being eaten alive from the inside out by your larval spawn. Much funnier than that description probably made it sound, I imagine any women who've ever been on a date will find something with which to empathise here.
- It Is As If You Were Doing Work: I have realised over the course of my 'career' that my tendency to openly describe what I and most of the people I know who do white collar jobs do as 'largely pointless in almost every way, simple busywork which keeps the money flowing but which, frankly, adds the sum total of fcuk all to the world' doesn't always go down well. WHY NOT? What is wrong with honesty? FFS. Anyway, this link is the absolute embodiment of that - one of those semi-infinite clicker games which manages to mirror the feeling of 'doing' a 'job' so closely that I suggest you spend the rest of the day playing it; it will almost certainly make no difference to anything if you do because, and let's remember this, YOUR JOB IS ALMOST CERTAINLY FUNDAMENTALLY POINTLESS. Happy Friday!
THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!
- Dictionary Stories: No idea whether this is actually built on Tumblr or not, but WHO CARES? No, I know you don’t. This is a lovely idea; short stories constructed entirely from example sentences sourced from dictionaries (you know, the phrases used to illustrate use-cases for particular words). Some of these are LOVELY, some silly, some nonsensical, but all are full of the pleasure of WORDS /pseud.
- Bruce Sterling: Thinker, author and general brilliant mind Bruce Sterling has a Tumblr! This is his Tumblr!
- Gap In-Store Playlists: Also not a Tumblr! (look, sorry about this, but frankly there was fuck all tumblr-wise this week that wasn’t absolute filth, and I always feel a bit bad linking to actual bongo in here, so please bear with me) This is great, though - compiling all the Gap in-store music from the mid-90s in one place, like a neverending episode of Friends (“The One Where They Turn A Blind Eye To The Slightly Less-Than-Ethical Labour Practices Employed By One Of The World’s Largest Retailers Because The Khakis Are SO Nice!”).
- Pixelated Crown: Work in progress by a game designer. Nice little graphical snippets and suchlike.
- Centuries Of Sound: ALSO NOT A TUMBLR! Still, though, WHAT a project; this is an awesome undertaking in all senses - to quote, “Centuries of Sound is an attempt to produce a set of mixes for every year of recorded sound. Starting in 1860, a mix will be posted every month until we catch up with the present day. So far we are still in the very early days, where a very limited selection of recordings are available, but as we get into the 20th century I hope to include the widest possible spread, both in terms of geography and genre.” Fascinating to see where this ends up.
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG!:
- The Age of Banter: Bantz! We are living through the Summer of bantz. Seemingly everyone in the UK is inexplicably addicted to Love Island (can I just point out, by the way, that I have been mocked for YEARS for my admittedly somewhat off-brand but very much longstanding commitment to Big Brother, and yet you all get a free pass for watching this because BANTZ? Lads, have a word), we’re all massively swollen with protein shakes, the heat’s making us take of all our clothes...this piece, which you’ve almost certainly already read as it was published last Friday but still, is a slightly-laboured look at how we arrived at PEAK BANTZ, from Loaded through to Joel Golby. It would have been better had Joel written it, but you can’t have everything.
- Furious Fergie: A long, comprehensive and frankly slightly obsessive look at pre-Man U Alex Ferguson, detailing his early career in football and management and going into some detail about his terrifying-sounding temper. The man, let’s be honest, sounds like an absolute psycho.
- Cabs Vs Uber: A truly wonderful piece of journalism from the NYT, taking an outsider’s look at the black cabs vs Uber struggle and using a cabbie and an Uber driver as subjects to illustrate the two sides of the divide. This probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know, but the way it’s written is quite incredibly theatrical; as I read this it struck me that it’s about 80% of the way there already to being a really rather good stage play. Seriously, just imagine it - you could have so much fun with the staging, and set it up as a pair of monologues intertwining. Really good, this.
- iCannes: Scott Galloway’s notes on this year’s Cannes. Unless you’re an advermarketingpr drone this will be of little interest to you, but if you ARE then this is rather good and pleasingly caustic about the whole sordid sh1tshow.
- On Blockchain: Like any good pinko lefty (who, er, takes a salary from major international corporations like the pathetic hypocrite I so obviously am) I obviously ABHOR Goldman Sachs and all their works; that said, this is a really nice explainer of what the Blockchain is, how it works and what it might mean for EVERYTHING, which has the added bonus of being presented in pretty shiny parallax html scrollovision. Damn the billionaires and their fancy website templates.
- Paddington Bear, Refugee: The New Yorker pays tribute to Paddington’s recently-departed creator Michael Bond in this rather sad elegy for his creation, which quite reasonably points out the slightly sadness in Bond’s passing at a time when Britain as a country is perhaps less inclined than ever in recent memory to extend a helping hand to those in need from around the world.
- Selling ‘French’: A really smart, interesting read, this, about how the idea of ‘Frenchness’ as a concept is packaged and sold and effectively used as shorthand for all sorts of other concepts...and how much of this ‘Frenchness’ is artificial and entirely constructed. I was trying to think which other national identities fall into this category of being almost pasticheable and sellable as caricature cliches of themselves; American, probably, British certainly, Japanese...it’s an interesting line of thought (to me, at least). Anyway, a good piece.
- My Body Is A Cage Of My Own Making: This is a brilliant piece of writing by Roxanne Gay, a self-confessed fat person, on how being that size feels, is. I confess, as a skinny person (yes, I know, thin privilege, but trust me when I say that this is compensated for by all the myriad OTHER STUFF that is wrong with me) that when I see the 20-stone plus I can only wonder as to what it must feel like to physically occupy that space and have to move that much mass with you at all times; this piece does a really good job of conveying that experience, and may make you somewhat more empathetic about the experience of largeness.
- In Stargoon’s Car: A really interesting exploration of AI music (you may recall - you WILL recall! - that last year I featured an AI composition based on the Beatles’ corpus, which track is referenced in this piece), looking at the maths behind composition and the idea that, if music is all basically numbers, we should be able to get pretty good at automating its creation before too long.
- Getting In And Out: A typically brilliant essay by Zadie Smith, looking at the film ‘Get Out’ and issues around cultural appropriation and race. She is SUCH a good writer it’s almost irritating; you can tell that, whilst this is a nuanced and well-considered piece of writing, it’s also Smith in second gear and it’s still a damn sight better than anything most people could write after seventeen redrafts.
- An Oral History of Quentin Tarantino…:...as told to the author by men they’ve dated. You have met these men, and, if you’re a man, you almost certainly are one of these men, at least some of the time. Sorry about that.
- The Nihilism of Julian Assange: A review of the new documentary on everyone’s favourite floppy-haired crypto-narcissist, which also turns into a decent skewering of many of the reasons Assange is such an increasingly unlikeable and problematic figure (aside from, you know, the sexual assault stuff).
- Google and Sex: What Google searches tell us about what people are into in bed (or wherever, frankly) - what they mainly tell us is that everyone lies when asked direct questions about sex, or at least that’s what the discrepancy between what we say and what we search would suggest. Lots of interesting stuff here, which raises one or two uncomfortable questions about what we currently take as ‘true’ about sex and sexuality.
- What’s This On My Kid’s Ball?: This is SO perfectly internet, combining something slightly curious and ostensibly boring which in fact turns out to be fascinating, the hive mind, and the obsessive way in which the web will occasionally go FULL SHERLOCK on something. It’s quite hard to describe this, so I suggest you just dive in and enjoy it.
- Reasons for Corbyn: A good read from the LRB on the whys behind ‘Absolute Boy!’ (please stop this, please) Jezus’ rise to his current exalted status as the new yoof messiah. Smart, reasonable, and a pleasing distraction to the oh-so-typical left-wing reaction to the unexpected electoral success which seems to have been to decide to dial up the internecine conflict to eleven. “What shall we do to celebrate our unexpected electoral performance? I know, let’s all start calling each other antisemites!”. Nice one, guys.
- A Muslim Doctor in Trumpland: I must admit this made me a bit tearful when I read it, though I confess to possibly being a touch hungover when I did so. Nonetheless, this portrait of a Muslim doctor delivering lectures on Islam in small town Trumpian middle-America is a really wonderful read and left me feeling far more hopeful than I’d expected it to. Web Curios doesn’t really ‘do’ heartwarming or hopeful, but this is sort of that exact thing.
- Tattoos: Not sure I’ve ever featured anything from Stylist in here before, but this is a lovely piece of personal writing by Megan Nolan, about her tattoos and why they are there. She’s a gorgeous prose stylist and this is beautifully-written.
- Track: SUPERB short story, winner of this year’s White Review Prize (you can find and read all the nominees here, and there are some crackers), this is called ‘Track’ and it’s a dark little love story and it’s just awesome. You will love this, I promise you - its author, Nicole Flattery, is a hell of a writer.
- Football: This...this is incredible, though. I don’t really want to describe it as it’s better if you take it as a surprise, but suffice it to say it’s one of the best and most interesting experiments with form I’ve seen in a while. It’s as yet incomplete - we’re on part 3 of...several, but start reading it and then come back to catch up. SO GOOD.
AND NOW MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!
First up, a gorgeous piece of lo-fi instrumental hiphop which really, really needs some rapping on it. This is called Tube Socks, by Kiefer, and I could listen to a whole album of this on lazy Summer evenings:
Films made in GTA aren’t new per se, but this - called ‘Not Normal’ is rare insofar it’s actually a really very good short movie regardless of the fact that it’s rendered in-game. Definitely worth 10 minutes of your time, this; it’s very impressive indeed:
The Doll Factory is Mario Klingemann’s latest HUGELY CREEPY neural network-generated piece of video work. DON’T HAVE NIGHTMARES!
Each of Radiohead’s three performances of Fake Plastic Trees at Glastonbury (93/03/17) all synced to play together. This is simply gorgeous, I promise you:
HIPHOP CORNER! This is by someone called Kassa Overall, it’s called ‘Cussing At The Strip’ and it’s very good indeed. Nice flow (sorry) - THAT’S IT FOR NOW SEE YOU IN A FEW WEEKS UNLESS I DIE OR INDEED UNLESS YOU DO BUT PLEASE TRY NOT TO FOR IT IS PROBABLY BETTER TO BE ALIVE, JUST!:
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).