Friday 08 September 2017

Web Curios 08/09/17

One of the unfortunate side-effects of the filter bubble in which I find myself is that I've notmanaged to stumble across any examples of right-wing climate change deniers desperately attempting to explain away the BIG WEATHER in terms that don't involve, you know, ACCEPTED SCIENCE. Still, it's good to know that there's a positive side-effect to all these poor bastards in the Caribbean having their homes totalled - WE WERE RIGHT ALLALONG!

Anyway, leaving aside the planet's continued attempt to remove the bloated tick that is humanity from its scarred and pock-marked skin, it's been another week of marvelling at our own political classes as they vie to prove themselves the most incompetent and out of touch of all. From sentient dustjacket Rees-Mogg's unmasking as - and you'll have been as surprised as I was, readers, at this unpredictable occurrence - something of a small-c conservative(!), to the continuing inability of the team managing the UK's Brexit talks (I refuse to use the term 'negotiations' as it implies some sort of reasoned, adult dialogue rather than the insistence of one party to stubbornly believe that 2+2=whatever we damn well want it to mean thankyou very much indeed) to achieve anything much at all (and can we just take a moment to establish quite how spectacularly little has been achieved to date? I mean, if this was you at work someone would probably have taken you to one side by now and started making encouraging words about 'deliverables' and 'pulling your fcuking finger out', right?), it's been yet another reassuring demonstration of just how crap EVERYONE is, most of the time. 

So! Don't worry about it! Cast your worries aside, for it is a FRIDAY - some of you might say FriYAY, and to you I say STOP IT - and there are only a few hours to go before you get to go home and stare at the leaden skies and remember that once there was sunshine and laughter. To fill in those empty hours, then, here I assemble for you a platter of the finest sweetbreads, foraged from the still-warm carcass of this week's web. Soaked and breaded and fried to creamy perfection, sink your teeth in and don't worry too much about the fact that you're not 100% exactly what sweetbreads are. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!

chai jinchen

By Chai Jinchen

LET’S START WITH THIS WEEK’S EXCELLENT IMPERICA MIX!

THE SECTION WHICH THINKS THEY OUGHT TO RENAME FACEBOOK STORIES ‘FETCH’ AND BE DONE WITH IT (YES, THAT IS A MEAN GIRLS GAG - WHO EVER SAID THAT CURIOS DIDN’T SURF THE VERY EDGE OF THE CULTURAL ZEITGEIST, EH?):

  • Facebook To Apparently Allow Crossposting of Stories Between Insta and FB: Erm, I’ve sort of told you everything there is to know here with that headline - such elegance! Such economy of style! - but in the interests of giving you VALUE I guess I can slap some proseflesh on the tired old bones of the story. Hm. What to say? Presuming this does end up happening - and Facebook seem intent on trying to MAKE people do stories on the platform - there’s no reason at all why you, brand person, wouldn’t cross-post stuff, is there, when Stories inevitably opens up to Pages? I mean, potentially bigger numbers! Ugh, look, this is all I’ve got here - ONWARDS!
  • Facebook Adding Annoying Colour Status Options To Comments: This is significant for several reasons: 1) It means that you can begin to undertake some subtle-ish trolling of your acquaintances by colour-coding your replies to them based on how much they are annoying you; why not set up your own personal colour code of disapproval and see if anyone cracks it? “Matt, why are your replies to me always in that particular shade of brown?”; 2) You could, if you were a community manager-type person, use this as quite a nice way of simply triaging posts on your Page by using different colours to flag replies as needing different types of follow-up action; 3) You could EVEN decide that it was part of your CHEERY BRAND PERSONA to emote using colours! (please, please noone do that); 4) Facebook is, if it’s not careful, going to end up like some sort of hideous, MySpace-esque design mess.
  • Facebook Testing ‘Things In Common’ Feature: I can think of literally no brand relevance to this whatsoever, not even from an advertising point of view, but Facebook’s apparently testing the ability to see what you have ‘in common’ with friends-of-friends on the platform, which sort of feeds into…
  • Facebook Could Be Doing Tinder: Let’s be clear - I think this would be RUINOUS. Really, really ruinous. Can you imagine if Tinder’s ‘swipe left, swipe right, flirt harmlessly, send a cockpick’ mechanic was ported largely wholesale to the world’s largest social platform? If everyone suddenly acquired the ability to cruise through their friends-of-friends list, seeking ‘connections’? Divorce lawyers, this one’s for YOU! I mean, it’s not exactly the same, and it’s only testing in a small number of areas, but you can see where this one’s going, can’t you?
  • Facebook Looking To Open Office in Shanghai: Because even if you can’t technically use the platform in China, they sure as hell want to buy adverts to target us with.
  • WhatsApp for Business Is Coming: At some unspecified point in the future, at least. There’s going to be a two-tier solution, one for smaller businesses which will be free (or at least so it appears now), and then another ‘enterprise level’ (I hate that term - so grandiose!) solution (is it a solution if it’s not technically solving a problem that anyone’s ever identified?) for larger-scale businesses; the deal is that this will give verified profiles enabling confident commercial interactions on the platform, though no word as yet to what else the feature set will include. It’s a very closed pilot programme at the moment, though you can apply for more information here should you be the right sort of international business behemoth.
  • LinkedIn Launches Audience Network: You know how on Facebook you can buy ads which will use FB targeting to appear on third-party sites? Yes, well, that, but using LinkedIn instead. Given the fact that, despite a series of articles of late suggesting LinkedIn is a GROWING COMMUNITY and stuff, and that people actually spend time on there, I am pretty convinced that no actual human beings - recruiters obviously don’t count - really use it at all, this is a useful way of using the platform’s admittedly excellent targeting options to reach people on sites they might conceivably want to visit.
  • The Amazon Advertising Pitch Deck: Stuff that I think is going to happen next year but which (see Curios passim) I am absolutely not, categorically, making a prediction about, oh no siree - Amazon will in a few years’ time be one of the largest digital ad platforms in the world. Take a look at this 16 slide presentation where they discuss their ad offering, targeting options and the like, and then tell me that they aren’t going to be getting a significant chunk of Stumpy Marty’s cash in the future. Aside from anything else, the ability to target users on the basis of stuff they have actually done is hugely powerful. More’s the pity.
  • China Internet Report 2017: A slightly Meeker-esque presentation - in aesthetics rather than length, thank Christ - about the current state of digital behaviour behind the great firewall. Interesting and useful, and as ever with this stuff made me do a slight double-take and think ‘man, they really have a...different concept as to what is acceptable or healthy levels of screentime, eh?’ If you’re vaguely of the belief that the future is largely going to be won online, this set of statistics suggests very clearly that there is only likely to be one winner, based on actual behaviour.
  • A N Other Social Media Image Size Cheatsheet: Because these things are always useful, and this is reasonably up-to-date I think (though it doesn’t include the circular profile pics on Twitter so, you know, FIE ON THEM). Horrible format, though, for which I apologise on its creators behalf.
  • Volcan: There are certain categories of corporate website which are always, always ridiculous. Car sites - PREPOSTEROUS! Film sites - WHY??? Perfume sites - LIKE DANCING ABOUT ARCHTECTURE! My favourite, though, tend to be websites for high-end booze, not least because of the wondrous way they attempt to convey the very essence of the concept of ‘premium’ (mediocre) through VERY SHINY WEBWORK and appallingly-conceived prose. So when I first came across this, a site for some tequila brand or another, I was tempted to dismiss it as just another vanity project. And yet, and yet, this is actually rather good. Fine, the interface is a touch overblown, and the language and imagery is as silly as ever, but it also gives you a genuinely interesting insight into the manner in which tequila is produced, the photography is lovely, you can actually learn stuff, and I found myself spending 5 minutes on there actually reading and watching bits and pieces about the history of the drink. This is, honestly, really rather good I think. Fcuk knows if it will persuade anyone to buy violently expensive firewater, mind.
  • One Four Nine: This is interesting - I think it’s been produced solely as a calling card/promo for this digital agency, which is a pretty bold move imho. It’s a nice piece of work - you’re asked to investigate a car accident, syncing your phone to the site to use it to investigate ‘clues’ with the standard mechanics - swipes, etc - and a few newer ones (the way the torch bit works is very nicely done imho). I won’t spoil the REVEAL for you (it’s not that interesting imho) but it’s worth taking the time (about five minutes) to play through it as it’s generally pretty slick. I do, though, think we’ve possibly reached the end of the ‘sync phone to site’ mechanic - there’s simply not that much you can do with it, turns out. Go on someone, prove me wrong here.
  • We Fail: I have a strange feeling I might have featured a version of this site before, but no matter - this is ACE and is by far and away the best agency website I’ve seen in ages, not least because it is actually funny. Go, look and be jealous.

lola rose thompson

By Lola Rose Thompson

NEXT UP IN THE MIXES, THE LATEST SELECTION FROM THE NICE PEOPLE AT HUH MAGAZINE!

THE SECTION WHICH WONDERS WHETHER THAT WOMAN WHO WENT ON THAT DATE IN BRISTOL IS FEELING A LITTLE, WELL, AWKWARD ABOUT HER ANONYMOUS FAME, PT.1:

  • Hogwarts: Yes, fine, Harry Potter is not a new or current thing, and neither is official fan-swamp Pottermore, but this but is so FIE ON YOU, DOUBTERS! This is a just-released new bit of the site which lets you zoom around a 3d model of Hogwarts school and explore the courtyards and towers and stuff, all rendered rather nicely in...er...webgl? Christ knows. Anyhow, you can explore and find 100 bits of Potter Lore around the place, and it’s generally quite a nice, relaxing way to spend a few minutes if you’d like to temporarily forget about the fact that Brexit is a shambles, the planet hates us and we are now all living in a semi-permanent state of twitching anxiety.
  • Makesum: Lorem Ipsum is not, in and of itself, an interesting or funny thing - not even if you’re a web designer, and especially not if you’ve ever committed the cardinal sin of using a novelty version about bacon or cats - but this site rather marvellously breaks that rule. Makeum lets anyone create their own Lorem Ipsum copy, from whatever corpus of words they feed it, and then share their creations with the world. So, for example, witness the ‘Remoaner’ Ipsum, or perhaps the Potter Ipsum - the real joy, though, comes with the possibility of being able to cobble together your own. Why not do one which carefully and forensically dissects the personality flaws of your client, and see if they notice? Or perhaps use this as an opportunity to articulate the exact nature of the fear and dread you feel upon waking every morning? The possibilities are VAST, and anyone who does web design should, I think, take this opportunity to make their own and cast it into the world. GO!
  • The Dark Crystal Design Contest: This is GREAT, and if you’re the sort of person who can, er, design the sort of weird little creature which you think would fit seamlessly into Jim Henson’s Creature Shop’s forthcoming reboot of The Dark Crystal. If I weren’t such an unimaginative artistic failure I would totally do this - here’s the brief, in case you need tempting: “This small, woodland creature must be a brand new concept – it cannot be a variation of an existing species, e.g., Skeksis, Mystic, Podling. All ideas are welcome, as long as they feel true to the world of The Dark Crystal, without being a variation of an existing Brian Froud drawing. Please include at least a front and side view of your new creature. In addition, please provide a paragraph of 50–100 words about your new creature, including a name, brief back story and characteristics of the creature. Your submission should include one or more still images submitted as JPGs or PNGs. Pencil drawings, paintings, digital drawings, digital paintings, and digital models are all acceptable, however the final submission must be as JPG or PNG files.” GO!
  • Realtime WWII: A Twitter account which is Tweeting (for the second time) the entire history of WWII in realtime. Fascinating stuff, and a nice reminder that bad things happened in history too, so, you know, it could be worse! Here’s hoping that there’s not some unpleasant nuclear synchronicity a little further down the line, though, eh?
  • Alejandro Santillana: Instagram account of Texan naturalist who posts pretty incredible close-up shots of various insects, turning his feed into a parade of beautiful, iridescent...things (look, I’m no entomologist - “What are you?”, I hear you cry, as I sink my head into my hands and quietly whimper “i don’t know anymore”) which will provide a pleasing counterpoint to all the pictures of your boring friends’ boring coffees and lifestyle shots and selfies and STOP PRETENDING YOU HAVE AN AESTHETIC YOU BASIC FCUK ahem sorry this is why I don’t use Instagram.
  • Elemental Haiku: I adore this. A periodic table whose gimmick is that each element has a haiku written for it, this is not only a cute/silly gimmick but the author, one Mary Soon Lee, is a genuinely talented writer; some of these are truly beautiful, and all of them relate directly to the element in question. I mean, look at this one, for little-heralded metal Germanium: “Do you miss it still / The semiconductor crown / That Silicon stole?” Come on, that is gorgeous. I would like to see haiku collections for everything - can someone do something like this for emoji, please? Ooh, crowdsource it! Here’s my entry for the poo “Ubiquitous turd / Inanely happy, smiling / Will someone please flush?” See, it’s a GREAT idea.
  • Tokyo Pics: Photos of Tokyo are ten a penny, fine, particularly that classic Harujuku/neon cyberpunk aesthetic, but this collection, by Lukasz Palka, is a nice contrast to those; whilst there’s inevitably some neon, the focus on the city’s grubbier rooftops and fire escapes and ventilation ducts gives a wonderfully future-urban grubbiness to the whole place.
  • The Arsenal Innovation Lab: Were I the sort of tedious prick who goes on Twitter making references to ‘yer da’ and ‘yer boyfriend’, I would probably open this with some sort of bantz about how ‘yer da’ thinks this is something to do with, I don’t know, cloning Alexis Sanchez. I am not, though, that sort of tedious prick (you can speculate as to exactly which genre I am, I won’t mind), so I’ll spare you the sub-Soccer AM riffing here. This is, instead, an interesting project from Arsenal Football Club who are looking for startups and small businesses to help the club innovate - from ticketing to merch sales to matchday experiences, businesses can pitch their ideas and effectively end up as part of the Arsenal incubator (they don’t call it that, but it’s effectively what it is) and potentially get investment from the club into their idea. There’s probably a gag in here somewhere about how inevitably the startups it focuses on will be front-end heavy, leaving a gaping hole where the actual heavy lifting and, you know, REAL STUFF ought to go, but I simply don’t care enough about football to try and make it so feel free to imagine your own and then post a ‘yer da’ gag about it online, you twat.
  • A Road Trip: Totally pointless, but lovely, this site stitches together photos from Google Street View to present a journey of hundreds of miles from LA to SF. I find this hugely soothing, helped by the soundtrack, but I would love to be able to set it to my own music, syncing the tempo of the video to whatever’s playing; it would make a wonderful ‘thing to have on as a pseudo artwork while music’s playing’ wossname.
  • Better History: Not, sadly, a service to rewrite actual history; instead, this is a boring-but-useful Chrome extension which basically makes your browsing history usable. Giving it a helpfully clear interface, this will let you easily flick through history from various days, search within your history, group your history by time spend on site, delete individual domains from your entire history, etc etc etc. Basically if you spend as much time as I do wandering around the web, this is invaluable; similarly, if you keep on forgetting to activate Incognito mode when browsing Xhamster. I am not judging, honest.
  • The Inspection Chamber: Not actually a thing itself - more the announcement of a thing - but it’s still rather cool. Remember a few months back when I featured the Dunkirk interactive story on Amazon Echo? No? FFS, what’s WRONG with you? Why don’t you keep a lightly-annotated copy of every Curios ever in your head like I do? What? Because you fill all that brainspace with love and friendship and family and real, lived experiences rather than the hollow, unfulfilling simulacra of ‘life’ presented onscreen? Yeah, well, WEVS. Anyway, the lovely BBC (full disclosure: the lovely BBC are paying some of my wages at the moment, but I would love them regardless) are making an interactive radio play story thingy using Echo, which will let users ‘interact’ with it in specific ways to affect the story (sort-of). Details are sketchy at the moment, though someone I spoke to yesterday who’d played it said it was quite Hitchhikers in its vibe, which is imho A Good Thing.
  • Typo/graphic Posters: A wonderful collection of typographic posters, basically: “typo/graphic posters is a platform for inspiration and promotion of good design through the poster culture. We focus exclusively on typographical and graphical posters, those that challenge type, colors and shapes to express a message.It is a curated gallery with a graphic design point of view. each poster is reviewed to meet a standard in visual qualities and functional efforts.” Gorgeous, searchable, vast library of wonderful design work.
  • Flag of Mars: I had no idea whatsoever that a flag for Mars had already been designed - it had, though, by one Pascal Lee. The premise of this site is that Pascal’s design could do with a bit of a revamp, and so the site owner is proposing this (you’ll have to click on the link to get what ‘this’ is, obvs), a lovely little chevron-based number which I look forward to your descendants saluting every morning as they gaze at the inky blackness of space through the reinforced crystalline surface of the Terrordome and wonder what it must have been like to breathe air and taste potatoes and stuff.

emil melmoth

By Emil Meltmoth

NEXT UP, WHY NOT ENJOY A LIVE SET FROM ERIC HARARY FROM A FEW WEEKS AGO IN BROOKLYN FOR A HOUR’S TECHNO FIX?

THE SECTION WHICH WONDERS WHETHER THAT WOMAN WHO WENT ON THAT DATE IN BRISTOL IS FEELING A LITTLE, WELL, AWKWARD ABOUT HER ANONYMOUS FAME, PT.2:

  • Waddle: Not by any means an entirely new idea, this, but potentially useful to some of you, Waddle is an app which is designed for parents to share photos of their kids and general family life with people without clogging up FB or Insta with a bunch of cute-but-frankly-samey snaps of their DD or DS (I still speak Mumsnet, even 6 long years on from the Summer of Pampers). It also allows users to order framed prints of any of the snaps on demand, which is a smart monetisation model and which I can imagine lots of grandparents getting no little joy out of.
  • My Morning Routine: I honestly had no clue that this was a thing, until it was tweeted by the legendary Dave Knockles tweeted about it, inspired by this Tweet which you’ve probably seen. Anyway, My Morning Routine is a wonderful collection of ‘inspirational’ posts by people who feel the need to share exactly how well-optimised their lives are for success by demonstrating their SUPER-EFFICIENT ‘hacks’ (I swear, it’s getting to the point where I have a strong and increasingly uncontrollable urge to maim anyone who uses ‘hack’ in the context of ‘small tweak to habit or lifestyle designed to magically enhance productivity’) for living a better morning life. Whether it’s a fitness routine which begins at 5am every day, incorporating a chia seed smoothie and some pilates, or whether it’s some sort of appalling ‘I do three hours of writing as soon as I rise from my pit’ (I mean, I actually do that once a week, but for me it’s very much the mental equivalent of defecation - which, I imagine, has become pretty apparent over the years), you will find a whole array of things to hate in here. Enjoy!
  • Star Wars Fitness: The best possible way to absolutely obviate any small increases in your attractiveness accrued from your gym and fitness regimen, guaranteed.
  • We Are All The Same: If you’ve spent any time at all on the web in the past few decades - and if you’re reading this, I’m going to confidently predict that you have a bit - you’ll be familiar with the work of Hans Eijkelboom who for the past 20-odd years has been taking pictures designed to illustrate the sartorial conformity most of us unwittingly engage in. Eijkelboom’s ‘thing’ is that he takes photos of people from one location over the course of an hour and then pulls together collections of those who are dressed in similar manner from the resulting photos, illustrating just how, well, sartorially unimaginative most of us are. This is a lovely collection of some of his work, and will either make you feel pleasingly anonymous or desperately miserable about how, actually, we’re really not special or unique at all. Except you. You’re special.
  • Virtual LAX: Proof that there is nothing so ostensibly boring that someone on the web won’t manage to turn it into ‘entertainment’, this is a 24h live simulation of air traffic going in and out of LAX. At the time of typing it’s pretty quiet what with it being the middle of the night, but by the time you receive this HOT CONTENT right in your inboxes it should be warming up nicely. I say ‘warming up’ - what you’ll see is some planes landing and taking off, all soundtracked with the actual audio of air traffic control from the towers. This is all being streamed on Google’s Twitch competitor, and the chat window is so charmingly polite that it makes for quite a pleasingly niche community - DON’T RUIN IT PLEASE.
  • The Arcade Sofa: Have you ever wanted to own anarticle of furniture, custom-designed to look not unlike an original Street Fighter II arcade cabinet? No, of course you haven’t, and yet here we are. This French site is flogging a quite staggering number of variations on this particular theme, from SFII and King of Fighters, to a Hello Kitty-themed version (no, you can’t have one) and one which, bafflingly, comes emblazoned with the legend ‘Pussy Wagon’, which may well be one of the greatest prophylactics ever devised. Prices on application, but I imagine there’s at least one of you who will covet one of these things like little else on earth.
  • Movie Heds: Headlines on newspapers from films, posted on this Twitter account. Remind yourself of some GREAT ones - Back to the Future, obviously, but also more obscure gems such as “PENGUIN FORGIVES PARENTS” and “TOON KILLS MAN!”. Pointlessly lovely, as all the best things are.
  • Six Word Memoirs: This has been going for nearly a decade, apparently - without delving in too deep (because I am lazy, tbqhwy), I think it’s a US schools initiative to encourage creative writing and storytelling which has since expanded. Leaving aside the Hemingway cliche, there are some really wonderful, poignant little pieces of writing on there, not least the more recent examples of people sharing their six-word stories about their experiences in the US as immigrants - particularly poignant this week given that man’s latest piece of racism.
  • A Whole Bunch of Photos of Burning Man 2017: Because every year I feel compelled to post a selection of these, and every year (look! I’m going to do it again!) I am seemingly compelled to write something like ‘Burning Man looks like it would be fun were it not for the dreadful people’. So it goes. The sculpture here displayed is quite fantastic, mind, regardless of your opinion of the annual JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY for the tech community - I really would like it, though, if next year they banned anyone from doing / wearing anything that was a Mad Max ripoff because FFS guys can we not just stop doing this aesthetic now please?
  • Entertainment Memorabilia Auction: As alluded to in last week’s intro, we’re only a few short weeks away from the arrival of THE CHRISTMAS NARRATIVE, where floggers of tat line up to whip us into a purchasing frenzy as we join the annual game of ‘anchor our lives in meaning through conspicuous consumption’. If you have a bunch of geeks in your life who you feel compelled to buy gifts for, you could do worse than checking out this forthcoming auction, taking place in late-September in London, of film props and memorabilia - there’s some GREAT stuff in here for the right customers, including prosthetics from 28 Days Later (why not make YOUR sexplay incredibly, worryingly sinister!) and the tshirt which Frost war in Aliens (“Peace Through Superior Firepower”) and, oh, LOADS of stuff, some of it almost even affordable. I’m not suggesting AT ALL that any of you ought to reward me for all the hard graft I put into Curios, oh no siree, but if anyone fancied getting me this then that would be lovely thanks.
  • A-Z Wallpaper: Now that the London A-Z has been rendered largely redundant, the company that makes it has had to diversify - DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN GET MAP WALLPAPER FROM THEM???? This is so exciting - you can get different cities, fine, but I want London all over my walls.
  • Clipart Bot: A Twitter bot which intermittently posts examples of clipart from 1994, when the world was a simpler place and you could get away with illustrating everything in greyscale and noone cared that you couldn’t use photoshop or code or edit video and oh god let me go back. These are quite remarkably ugly, and I would like you all to consider reintroducing them to internal documents as of the now.
  • Archive Team: You’re all obviously aware of the Internet Archive Project, but this is the lesser-known Archive Team, which works to preserve some of the more obscure corners of digital culture for posterity. There’s detail here about their current and future projects, and how to get involved, but also a whole load of reminders about now-mothballed corners of the internet, the small communities they want to trap in amber and preserve. I don’t think we should underestimate the sociological importance of this sort of stuff - I don’t care how ostensibly meaningless much of the material they’re seeking to preserve is, it’s all species-DNA to a degree and as such deserves saving imho. Even the Miis.
  • Zcomx: An incredble resource of free, open-source webcomics, from stuff you’ll never have heard of to some pretty famous artists - to quote, “zco.mx is a curated not-for-profit comic-sharing website for self-publishing cartoonists and their readers. The site brings cartoonists together to build and share an audience, and readers can contribute money directly to cartoonists for works they enjoy. zco.mx offers a platform where self-publishing cartoonists can make their material available to readers with a simple-to-use user interface and where books can be uploaded within minutes.” It’s a great idea and a wonderful service, and if you want to spend the rest of the day reading indie comics then, well, go right the fcuk ahead.
  • Sukii The Adventure Cat: I got a complaint last week that there was a distinct lack of feline content in Curios, and so, just for you, comes the most beautiful cat in the world. No, really. Don’t say I never do anything for you.
  • Clara Terne: Sticking with Instagram, this is the feed of digital artist Clara Terne who makes strange, slightly-weirdly-organic-looking 3d CG sculptures, some animated, which I am very much a fan of.
  • Click this: And then make your own and send it to people (turn your sound up please).
  • Chowii: Dreadful name, but if you’re looking for a site which collects the now-ubiquitous ‘shot from above with quite tight edits’ form of cookery instruction video then you are in the RIGHT place. Leaving aside the fact that these videos tend to be utterly useless for actually teaching you how to make anything which is in fact edible, but WHO CARES EH THEY LOOK NICE.
  • Web VJ: I’ll be honest, I really don’t know what this is or what it’s for, but it looks really fcuking cool.
  • RCVRY: Despite increasing evidence that I really ought to think about it, I’ve never really experimented with the idea of abstinence and the 12-steps and the like. This is a ‘coming soon’ app which will offer a degree of community and support for people taking their own abstinence ‘journey’ (is that a thing?), and which if this is something which is part of your life you may find useful to keep an eye on.
  • Riffshare: I don’t make music - I learned classical guitar as a kid and was so devastated by the realisation that noone wants to go out with a 10 year old who can play medieval tapestries on an acoustic that I basically gave up on music altogether at that point - and so am unable to comment on whether or not this is any good or not, but it ticks all the Curios boxes in terms of being a 3d webtoy that it’s quite fun to mess around with. Riffshare presents users with a synth setup which, for reasons best known to its creator, exists in a 3d space; otherwise, though, it seems like reasonably standard sequencing software. You make whatever music you like and then, should you desire, share it with the unique url generated by the program. Is it good? No idea, but I very much enjoyed playing ‘Yakity Sax’ on it earlier on.
  • Virtually Dating: I am amazed that this hasn’t been snapped up by BBC3 or Channel 4 or 5 yet to be honest .’Virtually Dating’ is a Facebook Page/show which takes two strangers and sends them on a date - IN VIRTUAL REALITY! Yes, a totally pointless gimmick and yet..I have watched 2 of these episodes now and they are surprisingly funny, not least because of the intensely janky nature of the VR experience for the participants - clipping issues, poor gesture mapping and the general sense of weird dislocation VR engenders makes for some rather cute icebreaking. I would be genuinely interested in seeing this done with high production values; then again, I watched BOTH versions of Big Brother this year and so I feel like I might have perhaps forfeited my right to opine on what makes ‘good’ entertainment.
  • Audio Recording In Space: I really can’t describe this - seriously, it’s SO HARD - but here goes - imagine that you could record audio in a room, moving around so that the audio bursts were visualised at various points in space when viewed in AR, and that then you could replay that audio by moving through the physical space in which it was recorded? See, nonsensical - just click the link and be AMAZED, and then think of all the fun applications for this; you could set up a pacemaking audio track for runners, for example - choose your song and run along at the right time to make the beats drop at the right moment. Or place audio clues along a trail, or use it for audioguide purposes OH MUSEUMS YES! So, so exciting, this.
  • Inside Music: Finally this week, a VR music toy from Google which is so good that I don’t want to explain it to you. You don’t need a headset - it works in browser - so just go and enjoy playing with it; SO MUCH FUN.

roshan adhihetty

By Roshan Adhihetty

">LAST UP IN THE MIXES, HAVE THIS HOUR-LONG COLLECTION OF POST-PUNK RARITIES!

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!:

  • Nietzsche Cats: This is an old one of Shardcore’s but I’d not seen it before. Nietzsche! Cats! Together! You can probably get the idea.
  • Digital Loop: Digital animations, collected - lots of differents artists’ work here, some of which I’ve featured in this section before, but it’s a great source of stylistic inspiration for designers and animators.
  • Blue Off The Shoulder Dress: This is great. I had no idea that a particular blue, off the shoulder dress by Zara had become so ubiquitous, but apparently it has - this blog’s author has taken to photographing its many appearances in and around wherever in the US she lives (LA?).
  • Spongebob CLoseups: The background art of Spongebob as, well, actual art. Time to some sub-Warholian ‘artist’ doing this as a real show?

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG:

  • 100 Exceptional Piece of Journalism from 2016: Yes, I appreciate we’re now ¾ of the way through 2017, but it’s not my fault it’s taken so long for this to be compiled. Anyway, if you didn’t find enough in this section to keep you occupied this week then enjoy this wonderful selection of writings from last year - some of these were featured in Curios in 2016 (GOD I HAVE SUCH GOOD TASTE), others may be new to you, but there is a lot of great writing in here, arranged thematically for you to peruse.
  • Bloomberg Features Archive: Another holding page, this time for all of Bloomberg’s rather wonderful features, which combine interesting subject matter and great writing with some of the more out-there web design you’re likely to see on a major publisher’s website. Look at what they’ve done with the Ket story, ffs - you wouldn’t see the Guardian’s ‘interactives’ department signing that off.
  • ARCore vs ARKit: Unless you’re an AR developer, or interested in AR development, you can skip this one - it’s a look at the technical differences and pros and cons of Google and Apple’s respective AR platforms and it’s full of stuff I don’t really understand but which might be useful to you if you’re wondering what to focus your dev efforts on.
  • The First White President: This is VERY long, but it’s by Ta-Nehisi Coates and so is pretty much automatically worth reading; it’s an excellent, clever and educative (at least to me) piece on the Trump’s perception of whiteness and how it’s affecting his presidency and the country, but it addresses far deeper issues which cut to the heart of the question of what, say, Munroe Bergdorf meant when she said that ‘all’ white people are racist. Very smart writing and the sort of thing which, were I even more of a didactic bore than I already am, I would suggest that everyone ought to read, regardless of your appetite for yet ANOTHER Trump-led piece.
  • Tracking Twitter Abuse Against Female MPs: A piece of research published by Amnesty this week which was widely reported but which it’s worth reading their own analysis of - this is the study which showed exactly how much abuse Diane Abbott gets as a proportion of the massive amounts of vitriol directed at female parliamentarians. If you can read this and look at the data and not come to the conclusion that a) Twitter is not a nice place to be if you’re a woman in the public eye; and that b) Diane Abbott is the victim of staggering amounts of racism then I don’t really know what to say to you and I’d like to ask you to stop reading now, please.
  • Etiquette and the Cancer Patient: Apropos nothing, a book landed on the desk of one of my colleagues yesterday, sent in error by the PR at Little Brown - it’s a guide to looking one’s best when coping with cancer, including - so said the blurb - advice from ‘celebrities’ on how to keep that style going even when the chemo’s fcuking with you. Which is, er, nice. I mean, I know more people than I’d like who’ve had cancer, some now dead, others not, and whilst several of those are / were stylish people, I don’t think any of them ever gave the impression that what they were REALLY after were some tips on wig dressing from Nicky Clarke.  Anyway, that massive digression leads me back to this piece, which is all about how you might want to think about talking to people suffering from cancer - obviously it’s a massively subjective thing, but there’s some good advice here about how to be helpful and supportive whilst at the same time placing a minimal burden on the patient. Worth a read if cancer, or indeed any other serious condition, is part of your life in any way.
  • How America Lost Its Mind: Another LONG but excellent piece looking back at how America (fine, and the rest of us, but particularly the US) have spent the past 60 years meandering to a post-truth world. I did roll my eyes slightly at the implication - for it is ever thus - that it’s the Boomers who are to blame with their pesky 1960s countercultural normalisation, but it makes a lot of clever points and it’s a good read.
  • MLF on Digital Understanding: The full text of the speech which Baroness Lane Fox gave in the Lords this week to kick off the debate on Digital Understanding. Worth a read, not least because it offers a reassuring reminder that there is at least one person involved in Government who vaguely understands how the web and digital culture work (shame they’re not actually anywhere near Government, but baby steps eh).
  • Better Than All That Conceptualist Bollocks: Excellent review of Grayson Perry’s work in the New Humanist, which argues that Perry’s work does little to conjoin the medium and the message, and as such is as much of a surface-y fudge as much of the YBA output he positioned himself in opposition to. On a personal note, not that you care, I’d like Perry’s stuff much better if he was, you know, any good at the actual pottery.
  • No Such Thing As A Free Watch: A fascinating account of how ‘free watch’ offers on Instagram work, and pretty much the ur-example of how late-stage capitalism functions. This is honestly a really good read, so don’t be put off by the PDF - touches on all sorts of things, from logistics to trust to the morals of the whole enterprise, and it feels pleasingly now-futureish.
  • Lessons From Camels: A brilliant account of a trip taken by an Australian man with his parents and some camels. A tiny bit ‘voyage of self-discovery’, but mainly it’s just very funny indeed, in that peculiarly Australian way which mixes bluntness with a curious sort of self-loathing vulnerability (or maybe that;s just my interpretation).
  • Can Your Best Friends Be Books?: Have you read ‘The Neverending Story’? Yes I know you’ve seen the film - it’s crap compared to the book, honest. Go on, get a copy now, you won’t regret it, I promise. Anyway, there’s a bit relatively early on in the novel in which Bastian Balthazar Bux is hiding in the attic of the empty school and he is reminiscing about his home life, alone with his dad, and thinking of all the wonderful books he escaped into to hide from the loneliness of his father’s broken heart and you know when you read something as a kid and it takes your breath away because for the first time you see articulated a feeling you’ve always known you had and which until now you’ve never realised could possibly be felt by anyone else and you suddenly realise that there are people like you and that maybe you will meet them in books? Well this is sort of an essay about that.
  • How Instagram Makes You Boring: I mean, I am TOTALLY down with this, but let me quote to you from this (excellent, suprisingly literary) essay: “on Instagram, you can be totally boring and pointless as long as you "own it," or portray your boring pointlessness as somehow intrinsic to your self. Talking about what you had for breakfast, or how much you love shopping at certain stores and eating at certain restaurants, may indeed mark you as a basic loser in the real world, but on Instagram, as a "photographer," you can fashion these interests as special and unique. (In their ostensible objectivity, photographs, Sontag writes, are "attempts to contact or lay claim to another reality"; they "help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure.") In the process, you make other people feel special and unique for sharing them, which they inevitably will.”  Whether or not you agree with the premise, this is a fine piece of writing.
  • The Transgender Style Guide: Or more acurately, ‘a’ transgender style guide, but regardless this is a fascinating exploration of how we could and should use language to describe and denote people at various points on the LGBTQIetc spectrum. Almost certainly imperfect, fine, but an interesting and useful starting point nonetheless.
  • The Sucker, The Sucker!: Wonderful article from the LRB on the majesty of the octopus and why they are remarkable, brilliant, fascinating, alien creatures who we perhaps ought to feel slightly more guilty about eating (but so tasty though). There’s loads to love in here, not least the whole question of mind/body distinction raised by the cephalopod’s complicated relationship with its own tentacles (no, I said tentaclezzzzzzzz).
  • The Globalised Jitters: Laurie Penny’s pretty marmite I know, so if you don’t like her schtick then feel free to skip this one - and I confess to rolling my eyes pretty damn hard at the faux-Gonzo intro and the juxtaposition of twee Tumblr-culture tropes in with the whole ‘everything is FUBAR’ narrative - but the general point she makes, of the humming thrum of fear and unease which is seemingly just water to us now, is a good one. Still, what you going to do about it? Do what I do and cope by not caring about ANYTHING in more than glibly superficial fashion!
  • Woven: This is a killer piece of writing. I can’t really say too much more, except it’s about love and violence and it’s quite brutal, but it’s a superb piece of prose if a tough one to read.
  • A Love Letter To ‘Hey Ya’: This is SO CLEVER. This is a short story about Hey Ya! By Outkast and I guarantee you don’t know what the lyrics are. No, really, I bet you don’t. Surprising and just really, really nicely done.
  • The Clown of Mogadishu: Absolutely the best story I have read in YEARS, this, purely from a ‘really? REALLY?’ sort of perspective; this tells the wonderful tale of the life of Brit Bill Brookman, who worked for several decades for the UN as a clown. No really, the UN employed a clown. Brookman is, as you’d expect, a truly remarkable oddity of a man, but the story of his exploits in Kosovo, Somalia and beyond, and the genuine progress he helped the UN make in conflict zones through his art, is properly heartwarming. I promise you, you will absolutely adore this story and it will make you think you ought to be doing more with your life (you should).
  • My Strange, Violent Summer, Lived Through a Shower of Online Content: Finally this week, the long-awaited (by me at least) return of Clive Martin, for several years now one of my favourite writers about, well, anything at all. If you know the song ‘Losing Haringey’ by The Clientele, that channels a lot of the same sort of prose style; if you don’t, just enjoy this - it’s the written equivalent of a late-September afternoon and it’s as bleakly accurate about London and LIFE as you might hope. He’s still very, very good.

vania zouravliov

By Vania Zouravliov

AND NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!

1) GTA LEGO. Look, this is great, just watch it and hope that there’s an unlikely crossover game in the pipeline:

2) This is by a band called ‘Youngr’, and whilst I don’t mind the song it’s the video which drew me in here - it made me imagine what a classroom is going to be like when all the kids can tag each other and themselves with AR graffiti-type stuff, and it looks FUN. This is called ‘Monsters’:

3) This is called ‘Ugly Rave’ and is basically every single over-30s-type dance event I have ever been to, ever:

4) This is the new one from Beck - I know I’m unusual in this, but I preferred it when he was being all miserable, but hey ho. This is called ‘Up All Night’ and the video is SPECTACULAR - enjoy:

5) HIPHOP CORNER! This is by the apparently already very famous Lil Uzi Vert, and it’s called ‘XO tour Lif’ or somesuch, and I rather like it - also, it’s worth clicking through into the YT comments to explore the latest Illuminati-type theories going on in there about the subtitles on this vid - man, the conspiracies run DEEP here. Oh, there’s a lot of blood/suicide imagery in the vid, just in case you’d rather not see that sort of thing:

6) I don’t know how to describe this so I am not going to try. It is BEAUTIFUL, though. It’s called ‘Unendurable Line’ and it is ART:

7) Finally this week, the beautiful new song by Oneohtrix Point Never, featuring a CGI Iggy Pop and a real-life Robert Pattinson who, one suspects, might have been shoved in the direction of this particular project by his girlfriend. It’s called ‘The Pure and the Damned’ and it really is a gorgeous track. Bye everyone, I love you all deeply (agape, not eros) and I hope you are all broadly speaking ok. TAKE CARE, SEE YOU NEXT WEEK, BYE!:

 

Matt Muir

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

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