THE SECTION WHICH IS REALLY GLAD THAT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO SIT IN A MEETING TODAY AND FEIN ENTHUSIASM FOR THE CONCEPT OF A FACEBOOK STORIES STRATEGY FOR A BANK OR SIMILAR AND WHICH REALLY HOPES THAT YOU’RE SPARED THAT PARTICULAR PURGATORY:
- Facebook Stories Coming to Pages: Yes, that’s right, YOU, gentle Facebook user, yes YOU will soon have the ability not just to ignore Facebook stories from your friends and acquaintances but also from the brands desperately trying to shoehorn themselves into your feed! This is a classic non-announcement, in that all we have to go on is a spokesperson quote and no actual details - so no info on how this is going to fit into the ad ecosystem. Still, we all know that it will, and we also know that there will be a breathless Business Insider post as soon as it does listing ‘7 brands that are KILLING IT on FB Stories’ which, you know, with the right degree of planning could feature YOUR client. So schedule that creative brainstorm and AIM HIGH, advermarketingprdrones! THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO ATTAIN CONTENT-BASED GREATNESS!
- Updated FB Ad Transparency Guidelines: This is now OLD NEWS, but it does appear based on the language here used that there’s going to be a requirement on ALL brands to be transparent as the ads they’re running on FB - so, you know, BE AWARE.
- Share Your Insta Stories To Facebook: Now suddenly marginally more interesting based on the Stories for Pages announcement, Facebook’s sterling attempt to MAKE STORIES HAPPEN (fetch) continues through the implementation of an Insta-to-FB story sharing mechanic. Presumably this will be part of the initial rollout of Stories on FB, so actually, fcuk it, cancel that brainstorm; just recycle all the dross from Insta and take the afternoon off to get drunk.
- Polls on Insta Stories: Yes! Insta Stories users can now ask their followers QUESTIONS and get ANSWERS through a simple polling mechanic. Part of the fun about this is that responses, unlike in Twitter polls, are tracked, meaning that the poll owner can see who voted which way - which has proved awkward for people doing thirst tests of their mates, but which actually has some rather fun potential implications for brands. Just imagine the ways in which you can SURPRISE AND DELIGHT (sorry) your audience by rewarding users who vote in specific ways - actually, can you make specific audiences for ads out of poll respondents? You could do some quite smart stuff if so, imho. THINK, ADVERMARKETINGPRDRONES, THINK!
- Twitter To Add ‘Save for Later’ Feature: I have literally no idea whatsoever what the potential relevance from a commercial / advermarketingpr point of view could be here, but I am dutifully reporting this like the judgement-free social media oracle I am. From a users’ perspective, this will mean you no longer need to do a Clarkson and favourite bongo tweets for later, so that’s nice.
- Twitter Launching ‘Happening Now’ Feature: Again, literally no idea what the potential spin for brands here is, but Twitter’s apparently working on a ‘Happening Now’ carousel in its mobile apps - the idea being that on logging on, users would be presented with a...er...carousel at the top of the feed displaying LATEST NEWS; the initial rollout is planned to be around sports, so showcasing latest scores, breaking news, etc, but the expectation is that it will expand to become a more general ‘STATE OF THE WORLD RIGHT NOW’ roundup. Which is fine, but basically means that if you’re trying to avoid the football scores Twitter’s going to be a no-go app.
- Snap Art: I was honestly quite excited when I first saw this. “Oooh look!”, I thought, “a digital platform going BIG on visual arts! What a nice surprise! Fine, it’s the BIG GALLERY BIG MONEY type of art, but stilL!” And then they launched the thing properly and I checked out some of the videos and, well, plonking an AR balloon dog in parks around the world, viewable through Snapchat, seems a bit, well, lame tbh. I mean, great, well done them, and I like the idea of Snapchat positioning itself as THE app at the vanguard of ARt (see what I did there?), but frankly the execution’s just a bit dull - really, though, they could at least have attempted to do something fun with user ‘reflections’ in the AR image, no? I’m aware that complaining that my virtual balloon dog floating in the air in Hyde Park features insufficiently exciting reflective surfaces is, well, possibly a *bit* ungrateful, but fcuk it, I can be demanding if I want. Anyway, no indication of what happens next with this - personally I think Frieze missed a trick here by not creating a Snapchat Sculpture Garden to accompany the real one this year, but wevs. If you’re a brand with lots of money, might be worth thinking about whether there’s anything you can persuade Snap to do along these lines. Oh, and obviously the art’’s been ‘vandalised’ - the questions inherent in this action, about the co-option of public space, are really interesting (if about two years ahead of their time, imho).
- Snapchat Launching Context Cards: Basically this means that Snap will start pulling in third-party data from sources like Lyft and Opentable and Tripadvisor and including this data in public geotagged Stories and Snaps - so, say, if you’re in Leicester Sq and viewing Stories tagged with the location, those Stories might let you swipe up and get information about the Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse on the corner. As things stand this is just pulling in stuff, so there’s no obvious brand application - though it’s another reason for bricks-and-mortar locations to fret about the quality of online reviews about them. Here’s the promo video if you want more info (you probably don’t).
- Snapchat Testing ‘Official Stories’ Section: This is effectively going to be a ‘Stories from Verified Accounts’ section within the Snapchat app, which will present users with a selection of, er, Stories to view from, er, verified accounts on the platform. Seemingly a ploy to keep ‘influencers’ (sorry) invested in the platform, this will ensure their content is front-and-centre for viewers - and, presuming this gets rolled out across the board, will make influencer work on Snap more appealing to brands, based on the fact that their vapid, floppy-haired nonsense will get forced into the field of vision of more unsuspecting punters.
- LinkedIn Rolling Out Conference Video Geofilters: Amazing, this. What would YOU like to do most of all when you’re at a business conference? Yes, that’s right, go home and never, ever go back! The second answer, though, is upload a video with an EXCITING FILTER to record your attendance and make all your ‘friends’ jealous! This is based on the same principle as filters on Snapchat - you set the location and duration and upload the filter and then anyone uploading a video in the geolocated area has the opportunity to add said filter as an overlay. Beautifully, the filters look like really crap conference badges - WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER USE THESE? LinkedIn is weird.
- Updates to Google AMP: AMP, Google’s ‘make your website load faster on mobile’ tech, now supports a whole load of extra features, such as parallax scrolling, sidebar menus and the like. No, it doesn’t get any more interesting than this. NEXT!
- Run Google Remarketing Ads Through Mailchimp: Like you already can with Facebook and Instagram ads, but, er, this time on Google.
- Play Doh’s Gallery of Species: As I type this, there’s someone on the Today programme describing Donald Trump as ‘a sociopath’ and there is talk of Brexit and GOD IT’S ALL SO RUBBISH OUT THERE. Which is why this LOVELY site from France, promoting everyone’s favourite modelling putty, is such a soothing balm - it presents a series of playdoh monsters, each with its own little story which you can listen to, all in French. I just listened to a couple and they are like a soothing Francophone balm to my ears. Seriously, if you speak French this is lovely, and even if you don’t it’s basically cute playdoh models and soothing gallic tones and, really, what’s not to love?
- FCUK OFF BOSS!: This is marketing for some crap business book or another, but it’s also the professional equivalent of standing on top of a very high cliff. You don’t necessarily want to jump, but there’s an almost-inexorable pull being exerted by the drop ahead of you...Basically this site lets you put in anyone’s email address - it’ll then send them an email telling them to FCUK OFF. Childish and silly but OH GOD SO SATISFYING - it’s also anonymous. Go on, DO IT. DO IT. DO IT. And then please tell me what happens and how good it feels.
THE SECTION WHICH HOPES IT NEVER AGAIN HAS TO HEAR SOMEONE TELLING IT HOW ‘SMART’ RICK & FCUKING MORTY IS, PT,1:
- Story Explorer: Thanks to Josh for pointing this out to me - a beautiful and very smart series of visualisations of the plots of various films, ranging in complexity from Annie Hall to Pulp Fiction and showing how characters move in and out of the plot, how they interrelate, and how the narrative develops. Fascinating or film buffs, but also as a novel and creative way of showing a story’s development; really clever.
- The Uber Game: The FT have evidently taken a look at Bloomberg’s much-praised interactives team and thought “yeah, let’s do one of THOSE” - this is the first I’ve seen of this ilk from them, but it’s GREAT - play through a week in the life of an Uber driver in San Francisco, seeing whether or not you’re able to make the living wage over the course of seven days spent ferrying the Bay Area’s residents around. Make decisions about what to spend your limited funds on and which routes to drive, and see if you can still afford to feed your family by the end of the stint at the wheel (SPOILERS: It’s hard). Fun, but also, y’know, SERIOUS BUSINESS. Still, isn’t it *cheap*!
- The Spotify Time Capsule: The latest in the long line of Spotify’s ‘cool things we can do with the stuff we know about you’ tool, this one connects to your account and, based on your age and SOME OTHER STUFF (I’m guessing, maybe, aggregated data about tracks from a particular timeframe most played by your contemporaries) compiles a playlist of tracks which should deliver you a big old dopamine hit of aural nostalgia. Worked reasonably well for me - to the point where it magically dredged up Hazard by Richard Marx, which for a few short weeks when I was about 11 was the greatest song IN THE WORLD EVER - and others said that it did some proper magic, like playing them the song they had their first kiss to and the like, so, you know, try it out.
- Twitter DOES Have A Nazi Filter: It’s called ‘Being in Germany’, or at the very least ‘telling Twitter you’re in Germany’. Yep, turns out that as part of the legal requirement for German media to restrict content promoting nazism or associated ideologies, Twitter will in fact block a bunch of far right content on spec if you simply set your location to ‘Germany’ in your account settings. Which is simultaneously funny and also another ‘Jesus fcuk, guys, are you being this crap deliberately?’. File alongside this week’s Rose McGowan debacle, and the jobspec they published this week for their Global Head of Social requiring that the applicant be ‘fluent in emoji’ as continued proof that the company is seemingly being helmed by know-nothing bozos.
- The Teachable Machine: One of those classic ‘oh look, how cute and fun!’ Google toys which the longer you spend with it makes you think ‘hm, hang on, I can see the vague shape of the future through the frosted glass and it looms at me threateningly’, this is a BRILLIANTLY smart webtoy which uses your webcam to train a rudimentary AI (not AI) to recognise things and to trigger actions based on said recognition - like IFTTT for image recognition, basically. So, say, you can train it to play a fart noise when it recognises your face (look, it’s early and I am never at my best around 8am, sorry but) or something! Or, in the future, to deploy a squadron of flesh-devouring nanobots should it determine something nefarious in your countenance! You know, that sort of thing. So fun!
- Block280: A Chrome extension to block 280 character Tweets, should you still care about that thing from a couple of weeks ago.
- Origami Simulator: I don’t really understand how this works or what I am meant to do with it, but basically it presents a virtual sheet of paper which you can manipulate to fold in various ways and, if you select from the ‘Examples’ menu you can get it to show you how to fold a whole bunch of different origami...things. Useful if you want to spend the weekend getting frustrated at the inability of your fat sausagefingers to mimic the delicate Japanese artform; probably not useful for anything else. Sorry.
- Butterfonts: Do you want a Twitter account which does nothing but share images of the different fonts used on butter packaging across the globe (actually they also occasionally Tweet other butter-related chat, but it’s mostly logotypes)? YES! YES YOU DO! Amazingly this has only been going for 4 months and it’s already racked up nearly 1,000 examples which is...dedicated.
- Esca’Pad in Madagascar: Leaving aside the frankly criminal name, this Kickstarter for an augmented kids’ book is rather interesting. Designed so as to enable easy interaction with a tablet on each page, the cover of the book doubles as a tablet stand, so you can rest an iPad (other outsize phone-type devices are available) on it and turn the pages, letting the camera register the tags and produce different content on each page, drawing out more details about the animals and ecosystem of the island of Madagascar in pleasing cartoon fashion. Whether or not the actual thing’s actually any good / fun is tbc, but the design is very smart indeed.
- The Mini C64: As the world becomes more banjaxed, so we retreat ever-deeper into nostalgia. After the recent release of the SNES mini, welcome to another imminent retro-gaming device, namely a miniature Commodore 64, an old computer system of the 80s which will mean nothing to any of you under the age of about 30, but to the old men like me will elicit warm, fuzzy feelings and possibly a residual backtaste of Kia Ora and Bernard Mathews Turkey Drummers. No word on actual release date - they’re saying ‘early 18’, but God knows - or indeed whether it will prove to be any fun, but the games line up includes Skool Daze and Speedball 2 which is almost enough to persuade me to consider it (although at £70 I think, on reflection, they can fcuk off).
- Qoobo: What’s the most annoying thing about having a cat? If you ask my girlfriend, she’d tell you it’s their endearing habit of attacking your face with razor-sharp talons if you get too close, although others might have differing opinions; in general, though, if your answer is something along the lines of ‘their STUPID feline faces’ then you’re in luck! Qoobo is AN Other baffling Japanese invention, being as it is a....er...robot cat, whose main distinguishing features appear to be its soft grey coat, it’s lovely tail which moves as you stroke it, and, er, the fact it’s the same size and shape as a Roomba and it doesn’t have a head. It’s apparently a therapeutic aid - Christ alone knows what sort of appalling trauma you might have suffered for this to be the best relief for it, but anyhow. ODD, not a little creepy, and strangely desirable.
- The Information is Beautiful Awards 2017 Longlist: My annual plea to people in corporate communications to a) stop using the term ‘infographic’ wrongly, please; b) maybe consider paying some actual, good designers to make stuff rather than just budgeting £100 for the next dataviz you churn out; c)LEARN. As ever, there are some wonderful examples here, many of which I am happy to say I’ve featured here over the past year or so. SEE, I AM A SKILLED CURATOR AND JUDGE OF WHAT IS GOOD AND CURIOS ISN’T A HUGE WASTE OF MY TIME! HONEST MUM!
- Lehysl: In case you’ve ever read Curios and thought “yes, fine, there’s a lot of webspaff here, no doubt, but what I’m really jonesing for is some artfully-shot Japanese rope bondage” then THIS is for you. Lehysl is an account posting pics of knots. Rope suspensions and various other BDSM/fetish-type stuff - not bongo by any means, but definitely the sort of thing that if you were to click on it on your work desktop RIGHT NOW might prompt one or two raised eyebrows from colleagues and a few conversations about what a dark horse you are (not you, though - everyone knows what you’re into).
- YouTube Artifact: Every three hours, this Twitter account will spit out an image from a YouTube video, all glitched-out and beautiful. The results are honestly beautiful - I would happily hang most of these without hesitation.
- Kudos: You know that Kidzania theme park where children are entertained by playing at being grown-ups for the day, having ‘real’ jobs for real brands and getting a good old training session on how to grow up to be productive units of the modern economy? Miserable, isn’t it? Well if you thought that was bad...actually this is marginally less dispiriting than that, but only just - Kudos is basically My First Social Network, and is designed as a ‘baby’ version of all the horrible Skinner boxes we all get addicted to in teendom and adulthood. Seemingly a cross between FB, Insta and Twitter, the platform features all the standard social features - post stuff, chat to people, react - except all on a 24/7 moderated platform. It’s aimed at under-13s, and there’s a suite of features designed to make it ‘safe’ (including the requirement that signup is ok’d by a parent), but it does rather beg the question as to WHY? The ostensible purpose is to teach kids about safe sharing online, but surely there’s a better way to do this other than getting them hooked on digital feedback loops before they’re into double figures?
- Hillydilly: Winner of this week’s ‘really, you called it that?’ award, Hilldilly is actually a really rather cool music discovery platform, presenting playlists of new music curated by actual people. There’s an app as well as this site, and in my (admittedly limited) fiddling with it it’s thrown up some interesting stuff. If Spotify is just TOO MAINSTREAM for you then you might like this (you wilful obscurantist, you).
- Cryptominded: As you join the queue of people desperately attemptingto understand the Blockchain, ICOs and assorted other STUFF OF THE FUTURE so as to be able to sound glibly au fait with it in your next meeting (NOONE KNOWS WHAT ANY OF THIS STUFF IS OR HOW IT WORKS, STOP PRETENDING), you may wish to bookmark this - Cryptominded is a seemingly comprehensive resource for keeping up-to-date with news and information on the crypto landscape, with explainers and papers and communities and suchlike all linked from its pages. Bookmark this if you need to keep on top of this stuff, or at least pretend to in the latest game of ‘are we all going to pretend we’re not naked?’ to grip the business world.
- Apple Music On Messenger: Just like it’s 2016 all over again, you can now request music from Apple in Messenger by using emoji! Christ knows why you’d want to, though. Can we please bin ‘emoji as language interface’ now, please? Thanks.
- Mimesys VR: Incredible theoreticaltech which purports to offer live 3d holographic telepresence conferencing stuff. Yes, I know that’s a horrible car-crash of language but seriously, that’s what it is. Imagine being able to beam a 3d model of yourself into a meeting room, mapping your movements and broadcasting them LIVE through your hologrammatic avatar! Now imagine the likelihood of anyone in an actual office being able to make that tech work! Yes, well, quite. Still, it’s a nice idea in theory which will in practice end up with everyone dialling in on one of those sodding spiderphones and making lame jokes about tech support whilst secretly wishing they were someone else. Work. Work never changes.
- Ear Hack Shooter: Comfortably one of the best things I’ve seen in the past fortnight, this is a WONDERFUL and fundamentally evil prototype idea from Japan - a ‘gun’ which fires a sound RIGHT INTO THE EARS of unsuspecting passers-by. Watch the video and see all the lols and the amazement, and then think about all the intensely awful ways in which you could use this to fcuk with people. Seriously, it’s only two weeks til Hallowe’en but that’s got to be long enough to hack this together to scare children coming to trick or treat you, right? Imagine the satisfaction of seeing people run in terror as you projected the sounds of an abattoir right into their shell-likes. SO MANY LOLS! NB - Web Curios takes no responsibility for the consequences of anyone ACTUALLY running with this very cruel idea. Oh, and the person who made this messaged me on Twitter saying thanks to linking to it, which was adorable and made me warm to them hugely.
- The Sonny Bono Memorial Collection: Thanks to a loophol in copyright law, the Internet Archive was this week able to put a bunch of books published between 1925-41 online for free. So if you fancy augmenting your reading diet with some classic interwar literature, or if you want to see how racy a novel from the 30s called ‘The Impatient Virgin’ can get (spoiler: not very, but there is spanking), then fill your boots.
- Emojli: If you feel about emoji as I do - namely, a barely suppressed and seething tide of rage and resentment that they have apparently become a ‘thing’ - then you may enjoy this site, which lets you take any emoji from the lexicon and mess with it, moving around its constituent elements and create broken-looking, glitched versions of the originals. The site’s a bit broken a the moment, but you should be able to export your slightly broken creations as image files, which could potentially be useful, maybe.
- Nikon Small World 2017: Another year, another iteration of Nikon’s annual ‘take photos of really, really small stuff’ photography contest. As ever, amazing images here - you’d never have guessed that a newborn rat’s cochlea could be such an aesthetic delight.
THE SECTION WHICH HOPES IT NEVER AGAIN HAS TO HEAR SOMEONE TELLING IT HOW ‘SMART’ RICK & FCUKING MORTY IS, PT,2:
- The Woman in the Room Project: In another week in which the world’s been forced to hold up its hands and admit to the fact that maybe, just maybe, women occasionally get the sh1tty end of the stick in terms of treatment in society, this site presents a series of typographical posters featuring slogans designed to remind people that we have a duty to remember and address the fact. This one seems particularly germane.
- Barbie Trashes Her Dreamhouse: A series of images taken by photographer Carrie Becker, depicting miniature environments as though overtaken by hoarders - cluttered, messy dolls’ houses creaking under the weight of ephemera. Weirdly creepy and affecting, these.
- What’s That Bulb?: Yes, fine, I KNOW THIS IS BORING, but there’s the grain of an idea in here. The gimmick is that you upload a photo of your lightbulb and the site recognises it, tells you what sort it is and where you can buy it. Which, if you’re a B&Q or similar, is EXACTLY the sort of thing you ought to be ripping off right now. Seriously, this is simple but genuinely useful - I for one would be genuinely grateful for something which does this for hoover bags (yes, this is the most banal thing I have ever written here and I make no apology for that, I am almost 40 and this is what happens to men as we age).
- OK Google: I’m pretty sure I’ve featured an ur-list of Google voice commands before, but what with the increasing ubiquity of the domestic voice assistant it seems reasonable to post this one. If you want to know ALL THE DIFFERENT THINGS you can do with Google Home, here’s the list - Christ alone knows why they use the example of ‘What’s Jennifer Love Hewitt’s birthday?’, though.
- Dead Philosophers in Heaven: Also arriving here via Josh (thanks again), this is a GREAT webcomic which will be marginally funnier if you’ve got a passing knowedge of philosophers and their works but which in general is just ace overall, and the visual style’s rather nice too. Also, you can’t not love a site which features Nietzche earnestly telling Ayn Rand “I am not a beta cuck, I am dynamite”.
- Captioned: Noone really needs ANOTHER content creation app, and yet here we are. This, though, does look reasonably interesting - Captioned lets you create voice-over videos, stitching together images and clips and gifs and whatever and letting you record an accompanying v/o over the top of it, stitching the whole into a SEAMLESS piece of VIDEO CONTENT shareable across all the standard networks. I can see this being a very quick and easy and frictionless way of making some quick and dirty how-to stuff, for example, or for HOT TAKES if you’re that sort of twat.
- Worldbrain: I know Evernote is a good idea and all, but it’s such a horrible piece of software to use. Still, I would KILL (not actually kill, honest officer) for something which let me sift through all the assorted webspaff I wade through each and every week to bring you these PEARLS; Worldbrain is an attempt to make that happen, although it’s very much in Beta at the moment and doesn’t *quite* work at present. Still, the idea is that it will let you do textsearch on EVERY SINGLE WEBPAGE YOU HAVE EVER VISITED EVER, which seems a generally useful and good thing. Worth bookmarking for when they make it good next year.
- Eidos Digital: This is a rather wonderful site, presenting the photography of Tobias Faisst, who - and I’m just going to let the blurb speak for itself here - “captures the complex interrelationships between human, technology and nature, while continuing to challenge and blur the lines between them. Through a lens of said hyper-perfection, operating at the interface between photography and computer-generated image, his photographs ultimately call into question the production and perception of reality.” YEAH! GO TOBIAS! Anyway, that’s less important than the way in which the photos are presented on site, which lets you move them around and delivers a weirdly 3d-viewing experience which, to my mind at least, fundamentally changes the way in which you look at the images and their status as art objects (/pseud). I know that this is a VERY wanky description, but please do have a click as this is far better than I have made it sound, promise.
- Chinese Etymology: This is a quite remarkable site and story - established some 20-odd years ago, it seeks to present analysis of the Chinese language to scholars of all stripes; the backstory of the person behind it - a US expat going by the name of ‘Uncle Hanzi’ - and the people who’ve helped him establish it is honestly rather heartwarming. It’s really only going to be of interest to you if you’re studying the language or linguistics in general, but, still, hell of a body of work this.
- Trust Frank: Neither the PR agency of notorious thiever of other people’s content for Tweets Andrew Bloch, nor the UK’s fondly-remembered drug advisory service, this is instead a news app which promises to do away with FAKE NEWS through the simple step of only presenting stories from a range of verified outlets deemed to be trustworthy purveyors of newsfact. Actually not a bad idea, and potentially a reasonable way of getting a range of opinions on the stories of the day without having to descend into full-on spittle-flecked Infowars madness.
- Corporate Gibberish Generator: This looks antediluvian, but I don’t care - it churns out GREAT corporate wankery and should be celebrated.
- The Goose Game: Even if you don’t play videogames - even if you HATE the idea of them and have no interest in the medium - please can I urge you to watch this video. It’s of a game in development, in which you play a goose. This goose is an absolute DICK. Look at it’s dickish goosey ways! Listen to its dickish quacks. If you don’t laugh out loud at this, or at the very least crack a proper smile, you are dead inside and to me. Look at the goose! Marvel at all its SASS!
- EU Terminology Lexicon: No, wait, come back, this is interesting I promise. A lexicon of English language words commonly misused by the Eurocracy - which, if you’re in any way interested and language and linguistics, is a fascinating portrait of how language becomes corrupted and coopted by institutions, and how meanings can and do shift contextually based on usage and shared understanding. Seriously, if you have to do a lot of international work in English then much of this will be weirdly familiar to you - also, given the insane prevalence of UTTER TOSS masquerading as viable language in business you can probably get away with inserting a couple of these into your day-to-day usage without anyone batting an eyelid. Also, some of the writing in here is beautifully dry - witness the entry on the term ‘fiche’ in Eurocrat English - “Fiche is a useful word, but it is French”.
- Peter Tarka: An Instagram account sharing some lovely CGI work, including some excellent and *slightly* unsettling animations.
- Incredible Doom: The first edition of a webcomic exploring the peculiar sensation of going online for the first time in the 90s. If you’re my age then this will tick all sorts of memoryboxes; if you’re a WHELP who grew up online, have a read and see what it used to be like before it all went horribly wrong,
- Norman: This *looks* incredible - Norman is a free tool designed to let users create animations in 3d VR space, using VR controllers. The outputs are simple, fine, but this is absolutely the future of how animation and 3d modelling, etc, is going to work - if you have access to the kit I imagine this would be very fun to play with.
- Clikd: This is included this week SOLELY as the result of Paul at Imperica getting an email from some PRs announcing it. So, look, PR WORKS! Not sure they’re going to like my writeup, but WEVS, it’s coverage (file this one under ‘neutral’, Hayley, they’ll never know). Clikd is...a dating app! Yes, that’s right, because the world needed another one. The gimmick here, though, is that it lets you vet prospective suitors thanks to a series of TESTS you can set them - users can set a series of questions for others to answer, said answers determining whether or not you want to match with others. “You decide what matters to you. You then choose your own set of three questions to reflect that. And you set the answers you’d like someone to pick. So that when someone passes your test, they’re more likely to be someone you’re going to get on with. And if you pass theirs too, there’s a great chance you’ll both clik when you do meet up.” So, to be clear, you’re setting up a series of hurdles for prospective dates - you’re effectively making your first interaction with a potential partner, or even friend, something which screams “PROVE YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO INTERACT WITH ME”. Which, imho, also screams that you are a prick. This is a dating app for pricks. COVERAGE!
- Yonacare: Being as I am not in possession of a vagina, I have little opinion on the current state of gynaecology - that said, I’ve been told by enough people who have experienced examinations that it is NO FUN and I’m inclined to believe them. This is a really interesting project looking at redesigning certain aspects of the experience, from the form of the speculum itself, to the patient experience in terms of the ambient setup of the room, aftercare, etc; it strikes me as a really smart and thoughtful idea, though people with actual vaginas may have differing opinions.
- Wolfenstein 3d: I know, I know, I have featured Wolf3d before - but this is a new 20th anniversary edition, it’s super smooth and works wonderfully in-browser, and it’s still an exceptionally fun game. Also, this is a very apt time to feature a game that’s all about shooting Nazis. SHOOT THE NAZIS!
- Kgari: A gorgeous digital storytelling project by SBS in Australia, telling of the aboriginal community on the island of Kgari and the story of the mistelling of their history. This is honestly brilliant - take 10 minutes and enjoy it, it’s a wonderfully-made thing and a genuine pleasure to experience.
- Paperclips: Finally this week, if you’ve not seen this then prepare to lose a few hours. The latest and greatest of the clicker ‘game’ genre, this puts you in the shoes of an AI whose sole aim is to produce paperclips. Lots of paperclips. It’s based on this thought experiment, and it gets quite weird quite fast, and will make you feel quite odd by the end. I can’t stress enough how much this is worth persevering with - keep it open in a new window so it runs in the background and you can probably get through it in the rest of the afternoon. I basically did nothing other than this for two days at work this week, which may well be the most egregious misuse of an employer’s time I’ve managed in years - let’s see if any of my colleagues who work there read this!
THE (SLIGHTLY DIMINISHED) CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!:
- Girls in Stone Island: Weird cultural curio, this - a Tumblr collecting photos of girls wearing Stone Island gear (not in any way porny), bizarrely compiled by a Russian. Is Stone Island a thing in Russia? Who knew?
- The Laziest Campaign Ever: Celebrating the incredible overuse of the term ‘It Starts Here!’ in marketing and advertising.
- IS TUMBLR DYING? WHERE ARE THE NEW TUMBLRS?
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG!:
- The Interactive Fiction Awards 2017: Another year, another showcase of some of the most interesting and innovative pieecs of interactive fiction writing from across the world. What’s nice about this year’s selection is that there are quite a few designed specifically for younger readers / players - for the rest of you, there’s the usual mix of scifi and humour and SERIOUS ISSUES; some excellent work in here which is worth taking some time to explore.
- Poland’s Neo-Gabber Underground: I once went to a Gabber night and it was legitimately terrifying - being danced at by manically-stepping, pasty Nords with chests like toastracks covered in damp tissue and eyes bugging like...well, like mine, frankly, but still. Anyway, this is about the renaissance of Gabber as a musical form in Poland’s dance scene and the weird, slightly Chan-ish nature of this new strain of the genre. If you’re not familiar with Gabber as a genre, do click this and play a few of the examples. It will, er, enl;ighten you.
- Mayonnaise, Disrupted: This is fascinating. Josh Tetrick claims to be on the verge of a vegan food revolution, claiming his company is going to be manufacturing vegan alternatives to, well, everything, in the next few years, at scale. The reality is, well, harder to get a bead on - what’s clear is that Tetrick is nothing if not a skilled and assiduous salesman, although the jury’s currently out on whether it’s mayo or snake oil in those jars. There are elements to this which feel analogous to what’s happening all over the Valley, to be honest - these people are MENTAL.
- I Invented Bailey’s: Brilliant story told by one of the two creatives who invented everyone’s favourite teenage vomit-snot. The writing’s passable at best, but the story and the world it evokes - of London admen and fags and everything being done on the back of an envelope and slightly on the fly - is wonderful.
- Trolling Paris Fashion Week: Following the joy of Eggheads, Oobah Butler goes full Gonzo in this piece, in which he blags his way to the upper echelons ofg Paris fashion week using nothing but his chutzpah and the borrowed identity of fashion designer Giorgio Peviani, whose name adorns denim from the markets of Bounds Green to Bangalore. This is, honestly, brilliant, and the cast-iron balls of Butler as he pushes the gag farther and farther are impressive. Please, Oobah, don’t waste this talent by doing a Jolyon Rubinstein.
- A Rick & Morty Sauce Explainer: A clear and simple explanation as to exactly why a bunch of idiots in the US got angry about a particular favour of sugargloop last weekend. Does a decent job of giving you the facts, but is sadly silent on exactly what it is about fandom which causes literally any group of more than a few hundred people united in appreciation of a pop culture THING to turn into absolute fcuking idiots with insufferable ideas about their own, and their THING’S, importance. Fandoms are AWFUL.
- Hunting the Greatest Acid Ever Made: This is a brilliant read. Joe Zadeh, writing for Vice, heads to Wales to track down the dealer who, for a brief moment in the 70s, made a small corner of the valleys a mecca for heads looking to get a psychedelic fix. This has EVERYTHING; great characters, a sense of mystery and a really, really great “you’re not from round here, are you boy?” vibe. They don’t make mysteries - or indeed characters - like this any more.
- The Sadness of Saturn: I may have mentioned (I know, I know, BORE OFF GRANDDAD) that I went to see famous lizard-believing conspiracy-wonk David Icke a few years back (you can read some impressions in the opener here); one of Icke’s THINGS is that we are all being controlled by Saturn, and Saturn is EVIL (it’s all linked to the fake hollow moon, though I forget exactly how). This piece, by Sam Kriss, looks at the history of people’s belief in Saturn’s malign influence, and how conspiracy theorists really will believe anything.
- Saving the World from Code: This is VERY LONG, but fascinating, on how modernity is built on stuff that, put very simply, most of us don’t understand and don’t know how to fix if it breaks, and how programming languages have contributed to this sort of rather parlous state because of the nature of their operation and the remove they create between programmer and output, and how we are perhaps starting to move towards coding systems that might mitigate against this and how that is pretty much essential if we’re going to avoid some potentially difficult (and potentially fatal) consequences.
- Disney’s Giant Leap Forward: Super-smart and rather exciting piece of speculation by Adrian Hon on how Disney’s immersive Star Wars hotel experiences might end up working in practice; Hon’s experience in tech and game design means he knows more than most about designing stuff like this, and his imagining of what the eventual user experience could be like made even me rather excited for this, despite the Star Wars-ness of it all. Also worth a read if you’re interested in theatre and performance, as much of the stuff in here could be transferred to a smaller scale to good effect.
- Hanging OuT With Jackie Chan: Jackie Chan is an insanely big movie star - we often forget that, I think, but this GQ profile gives you an excellent sense of how massively huge Chan is globally - the numbers attached to his recent movies, the ones we in the West simply don’t know exist because they don’t get marketed to us, are insane, as is the generally throwaway stuff about how people just basically give him things (clothes, houses, whole swathes of prime real-estate) just for being Jackie Chan. Pleasingly, he doesn’t sound like a dick - always a pleasant surprise.
- The Museum of Ice Cream: God this depressed me. The Museum of Icecream is something I’ve alluded to before - there was a piece early in the Summer which I linked to about the increased impact of Instagram on architecture and public spaces which used it as an example of aesthetics determined by shareability - but this is a profile of the woman behind it, the chillingly joyless Maryellis Bunn, a human so focused on her GOALS and her ACHIEVEMENTS that it’s no wonder she seemingly finds no time at all to, you know, be a human. This piece looks at her desire to create these new, surface-level-shiny ‘spaces’ all over the world, where people can go and be presented with an Instagrammable aesthetic and shoot some hot content for their feeds and then...what? Move on to the next? The emptiness here is startling - as my friend Jay said on Facebook, there’s no ‘there’ there with any of this, and the banality of it all is coldly sad. HI, FUTURE!
- The Last Invention of Man: This is a great piece of fiction, imagining an AI’s progress from birth to eventual (benign) world domination - whilst it’s just a story, it also contains quite a lot of smart thinking about the different processes and steps an AI’s creators might be likely to go through in its earliest iterations.
- Universal Basic Income and the Threat of Tyranny: On the concept of universal basic income, and how one of its potential unintended consequences could be (I’m boiling down a lot here) the state no longer needing to care about people’s opinions; the argument here basically goes “If everyone’s provided for, who’s going to be able to put pressure on Government to change things - after all, a person who pays no taxes can’t protest by withholding that payment”, etc. Interesting thought-fodder, this.
- How Breitbart & Milo Smuggled White Nationalism into the White House: If you’ve not read this yet, this is a pretty staggering series of smoking guns demonstrating just how close Breitbart - and in particular Milo and Bannon - were to the white supremacist movement. I think I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating - did you work in UK tech around 2010-3? Did you laugh at Milo’s schtick and think he was funny and ingratiate him at parties while he was being a cnut to all and sundry online, bullying and hatemobbing and threatening? THEN THIS IS PARTLY YOUR FAULT.
- The Husband Stitch: Finally this week, this is from 2014 but it appeared in my feeds this week and Christ what a piece of writing it is. Shades of Angela Carter, maybe, but the story - about sex and female identity and the male gaze and biology and self and secrets and STUFF - is so, so good that even if that comparison puts you off you should check it out regardless. Superbly written.
AND NOW MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!
- First up, deliriously messy and sloppy and fun and SCOTTISH indiepop from The Spook School. This is called ‘Still Alive’ and it is utterly joyous:
3) The Shins are a band which it always felt should have been bigger than they are/were - they are excellent live, should you ever get the chance. Anyway, this is called ‘Cherry Hearts’ and it’s ace, and the video’s stop-motion which I love, so enjoy:
4) KOREAN HIPHOP CORNER! No idea what this is about, but it sounds great. It’s by Yaeji and it’s called ‘Drink I’m Sipping On’, which is a terrible title but the whole thing is just awesomely woozy and late-night-in-the-city-ish:
5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! This is long, and very much on the ‘socially conscious’ end of the spectrum, but it’s also very good - Dave, with ‘Question Time’; take the time with this one, it rewards a listen:
6) MORE UK HIPHOP CORNER! It’s not like Stormzy needs me telling people how good he is, but the video for his latest, ‘4pm in London’, is an excellent reminder of, er, how good he is. Just him spitting to camera, showing why he’s one of the UK’s best at the moment:
7) Remember Line Rider? COURSE YOU DO! Anyway, this is ‘The Hall of the Mountain King’ synced to a Line Rider track and OH WOW is this impressive. Really, this is superbly done and really quite surprisingly compelling to watch:
8) Last up this week, a rare foray into short film territory. ‘Wouldn’t it be terrible to go viral?’ is not a new creative prompt for these things, fine, but this is very well done indeed; funny and smart and on-the-nose. It’s called I Know You. BYE HAPPY FRIDAY I LOVE YOU BYE BYE BYE THANKS FOR READING BYE!: