THE SECTION WHICH FINDS THE ZUCKERBERG ‘OPEN LETTER TO THE WORLD’ ACTUALLY, GENUINELY FRIGHTENING IN ITS BANALITY AND WONDERS WHETHER THERE HAS EVER BEEN AN ERA IN WORLD HISTORY IN WHICH POSITIONS OF POWER HAVE BEEN HELD BY SUCH STRANGELY JOYLESS, FUNCTIONAL MINDS:
Also, while we’re here, the line that Kamal Ahmed just punted on Today - “I think he sees Facebook as a kind of internet” - is pretty fcuking scary, no? Net neutrality? Freedom? HM.
Tighter Metrics For Facebook Video: Basically a sop to Mark Pritchard, this, but, you know, still broadly A Good Thing, this is Facebook’s attempt to put a plaster on the axewound that is their reporting of metrics for video views and the like. They promise that you’ll soon be able to get SUPERGRANULAR metrics, the ability to buy ads with specific completion goals, and all sorts of other stuff. So, you know, KEEP SPENDING! Like we have any choice. One of the things they promise is the ability to buy video ads on the basis that you’ll only pay when the sound is up - which seems like a sensible idea, right?
All FB Videos Will Autoplay Sound: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! They are SO good at this! “You can buy ads in a manner that now means you’ll only pay when they play with the sound up - look, advertisers, WE ARE LISTENING!” “Also, though, that’s actually total bullsh1t as ALL videos will play with sound, so actually you will still always pay!” I mean, this is sort of brilliant, right? Bastards, obvs, but brilliant bastards. Although actually news coming out of FB HQ suggests that “ If your phone is set to silent, videos will not play with sound. If you never want videos to play with sound, you can disable this feature by switching off “Videos in News Feed Start With Sound” in Settings”, so actually maybe this isn’t quite the joke I thought it was. As you were. Sorry, Mark, I was unnecessarily cynical there.
Google Maps Now Lets You Make Shareable Lists Of Places:I mean, I know that this is dull, but it’s been a SLOW week in s*c**l m*d** news, and this is actually quite useful if you can be bothered to think beyond Facebook for a second (I know it’s hard). Anyone can now make shareable lists of places on Google Maps - meaning that any brand looking to make CONTENT about...er...places, can now do so! Make a list of photography spots! If you’re McDonald’s, why not offer a road trip food stop generator service on Twitter - get people to tell you their start and end points and offer them a personalised map of all the disgusting burger stops en route! Come on, you can do this, I have faith in you all.
Amazon Has Basically Ripped Off Skype: No, sorry, this is so boring I have no commentary. Still, I know that some of you do internal comms, so here you go.
OFCOM Deck Builder: Look, the use of the term ‘deck’ is theirs, not mine, Still, this is potentially super-useful; this is a tool which automatically spits out PPT slides based on OFCOM data about internet usage in the UK, with GRAPHS and STATS and stuff, all customisable based on parameters YOU select - so, let’s say that you want a slide detailing internet usage among the over-50s in the UK over the course of the past decade, you move some sliders around and HEY PRESTO, such a slide is magically in your possession. Yeah, I know, this is another one that it’s kind of impossible to make sound interesting, sorry about this. It’s 729am and I am struggling a bit, let’s hope it picks up from here eh?
Spotify Headphone Matcher: This is a really smart idea - I mean, obviously it’s a bullsh1t gimmick, but it’s a clever one. Link your Spotify account to this site and, based on a wafer-thing analysis of your listening habits, it will recommend a suitable pair of headphones defined by the sort of crap you let pour into your lugholes. It’s a really nice gimmick, and an excellent example of how you can pretend to use data without actually really using data at all - look, everyone, most of this data stuff is TOTAL FCUKING BULLSH1T, right? I know this is tantamount to heresy at the moment - and, I know, this stuff still convinces morons, so I appreciate you have no desire to stop punting it right now, I get it, promise - but most stuff that purports to be DATA-LED or POWERED BY DATA is actually PR wankery, isn’t it? Can we all admit this now? Is that OK?
Damn You, Mailchimp: This week Mailchimp TOTALLY FOOLED me, with this site - I was convinced it was an ACTUAL business selling slightly broken crisps in hipster packaging, and I was annoyed that I didn’t think of it myself, and then I realised it was actually part of a whole campaign where the newsletter people (Web Curios’ own mass-mailing provider of choice, no less!) have set up a bunch of websites with domain names that sound a bit like MailChimp but are DIFFERENT. Like this excellent one, about making whale sounds. You might argue that the sites are actually all too plausible to actually work - I mean, it’s only because I am a generic media w4nker living in a world of other generic media w4nkers that I realised that the crisps thing was a fake, so Christ knows how normals are meant to realise that this is all a clever, arched-eyebrow promo for a mailing client, but still, it’s all VERY CLEVER and nicely done, so well done them.
By Elisa Ancori
THE SECTION WHICH IS PRETTY CONVINCED THAT WILL.I.AM IS SECRETLY A TRUMP SUPPORTER ALTHOUGH IT HAS NO ACTUAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THAT CLAIM, IT’S JUST A FEELING, PT.1:
Global Seducer: I don’t normally feature stuff like this, but I literally JUST got forwarded an email from my editor (bless him, the ‘editing’ part of his gig is sadly pretty minimal when it comes to Curios, as you can tell) - here’s the text: “I’m Sebastian Harris, the owner of globalseducer.com.My writing has been featured on Lifehack.org, Elitedaily.com, yourtango.com and thoughtcatalog.com (I can send you the links as a proof). Today I stumbled upon one of your web curious articles in which you feature Richard La Ruina from PUA Training. Just like Richard, I want to help men to improve their dating lives. I would be grateful if you gave me the same chance that you gave him by allowing me to share my insights as well.I would appreciate if you would include one of my articles on www.globalseducer.com in your next issue.” Well, Sebastian, IT’S YOUR LUCKY DAY! I am PROUD to feature Global Seducer, an in-no-way-intensely-creepy site for neckbeards who want to pick up a ‘traditional’ (Seb’s words), ‘exotic’ (Seb’s words!) beauty online. You too could attempt to use shoddy PUA techniques on people whose first language isn’t English! Take a look at the site and ENJOY! Seb, you’re welcome! All cash donations to Imperica will be gratefully received! Christ alive.
Make Trump Tweets 8 Again: I know, I know, I said I was going to try and dial down the Trumpian CONTENT, and I am trying, I promise (while we’re here, though, just LOOK at this sh1t! I mean, really!), but this is just a really nice little bit of PR by The Daily Show in the US - a Chrome extension which, when installed, presents all Tweets from the man’s account be displayed as though they are written in crayon by a child. Silly, but actually sort of bleakly effective, and as someone who’s been banging on about Chrome extensions as actually quite a smart PR tactic I am pleased that someone has finally listened to me (I think I can say with a categorical degree of certainty that literally not one person on the Daily Show staff has ever read Curios, but fcukit, let’s pretend for a second shall we?).
Stalkscan: Sounds creepy, doesn’t it? WELL IT IS! Leveraging the long-forgotten power of the Facebook Graph Search, which if you recall was the bit of Facebook which let you search for ‘people I know who have posted X’-type stuff; plug in anyone’s Facebook profile, whether or not your friends with them, and this tool will pull all the publicly visible bits of their profile - their posts, their likes, their interests, their network...yep, this is an EXCELLENT way of reminding yourself why continuing to feed data into the maw of the Zuckerbergian miseryfactory is a FCUKING TERRIBLE idea from a privacy point of view (F your I, you have no privacy!).
DataSelfie: On a related tip (seamless segue there, this is high-functioning webmongery I hope you appreciate), this is an art project which invites you to install a Chrome extension which tracks all your activity on Facebook - clicks, likes, etc etc - and builds a profile of you as seen by advertisers, marketers and other datasharks - effectively lifting the lid on the sort of person your datatrail tells the world you are. I love this - I think it’s the sort of thing which people like you (DIGITALLY WOKE WEBMONGS!) should share with normies to help show them exactly how fcuking creepy this sort of stuff is. Is my insistence on banging on about this sort of stuff the reason why I don’t have any friends?
Planet Of The Apps: Take a look at this and realise that, despite the fact that it’s 2017 and, you know, THE FUTURE, the people who are in charge of marketing and stuff at companies like Apple are still actually weird cardigan-wearing middle-aged men who don’t really understand the world in which they live. How else to explain this - a show which is apparently ACTUALLY GETTING MADE, a show in which people pitch app ideas to Will.I.Am, Gary fcuking Vaynerchuck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba? APP IDEAS! APPS! IT IS NO LONGER 2010! WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? Like Dragon’s Den, but where every single one of the people pitching is a total idiot. Actually, on that basis I would probably watch it, but sadly Will.I.Am is a dealbreaker.
KamaSutra: I stumbled across this earlier this morning; it’s an animated alphabet which I think we designed in 2012 for an edition of the Kama Sutra published by Penguin, and it is BEAUTIFULLY done and oddly tasteful considering it’s a bunch of letters made up of people boning.
Cuteroulette: A bot for Messenger or Slack which will provide cute animal gifs at the press of a (few) button(s). Having tried this on a Slack channel I’m on, I can confirm that it works but that the gifs are perhaps a touch on the heavy side. Your mileage may vary, but generally it ticks the ‘floof’ box.
American Democracy: It’s been a GREAT few weeks for American democracy, hasn’t it? So great! The best week! America has the best democracy! Anyway, if you’d like a reminder of some of the less good versions of American democracy that the US has ‘enjoyed’ over the past few centuries then Google and a bunch of cultural institutions have your back - this is a great collection of documents and materials looking back over Presidents and administrations past, which will serve to remind you exactly how lucky we are to be living through this, the greatest example of American Democracy in action in the history of that great and storied nation.
Sign With Robert: A frankly MARVELLOUS collection of gifs, showing a variety of examples of American sign language - you may not think based on this description that you need these in your life, but, seriously, click the link and look at the gif for ‘very obese person’ and let your life be improved forever. Your office communications will be improved FOREVER as a result of this, I can guarantee it.
All Of The Newsletters: It’s been clear for a few years now that everyone in the fcuking world decided that email newsletters were a THING, vital for personal branding and for creating a meaningful connection with stakeholders. Obviously that’s not how Web Curios works - this is basically the bruised id of a fundamentally dysfunctional individual, splayed and pinned and just sort left here for people to largely ignore - but I’ve heard that they are generally speaking ALL THE RAGE. This is a frankly INSANE collection of different newsletters from around the world, covering a whole bunch of topics and themes, and which will basically give you enough reading material to ensure that you never have time to do anything other than read newsletters for the rest of your days. Obviously it doesn’t include this one, because no fcuker reads it (except you, and even you skim most of it, don’t you, you INGRATE?).
Your 2000 Year Old Doppelganger: This is a lovely project to promote a forthcoming exhibition at Quebec’s Musee de la Civilisation, which invites users to submit photos of themselves which will then be analysed to find those whose features and physiognomy best match a series of 2,000 year old sculptures - any matching faces will be included in the exhibition - to quote, “From October 24, 2018, to October 27, 2019, the museum will display thirty faces of today, chosen from the photos submitted in this contest, alongside an equal number of ancient works. Greco-Roman antiquities and Egyptian funerary portraits will find their contemporary doubles. Selected participants will be immortalized by Québec art photographer François Brunelle, while the ancient works will be taken from the collections of the Musée d’art et d’histoire de Genève and the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art. Oversized or intimate portraits will be matched with works from another time in a one-of-a-kind exploration that is both playful and instructive.” What a lovely idea.
Tree Of The Year 2017: I just checked, and unaccountably I didn’t feature the annual Tree Of The Year contest in 2016 - I AM SORRY, TREES! Anyway, it’s BACK - once again you can spend a soothing few minutes looking at photos of some of Europe’s premier arboreal examples and pick your own winner of the prestigious Europe-wide search for the BEST TREE OF 2017! This is still one of the loveliest things anywhere on the web and it makes me so, so happy.
THE SECTION WHICH IS PRETTY CONVINCED THAT WILL.I.AM IS SECRETLY A TRUMP SUPPORTER ALTHOUGH IT HAS NO ACTUAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THAT CLAIM, IT’S JUST A FEELING, PT.2:
Streetlives NYC: A really smart site, collecting information on services available to the homeless in and around New York City. There are obviously loads of other resources of this ilk, but none seem to have the same degree of user-friendliness and comprehensiveness - this is a great service, and one which you feel could be rolled out in most other cities to excellent effect.
Pattern Brutalist: An online magazine inspired by brutalist architecture. If you like online magazines, and brutalism, this will basically be catnip to you.
A Truly Incredible Collection Of Scanned Magazines: This is a fairly incredible collection of magazines, seemingly from all over the world, arranged by theme - dolls! Doilies! Dinosaurs! - and arranged here for your reading pleasure. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to the selection, but there is SO MUCH in here (but no bongo) that you will probably find something to occupy you should you desire.
Rumuki: This is both a really smart idea and a really sad indictment of us as a species. Rumuki is a service that basically ensures that that video you shot of you cracking one off to send to your lover stays private - except, obviously, there’s actually no way to ensure that at all, whatever you might think. Still, the idea makes sense - you share an ‘intimate’ clip on the platform, you choose the other user with whom you want to share it, each of you is granted the ability to view the clip, but only when both of you give the green light (so each viewing requires the explicit consent of the other party - some excellent master/slave play potential here if that’s your kink, imho), and if one of you decides that the video needs to be oublietted then it is, no questions. Obviously, though, there’s still nothing to stop clips being screenshotted, etc, but still, it’s a decent idea and if this sort of stuff is your idea of fun might well be a way of limiting your liabilities.
Hooked: It’s pretty easy to sneer at this - the tagline, ‘fiction for the snapchat generation’, makes me gag slightly, and this lazy ‘noone actually reads any more, because THE FUTURE!’ is stupid and reductive and frankly wrong - but the idea isn’t terrible; Hooked is a publishing platform / app which lets users write their own fiction in a chat-style format (conversations on messenger, basically), which whilst inherently reductive has some interesting formal possibilities I think. That was SUCH a pseudy writeup, sorry, I will try harder.
Stock Vid Stories: A BRILLIANT Twitter account, taking stock video footage and subtitling it to create short films. Simple and brilliant and often very, very funny.
Missing Richard Simmons: Basically this wants to be the new Serial - remember that? God, SO LONG AGO! - and may well be. I have no idea at all, but for those of you who either like podcasts or who want to be at the very bleeding edge of the trend zeitgeist, here’s your chance to get on board with this right at the beginning - the premise is as follows: “On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him - and no one knows why he left.” SUCH MYSTERY!
Scene City: I have literally no idea who the vast majority of people reading this are - who ARE you? Tell me! I WANT TO KNOW MY AUDIENCE, vanishingly small though it is - but I like to imagine that at least one of you will find some joy or utility in this software which lets you generate 3d cities from scratch. Christ alone knows what use you might put said cities too, but I’m imagining some sort of sadistic sandbox for a malign giant here (is that just me, though?).
Algohorror: A Twitter account sharing images developed by a neural network, smooshing together visual cues to see what sort of hideous monstrosities are generated by the DEEP MIND. Less horrifying than more generally WTFish, but it’s early days - let’s see what happens when its creator decides to feed it, say, ‘meat’ and ‘Donald Trump’ as prompts.
One Ugly B4stard: It is unclear from this Instagram account whether or not Dante Ortilla is in fact ugly, but the artwork he shares on this feed certainly isn’t. Ortilla’s recently taken to experimenting with VR art, and some of the videos exploring his sketches in 3d environments, are fascinating.
Shoshibata: A gorgeous Flickr account featuring photos of Japan. The winter ones featuring snow and ice and desolation are particularly lovely imho.
Marry Me, Beast!: We now live in a world where a reasonably slick website can be constructed in order to mount a campaign to get a dog noticed by one of the most powerful human beings in existence for ostensibly romantic - but, let’s be realistic, more probably commercial - purposes. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE! This is a website showcasing the particular aesthetic appeal of someone’s dog, which apparently - so the narrative goes - has a crush on Mark Zuckerberg’s dog and wants to have the chance to make puppies with it. Just writing this entry has made me genuinely angry - seriously, I am scowling as I type - and I can’t totally understand why, which suggests I probably ought to move on and maybe make another cup of tea.
Radio Atlas: I LOVE THIS. “Radio Atlas is an English-language home for subtitled audio from around the world. A place to hear inventive documentaries, dramas and works of sound art that have been made in languages you don’t necessarily speak.” Such a wonderful service, and if you are anything like me (I basically have Radio 4 on all the time in a desperate attempt to stave off loneliness and because I am basically in love with talk radio) then you will find SO MUCH to love in here.
The Land Of Lost Content: I had a bit of a moment when I found this this week - how did I not know that there exists in the UK a museum called The Land of Lost Content, whose raison d’etre is to preserve pop cultural ephemera from the pre-internet age. I mean, this is basically Web Curios: The Museum, right (apart from the whole pre-internet thing, obvs)? Anyway, there’s a Kickstarter seeking funding to make a proper book all about the Museum, and I think you should all give it a tenner as basically people like this are awesome and should be supported in any way possible.
Bangarang: Seeing as we’re doing Kickstarters, here’s one seeking to raise $30k for a short film exploring the WEIGHTY ISSUE of the origin story of Rufio from the film ‘Hook’. Look, I know that there is at least one person reading this who genuinely believes Hook to be a genius piece of cinema (you are wrong) - this is for YOU.
Underwater Photographer of the Year: Man, there are some WEIRD things underwater. Notice, by the way, the photo of the clownfish. Clock the extra eyes in each clownfish’s mouth. Read the caption about the parasites. Then know this - those parasites swim in through the fish’s gills, attach themselves to its tongue, suck all the blood from the organ til it falls off, then install themselves in the fish’s mouth IN PLACE OF ITS TONGUE. Oh Nemo, SO CUTE!
Fjords In Infra-Red: Vastly more interesting than you might think, I promise you. GREAT photos.
Dragformation: A wonderful photoseries by Aaron Walker, taking shots of drag artists both in and out of character. There’s a campaign in here for the right brand, I think, but these are just glorious photos regardless.
Hypernom: I don’t really know why this exists, but I lost about 5 minutes zooming through it the other day so you might well enjoy it.
Pete Souza: This man was the official White House photographer during the Obama adminstration - you will have seen many of his photos before. His Instagram feed, though, is a GEM - he’s basically just reposting photos of his old boss with captions drawing subtle attention to some of the...er...stylistic differences between the last POTUS and this one. It’s a glorious act of subtle shade-throwing, and hugely enjoyable.
Old French Crime: Tweeting illustrations from 19thC French newspapers, used to accompany reports on crime and the like. Gorgeous, and a wonderful example of the hyperbolic tendencies of the press way back when. Fake news!
World Press Photo Of The Year: Astonishing shots, as per. The one of the scene after a bomb blast in Pakistan is particularly striking; the composition is wonderful (if that’s not a strikingly crass thing to say about a photo depicting quite a lot of death).
The Ozora Festival: Back in the day - like, way back, 20 actual years ago - I used to be PROPERLY into psytrance, a musical genre as totally uncool then as it is now (except, oddly enough, in Bristol, Tel Aviv, Oxford and Central Europe) which is mostly characterised by lots of wibbly 303s, 150+BPM, lots of fluoro paint and, regrettably, white men with dreads (and amphetamines, if you were me). This website is for a festival taking place this year celebrating that very musical style and it is BRILLIANT - seriously, leave your musical prejudices at the door and enjoy this genuinely excellent piece of webwork. If nothing else, hit play on the ‘Trance’ musical selector at the top of the page, then go fullscreen and zoom in/out - it is AWESOME. There’s so much music and info in here it’s almost baffling, but I love the kitchen sink approach they’ve taken. I now TOTALLY want to go, so in the unlikely event that anyone connected with the festival ever sees this and wants to offer me a freebie in the mistaken belief that I am some sort of ‘influencer’ then I am all ears.
20 Seconds To Sun: I don’t really get this - is it the mid-90s again? - but it appears to be some sort of web=based art/storytelling project presenting a series of short films inspired by Lestat from Anne Rice’s ‘Vampire’ novels. I kind of figure that the audience for that sort of thing is now all on 50 Shades-type bongofiction, but in case you too have fond memories of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt being all young and floppy-shirted, you may find something to love in here. Nice CGI work in the films, if nothing else.
The Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive: All of the Shakespearean illustrations you could ever wish for, ever, in one place.
The Sex’fie: A combined selfie stick and dildo, designed to allow users to film and photograph themselves masturbating. Because why not?! Currently seeking £7k on Indiegogo, and remarkably STILL seeking its first backer, only YOU can help make this a reality. Why would you want to, though?
The Goldfinch: SUCH a wonderful website, built as a companion to the painting by Carel Fabritius and made famous by the wonderful novel of the same name, this presents a gorgeous history of the artwork along with observations on its characteristics, its position in the cultural pantheon, broader artistic movements of its time...this is just wonderful, I am hugely impressed. Another excellent piece of webwork from the Dutch cultural sector which is consistently great at this sort of thing.
The Best Of Reddit Bongo: I’m not judging you, I am just going to leave this selection of (pleasingly reasonably diverse) links here and step away for a while.
Lemonade Rage: Because we are ALL angry for Beyonce (and it’s a pleasing way to waste 3 minutes playing a game where you smash stuff).
THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!:
Black Afrix: Stark, monochromatic artworks. Don’t know who by, or why, but I like the assorted work here very much indeed.
Lots And Lots Of Birds: A description seems somewhat otiose, tbqhwy.
Justin Cyr: A very talented maker of 8-bit, pixelart-style gifs; lovely stuff here.
Daily Mermaid Drawings: Again, not really much more to say on this. Enjoy!
Any Which Way: Lovely illustrations presenting simple, illustrated maps of imaginary places. There’s a certain Central European feel to the aesthetic which I very much like.
Scaffoldage: Because who DOESN’T want a Tumblr featuring a load of photos of buildings covered in scaffolding? NO FCUKER, THAT’S WHO!
Antifa Furs: I learned this week that the furry community is RIVEN with alt-right/antifa schisms - this Tumblr collects some of the memes by the good guys (not the nazis, in case you needed clarity on the Official Curios Stance here). The internet is a weird, weird place, but I think we can all sort of get behind the idea of people who like pretending to be animals uniting against fascism.
The Best Tumblr Bongo: Once again, presented without judgement. Look, I can’t see your bookmarks, do what you will with this stuff.
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG AND WHICH THIS WEEK REALLY ARE JAM-PACKED WITH QUALITY WRITING SO PLEASE DO PA EXTRA SPECIAL ATTENTION AS THERE ARE REAL GEMS IN HERE, PROMISE!:
The Fiction Of L Ron Hubbard: A fascinating look at the bit of the Scientology mythos that rarely gets explored - the fiction produced by the man who came up with the whole batsh1t idea in the first place. I tried to read Battlefield Earth as a kid - man, it’s SO BAD - but this takes a proper forensic look at the man’s output and what it tells us about the religion / cult he founded. Really, really interesting, not least as it offers a whole bunch of decent analysis of how utterly mental it is that Scientology still maintains a status as an ACTUAL THING (I once stayed at a Scientologists house in Italy; he had VOLUMES of L Ron’s texts around the house, most of them still in clingwrap as he hedn’t got round to reading them yet. Each was about 100-odd Euros. No wonder the fcukers are rich).
100 (More) Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy: If you’re interested in the science and structure and craft of funny, this is a wonderful article - even if not, it’s a wonderful whistlestop tour of some of the greatest gags from the English-speaking world and their cultural impact. It’s honestly instructive to be reminded of how significant a force humour can be in shaping the zeitgeist.
School Lunch: You remember when Jamie Oliver went to the US to teach them how to not feed their schoolkids crap? No, I don’t either really, it was AGES ago and we’d all sort of already got bored of St Jamie by then. Anyway, this is the story of what happened after that, and how the woman made famous as Oliver’s antagonist through that series actually continued doing excellent work once the cameras stopped rolling. Not a piece of Oliver-bashing - as an aside, I find the hatred piled on the man somewhat baffling, his heart is obviously in the right place - more a look at how to make practical change happen in monolithic systems and structures (but, you know, INTERESTING, I promise you).
Hello, Haptics: This piece looking at developments in haptic technology - you know, wearables which provide a degree of sensory feedback designed to fool the body into thinking that there’s something there when you touch an object in VR space - is mainly concerned with a slightly tedious ‘think of the bongo implications!’ angle, but the actual development of haptic tech is far more mainstream in its potential than that. This stuff fascinates me - I’m personally of the (almost entirely wrong) opinion that VR won’t go properly mainstream until we have a degree of haptic feedback to accompany it - the reality otherwise is just too creepily disembodied to gain mass traction without it.
The Sad, Shiny Surface of the 50 Shades Franchise: The basic premise of this piece - that it’s money, not sex, that is the primary fantasy behind the phenomenal success of this crap - isn’t something I’ve seen explored much before or elsewhere, but it is SO TRUE.
Meet The Green Angels: This sort of sounds like a joke, but given the speed with which it travelled around the web this week it will be an actual reality in all major cities by the end of the month. This is a slightly fawning profile of an NYC weed delivery service which is staffed exclusively by beautiful women, ostensibly because ‘hot girls don’t get stopped and searched’ - admittedly the idea of not having to interact with a monosyllabic puffa-wearing roadman in the front seat of a Ford KIA is an appealing one, but this does equally feel like a particular strain (sorry) of weedbro wish fulfilment. Regardless, I am really looking forward to reading reports about the London offshoot of this.
Duterte And The Road To Martial Law: I’m going to keep posting stuff about the Philippines here, partly because a friend of mine moved there last year and I am a bit worried about her but also because it doesn’t feel like there’s enough attention being paid to how appallingly mental stuff over there is getting. Lest we forget, self-styled hardman and political maverick Duterte is basically overseeing a state-sanctioned massacre of anyone the police decide is implicated in the drugs trade - and he’s in the process of lowering the legal age of liability for crimes from 16 to 9. 9. He is effectively establishing a situation whereby it will be actually totally legal for cops to shoot children. I mean, this isn’t really OK, is it?
A City Is Not A Computer: Brilliant essay examining some of the issues with datacentrism in public planning. If 2017 isn’t the year in which we all admit that, actually, data is a fcuking red herring without decent interpretation and analysis then I will be most disappointed (if unsurprised).
The Original Camgirls: A look back at the community of livestreamers who built up around Jennicam back in the day, and how their lives were transformed by being streamed in jerky chunks to an invisible online audience of millions. One of those wonderful pieces which looks back at what was in retrospect a really significant sociocultural frontier with the clear-eyed sobriety of distance, this is really rather interesting.
How To Make Soup: I know, I know, soup is NOT INTERESTING. Bear with me, though - this is the greatest guide to making soup I have ever seen, and presented in SUCH a beautiful fashion by the NYT. The webwork here is just lovely, and it has the added benefit of being actually functional. I promise you, if you like food you will ADORE this - and if you do webstuff you should just sort of read it and learn. Sadly doesn’t include any mention of stones, which is the only flaw I can find with it.
What Happened When Dawson’s Creek Convinced Me To Date My Neighbour: About love and loneliness and relationships as a female expat in post-Brexit Berlin; this is excellent writing.
When Things Go Missing: This is superb. It is about losing things and losing people and age and death and memory, and in another week would be the most impressive thing I’d read over the past 7 days; as it is, carve out 15 minutes to enjoy this because it merits savouring with a cup of tea.
How I Learned To Stop Sharing Prince With The Men In My Life: Not really about music, or Prince, but also totally about music and Prince, this is about the way in which music defines relationships and the way in which we feel about people, and about how ‘giving’ someone your musical taste is one of the most personal expressions of love and trust there is. Glorious.
My Chemo Nemesis: An awesome piece of writing about how the author wants to be the coolest guy on the chemo ward but can’t because of Ben, who really IS the coolest guy on the chemo ward. A pleasingly unfussy depiction of coping with cancer treatment with almost no heroism or STRUGGLE - also, even if you’ve never done chemo you will TOTALLY have met someone like Ben and hated them despite yourself.
Stardew Valley: This is a piece of writing about a very niche little videogame called Stardew Valley, in which you basically make a life for yourself as a farmer. It’s not, though, at least not entirely - it’s also about LIFE AND STUFF. Look, I know that for many of you the prospect of reading anything about videogames is almost entirely unappealing, but can I ask that you make an exception for this? You really don’t need to care about games, I promise, and it is really rather beautiful.
What A Therapy Sceptic Thinks Of Therapy After A Year: Hayley Campbell writes beautifully for Buzzfeed about her therapy and overcoming her inherent resistance to it. Will be hugely familiar to anyone who’s ever hated themselves a bit for doing something so massively self-indulgent, and yet occasionally necessary, as paying a stranger to listen to their sh1t.
Since Everything Sudden Hurricane: I was absolutely blown away by the prose style here - this is ASTONISHINGLY good. I would use the adjective ‘Joycean’ were it not so toe-curlingly horrid.
The Trash Heap Has Spoken: A brilliant personal essay about being a fat woman, by a fat woman, all about personal voice and identity and self-/other-image, and the roles one’s physicality imposes on one in a sociocultural sense if one lets it. Really astoundingly good stuff, this.
Insomniac City: I cried when I read this the first time, and I cried again just now looking at the piece as I pasted the link; this is absolutely heartbreaking, and one of the most wonderful depictions of love I have ever read, ever. An extract from Bill Hayes’ book about his relationship with Oliver Sacks, this absolutely destroyed me and I can’t stress enough how absolutely glorious it is.
By Lana Prins
AND NOW MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!:
1) This is, after the Young Thug vid from the other week, absolutekly the best music video I have seen in years. Really, this is AWESOME. The music, sadly, is a bit rubbish imho, but HOW GOOD IS THE CLIP? This is called...er...something in Russian; the band are Leningrad. ENJOY!:
2) Next up, this is a gorgeous song which effectively encapsulates for me the exact feeling engendered by 2017 so far. It is by Staves, it’s called ‘Tired as Fcuk’, and I could look at this woman’s face all day:
3) Not quite as good as the Russian one up top, but this is the SECOND best music video of the week. Enjoy the story of the band meeting the grandparents in this clip for ‘I Wanna Prove To You’, the hugely 70s-tinged new one by the Lemon Twigs:
4) Sad and slow and beautiful and a touch intense, this is the beautiful voice of Aldous Harding on her debut single on 4AD, called ‘Horizon’. Gorgeous:
5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! I featured Elro’s comeback on SBTV the other week - this is a new bit from him for JDZ Media - seriously, even if you don’t normally do hiphop then please do give this a go; he is SO sharp and funny, and the flow (sorry) is genuinely good. Man is talented - no idea if there’s legs in this for him, but I wish him all the best as the skills are there. Also massive props for the lines about buying rounds in a ‘Spoons:
6) MORE UK HIPHOP CORNER! This is Strange U, with ‘Grizzle’ and it is fcuking EXCELLENT in a slightly wonky, leftfield sort of way. Standout line for me is the one about ‘In the pantheon of losers/you can bet I’m the A-List’, but you pick your own:
7) EVEN MORE HIPHOP CORNER! Well, spoken word really, but it does have beats. This is Kate Tempest with ‘Europe is Lost’ - she’s a superstar and this is excellent. Enjoy, take care of yourselves, and SEE YOU SOON!:
8) Oh, no, hang on - forgot this. O HAI RUBBERBANDITS! It’s not quite Horse Outside (nothing ever will be) or Spastic Hawk, but it’s still a strong effort. This is ‘Donald In The Distance’:
Please forward this onto as many people as your mail server can physically handle.