Friday 20 May 2016

Web Curios 20/05/16

Turns out Copenhagen is lovely, like some sort of LEGO model socialist utopia with lovely food and free, EU-funded coffee (HEAR THAT, BREXIT PEOPLE?). But I’m back now, and although we have a new mayor everything’s still pretty horrid, so what was the point of going on holiday anyway, eh? What? To give you a break from not reading this? Ah, well, quite.

Anyway, totally unrelated by last night I was doing my mentoring thing at a school in East London and we had a quiz with the kids - a pretty easy one, just for lols, asking them to name as many cartoons, or arsenal players, or comedy movies, as they could in 90 seconds. All well and good, though the class of boys were slightly more stumped when asked to name romantic films (“We’s men, we’s don’t watch chickflicks innit” - look, THAT’S HOW THEY SAID IT); the first one to be named by the class of 14 year old boys? 50 Shades of Grey. When confronted by the teacher who suggested that it wasn’t really a romantic film and so didn’t count, one of the kids was so incensed that he felt moved to stand up and shout (and I mean SHOUT) “NAH MISS THERE IS BARE ROMANTIC SPANKING!”.

I mean. Bare romantic spanking. Were I in a band, that would totally be its first EP.

Anyway, you don’t come here for tales of the YOOT. You come here so that I can regurgitate my week’s worth of internet consumption into your hungry, gaping maws, like a mother bird feeding her just-hatched young before pushing you out of the nest and seeing whether you fly or whether you plummet to the ground in a mess of splintered bone and gut and feather - so drink deep of my partially digested webmusings, kids, because time’s a wasting. THIS IS WEB CURIOS!

By Brian Donnelly




  • Facebook Adds Video Ads To Audience Network: A startlingly tedious headline to kick off with this week, this is the news that Facebook Network Ads (when you buy ads on Facebook and then they’re targeted to users on third-party websites) will now work with videos as well. Which, as far as attempting to circumvent the whole ‘targeting ads for online video is bullshit and all the inventory is horrible’ problem is rather useful, I think.

  • Noone Actually Listens To Audio On Facebook Video: This piece suggests that 85% of Facebook Video plays are muted; anecdotal evidence suggests that this might even be a conservative estimate. Save the money on the expensive voice-over star (USE ME INSTEAD!) as no fcuker will ever hear what carefully-scripted phrases they’re spouting, turns out.

  • Auto-generated 360-degree Photos Coming To FB: Well, sort-of. As part of the platform’s drive to force us all into VR headsets by the end of the year (what if I don’t want to spend the future with a mobile phone strapped to my face? TOUGH), Facebook’s going to start autogenerating 360 degree panoramas from flat panorama pics. Which, if you’re a brand with access to loads of hires, large-scale wide-format photography, is probably quite useful.

  • Facebook Will Soon Use Your Face As Emoji: Or at least that’s what a recently unearthed patent would suggest. Basically it’s testing tech which will analyse photos of a user to determine their expression and how that matches against a limited palette of reactions; the idea being that there will eventually come a glorious future in which you type :*-( and Facebook finds a photo of you crying your eyes out at the horror of it all to use as a handy little visual emotional signifier. Fantastic news!

  • Dynamic Ads Come To Instagram: This is ad retargeting - so expect to see an absolute metric fcuktonne of ads for things you’ve already bought appearing in your Instagram feed. Works exactly the same as on Facebook, and so guaranteed to make the Instagram experience marginally more unpleasant for all users, but not enough to actually stop anyone from using the platform.

  • Instagram Analytics are COMING: Exciting, right? This is apparently the sort of information which will be available when companies set up one of the trailed Instagram company pages (see Curios passim), and will let you see not only ‘likes’ and regrams, but actually get data on how many people have seen a particular post, when an account’s followers are online, etc. Not in the wild yet, but only a matter of time (also, can we just take a moment to imagine what the internal life of the person who wrote this piece is like? ‘Instagram analytics are almost here and they look amazing!’. Just think about what it would be like to be a human being ‘amazed’ by the advent of analytics on a social media platform (in case you’re struggling, it would be horrific, FYI)).

  • There’s a Proper DeskTop Version of Whatsapp Now: There really is! Should you want to run customer service or whatever from the platform, this is probably superuseful.

  • Twitter Set To Remove Links & Pictures From Character Limit: A useful update which will make absolutely no difference to the platform’s base-level fundamental problems whatsoever! No clue as to when this will happen, but SOON is the general consensus - some poor sod’s going to have to rewrite all the Tweets in the July content calendar as a result of this, aren’t they? OH THE HUMANITY.

  • Twitter To Add ‘Broadcast Now’ Button: Because the near-future is set to be characterised by everyone sharing video of what they are doing RIGHT NOW, and because this is obviously what we all want and need, Twitter’s going to add a button letting people just straight to streaming from Periscope when they’re writing a Tweet (much in the way they currently have a ‘share a photo’ button). Welcome to a whole new tedious era of people telling you that Twitter’s for people not only telling you what they had for breakfast but actually showing you.

  • In-stream Ads Coming To Twitter Apps: Look, I confess that this makes no sense to me whatsoever (I’m going to blame the writeup, which is appalling even by the standards of tech journalism), but it feels like it’s vaguely significant and so I’m chucking it in here. If anyone cares to explain it to me, I’m all ears (apart from the bits which are bile and spleen).

  • YouTube Launching Messenger: Another week, ANOTHER MESSENGING PLATFORM! This one built into YouTube, so you can quickly and easily share links to videos with people whilst logged into the platform. Er, has anyone else really been struggling with sharing videos with people in the current, copy and paste a link into an email or one of the other seemingly-infinite cha platforms at our disposal? No, didn’t think so, and yet here we are.

  • Google Spaces: Another in this week’s selection of ‘products or features which I don’t really think anyone’s been clamouring for and which are still being presented to us as amazing solutions to problems we didn’t know we had’, Google this week announced ‘Spaces’ - basically, as far as I can tell, a group chat feature which works a bit like a Facebook Group and a bit like Slack (integrated commands such as search within the platform) but almost certainly won’t take off and will be tried once and then binned in favour of either of the two aforementioned extant tool because WE DON’T NEED ANY MORE FCUKING WAYS TO TALK TO EACH OTHER IN THE SAME WAY.

  • Sign In With Slack Across The Web: You know how you can use your Google or Facebook ID to log in to websites? You can now do the same with your Slack ID, which for particular types of site is actually probably A Good Thing.

  • The Snapchat Algorithm Is Coming: Well, allegedly. Depending on your perspective, this is a welcome move to cope with the inevitable ‘Oh I have so many snaps I can’t possibly watch all of them before they expire!’ problem engendered by the platform’s massive spike in popularity, or it’s the first step in the platform’s shift towards becoming yet another place for brands to soil with their content dysentry (because if users can’t see all the content automatically, what comes next? THE ABILITY TO PAY TO FORCE YOUR CONTENT INTO PEOPLE’S FACES, THAT’S WHAT!).

  • You Can Now Embed Reddit Threads Elsewhere On The Web: This is pretty useful, I think, although it obviously won’t stop half the web lifting Reddit wholesale and passing it off as editorial.

  • Amazon Launches Video Direct: Basically it’s Amazon’s attempt to replicate YouTube for PROFESSIONAL CONTENT PRODUCERS. Not a big thing as yet, but worth keeping an eye on to see whether they can entice people to use it as a platform due to better monetisation opportunities. There’s a decent thinkpiece on how (and whether) it might work here.

  • Very Clever Ad Retargeting: I am really, really impressed by this anti-bullying campaign, which used highly specific ad targeting and subsequent retargeting to get a bunch of offensive messages to follow ‘influencers’ around the web in order to promote a campaign to prevent bullying in Canadian schools. The basic premise here is TOTALLY thievable, and you could do an interesting Facebook-based variant with hypertargeted content whicH i think would be a rather fun complement to your bog standard INFLUENCER MARKETING bullsh1t.

  • Bangfit: Pornhub continue to excel at promoting hairy-handed blindness, or at least their videos facilitating it. This is a very nicely done twist on the ‘hey, sex is exercise; you can probably lose weight JUST BY FCUKING!’ idea, presenting what is basically a slightly shonky mobile version of Guitar Hero designed to tell you how many calories you’re disposing of when sexing (alone or with someone else). Really, really nicely done, from the 80s exercise video stylings to the mobile execution - turns out these smutpeddlers are really good at marketing.

  • The Voice of Goldivox: Promo site for a company called Vocalid which designs speaking software - read along to the story to progress through the animation. This is lovely webwork.

  • The Handy Awards: A not-as-funny-as-it-thinks-it-is mobile site designed to highlight the somewhat masturbatory nature of ad industry awards ceremonies. BECAUSE EVERYONE IN ADVERTISING IS A WANKER, GEDDIT?!?!?! Admittedly that’s also sort of my schtick, fine, but I like to think I’m slightly subtler about it.

  • The Grand Prix Generator: Finally, not the first ‘here’s a website that generates bullsh1t Cannes winners’ entry in Curios, but certainly one of the best - LOOK IT AUTOGENERATES ENTRY VIDEOS! These are UNCANNY, and every single one of them that it’s churned out for me could legitimately be an actual campaign which, frankly, you could probably nick.

  • Programmatic Pioneers Summit: Want to come to a GREAT conference all about programmatic advertising? Ok, let's be more realistic - are you likely to find it beneficial for professional reasons to know more about programmatic advertising? Would you like a discount on ticket prices? HERE YOU GO THEN! Happening next week, so GET ON IT if you're interested (if you're reading this on the CurioBot, btw, it is IN THE PAST NOW).


By Hattie Stewart




  • Google’s Domestic Spying Servant: You’ve probably seen this already, right? Google this week announced that it’s launching its own version of Amazon’s Echo - that creepy tower that sits in your house and you can give voice commands to. The idea is that it’s the first step towards and all-assisting domestic AI a la Her, which will search, play music and media, order stuff, etc, all on your vocal commands. And, er, which will have the ability to listen to EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN YOUR HOME. Now I don’t want to be hyperbolic about this, but we’ve all sort of accepted that the ‘Don’t Be Evil’ thing has sort of passed by the wayside by now (or at the very least that it’s been amended slightly with the addition of ‘...but be as creepy as you like’) - can you think of a company more likely to track everything that you say and then creepily sell that data to the highest bidder? No, me neither!

  • Allo & Duo: More from Google! These two apps aren’t out yet, but they also tick the ‘wow, Google, that’s creepy!’ box and so are worth a quick mention. Duo is set to be a live video chat app whose gimmick is that you’ll be able to see live video of the person calling you before you pick it up, allowing for all sorts of hijinks where the caller can attempt to get your attention in a variety of increasingly desperate ways; Allo, far more creepily, is a text messaging app which will, Google claims, learn how you write so as to be able to automate message responses, thus saving you valuable time. Let’s just take a moment to parse that - a chat program which READS EVERYTHING YOU TYPE SO AS TO BE ABLE TO BETTER MIMIC YOUR WRITING STYLE. That doesn’t sound like a potentially disastrous and horrifying idea AT ALL. My favourite (read: least favourite) part of this is the example they use in the blogpost, suggesting that Allo will be able to work out whether you’re a ‘haha’ or ‘LOL’ person. Is there anything more horrifyingly dead-eyed and dystopian than the idea of a machine autoresponding to a message with a dull, affectless ‘LOL’ on your behalf? That was a rhetorical question - there is not.

  • The Google Keyboard for iPhone: This looks pretty good, mind, even if Google’s going to use it as another way of spying on everything you type, ever. In-keyboard search, emoji, etc - actually really useful (DAMN YOU GOOGLE).

  • Actually this is just a smart piece of promo by Netflix and so should have come up there - hey ho. God knows how much they paid for it, but now works as a superquick, convenient way of measuring your current download speed. Not a new thing, but more efficient than other sites I’ve come across which do the same thing.

  • Ephemeral Tattoos: Want a tattoo but are put off by the thought what it will look like as your body stretches and sags over time, decaying hour-by-hour as you shuffle towards inevitable putrefaction? Yeah, I know the feeling, but these people are working on ink which is matched with a ‘removal solution’ which when applied will make the regrettable ‘Heaven This Way!’ on your inner thigh disappear. Which is nice. No idea whether this is vaporware or not, but you can sign up for more info should you desire.

  • Mood: “Do you have difficulty expressing your moods through text messages?” says the video. Well no, not really, seeing as I’m a sentient adult who has had a pretty good command of the written word for a few decades now. If I were the sort of person incapable of conveying nuance through prose, though, perhaps I’d enjoy this app which lets you add backing music to voicenotes to better convey your mental state. I am almost 100% certain this is a joke, but it’s almost impossible to tell now that we’re firmly embedded in the future. I do like the ‘motivational’ music, though, and might download the app just for that.

  • Maplematch: Proof positive that there is no idea for a dating site too niche, this one’s for American people so scared of the concept of a Trump presidency that they would go so far as to MARRY A CANADIAN to escape. Oh, and in the interests of bundling all the links about the man in one place (how can someone so compellingly awful simultaneously be so dull?), here’s a Trump nickname generator.

  • Sidewire: An interesting idea - Sidewire is a site which collects links to news, and then uses a Talkshow-esque interface to showcase pundits and journalists discussing it in informed, measured fashion. This is quite a nice concept, I think, and whilst its existence as a standalone site / app is probably not going to last long I think it’s a feature which could be implemented on news sites rather successfully.

  • The 911 Bot: Proof of concept rather than working thing, but a look at how the future of the emergency services will almost certainly function.

  • Devrant: As far as I can tell, this is YikYak for developers - a place where you can go and vent about, er, code, should you so desire. This is pretty niche, but if you spend your days dealing with idiots who JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THINGS WORK and attempting to debug thousands of lines of JS, this may prove a soothing safe and happy place.

  • Art Or Junk: Is it art or is it junk? Or, more accurately, is it cheap or expensive. Oddly addictive single-concept game site, which I warn you now has the most annoying autoplaying music you have heard in YEARS. Whoever coded that in is a sadist of the highest order - absolutely the sort of thing which if you leave it playing while you lock your computer and leave for lunch will have your coworkers apopleptic within a matter of minutes.

  • App Blaster: We’re all agreed that launching an app in 2016 is sort of a thankless task, right? If you’re still hell-bent on so doing, you might want to check out App Blaster which promises to get your new app into the mitts of INFLUENCERS at launch, thus leveraging their IMMENSE NETWORKS to get people to download your thing. For money, obviously, but frankly I’d explore this as an alternative to PR because, really, it’s all snake oil.

  • Programmable Amazon Dash Button: You can, for a limited time, get your own programmable version of the Amazon Dash button (you remember, that little doohickey which you could programme to autodeliver stuff to you from Amazon at the touch of a button), which, according to the site, can be used to do LOADS of stuff: “You can code the button's logic in the cloud to configure button clicks to count or track items, call or alert someone, start or stop something, order services, or even provide feedback. For example, you can click the button to unlock or start a car, open your garage door, call a cab, call your spouse or a customer service representative, track the use of common household chores, medications or products, or remotely control your home appliances.” You could have LOTS of fun with this.

  • Blue Feed Red Feed: Interesting experiment by the Wall Street Journal looking at th sorts of links shared on Facebook by people who self-describe across varying degrees of the liberal/conservative spectrum, and letting you see how the material you see will vary wildly around any given topic depending on what sort of people are in your network. Nothing you wouldn’t have known anecdotally, but seeing it laid out like this is rather cool - I am increasingly of the mind that I would love the opportunity to be able to tell Facebook or Google what I politically believer and then alter settings on either platform to see stuff that either reinforces my beliefs or is diametrically opposed to them, just for the variety. Is this doable with plugins and stuff? Can someone build something like this for me, please? THANKS!

  • The Most Important Song: A different song each day, with links to the band’s forthcoming gigs and other stuff. Small and simple, but a nice way of hearing new stuff (though as I type, the current pick is by lumpen indie mediocrities Catfish and the Bottlemen, so your mileage may vary).

  • Stary: Remember Hoverboards? No, me neither really, though shout out the man in Oval who I see every week hoverboarding along the street with his phone out, playing some HOT JAMS in masterfully tinny fashion, bopping along and generally just looking chill as. Would that we were all that cool. Anyway, hoverboards are OVER - this year’s new hotness is motorised skateboards, of which this is the first example I’ve seen. According to a man who’s seen them in action, these are super-impressive and will be everywhere in a few months as the Chinese factories churning them out with intent.

  • Small Victories: I don’t even pretend to understand how this works (that’s an exaggeration; I mean, I sort of get it, but it’s still sort of crazy), so it’s probably just going to get filed in my head under ‘basically witchcraft’ - Small Victories lets you dump and bunch of files into a Dropbox folder and then MAGICALLY BUILDS A WEBSITE out of them. The exampes that people have made are legitimately amazing - this is one of the most impressively clever things I have seen in AGES.

  • Art in Gigapixels: The continually excellent Google Cultural Institute has photographed a shedload of artworks from around the world with an insanely hi-res digital camera, and has made them available online to zoom in on and admire the brushwork. No exaggeration - you can actually see individual brushstrokes on some of these which is kind of incredible.

  • Freewrite: You remember electric typewriters? You know how we got rid of them, because laptops? Well they are BACK! Or they will be, if these people have their way - this is basically a modern version of those horrible, clunky things, which autosyncs to the Cloud via wifi ensuring your work can never be lost, and features a nice e-ink display, but otherwise has none of the distractions of the modern internetboxes on which we’re all used to typing, and offers the pleasingly kinetic experience of typing on a big machine to boot.

  • Pixelsynth: Have you ever wondered ‘Hm, what would that picture of the person I love most in the world sound like if I used a computer program to convert it into an audio sequence based on the colour value of each pixel composing it?’ No, of course you haven’t, that would be WEIRD. Nonetheless, this is exactly what you can do with this Google Chrome experiment (you can use any photo you like, but I particularly like the idea of using a portrait of your partner and then excitedly calling them over to show them what they sound like - inevitably, they will sound like a troupe of digital cats being castrated without anaesthetic).

  • Bad Fan Art: Celebrities, photoshopped to look like poorly-rendered fan art of themselves. Not the first time I’ve seen this done, but these are ALL NEW. I would totally have the Picass-esque Bieber on my wall, fwiw.

  • Etch A Sketch Art:This Etsy seller flogs portraits drawn on Etch A Sketches, which shows an incredible degree of patience and skill. You don’t get the Etch A Sketch, sadly, just a photo of the drawing, but she does take commissions should you want to have someone immortalised in graphite. The only commercial application I can think of for this is as a promo for Etch A Sketch, to be honest, but in case anyone doing their PR is reading, this one’s for YOU!

  • Liam Wong: Liam Wong is a Ubisoft art director who also happens to have an Instagram account FULL of incredible neon photos of Tokyo by night. These are gorgeous.

  • Tesloop: The guy behind this is 16. Just take a moment to let that sink in. GIT. Anyway, a very smart idea - basically Uber Pool using Teslas. Only does one route on the West Coast of the US atm, but the model is sound - taps into the environmental chic thing, and the low cost per ride means that profit margin (once you factor in the insane cost of the vehicle itself) is vast. I can see this becoming a thing.

  • Curio Scene: If you do computer graphics, or are just interested in them, this is a great little site. To quote: “Curio is our subjective, curated and continuously expanding collection of modern demoscene and real-time graphics pieces. All are outstanding for one reason or another: some because they are spectacular and cutting edge, and some just because they feel right.”

  • The Limited Edition Jeff Koons Phone Case: Hat off to Koons, he’s hands-down the most successful artist of recent years in terms of crazy monetisation of his work - oddly appropriate that he should be having a show at Hirst’s South London gallery coming up. This is a limited edition phone case ‘by’ the artist - LOOK AT THE PRICETAGS!!! Sadly doesn’t feature any of the works based around his former Italian politician spouse.


  • Likemo: So clever, and a really impressive demo of how smart neural network artstyling has quickly become - doodle anything in the site’s limited colour palette, select an artistic style, and watch as it almost-immediately churns out a reasonable facsimile or Monet, Van Gogh or Renoir based on your simple sketch. Were I a Chinese knock off artist working in a provincial factory churning out ‘masterpieces’ by the meter I would be getting quite nervous about this stuff.

  • Cinema Palettes: A Twitter account sharing stills from films and colourpalettes associated with them. No idea what your potential use might be for this, but when has that ever prevented me from linking to something?

  • They Fight Crime: Generate your own hyperbolic pulp comicbook crimefighting due blurb. Yes, I know that that doesn’t really explain much, just click on the link.

  • Online Theremin: GREAT little browser-based theremin toy which is not only fun to use but also gives me an excuse to link to this again.

  • Videogame Sprites: An insanely comprehensive repository of sprite artwork from old videogames, should that be exactly the sort of thing you’re after. If you do retro-style filmmaking or just want some pixelart inspiration, there’s a lot to get your teeth into here.

  • Tattoodo: Second ink-related link of the week, this is an online community for tattoo aficionados (basically everyone in 2016). Even if you don’t necessarily need or want to be part of ANOTHER online community, this is a great source of inspiration and recommendation when it comes to body art.

  • The Painsaw: Doom, running on a Raspberry Pi, embedded in a toy chainsaw. Lovely, technically proficient and totally, totally frivolous, like all the best things in life.


By Mallory Morrison




  • Behind The Scenes Photos From The Original Star Wars Films: Completists will doubtless have seen these all already, but for the rest of you, who have better things to do than spend your lives poring over archive shots from a mediocre kids film from the 70s, some may be new. BONUS STAR WARS!: The latest ‘Everything Is A Remix’ video goes through the ways in which the latest Star Wars is basically the first Star Wars all over again.

  • The Animated Map of US Immigration: Taking data from the past 190-odd years, this is a beautiful and slightly hypnotic visualisation of the flow of people entering the US across (mostly) the 20th Century. Proof that there’s nothing that can’t be made compelling with some nice animation.

  • Olio: A great idea which all restaurants and cafes and basically everyone should sign up to forthwith, Olio is basically an app that lets you tell other people if you have spare food or ingredients going that they can take off your hands, like freecycle but for persihables. The best antidote I’ve yet seen to vegetable box guilt, and the fact that you know in your heart of hearts that you are never going to do anything with yje kale languishing in your fridge.

  • Resonance Box: Make sounds into your microphone and watch them get prettily visualised by this webtoy. I imagine that if you’re a competent beatboxer or somesuch you could make something rather cool looking, but even shrieking into the mic like some sort of demented, Lidl Diamanda Galas gives some pretty decent looking visuals.

  • Petita Tatata: There aren’t enough audio bots out there, imho. This link takes you to the Github page for Petita Tatata, which is a bot churning out algorithmically generated poetry which is then converted using Google text-to-speech and uploaded to Soundcloud - I would like more of this sort of thing, please; something like limerick generation shouldn’t be too hard to automate, write? Says the man who can’t code for sh1t.

  • Mathpix: Another in this week’s ‘Internet as black magic’ file, Mathpix is an app which lets you photograph mathematical equations and will then ‘read’ them, offering near-instant solutions, graphs, etc, based on what it sees. This is MENTAL.

  • Playdate: I’m not really a pet person - Christ alone knows I find it hard enough to care about other members of my own species, let alone those of a completely different one, particularly when they crap everywhere - but I can totally see the appeal of this. Now funded on Indiegogo, Playdate is a toy ball for cats and dogs which has a camera in it and which can be controlled by your phone, letting you play with your pet remotely. The concept is great, though you can sort of tell that if you have a cat your experience will be of a feline staring disinterestedly at the camera lens before licking its arsehole and falling asleep.

  • Placewire: An interesting idea. New York-only (for the moment) site which lets users share photos based on their locality - you tell it which borough you’re from and it will automatically tag your pictures to that borough. I could see this being really useful for councils to easily let residents share photos of local stuff which needs fixing, for example, but there are probably loads of applications.

  • Mush: If you’re a new parent and you’re not of the age where everyone you know has simultaneously decided to disgorge progeny then it could be a touch lonely (especially if you decide to not go down the speed dating horror of NCT classes, which always sounded to me like a hideous way to meet and be judged by complete strangers with whom you have nothing in common). Mush is designed to address that, letting parents (in particular mums) meet other parents in the same area with similar age kids based on shared interest profiles, etc. Not only useful for parents, but potentially for brands too, particularly given that we have now all definitively agreed that the whole mummyblogger thing is over (and was bollocks anyway).

  • Tabsnooze: Got tabs open which you know you should read but simply can’t be bothered to look at, but whose presence is making you feel a vague sense of low-level guilt (story of my life)? Pause them and reopen them at any minute with this extension.

  • Trees Sucking On Things: GREAT subreddit of photos of trees basically eating their surroundings. WEIRD AND CREEPY AND AMAZING.

  • Not By Accident: A really interesting podcast by a woman who chose to have a child on her own, recounting her ‘journey’ (sorry) and how she deals with both single parenthood and the weird lack of acceptance that this is something that a woman might actively choose to pursue.

  • Those Shiny Cakes: LOOK HOW SHINY THEY ARE? I have the sneaking feeling that they taste like linoleum, but there’s no denying the slightly ASMR-ish aesthetic appeal of these things. The woman’s just launched a YouTube channel to cash in on her Instagram popularity, so if you fancy watching a lot of videos of cakes being viscously iced (not in any way a euphemism), then you should subscribe NOW.

  • Mikanz: This appears to be a website selling satsumas with faces drawn on them. I don’t understand why.

  • KGF Classic Cars: Are you the sort of person who owns a pair of leather driving gloves and seriously considers in-car air freshener? Then you’ll probably be the EXACT target demographic for this Flickr collection of LOADS of photos of classic cars (are they classic? I have literally no idea, sorry).

  • Arngren: Do you find teh experience of online shopping, with its near-infinite choice of products and endlessly appealing shop windows, slightly stressful and a bit overwhelming? Well take a jump into Amgren, then, Norwegian purveyors of all sorts of vehicular stuff (drones, hovercraft, etc), and enjoy one of the most idiosyncratically-laid out shopping experiences I’ve ever seen. Ling would approve.

  • Bee-R Goggles: One-note gag designed to give you a ‘virtual beer drinking experience’ whilst, er, drinking a actual beer, I am amazed that this hasn’t been ripped off by Fosters or John Smiths or Newcastle Brown or whichever brand it is currently peddling that ‘no nonsense, drink of the people, no bullsh1t’ marketing wankery.

  • On The Grid: Excellent curated city guides, put together for places all across the world by advermarketingprwankers just like YOU! Some really nice recommendations in here - the London one’s got some genuinely good stuff in it, which makes me expect the other cities to be similarly well-curated.

  • The Diary of Ko Kolijn: I love this. The stories of one ordinary man during WWII, culled from the pages of his diary. “Ko Kolijn lived his whole life in Purmerend. Born in 1924 in this small city just north of Amsterdam. Here he first worked at the Tax office as an Inspector and after the war he started working at the Nieuwe Noordhollandse Courant, a newspaper. He started in the advertisement department but eventually worked as the editor in chief. During the war Ko meticulously describes every day in his diary. He writes about daily things like getting milk. But he mostly describes the end of the war that is coming closer every day. Ko’s family had a secret radio with which they could listen in what was happening outside German controlled area.” Brilliant historical resource and SO HUMAN.

  • Rentberry: Ever think that the London rental market isn’t quite brutal enough, and that it could do with being stacked a little more in the favour of the landlord? GREAT! Rentberry basically lets potential renters ‘bid’ for their property of choice - meaning you could actually be gazzumped on  rental by someone willing to pay £20 more a week. I for one am THRILLED at the prospect of bidding wars being introduced to renting. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!

  • The Canvas Project: Instagram account posting photos onto which have been superimposed elements from classic artworks to pleasing effect. There’s a campaign for an art gallery here somewhere, surely (although on reflection that’s such an obvious idea that it must have been done already, no?).

  • London In The Blitz - Then & Now: Nice photoprpject on the Atlantic, merging historic photos of Blitz-era London with contemporary shots taken on the same site.

  • The Partridge Cloud: A search engine for Alan Partridge. There is at least one of you for whom this is the best thing in here this week - you’re welcome, Matt.

  • Track My Flow: Last year saw the Looncup, the digitally enabled mooncup for the techologically curios hippy in your life. Now we have Track My Flow, another menses-manager (not a phrase I ever envisaged typing, I confess) which this time uses tampons rather than a cup. So, er, if you’ve ever felt the need to have your phone tell you exactly how saturated your tampons are, now’s your chance to get on one. MENSTRUATING READERS: A QUESTION - erm, is this necessary? Don’t you just change the things X times a day anyway? WHY DO YOU NEED THIS INFORMATION?

  • The Corgi Orgy: I’m just goingto reiterate what I said on Twitter about this one: “Click this link. Marvel. And then click again, and realise you can make your own with whatever images you want”. You work with at least one person whose corporate headshot would be PERFECT for this.

  • Spire: Spire is a wearable designed to tell you when you are stressed; alternatively, you could just PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOUR FEELING rather than relying on a bundle of sensors. Christ’s sake.

  • BOx: This week’s best ‘Internet of Bullshit’ thing, though, comes in the form of this bottle opener, which will tell the world every time a bottle. WHY IS THIS A THING? WHO COULD POSSIBLY WANT IT? I particularly like (read: despise) the lame attempts at gamification, including a leaderboard to climb with your friends based on who’s opened the most bottles - DRINK RESPONSIBLY, KIDS!

  • My Sticker Face: A service which will print stickers of your actual face. Or, even better, someone else’s - just imagine how much fun it would be getting a bunch of stickers printed of your friend’s face and then plastering them all over the tube network, focusing on those stations they use the most. HUGE bullying potential here.

  • Resize My Home: Lovely website highlighting the plight of dolphins in captivity - you can play with the lovely CGI critters in a variety of different ways, but the payoff comes when you resize your browser - really slick execution.

  • The President of Virtual Reality: I think that this is actually part of the promo for a recently released Oculus game, but even if so it’s an impressively mental spoof. Welcome to the world of John ‘Neverdie’ Jacobs, a real-life virtual world millionaire (a sentence that doesn’t get any less strange the more I think about it) who, according to this website, has recently appointed himself the first President of Virtual reality. His policies are...interesting.

  • The Making of Me & You: A lovely interactive by the BBC which lets you plug in your age, gender, weight, etc, and then tells you about all the amazing stuff your body’s been doing since you’ve been alive - what you’re made of, how much STUFF you’ve produced, that type of thing. I am immensely uncomfortable about being reminded of the fact that I’m made of meat, but this is still really rather cool.

  • Auntie’s Recipes: All the recipes from the BBC archives, preserved (hopefully) forever. TAKE THAT, MURDOCH, YOU SHITHEEL. I mean, obviously Murdoch still wins eventually, but let’s pretend for a moment that he doesn’t shall we?

  • All The Hiphop Mixtapes EVER: Seriously, this is an incredible collection of music. SO MUCH GOODNESS HERE.

  • Licki: In case you’ve ever wanted to be able to brush your cat with your tongue. Have you? No, of course you haven’t, and yet once again here we are.

  • Trumptendo: Finally in this section, a selection of classic NES games playable in your browser, each of which has been modded to turn The Donald into the villain. Makes Punch Out infinitely more appealing, trust me.


By Theo Prins





  • Manchester Estate Pubs: Not actually a Tumblr, but noone cares and frankly nor do I. This is a collection of photos of unprepossessing Mancunian council estate drinking hovels; I have a personal rule about not drinking in pubs with flat roofs, because they tend to look like this and are TERRIFYING.

  • Business Direction: A rather odd Tumblr, this, taking a VERY in-depth look into the business dealings behind One Direction and all their associated companies and hangers-on, as well as posting a lot of fanboy stuff. STRANGE.

  • Cooking With Mumm-Ra: Cooking tips from the badguy from Thundercats. Inexplicable.

  • The Logo Archive: A project collecting logos from all over the place. Useful inspiration, or, per recent revelations, to just rip off something obscure in wholesale fashion.

  • Six UX: A collection of Vines showcasing nice UX from around teh web. Actually a really good example of potential use case for shortform video in a b2b context (he says, tediously).

  • Windows Is Broken: Collecting photos of digital advertising where Windows has fcuked up and is showing an error message. Sort of poignantly de nos jours, this.

  • Leader Ladies: I didn’t know this was a think at all, but (to quote) this is a “collection of from-the-rewind-bench snapshots of “China Girls” (or “Leader Ladies,” as we’ve heard at least one person call them) – the photographs of (most often) women that sometimes appear in the countdown that begins every reel of motion picture film meant for exhibition, often accompanied by color bars. Their images were used by film lab workers setting color timing or black and white density – and they were often film lab workers themselves.” So now we know.

  • Better Book Titles: Book titles for the tl;dr generation.

  • Yamanote Eki Melo: Each station on the Yamanote trainline in Tokyo has its own melodic audio signature; this website collects them all. WHY IS THIS NOT A THING ON THE UNDERGROUND?!?!?! TFL, come on, this would be HUGE. Can someone compose a ‘Sound of Oval’ for me, please?

  • Guns Replaced With Selfie Sticks: You can guess what this is from the title, I would hope.

  • Every 70s Movie: Another non-Tumblr, this website’s been reviewing 70s films of varying degrees of fame and quality since 2010, meaning that there are THOUSANDS of film reviews up on the site; great for connoisseurs of the retroweird. Man, there were some ODD films produced that decade.

  • Pornhub Sherlock: Pornhub comments on Sherlock screencaps.

  • Carl Burton: Lovely little CGI animationgifthingies, featuring some gorgeous light effects. Beautiful style on display here.

  • That First Page: The first pages of a bunch of novels, scanned and put online.

  • BowieBranchia: “Nudibranchia or other opisthobranchia compared to the various looks of David Bowie.” - basically, sea slugs that look like the Thin White Duke.

  • X Files Documents: Documents from the XFiles. Probably didn’t need to type this, on reflection.

  • Church of Lux: After the Y2k aesthetic BLEW UP having been featured on here a few weeks back (OBVIOUSLY THIS IS CAUSE AND EFFECT - OBVIOUSLY), here’s a Tumblr collecting brilliant chrome and neon 80s inspiration.

  • Who Pays Influencers: Collecting anonymous submissions from influencers as to how much they are being paid by advermarketingpr drones to shill stuff for them. This is PROPER wild west stuff here - the variance in sums is crazy. THE EMPEROR IS NAKED, LOOK AT HIS TINY PENIS, etc.


  • I Was Prince’s Personal Chef: Not actually that long, but a rather sweet little tale of what it was like being at the beck and call of a PROPER superstar for a few years, and a lovely window into what it must have been like being one of the most famous and revered musicians on the planet (tl;dr: weird, but in a really good way).

  • The Fecal Matter Transplant: If you have bad guts, you can fix them by having a poo transplant. This is apparently a medical ‘thing’, which has its scientific basis in bacteria levels in the gut and that sort of thing. Would you do your own poo transplant, though? Ingested orally? You would probably not, I’d wager, but you might find it interesting (or indeed repugnant) to read this account of a man who did. Nowhere near as disgusting as you’d think, and actually really interesting (but, you know, all about bowels, so bear that in mind).

  • The Unibiased Algorithm Is A Myth: Following the recent furore over alleged editorial bias in Facebook trending topics, a piece rather sensibly setting out that all algorithms are by nature biased and simply saying ‘let the algo decide!’ won’t suddenly make us, or our media, magically value neutral. If you know / think about this stuff already, nothing in here’s likely to surprise you too much, but it’s a smart overview of why bias is inherent in all human-designed systems.

  • How DFW Was Bad For Literature: I’m including this not because I agree with its conclusions - I most definitely don’t - but because it’s a counterpoint to my near-ceaseless lauding of Foster Wallace’s output. This takes the knives to his most famous work, This Is Water, delivered as a commencement speech to Kenyon College students in 2005 and which, it’s fair to say, is far from his best work. The author posits that its ubiquity, and its distillation of Wallace’s core tenet of the importance of sincerity and the correlative corrosive effect of cynicism, has basically led us to the point where everything is PERSONAL and about our FEELINGS, and how this validates anything and everything. She’s wrong, but it’s an interesting read.

  • Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in ‘72: Read Hunter S Thompson on the US elections from nearly 50 years ago, and then spend a moment imagining exactly how wonderful his coverage of this year’s shitshow would have been. Masterful writing throughout, brilliantly angry and cynical and simultaneously weirdly pure.

  • The Dictator’s Son, the Footballer: A snapshot of that weird moment at the beginning of the century when attention seeking Perugia President Luciano Gaucci hired one of Gadaffi’s kids to play for the Serie A team. It’s almost a shame that this sort of thing couldn’t really happen any more; it’s VERY odd.

  • Toons In Therapy: Brilliant and slightly harrowing comic strip imagining characters from Family Guy, The Simpsons and King of the Hill in a therapy session as adults. Really rather beautiful.

  • The Curious Case of the Besa Mafia: VERY weird, this - The Besa Mafia is a darkweb site which purports to offer hitman services. Is it a scam? Is it for real? Is it both? This post picks apart the evidence and tries to get to the bottom of the mystery - it’s inconclusive, though subsequent other posts this week suggest that it’s probably all a scam. Probably.

  • The Uncanny World of Muslim Memes: If you ever want to prove to a racist idiot that we are all basically the same regardless of religion, race or creed, go no further than this post which deconstructs Muslim memes and proves conclusively that, no matter your faith, unfunny Facebook fodder based around THOSE FCUKING MINIONS is everywhere.

  • Twittering From The Circus of the Dead: A short horror story, told in Tweets. Really rather excellent, and quite gruesome.

  • Deep Blues: I LOVE THIS. A translated excerpt from a conversation between Chen Zhiyan, a Chinese journalist, and three chatbots: Chicken Little, Little Ice, and Little Knoll. The interview was conducted on WeChat, and it is just amazing - beautiful and poetic and creepy and distant and WEIRD. Alex, who has been learning Chinese, reckons the translations may have been polished slightly to make them a little prettier, but this is just gorgeous. I would like this read out over an ambient backing track, please, ideally in a vocoder-style text-to-speech voice. THANKS!

  • Becoming An Amnesiac’s Memory: A beautiful account of what happens to a relationship when one party starts losing their memory and as a result their identity. Really quite gorgeous writing here.

  • Lionhead: The Inside Story: This is LONG, and you sort of have to be either REALLY into the UK videogames scene or work in it for this to be your thing, but if that applies then this is a great story about the birth, life and death of Peter Molyneux’s Lionhead Studios, which got canned by Microsoft recently. Aside from anything else, the stories about workplace BANTZ are great.

  • Dear Mummy Blogger: Brilliantly vitriolic rant about the bullshit world of mummy blogging, which concludes that noone reads your posts, noone cares, and no brands are deriving any value from this rubbish, regardless of what their agencies are telling them. Watch this get repeated for ‘influencers’ in a couple of years.

  • Being Dr Miami: Great profile of the deeply weird-seeming ‘Dr Miami’, US plastic surgeon and Snapchat star whose no-holds-barred stream of pics from surgery and easygoing manner have made him hugely popular and fed his frankly GARGANTUAN ego and need for fame. The really interesting part of this is not the Snapchat and rise to fame thing, but the weird and slightly broken seeming bloke trying to reconcile being Dr Miami with also being a fairly devout ad ostensibly family-oriented middle-aged Jewish man. I’m calling it now - Dr Miami sex scandal coming by Q4 2016.

  • The End of the End of the World: Jonathan Franzen goes on a National Geographic cruise to Antarctica, sees penguins, writes about his family and generally does a very good job of being Jonathan Franzen. This won’t convert anyone who finds his particular brand of emoschtick writing unconvincing, but for those who don’t have a natural aversion it’s a great bit of writing.

  • In Search Of Something Real With The Cast of Geordie Shore: Finally, absolutely my favourite read of the week, in which Web Curios favourite Joel Golby goes and hangs out on a press junket with the cats of Geordie Shore and, through so doing, confronts some deep truths about existence. Seriously, this is WONDERFUL, and made me actually, properly LOL on several occasions - helpfully, you need never have seen an episode of what I assume is a DREADFUL show to enjoy this. Read it NOW.


By Archillect


1) Do you have children? Do they love Thomas The Tank Engine? Are you sick of seeing the bloody fat controller every day, and hearing about the Island of sodding Sodor? Would you like to ruin Thomas for your kids FOREVER, and probably condemn them to some pretty serious therapy? HERE YOU ARE! NB - probably best to show this to other people’s kids rather than your own, on reflection:

2) Next up, this is a great piece of slightly 80s-tinged indiepop with a brilliant, shonky, VHS-style video from the Diamond Age, which has an inexplicably low number of views considering how good it is. It’s called ‘Popular Science’:

3) This is by Hinds, it’s a great song, and the video gets increasingly horrible as it goes on. It’s called ‘Easy’, and its channeling a lot of 90s, soundwise, imho:

4) Do you remember Power Rangers fondly? Do you like slightly overblown 70s-ish rock? Would you like a combination of those two things RIGHT NOW? OH MY DAYS YOU WILL LOVE THIS THEN! This is called ‘People Vultures’ and it’s by the fabulously-named King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizard. Such a great video:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! Not so much hiphop as ‘urban’, tbh, this is Olivia Louise whose mixtape I featured the other week, and Curios favourite Manga St Hilare, with ‘Roll It’. SUCH a tune:

6) ACTUAL HIPHOP CORNER! This is by Ezza, who I’d never heard of before but whose flow is refreshingly idiosyncratic and who’s worth keeping an eye on, I think. This is called ‘The Kick Off’:

7) EVEN MORE UK HIPHOP! This is a month old, but still EXCELLENT. Menacing and jagged, and the video’s a gret complement to it. Production on this is great too imho - it’s ‘No Drama’ by Cadence:

8) This made me well up. It’s really surprisingly emotional, about friendship and love and loss and basejumping. A short film called ‘When We Were Knights’ (for a second Curios in a row, thanks Wilson):

9) Finally this week, longtime Curios readers may remember this from WAAAAAY back in the H+K days, depicting a dystopian Augmented Reality future peppered with advertising and looking like the most terrifying videogame ever. Well the same creative mind behind it is BACK, with this similarly bleak glimpse at what our AR lenses-enabled future is going to look like. It’s called Hyperreality and it is a brilliant, scary piece of short filmmaking. Enjoy, and SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

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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