Friday 20 October 2017

Web Curios 20/10/17

It's...it's not been a nice week, has it? I mean, I always say this - if you were to do a wordcloud of these opening paragraphs I'm pretty sure that a series of variants on the theme of 'awful' and 'despair' would loom out at you - but it really does seem like the past seven days have been particularly shrill and awful. 

Or at least they have in my corner of the London 'Generic Media Wanker' bubble.  I hope yours has been nicer. The world certainly doesn't need another bloke spaffing out WORDS on power and gender and coercion - all I'll say is that I hope a certain London gallery owner and nightlife impresario with a TV and newspaper column sideline is feeling particularly scared at the moment. OOH A BLIND ITEM WHO COULD IT BE? Feel free to DM me your guesses, kids!

And on that lawyer-baiting note, let's get to it! We have links, we have words, we have 6+hours of me sitting at a keyboard in my kitchen drinking tea and developing RSI as I try and fail to spin them into some semblance of coherence - we have, in short, all of the ingredients required. Strap yourselves in, then, and bite HARD on the leather strap as I power up the machine and spin the dial all the way to eleven - FEEL THE WEB COURSING THROUGH YOUR SHUDDERING CARCASS! This, as ever, is the overwrought mess of angst, anger and £5 prose peddling 10p ideas that is WEB CURIOS!

polly morgan

By Polly Morgan

AS IS NOW TRADITION, LET’S KICK THE MIXES OFF WITH THIS WEEK’S IMPERICA EFFORT, FEATURING PIL AND THE ORB AND LOADS MORE BESIDES!

THE SECTION WHICH IS SORT OF WEIRDLY EXCITED AT THE PROSPECT OF BEING ABLE TO MINE ANONYMISED FB STATUS UPDATES, IN MUCH THE SAME WAY THAT THE IDEA OF GOING SWIMMING IN A GIANT TUB FULL OF HYPODERMICS IS ODDLY COMPELLING AS A CONCEPT:

  • FB To Allow People Like Us To Mine Post Data: This is HUGE, potentially, or at least it is if your job involves taking a bunch of poorly-framed datapoints and then from there extrapolating a million+-quid marketing plan - that’s right, Facebook is soon going to let us peek inside the very innards of the Big Blue Misery Factory and see exactly how it’s fueled (by ignorance and idiocy!) - the deal here is that Facebook is apparently trialing the ability to give marketers and the like the opportunity to analyse “what topics, themes, brands and products are being discussed.”. As the article points out, the holy grail here for awful people like us is actual keyword targeting for the FB ad product - til then, though, you can just enjoy the wonderful feeling of anticipatory frisson at the prospect of being able to rifle through the ids of the great unwashed. Let’s be clear - having access to this is likely to tell us NOTHING pleasant about humanity. Still, BETTER INSIGHTS FOR ADVERTISING!
  • FB Rolls Out Food Ordering (In US): Just in case you still thought Deliveroo was a viable long-term bet. Actually this feature integrates existing food delivery services, so perhaps it’s not ALL bad for the gig economy mafiosi - rest assured, though, that Facebook’s going to cut them out of the equation as soon as is (in)humanly possible.
  • Facebook Testing CV-Type Stuff: Apparently - and this is thrilling, trust me - you might soon be able to add some sort of CV-type information to your Facebook profile, which on the one hand is sort of miserable in a general ‘look, Christ, Mark, is there any aspect of our lives you’d possibly feel like not touching?” (“No”, is the obvious answer), but on the other ushers in a way in which LinkedIn no longer exists, so swings and roundabouts really. Anyway, this isn’t actual news so we’ll move on swiftly.
  • Facebook Testing Screensharing Feature: Literally that. Again, tedious as you like but deserves a mention solely for the fact that it might mean never having to wrestle with setting up a call on Lync or similar in the future. See, I hate Facebook and all it stands for and yet I still can’t help but be vaguely positive about the convenience of its featurecreep. Basically, as a species, we’re all willing to sign away our futures to anyone in exchange for marginally more convenient IT solutions. So it goes.
  • WhatsApp Launching ‘Share Live Location’ Feature: Unclear what the rollout timescale is here, but WhatsApp is goint to start giving users the ability to share a live map of their location with their interlocutors on the platform, which is obviously A Good Thing as regards safety, but which also - and obviously there are NO details in this piece as to how this is going to work, but bear with me - could be used to do some FUN AND USEFUL THINGS to SURPRISE AND DELIGHT (I think that might be the first time I’ve written that in 2017 and it feels horrid) consumers in customer service interactions. Maybe.
  • Twitter Tries Harder: It’s easy to be snarky about Twitter and its ‘problems’ with hate speech (inverted commas because ‘problems’ doesn’t even really begin, does it?), but, credit where it’s due, the announcements they made this week are Good Things (albeit the equivalent of shutting the stable door when the horse is already being used to make airfix models several fields to the West of here). It’s worth reading the piece here to see the full scope of their suggestions - whilst, inevitably, there are gaps and imperfections it does for the first time in ages feel like a sensible and thought-through response to the repeated cries from users of “Yes, thanks for the rounded corner profile pics but the Nazis are STILL HERE”. Better rules on harassment, hate groups, threats and violence are a step in the right direction, albeit one which is about four years overdue.
  • Twitter Launches Video Website Ads: Literally the ability to buy a video ad which ALSO contains a link to a website of your choice. I mean, that’s really it. It’s not that exciting, sorry, but we’;; take the meagre infoscraps and move on.
  • Video Ads Are Finally Coming To LinkedIn: Imagine, just imagine, the ‘creative’ we’re going to be able to enjoy as a result of this seismic announcement. If you do any sort of video work whatsoever, you’ve got about a 6 month window to make a LOT of money out of idiots for some really, really shonky work here - GET TO IT!
  • Pinterest Opens Search Ads To All: Another in Web Curios’ occasional ‘Pinterest is a really, really interesting platform and you probably don’t give it the headpsace you ought’ posts, this is to announce that the platform’s opening up search ads to its self=serve ad manager product - meaning anyone who buys ads on the platform can target users based on the search terms they’re entering on Pinterest. Which, should you have to care about such awful things as CONSUMER INTENT AND THE PURCHASE FUNNEL (worst 50s band EVER!), is pretty useful.
  • LEGO Star Wars: I like LEGO, I am ambivalent about Star Wars, but if you like either of the two things then you will very much like this site - a bunch of games and 360 vids to promote the LEGO Star Wars franchise, Fun and slick and tied into the product, this is a really nice example of consumer-facing webwork done well.
  • Beanz Meanz XXXXX: Heinz, purveyors of mouse ovaries in ‘tomato’ sauce or ‘baked beans’ as you people who actually eat this swill like to call them, have launched a ‘get a customised can of beans sent to you’ promo - LOOK, HERE IT IS! That’s not very interesting - what is interesting, at least to me, is the list of words that they coded into the site as being verboten. Kindly compiled into a Gdoc by Richard from Spotify, this is genuinely fascinating (and, potentially, useful if you need a list of BAD TERMS to exclude from a thing) - not least as an insight into what we as a culture consider to be potentially controversial or offensive in late-2017. I may have mentioned this before, but even this pales into insignificance compared to the BBC’s list of blocked words for its Facebook pages - truly, one of the most depressing documents I have seen in a professional context.
  • FKA Twigs’ Instagram Magazine: Are she and Pattinson no more? I am bad at keeping up with this stuff. Anyway, artmusicperson FKA Twigs has put together a MAGAZINE! On Instagram! It’s really not very interesting at all, and frankly I don’t think it’s a particularly creative use of the medium, but in case you want to see what a FAMOUS is doing creatigvely on the world’s largest visual platform then here you go!
  • A Man Being A Dick In Campaign: You will probably have seen this piece in Campaign this week, in which dickhead ‘creative’ Mike Tindall spoke of being ‘bored’ of diversity. Mike is an arse. Read, instead, Caitlin Ryan’s superb response in which she neatly and with humour explains to dickhead Mike Tindall exactly why diversity, and fighting for it as a concept, is important in advertising and other industries. Mike’s pseudo-apology (not an apology, a crap climbdown by a dickhead) can be read here, should you want to ‘enjoy’ some covering of pasty arse by, in case it’s not clear, a dickhead.

stephen klein

By Stephen Klein

NEXT UP, INTERNET ODDITY SADEAGLE POINTED ME AT THIS EARLIER THIS WEEK AND WOW IS IT LOVELY AND SOOTHING!

THE SECTION WHICH HAS BEEN WATCHING JOURNOTWITTER WITH APPALLED FASCINATION THIS WEEK AND WONDERING HOW FAR THIS IS ALL GOING TO GO, PT.1:

  • Cameron Russell: The first of the week’s links to deal with #metoo and the associated post-Weinstein fallout, this is the Instagram feed of Cameron Russell which you may have seen mentioned in the press in the past few days. Russell is a model who’s been using her Insta feed to share stories harassment experienced by women in that industry - it’s about as pleasant reading as you’d expect, but it’s presented soberly and powerfully and it’s interesting to see the usually colourful, hypervisual platform being subverted somewhat for the purposes of truth-telling.
  • Dotpiano: This is GORGOUS. Dotpiano is A N Other online browser-based music creation toy...thingy, which lets you use your keyboard as a piano to plinkety-plonk out some rudimentary (or even excellent - sorry, I shouldn’t assume you’re all as musically inept as me) piano lines accompanied by visualisations which you can toggle; you can record your opus, and the resulting colourdotanimation, and share it with a permalink for everyone to admire. Seriously, this is a lot of fun and if you can actually play the piano might even be something with which you can create something genuinely beautiful. Like, say, this.
  • TraceMap: This is yet tp actually exist in workable form, as far as I can see, but the concept is hugely interesting and very useful. The premise behind TraceMap is that it will track the spread of links across the web, designed to allow people to map the networks which spread (fake) news; it’s designed as a way of mapping and detailing misinformation networks, as far as I can tell, but obviously there are myriad potential implications for its use should it work as promised, not least INFLUENCER MAPPING which is so miserable a phrase to write at 8:06am that I am going to stop this right now.
  • Please Take Care Of My Plant: I am honestly slightly embarrassed that I’ve not seen this before, but, y’know, the internet is not a race and all that (it IS a race). This is an EXCELLENT website documenting the life of the titular plant - the gimmick being that it’s been rigged to a variety of systems which enable THE INTERNET to take care of it, determining watering schedules - apparently Reddit has been ensuring that this plant has been kept alive for a year or so no, which is frankly miraculous given the general nature of online discourse. See, there ARE some thing in the world which are good and pure and unsullied (until we discover the plant is a racist).
  • Last Scene: Photoseries by a Dutch (of course!) artist detailing the locations where terminally ill patients are having last requests fulfilled - the last thing they wish to see, captured forever. “The project centres on the power of a well-loved place to compress an outlook on life into a telling scene that is at once melancholic and joyful. The simplicity of each landscape or scene heightens attention to an inner journey of remembering the past and envisioning a future that no longer includes you.” - leaving aside the fact that the future, inevitably, never includes us, this is a beaytiful and elegiac series of photos.
  • Khaled Ipsum: In case you wanted a Lorem Ipsum equivalent which filled your blank webpages with the blandly inspirational MAJOR KEY schtick which has inexplicably made DJ Khaled a global celebrity, here you go! Khaled is amazing - the human equivalent of an entire shelf full of ‘Forever Friends’ merchandise, whose popularity makes me think that the collective global IQ struggles to reach three figures. What, me, jealous and bitter? NEVER.
  • The Glass Room: I featured this nearly exactly a year ago when it was live in NYC - it’s coming to London now, and I am featuring it again because it sounds fascinating and I think you should check it out. In the unlikely event that you don’t have 300-odd words of Web Curios from December 2016 etched onto your cerebellum (FFS!), here’s what I said about it last time: “[Mozilla’s ‘Glass Room’] invites passers-by to stop in and consider issues of data and privacy and self and the web and STUFF, through the medium of a variety of installations and artworks which are far more the preserve of a museum than of a BRANDED MOMENT OF TRUTH.” It opens next Wednesday on Charing X road, for those of you in London and with an interest.
  • Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017: In case you don’t fancy shuffling through the NHM surrounded by three million children and a lot of VERY PHOTO-HAPPY tourists, here’s an opportunity to see this year’s winners in the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest. The site’s not masses of fun to navigate, but persevere and you will find some truly beautiful shots, not least this fabulously sassy and boss-eyed eagle.
  • Donate Your Tab: One of those increasingly common moments where the stuff I have to (have to! Ha! Who am I kidding? Noone cares!) write about comes right up against the very limits of my ability to adequately understand it - nonetheless, let’s see what I can do by way of description here. Donate Your Tab basically lets you open a tab which will use your laptop’s processing power to mine bitcoin, the results of this endeavour being donated to a charity of your choice. There are a few issues with this - not least that the site isn’t actually affiliated with any of the charities they list, so there’s no guarantee that you’re not just mining coin for some script kiddie somewhere, or indeed that there are one or two small but serious security issues inherent in letting something effectively hijack your CPU like this (although smarter people than me have assured me that this doesn’t look shonky - but there’s an interesting trend here, not least the potential implications for the ad industry as alluded to in this piece (thanks Pete and Russell for the nod).   
  • HQ - Live Trivia: Unless you work nightshifts or are a really problematic insomniac (or, er, unless you live in the US, fine) you’re unlikely to be able to use this - that said, I find the concept hugely interesting and something which could be lifted for various LOCAL MARKET EXECUTIONS should you be minded. HQ is a daily live quiz show app - at 9pm EDT each evening it runs a LIVE QUIZ SHOW which people can play live for REAL CASH PRIZES; user reports suggest it’s a;ready struggling slightly under the volume of users, but I’m sort of amazed that this didn’t already exist in some form. I reckon there’s an Alexa implementation of this waiting to happen, fyi.
  • The Giant Robot Duel: When I was a kid I loved Transformers - I mean, point of obsession. My Christmas and birthday lists were full of the plastic crap, I was a subscriber (ahem my MUM was a subscriber, I just saw the benefit) to the Transformers comic and I even had a penpal to whom I would write about Transformers and OH MY GOD I HAVE JUST REMEMBERED HER NAME SHE WAS CALLED KATIA KERSWELL AND SHE WAS FROM SWITZERLAND AND A QUICK GOOGLE SUGGESTS THIS MIGHT BE HER AND OH MY GOD I CAN SMELL THE MADELINES!), which meant that when Michael Bay started his film franchise a decade or so ago I was cautiously optimistic and even excited, until I say the character models and the odd, insect-like design of everything, and then happened to catch some of the first film and was amazed at how Bay had somehow managed to make a story about giant transforming space robots incredibly, skull-fcukingly tedious. Which is a really roundabout way of sayinfg that that’s what amazes me about this rather - I mean, it’s a fight between two giant robots - the first GIANT ROBOT FIGHT in history, between the US and Japan, and it’s significantly less exciting than an episode of Robot Wars. Not only that, but it turns out that the whole thing was actually edited together from two days of footage - meaning not only was the output incredibly dull but also incredibly slow. I don’t think Premier League football is going to be ceding its ‘Pub Sport of Choice’ crown anytime soon, it’s safe to say.
  • West Texas Hummingbird Cam: In a week in which being online has felt even more like being trepanned than usual, this livestream of a bird feeder in West Texas around which Hummingbirds congregate may well be the soothing balm your soul needs. By the time this hits your inboxes (12:30 ish, unless I get some sort of crippling finger cramp or simply lose interest halfway through) it should be early morning over there and about time for some tiny avian breakfast. This is SO CUTE.
  • Teamosa: Or, the internet of teas. A Kickstarter project raising funds for a hi-tech tea maker. Like a Teasmaid, basically, except it doesn’t seem to double as an alarm clock and doesn’t seem to promise to wake you with a steaming mug of builders’ so, really, what is the fcuking point? The blurb says that it’s “An automated tea brewing machine that uses ultrasonic extraction to retain up to 20% more antioxidants than traditionally brewed tea”, and OBVIOUSLY it’s got an internet connection and OBVIOUSLY you can tell it to make you a brew using a FCUKING APP. I do a bit of work with a firm of Venture Capitalists - one of their THINGS is that startups need to be solving an actual, real-world problem to succeed. Which real-world problem is this solving, exactly? Oh, yes, that’s right, the problem of one’s tea being light on antioxidants. A prediction - NOONE IS EVER GOING TO GET RICH FROM THE TEAMOSA. Also, this will cease getting software support by close 2018 at the latest. Caveat emptor and all that.
  • Australia’s Revenge Porn Reporting System: Australia, quite rightly, often gets stick for being a godforsaken sweatbox populated largely by unreconstructed misogynists and murderous critters; that said, they occasionally get some things right. Witness this, the online portal whereby individuals can quickly and easily report instances of intimate images being used without their consent online. It’s simple and easy and clear and strikes me as an eminently sensible way of allowing people to take the first step in dealing with an issue without forcing them to take the potentially embarrassing step of discussing it in person. A Good Thing, I think.
  • Koniku: This is baffling, and, I think, total bullsh1t, but it seems to be claiming that it’s some sort of organic computing system, built around the principles of an actual brain, using organic neurons. Or something. Look, the website is utterly baffling - despite being based in California, the team behind this is obviously international and as such the site’s prose reads a little bit like it’s been babelfished a few thousand times - but it contains enough absolute gems to enable me to confidently predict that this probably isn’t the future of computing (although if I’m wrong about this feel free to remind me in a few years).
  • Racist Pets: To be clear, the pets in question probably aren’t actual racists/ their owners, though, might well be. This is an EXCELLENT Twitter accounts sharing somewhat...non-woke opinions being shared on Twitter by people whose avatars are their blamelessly cute pets. So if you want to get occasional glimpses of the sort of people who think that their continual bleating about how whites are second class citizens in MEDIOCRE BRITAIN is somehow mitigated by their use of a small, winsome dog as an avi then FILL YOUR BOOTS!
  • Scientwehst: SLIGHTLY NSFW, this is the excellent Insta feed of Giulia Marsico, a Brooklyn-based artist whose feed juxtaposes bongo with architecture in a way which totally makes sense when you look at it but which, turns out, is really hard to adequately describe in prose. Basically imagine bongo shots with the gyneacological bits replaced by shots of bridges - except, you know, good. This is such a strong aesthetic and could totally be ripped for a high fashion campaign imho.
  • UPS Dogs: I know that I often (always) talk about what a bleak and joyless thing Facebook is - and it is! - but sometimes it does unexpectedly provide some joy. Witness, for example, this Page, which is for UPS delivery people to share photos of the best dogs they meet on their routes - yes, that’s right, this is basically a FB Page celebrating postpeople’s favourite dogs, which is SO CUTE I might just die.

Beszt

By Bezt

NEXT, TRY THIS SCREWY SET OF REMIXES OF GRIZZLY BEAR WHICH ARE, I PROMISE YOU, JUST MARVELLOUS!

THE SECTION WHICH HAS BEEN WATCHING JOURNOTWITTER WITH APPALLED FASCINATION THIS WEEK AND WONDERING HOW FAR THIS IS ALL GOING TO GO, PT.2:

  • The Virtuali-Tee: This does slightly have the feel of something where the name was coined before the actual product, but nevertheless. The Virtuali-Tee (sorry, I promise I won’t say it again) is basically a QR code in tshirt form - you download the accompanying app (yep, and that’s the sound of any potential this might have had vanishing into the nether) and point your phone at the tshirt and, er, it takes you on a slightly horrifying journey through the wearer’s anatomy! I don’t really get who this is for - I mean, the wearer’s wearing the shirt and so can’t see the VR, and the idea of wearing an item of clothing which demands that others have a particular app on their phone to see the point of strikes me as prety fcuking stupid, but perhaps you VISIONARY CREATIVES can think of a twist on this which will be less rubbish.
  • The Wikipedia Markov Masher: Pick any two Wikipedia entries you like and let this site Frankenstein the prose together for comic effect. This is what you get when you combine Manatees (yes, Saz, FOR YOU) with Syphilis, for example: “Manatees use seven of the initial infection, occurring in the study, and MV Freedom Star and anally and finally to swim with at high risk. Syphilis is common today. The primary hunting in 2001. Since 1999, the turn of syphilis with a number of the U.S. Public Health Service proposed downgrading the first effective at FOX Studios which can also have existed in 1943. Before the Wild Place Project in spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and lower jaw of birth defects these artificially warmed areas. The study participants and a year, some have shorter snouts than 20 °C (68 °F) Mbp) failing to 550 kilograms (1,300 lb), and Aquarium, Epcot's The proposal will not protect the available evidence.”
  • Miranda Tacchia: Comic vignettes of women who, to quote the artist, “Don’t care about your sh1t”. A good addition to your ‘gram.
  • The Experience Tube: A not-particularly-funny gag - the ‘Tube’ is basically a giant open-ended sock which two people wear on their heads to create an intimate connection between the two of them in some sort of heavy-handed pseudo-satirical nod to YouTube and the digital disconnect and all the rest - which you might nonetheless want to look into investing in as a tired, Dad-level joke for your eye-rolling teen offspring.
  • Mongolian Dreams: A trult gorgeous collection of photographs of life on the Mongolian steppes. The action shot of the bloke racing a camel is honestly one of the best things I’ve seen all week.
  • Hexatope: I preface this link with the usual caveat that I’m really bad at jewellery and am therefore not sure if this stuff is nice or not; that said. I really like the website and design concept behind these necklaces, which let you design your own based on a hexagonal grid system. The interface is lovely, the designs (I think) simply eye-catching, and it’s currently got a month to go on Kickstarter - worth a few quid, this, particularly if they’ll ship in time for XXXXXXmas.
  • Childhood: Conor Nickerson is a photographer who’s gone through old pictures of himself from when he was a kid and ‘shopped himself as an adult back into them, showing him interacting with his former self. Weirdly affecting and impressively made from a technical standpoint, these are very, very impressive.
  • Goatse: IT’S OK! YOU CAN CLICK IT! Yes, that’s right, it’s no longer the famous photograph of the man with the world’s largest arsehole (<------------- see that hyperlink? YOU DON’T WANT TO CLICK THAT ONE), it is instead a NEW ICO CRYPTOCURRENCY THING! Yes, the domain was bought years back buy some Australian guy who’s now decided that he wants to jump on the ICO bandwagon and release his own Goatsecoins. I have no idea why, or indeed why a currency based on the most famous shock photo in web history should be an appealing prospect, and yet here we are.
  • Subscene: A website collecting film subtitles in an incredible array of languages, which I can’t imagine would be useful to you in any way at all but which I here present to you in hope that you will still appreciate the gesture. Although, actually, if you’re looking for film scripts in translation, this is potentially quite helpful.
  • Rageaholic: Rage was (is?) an Australian music TV show which plays new music and videos - Rageaholic is an impressive endeavour which has seemingly compiled every single playlist from the show’s history into a year-by-year archive, arranged in such a way so as to let you select by year and then choose to play an array of tracks and videos from said time. A brilliant way of delving back into the musical past, and a rather good way to get lost down a YouTube rabbithole.
  • RockWalk London: A Twitter feed showcasing photos from rock and roll history, notable for its recent series of pictures showing the London streets in the bacground of classic music photos as they are now. Which is a really clunky descriptor, I realise, so click this to get an idea of what I actually mean by that supremely inelegant prose.
  • The Internet of Ukes: My friend fat Bob once bought a ukelele. I think he’s played it twice. Should you, like Fat Bob, wish to learn how to play the world’s most infuriatingly whimsical instrument then you may be interested in this, It is the world’s first SMART UKELELE, an invention requested by exactly 0% of the globe’s population and yet which, inexplicably, we have been granted access to.  It’s a real instrument which has been doctored to make it a little more like a videogame, with lights indicating which chords you’re meant to play and an app which helps teach you songs and techniques in bitesize chunks, none of which will distract from or mitigate against the fact that you’re playing an impossibly twee cover of ‘Enter Sandman’ on what is basically a crap guitar for midgets.
  • The Binary Graffiti Club: If you’re at a loose end in London tomorrow, why not get involed in an ART HAPPENING? “The Binary Graffiti Club are looking for volunteers to take part in experimental vocal event led by artist Stanza and musician Richard Frostick. The date we need you is Saturday 21st October from 12 - 5pm . This will be a fun day in an interesting venue in the middle of London. We will all make music by trying to sing a musical score composed of a series of binary codes extracted from a newly published book made from public contributions. All you have to do is turn up, wear a hoodie, sing, and take some instruction. The aim is to have fun creating music and make a piece of art (a film) which will be exhibited in November.” GET INVOLVED!
  • Voice Originals: FULL DISCLOSURE - the person who founded and runs Sensible Object, the company behind this, is a friend of mine. BUT! Alex didn’t tell me about this, I came across it all on my own and so feel justified in including it here as it’s very cool. Voice Originals is a new offshoot of the original games company which is devoted to designing games for Amazon Echo and associated platforms - so, basically, like Atmosfear but modern and, you know, actually playable. There’s one game currently available and more in development - the idea here is fascinating and there is SO much potential for this sort of thing.  
  • The IKEA Dictionary: What all the names of your IKEA furnishings actually mean in Swedish, Sadly a cursory search suggests that none of the names mean anything particularly dark - a bookshelf called, say, “HAIL THE GREAT BEAST, DEVOURER OF WORLDS” would be a pleasingly Satanic Easter Egg, for example - but I’ve yet to read all of them so perhaps I’ve missed something. One of the product names does apparently mean ‘insidious’, though, which seems like a surprisingly self-aware piece of metacommentary on IKEA’s ubiquity.
  • Vookmark: A truly AWFUL name but a potentially useful tool, this is Pocket for videos in that it lets you bookmark / save videos to watch later with a single click. There’s an accompanying app too, meaning this is all cross-device, although it’s for streaming video and so will still require a data connection to work. CHIZ.
  • 3d Garfield Art: Olly Moss is a graphic designer and not a well man.
  • Crowded Cities: This is...baffling, to be honest. Crowded Cities is, as far as I can tell, not a joke - it’s a real project by a pair of Dutch guys who thought to themselves “Hm, corvids are famously smart - perhaps we can harness that smart for SOCIAL GOOD” and then went on to extend that into imagining a future in which crows are trained through Pavlovian conditioning to pick fag butts off the floor in exchange for food. No, really, that’s exactly what this is - a project where the guys want to train crows to collect cigarette ends and deposit them in refuse bins in exchange for some, er, crow treats (eyeballs?). This sounds SO MAD, but, on reflection, is one of the more sensible proposals of 2017 when contrasted with some of the other things the past 10 months have thrown up.
  • The O Project: Similar to Hysterical Literature, this project by Marcos Alberti (whose work I’ve featured here before - you might remember his photoseries showing people getting smashed on wine) shows women approaching, reaching and immediately in the aftermath of orgasm - totally SFW and hugely intimate, these are wonderful shots. Shame there are no men, though; I’d have loved to see the contrast.
  • The Anagram Game: Another GREAT game by Haggard Hawks, this one invites you to see how many anagrams you can solve in the time limit. It is ACE and a really good way of spending a few hours this afternoon when you should be doing your timesheets.
  • Inward: This is just ace. Grabbing techno mixes from Soundcloud and pairing them with autogenerated visuals, this is absolutely worth bookmarking and then putting on a big screen or projector next time there’s a big, messy houseparty of the sort I’ve not been to for a decade because all my friends have fcuking children.
  • Flower 302: Finally in the random ephemera this week, a lovely little interactive childrens’ story about a rabbit and a dandelion, illustrated in voxelstyle 3d art. This is gorgeous.

ed zollo

By Ed Zollo

LAST UP IN THIS WEEK’S MIXES, START THE WEEKEND RIGHT WITH SOME OLD-SCHOOL EARLY 90s TECHNO AND JUNGLE!

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!

  • Painters In Colour: Old photos of visual artists, doing their thing. Until today I have never know what Giorgio Morandi looked like, so it’s not been a total waste of time.
  • Wells At The World’s End: Not actually a Tumblr! Still, this blog, in which the author reads through the complete works of HG Wells and offers his thoughts as he goes, is really interesting (er, if you’re interested in HG Wells).
  • Grim Aesthetics: In time for Hallowe’en, some CREEPY THINGS here collected.
  • Reuben Wu: Truly incredible photography here. Really, do give this one a click, the images are stunning.
  • Discarding Images: There’s no obvious explanation as to exactly what this is, but as far as I can tell it’s highlighting odd / obscure details from the illustrations of old books and manuscripts, Which may not sound appealing, but click the link, take a look at the seven-headed spazzlion and then come back to me.
  • People Matching Artworks: This is GREAT, and made all the better by the fact that all the photos are taken in situ by the Tumblr owner (as described here). Photos of people in galleries whose outfits match or complement the artowkrs they are looking at. SUCH a nice idea and there’s definitely a campaign in here if you’re feeling thievey.
  • Pennywise Confessions: Last of the Tumblrs his week is this one, a VERY odd place which collects, er, people’s explicit sexual fantasies about the clown from IT. Rule 34 in action, kids! This is quite, er, dark.

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG!

  • The NYT’s Social Media Guidelines: These were amended last week to no little furore and discussion - it’s worth reading them, and the accompanying post, as it’s an interesting articulation of some of the issues facing publications when each of their writers is a visible, vocal brand ambassador and when said writers’ actions online will always, inevitably, colour the perception of the publication amongst its readership. It’s also impossible to see this as anything other than a post-Trump, post-truth step, for better or ill (mostly ill, imho). See what you think.
  • One Person’s History of Twitter: It’s not like 2017’s been short of takes on ‘why Twitter’s a bit of a sh1thole these days’, but this essay by Mike Monteiro is a superb and well-written analysis of the structural problems facing the platform and how it’s become something that its founders don’t seem willing or able to manage. Some of the issues Monteiro raises will hopefully be addressed by Twitter’s just-announced tweaks to its regs, but you do wonder whether the whole jig’s fundamentally unfixable.
  • Mr Throat and Me: If you smoke, you have to read this; if you used to smoke, you also have to read this. The ‘Mr Throat’ of the title is one of the nameless cautionary models on the cigarette packets world wide - in this instance, the guy with the MASSIVE RED THROAT GOITRE/TUMOUR-THING, which anyone who’s ever seen it will instantly recall (the second-best of all the warning images - the best, of course, being the man curled in the foetal position on the bed accompanying the legend ‘smoking causes impotence’; just IMAGINE the feeling if you’re the model in that stock photo). This is a brilliant essay about smoking and addiction and giving up, and the peculiarly affectionate nature that the smoker has with their tabs, the stinking, fatal, gorgeous bastards.
  • Suspension: Body suspension is that thing where people stick massive hooks into their skin and then get lifted off the ground, because why not? This is an essay in which the author gives it a go - the writing’s pretty pedestrian, fine, but I’m fascinated by the whole BME world, and the images of this stuff give me the proper shivers.
  • Technology That Is Perfect Despite Its Obsolescence: This is a GREAT thread, full of - “cases where a moment of perfection went unrecognized and changes to the design were made that just made it worse.” You will get all nostalgic for back in the day, trust.
  • Secrets: One of those Reddit threads which is simultaneously appalling and sad and weirdly heartwarming - here Redditors share ‘secrets they have never told anyone’. As you’d imagine there’s a fair old whack of horror in here, but the genuinely kind and supportive nature of the comments is lovely, and there’s probably quite a lot in here which might be useful if you’re having something of a time. Were I the sort of person who put trigger warnings I would probably put on here, FYI.
  • The 21C Police State: A cheering look at some of the ways in which China’s blending modern technology with the more traditional elements of surveillance and control its been enacting since the good old Maoist days. If you ever wanted a reason to feel marginally more unhappy about the ubiquity of CCTV, the potential ramifications of facial recognition technology, and the increasing collusion between tech giants and the state - well, here you are!
  • George Sauders - Advice to Graduates: I confess to not having read Lincoln in the Bardo yet - I was slightly put off by the ‘oral history’ style, which I didn’t particularly care for when Palahniuk used it years ago - but Saunders’ short stories are famously excellent (this is an excellent way in if you’re after one) and this, a graduation speech given to students at Syracuse University in 2013, is honestly lovely and far superior to DFW’s cloying ‘This is Water’ one which you’ve doubtless seen a billion times.
  • What Facebook Did: Or, ‘The insidious way in which Facebook ended up analysing and gaming almost every facet of human social interaction, which inevitably meant that it was going to end up becoming totally central to politics’. Nothing in here is new, but it’s a very well-argued explainer as to how we’ve got to where we are (and also doesn’t at any point go full-Cadwalladr about Cambridge Analytica, which is refreshing).
  • I Fell 15,000 Feet And Lived: An ASTOUNDING Boy’s Own-style account of a jet pilot who ejected from his plane and fell into the sea, without a parachute. This is, repeatedly, astounding, and will give you that sweaty-palmed extreme sports fear feeling which you also experience from watching people slackline across the Grand Canyon. Safe to say you will never, ever want to fall out of a plane after reading this.
  • Big Neville Southall’s Sensitive Rebirth: This is a lovely piece of writing by Tristan Cross about Neville Southall’s unlikely reimagination as an icon for softlad leftie Twitter - witness Big Nev trying sincerely to get his head around the thorny landscape of contemporary gender politics; see as he takes the fight to the Tories on Twitter! If you were a clearer-minded analytical thinker than me you could probably draw some conclusions from this about the sort of tickboxes that appeal to a particular type of young Corbyn-fancier (sincerity, kindness, 90s football, wokeness, etc) but I can’t be bothered.
  • Alpha Go - Learning from Scratch: Deep Mind’s blogpost about how they got their computer programme to teach itself to play Go to ‘best player ever’ status from first principles. You ought to read this, because it’s THE FUTURE.
  • The Novel in the Age of Trump: The text of Ali Smith’s Goldsmith’s lecture, delivered last month - this is SO GOOD, seriously, on the role of the novel and how in times of uncertainty fiction can act as a vital tool to help society calibrate itself against the lies and calumnies being perpetrated by certain actors. Smith is a fantastic writer, and this speech transcript is clever, funny, erudite and generally a delight to read; enjoy.
  • Can a Black Feminist be Sexually Submissive to a White Man?: Well, yes, of course - a more accurate title can be reached by appending “...and be ok with that” to the end of the title. Nonetheless, this is a really interesting look (by the titular woman of colour) into the boundaries between the personal, the political and the sexual (there are no barriers, amirite?) and how one reconciles ones kinks with one’s politics. Even if you’re as vanilla as I am, this is an interesting read.
  • Short Cuts: You’re almost certainly sick of reading about Weinstein now, and you’ve almost certainly done your own reading around the topic and have your own thoughts and opinions and feelings; should you have the stomach for any more, this essay in the LRB by Lucy Prebble is superb; I’ll quote the closer, but the whole thing is very much worth reading: “When the Weinstein story broke an older male writer said to me: ‘Jesus, if they’re going to go back through every casting couch encounter, we’ll be here for ever.’ Well, I say, as a younger woman: we’ve got time.”
  • The Horizon of Desire: This, by Laurie Pennie, is not explicitly ‘about’ Weinstein, but is very good on consent and men and the politics thereof, and, in a week in which if you’re a man you’ve probably spent more time than is comfortable but less than is probably necessary going back through your personal history and interrogating your behaviour and thinking of all the times you might have been ‘sub-optimal’ (thanks, Rupert!), an important read.
  • Never Quiet Again: Finally this week, a short story which is not explicitly about THIS FCUKING WORLD WE LIVE IN but which at the same time is very much exactly about THIS FUCKING WORLD WE LIVE IN. Can we all please be quiet please? We can’t, can we?

frances glessner lee

By Frances Glessner Lee

AND NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!

  1. First in the videos this week, a truly fascinating minidocumentary about CGI, how it’s evolved, and what this might mean for cinema and visual storytelling as we move into a post-Uncanny Valley world. Really very interesting indeed, particularly if you do ‘storytelling’ (WE ARE ALL STORYTELLERS. Except you):

 

2) This is by Fatima, it’s called ‘Somebody Else’, and it’s currently the perfect soundtrack for a grey October mid-morning in South London. It’s also partly filmed in one of my favourite estates in London, whose name I forget but which is up by St John’s Wood/Maida Vale and which is worth an explore if you get the chance:

 

3) This is a promo by London creative agency DBLG and if it doesn’t get ripped off for an advert within MINUTES I will be amazed. Such a clever idea, this:

 

4) This is called ‘Tamas’, it’s an animation by the super-talented Rus Khasanov, and you should turn the resolution right up and play it fullscreen and maybe have a spliff:

 

5) Last up this week, in a largely underwhelming week of audiovisual delights, is this - it’s by Nilufer Yanya and it’s honestly one of the most unusual vocals I’ve heard in an age. I adore this - see what you think. Also, BYE EVERYONE TRY AND NOT BE AWFUL TO EACH OTHER THIS WEEK IF YOU CAN MANAGE IT AND I WILL SEE YOU SOON, PLEASE REMEMBER THAT I REALLY DO CARE BYE BYE BYE!

 

Matt Muir

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

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