By Brian Skerry
THE SECTION WHICH IS WONDERING AT WHAT POINT FACEBOOK WILL RUN OUT OF WILLING FLESHSACKS TO SQUEEZE MONEY OUT OF:
- The Facebook Live 360 Programme!: To say that this is a 'slow' 'news' week is an understatement - thus it is that this announcement, about a bunch of camera gear and software which is now OFFICIALLY COMPATIBLE with Facebook's ability to stream 360 video live, sits at the top of the pseudo-news section. It is what it is. Look, if you work in BIG CONTENT this might actually be quite useful so, you know, pipe down.
- Facebook Lets Users Pinch To Zoom Pictures In-Feed: Oh God, this is desperate. Still, the fact that FB users can now pinch-to-zoom photos in the feed rather than having to open the individual post in question may well be of interest to...er...some of you, possibly. FFS, dullards, just THINK of the exciting Easter Eggs you can now hide in your EXCITING BRANDED PHOTOGRAPHY, rewarding those users with the curiosity and nous to zoom in. Use your fcuking imaginations.
- LinkedIn Offers Web Visit Demographic Information: You know it's slow when nobody's favourite social network, LinkedIn, features so prominently in this section. Who actually spends time on LinkedIn? Who? This is possibly unfair, but all I can imagine is pinch-faced middle-managers, sitting in service station laybys receiving desultory oral sex whilst feverishly punching out a thought leadership screed as they limp towards a hiccough-like climax. But, er, maybe that's just me. Anyhow, according to this pretty flimsy report this service is soon going to be available to any and all LinkedIn users with a Campaign Manager account - it will let you plug in some LI analytics software to your website and track information about the professional status of your traffic, presuming seid traffic is logged into LinkedIn when they visit, which is potentially very useful indeed.
- Google To Start Autoplaying Video In Search Results: At the moment this is only for film trailers and ads, as far as I can tell, but it's obviously going to roll out more widely and is yet another reason to keep having those tedious 'no, really, subtitles are important you fcuking dullard' conversation with everyone you work with.
- eBay Set To Launch Visual Search: I'm really struggling here; I mean, what does one say about this? Look, it's happening, it's great. rejoice, etc.
- Adopt A Seat: This is quite cute, and if you are a certain type of person or are looking to make a certain type of person very happy then this might be right up your street. This is a fundraising campaign for the Paris Opera which lets people sponsor seats in the House; you can wander around a 3d representation of the Opera House, explore its history and, of course, sponsor a few seats for a few grand each. Which, to be honest, is a small price to pay for knowing that a seat at the heart of traditional Parisian high culture is forever called Seaty McSeatface, eh? EH? BANTZ! OPERABANTZ! Christ.
- Park Smart: DATA! DATA WILL SAVE US ALL! I can't remember if I've said this on here before or not - I mean, it's likely, I'm nothing if not predictably repetitious - but I am sick to the back teeth of people whipping themselves up into a frothy frenzy about DATA. "DATA!", they cry, eyes rolling back in their heads as they frot at themselves with ceaselessly-counting digits, "DATA! IT IS THE NEW OIL!". Which is actually truer than they think, what with the fact that it's messy, dirty and, unless cleaned up and refined, frankly something of a hazard. PITHY, EH?! Oh, please yourselves. Anyhow, this is the Co-Op delivering some VALUE thanks to DATA - using publicly available crime data to show people where in a particular town or city is safe to park. Which is a nice gimmick, although any car thief worth their salt will also be looking at this and thereby targeting those areas marked as 'safe as houses', obviously. SEE? DATA IS FALLIBLE. Fcuk's sake.
- Stop Overfishing: What, do you think, is the BEST way for us to stop the terrible problem of overfishing? Petitions, perhaps? A concerted lobbying effort? Protests and boycotts and the like? Or perhaps a nicely-rendered website featuring a bunch of little fish, which you can add to with a few clicks so as to set another little CG fish aswim in the virtual ocean, with your name attached to it? Yes, that's right, the website! I mean, WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS?! Well done on getting Chris Hemsworth to lend his name to a fish, but, seriously, does anyone really think that at a certain point one of the world's decision makers is going to be confronted by an aide saying in hushed tones "Ma'am, the people have spoken - they have created over 10,000 virtual fish in protest at overfishing, and EVEN CHRIS HEMSWORTH is involved" and the decision-maker will blanche and call off the trawlers and there will be some sort of joyous piscine undersea ball in celebration? Well, no. Seriously, what is wrong with an 'email your Eurocrat about this' button? Jesus.
- Savor.Wavs: Musicians cannot stay cool forever. Except maybe Prince, and I'm sure even he had some wobbles in the early 2000s, everyone does something stupid at some point - I mean, even Bowie showed the world his coke sweats (and not for the first time) and dad dancing in 'Dancing In The Streets'. So it came to pass that RZA of the Wu lost the last vestiges of credibility as he acted as 'musical consultant' or somesuch for this promo for purveyor of mediocre Tex Mex sludge Chipotle. You, the user, pick the ingredients you want in your carb-missile, and the site spits out some muzak seemingly tied to your selections, all based on samples produced by RZA. It all sounds about as exciting as Chipotle tastes, and makes you think that the 36 Chambers was a very, very long time ago.
By Lars Stieger
THE SECTION WHICH IS STILL FEELING THE AFTEREFFECTS OF LAST WEEK AND HAS DECIDED THAT IT IS OFFICIALLY TOO OLD TO GO TO TECHNO FESTIVALS, PT.1:
- Tokenize: I know that 'Magic Smart Rings' (that aren't, obviously, magic at all) aren't a new thing, but this one looks rather shiny if you're into wearable stuff. It's got a fingerprint sensor built-in to lock/unlock it when you put it on / take it off, you can use it for loads of different things, and, interestingly, it already seems to have support from payments providers (VISA, Mastercard) and various mass transit authorities worldwide. Obviously having said that it will now turn out to be incompatible with London, but if you fancy swiping into the Sao Paolo metro system with a stylish swipe of a ring then this might be up your street. Seemingly 'coming in 2018', though obviously with this sort of thing there is no guarantee whatsoever that your money won't just vanish into some sort of hopeful tech oubliette.
- Brandless: WHAT IS A BRAND? Actually, no, on reflection I simply don't care, and I care even less about your over-intellectualised attempt to give meaning to your professional existence. Ostensibly, the people behind Brandless don't care either - it's a new service offering low-cost, purportedly high-quality, ethical goods (household stuff and food at the moment), all delivered in their very own unbranded branding and, they claim, cheaper as a result of avoiding the 'brand premium' which you pay on stuff with a recognisable logo. Which is all fine and interesting and nice, but I can't shake the feeling that they've, er, put an awful lot of work into the brand here. You're, er, possibly trying a little hard here, guys. Also, is $3 for some cotton wool balls cheap? It's not, is it? LIES!
- Poorly Drawn Cats: A Twitter account showcasing simple line drawings of cats, done poorly. Look, it doesn't sound like much, but the one of the cat on top of the wardrobe is legitimately one of the best things I've seen in an otherwise dark and frightening 2017. These cats are almost certainly better than yours, whatever you might think of it - and yes, I am talking to YOU.
- Spotify Me: There will come a point sometime in the future when Spotify runs out of gimmicks it can do with your listening data - I mean, come on, without somehow linking it to your Fitbit or your bowel movements or something, I'm struggling to see what else they can come up with. Til then, though, they'll keep on punting out stuff like this - which takes all your listening info and GRAPHS IT and stuff, so you can see pretty pictoral representations of exactly how pedestrian and predictable your music taste is, and that, whatever you might say to people you meet on Tinder, the Chainsmokers are actually your favourite artists of all time. Stare into the (musical) abyss, watch it stare back at you.
- Slofile: Oh Slack! It's GREAT, isn't it? Turning your entire working day into one huge, multithreaded group chat! Making mundane, workaday interactions with colleagues feel less like, well, work, and more like, y'know, just hanging out on IM with your besties! All the pings! All the notifications! That terrifying rolling wall of text and updates and the feeling that when you leave your desk for 20 minutes to go to a meeting or if you shut the window to, heaven forfend, do some actual work and then you reopen it and oh god there is so much there, so many words and they are all useless and you know that it will mostly be Effie from the design department posting those fcuking gifs and it's probably not really worth scrolling through everything but JUST IN CASE...Yeah, SLACK! Great, isn't it? Anyway, Slofile is a collection of public Slack channels - just IMAGINE the joy of being able to immerse yourself in Slack communities of complete strangers! They tend towards the dev/programmer-type audience, but there are also ones for writers and editors, and a very lonely one-person channel all about GoT which is just BEGGING for a pile-on.
- Savee: Hey you! Yes you! You're a creative, aren't you, with your beard and your spectacles and your moleskine! You like making mood boards, don't you, and plastering every available wall with roughly-torn pages from magazines which makes you momentarily think that you're an art director on a proper magazine rather than a person who spends their life working on a new brand identity for a sub-brand of power tools! Sorry, not that there's anything wrong with that. Anyway, Savee is a rather nice-looking digital moodboard tool, letting users not only clip and arrange images from anywhere on the web, but to import them from Pinterest and Tumblr, print them to reasonable quality and also 'follow' the moodboards of other TOP CREATIVES. Might be useful, might not - I am not a CREATIVE.
- The Magnum Photography Award Winners 2017: Another week, another photography prize is announced, and again we get a jaw-dropping selection of photos from across the globe. Personal favourites in this selection include the macabre elephant feet and the astonishing colours of the 'Chroma' series, but the whole series is generally just wonderful.
- Ten Years Ago: A really interesting idea, and the sort of thing which I imagine some of you will be kicking yourselves for not thinking of from a BRANDED CONTENT FUN perspective, this takes a bunch of websites (Amazon, CNN, the White House, etc), and with one click shows you what they looked like 10 years ago. Fascinating, particularly Amazon (no, I didn't want a Roomba then and I still don't want one now) and the White House - it's incredible to think that seeing Dubya's vacant fizzog staring back at me from the Oval Office now prompts warm feelings of almost-nostalgia.
- Yescapa: Like Airbnb but for, er, CAMPER VANS! I mean, I have no idea at all why anyone would want to shell out the same fee as they'd pay for an actual bed in an actual house for a bunk in a malodorous diesel coffin (yes I do - DOGGING!), but just in case that's your thing, here you are.
- Save Snopes: A noble cause. Snopes, as you all know, is an absolutely invaluable resource, not least given its endless utility in debunking the stupid stuff that idiots you know from your schooldays say on Facebook. Or, pehaps, debunking the stupid stuff the idiot in charge of the US is saying. Anyway, the site's having some sort of unpleasant-sounding wrangle with its old advertising provider, meaning it needs donations to stay afloat; do the right thing and chuck the poor person who runs it a few quid if you can afford it, as Snopes is a genuinely Good Thing. As an aside, I'd forgotten before writing this up what an absolute goldmine of WTFery the Snopes Hot 50 page is - listing the most popular stories on the site at any given time, some current highlights include "Criminals in the U.S. are not using burundanga-soaked business cards to incapacitate their victims" and "Two Burglars Sodomized for Five Straight Days? Reports that a 'gay sex predator' repeatedly assaulted two intruders who broke into his home are fake news". We can't let this die.
- Tom Yourself: Your chance to put your own face - or, better, that of an unsuspecting co-worker who you REALLY want to report you to HR - on a Tom of Finland drawing (disappointingly, not one of the eye-wateringly NSFW ones). You want to see what I would look like as a pencil-drawn hunk of 1960s clone beefcake? Tough, you'll just have to imagine it.
- Cubes: Unsexily self-describing as '3d Cellular Automata', Cubes is basically like that cell game 'Life' but in 3d and with cubes, and while I appreciate that STILL sounds hugely unfun I promise you that you can make some REALLY cool-looking cuboid future metropolis-type structures; the way you can zoom and pan around the eventual creations makes it all feel very sci-fi to my mind, and there's somethingf very pleasing about the maths and geometry behind all this.
- Disney's Magic Bench: Occasionally I stumble across incredible Disney projects and remember that the Mouse is one of the most relentlessly exploratory brands in entertainment. This is fascinating - very prototypical, fine, but as a proof-of-concept rendering of what will be it's mesmerising. The 'Magic Bench' is a, er, bench, which users can sit on and which, through some clever multicamera tracking and AR gubbins which I can't even pretend to understand, will present a 3d character to the sitting participant - said character will apparently be able to 'know' where you are, interact with you in rudimentary fashion and even give you the illusion of presence through inbuilt bench haptics - all with no glasses required. In about 10 years, fairground rides are going to be MENTAL.
- Micro But Many: One man's (as ever, it's not going to be a woman, is it?) obsession with his collection of Micro Machines toy cars (in typical Buzzfeed fashion, let me point out that if you now have a high-speed voice screeching 'Micro Machines come in collections of 5!' repeatedly at you in your head, you are definitely in your late 30s), all laid out in pleasingly-shot detail on this otherwise utterly pointless webpage. Still, tiny cars!
- Grabient: Yes, I know that MOST of you don't need a site that lets you create colour gradients and then export them as CSS, but Web Curios is ever conscious of the need to service the most niche of requirements in the hope that at least one of you fcukers will care.
- The World Bonsai Convention: A whole page of photographs of pleasingly small trees from this year's World Bonsai Convention, all collected on Bonsai Tonight - possibly the best new website I have discovered this week, mainly for the fact it's been going 8 years and is obviously a total labour of love and a general peaen to the wonder of very, very small arboreal care.
- An Incredibly Satisfying Gif of Jigsaw Completion: If you are feeling a little...tense, I promise that this will help.
- Liam Foxinator: A Chrome extension which undertakes the simple-but-important task of replacing the words 'Liam Fox' with 'Disgraced Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox', in case you needed a daily reminder of the fact that he was "forced to resign from the front benches in 2011 after he was caught allowing his friend Adam Werritty to take on an unofficial and undeclared role as his adviser."
THE SECTION WHICH IS STILL FEELING THE AFTEREFFECTS OF LAST WEEK AND HAS DECIDED THAT IT IS OFFICIALLY TOO OLD TO GO TO TECHNO FESTIVALS, PT.2:
- The Vegetables of Lambeth County Show 2017: I was sadly unable to attend this year due to being in the recovery position in Holland, which is a genuine shame as Lambeth County Show is a WONDERFUL South London institution, the smell of weed comingling with that of frying onions, more weed and an awful lot of dung as a very diverse crowd of people get slowly battered and, inevitably, find themselves laughing uproariously at the goats (goats are hilarious). Every year they hold a vegetable sculpture competition, every year the topical entries do the rounds of the web, and every year we get to glory at seeing our politicians faces immortalised in squash. Enjoy.
- Fireman Sam Plots: I would have watched 100% more Fireman Sam had the plots been anything like those churned out by this Twitter account. Silly, but also the plot synopses are very well-written indeed.
- The Remembrance Project: Beautiful, small stories about little lives, the Remembrance Project is being run by a New England radio station which is asking listeners to suggest people they know who have recently died whose live stories are, for whatever reason, worth archiving for posterity. There are dozens of small stories of ordinary existences, presented as little audio clips; I am a sucker for this sort of thing, fine, but there is something so gorgeous about this as a concept. I'd love to see it extended somehow; I think there's a lovely project in here for the Alzheimer's society, or Age Concern or something, maybe, perhaps.
- BatBnb: My mate Dave's brother-in-law is a professional bat rehouser; he gets paid to go into buildings before they're redeveloped and remove the bats - humanely, I probably ought to point out, rather than with a can of turps and a box of matches. Makes being a generic media wnker look, well, a bit pedestrian really. Anyway, tangentially-related to that deadly dull non-anecdote is the BATBNB! Currently getting funded on Indiegogo, this is YOUR chance to purchase a small bat hostel which you can hang in your garden and which will keep your property happily mosquito-free. If you have mosquitos, and quite possibly only if you live in the US. Still, BAT HOTELS!
- Accurately Titled Novels: These, collected on the Writer's HQ Facebook Page, are rather wonderful, skewering some of the most common tropes in popular fiction. I'm a particular fan of "The Lesbian Dies At The End - Jumping on the LGBT Wagon with Predictable Disappointment".
- TomorrowSleep: The internet of mattresses! Yes, that's right, the unstoppable drive to connect every single fcuking object on the planet to the web continues apace, this time with a mattress which "records your sleep cycles, heart rate, breathing and body movements, and offers personalized suggestions for better sleep." That sounds great! Except, er, there's always the possibility that this can be hacked and that someone else could access the data about your sleeping patterns, work out when you're least likely to wake from your optimised slumber and break in to your house to rob you blind! Fine, yes, hyperbolic, but if I'm not here to think about the worst-case scenarios then WHO ELSE WILL, EH?
- Crossing.US: I don't imagine that there is ANYONE reading this with a desperate, burning desire to find specifically-named road intersections in the US, but should you have the surprising need to discover, say, whether there's anywhere in America where a Bongo Lane intersects with a Hummingbird Drive (there is!) then this is the site for YOU!
- Gramfull: I can think of two uses for this site, which lets you see any Instagram photo from a public account as a full-size image and without any of the Insta platform framing around it - to steal images of others' Instas (for which, I can attest, this works fantastically), or to perv immoderately at some particularly thirst-baiting account (couldn't tell you).
- Roman Roads of Britain: You want a map of Britain's Roman roads, designed in the style of the Tube map? GREAT!
- Penny: This is really interesting. Penny is software which has been trained to analyse a Google Maps photo image based on select criteria (green space, car parks, building height, etc) and extrapolate from that the likely land value of any area you focus on (OK, so it only works on a couple of areas of the US at the moment, but still). You can play around with the images, adding or removing land types to see what effect that has on the AI's perception of whatthe neighbourhood's like. Just a proof-of-concept at the moment, but I spent a few seconds thinking about where this sort of stuff ends up if you extend it semi-logically into the future, and I arrived at a furture where autonomous drone bombers determine which areas are poor enough to launch strikes on using this sort of tech and then ended up in a minor dystopian miseryspiral so, you know, I hope you do too.
- Learn Philosophy With James Franco: Although to be honest I wouldn't REALLY recommend it. The world's worst polymath James Franco - much like the beatboxers seemingly in permanent residence outside Oxfiord Circus tube, proof that just because you can do something really doesn't mean that you ought to - has decided that he's going to DO A BIG THINK, or even a series of BIG THINKS and tackle some of the major questions lying at the heart of the human condition. Except obviously what ACTUALLY happens is that Franco and his mate sit around and ask some smarter people some sphincter-clenchingly banal questions ("What is metaphor?" asks James quizzically, wrinkling his brow and simultaneously smirking like the most punchable of stoner teens - JAMES YOU ARE TOO FCUKING OLD FOR THIS, CHRIST ALIVE) whilst a few crap animations wibble over the top. Execrable.
- //www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157623083976781/with/4273586455/" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157623083976781/with/4273586455/">MS Paint Album Covers: In the week in which MS Paint's demise was sort of announced and then sort of retracted, enjoy this celebration of wonderful, terrible recreations of famous album covers in Paint's...er...unique style.
- All Things Small: The web LOVES stuff in miniature, and this week I discovered that there's a whole weird Instagram subculture based around people photographing their dolls' houses - furnishings, decoration, the whole deal. This is obviously just photos of really, really small recreations of banal domesticity, but I CANNOT STOP LOOKING. Look! Tiny perfection!
- The Arundel Codex: Yes, fine, it's in Latin, and yes, fine, it's also in Da Vinci's trademark mirrored script and so therefore entirely illegible to the naked eye, but LOOK! It's an actual Da Vinci manuscript, digitised ad online courtesy of the British Library. You won't understand a thing, but you will simultaneously feel marginally more intelligent just by osmosis.
- Orii: I should really have chucked this up top with the other smart ring, shouldn't I? Oh well. Orii is a WONDERFULLY silly idea - a smart ring which basically works as an extension of your phone, letting you take calls by PRESSING THE RING TO YOUR FACE BONES AND USING OSTEO-CONDUCTION TO LET YOU HEAR. I know that it's sort of scifi to be able to talk to someone on the phone just by touching your ear, but equally you will look like a total tool. Swings, roundabouts. Anyway, this has smashed its target so expect to see face-touching futuremenschen segwaying past you sometime next year.
- Princess Pricklepants: I mean, she's no Sugar Bush Squirrel, but WELL DONE whoever curates this site dedicated to 'hedgehog art'. Until you've seen Vermeer's 'Girl With A Pearl Earring' recreated with a hedgehog you cannot claim to know aesthetics. This is FACT.
- Nayan Shrimali: Really impressive papercraft sculpture work and portraiture here.
- Ivonne Carley: MORE really impressive paper art.
- South China Morning Post Infographics Library: All of the SCMP's graphical outputs collected in one place, which is a pretty decent resource if you're looking for design inspiration (or if you need to be reminded, again, what an ACTUAL INFOGRAPHIC is, Jesus please will people STOP misusing the term).
- Instead of Brexit: As we continue to rail, Canute-like, against the inevitable tide, even as our toes start to wrinkle from the near-constant lapping of the HORRORWAVES towards us, this site provides a whole heap of stats which show what might be done with the money which the whole sorry Brexit farrago is going to cost. Feel free to share this on all your pro-leave ex-schoolfriends' timelines to keep this whole tedious us vs them debate going for as long as possible, no, please, do, I NEVER WANT TO STOP FIGHTING ABOUT BREXIT.
- Straw Camera: This is super-cool and should be stolen by a fast food chain which uses disposable drinking straws (so, er, any of them) asap - it's an analogue camera made from 30,000+ straws, and the pictures it takes are ACE.
- Veteranas Y Rucas: Collecting photos of 90s chicana culture from LA, this is an awesome Instagram feed for scholars of denim and STRONG eye makeup.
- LoveFlutter Blue: What's the BEST thing about having a blue tick on Twitter? The sense of self-importance? The fact the peons can get shadowbanned for swearing at you? The knowledge that you are SO SPECIAL that just a handful of you can start a trending topic in the UK? Nah, it's the fact that you can now use a dating service which will pair you EXCLUSIVELY with other Blue Tick people! Want to find other self-obsessed narcissists, or just everyone ELSE who works at Buzzfeed/Vice? Go for it! Although judging by Young Journo Twitter these days, I imagine the fcuktree's already pretty tangled.
- Know No Better: A new video from Major Lazer which does the whole 'two videos in parallel; click to switch between them!' thing which is now so played out that I almost didn't include this but, well, let's be honest, it's pretty thin gruel this week and so I'm padding slightly. Also, the twin-track narrative is actually pretty nicely done (I particularly like the blow a kiss/give the finger' juxtaposition over breakfast fwiw) and the song's decent so, you know, ENJOY.
- My Most Beautiful Nightmare: A small agency called Road Ends made this; they talk about wanting to work in 'digital poetry', and this is a series of small, lightly animated vignettes describing and illustrating people's dreams. I feel mean saying this, but the prose isn't quite up to scratch - the idea behind it, though, is lovely, and there's a really pleasing dreamlike (obvs) quality to the way it's presented. These people are obviously talented, and I very much enjoy the concept of 'digital poetry' as an idea; worth keeping an eye on what they do next.
- The Evolution of Trust: Last up in this section this week is this BRILLIANT explainer on how trust works in society, taking in the prisoner's dilemma and lots of stuff about network interactions and things and NO WAIT COME BACK! Seriously, it's presented BRILLIANTLY as a sort of interactive cartoon game thing, and it does such a good job of taking you through what's some potentially rather complicated thinking in a gentle and elegant fashion. I can't recommend this enough - it takes a little time to work through, but it is utterly charming and you will be smarter at the end then you are now, GUARANTEED.
- Euclase: Pretty incredible photorealistic digital portraits of people, famouses I think although I don't recogise loads of them. I am particularly a fan of the ones of guys in massively drag-ish makeup.
- Wavegrower: Wonderful animations - geometric oscillations, hypnotic loops and all sorts of wonderful gifs. The person behind this stuff is very good indeed. Has anyone made an ad out of this sort of stuff? I feel they ought to .
- Dndoggos: A comic about, er, dogs, playing dungeons and dragons. Quite possibly the most niche thing I've posted on here this year, which is saying something.
- Code Cartooning: At the intersection of code and art, there's a whole LOAD of stuff on here from procedural animations to stuff thrown together based on weird maths patterns - I don't pretend to understand it, but it's quite pleasingly odd.
- Why Do Animals Do The Thing?: This is ACE - taking animal stuff from around the web and explaining why the animals in question are doing the thing that they are doing. You will LEARN STUFF, and also see loads of pretty cool animal-related media, which frankly is more than you can probably say for your job.
- A First-hand Account of Severe Autism: Taken from the second book written by Naoki Hidishida, a young Japanese man with ever non-verbal autism, who communicates using a word grid. Remarkable, not only for the mere feat of having been written in the first place but also for the look inside an otherwise closed mind it affords us. It's almost entirely impossible to empathise with Naoki's condition - at least it is for me, you may be less of a solipsist - but the portrait this excerpt paints of a condition which is effectively like emotional locked-in syndrome, is quite incredible.
- //medium.com/@monteiro/on-my-second-birthday-we-landed-on-the-moon-7e1f93cf7048" href="https://medium.com/@monteiro/on-my-second-birthday-we-landed-on-the-moon-7e1f93cf7048">On My Second Birthday We Landed On The Moon: Mike Monteiro recently turned 50, and wrote this essay about his experiences over 5 decades. By an American and largely about America and American history, this is nonetheless a great piece of writing taking stock of a half-century's accumulated culture in the context of what it means to be American, an immigrant, an outsider and the rest. Very good indeed, this.
- The Mad Cheese Scientists: This is CRAZY, particularly in the manner in which it lifts the lid on the power of BIG FOOD to shape behaviour in the US. The general point of the piece is profiling the scientists behind some of the innovations in cheese production which enable some of the more outre items on US fast food menus to exist - the impression you're left with, though, is of the monstrous spectre of BIG BUSINESS effectively lobbying the hell out of retailers and manufacturers to compel the average American citizen to shovel more and more casein into their faces each year. The stats on increased cheese consumption per capita in here are insane, and may make you question (again) whether the US is set to be the first nation in recorded history which eliminates the bottom tier of its society by the simple, expedient measure of letting themselves eat themselves to death. Really a lot more sinister than I was expecting when I started reading it.
- The Rise of the Insta-Restaurant: I'd naively not considered this at all, but this piece looks at how the rise of INstagrammability as a success-condition for new bars and restaurants is actively impacting the way said spaces are being designed and built; no point having low lighting and moody interiors if it's all too dark to get you the numbers, right? I hate everything.
- South Park Raised A Generation Of Trolls: Well, maybe. Still, this is a classic piece of pomo webjournalism, taking a possibly-too-serious look at the effect that the South Park humour style - characterised as peak troll, basically, with the now-ubiquitous 'fcuk it man, it's all crap, let's mock EVERYTHING' philosophy which is basically now the canonical tone of all online discourse ever. I think it's that I'm a touch too old to have properly ever gotten into South Park - had it been on TV when I was 14 I imagine I would have licked it up and that this would subsequently have run truer for me - but this strikes me as a *touch* hyperbolic, but then what do I know? Nothing. I know nothing.
- How Checkers Was Solved: I know that this sounds dull from the title - I know this, but please bear with me here. This is the story of Marion Tinsley, a true eccentric and mathematical prodigy, whose life's work was to be the best player of checkers (draughts, to us Anglos) in history, and of the man who developed the computer programme that was to finally 'beat' the game. This is GREAT - a proper man vs machine obsessional battle with enmity and oddity and all sorts of other stuff besides; the sort of thing which would, I reckon, make a really good Netflix special with the right script.
- Two Minds: The neuroscientific reasons behind the differences between male and female brains, presented in sober, scholarly-yet-readable fashion. Actual proper science, I promise, on the Stanford University website - no trolling here, honest.
- New Rules for Making It in Hollywood: Jesus, this sounds exhausting. A series of short profiles of variou young performers looking to make it in a variety of ways in the New Hollywood (TM) - where there are a million ways to earn a living, but each of them sounds, well, sort of awful really. Special mention to the bit where they interview recently-disgraced former Disney channel ex-Vine star Jake Paul, who says something so BEAUTIFULLY stupid about his ability to teach people that racism is, y'know, bad, that it makes the whole piece for me.
- Surviving Gamergate: A reasonably dispassionate interview with Zoe Quinn, the woman who started / got started on by (delete per your worldview) Gamergate. It's old news now, but it's interesting to look back at the whole thing - reading through, you're struck not only by the truly insane level of vitriol directed at Quinn for, at worst, being a rubbish partner, but also by the way in which the tone and tactics of the scum who congregated around the movement have become sort of a de facto modus operandi for cnuts on the web. Which is nice.
- The Internet Celebrity Summer Camp: Can YOU imagine how awful an LA-based Summer camp for kids who want to be internet famous might be? No need, just read this article. Maybe I'm just jealous of their perfect teeth and futures pregnant with untold potential (who, me?), but reading accounts of kids concerned with the growth of their personal brand at age 13 is chilling in the extreme. Seriously, the sooner we can get AI to focus on the useful stuff, like replacing 'influencers' with automata, the happier we'll all be.
- In Praise of the 'A Bit More' Button: A brilliant essay about toaster design but also about good design in general, and a really excellent exploration of UX for non-designer-type people. Really very clever indeed, and worth a read if you do...well...pretty much anything to be honest.
- Sadiq Khan: I am finding that enjoy political profiles of UK figures written by foreign journalists so much more than the domestic equivalent these days. Witness this profile of the London Mayor in the New Yorker - long, involved and in-depth, it looks at Khan's political rise, his somewhat chameleonic qualities and his response in the face of what can charitably be descrbed as a 'challenging' initial year in the job. It's broadly positive but some way short of being hagiographic, with enough gentle questioning to give a wonderfully nuanced portrait. A very good piece of journalism indeed.
- Elevator Pitches: A series of elevator pitches for films/shows/whatever by Jonathan Lethem. Wonderful, these, occasionally very funny and almost always something you would watch/read the hell out of were they to actually exist.
- The Model in these Photos: Finally in the longreads, a short essay on The Hairpin about what it must be like being a beautiful woman in a modelling shot - just brilliant, and a great reminder that the site contains some of the best writing for / by / about women online right now.
3) This is a gorgeous short - 'Plastic Girls' is a Korean film protesting against the sexualisation of public space in South Korea, and using the stories of future android assistants to do so. This is *so* beautifully shot:
4) It must be quite hard knowing that the first record you made is the best recordyou will ever make. Poor the DJ Shadow, then, who despite the actual impossibility of his ever making anything even half as good as 'Endtroducing' keeps on plugging away. I actually very much like this new one, called 'Corridors', but, let's face it, it's still not the same. Still, great video though:
5) Last up, this VERY sinister little video for 'Two Man Gang' by Les Big Byrd; it's all sung in foreign so I have no idea what the track's about - the video, though, is creepy and sexy and androgynous and ODD, and fits the outsider indiepop nature of the track perfectly. Enjoy, have fun, take care, and I love you very, very much indeed:
Web Curios is a weekly digest of all things interesting from around the web, released each Friday. Subscribe here to get it, and read some of our choice links throughout the week on the Imperica website.