By Sarah Duyer
THE SECTION WHICH IS FAIRLY CERTAIN THAT THE 2BILLION NUMBER IS A SIGN OF SOME SORT, AND PROBABLY NOT OF ANYTHING GOOD:
- An Exciting New Set of Facebook Ad Metrics!: Calloo, callay and associated expressions of joy; Facebook has announced NEW METRICS with which to confuse and baffle your clients, and through the use of which you can continue to persuade people marginally more ignorant than you of matters digital to pay you a frankly preposterous dayrate for what, let's be frank, is little more than glorified database management. Rolling out over the next few weeks, Page managers will now have access to exciting new datapoints with which to track the hopes, dreams and desires of the 2 billion, including 'the number of people who have previously engaged with an advertiser’s website or app versus new visitors', and data on the number of people who have 'recommended' your Page to their friends. On the one hand, more ways to persuade the client that look, yeah, the campaign's going really well and engagement is through the roof, right?; on the other, another set of largely arbitrary numbers against which to have yourself judged. So it goes.
- New Masks, Etc, Coming to Messenger Video Chat: There's nothing brand-related here yet, fine, but take this as your semi-occasional reminder that if you're a CONSUMER-FRIENLY and FUN-LOVING brand you really ought to be thinking about how you are going to ACTIVATE (dear God, I am sorry) this sort of stuff in the future when they inevitably start offering a wide-ranging bespoke filter creation service for brands.
- FB App for 'Influencers' Apparently On Its Way: It's thrilling to be in an age of such progress! Basically this is going to be (at some point in the future) a suite of tools to enable better-quality video production off mobile, aimed at mid-tier 'creators' - to quote, 'the app will feature a Live Creator Kit that enables influencers to more effectively manage live broadcasts by adding intros and outros, custom stickers and frames. The kit will also facilitate communication among the community of users following the influencer, and serve up user data to optimize future broadcasts. Anyone already using Facebook’s Mentions app will be automatically added to new app.' So there. The idea of a 'Live Creator Kit' is a smart one, and I'd imagine a variant will be made available to brands and publishers too at some point.
- Facebook Videos Now Autoplay With Sound: In a move requested by absolutely nobody, you will now be subject to a hideous, mangled cacophony of sound as you scroll through the increasingly video-dominated FB feed. The only reason I'm including this is as a gentle reminder that YOU STILL NEED TO SUBTITLE EVERYTHING, as unless you're a sociopath you obviously have the volume on your phone right down by default.
- FB 'Discover' Tab For Bots: I think this was trailed a few months ago, but frankly I am finding it nigh-on impossible to keep up with what is news, what is regurgitated old stuff masquerading as news, and what is some sort of unpleasant hallucination born of spending too any hours with my face in the internet. Anyway, FB in the US has added a 'discover' button to the Messenger app, which lets users browse and find new Messenger bots with which to interact; which will, eventually, lead to the ability to pay to promote your bot within this section to users of your choosing. You know it, I know it, so start setting budget aside lest your bot fall into the oubliette of forgotten Facebook automata.
- Instagram Testing 'Favourites' Function: Interesting, this - Instagram's apparently trialing the ability for users to share cerain content with a limited list of friends, which list can be pruned ar added to at any time; effectively a sort of 'inner circle'-type of thing, designed, apparently, to obviate the need for a finsta. I can see this having some nice executional opportunities for brands and 'influencers' (sorry) - you know, rewarding people for being superfans by adding them to the EXCLUSIVE CONTENT LIST, creating competitions and mechanics to motivate people to KEEP ENGAGING, that sort of thing.
- You Will Soon Be Able To Make Snapchat Geofilters In The App: Or if you're reading this in the US, you already can - LUCKY YOU! Rather than having to go to the dedicated geofilter creation site, US users will now be able to create and buy Geofilters straight from their phones, eliminating the need for photoshop skills in favour of some simple image / text editing software. A really smart move, and yet another reason to consider the Geofilter as part of your YOUTH MARKETING CONTENT MIX (I can't keep doing this, I really can't).
- Custom Bitmoji on Snapmaps: One of the cute/creepy features of the Snapchat Map thing announced last week is its use of phone data to present contextual representations of what users are doing when visible on the map; if your accelerometer suggests that you're moving fast, for example, you'll appear in a car - so CLEVER! I'm mentioning this only as it seems unlikely that advertisers won't get the opportunity to create custom Bitmoji for use when people are in or near their venues - and frankly even if this isn't in the pipeline, if you throw Snap enough cash they'll probably consider it because, well, WHY NOT?
- KFC In Space: Can we all now agree that the 'thing' whereby stuff gets sent into space and filmed is now done, over, defunct? I mean, even I've done one of these, and that was years ago - so please, now that KFC have decided not only to send one of their crap non-food products into the upper atmosphere but have also, for reasons known only to them, bothered to create a whole website and bunch of supplementary 'content' around the endeavour, can we all agree that we are never, ever going to do one of these things again? Good, glad we've cleared that up.
By LaLa Chuu
THE SECTION WHICH GENUINELY FEELS FOR OLLIE AND HOPES HIS BIRTHDAY ISN'T RUINED BY THE HOUR-LONG TALK HIS PARENTS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE WITH HIM EXPLAINING EXACTLY WHO THESE FCUKING N-LIST NON-FAMOUSES JUMPING ON HIS BIRTHDAY BANDWAGON ARE, PT.1:
- The Sketch Demo: To be honest I could probably just include this and leave it there this week (ha! You should be so lucky); this is amazing and I am in AWE. You remember that Google Sketch toy from a few months back where the world was invited to doodle stuff, adding to a global corpus of doodles which were going to help with machine learning? Yes, of course you do - look, this! Well now, having been fed with millions and millions of doodles, THE MACHINE CAN DRAW! I'm only being a little hyperbolic - this is genuinely astounding. This new iteration of the programme lets you draw anything - a line, a scrawl, a scribble, a circle - and then, selecting from a dropdown of options, you can ask the AI to attempt to turn whatever you give it into a recognisable doodle of, say, a bicycle or a pig. AND IT DOES! It's incredible, really, and a really strong visual explainer as to how machine learning actually works. Also, if nothing else, it's unceasingly entertaining watching this rudimentary system attempting to turn my succession of crudely-drawn cocks into dogs.
- The Borderline: Is this a 'first'? It seems unlikely, but I've no recollection of seeing this done elsewhere before. The Borderline is a project by MIT which is basically an AR mural - students drew this big artwork and then layered a bunch of AR stuff over it - animations and graphics and things, which can be observed by downloading the accompanying app. Look, if you can't see the potential here then I've no hope for you - seriously, just IMAGINE a city-wide 'urban art' (sorry) campaign which on the one hand is just a nice piece of visual creative but which, to those in the know and with the app, unlocks all sorts of EXCITING EXTRA CONTENT and maybe has a slightly ARG-ish layer of gameplay with clues and stuff leading to, I don't know, SECRET POP-UP BARS and stuff. Look, it's 8:02am, I've been up for two hours writing this and I can still crap out that sort of ADVERMARKETINGPR GOLD without even trying; WHY AM I NOT RICH?
- Smell Pittsburgh: An odd, and oddly specific, website which invites people of Pittsburgh to record any particularly funky odours they come across in the city, along with their location, to help city officials map air pollution. Which raises a few interesting questions about exactly how malodorous a city Pittsburgh is and why, frankly, but which also got me thinking about the idea of doing olfactory tours, leading people through an environment by their noses. Come on, you don't want to set up the 'world's first nasal treasure hunt'? It won't win you a Lion, fine, but you can probably swing a PR Moment Silver out of it.
- Uptime: Apps which let multiple users watch videos together, remotely, aren't new, but Uptime is YouTube's OFFICIAL one and so is sort-of mentionworthy. "Once in the app, you can watch YouTube videos with other people in the app, engage with them while watching, and post YouTube videos for others to watch. In the Home screen, you’ll see videos shared by people you follow as well as videos liked by people you follow. When you enter a video post, your watch will be shown in real time with anyone in the video. All your engagements in the video will also be visible to others. Anyone can join the video as you are watching it and he/she will be able to see your watches and engagements. Once you’ve watched a video, your watch and some engagements (e.g., hearts) will be part of the activity history of that video post and will be displayed on the Homepage feed next to the video post." Thrilling, isn't it?
- The AR Tape Measure: You might scoff, right, and think 'GOD HOW DULL', but a) tape measures aren't dull, OK, they're really exciting; and b) if you consider that the pinnacle of AR usage to date has literally been enabling people to pretend they are vomiting rainbows whilst wearing dog ears, this is something of a watershed in the medium's usage. Also, there's probably some super-clever maths sitting behind it all, but that's way over my head. Expect this to get a disproportionate amount of use in dickpic screenshots, as thirsty guys prove they really ARE packing a hot five inches.
- Magnet Fishing: Unexpectedly excellent subReddit of the week - magnt fishing is, I this week learned, the practice of, er, tying a massive magnet onto a piece of very strong rope and lobbing it into a canal to see what you can dredge out. Which, judging by the posts, is a whole lot of crap, frankly (I am sceptical of the YT video in there showing a man picking up a gun, ammo and a lockbox of cash), but there's something so beautiful and so pure and so, well, futilely masculine about it all that it warms my cockles to an unexpected degree.
- Women of the 50s in Kodachrome: A lovely-if-nonspecific collection of photographs of women from the 1950s, captured in glorious Kodachrome colour. Marvel at the hairstyles, glory in the fashion, covet the eyewear - these are wonderful.
- Birdcrime: I...I don't know why this is here, but I just lost myself in a three-minute fugue loop of birdness. It is a VERY odd-looking creature and for some reason it really, really creeps me out.
- Pickup Line Generator: As with all of these things, the output produced by this bot-ish website is mostly utter gibberish, but every now and again the monkeys and their typewriters will spit out something rather wonderful - witness the offering it just gave me, "I love you like the sun, you are so beautiful that you could be married", which frankly is charming enough to melt the iciest of hearts. I suggest you see whether you can insert at least three of these into email conversation with colleagues today and see what happens.
- Garden Roomba: Distressingly popular Kickstarte project of the week comes in the form of this, a 'weeding robot' which, apparently, you can leave outside in your garden and which will wander around 'weeding'. Except, from what I can tell, what it will actually do is bimble around ineffectually until its solar-powered motor runs down, chopping at weeds spastically with its blades but, in all likelihood, taking out its fair share of plants too. It decides what is a weed and what isn't based solely on the height of the plant - meaning it's not going to do anything about dandelions, say, whilst putting your seedlings at serious risk (does it sound like I know about gardening? I know NOTHING). Look, if you're too fcuking lazy to do your own weeding you don't deserve a garden. This has raised a quarter of a million quid, you know. Christ, I hate EVERYONE. Idiots.
- Letterspace: An Instagram account showcasing examples of letterforms in publc spaces - found alphabet, basically. Lovely photos for font and typography heads.
- Factmata: An interesting project, out of the incubator that is Newspeak House, seeking to apply elements of machine learning to the factchecking process online; "automated systems for detecting fake news, tracking rumours and hoaxes, tracking promises", etc. This is still very much in its early stages and there's a limited amount ofinformation about what it will do and how it will work, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
- Big Picture 2017: The winners of this year's Big Picture contest, celebating the natural world - animals and landscapes and stuff. Worth a click if only for the photo of the man in the panda suit, which you are now duty-bound to attempt to include in every single presentation you do between now and the day you die.
- Panobook: One of the side-effects of the crowdfunding movement is that we're now seeing a degree of rigour and design being applied to stuff which, frankly, probably doesn't 100% need to be sweated over quite that much. Witness the Panobook, a project which is currently 4x its goal with a month or so left to run - guys, guys, it's a fcuking notebook, right, like an actual paper pad you doodle in; YOU DON'T NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT LIKE YOU'RE FCUKING NASA SCIENTISTS. I mean, fine, it looks shiny and all, but seriously. That said, if you're an artist or designer or PROPER CREATIVE then you might find that this is the notebook solution you've always been searching for and I simply don't understand because I am an uncreative sh1theel. Hey ho.
- Agoraphobic Traveller: An Instagram account sharing images taken from Google Streetview, and taking you on a journey around the world's more far-flung outposts without requiring you to ever look up from your phone. I rather like the conceit in the name (the account is apparently run by someone whose own anxiety issues preclude serious travel); there's an ad campaign here, right? RIGHT?
- Save Pepe: Despite having rather publicly killed him off earlier this year, creator of everyone's favourite frog and the official meme of 2016 Matt Furie has decided that he wants to give Pepe another chance, free from the alt-right horror which ended up characterising him as a Trump-supporting Nazi bro. This Kickstarter is to fund a new Pepe comic, to reset the character and, maybe, kill the meme for good - buy yourselves a piece of online history here, should you so desire.
- Topic: Topic is an interesting new online magazine, themed around a different issue each month and containing a mix of 'visual storytelling', whether videos or photoessays or combinations of the two. For a feel of the style, check out the 'Mixtape' series of short video essays, on the theme of 'The State of the Union' - there's some really rather good stuff in here imho, and it's worth keeping an eye on.
- Poc: Chickens as a service! Hipsterist thing of the week, this - Poc is a service in Canada (but easily replicable, should anyone fancy stealing or exploring franchising opportunities) where you can buy a 'designed' chicken coop, two chickens and, I presume, some chicken feed, for $1200. Which, frankly, seems a touch steep; I mean, given that a cursory Google suggests that a chicken costs £20-odd quid, someone's being taken for a ride here. I also really like the six-month guarantee they come with - does that cover fox intervention? Seriously, the more I think about this the more I think that there's a HUGE East London opportunity here, get to it.
- The Hipster Colouring Book: No, no, come back! NOT one of those tediously 'ironic' faux-kids books for grownups that only the intellectually stunted like, honest - this is a proper, genuine 1962 book mocking the hpister as-was; the idea of the louche lounge-lizard with his in-home cocktail bar and mirrored ceiling (and, although it's not referenced, gargantuan coke habit). Sort of funny, and then also quite bleak actually.
- The Atlas for the End of the World: Disappointingly this isn't in fact a post-apocalyptic guide to nuked-out beauty spots; instead, it's a rather serious, and seriously sobering, collection of data (maps, charts, etc), designed to "audit the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world's 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation's 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species. By bringing urbanization and conservation together in the same study, the essays, maps, data, and artwork in this Atlas lay essential groundwork for the future planning and design of hotspot cities and regions as interdependent ecological and economic systems." Really very interesting indeed.
- Computerised Forms: This is ace; a project which combines poster design with music and animation to create a series of...er...animated posters which sync to music. Some great designs and lovely animation effects in here.
- Hammer Horror Posters: Dangerous Minds collects a selection of posters from what's often referred to as the 'Golden Age' of British horror; lots of befanged Vincent Prices mugging gummily as generically-forgettable strumpets clutch negligees to their heaving embonpoints, you get the idea. Bookmark this, as there are SO MANY great details in here which if nothing else will enliven your next deadly-dull presentation on social media metrics.
- Teeny Tiny Origami: Who doesn't want to follow an Instagram feed of really, really small origami models? NO FCUKER, THAT'S WHO!
- Love Will Save The Day: Love Will Save The Day is a project by a bunch of people, one of whom I know, looking to make YOUR life marginally better through the judicious application of music. The weekly newsletter is genuinely worth subscribing to, and I say that as someone who firmly believes that the online newsletter is a cancer from which civilisation may well never recover (apart from Web Curios. Web Curios is the only acceptable newsletter. It loves you and will never let you down. Do not leave Web Curios, for Web Curios will remember and, one day, when you least expect it, make you pay for abandoning it), providing a whole bunch of excellent mixes and playlists each Friday morning across a whole bunch of genres. Worth signing up to.
- All The Magazines: A rather odd site, this, which with little fanfare or explanation presents a bunch of old art and design magazines from a variety of eras, scanned and uploaded for your pleasure. If nothing else, there's some interesting lessons to be learned about quite how far we've come in terms of what's acceptable cover art - witness this charming cover for 'Modern Publicity' in 1973.
- Hardcore Glastonbury: I was, for the first time in years, genuinely sad not to be at Glastonbury this year - if you went, I hope you had fun but also that you paid for it by spending most of this week in the sort of existential black hole that comes after necking pingers for 4 straight days. Anyway, this is a collection of great photos from the inagural hardcore stage at the festival, and features lots of moshing.
- Make Your Own Time Magazine Cover: A photoshop tutorial taking you through the simple steps required to make your very own fake Time magazine cover with yourself - or indeed anyone you like - as the star. If it's good enough for the leader of the free world, it's good enough for you.
By Amy Friend
THE SECTION WHICH GENUINELY FEELS FOR OLLIE AND HOPES HIS BIRTHDAY ISN'T RUINED BY THE HOUR-LONG TALK HIS PARENTS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE WITH HIM EXPLAINING EXACTLY WHO THESE FCUKING N-LIST NON-FAMOUSES JUMPING ON HIS BIRTHDAY BANDWAGON ARE, PT.2:
- Fax Toy: I have a strange feeling that I fist stumbled across this a decade or so ago, but it cropped up again this week and I was amazed to see that it's still going. Fax Toy lets anyone, anywhere, fax a page to a particular number, which document will then show up on this page - WHO IS STILL USING FAXES? Still, this is silly and wonderful and beautifully web 1.0 and I love it.
- Travel Photographer of the Year 2017: You're really, really want to go on holiday after you've looked at these.
- Quadro: This is a really, really clever idea. Quadro basically lets you map commands and shortcuts onto an interface on a touchscreen - so, for example, you can map all your most-used Photoshop commands to 8 big buttons on a tablet, meaning that rather than selecting from fiddly dropdowns you can just tap the corresponding button to create the desired effect. You can see the appeal for gamers, too, particularly in the MOBA or MMORPG arena; really worth a look, I think.
- The Airbnb AR Map: This is an awesome proof of concept video, showcasing how AR tech could be used with Airbnb in order to let landlords create annotated videos showing how their home works - seriously click the link and watch the video, because this is SUCH a smart idea and is a huge use-case example for AR that I'd never even thought of before.
- Erma Fiend: The sort of Gif work you see a lot of on B3ta, but on an Instagram account - the woman behind this is ace, and the macabre, comic visual style of the pieces is really distinctive; expect to see her doing BRANDED CONTENT before too long - why don't YOU be the first to commission her?
- Soothe: A Chrome extension designed to prevent people from seeing triggers - Soothe will automatically block online content featuring hate speech, homophobia, sexism and the like. Your reaction to this will obviously range from "well that's a good idea" to "FFS snowflakes", but it's another example of the smart little things that can be done with Chrome extensions which for some reason brands are STILL underusing.
- Feather: Are YOU a millennial? Do YOU struggle with being able to afford furnishings for your one-bedroom, grand-a-month London garret because you're spunking all your cash on avocados and nitrous ampules? WELL FEAR NOT! Feather is here to DISRUPT FURNITURE! Or at least it is if you live in NYC - a new service launched recently in the city, Feather lets people rent furniture by the month, so you pay, say $50 monthly for use of a sofa - obviously this is a HUGE false economy, but I can equally sort-of see the appeal; christ knows how likely they are to return your deposit when they see the sex stains you've left on the upholstery, though.
- Magicubes: This is, without a doubt, the best website promoting corporate swag I have ever seen, ever. Make sure the volume is up when you click the link, and prepare to want to order dozens of the things once you've been exposed to the power of the sell.
- Bananimals: Animals made out of bananas. What of it?
- Laughly: This is an AMAZING resource - billing itself as sort of like 'Pandora for comedy', this is a frankly gargantuan repository of stand-up sets, mostly by US comedians, fine, but there are HUGE names on there, and it's all free, and you get recommendations based on what you've listened to, and frankly if you have any interest at all in comedy then you should probably get on this asap and lose yourself in it.
- TRVL: Really interesting idea - TRVL (vowels, motherfcukers, it is not 2007 any more) is a peer-to-peer travel agent which effectively acts like an Amazon referrals system for the travel industry, letting individuals make travel recommendations which, if a purchase results from said recommendations, can result in them getting a cut of the spend. Interestingly, you can also do this for trips you're organising - so, if you're a particularly sharp operator and / or your mates are really thick, you can effectly set up a whole trip itinerary within the site, make your friends buy everything through the affiliate links and claw back some of the cost of the trip from your friends (although you will then not actually have any friends left - still, though, money!).
- Gallery of UI Blacks: This is pretty niche, fine, but I am confident that it will make at least one of you very, very happy indeed.
- Speedrun WR: A website collecting examples of people videogame speedruns which break world records. You want to watch someone complete Super Mario in 2 minutes flat? GREAT! Weirdly compelling, this, like watching Twitch on fast foward.
- Natural Human/Drone Interaction: A prototype video which I adore, showcasing a series of gestural interface commands between one man and his drone, attempting to humanise the interaction between the two. Watch this, and then spend a few moments imagining a world in which you can order a drone strike by striking a hadouken pose.
- Overdrive Magazine: Another entry in the 'wow, publishing really was quite sexist, wasn't it?' almanac, this is a wonderful collection of covers from Overdrive, a US magazine for truckers (CB radios, beards, belt buckles, that sort of thing - also, depending on whether you read Viz or not, dead bodies wrapped up in carpets), and as you might expect from a 70s men's mag they feature massive trucks and a lot of underdressed 70s women who don't really look like they spend that much time hanging out at truck stops. There are a few pages scanned here which also feature copy, and they're worth seeking out - witness this GREAT pull-quote from 16 year old (yes, well, quite) cover girl Darla McIntire, stating "Truckers are some of the nicest, easy-going guys I ever met. They like their jobs and their life, and this makes them fun to be with!" Do you think Darla perhaps had a knife to her throat when delivering that quote? Hm.
- Aumi Mini: Do YOU hate sleep? Do YOU want to ruin your rest forever? Then invest in the Aumi Mini, a nightlight (apparently this is now a 'thing' for adults, which fact makes me immoderately full of rage) which you can set up with IFTTT to change colour and blink when certain conditions are met - for example, you receive an email or a text or someone putsanother fcuking photograph of their fcuking holiday on Instagram. BECAUSE YOU MUST NEVER MISS A NOTIFICATION, EVER, EVEN WHEN HORIZONTAL IN THE BEDROOM. Christ.
- Poet in Chief: A site which automatically compiles Trump's tweets into verse. God, that man.
- The Best Saved Things: One of those occasionally brilliant Reddit threads which point you at some truly wonderful (and odd) stuff, this is a collection of people posting links to the best things saved in their favourites - obviously, because this is the web, there is a LOT of bongo in there, but there are also loads of great, interesting stuff on a whole range of topics. Oh, and lots of cute animals too.
- Lovecrafters Toys: We're no strangers to odd sex toys here at Web Curios - I still occasionally like to drop into Bad Dragon and see what new horrors they've added to the range - but this line of Lovecraft-themed tentacle dildos are particularly arresting. How...how...how do you realise that this is what gets you off? I mean, do you wake up one morning and thing 'yes, actually, today is the day I realise my dream and put a tentacle-shaped piece of silica inside myself'? I'll let you know should I ever find out.
- Open Continents: A gorgeous website, billing itself as 'a cinematic exploration in global storytelling', this is at its most basic a collection of short films from across the world, arranged by continent. I've watched a couple and they are odd and slightly strange and rather beautiful and unless you're a proper aficionado I think they will be new to you.
- Sega Forever: Sonic, for free, on your phone. I mean, there's other stuff too, but Sonic.
- Spinz: This is diabolically addictive. Effectively it's one of those big multiplayer Snake-type games where you have to navigate around while you keep growing and avoiding the other, bigger players and eating the smaller ones - except, because this is 2017, you are a fidget spinner. No matter, this is FUN and is an excellent way to not do any work for the rest of the day.
- Odra: Finally this week, this is just gorgeous. Odra is a little synthtoy type thing which presents a series of tracks with a wonderful, beautifully designed little 3d synth control panel thing which you can manipulate in different ways in order to alter each track, from pitch to tone to loops and everything in between. It is SO pretty and so much fun to fiddle with, and I am a sucker for the graphical style employed here. Gorgeous.
By Kelly Maker
THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!
- Googly Eyes on Magic Cards: I mean, I don't really know what else to tell you about this. It is what it is.
- Vintage Home Plans: Collecting floorplans from 20th century homes from around the world, for absolutely no reason at all that I can discern.
- Antojitos Mexicanos: A seemingly endless series of photos of Mexican food. Look at this, salivate and then go and have an ultimately soulless and disappointing experience at Chipotle.
- Morbid Anatomy: Not actually a Tumblr! Still, it's ACE - this is all about art and illustration at the intersection of culture and death and medicine, so it's as pleasingly macabre and gothic as you'd imagine.
- Moneyness: Also not actually a Tumblr! This is a really interesting blog on money, its history and associated topics - honest, even if you're like me and money is a largely baffling topic there's some really interesting stuff in here.
- Mostly Cats, Mostly: Go on, guess.
- Mostly Dogs, Mostly: For balance.
- Motocross Arts: I love the art style of this pixelart blog SO MUCH, and the technique on display in some of the animations is fantastic; witness the focus-shift in the second gif down, which is pretty jaw-dropping in terms of execution.
- Park Playground Equipment: Photos of playground equipment from Japan, much of it very sinister indeed.
- European Flm Star Postcards: ANOTHER non-Tumlr, compiling a whole host of old school postcards featuring movie stars of yesteryear. Imagine how excited you'd have been to receive a genuine Helmut Kauttner!
- Adam Pizurny: Another excellent artist, showcasing a variety of 3d animations in gif form. These are mesmerising.
- Communists With Dogs: Kicks off with Trotsky playing fetch with some German Shepherds and only gets better.
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG!
- Nothing But Feeling: An excellent piece in the LRB analysing the language of political rhetoric with particular reference to the statements made in response to Grenfell; it's interesting that we've become largely inured to the blandness and general meaningless banality of the language employed by politicians (or at least I have) until it's explicitly pointed out to us. Talking about feelings is great, because it means you don't actually have to do anything.
- Emoji - The New Language of Love: A GREAT piece of writing this, on Imperica no less, in which the very talented Roisinn Dunnett explores the impact of the emoji on emotional, romantic communications, and the heavy lifting these fairly blunt instruments are often asked to do. Touching on semiotics, greek cookery and His Dark Materials, this is a really interesting read.
- Before The Internet: A gently ironic, classicly New Yorker-ish piece reminding us all what life was like all those many years ago. I promise you that you will read this with a smile on your face but that by the end you will be left sort of staring into space and feeling a deep and abidding sense of weltschmerz.
- The Secret Lives of Young IS Fighters: Interesting, sad piece on the BBC, piecing together the lives of young IS soldiers from fragments discovered in raids - photos, notes, diaries, etc, which tell the brief stories of the men who go and blow themselves and others sky-high. Amongst many arresting details in the piece (not least the messy rooms detail, heartbreaking because these people really are just kids) is the oddness of seeing bearded IS militants who've been 'shopped using Meitu; selfie-obsessed teen or bloodthirsty jihadist? YOU DECIDE!
- Buying A Gun: Six months old but still absolutely worth reading, this is a woman's account of buying a rifle with which to learn to hunt deer. Very funny, very self-aware, and very illuminating on exactly how preposterously easy it is to get your hands on a killing stick in the US (in case you needed reminding).
- Cary Grant's LSD Therapy: Did you know that there was, briefly, a Hollywood vogue for taking LSD for therapeutic purposes? No, I didn't either and yet apparently it was totally a thing for a few years back in the mid-20th Century. “LSD made me realize I was killing my mother through my relationships with other women,” says Cary,“I was punishing them for what she had done to me … I was making the mistake of thinking each of my wives was my mother.” Yes mate. Fascinating and odd.
- An Oral History of Predator: God that was agood film. This is an entertaining account of how it came to be, and includes several different accounts of how Jean Claude Van Damme got himself kicked off the set, which is great if, like me, you never tire of stories of Van Damme being a d1ck.
- Up A Wombat's Freckle: Not actually that long at all, as it happens, but a very entertaining piece by Barry Humphries (yes, that one) on Australian slang terms - Humphries is a wonderful and underappreciated writer, and this piece contains several great lines: "Australian colloquialisms are either quaint and innocent or filthy, but they are always sincere. The English have twenty-five ways of saying “sorry” and they don’t mean one of them" being just one.
- Joel Gets Charisma: The regular Web Curios 'Look, just go and read Joel Golby's latest column because it's really good, as ever' slot, in which I link to Joel's output whilst simultaneously seek to restrain myself from doing the description in a lazy pastiche of the now-easily-recognisable Golby style; you know the one, don't you, that style where you start a sentence and then pepper it with conversational asides, asides delivered in the manner of Stewart Lee, we all love Lee, don't we, we self-aware London media types, with his arch metacomedy and asides, we all love him even as we know that by loving him we are perpetuating exactly the sort of cliche that he, or at least Lee as a character, would despise, whoops failed there. Anyway, this is excellent as ever, and is all about Joel being coached into being charismatic. Also contains an answer to the 'what is the point of Pixie Lott' question which has plagued me for a while now.
- The Tearoom: I think it's a reasonably fair assumption to make that not that many of you will have woken up this morning and thought "You know what I would really like to read today? I would really like to read a developer's account all about how he made a game all about cottaging, in which you, the player, get to make eye contact with men in a public toilet with a view to eventually performing first-person fellatio on them, in which simulated fellatio their genitals are represented by a flesh-coloured rifle". And yet here you are. This is actually brilliant - very odd, obviously, but interesting in unexpected ways.
- Anxiety Gates: An excellent essay about a college professor who goes to work in airport security for a while. Far more interesting than that description would suggest, and contains interesting perspectives about the nature of 'blue collar' work amongst other things. Completely unrelated, but my Italian cousin is a security person at Fiumicino airport in Rome - he's been doing it for over 10 years now, and in his considered opinion, based on seeing hundreds of thousands of people pass through the barriers, is that the Italians are the worst, rudest nation on the planet, closely followed by the Spanish. Just thought I'd share.
- Ageing Rum Fast: Fascinating piece about a man who's trying to fast-track the ageing process for spirits and by so doing is creating booze which tastes, apparently, like nothing else on earth. Contains loads of really good stuff on how the maturation process of whisky and other spirits works, and it's also a portrait of a really odd human being; imagine having the sort of life where you go from building Disney rides to inventing a whole new way to produce booze. God, I'm such a failure.
- The Rise of the Thought Leader: Noone, literally noone, thinks that the term 'thought leader' is anything other than a crock, do they? This is a brilliant essay examining how the rise of the billionaire and the reification of the entrepreneur have contributed to an intellectual culture that seemingly values easily-digested vapidity above all else, as embodied by the TED-talking motivational guru and THOUGHT LEADER, spaffing out platitudes by the dozen.
- Week One of Living in Beijing: A really interesting blogpost pointing out some of the more future lifetstyle things which are second nature in China but witchcraft to us. Basically, as a primer on how WeChat and stuff works this is super-useful.
- China's Mistress Dispellers: Wonderful, sad article profiling 'mistress dispellers' - effectively private detectives who work to quietly, unobtrusively remove the third party from their spouses affairs, whether by subtle misdirection or outright blackmail. So much of interest in here about gender politics and society in China.
- Rereading My Potter Fanfic: Not mine, you understand, but that of Stephen Bush of the New Statesman, who revisited an old piece of HP fan fiction he'd written as a youngling and applied his grown-up critic's eye to his efforts. This is WONDERFUL - props to Stephen for doing this, as most of us would rather that everything we'd written as teens be expunged from existence at yet here he is, frolicking in his own literary scat. You will laugh LOTS, I promise you, and probably be unable to see the word 'grimace' again without having a little bit of a giggle.
- Aftermath: Last up this week, this is 6 years old but it cropped up again this week and it is devastatingly good. Rachel Cusk, writing in the aftermath of the breakdown of her marriage, on gender roles and family and love and loss and Christ the writing is SO GOOD. Take it to the sofa with a glass of wine and savour this, it's absolutely worth it.
AND NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!
1) First up, this is by Sylvan Esso - it's called 'The Glow', and it's a great little pop song and the video is one of those occasional ones that crop up every now and again which seem to perfectly capture the essence of being a teenager and oh god I feel so old and so tired:
2) Next, one in the semi-regular series of 'songs which I can't quite work out if are any good or not but which I am going to include in the hope that someone will feel the same odd sense of compulsion to listen to them despite this confusion that I do'; this is called 'My Smile Is Extinct' (which, by the way, is a killer title) and it's by Kane Strang who could quite well have a sort of Monkmanish cult about him should the stars align:
3) Do you remember 'Pop Up Video'? It was ACE. Anyway, Arcade Fire clearly do, as that's what they've used as inspiration for their latest video. The copywriting here is very, very good indeed - the song's called 'Creature Comfort':
4) This is Toro y Moi's latest, and it's beautiful. It's called "You & I":
5) HIPHOP CORNER! From the Hamilton soundtrack, this is 'Immigrants Get The Job Done' - I have no truck with musicals as a rule, but this is an absolutely cracking track, featuring amongst others Web Curios favourite Riz MC - this is so good, and so timely:
6) As is this, actually - Kendrick's latest, this is calld 'Endless' and really is a hell of a song:
7) Last this week, this is Lil Peep with 'Benz Truck' - woozy delivery and production and a slightly miserable, menacing vibe to the whole thing. You can see more of him in this freestyle, which does little to dispel my fear that this kid's not, well, that well. Still, great songs. Anyway, that's it for this week bye I love you bye bye bye bye bye: