39 minutes reading time (7860 words)

Web Curios 01/06/18

Even by the standards of 2018, this has been an absolute ROLLERCOASTER of a week. A Government falls in Spain, one stumbles and maybe gets back on its feet in Italy (but if it makes it to Christmas I will personally be AMAZED), Don met Kim, a Ukrainian journalist came back from the dead, and we all continued to gawp, amazed, through our magical glass rectangles as the shitshow circus limps round the ring once more. 

WHAT LARKS!

Still, though, balls to all that. It's SUMMER! I mean, not that you could tell looking out at the massed rooftops of SW9 right now, but all the major news outlets assure me that it is in fact the first of June and that means ICECREAM and SPRINKLERS and SUNBURN and DRUNKEN NIGHTBUS ARGUMENTS WITH STRANGERS and SALMONELLA and ALCOPOPS and ILL-ADVISED FIRST TIME DRUG EXPERIENCES and FALLING IN LOVE EVERY 5 SECONDS and DISAPPOINTMENT and LONELINESS and MIVVIS! All of those things!

So, while you soak in that PICTURE IN PROSE and contemplate your first big weekend of the Summer, while away the waning hours of the working day with the following LINK PLATTER to roast over the red-hot coals of your intellect - carefully selected, marinaded (don't ask in what), and arranged below for you to select the choicest cuts at your leisure. Do not, whatever you do, attempt to consume them all, though (no really, please do, otherwise this is all for naught and frankly I could do without the existential worries right now) - this, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!

nicholas uribe

By Nicolas Uribe

SEEING AS IT’S JUNE 1, LET’S KICK OFF WITH AKIRA’S LATEST SUMMERY LO-FI HIPHOP MIX!

THE SECTION WHICH IS INCREASINGLY OF THE OPINION THAT LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO WADE THROUGH ANOTHER SET OF MARY MEEKER’S SLIDES:

  • Facebook Messenger Stories Add Polls: Look, let’s be honest with each other here - I didn’t go to bed as early as I probably ought to have done last night, the amount of ‘news’ this week is honestly negligible, and so I’m probably going to phone this first section in a bit while I get myself used to the fact that it’s 6:54am and I have a good 5 hours’ writing to get through. You don’t mind, do you? Good! Anyway, you can now add a ‘poll’-type function to the Stories you may or may not be creating using Messenger. Are you excited? ARE YOU???
  • Snapchat Launching Developer Platform...Soon!: Really, there is NOTHING happening this week. Even this, a moderately interesting piece of news indicating that developers are soon going to be able to get their hands on the ability to integrate Snapchat into third-party apps, is only a ‘maybe in the future’ piece; still, let’s work with what we’ve got. Reports suggest that Snapchat will soon open up its developer platform, meaning that app makers will be able to implement ‘log in with Snapchat’ options which will then take all of Snap’s interesting and fun and GOD I AM SO FCUKING BORED OF SEEING PEOPLE AIRBRUSHED AND WEARING DOG EARS CAN WE CALL STOP? visually arresting features and allow them to be used by the app in question. Which, if you’re into the idea of making AR-type app experience but don’t want to actually have to code any of it from scratch, is probably quite an appealing idea. Anyway, it’s not hear yet and there’s no indication as to when it might be, so CALM YOURSELVES.
  • Google Launches Neighbourly: Or at least it does in India. Neighbourly is a new Google product, designed to effectively work as a localised Q&A app, enabling people to ask questions of the community within a set geographical radius of them - the idea being, I imagine, that it will act as a competitor to Facebook Groups and other local-area information services. Sadly it’s VERY geo-limited and only available to users in Mumbai - I am not, sadly, in Mumbai, and so don’t have any additional info as to whether it’s any good or not (also, it only launched yesterday GIVE ME TIME), but the concept is potentially a very useful one, and I’m curious to see how this does and whether it gets a broader rollout.
  • Airbnb Launches Stories: Included here mainly as evidence for my ‘everything is going to be a fcuking Story soon’ narrative.
  • Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2018: I just did a quick check on what I said about this last year - I won’t paste it here, it...it may shock you to hear this, but it turns out it wasn’t  funny or insightful - and I realised that this is the fifth year in a row that I will have mentioned Mary sodding Meeker and her Internet bloody Trends report and oh God I am so, so tired. Anyway, if you want 300-odd slides of largely contextless DATA about...well, not really the internet if we’re honest, more a general grab-bag of business, tech and economic trends, and if you want those slides to be incredibly ugly and slightly grating on the eye, then once again it’s an early Christmas present. You can read some topline thoughts from Rob Blackie on WHAT IT ALL MEANS here, but your basic takeaways are that we’re all using the internet more than ever, that mobile is BIG, lots of people are buying voice assistants, we like purchasing things online, and - and this really did strike me this year - THERE IS NO NEED FOR THE SLIDES TO BE THIS UGLY. Seriously, can we have a whip-round and hire Kleiner Perkins a Powerpoint monkey to make this all less painful to look at? Anyway, I personally don’t think that this is that much of an indispensable read any more - there’s plenty of other data out there about TRENDS and stuff, and there’s more published every day, and most of it is far less deliberately ugly and obtuse than this stuff, and, frankly, most of these slides just seem to say “LOOK! A GRAPH GOING UP!” without any of the necessary wider contextualisation of said slide and I can’t be bothered. You shouldn’t bother either. Can we all decide to stop worshipping at this particular altar? Come on, REJECT MEEKER!
  • Teens Hate Facebook: Or at least, American teens, as surveyed by Pew, hate Facebook. Or, more accurately, American teens are, according to this survey, using Facebook significantly less than they were three years ago. Although, hang on, didn’t we do ‘THE TEENS ARE ALL LEAVING FACEBOOK!’’ about, er, three years ago?Anyway, here is some MORE DATA, which is obviously all US but which won’t prevent lots of people from glossing over that and inferring some sort of universal truths from this. Winners are Snapchat, Insta and YouTube, unsurprisingly - the stats about internet usage stood out to me as interesting, also, as this is the first report of this ilk that I’ve seen that acknowledges the fact that, contrary to those spurious ‘5-6 hours’ claims made by other surveys of this type, kids are online literally all of the time; they cannot conceive of an instance in their waking life when they are not able to access the web and associated tools. Which is obviously true of all of us, but I did get an honest little futureweird frisson from reading that.
  • The Hope Page: I am slightly amazed that I haven’t seen this done before, not least given we’re a whole year or so away from the boom in ‘use your spare processing power to mine crypto!’ scams. Anyway, this is an excellent, simple idea by UNICEF Australia - give the site access to your CPU and it will start doing some low-key Bitcoin (or whatever) mining, with the proceeds going to the charity. Simple, clever, easy to participate in, this is a lovely execution.
  • The Jurassic Box: This links to a writeup of a US stunt for the latest Jurassic Park film (SPOILER: THE DINOSAURS ARE MORE DANGEROUS THAN FOOLISH, HUBRISTIC MAN IMAGINED!) which isn’t itself that interesting - large box with film logo on it driven around LA is about the extent of it, frankly - but the ‘Ask Alexa’ call to action is an interesting idea and the sort of thing which you can probably do some fun and moderately creative stuff with, should you be so inclined to rip it off.
  • Generate Your Own Bullsh1t Accenture Slogan: Riffing on Accenture’s jaw-droppingly bad ad campaign around the POWER OF AI (which if you haven’t encountered it yet really is spectacular - read the transcript of its ad here for the full effect), this little site autogenerates its own versions of the ad’s appalling slogans (COULD AI MAKE CRUISE SHIPS CLAIRVOYANT???? COULD IT??? ARE YOU FCUKING MAD??? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN???) for lulz. I just got “Can Google Duplex make a dog avuncular?”, which has cheered me up no end.
  • Women Cannes: Finally this week, a move to acknowledge the often...unequal gender power dynamics in adland at this year’s annual festival of egos, cocaine and rose on the Croisette. Women Cannes is asking female attendees at this year’s Festival to echo the #timesup campaign by wearing black to highlight the industry’s own burden of sexism, and is also inviting people to nominate women in the industry who deserve, but do not necessarily receive, recognition. A good idea, and, should you be planning on heading off to spend other people’s money in the South of France in a few weeks’ time, something that is worth supporting.

lindsay bottos

By Lindsay Bottos

NEXT, HOUSEY VIBES FROM DJ PAULETTE!

THE SECTION WHICH IS STARTING TO WONDER WHETHER ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE IN THE PUBLIC EYE IS SECRETLY A DREADFUL RACIST, PT.1:

  • Gif Cube: Gifs! We all LOVE gifs! What could be better than a gif, all looping and sassy, infinitely spinning in an idle browser tab, FOREVER? Nothing! Except, perhaps, that same gif, printed onto a cube of hollow sandstone and sitting in ACTUAL PHYSICAL SPACE before you! I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what the point of this is - to be clear, this is taking an innately kinetic form of media and  transposing it onto an inanimate object to no discernible end whatsoever - but if you’d like to have a permanent reminder of your favourite reaction gif then WOW are you in luck here.
  • The Longest Poem In The World: This very much has the look and feel of a site that has existed forever, but I’ve never seen it before and as such I’m going to claim that it only blinked into existence recently rather than admitting that there may be inadequacies in my all-seeing web panopticon. The Longest Poem In The World pulls tweets from the ether and arranges them into a rhyming poem, with no thought to anything other than the rhyme scheme. As wonderfully, beautifully, poetically nonsensical as you’d imagine - you might think it will just throw up rubbish, and you’d largely be right, but then you get juxtapositions like “I want a truck so bad ” / “So all my friends left and now I’m sad” and, well, are you telling me there isn’t a HIGHER POWER behind this sort of beauty?
  • Mix: Do you remember StumbleUpon? It was a very web2.0-type site, a bit like Digg or pre-Reddit Reddit, which effectively sought to work as a content discovery and recommendation engine and was basically killed by social media. Except it didn’t die - it’s limped on beyond what I would have expected its natural lifespan to be, and is now pivoting to become Mix. Mix is designed to surface content based on what you tell it you like - like a million and one recommendation engines before it, it promises much but the experience is a fundamentally empty one, imho. The problem I have with these things is that the recommendations are never leftfield or interesting enough - it all feels very Fiat 500, if you know what I mean, the curatorial equivalent of the ‘Hot New Stuff!’ tab on an MSN homepage or similar. Contrast the sort of thing you get served from this with the sort of stuff you’ll find by lurking a few popular subReddits around a topic of interest, for example, and you quickly see that algocuration is still a little way from being any good. Although, er, I would say that, wouldn’t I?
  • The Queer Comics Database: An excellent resource which lets you discover comicbook series based on their representation of LGBTx characters - you can search by queer representation, subject matter, etc, and there’s a HUGE wealth of titles in here, many of which are webcomics which can be read online. Regardless of your sexuality or interest in queer issues, this is a great way of finding new comics to read.
  • Flopstarter: Crap Kickstarter ideas - all fake, but beautifully-imagined and wonderfully dystopian and Black Mirror-ish. I particularly like the trust app, which automatically sends a copy of every message you send on your phone to your partner, and the ‘Natural Death Beef - made from cows who have just died in their sleep’, but you will find your own favourites.
  • In The Eyes Of The Animal: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a mosquito? No, I don’t imagine you have - WHY NOT?? In The Eyes Of The Animal is a VR experience which seeks to rectify your appalling paucity of imagination by letting you step into the...er...eyes of a selection of animals, including a frog, a mosquito, a dragonfly and an owl. It’s...not quite as immersively amazing as you might hope - certainly not when experienced onscreen, at least - although I imagine it’s more effective when you do the whole VR helmet thing; I am hugely disappointed that the mosquito experience doesn’t involve the insertion of a virtual proboscis into some plump, fresh epidermis, though.
  • Recursive Recipes: This is SO CLEVER! Recursive Recipes is a recipe site which alters the recipe guidelines based on the amount of time you tell it you have at your disposal - the more time you tell it you have, the more of the recipe’s individual steps it will suggest you take; the less time, the more it will suggest timesaving measures. What’s WONDERFUL about this is the way it does all this on the fly - the coding is lovely - and the way it will, if you tell it you have a LOT of time, take you all the way back to milling flour or raising a cow for milk. Really, really smart and impressively-made; I am slightly in awe, and would like all recipe sites to work like this from hereon in, please.
  • The Jack Torrance Trip: Ooh, I love me an IMMERSIVE DIGITAL NARRATIVE EXPERIENCE. The Jack Torrance Trip is a new project by artistic duo The Kissinger Twins, and the blurb is as follows: “The moon landing is one of the greatest milestones in human history. What if it wasn't real? Meet Jack Torrance, the man who made it all happen. @jacktorrancetrip, one of the most complex interactive storytelling experiences on Instagram, tells his story. Follow his adventure to the dark side of politics and manipulation and learn how surveillance technologies have changed since 1969.” I don’t want to tell you too much more about it - get on Insta and have a delve, this is really very nicely made indeed (or read more about it elsewhere on Imperica).  
  • Molecularis: This only has 11 hours left on Kickstarter so you’ll have to hurry if you want to get in at the crowdfunding stage - Molecularis is a supremely clever update to the traditional flipbook animation, which basically contains 6 different animations within it, accessed by flipping the pages in slightly different ways, all of which can be coloured in by YOU, the owner, and which will let you create some beautiful and psychedelic animated...things as a result. Very clever, very cool and if you’re an artistic, doodly-type person then the sort of thing I imagine you will find very satisfying indeed (I can barely colour inbetween the lines, so won’t be investing).
  • ASCII Tattoos: Honestly, these are SPECTACULAR. I can only imagine how long these take, but the work - by Andreas Vrontis of Limassol in Cyprus, in case you’re after one for yourself - is truly superb. The taste of some of the models is...questionable (WHY DO YOU HAVE ANGELINA JOLIE’S ASCII FACE ON YOUR THIGH, FACELESS CYPRIOT???), but there’s no doubting the skill on display here.
  • Routeshuffle: Do you jog? Do you strap on a pair of trainers a few times a week and haul your weary carcass around London’s grey and fetid streets, hopping gingerly between chicken carcasses, nitrous ampoules and the slumped bodies of the homeless? Do you think it will save you, that it will stave off death? IT WILL NOT. Still, if you are a jogger and want some assistance in varying your chosen route then this site is a godsend; tell it where you’re starting from, tell it how far you want to go, and it will churn out a new randomised route each time; clever, useful, and a nice way of breaking your routine whilst still, er, adhering to your routine.
  • Have I Been Sold: Check whether your email address is on any known lists that have been flogged. Not that you’ll be able to do anything about it if it is, of course, but it might be nice to know why you’re getting all the Viagra spam.
  • Neon AR: This is a version of the future. Probably not the future, but certainly a future. Neon is an AR app which effectively works in a similar way to the Snapchat Map, except it shows you where your friends are as an AR overlay - look at the world through your camera lens and it will superimpose your friends’ avatars onto your view, showing where they are relative to you. The app sells this as a solution to finding people at festivals, etc, which makes sense, but the obviously stalky side of this is hard to overlook. You’d hope that there’s some fairly robust two-sided opt-in consent built in, but WHO KNOWS?
  • General Public: I have to say, I didn’t have Portia de Rossi on my list of ‘Hollywood famouses with a tech business’, but here she is going full Will.I.Am with this side project, which seemingly has no lesser aim than to basically ruin art forever. OK, fine, that’s a touch hyperbolic, and it’s certainly not how Ms de Rossi couches it, but really, that’s exactly what it is. To quote the blurb, “Unlike the current method of printing, which is merely a flat poster version of a painting, our textured prints are almost identical to the original with all the texture and articulation created by the artist.I like to think of the originals like sculpture molds, and that the prints are as valuable as the original painting. A SYNOGRAPH ™ like a photograph, allows the artist to create multiple works from the original, thereby taking great paintings out of galleries and making them available to the GENERAL PUBLIC.” So, to be clear, this is technology which 3d prints reproductions of works in potentially-infinite quantities, in a manner close-to-indistinguishable from the original - WHERE IS THE SOUL, PORTIA DE ROSSI? WHERE IS THE ARTISTRY, THE BEAUTY, THE TRUTH??? Although, fine, if it means I can get myself a reasonable Schiele knockoff for a few hundred quid then I’m IN.
  • Black Messiah: Black Messiah is a forthcoming French(?) comic book featuring a lead character who’s a former male escort and the head of Neo Paris’ trendiest ad agency (so FRENCH!) - this website offers a slightly oblique introduction to the character and the setting, and whilst light on actual content I found the visual style to be rather arresting.
  • The Emoji Tarot Bot: One-man bot factory Rob Manuel’s latest creation is this - a Twitter bot which will deal you a tarot card on request, to answer any knotty life questions you may have and to help guide you through the labyrinthine horror that is existence. No guarantee that you’ll find any sort of spiritual guidance from this, but, well, you probably won’t find any anywhere else either, and at least this bot has jokes.
  • The Politics of Advertising: An Insta feed sharing cartoons about adland. Your appreciation of this will vary in direct proportion to how much you relate to gags about how undignified it is to make banner ads, or laugh lines like “Fine, the campaign was sht but the case study will clean up at Cannes”. I imagine rather a lot of you will enjoy it.
  • Augenblick: Silly, brilliant tech art project which uses a face-mounted camera and sensors to capture those images you miss when you blink. “Blinking is a highly invasive mechanism for our eyesight. Everyday we close our eyes thousands of times without noticing it. Our mind manages to never let us wonder what exactly happens in the moments that we miss. Augenblick catches those exact forgotten moments and puts them in a whole new light.” There’s something wonderfully creepy - and hugely NOW - about this idea of never wanting to miss a single thing ever again; I honestly think this could be a real, saleable product with a few tweaks.
  • Screenspace: A potentially hugely useful tool for those of you developing mobile software - Screenspace offers you an off-the-shelf means to create those nice, shiny CGI videos of phones showing off software that you see on app launch websites, requiring little-to-know animation skills to create something reasonably impressive. If you don’t have an app to launch, you could still amuse yourself by using this to create increasingly elaborate animations telling your colleagues to fcuk off. That’s what I’m going to do once I’ve finished writing this, at least (I’m really not).
  • All of the 80s Tech Company Logos: I don’t really know why this exists, but, well, here we are. As a bonus, this site presents them as an infinitely rolling screen saver should you want to stare catatonically at a selection of brand logos floating past your eyeballs for the next few hours.

brian macdonald

By Brian Mcdonald

HERE, HAVE A TECHNO MIX BY NATY SERES - ENJOY!

THE SECTION WHICH IS STARTING TO WONDER WHETHER ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE IN THE PUBLIC EYE IS SECRETLY A DREADFUL RACIST, PT.2:

  • Art Deck: Another Kickstarter project which doesn’t make me want to kick things - is crowdfunding getting better? No, of course it isn’t, it’s still awful. Still, this specific idea is a wonderful one - it’s been funded after just a few days, and it’s still got a month to go so I’d imagine you’ll get loads of nice extras and stuff if you bung them a few quid. Art Deck is, as the name suggests, a deck of cards with drawing prompts on them; played with friends, they help create a wonderful-sounding, collaborative/competitive game of...well, no idea really, but it sounds like an odd combination of random doodling, Pictionary and Exquisite Corpse, and the sort of thing that if you have a lovely, friendly, idealised young family of the sort which I secretly imagine exists only in advertising, would be a BRILLIANT way of spending an hour playing together. Exactly the sort of thing which will end up in the RANDOM CREATIVE DRAWER of every single agency in London, but don’t let that put you off.
  • Yore Computer: In the time since writing about Tarot Bot, Rob’s just made ANOTHER one - this Tweets random pages from old computing magazine, which means that its audience is likely to be slightly more limited than some of his other work. Still, if you’re a middle-aged (probably) man then you might find this a comforting shot of nostalgia in your feed.
  • Twitter Screenshots: A VERY SPECIFIC Chrome extension which will add a little screenshot button to Tweets viewed on Twitter dot com, which will enable you to grab a nicely-cropped cap of any individual tweet you want with one click. Particularly useful to those of who like to slag people off on the platform by posting screengrabs of individual tweets rather than having the balls to address people directly (wow, I had no idea that that annoyed me so much until I started typing that sentence - WHO KNEW?).
  • Buff Cat: The owner of this Twitter handle once met a very buff cat. This feed is dedicated to it. It is an EXCELLENT cat, although almost certainly not as good as YOURS.
  • The Fading Battlefields of WW1: A wonderful collection of photographs of World War 1 battlefields as the scars of war fade; these are beautiful.
  • The Video Game History Foundation: It obviously makes total sense that as games mature as a medium / artform so there needs to be an effort to catalogue and assess and taxonomise and offer a critical reflection on their significance, but at the same time it feels REALLY silly thinking of a manual for Sonic 2 being in a museum somewhere. “The heart of the Foundation is its digital library, an online repository of artifacts related to the history of video games and video game culture. The ultimate goal is to create a searchable, organized, always-online archive of verified, high-quality material that is accessible to researchers and historians as a public education resource.” - if you’re interested in games at all in any way, this is a hugely diverting archive of really interesting stuff.
  • Ratio Bot: A bot sharing Tweets with a BAD RATIO. There’s an American skew to many of these, meaning you won’t necessarily understand why they’re problematic, but you’ll get enough of them to make a follow worthwhile.
  • Hmmm: Thanks Ed for drawing this to my attention - Hmmm is my new favourite subReddit, with a very simple premise. “hmmms are textless images that make you think about the context, do a double take, invoke a deeper meaning, or just leave you thinking about how or why they exist” - you just need to click through here and enjoy them.
  • UE Voxel: A Twitter feed of gorgeous, glorious little voxel art pieces. Honestly, I could lose myself in this style of work for days.
  • Chartico: A staggeringly banal but surprisingly useful little webtool which lets you quickly and easily make bar charts. Which, I appreciate, sounds incredibly dull (and it is, fine), but if you’ve ever struggled to make the fcuking axes work properly on an Excel chart then you’ll appreciate the gentle wonder of this (which really is hugely useful, I promise).
  • Become a Novelist: So this is seemingly legit, although it does look a bit too good to be true. De Montford Literature (not, to the best of my knowledge, anything to do with the University - no, it’s not, it’s an offshoot of a venture fund, which is even more baffling) is offering a limited number of salaried positions to people who want to write a book - they will literally pay you to churn out a novel. “De Montfort Literature is offering between 5 and 10 (and later up to 100) places to successful applicants, who will be paid a salary, and later a bonus as a percentage of the revenues from novels published, in return for (the authors) writing their novels.We will provide as much support as you need to be successful in your career. That includes providing professional advice and support from experienced mentors and editors.” There’s a backstory to this - the fund seems to be betting that it can (algorithmically?) determine which novels and authors have the greatest likelihood of commercial success and, I presume, would expect to make returns on its investments on this basis - and I have no guarantees that this isn’t a dark front for something hugely sinister, but, well, WHO CARES??? £24k to write a book! FREE MONEY!!
  • The Forever 21 Slogan Generator: Can someone make one of these for the current generation of adland sloganwriters who keep spaffing out double-figure-IQ tripe like ‘Made with Great’ or ‘Be More Awesome’, please? Thanks. In the meantime, though, this does a reasonable job of skewering a particularly ‘now’ type of copy.
  • Space Type: You didn’t know, did you, when you woke up this morning, that what would give you the most pleasure today would be a small site which lets you create odd little planetoid graphics with orbiting words around it? No, you didn’t, and yet here we are. That was, even by my low standards, a truly appalling description - check out the Insta account associated with this for a better idea of what you can do with this surprisingly awesome design toy.
  • From Scraps: Lydia Ricci makes small sculptures out of scrap materials - paper and card and tape and glue and pencil shavings and that sort of jazz. They are gorgeous - there’s something beautifully fragile and intricate about the style of all these pieces.
  • Local Lingual: A WONDERFUL project, seeking to map different accents and languages across the world. Click on any country, click again, and listen to different voices from different regions; just clicking around the UK this morning has made me SO HAPPY - I’ve just been listening to some kid say “I’m Matty from Wiltshire” on repeat, and by God it’s a Proustian time capsule for me. You can upload your own clips or just listen to those added by others; oh God, I just fell into a hole of comparing Roman and Venetian accents, I’m going to have to move on or I’ll never finish this bastard thing this week. Enjoy this, it’s SUPERB.
  • Animated Knots: Knots, er, animated. Spend the rest of the day using the techniques here outlined to secure a variety of your colleagues’ personal belongings to their chair without them noticing.
  • Collections: A really useful idea, this app, allowing you to sort, annotate, group and tag photos on your phone so as to make them less of a mess than they appear in your camera roll. Useful for creative types, but also for those of you who are finding it increasingly onerous to remember where you saved that sexy clip of your boyfriend ejaculating from all those months ago.
  • Twitter Poems by Max Sparber: Max Sparber is a journalist and author. Every day (seemingly) since February, he’s been posting a poem on Twitter - this is a collection of them. These are by turns funny, angry, glib and sharp, but they’re all rather excellent - you will enjoy, I promise.
  • Kudu Voodoo: “Matt”, I thought to myself this week whilst spelunking for links, “Matt, it’s been TOO LONG since you featured an online store with a terrifyingly diverse selection of synthetic monster cock dildos”. And indeed, I was forced to admit it was true - thank Christ, then, for my discovery of Kudu Voodoo, the best place to buy a 13” silicon dragon dong since Bad Dragon. This is, obviously, sort-of NSFW, although tbh there is very little sexy (to my mind, at least) about such terrifying toys as “Asethia the Whatsamacallit” (no, really) - with that spirit in mind, I strongly encourage you to click through to the full inventory and marvel at the rich, varied tapestry of human sexuality.  
  • Card Games: All of the card games! Playable online! And some other things too!
  • Batlight: Finally in the ‘miscellania’ selection this week, Batlight is an excellent little infinite-runner-type game which will have you cursing roundly at your screen within seconds, but will keep you cursing for hours - it really is VERY very good indeed. Enjoy.

tim easley

By Tim Easley

FINALLY IN THE MIXES THIS WEEK, A SUMMERY CLASSIC BY GROOVE ARMADA FROM WAY BACK IN 2014!

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!

  • Broken Chains: Not actually a Tumblr! Still, this is a wonderful site - it’s a celebration of the last outposts of former chain restaurants in the US, and each post is a potted history of the chain and the individual restaurant in question, along with a review of the food as it is now - whether or not you have any familiarity with US food chains (a subject I’m inexplicably fascinated by), this is a wonderful piece of cultural and social and culinary history.
  • World of Corgi: O RUFF! O RUFF! O RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF!
  • Photographs Rendered in Playdoh: None more Ronseal than this Tumblr; the skill on display by the artist, Eleanor Macnair, is astonishing, and she takes commissions should you wish to have one of your photos immortalised in putty for perpetuity.

 

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG!

  • The Tower: Andrew O’Hagen’s kilometric look back at Grenfell one year on. This is a very dense, very long, very well-written, tonally questionable piece - the line about Stormzy which you might have seen quoted online over the past few days is such an odd and misjudged take, for example, and there are a lot of people in here from the Council who seem to get a rather easier pass than you might have expected, though of course we must remember that the enquiry is only just getting started - and one which won’t scratch your itch for justice or resolution in any way at all; it’s an oddly weary piece of writing in may respects, which I suppose is oddly apt as we look back twelve months and see how far we haven’t moved.
  • Volume 5: The latest short story by a collective who call themselves Upsidedown Clown, who if you sign up to their mailing list will send you a new piece of original short fiction every month or so. I’ve been subscribed for a year or so now, and the writing is consistently superb - the authors and the subjects and the tone and the style will change, but the stories have to date all been excellent. The latest, Volume 5, is gently supernatural and romantic and sad and just wonderful.
  • Austerity Britain: The New York Times’ view of AUSTERITY BRITAIN, this article from last weekend’s caused its fair share of controversy, not least due to some reporting...inaccuracies about the state of the town of Prescot which, it turns out, is not quite as miserably fcuked as the article makes out. It’s an odd one, this - despite the fact that I personally fundamentally agree with its premise, to whit that the austerity project has resulted in large swathes of the country being fcuked beyond all hope, the tone of it is hyperbolic and frantic and just a bit wrong, really. Still, it’s always interesting to see us as we’re seen from the outside (we look fat, and pasty, and scared, it seems).
  • The Psychology of Japanese Train Stations: All of you working in advermarketingpr and associated industries will doubtless have become sick of hearing anecdotal reference to the Number 10 ‘Nudge Unit’ in recent years, and talk of how simple system changes can effect mass-scale behavioural change; this is a nice antidote to that, profiling the frankly INCREDIBLE ways in which Japanese train stations manipulate passengers in a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We are AMATEURS at this stuff, I tell you.
  • The Trouble With Philanthropic Billionaires: SUCH a Guardian headline, this one. Obviously billionaires being philanthropic is better than them not being philanthropic, but you know what’s even better than that? That’s right - their participation in a rigorously-enforced system of progressive taxation and subsequent government redistribution of those funds! Or at least that’s what pinko lefties like the author of this piece (and, er, me) want you to believe. This is a decent look at some of the negative side effects of the current trend, visible in particular in the US, for the very, very rich to decide that they know better than the state when it comes to the best way to dispose of lots of money to large-scale benefit (Narrator: They didn’t).
  • Insomnia: A truly gorgeous essay by A L Kennedy, from Granta magazine a few years back. Dedicated to all of the Curios readers who find themselves linkflitting at 3am.
  • The Ethics of Icelandic Fiction: Fascinating look at the practical ethics of writing fiction from life in a country in which everyone is basically related to everyone else, and everyone knows everyone. How do you write thinly-veiled fictional versions of people when, well, literally EVERYONE in the country will know exactly who you’re talking about within a matter of hours? Question for anyone Icelandic who happens to be reading this - do subTweets become a lot harder on VikingTwitter?
  • The Surprising History and Future of Fingerprints: There are several absolutely astonishing facts in this piece, but the absolute best one is that our fingerprints (so the best current theory goes, at least) are formed by the pressure of our fingertips on the inside of the womb during pregnancy. Look at your fingertips - THOSE SHAPES WERE MADE BY THE INSIDE OF YOUR MUM. I tell you, I am SHOOK by this - isn’t nature just bafflingly mental, eh?
  • The Enduring Mythology of the Whizzkid: Almost a companion piece to the Guardian one on billionaires, this discusses why in most cases significant change in large institutions such as Government is most often driven not by shiny, flashy novelty, but instead by deeply boring, small, incremental changes, and how our obsession with the shiny flashy novelty stuff is probably hampering our ability to actually get things done.
  • How Anna Delvey Tricked New York: This is a follow-up of sorts to an article I included in Curios earlier in the year (this one, if you recall) which described how faux-socialite Anna Delvey managed to scam her way into New York’s soignee social scene; this latest one presents a FAR more detailed account of exactly how easy it is to persuade people that you’re a rich, Eurotrash asshole when you go around behaving exactly like a rich, Eurotrash asshole. As someone funnier than me pointed out on Twitter, the film version of this is THE perfect Lindsay Lohan comeback vehicle.
  • What It’s Like When The Musk Mob Is After You: It is, seemingly, almost impossible to be rich and famous and lauded and successful and not a total prick in 2018. It’s not like Musk’s not got previous, but the past seven days, in which he’s slagged off the fourth estate for not being sufficiently hagiographic in its portrayal of him and his company, blithely dismissed a female scientist’s entire field as ‘bs’, written some pretty dogwhistley stuff about THE PEOPLE WHO RUN THE MEDIA and then failed to condemn the toxic bilge-flood of predictable anti-semitism which followed, and encouraged some not insignificant dogpiling, has been a doozy even by his standards. This piece explains what it’s like to be a journalist onto whom Musk sicks the mob - let’s be very clear here, that, regardless of what you might think of Musk, Tesla or the media, acting in a way that encourages your fans and followers to jump on someone online is a spectacularly cnuty thing for anyone to do, and failing to take steps to prevent or mitigate that happening makes you a prick.  Elon Musk is a prick.
  • The History of the Treadmill: This is possibly my favourite new fact of the week - treadmills were originally invented as a punishment for prisoners in 19th century jails, designed to keep them occupied and reduce criminality through good, clean, healthy exercise. Didn’t work, obviously, but this excerpt gives you a flavour of the wonderful things you’ll learn by clicking the link: “But, over time, the device’s purported ability to cure criminality through sweat—never mind the actual work output—was called into question. For instance, a short article called “Prison Electricity” in an 1882 edition of Scientific American called for a more productive approach to treadmilling. “The convicts hated it, and no useful results came of it,” the author writes. The suggestion was for “attaching dynamoelectric machines to the cranks” to “store electrically the energy developed.” It argued that prisons could sell energy, and thus pay for their own upkeep.” Wonderful - send to everyone you know who ‘enjoys’ the gym.
  • Policing GTAV: Weird videogame subcultures are the BEST subcultures. The modding community in GTAV is a varied one, and this piece profiles one of the most charming corners of it - players who’ve spent countless hours modding in vehicles and scenery to allow them to replicate London’s roads, so that they can then spend their time pretending to be British traffic police in-game. You know the stereotype of GTA, right? Killing hookers, running over pedestrians, slightly crap satire, ultra violence? Yeah, well these people are more about the parking infractions and the slow, orderly chasing down of pavement cyclists. God I love people sometimes (mainly when they’re behind computer screens and FAR AWAY, but still).
  • Whatever Happened To Sundried Tomatoes: Remembering the most 1990s of food fads. Is it time for them to come back? I used to make toasties with sun-dried tomatoes at university, which gives you an idea of what an unsufferable ponce I was even then (and of the fact that I was old enough to get a full grant to Uni, as otherwise like fcuk would I have been able to afford them).
  • What Happened In Vegas: Sad, fascinating look at what happened in the aftermath of last year’s shooting in Vegas - you don’t often get told what happens once the cameras move on and the news trucks depart, but this gives a sense of perspective as to how the event played out over the long-term. It’s also interesting as an indicator of the extent to which Parkland bucked the trend - the speed at which the narrative moves on in most other mass-shooting cases is startling when you stop to consider it.
  • Procrastibaking: I am including this article solely so those of you working in planning / trends analysis can steal it as a ‘thing’. You’re welcome.
  • Growing Up With Steve Miller: I’m guessing that, like me and probably most other English people, the only Steve Miller song you know is The Joker (WHY DO THEY CALL YOU MAURICE???); regardless, you don’t need to know anything about Miller to enjoy this honestly heartwarming story about how he took the author under his musical wing when he was in his early teens, and continued to mentor him, gently, even when the prospect of a career in music had faded. This is honestly lovely, and made me very much want to take someone under my wing in this way - then, though, I realised that the only guidance I could possibly offer was ‘finding links’ and that, on balance, no kid needs that.
  • Lily Allen: Allen’s on the comeback trail and the interviews are coming reasonably thick and fast - this one, in Vulture, is a good one, and worth a read. Allen always gives good chat - that’s her ‘thing’, right, all gob and candour? - but she’s also a genuinely interesting figure, and reading interviews with her always takes me back a decade or so to a hot office in Camden where there was always a bag of coke in the breadbin. Ah, memories *pours out a 40 to the IG crew*
  • Porn and Dating and Love: A short, reflective piece by Megan Nolan, on how porn and Tinder are creating a hookup culture devoid of sexual mystery and spontaneity. This is entirely outwith my area of expertise - I have never internet dated, never Tindered, and I barely consume bongo (no, honest! Gah, that’s absolutely one of those things which really doesn’t look true written down) - but Nolan’s writing is as lovely as ever, and her observations of about the tickbox eroticism of the post-redtube era are sadly beautiful.
  • On Roseanne and Political Correctness: Read this, digest it, enjoy it, remember it, and then quote it verbatim at anyone stupid and dreadful enough to complain about the scourge of political correctness. The closing sentence says it all, but, really, the whole piece is superb: “Canceling “Roseanne” is not society regulating “mean” speech; it is us regulating our collective morality, so that we don’t atrophy into a moral vacuum. It is saying no, because we are more than animals.”
  • The Moment Your Life Crashes and Burns: Jill Gallagher writes about a car accident and a divorce and a million and one other things besides.
  • Dirtbag Sappho: I don’t normally include poetry in here, but this, to me, is exceptional. I have no idea who it’s by - the site it’s on is annoyingly vague about authorial identity, but there’s LOADS more excellent stuff on there so have a delve and enjoy.This verse has SO many lines I wish I’d written it’s actually making me angry.
  • Three Lesbian Sex Positions: Finally this week, a short essay which really isn’t about lesbian sex at all (sorry to disappoint), but is one of the warmest pieces of writing about being in love that I’ve read all year. Enjoy it slowly.

mandy barker

By Mandy Barker

AND NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!

  1. We kick off this week with ‘The World’s Best Kisser’ by Darwin Deez, which may be the most archly smart video I’ve seen in an age. Code monkeys, you will LOVE this:

 

2) Underworld and Iggy Pop. Tells you all you need to know, really - this is storytelling Iggy, which is my favourite of all the Iggys:

 

3) This is Icepeak - I think they are Russian, and there’s something sort of weirdly Die Antwoord-ish about them (I mean, they are nothing like Die Antwoord, but see if you get what I mean). This is really unsettling and darkfuturedystopiansnowboundweird, and I rather like it:

 

4) This is new, from the twisted animator behind Cool 3d World - it’s for Adult Swim, and it’s called ‘Spurt’, and it’s horrid:

 

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! A 1Xtra Studio 82 set, featuring Curios favourites Manga and Big Zuu, and Eyez who I’ve not featured on here before but who I’m impressed by on this showing. Takes a while to get going, but the skill here in switching beats and flows is amazing and, honestly, the final 3 minutes where they go over the d’n’b beat is incredible (just look at Manga’s face):

 

6) The only Childish Gambino cover I’ve seen or heard of that doesn’t completely miss the point of the original, this is Falz with ‘This Is Nigeria’:

 

7) Finally this week, an animation made in paper cut outs and a one-take mobile phone shot. This is SO INCREDIBLY GOOD, I want this kid to become famous so please share far and wide. ENJOY! HAPPY FRIDAY! HAVE LOVELY WEEKENDS! I HOPE THAT THE WEATHER IS NICE AND THAT YOU GET TO DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE BEST AND THAT YOU ARE AS FREE FROM PAIN AND TORMENT AS IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE IN THIS, THE MOST BEKNIGHTED OF TIMELINES, TAKE CARE, I LOVE YOU, BYEBYE!

 

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