HELLO AGAIN EVERYONE! After a brief hiatus born of my having the selfish temerity to step away from the web for a long weekend - did you take care of it? is it ok? I worry, you know - Web Curios is back, ready to almost immediately clock off again as we look forward to celebrating the May Bank Holiday in inimitable British style.
So, as you purchase your nitrous ampoules and get the pingers in, as you bulk-buy batch-crafted artisanal gin to mix into poorly-conceived mix-and-match cocktails, as you stake out your place on the nearest patch of beturded scrubland with your disposable barbecue and Tesco Finest snorkers and pray God that the rain stays away, let me ease you into the weekend with another selection of the very finest, the very best, the...well, not technically the freshest as a few of these have been hanging about since last week, but they're still ACE, obviously...the...the...most links anywhere on the internet! Consider clicking on every link and reading every word a sort of intellectual pre-penance, a bit like taking confession before you go out and do a murder - there is so much assorted smart and interesting and brilliant (all the work of people who aren't me, to be clear) in Curios this week that upon finishing it you will have EARNED the right to spend the next 72 sandblasting your frontal lobes with whatever combination of uppers and downers you choose.
Once again, then, take a deep breath, take my hand, and proceed to DIVE INTO THE TELEPORTATION POOLS OF MY MIND as I take you on a meandering journey through a bunch of utterly unconnected websites all strung together with the mucus-like glue of my prose. I'm glad it's back, youy're largely indifferent, but, regardless, THIS IS WEB CURIOS!
THE SECTION WHICH APPRECIATES YOU MIGHT HAVE SEEN MUCH OF THE BELOW ALREADY GIVEN THE FORTNIGHT’S HIATUS BUT WHICH HOPES NONETHELESS THAT THE THIN VENEER OF ‘INSIGHT’ GIVES YOU REASON TO AT LEAST SKIM IT FOR OTHERWISE ALL MY WORK IS FOR NAUGHT AND YOU WOULDN’T WANT THAT NOW WOULD YOU?
- Facebook’s Earnings: Oh look, MORE MONEY! MORE USERS! Like some sort of poorly-conceived hoover/hydra hybrid, you cut off one head and the others just keep on hoovering up the pennies - in this case, whilst Facebook might be reaching peak, Insta and Messenger and WhatsApp are all still growing vertiginously and, per the earnings call, are being looked at in terms of increased monetisation (you didn’t REALLY believe WhatsApp was going to stay ad-free forever, did you? Did you?). Interesting side note from the earnings call (despite Facebook’s recent insistence that its entire raison d’etre was the fostering of community and not (heaven forfend, no siree!) the collection of the greatest collection of information about human interest and behaviour that has ever existed, to be used for monetisation purposes how and whenever possible): there were somewhere in the region of 10 mentions of the term ‘community’ on the call with analysts, whereas there were over 40 of the term ‘ad’ or ‘advert’. Draw whatever conclusions you feel most appropriate here.
- ALL OF THE THINGS AT F8!: And lo, it came to pass that once again the world’s media gathered in San Francisco’s environs to once again congregate within the hallowed halls of Zuckerberg’s Big Blue Misery Factory to clap like seals at the GLORIOUS FUTUREANNOUNCEMENTS! And what were they this year? Well, there were LOTS (but mostly of limited interest, at least immediately, to advermarketingprdrones) - here is the full list from Day 1, and here is the full list from Day 2; and here is the Techcrunch aggregation of all of the stories from the event. For me, the big stuff is the ‘Clear History’ option for users, which enables people to effectively scrub Facebook’s profile of their browsing history - there’s no indication of how this is going to affect targeting options, and it’s not going to be live in the wild for a few months yet, but it’s a sensible move from a user (and PR, obvs) perspective. Other than this, the integration of apps into Stories on Insta and FB is a big deal - you can see by how excited people are getting about being able to inflict their musical tastes on their stalkers thanks to Spotify integration, for example - and something that, for appropriate brands, is a huge opportunity for expanding reach (oh, and the quote in here about them actively seeking to monetise stories with ADS is unsurprising but worth noting); equally, the additional expansion of AR for brands into Instagram and Messenger, along with the improved tracking tech they’ve announced, is big news (POOR THE SNAPCHAT), although it’s seemingly still going to be locked to those with all of the ad monies, at least for now. Oh, and there’s going to be dating, to keep the middle-aged locked into the platform forever, through the first marital slump, the affairs and the comfortable descent into the swinging and poly scene (that’s what everyone does in middle-age, right? That’s why all poly people you ever see on telly are so, well, unappealing, right?), but that’s of no interest to YOU, you virile young folk.
- FB Introducing New Video Ad Formats: Pre-roll, basically, which they’ve been touting for months but which seems now to be A Thing (in the US, at least, and only through Facebook Watch rather than in Newsfeed), these excitingly “also included a new feature called "preview trailers," ads to promote Watch shows and other videos that can take viewers to the full-length program.” Excuse me while I take a moment for the tumescence to subside.
- New Tools for Facebook Fundraisers: Of course, sometimes Facebook does things that it’s hard to frame as anything other than A Good Thing, no matter how hard I try (and God knows, I tried) - this allows for matched donations, creates a whole new raft of categories for ‘personal fundraising’, and eliminates Facebook fees for said personal fundraising projects. As per, these are starting in the US and then rolling out globally, but it makes Facebook an (even more) obvious choice as a place to raise money (although I find the growing concept of personal fundraising incredibly depressing, given it feels like a direct consequence of the sorts of services / assistance that people might once have reasonably expected to receive from, I don’t know, the state, or third sector organisations which no longer exist as a result of several years of swingeing cutsohgodnopleasenotthepoliticsmakeitstop) (oh, good, see, I did manage to find a negative take, well done ME!).
- Marginally Better Video Retention Metrics for Page Admins: Thrill-a-minute stuff, this, isn’t it?
- Facebook Is Fighting Fake News By Making It Smaller: This is, I promise, not a joke or an Onion headline.
- What Does Facebook Know About Me: This Q&A, part of FB’s ‘Hard Questions’ series (see Curios passim - and also this one, which is honestly interesting regarding what it does and doesn’t allow on the platform), is actually a pretty decent rundown of what information Facebook holds about its users and how that information is then used, but contains this absolute ZINGER which I must quickly draw to your attention. ““Q: If I’m not paying for Facebook, am I the product? A: No. Our product is social media – the ability to connect with the people that matter to you, wherever they are in the world. It’s the same with a free search engine, website or newspaper. The core product is reading the news or finding information – and the ads exist to fund that experience.” WELL GOLLY GOSH, MARK! Given, though, that social media is necessarily constructed solely of content produced by us, its users, it is surely massively disingenuous to suggest that, given we are the ‘information experience’ the company purports to sell, that the product is not EXACTLY what fcuking are, you appalling obfuscatory fcukers.
- Insta Launching Native Payments: Well this is big, and snuck in somewhat unnanounced overnight - Instagram users in the US and the UK, at least some of them, are being offered the opportunity to input their credit card details so as to allow native payments through the platform, which is obviously HUGE from a retail point of view. No indication at all as to how the experience will work for users, and seemingly no retailers have yet been offered the opportunity to let users check out through Insta, but it’s a matter of DAYS, surely. Are you excited? I’m excited (I’m not excited).
- Download All The Stuff Insta Knows About You: IT IS OWNED BY FACEBOOK IT IS JUST AS SHADY FFS DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND YOU MOUTH-BREATHING IDIOTS?
- Twitter Results: These were widely hailed by analysts as A Good Thing for Twitter overall, and the toplines are positive - ad revenues are up 21% Q on Q (although contrast that with Facebook’s terrifying performance and you start to see that this is all pretty relative), and DAUs is up 10%...but equally, this is the third consecutive quarter in which that DAU uplift has shrunk, which isn’t a fantastic trend. I’m as bearish as ever on Twitter’s market prospects, though continue to find it impossible to conceive of a better solution for communicating at speed and scale (which perhaps speaks to my own paucity of imagination rather than to anything big about Twitter itself).
- Twitter Announces New Sponsored Content Formats: Buried within this rather tedious announcement about some new TV partnerships or somesuch is the SEISMIC REVEAL that “Twitter is also announcing new ad programs. There are Creator Originals, a set of scripted series from influencers who will be paired up with sponsored brands. And there’s a new Live Brand Studio — as the name suggests, it’s a team that works with marketers to create live video.” I confess to not having even bothered to look for additional information on these, as if you have the sort of budgets to be thinking of this sort of crap then you almost certainly have a Twitter rep already attempting to flog you it, but I hope that by acknowledging my professional inadequacy here I will go some way towards mitigating it. Have I? IS IT ALL OK?
- Snapchat Results: We’re not going to dwell on these, but TechCrunch’s piece is a reasonable overview of why the numbers are...not good (and further clues were found in the F8 stuff from Day 2 in which they announced that Insta and WhatsApp’s Story mechanics were being used 2x and 3x as often as Snap’s original version).
- Snapchat Launches Snappables: Presumably because ‘slightly janky AR games’ didn’t fit with the brand. Snappables are a series of interactive lenses, which allow users to play a series of simple games controlled using the same AR interface that puts dog ears on your head to hilarious effect no stop it I am crying it’s LIKE YOU ARE A DOG rofl. So you can bop your head up and down to do virtual keepy-ups, say, or contort your mouth to catch floating emoji poos, or whatever (I am guessing as to some of these, you may be able to tell). At the moment these are being built in-house and rolled out weekly, but they would BITE YOUR HAND OFF if you are a brand that wants to spend 6 figures (I’d guess minimum spend on one of these at the outset would be no less than $250k) on making a themed game where you have to, say, chomp as many Whoppers as you can in a minute (£10 says that literal idea, or a close variant on it by one of the fast food peddlers, is one of the first three branded versions). This feels very much like an excellent way for digital studios with some AR chops to make some quick and dirty cash for what will basically end up being fancy shovelware - God, it’s like 2010 and Facebook apps all over again!
- Snapchat Testing Unskippable Ads: Only in its - largely execrable - commissioned shows, mind (seriously, have you ever tried watching any of Snapchat’s original content? I know I am pretty far away from the target audience here, but, honestly, I’d almost rather watch Zoella) - beautifully, the report (apologies for the Mashable link, btw) refers to these unskippable 6-second spots as ‘Commercials’, as though Snap has invented something SHINY and NEW and REVOLUTIONARY. The future is the past all over again but with a greater degree of jaded ennui, I am discovering.
- Snap Launches Spectacles 2.0: Because it’s nearly Summer (ha!) and you might be in the market for a new pair of shades with which to record all of the sunburn and vomit and rejection. It’s not exactly clear what differentiates these from v1.0, other than the fact that they are on mass-sale and that they have some new colourways, but if YOU want to film slightly motion sickness-inducing facevideo then go for your life.
- All Of The Snapchat Ad Formats: A really useful rundown by Business Insider (again, sorry) - exactly the sort of thing that all platforms should have readily accessible as an explainer and yet weirdly don’t seem to have in place at all.
- Alexa Will Now Remember: Well, soon - and in the US only, but if you do stuff around recipes for Amazon’s Domestic Surveillance Hub (or Echo, as it’s more commonly referred to) then you ought to be aware of the imminent introduction of a degree of persistence in the device’s memory; users will be able to tell Alexa to ‘remember’ information (in the example they suggest birthdays, but one could equally use ‘my favourite Divinyls song’ or ‘the podcast that makes the red mist recede’); the applications for this for Echo app developers are obviously really big, not least for the creation of games - you could reasonably imagine scripting an audio-RPG which allowed for persistent and interactive inventory management, for example (Jesus, that’s where my brain decided to go first with that? SO DEPRESSING).
- Google Surveys: Josh, who knows everything about surveys and data, tells me that Google have been punting this to research agencies for a while now, but the fact it’s now available for anyone to use is a NEW THING! Using Google Surveys, anyone with a Google account can set up a reasonable (if, as professional datawonks would scream, VERY unsophisticated and statistically problematic) series of surveys using all the question types you might expect, targeted (roughly) by region (broad geography-level rather than anything so useful as postcode) and age (standard demographic brackets) - you pay per response, with the cost depending on all the usual factors like complexity and the like. Costs seemingly start at £0.08 per respondent, which seems like a pretty good deal as long as you don’t worry about fancy stuff like weighting and the like.
- Ofcom Media Use Data: The latest data dump from Ofcom, telling us all what we already know - to whit, we are all staring at our phones all the time. Nothing hugely surprising, but useful to bookmark for the next time you need to persuade a client that no, really, it is important that they have a mobile-friendly website (you scoff, but I get paid to deal with some SPECIAL PEOPLE). Oh, and the other main takeaway is the first real acknowledgement in these sort of stats that the vast majority of web users are simply not intellectually capable of understanding some of the complex issues which underpin online information flows, or indeed bereft of the critical thinking faculties required to make sense of, well, most things on the internet. Which is simultaneously true and incredibly depressing.
- The Strategic Planners’ Presentation Template: Obviously YOU are all far too sophisticated and professionally advanced to have need of this sort of thing, but on the offchance that you know someone who might benefit from this sort of guided instruction then SHARE WIDELY. It’s old, but it’s still useful.
- The Humanity Test: Simple, clever, and riffs on the Captcha ‘are you human?’ tests in an interesting way - smart, by the UN.
- Invisible Friends: Last up in the tedious-but-necessary section about WORK is this excellent idea by Australian charity MPAN (Missing Persons Advocacy Network) which uses Facebook’s otherwise creepy-as facial recognition feature to help find missing antipodeans - by adding profiles connected to these missing individuals as ‘friends’, Australian FB users can, simply by using the platform as normal, help identify them. Every time anyone gets tagged in a photo, it also alerts their friends that they have been tagged - meaning that if anyone gets tagged in a picture featuring these missing people, the profile owner (in this case, the charity) will get an alert, and a clue as to where the missing person in question was, when, and who with. Simple, smart and for a good cause, this ought to win awards.
THE SECTION WHICH IS POINTEDLY NOT MAKING ANY REFERENCE TO THE DATE AND A POPULAR FILM FRANCHISE AND WHICH WOULD REALLY PREFER IT IF YOU ALL DID THE SAME, PT.1:
- Amazon Blueprint: Despite my long-standing fear and antipathy towards Amazon Echo, this looks FUN. Blueprint is a really smart idea (you’ll have to change your settings to US English to use it), which allows Echo users to program their devices from a series of ‘blueprints’, which can be edited to your own specs - effectively it’s a REALLY simple recipes editor for the platform, a gateway into spinning up your very own coded Alexa games. The fun stuff comes when you look at some of the pre-programed prompts they have in there for you to mess with - depressingly, these include an awful lot of ‘be nice to mum’ presets, suggesting a) a depressingly stereotypical attitude to gender roles in the homes; and b) that families might want to pass on the onerous task of, you know, being nice and saying thankyou to each other to a fcuking pseudo-AI, which is too depressing to dwell on now so we won’t - which include some really interesting choose your own adventure-style games which can be rewritten in-browser to your own specifications. The ability to make bespoke stories and games to play with your kids through the device is, I concede, very cool indeed, and the sort of thing that were I in possession of some sort of idealised family unit and an ounce of paternal feeling I might be quite into trying out; maybe you will too.
- Lifefaker: This is one of those aforementioned stale links, being as it is a whole week or so old; nonetheless, it's a very smart and nicely executed initiative by mental health organisation Sanctus, drawing attention to how Instagram makes you FCUKING MISERABLE. The sad thing about this is that were this service to actually exist - that is, offering stock photos to present the illusion of a perfect life to idiots on social media - it would absolutely coin it in.
- Napflix: Thanks to MR PR for pointing this out to me - Napflix, disappointingly, isn’t a PR stunt for Silent Night or some other mattress manufacturer (HOW DO THE DUCKLING AND THE HIPPO FCUK????) but instead is a website which will pplay you a variety of soporific videos should you be desirous of getting some kip. You can set a timer on the site so it’ll shut down after a certain period of time, meaning you can drift off to the soothing sounds of Bob Ross, or someone filling a dishwasher meticulously and efficiently, or, brilliantly, the Royal Wedding (nice shade, anonymous creators behind this site). This is basically an ASMR-head’s fantasy come true.
- Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls Podcast: An occasional exception to the ‘Web Curios doesn’t do podcasts because its author can’t be bothered to listen through 73 hours of people in their 20s/30s guffawing at how FUNNY and CLEVER they are in order to find the 1% that aren’t total and utter self-indulgent toss’ rule, this one is a series of 20 minute or thereabouts episodes, each focusing on an awesome woman from history. Based on the bestselling book on the same name, there are 10 of these and you’d hope they’d do more.
- FaceVTuber: A browser-based version of those iPhoneX apps that have been doing the rounds of late, transforming you into the puppetmaster for an anime avatar in a terrifying precursor to the sort of full-body live mocap image transfer stuff that will pass for theatrical performance in a few short years time (seriously, this stuff will be part of a big-ticket show within 18 months, imho - GAH STOP MAKING PREDICTIONS MATT IT NEVER ENDS WELL); click the link, click ‘start’ in the box on the left, wait for it to track your face, then click ‘set’ and then watch as the little anime girl starts to track your every move and facial expression. It’s...odd, frankly, if incredibly impressive - oh, and you can move the mouse around to move her hands too, meaning that with a minimal bit of work you can do some sort of slightly weird J-Pop dance routine with her which I can attest will make you feel VERY STRANGE if you’re a 38 year old man trying this out in his kitchen of a Friday morning.
- Voice To Gif: Built, I think, as a small promo for the Webby Awards (not that I care really), this site listens to you speak (5 words max), analyzes your speech and spits out a gif representing what you’ve just said. It’s...imperfect, but fun for 5 minutes - annoyingly, based on my minimal playing around with it, it seemingly doesn’t work with anything violently offensive.
- All Of The Vintage Video In The World: Moderately hyperbolic, fine, but this is a truly incredible effort by YouTube user Guy Jones who’s uploaded what seem to be literally hundreds of old videos, the earliest seemingly from the late-19th Century, from all over the world - the footage here is honestly amazing, from New York in 1911 to Kent in the 1950s, nothing much is happening in most of these but it’s fascinating just to watch the faces (and, my God, the facial hair! The BONNETS!). Honestly, I could stare at these for hours.
- Amnesty Troll Patrol: As part of Amnesty’s ongoing work to attempt to reduce the toxicity of online life, the organisation is using its ‘Decoder’ platform - harnessing online communities to do heavy lifting when it comes to data analysis - to allow volunteers to sift through material on Twitter and identify problematic or hatespeech; this information will be used as part of Amnesty’s reporting to Twitter of the scale of the issues with abuse and harassment on the platform. It’s a good idea - the mechanics are a little shaky at times, and it could be explained better, but overall you can’t argue with the intent - but one does rather feel that the fact that Amnesty is even having to think about this at all is proof of some pretty fcuking spectacular abnegation of responsibility on the part of the platform itself. THANKS AGAIN, SILICON VALLEY!
- An Emmy For Megan: I don’t normally recommend webseries on here either, mainly as most of them are dross, but I’ll make an exception for this - An Emmy For Megan is a superb, hugely meta, short series starring actress Megan Amran in her quest to win an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Short-Form Comedy or Drama series, in a series designed specifically to accomplish that goal. Hugely meta, very self-aware and a lot funnier than it ought to be given the ostensible thinness of the gag, I hope Megan does win an Emmy (she is unlikely to win an Emmy).
- Lobe: Part of me thinks that the 2017-8 RUSH TO GET INTO AI is going to end up a lot like the RUSH TO LEARN TO CODE of 2010-13 - that is, with a lot of people with some pretty rudimentary skills / services who end up being overtaken by automation and realise that they’re about to be consumed by the avalanche they’d spent the previous two years trying to outrun (I really ought to have learned that I can’t actually do metaphor after 5+ years of shoehorning them into the openings of this bastard thing, but WEVS); so it is when I look at Lobe, which is an off-the-shelf plugin solution designed to allow developers to implement gestural recognition into a website or app. So you plug the code in and it will theoretically allow you to train your product to recognise users giving a thumbs up or thumbs down, or clapping, or whatever. It’s drag-and-drop and seemingly designed so that even a no-code moron like me can use it; if you inexplicably want to give your users the ability to, I don’t know, shop on your website by making fingerguns at their webcam (and, now I mention it, who WOULDN’T want that option? NO FCUKER, that’s who) then this is the toy for you. And if you’re working on gestural interface stuff, maybe accept that the ship has sailed and, er, I don’t know, retrain as a teacher or something.
- TimePix: Oh my, this is WONDERFUL! TimePix is another of those ‘mapping photos from THE PAST onto...er...a map’ (I really ought to think about how I finish sentences when I start them) - it only includes photos from the UK, the majority of which are from the North West, and if you ever wanted the opportunity to delve back into the history of Manchester and the surrounding area via photos from the 30s to the 50s then WOW are you going to enjoy this. Wonderfully, these are all the result of the process of updating Ordnance Survey maps, the slightly bizarre process of which you can read more about here should you so desire (it’s worth it, I promise, for the big wooden arrows - no, I’m not going to explain, you can just read the bloody thing and like it).
- Eddie Putera: The Instagram feed of miniature diorama artist Eddie Putera, who makes incredibly detailed miniature landscapes and documents the process here. These are INCREDIBLE.
- TOSDR: Or, Terms of Service: Didn’t Read. Timely, given the world’s recent decision that actually maybe the Ts&Cs are important after all; this site takes the terms of most of the major websites you’re likely to use - Google, Facebook, Amazon et al - and presents them as simple, broken down bullet lists of what is good and bad about them, with explanations as to what the legalese means, links to discussions about specific aspects of each policy, and an overall rating as to exactly how hard the site in question is fcuking you in terms of how much of your immortal soul it’s covertly stealing from you as you browse (that’s how it works, right?). Useful, if not a little depressing.
- Job Ad Gender Decoder: A really good idea, this, which one would hope might be picked up by one of the major job sites as frankly it’s a piece of p1ss PR activation which would almost certainly get you some decent coverage AND it’s A Good Thing to boot. Made by @lovedaybrooke and Kat Matfield, this is a simple tool which lets you plug in the copy from any job ad and which then analyses it to scan for the sort of gendered language which research has suggested exists in much of recruitment literature and which is a major contributor to a lack of workplace and hiring diversity. You can read more about the methodology here; seriously, though, there’s no real reason why stuff like this couldn’t be included as standard as part of the job upload process on Guardian Jobs (I mean, this is SO Guardian) or similar - someone make it happen, please, thanks.
- The Meaning of Giff: B3ta was one of the websites, back in the mid-late 2000s, which enabled me to have an agency job without going mad - the amount of time I spent stealing my employers’ monies whilst going through old editions of Question of the Week or playing ‘Man Milk or Moo Milk?’ (retrospectively, it’s somewhat miraculous that I managed to keep a job - I KNOW, RIGHT? - and is proof positive that, honestly, a slightly more draconian attitude towards workplace internet usage might actually be useful in weeding out people like me whose attitude might be, well, questionable) really cannot be underestimated. Rob Manuel, whose baby it is, is fortunately able to devote a bit more time to it again, not least thanks to a Patreon which you can contribute here if you like, which is good because it means stuff like this happens. The Meaning of Giff asked B3ta’s users to update the classic comedy book / game ‘The Meaning of Liff’ (those of you too young to recall this, get a primer here) for the modern age, “matching up British villages with experiences and emotions you only have because of the internet and modern life.” Which means you get magic like “Milford Belper: When you start typing in a site in your work browser with your boss watching and as the suggestions come up you realise to your horror that the browser history has synced with your home browser history” - and if that didn’t make you smile, you probably oughtn’t be reading Curios anyway.
- Puentacles: I haven’t seen any particularly special tattoo artists for a while, but this stuff honestly amazed me. The line work is beautiful, and the pieces involving the two-tone person/animal figures are just gorgeous (click the link, you’ll see what I mean).
- Josef Square: A WONDERFUL collection of vintage Czech film, exhibition and advertising posters, all on sale. Even if you’re not in the market for some mid-Century Central European design classics - what is WRONG with you? - the collection contains over 1000 pieces which you can browse should you want to get a bit of a retro-aesthetic fix (you want it, you know you do).
- Design Shortcuts: A whole bunch of shortcuts to webtools of use to designers, all in one place. You want a nice, easy reminder as to what the bloody keyboard shortcut is for that layer function in Photoshop (by the way, there are few acts of petty corporate sabotage or defiance that please me more than writing Photoshop without the Adobe-mandated ™ symbol at the end of it - PUNK IS NOT DEAD), this is the site for you.
- Identity Theory: On the one hand, this site has been around for ages and as ever when I find stuff that is a bit old I am slightly furious with myself for not having seen it years ago (WHY HAVE I NOT SEEN ALL OF THE INTERNET YET???); on the other, the fact it’s been going for ages means it is PACKED WITH CONTENT - if you’re into literature, poetry and literary criticism then you are going to love this. LOOK! “Identity Theory is an online literary magazine and cultural hub that has been publishing original writing, interviews, and other forms of creative expression since July 2000. Within our web-based magazine’s thousands of pages, you will find:Over 200 author interviews featuring notable writers like Howard Zinn, Jonathan Safran Foer, Chip Kidd, Azar Nafisi, Ethan Hawke, Donna Tartt, and Sarah Vowell. Music interviews with indie and mainstream bands from Animal Collective and Ariel Pink to the Gin Blossoms to Midnight Oil to Sleater-Kinney and beyond–as well as album reviews and other music features. Short, innovative fiction, including recent favorites “We Are The Pretty”by Ryan Rickrode, “A Bird in the House” by Ben Black, and “Jack & Emily Texas Roadside Incident, Summer 2012” by David Rice. Creative nonfiction about everything from race relations to warblers to whales to the erotic art of dying. Film interviews with actors and directors like John Cusack and Doug Pray, as well as a film news and reviews blog. Visual art and interviews including boxing images, New Yorkercartoonists, and photos of Guatemala and Cuba. Book coverage, including a literary blog and formal reviews. A social justice section [NB you can tell this an old site as they use the term ‘social justice’ with no embarrassment whatsoever] containing politically conscious material and a frequently updated blog. Poetry from all over the world, as well as interviews with poets such as Donald Hall and Major Jackson.” Click the link, enjoy, but please don’t forget me as you discover all this, well good writing and stuff.
- Natives Photographs: A lovely project, promoting the photography of indigenous peoples from around the world. Lots of shots by Inuits, Native Americans, Indios peoples from Central and South America, and generally just great photos of awesome places taken by the sort of people whose photography perhaps isn’t promoted as much as it ought to be; helpfully, you can also contact them to discuss hiring any of the photographers whose work is featured.
- The Dog Toy Project: Photos of dog toys, before and after the dogs in question have...er…’loved’ them to death. This is a campaign for petfood or similar waiting to happen (you know, I keep saying stuff like this in Curios and then waiting expectantly for the ad creatives of the UK to listen to me and take my glorious free ideas and advice and they NEVER seem to and...well...all my ideas are sh1t, aren’t they? OH GOD THE SCALES HAVE FALLEN FROM MY EYES!), so come on, people from Pedigree who I am sure read this (they don’t), get on it.
- Pacemaker: Another thing that’s been out for a while and yet which I had never seen before - seriously, this sort of thing makes me feel weird and insecure; I NEED THE NEW - Pacemaker is a DJing app (is being a DJ sort of retro cool now? A bit like having a bakelite telephone or watching TV live?) which lets you mix, scratch, chop and generally fcuk with tracks on Spotify, letting you treat everyone at your party to your amazing turntablist skills (you are terrible, do not believe my lies) without the need for Technics or vinyl. I had a play around with this, and whilst all I could produce was a frankly unpleasant racket, it’s a lot of fun and you might do better.
- Art Connoisseur: A lovely Twitter bot which takes images from Artsy and provides machine-generated criticisms of said art. Oddly whimsical and rather sweet in an odd sort of way.
- All The Spotify APIs: There may only be about three of you to whom this is interesting or appealing, but I hope that you three REALLY appreciate it.
- Fcuking With Slack: Evil-but-brilliant Slack plugin which will make it look like you’re typing on Slack even when you’re not. Keep your colleagues in a heightened state of suspenseful tension while you swan around the office making tea! Keep them on tenterhooks as they wait for your long, thought-out response to a question...that is never coming! Oh the japes you will have (as someone who unwittingly managed to alienate several of his colleagues by slagging them off in here - admittedly in abstract fashion, and, guys, I wasn’t talking about YOU! - can I strongly advise against you doing this? Ok good)!
- Mitchel Wu: Mitchel Wu takes photos of toy figurines, which, yes, sounds a bit crap, but NO IT IS NOT CRAP! These are excellent - dynamic, kinetic, nerdy, funny little works of art; seriously, they really are wonderful and the skill displayed is sort of awe-inspiring.
- Kernit: A font, inspired by everyone’s favourite angst-ridden felt frog with pingpong ball eyes. A silly gag, but the font itself is actually rather lovely and the site presenting it’s far cuter than it needs to be.
- Cats In Food: You didn’t know, did you, that when you woke up this morning you would later fall into a rabbithole of images of cats, photoshopped into foodstuffs like it was the most natural thing in the world? And yet here we are. Instagram GOLD.
- Satoshi Aizawa: The Twitter feed of digital artist Satoshi Aizawa, whose small, minimal black and white illustrations and animations are simultaneously geometric and abstract and hugely, oddly soothing.
- Sorry I Have No Filter: Thanks to Dan for the tip; this is an online store selling badges, tees, pins, jackets, the usual range of merch, all with a nice bonus that anything that gets bought from the shop will help fund an initiative to help open doors for, and support, women in the creative industries - as the people behind it point out, ‘the design industry has traditionally been a boys’ club at the top’; this is a small step to help redress that, and therefore A Good Thing.
- Twitter Picasso: ANOTHER Twitter feed (Insta’s over, Twitter is BACK!), this one a truly special feed of really quite bizarre fan art, rendered in ballpoint; this is, I promise, a SPECIAL TALENT (no, really, it’s weirdly grotesque but also actually very, very good).