37 minutes reading time (7330 words)

Web Curios 10/06/16

Two more weeks of this. Two more weeks of endless bleating about FACTS and LIES and POTENTIAL ARMAGEDDON and FILTHY IMMIGRANTS COMING HERE STEALING OUR JOBS and HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF POUNDS OF WASTE and VOTER REGISTRATION FCUKUPS (good to see this campaign really took off, by the way) and oh God I am so, so tired of this all, please will you all just be quiet please.

Yes, as the ‘debate’ (I use the word advisedly; definitions include “a method of formally presenting an argument in a disciplined manner”, which I’m not totally sure fits in this instance) lurches onwards, attracting the same sort of attention from the public as one might normally give to a bemerded dipso railing at the pigeons at a provincial bus depot, so we’ve once again been subjected to a whole load of rhetoric and cant(ery) which has served mainly to make everyone contemplate leaving not only the EU but also this mortal coil, if only to make it all go away.

No matter, though, for we have a month of BREAD AND CIRCUSES to distract us from whatever happens on 23 June (or, more accurately, football). Before you all head to the pub this weekend, though, to binge on football and royal celebration and violent quantities of lager, get something just as pointless but far less popular down you - INGEST MY WEB CURIOS!

By Alessandro Gallo

 

LET’S EASE INTO IT THIS WEEK WITH A SELECTION OF ITALIAN MINIMALIST ELECTRO!

THE SECTION WHICH IS SO LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING A TWITTER INSIDER IT MIGHT JUST DIE:

  • 360-degree Photos Now On Facebook!: It really does feel like I am announcing every new development on s*c**l fcuking m*d** three times, what with platforms’ infuriating tendency to trail their news multi[;e times before it actually becomes a thing. Latest in this trend, the news that you can FINALLY easily chuck 360-degree vids onto Facebook. So look forward to a load of tediously generic panoramic photos getting this treatment from brands before everyone realises that a rubbish 360-degree photos is actually slightly less good than a rubbish standard photo and forgets this was ever a thing.

  • You Can Now Do Video in Facebook Comments: Yes! Rather than having to go to the trouble to type ACTUAL WORDS when commenting on some long-forgotten dullard’s post about their feelings on Brexit you will now be able to simply post a short video of your face contorting in horror. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there will be at least one brand out there which has an attractive community manager whose life will be TRANSFORMED as a result of this (not necessarily for the better).

  • Facebook Starts Streaming For Games: Well, some (Blizzard) games, but this is only going to get bigger. To quote, “Facebook announced its working with World Of Warcraft maker Blizzard to build social login and Facebook Live video streaming into their games, starting with its new blockbuster Overwatch. Blizzard gamers will be able to login with Facebook so they can easily find friends to play with and share in-game content back to the News Feed. Thanks to the Facebook Live API, that includes live-streamed footage of them playing.” The ad stuff around this is going to be HUGE.

  • Facebook Trialing Ephemeral Newsfeed Posts: Today’s second ‘Facebook is attempting to become Snapchat’ post comes in the shape of this non-news story about Facebook experimenting with giving users the option to post updates which will appear in their friends’ timelines but which won’t stay on their Page. May or may not happen - BUT THINK OF THE POSSIBILITIES IF IT DOES!!!

  • Instagram Introduces Algorithm: You know about this already. You may already have written a disgruntled update suggesting you will leave the platform if they don’t change it back RIGHT NOW, and then subsequently realised that you don’t actually notice the difference or indeed actually care. Anyone, the InstaAlgorithm is now here; brands, if you’re not already ponying up for Instagram ads you might want to start so doing, as NO FCUKER is going to see your updates anymore otherwise!

  • Whatsapp Adds Gif Support: You can now view gifs in your whatsapp chats! Which, actually, if you’re using it for customer service-type reasons might actually be quite useful in a ‘look, this is how you sort out the thing’ instuctional ways.

  • Twitter Timelines Now Easier To Embed: Basically this is a workaround to let any user easily and quickly get an embed code for any particular Twitter stream - searches, individual users, etc - without needing to know any Dark Arts. Potentially useful, although probably unhelpful if you develop Wordpress plugins (niche little developer cuss, there).

  • Twitter Testing Carousel Ads: This is in SUPER-LIMITED ALPHA, making it seem far more exciting than it actually is, but expect this to roll out as an ad unit all over the place pretty soon - this is Twitter’s year-later response to Facebook launching exactly the same feature in 2015. Multiple photos and videos and Tweets (they let you use 3rd party endorsements, as long as said third parties give permission) in a single advert- MY DAYS THE EXCITEMENT!

  • Twitter Insiders: This has been around for a little while in the UK, I think, but they are actively recruiting new members at the moment so you may want to get involved. Twitter Insiders is the platform’s little community of ‘influencers’ (HA!), which anyone can apply to join - you get access to a forum where you and other people whose lives lack meaning can discuss issues pertaining to BRANDS ON TWITTER and what the platform could / should do to make the whole BRANDS ON TWITTER thing marginally better. Focus-grouping, for free, for a company with a market cap in the billions. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

  • Snapchat Discover Redesign Launches: Users can now subscribe to publishers’ feeds through the Discover bit of Snapchat. Christ knows why they would want to, but they can.

  • You Can Now Make Calls Through Slack: Yes, yes you can. So thrilling!

  • Perks Returning To Swarm: Remember when 4sq was a thing, and we used to get really excited about being Mayor of the local Starbucks? No, me neither, because noone ever actually cared about any of that stuff, which is why the platform’s been through approximately 2156 pivots since its inception. Anyway, now that it’s called Swarm it is bringing BACK the concept of perks for users who check in - so if you’re a bricks and mortar retailer, you might want to consider this again as a marketing ploy, before realising that it’s still a niche app that no real people actually use and, frankly, the whole process of setting this stuff up is too much hard work to bother with and, on reflection, you simply don’t care.

  • Pin This IN REAL LIFE: I rather like this as a gimmick - agency DM9 present a project for...er...some retailer or another, in which they placed physical ‘Pin This’ buttons in a showroom, associated with specific products on display, letting people press them to add them to their Pinterest boards. Leaving aside the physical / digital DIVIDECROSSING gimmick here, this is such a smart way of creating a marketing link to browsing shoppers in the real world; this is clever, and should be stolen (not necessarily the execution, but the premise - come on, THINK).

  • It Ran: This is very clever. It Ran is an actual magazine being produced by the Canadian ad industry charity - “IT RAN is a parody magazine that will be printed and distributed in the fall. The entire initiative is a fundraising campaign for The National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS). And 100% of the proceeds for ads submitted to IT RAN Magazine will go to the industry charity.” The premise is that...oh, sod it: “At advertising award shows when agencies are called up to the stage for certain award-winning work, many in the room quietly whisper to each other, “There’s no way that ran”. And sometimes they’re right. It’s questionable whether or not some award-winning work has run in a real publication. Until now. IT RAN is a magazine designed to be filled with 100% ads. No articles. No content. Just ads that you want to run. And for whatever reason, haven’t been able to. All to be distributed in our inaugural issue in the fall to every agency in the country.” Come on, someone in the UK, rip this off in slightly less good fashion for our market.

 

From the Essai D'Anatomie

 

NOW TRY THE LATEST RELEASE FROM UK GRIME PERSON RIVAL!

THE SECTION WHICH IS REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE INEVITABLE UPSURGE IN JINGOISTIC XENOPHOBIA WHICH INVARIABLY ACCOMPANIES ANY INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE OF FEBRILE EURODEBATE, OH YES INDEED, PT.1:

  • Goal Click: I first featured this a few years ago when it started, but am resurrecting it because a) FOOTBALL IS HAPPENING; and b) they have an exhibition on, at BL-NK in London’s formerly-trendy Shoreditch. Goal Click is a project getting people from across the world to document the way in which football shapes their culture, using disposable cameras - I went to the launch thingy last night, and the photos are GREAT, so do pop along if you get the chance this month.

  • Twitter Game Of Thrones Dataviz: Game of Thrones! Everyone loves tits and dragons, don’t they? That INSIGHT has prompted Twitter to create this rather excellent set of visualisations of the conversations on the platform around each episode, showing the main themes being discussed as the show airs; this is actually really nicely made, and a good example of the sort of stuff you can do with Twitter data around TV or events - the visualisation of links between characters is a particularly nice touch, I think. Contains spoilers, should you be the sort of entitled twat who gets angry about that sort of thing.

  • Global Tech Inventors 2016: SO GOOD, this, by Bloomberg - their feature on the world’s biggest inventors in tech is presented as a brilliantly retro online magazine-type thing, with early web-style music and interface and the rest. REALLY slick design, and properly fun in a manner which you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with noted non-funsters Bloomberg.

  • Better: There’s unsurprisingly been a huge upsurge this year in services blocking ad tracking - this is the latest to emerge, called Better, which is iOS-only but will stop you getting tracked across the web by ads. There’s a sort of pleasingly Wil E Coyote vs Roadrunner-esque quality to the ad vs adblockers thing at the moment - the only difference being that in the real world the adverts will inevitable win in the end.

  • Unroll: If you’re foolish enough to subscribe to email newsletters other than this one YOU TRAITORS, you may find that they have a tendency to clog up your inbox and give you a mild feeling of guilt when you check out your unread items. Unroll aims to alleviate this slightly by aggregating your subs into one marginally more convenient daily email. Obviously if you subscribe to lots, this email becomes MASSIVE, but hey ho.

  • Safe Dining NYC: Aggregating data about the health and safety records of restaurants in New York on an easy-to-see map, letting users filter by location and cuisine type to ascertain which of their potential dining choices is most likely to gift them a streptococcal garnish along with their hummus. Sort of begs the question “Exactly how filthy are eateries in NYC?”, and “I sort of want something like this for London but perhaps it’s better to live in blissful ignorance?”.

  • The True Size: Lovely web project designed to provide a simple, easy way to show the actual size of countries around the world, versus the distorted picture presented by most globes and atlases. Great resource for geography teachers and bored officemongs alike.

  • On Beyond Zarathustra: Oh I love this! Nietzsche as told by Dr Seuss, in a page-by-page comic on Flickr. Seriously, this is beautifully done and they have absolutely nailed the style - a little Nietzsche-knowledge will help the gag fly, but this is charming regardless of your familiarity with the Ubermensch of Ubermenschen.

  • Drewbacca: A series of brilliant visual puns on Chewbacca, by London-based designer Joe Stone. Despite my general disdain for Star Wars, it seems I can’t go a week without featuring it here in some way - it’s inevitable, like a pop cultural cancer.

  • The Periodic Table of Storytelling: An offshoot of the previously-featured TV Tropes site, the Periodic Table of Storytelling is a visual guide to each of the storytelling themes that the site has identfied, from Chekhov’s Gun to Jumping the Shark. Nice design, and available as a poster if you’re into this sort of thing.

  • Traffic Simulation: A web program which lets you simulate traffic. Literally no idea at all why you might want this, but someone built it and so we might as well have a play. I can’t deny that there’s a sort of perverse, weird, ‘setting fire to a virtual anthill’ pleasure in watching these miniature vehicles get snarled up in a neverending gridlock.

  • Twinklr: Lovely-if-slightly-pointless project, updating the concept of the music box for the modern, digital era. Twinklr has a digital touchscree interface which lets you program what it plays by touch, the melody then churned out when users turn the handle; you can save multiple tracks in the device, hook it up to other instruments, and generally incorporate it into your hipster musical outputs like a latter-day hurdy gurdy man.

  • I Am Portraits: I love this idea SO MUCH, but will start to hate it as soon as it gets coopted for some sort of bullsh1t EMPOWERING marketing campaign for, say, some bloody makeup brand. Artist Sergio Albiac put together this project in April, which takes footage and transcriptions of interviews with participants and combines them into portraits made of their own words - to quote him, “ I invited attendants to describe themselves, speaking to my cloud-based artistic installation. Using the Web Speech API, their voices where transcripted into text. Then, the text was transformed or complemented with literary or philosophical passages I freely associate it with through custom semantic analysis. All in near real time. The generative collage portraits contained a personal narrative texture broken by unexpected associated inspirations and random typographic accidents.” You can TOTALLY see this being nicked for a Lion-winning stunt about WHAT MAKES US US UNDERNEATH THE SLAP or similar.

  • Euro 2016 Cards: A series of beautifully-designed cards to mark Euro 2016, each depicting one of the teams involved and the animal that the agency, Splinter, has chosen to represent them. England are bulldogs, fine, but why in the name of Christ are Slovakia otters? Regardless, the style is really nice  - they should sell these.

  • Motion Stills: Google app for iOS which creates cinemagraphs, gifs and even short films from Live Photos, in startlingly shiny and pro-looking fashion. Useful if you’re an iPhone person, no use whatsoever if you’re not.

  • Flashfood: The latest idea around DISRUPTING the leftover food non-market, Flashfood is a really smart idea launching later this year in Canada which lets restaurants, supermarkets and the rest put food for sale at huge discounts just before it goes off; users get alerted to stuff near them that’s on sale, whilst retailers get to flog stuff that they would otherwise just throw out. SUCH a good idea, and the sort of thing which a major chain could totally steal to let stores get rid of nearly-expired inventory to locals.

  • Un-Transcender: A Chrome extension which replaces all instances of the words ‘Transcended Race’ with ‘was retroactively deemed safe by white people’. Sort of not funny because it’s true.

  • Weird Beach Towels: Holiday season is almost upon us, and what better way to mark it than by spending 30-odd quid on a weird, slightly unsettling beach towel featuring strange collage imagery like a small child sucking a man’s brains through a straw, or a 60s-looking woman shooting multicolour deathrays from her eye sockets? That’s a rhetorical question, in case you were wondering - there is no better way.

  • The Most Popular Video In The World: Or at least the most popular video in the world RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT, based what’s the top-trending video on YouTube at any given moment. At the time of writing, that’s footage of Justin Bieber scuffling with a large bloke in Cleveland - FFS EVERYONE, REALLY?

  • Interiors of Murder She Wrote: File under “Really?”, this is an Instagram account which shares photographs of the sets of Murder She Wrote, presumably so that anyone so inclined can replicate the gorgeous retro stylings should they so desire. Feels like there should be an IKEA or Dulux tie in here.

  • Free Your Stuff: Interesting idea, this, not least because of the companies that have signed up to it. Free Your Stuff lets anyone download and keep the comments they’ve made on a series of websites, from Amazon to Tripadvisor to Goodreads, using its Chrome extension - you can also, if you wish, make the text available to anyone who might want it as an open source download. There are some rather fun artpossibilities here, though it depends on enough files being made available - if you’re the sort of person, though, who lives their life through slightly arsey comments on Tripadvisor then the ability to preserve your output forever might be compelling enough in itself.

  • Aboard The World: The World is a wonderful solution for the world’s hyper-rich who feel that a multi-million quid address in Knightsbridge isn’t quite exclusive or isolated enough, and who want to put quite literal clear blue water between themselves and the scummy proles cluttering their view - billed as ‘The largest private residential ship on the planet, The World is home to only 165 Residences. Residents & Guests spend extensive time exploring the most exotic and well-traveled destinations, and return onboard to a lifestyle that exists nowhere else on earth.” I am sure that I’m just being a bitter povvo about this, but can you imagine the horror of being stuck on a ship with the sort of people who’d want to buy a place on this? Absolutely a horror film waiting to be made, though - has anyone done a cruise ship zombie apocalypse crossover yet? You can have this SOLID GOLD idea for free.

  • Le Carillon: Lovely project from Paris - Le Carillon is a system whereby restaurants in the Capital can sign up to provide services and facilities for homeless people in the city, whether it be letting them use their bathrooms or providing free food. Can we start doing this in London, please? Thanks.

  • Fatal Migrations: Photo project documenting the locations where people attempting the illegal journey from Mexico to the US have died over the past 15 years. Stark reminder of the human stories behind that horrible, ham-faced blowhard’s “LET’S BUILD A WALL” rhetoric, and a really sobering reminder of the fact that people die all the time attempting to cross borders (but that’s OK, because if we leave the EU we auutomatically get to stop caring about that sort of thing as it magically overnight becomes Somebody Else’s Problem!).

  • Metal Art Abominations: A Facebook Group collecting fan-drawn metal album art; the only rules being that everything has to be created using mobile drawing apps, and therefore must look like it was designed by a three year old. Some of these are WONDERFUL; feels like there’s an ad campaign in this idea, somewhere.

  • Somebody: Are you the sort of soul-flayingly dreadful person who shamelessly uses the phrase ‘personal brand’, and firmly believes in the importance of your online persona in determining your real-world status? I hate you. However, my hatred aside, you may well be the target audience for ‘Somebody’, a service which makes it quick and easy for anyone to make a reasonably attractive ‘Look! This is me! Look how unique and wonderful I am (based on this narrow selection of templates)!’ site to show yourself off in all your deadsouled glory.

  • TV Title Typos: TV shows with one letter missing, illustrated. There is DEFINITELY a campaign in this, though I’m buggered if I can think what for at this point in time (my fingers hurt and I am tired, shut up).

  • Contrascanned: 3d scans, available to view or print or download or do with what you will, in general, of things that were never intended to be scanned - “The scans include objects or places that are prohibited from photography, hidden from the public, or are otherwise inaccessible.”. Includes one of the Sistine Chapel, which I would rather like to have as a miniature ornament if anyone’s got a 3d printer I can avail myself of for a few hours this afternoon.

  • The World of Spectrum: Men in your late 30s - THIS IS FOR YOU! A website collecting all sorts of links and nostalgic ephemera about the ZX Spectrum, with its plastic keyboard and tape deck and rubbish graphics and its games which, if we’re honest, are really, really crap compared to the standard of entertainment videogames can deliver now but about which a certain type of bloke will get all misty-eyed about until you’re forced to tell him that you really don’t care. CHUCKIE EGG WAS SH1T MATE.

  • The Avant Garde Magazine Archive: An archive of every single edition of Avant Garde magazine, a design-heavy countercultural relic featuing some rather awesome typography and illustration in a hyperstylised fashion so redolent of its time that you can almost smell the patchouli.

  • Blips: Is this real? It looks fake, but as it’s on Kickstarter it MUST be true, right? Blips is a 10x funded project, which has another two weeks to go, which will on completion deliver micro-thin microscopic lenses for mobiles which claim to give you insane levels of magnification on your common-or-garden smartphone camera. If these work as they say they will, they will be AMAZING.

  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy: This is an ‘emotion-enforcing text editor’ - you can use the website to write anything you want, the only catch being that it only lets you type whilst its facial recognition software detects that you are looking ‘happy’ - how does this enforced emotional surveillance affect your output? The obvious problem with this is that facial recognition software is still REALLY shonky, meaning that the only way that the app would let me type for longer than 2 seconds was for me to assume the sort of facial expression normally associated with dogs sticking their heads out of car windows. That said, if you’re a journalist you can probably get 500 words of mildly interesting copy out of this idea if you’re at a loose end.

 

By Romany WG

 

FANCY A RATHER EXCELLENT MIX OF OLDSCHOOL RNB? GOOD!

THE SECTION WHICH IS REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE INEVITABLE UPSURGE IN JINGOISTIC XENOPHOBIA WHICH INVARIABLY ACCOMPANIES ANY INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE OF FEBRILE EURODEBATE, OH YES INDEED, PT.2:

  • Bookmarks: Basically this is Metacritic for novels, which I’m sure we can all agree is absolutely the best thing to happen to literary criticism ever. This service, an offshoot of bibliophile site Lithub, will give novels a rating from A-F based on the aggregate of their reviews from a variety of (US) outlets - making life immediately worse for literary publicists, if the manner in which Metacritic’s fcuked the games industry’s anything to go by.

  • Useless, Unsuccessful, Unfunny Memes: A Facebook Group which collects ORIGINAL MEMES - anyone can submit, the only caveat being that all submissions must be homemade and original. There is some wonderfully (and dreadfully) odd stuff in here.

  • Spaceship Noise Generator: Little browser toy that lets you move some sliders around to create a near-infinite variety of spaceship-type noises, and which is guaranteed to drive the person who sits next to you quietly mental if you set it running, lock your computer and then leave for a a few hours.

  • Blue Hands: Absolutely the most beautiful photographs of fish you ever will see, taken by Visarute Angkatavanich.

  • Echo Location: You may have read about the charming new anti-semitic practice of alerting people to a Twitter user’s status as a Jew by placing (((brackets))) around their name, thereby subtly alerting other scum and getting them to flood said Jewish person’s timeline with hatespeech. Lovely. This is a script which lets you search Twitter for punctuation, in this case brackets, and lets you report users using the trick to incite racial hatred - the fact that this has to be done by a third party rather than Twitter themselves says a lot about some of the problems the platform’s facing, imho.

  • The Higher/Lower Game: Which get searched for more? GUESS! GUESS NOW! Simple and INCREDIBLY addictive game based on Google data.

  • Massive Match: Have you ever wanted to play CandyCrush, or one of its infinitely numbered variants, on a board featuring 1000 other players? No, of course you haven’t, and yet here we are.

  • The Ones That Got Away: A design project creating film posters for movies that were never made (but actually could have been in a parallel universe). These are rather beautiful, and available to buy - the design here is lovely, I think, and I am sort of intrigued by the concept of the Salvador Dali / Marx Brothers collaboration which never was.

  • Google Daydream Labs: What does the future of Virtual Reality look like? It looks like this - two people in separate physical locations, collaborating on a virtual jigsaw in virtual space. Of course it does. Obviously this looks shonky as you like, but you’re an idiot if you can’t see the amazing applications for this stuff a few years down the line.

  • The Tumblr VR Gallery: After last week’s Instagram effort, this is a site which takes any Tumblr you care to give it and turns the posts into pictures on the wall of a virtual gallery. I recommend that you apply the effect to your favourite Tumblr of bongo and enjoy the wall-mounted ‘artworks’ that emerge.

  • Data Duo: Oh I love this! Kickstarter project, nearly funded at the time of writing, to create a two-player synthtoy - the idea being that two people, for example a parent and child, can collaboratively make electronic music together using the same physical device. I can imagine this being SUCH fun, although that perspective might change after a few hours of being exposed to the ‘compositions’ that result.

  • Vizit: Not the first ‘massive visualistion of Reddit and all its subreddits and how they all fit together’ that I’ve featured here, but this is a particularly nice overview and interface, and gives a very good insight into exactly how much truly weird, niche stuff is on the network. A quick zoom into the cluster around the NSFW tag gives you a rapid and slightkly dizzying insight into the collective sexual ID of the web in a manner in which few other websites manage.

  • Decodelia: I am such a fan of this. A Chrome extension which lets you view any webpage as a coded, obscured graphic which can only be deciphered using red-tinted lenses - which for the right brand is a really rather cool gimmick, I think. Alternatively, it’s an excellent way to look at bongo whilst at work - your call, really.

  • Monochrome Japan: Gorgeous black and white photos of Japan, by the very talented Hiroharu Matsumoto. Such great style here.

  • Suumo Soundview: Caveat - not being in Japan I’ve been unable to actually try this out. Still, the idea seems cool and my lack of practical knwledge about how something actually functions has never prevented me from linking to stuff before. From what I can tell this, is a combination citydiscovery and RJDJ-style soundscapeapp thing, which plays audio cues to users wandering around by pulling data from six separate APIs and using this to generate audio on the fly based on where you are and what’s going on. Which sounds ACE, frankly, and should be ripped for London asap.

  • Powdah: The Instagram feed of SFX makeup artist Mark Clancy from Australia. At least he says he’s an SFX makeup artist - maybe it’s an elaborate ruse and he’s in fact some sort of Antipodean Patrick Bateman hiding in plain sight. He’s probably not, on balance, but you can never be too careful. He’s really, really good, though - these photos are GRUESOME, and will provide you with ample creative fuel for your next tedious zombie-themed wossname.

  • The Cozy Room: Life is just TOO MUCH sometimes, isn’t it? You know those moments when all you want to do is to shut yourself inside a tiny, self-contained box with a tv and some crisps and just hide from the world until the bad things have stopped (SPOILER: The bad things will, fundamentally, never stop)? Well the Cozy Room will let you do JUST THAT - it’s literally a big box that you can sit in and shut yourself off from the rest of the world, and is simultaneously great an hugely depressing. Take a moment to imagine what the average one of these would smell like, based on the likely user profile. SNIFF DEEPLY!

  • Infochammel: Asbolutely baffling, this. Infochammel is...er...I don’t really know what it is. Actually, I do - it’s an ODD show made by Amazon (I think) taking the style of informercials and extending that into a VERY STRANGE longform piece of programming; the accompanying website is very, very strange indeed, and slightly headache inducing in the way that only intensely concentrated internets can be (I know that you know the feeling).

  • Thinking Machine: So beautiful, this. Watch a computer thinking whilst you play it at chess - this project lets you play a reasonable game against a chessbot, with the gimmick that it visualises each and every calculation the program is making as it considers its next move. Honestly, this is so aesthetically pleasing you have no idea, whether or not you’re a chess person.

  • Light: This is a ‘multisensory aesthetic experience in VR’, apparently. Or, depending on your viewpoint, a pleasingly relaxing blue-hued musical webtoy thingy which has you hurtling through a 360-degree viewable blue void while some ambient noodling goes on in the background. On reflection, their description sells it slightly better.

  • Lord Ray-el: This week’s dose of internet weirdo comes in the shape of Lord Ray-el who, it turns out, is the Messiah! Yes, totally passed me by too, but it turns out that the long-awaited saviour of mankind rocked up in Jerusalem 5 years ago - this is his official web presence, and it’s about as wonderfully lunatic as you’d hope. I’m going to feel really sheepish if he is the Messiah, you know.

  • Party Pooper: A very odd little point and click game by animation studio Animade, which inolves you having to help someone clear their house of party guests who’ve outstayed their welcome. WHY IS ONE OF THE PARTY GUESTS A BUM ON LEGS? We may never know.

  • Ruin My Search History: A script which autogoogles a whole load of ‘embarrassing’ stuff from your browser. Send as a disguised link to more vanilla colleagues - sadly there’s no option to create your own version with bespoke search terms, as I for one would LOVE to be able to apply my imagination to these. The current suggestions are a touch banal, to my mind - please can someone replicate this with some slightly more eyebrow-raising suggestions? I’ll start you off with “porcupine enema removal”.

  • What’s She Like: Beautifully made, and very involving, Twine game made by Coney to accompany the current show at the Wyndham Theatre “People, Places, Things”. The show explores issues around addiction and therapy, and the game acts as a companion piece to it, exploring the user’s own attitudes to technology and their relationship to it. An excellent example of using storytelling platforms to augment the theatrical experience - really nicely done.

  • Hush: The internet of buttplugs is here! Crowdfunded last year, this just started shipping - I’m not personally in the market for one of these (am I protesting too much? Hm), but I am SO amused by the fact that it’s operable remotely from anywhere in the world via its smartphone app. Imagine getting caught out with that in a dull meeting: “What are you doing, Matt? Not interested in the MAU figures?” “No, not in the slightest; instead I’m remote-operating my partner’s buttplug as they wonder around Sainsbury’s”. God, the future.

  • Daniel Savio: Finally in this section this week, a website by Daniel Savio which presents a Wipeout-esque flight along a beautiful neon track, accompanying some rather lovely electro. This is gorgeous, and I’d like to see more of it please thanks.

 

By Amy Kanka Valadarsky

 

LAST UP, TRY THIS COMPENDIUM OF TRACKS FROM 70s HORROR FILMS!

THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS!:

  • Of The House Clinton: US politicians with GoT quotes, because apparently memes are all anyone has left in the battle against electoral idiocy.

  • Ska Or Improv: Ska band of improv comedy troupe? WHO CAN TELL? Noone, according to this Tumblr highlighting the uncanny similarity between both groups.

  • Weird Books I Find: A truly GREAT collection of literary oddities collected by a worker in a book warehouse. If you can look at this and not immediately Google “Me, My Goat and My Sister’s Wedding” you’re a stronger man than I am.

  • Assholes In The Pit: Sadly seemingly dormant, this is a great collection of photos of photographers being dickheads at gigs.

  • Mr Turner’s Ties: For most 30somethings in the UK, Boy Meets World is chiefly remembered for the appeal of its pulchritudinous love interest Topanga (don’t pretend, come on). In case you want another reason to celebrate it, though, this Tumblr is a tribute to the horrible ties worn by one of the characters in it. Why not, eh?

  • The Vault of the Atomic Space Age: All of the design and illustration and artwork you could possibly want from the golden age of scifi.

  • Yes Way Rose: Is this made by the American rose wine industry? I can see no other conceivable reason as to why anyone would have created this Tumblr dedicated to celebrating the easy-drinking properties of pink booze.

  • Musicians You Should Know: Ever heard of Jimbo Carver? Bet you haven’t. Mainly as he’s made up, along with all the other musicians on this great Tumblr, which introduces a new fictional musical oddity, complete with wonderful backstory and lovely illustration, each week. The writing here is awesome.

  • Videogames Made Me Gay: The intersection of videogames and Tumblr culture in one pink, sparkly and occasionally NSFW place. If you want photos of men covering their penises with XBox controllers, and WHO DOESN’T?, this will be RIGHT up your street.

LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG:

  • The Stanford Rape Victim Statement: Because if you haven’t yet read the piece, you really ought to.

  • Being Viggo: Nice profile of Viggo Mortensen in Esquire Mag, which manages to make him seem like a genuinely nice and broadly human person - which shouldn’t really be remarkable, on balance, but given what oddities actors usually come across as is somehow noteworthy.

  • The Ultimate Wedding Playlist: Exhaustive breakdown by 5thirtyeight of the most-played songs at weddings, and what that MEANS about people and stuff. It means that people have generally uninspired taste in wedding tunes, to my mind, but what do I know?

  • Being A 911 Operator: Brilliant piece by a long-term 911 operator in the US - the opening, about how many times you hear people die doing that job, is properly arresting - it’s logical when you think about it, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that most of you haven’t given any thought as to what it would be like taking calls for the ambulance or police services (bleak as you like, is what).

  • It’s Probably Going To Be OK: In the midst of all the Trumpfear and the Brexitfear and the Terrorfear and all the more generalised horrors of modernity we are confronted with each and every minute of each and every day, it’s good to occasionally be reassured, which is why I found this piece in the New Statesman so calming - it explains, simply and logically, why we probably won’t vote to leave the EU, and why Trump probably can’t win. Yes, fine, it’s speculation and conjecture, but it’s speculation and conjecture which agrees with my worldview and therefore it’s ACE.

  • On IKB: One of my actual, proper happy places is at the Tate Modern, staring at one of Yves Klein’s International Klein Blue prints - single colour depictions of the shade Klein invented and which is the bluest, most perfect shade the human eye can conceive of. This short piece explains its genesis and its unique status in the art world - patent as art is something you can see replicated in the work of Koons et al later on, but Klein was a true precursor.

  • Design For The One Percent: Excellent essay about the fundamentally unegalitarian nature of the work produced by the late Zaha Hadid and other ‘starchitects’, which argues that due to their being commissioned by, and for the use of, the hyperwealthy, they are fundamentally detached from much of the socio-philosophical ideals which underpinned the work of the architectural greats of the early-20th Century. Very smart and very interesting - this quote gives a flavour: “Once adversarial, architecture now not only accommodates the economic system but aggrandizes its worst impulses, edifying its gross excesses with a glass-and-steel shroud of haughty benevolence, bereft of any social mission beyond displaying its own brilliance. It has become structure for structure’s sake.”

  • Cartography Comparison: Kilometric analysis and comparison of the manner and scale of information delivered by Google Maps and Bing Maps - less interesting because of the technical stuff than as an exploration of how systems such as these are increasingly determining what we see and know without us realising that information is being pre-classified and ranked prior to delivery - what we know and see about our surroundings is increasingly being mediated by third parties, and we barely even stop to consider it. Which is a bit scary really.

  • The Warcraft Evisceration: You will probably be unsurprised to know that the Warcraft film is, by all accounts, total tripe - this is a JOYFUL takedown of it, written with obvious glee and no little style, by Duncan Jones. Includes so many glorious lines that I wish I was a good enough writer to have coined, including the applause-worthy “Patton consistently looks like she’s about to lose a cos-play contest for her own character”.

  • How Zuckerberg Crushed G+: An insider’s account of how Facebook responded to Google’s attempt to do social networking, which offers a neat look at how Facebook operates, its staff culture, and why it’s 100% a terrifying cult which is going to continue being one of the most significant companies in history for the foreseeable future. I really don’t know which is scarier, this lot, Google, or Amazon, which is scary in and of itself.

  • Body on the Moor: A lovely, sad piece by the BBC exploring why the body of a man was found, dead, in the Peak District, having apparently travelled 200 miles to die there. Sad and poignant and fascinating.

  • Making Movies in GTAV: I had no idea that there was a whole industry of people dedicated to making films in-game in GTAV - this is an interview with one of them, itself conducted in-game, and shows the level of craft and dedication required to make some pretty impressive stuff. Aside from anything else, some of the films included in the piece are hugely impressive.

  • Ranking All 72 New Emoji: Just in case you feel the need to have an opinion about which of the new ones is going to become your go-to alternative to the aubergine next time you want to reference a throbbing erection in one of your messages.

  • Analysing the Raps In ‘Hamilton’: This year’s Broadway sensation, hiphop musical about slavery Hamilton, is brilliantly analysed in this piece by the Wall Street Journal, breaking down the structure of its songs and using that as a great starting point for the nature of rhyme and meter in hiphop. This is so good, not only as a piece of analysis but also as a web interactive - the WSJ is doing some really excellent work at the moment.

  • A Night Out With Jamie Vardy’s Lookalike: You know what people abroad think of when they think of England on a Friday night, and our football culture? THIS is what they think of. Fundamentally depressing portrait of MODERN BRITAIN and football and ‘celebrity’ which will (I’m really sorry about the insane snobbery I’m about to display here, but) make you REALLY, really glad that you don’t have to go out on the booze in Leicester. You can almost feel the sticky carpets of the First Leisure nightspots.

  • An Index of Other People’s Tragedies: A beautiful piece of writing, one of my favourite of the week, and a great use of an unusual format to tell stories. Gorgeous and highly recommended.

  • The Creepiest Things Of Reddit: Wow, there is some REALLY weird stuff in here. You want inspiration for a horror movie, this is your motherlode.

  • The Passion of Muhammad Ali: Finally, a great profile of Ali from Esquire in the late 60s, talking less about his boxing (he was on hiatus at the time, banned due to refusing the draft) than the man and the image and his faith and his relationships to his wife, his fans, strangers on the street...a wonderful piece that gives you a very real sense of the complicated and often contradictory person behind the soundbites and the flashbulb photography. Best thing I read about Ali all week, this - though if you want more, there’s a wonderful collection of other writings here.

 

By Rory Kurtz

 

AND NOW MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!

1) Let’s start with a strange and poignant animation about Edmond. Edmond just wants to be close to people, but he’s got issues with boundaries. And, er, eating them:

2) Next up, the new one from Angel Olsen - this is called ‘Intern’ and it’s a GLORIOUS tune and her voice is truly mesmerising:

3) Weird and slightly unsettling internettyglitchedoutCGIvideothing of the week #1 - this is called ‘Jade Statues’ by 3 Orbs and I find it really quite uncomfortable to watch, although I couldn’t possibly explain why. ENJOY!:

4) Weird and slightly unsettling internettyglitchedoutCGIvideothing of the week #2 - this is by Rawtekk and it’s called ‘Here’s To Them’ and the video is EXCELLENT and the audio is...hard, I think is probably the best word to describe it. Really uncomfortable-making in the best possible way:

5) UK HIPHOP CORNER! We return to Fire in the Booth, and a repeat appeaance for Akala, his fourth one now - this is, as ever, so ASTOUNDINGLY good that I just wanted to applaud on hearing it - I seriously can’t stress enough how incredibly impressive this is. Intelligent, articulate, angry, impassioned, it’s 100% virtuoso stuff, all nearly 20 minutes of it. Worth paying attention to:

6) MORE UK HIPHOP CORNER! Akala’s been around for time - at the other end of the age spectrum is Young Ty, who at 15 is one of the most impressive young MCs I’ve seen in ages:

7) Next, this rather brilliant anthem to black womanhood by the beautifully-voiced Jamila Woods - this is called ‘Black Girl Soldiers’:

8) Finally this week, James Franco, Rose McGowan, Daft Punk, Devendra Banhart and others come together in this...odd animation. Not really sure what else to say about this, so I’m just going to leave it here. BYE HAPPY WEEKENDS BYE!!!!

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