34 minutes reading time (6772 words)

Web Curios 13/09/13

Web Curios 13/09/13


It has been a WONDERFUL week if you're a peddler of unnecessary, overpriced gewgaws to the technology-obsessive 1%. For everyone else, particularly frogs, it's been pretty much business as usual. Apart from for this man - I refuse to believe that this is business as usual for ANYONE.

Anyhow, I've got no time for any of this preamble stuff. Equip yourself with a dictionary, a thesaurus and a pot of strong tea/coffee/aquavit, gird your loins and grit your teeth, and prepare to be dragged unwillingly into the very heart of the overlong, overly-convoluted and overstretched mixed metaphor that is the internet courtesy of this week's WEB CURIOS.

By Thymournia


  • Hey, TV & Media Companies, Have Some More Information About Us!: In a move which really shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone, Facebook has started making whole swathes of information about what people are talking about available to media companies. What this means is that, for a doubtless MASSIVE amount of money, media people can get access to information about what FACEBOOK'S HIVE-MIND was saying / thinking about any given issue over any given period of time (or, at least, what they wanted everyone else on Facebook  to think that they were thinking, if you see what I mean). For an example of this brave new journalistic world in action, here's Buzzfeed's first usage of such information. Insightful, eh? Oh. If that's not enough, this piece is all about why this is the best news in the world for those lovely people whose sole desire is to feed more branded moments of truth to our eyeballs at the most opportune moments (clue: truly conversationally contextual advertising), and then this is Facebook's own post on the topic. There, you can pretend you know EVERYTHING about this now - see where it gets you. 
  • Facebook Adds Autoplay Video ThingySo now when you see videos in your feed they will silently play and thus demand your attention and your clicks. Not working on all videos at the moment, but will do so imminently. When this starts working for ads, can someone please at least make an effort to do something interesting with the idea - you know, people within the video clawing at the screen and begging and screaming for attention while it's playing silently, etc? It might be funny. Might. Once. 
  • Bigger Pictures To Go With Your AdvertisingI am struggling to think of anything even halfway enthusiastic to write about this. Look! Larger pictures! To accompany adverts! Marvel at the future in which we live.
  • Facebook Adds 'Skills'-type Stuff To Profiles: Should you so desire - and why wouldn't you? - you can now brag about your sparkling, multi-talented professional self on Facebok in much the same way as you do on LinkedIn. This, again, is pretty dry stuff - that said, there's probably something competition-y that brands can do with this in an advermarketingpr sense next time they decide to replicate that bloody 'Best Job In The World' promotion AGAIN. 
  • Buy Fish Fingers on FacebookBecause why wouldn't you want to do that? Birds Eye is testing the ability to do 'seamless' shopping from within Facebook, using software which allows users to add Birds Eye products to their shopping cart at Tesco, Sainsbury's etc, from within FB. Bit sketchy as to how this is actually going to work - I fear for the future wellbeing of the environment and the nation's roads if Ocado vans are set to trundle around delivering sole packs of potato waffles to people who've bought them on a whim, or indeed who these consumers are who get a sudden desire for deep-frozen breadcrumbed mediocrity whilst furtively conducting a Facebook Messenger-based affair with an old schoolmate. Anyway, the BEST bit about this news is the quote from the marketing person which goes 'Ultimately we want to be able to prove that we can convert to sales'. Maybe, just maybe, that might be the sound of someone somewhere in a corporation going 'Hey, guys, just a quick question...erm, why have we spent all this money telling a bunch of idiots on the internet how much we hate mondays, love cake, adore cats and how glad we are its Friday? Maybe we should, you know, work out what the point is?'. I doubt it, but I live in hope. 
  • Embed Google+ Posts Elsewhere On The Web: Another potential reason to actually write one!
  • New Google Trend StuffAs if by magic, having seen that a few people have started twigging to how useful it is, Google's added a few new features to its trends functionality. More trend breakdowns, 30 day 'most searched' trends, that sort of thing. Useful for people doing REAL TIME ACTIVATION or anything that attempts to piggyback on popularity and stuff. 
  • Film Uses Annotations on YouTube For PromotionI thought that this was quite clever, until I started writing this and realised I have no idea which current film this is promoting. Oh well. I think it's got POOR JENNIFER ANISTON in it. Anyway, it's quite a nice idea - the trailer's covered in outlinks which allow users to share their appreciation of specific points in the clip with people on Twitter or Facebook. There are some interesting spins on this if you care to think about them. 
  • Twitter Adds Verified Conversations: Are you a famous? Do you want to ensure that you can filter out the conversations of the non-famous from your Twitter feed? Well now you can. Which is nice. Watch as brands desperately scrabble to get one of those magical blue ticks so that they too can gain ingress into the magical inner sanctum of the famouses conversations, where every utterance is followed with LOL!, and inspirational quotes are practically currency. 
  • Twitter Reacts To The OlympicsTokyo got the nod for the 'lympics in 2020 - well done, Tokyo. This is a look at Twitter reaction to the announcement, which is of pretty much 0 interest overall, but which is surprisingly instructive if you look at it as evidence of the platform's spread - particularly in Africa. Go on, add the picture to the beginning of your next, 'look, the internet's REALLY REALLY POPULAR' presentation.
  • Dunkin Donuts Does First Ad Made Of A VineHm, yes, ok, great. Read that article and imagine the dead eyes and empty smile of the person who's quoted talking about consumers liking to share 'fun content'. Why doesn't someone invent a 1-second looping video app so we can force everyone in advertising to make promotional materials that are so short that it's impossible to understand what they're trying to sell us? Please?
  • Instagram To Get Ads In Next YearSTART PLANNING NOW YOUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT. Why not do Instagram ads with logos which are only subtly visible through certain filters so the branding looks all hipster and minimalist and cool and oh just go away now.
  • Search For Specific Menu Items Of FoursquareIf you're a restaurant or chain of restaurants this is actually potentially quite a good thing. Er, or it would be if any real people actually used 4sq yes, yes, I know, I always say that but it's true, dammit.
  • Pizza Hut Dipping Sauce DJLeaving aside the horror of dipping sauce for pizza - I am a purist and a pizza snob, I know, but come on - this should also spell the end of the whole 'hey, let's make a cool hacked instrument out of PRODUCT X' thing. Because really, it just leaves you scratching your head and asking yourself 'but why have you done this?'.
  • Transport App CompetitionI really like this. Part of AT&T's CSR-y innovation-y work, this is an app-building competition in conjunction with NYC's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, offering people REAL CASH PRIZES in exchange for them coming up with ideas for apps which will improve the city's public transport network. TFL, LEARN.
  • TourettemailThe people raising money for Tourettes awareness are doing a lot of high-visibility work at the moment (the churlish would argue that when you have a legitimate right to swear in your communications its easier to get people's attention, but no matter). This is a very clever email marketing campaign which keeps the swears but turns them upside-down to get past corporate censorship filters. Smart.
  • Advertising On Bongo WORKS!Well, it does for these guys anyway - they are a takeaway delivery service, and one doesn't have to be a marketing genius to see the correlation between regular users of pr0n sites, people who are likely to click on ads, and a predeliction for fast food. Still, a well-written and interesting look at why you should maybe consider advertising somewhere other than Facebook. 
  • The History of Viral VideosAn interesting, and actually quite useful, look back at the most-viewed videos on YouTube over the course of each of the past few years. If you can find some sort of a pattern and thus define incontrovertibly the qualities a video needs to get 65million views, then can I have a few hundred thousand quid out of your infinite moneypile please? Thanks.
  • The Chipotle 'We Are Small And Rural And Lovely, Honest' Game & CampaignTex Mex burrito-peddlers Chipotle are running this in the US, playing up their farm and animal welfare-friendly credentials (much like every other purveyor of drive-through breaded artery-clogger, but no matter). What's interesting is the style and tone, which (I don't doubt very consciously) mimics the sort of indie animation which has won lots of awards over the past year or so. They've splashed out on the game, too, using a studio with a good track record. The accompanying video is excellent, and very much worth a watch - but I don't know, it all just feels a little...well...fake. See what you think.
  • Some Absolute Rubbish About 'When To Post Stuff Online To WIN!'Absolutely the most stupid thing I have read all week, this ticks all the boxes of made-up, spurious, non-scientific research. Read it and learn what not to believe, ever - 'research has shown'? WHOSE RESEARCH? HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE SURVEYED? Jesus wept, this industry.
  • A Short Comic About What Social Media Does To PeopleThe truest thing you will read all week. Now go and turn off all the alerts on your smartphone and go and take a long walk.
  • The Internet is Sh1tIt's not sh1t, obviously, but this is an interesting series of observations about why certain elements of it might be. Smart and thought-provoking and worth a read.
By Franz Gruenewald



  • The Internet Defence League: I still think that this might be a joke, but it's hard to tell. The writing is...well, quite special, as is the general aim which seems to be to get 'the internet' to band together (yes, I know Evgeny) to stop 'bad laws' from happening. I really do hope that it's a little less childishly ill thought out than this, but I'm not sure. It's incredible, though - if this is the collective voice of 'the internet', it's the voice of a 14 year old boy building a den with his secret society. Which shouldn't really surprise me, I suppose. 
  • Discover New Collective NounsAll Sorts is a site which scrapes Twitter for the hashtag #collectivenouns and then collects them here. There are some *gems* in this, and anyone who's halfway-obsessed with language will find a lot to occupy them. My particular favourite is "A ______ of mimes" - go and explore and then try and use as many as you can over the weekend and then wonder on Monday why you spent the weekend alone. 
  • Map Your House, In 3d, With Your PhoneAmazing and slightly scary tech of the week, part 1 - this lets you wander around your house with your smartphone and turn the resultant video footage into a 3d model of your dwelling, which you can then (I'm extrapolating slightly here) turn into a creepy little virtual dolls' house for your strange little virtual family (or, more accurately, use to help you plan decorating, etc). Think, though, of the potential to do this and then drop your house into games, simulations, etc. Just think of the fun you could have replicating your existence in miniature! Wow, that's creepy.
  • 3d Scanning Of People ThingyIt's quite hard to describe this one, so perhaps you should just click and watch the video. BASICALLY this is a demo of software which scans people in very high res and makes 3d models of them, with them then placed inside a virtual space and interacted with using Oculus Rift (which is that 3d-viewing helpet thingy which is a bit like what we all imagined virtual reality might be like in 1994 but is marginally less awful). Hard to explain, but genuinely really impressive. When I first saw it the highest-rated YouTube comment on the video basically just said 'Pr0n!', which is sort of depressing really. 
  • That Incredible Arcade Fire 'Reflektor' WebsiteThe web project which Google and Arcade Fire have made for the band's latest single is rather wonderful. Have a play, whether or not you have an Android phone or not - it really is very good indeed, as is the song. As a bonus, have this explanation of how it was made
  • NYC In 1836 vs NYC TodayAnother week, another website comparing the past with the now - this time a map of New York in 1836 with the aerial view of the city today. Notable primarily for the loveliness of the design and interface which is very nicely done indeed.
  • GIF ReverserHave you ever looked at a gif and thought 'hm, what that short looping videoclip needs to be perfect is to be played in reverse - then truly will I have scaled the heady heights of the comedy Olympus'? OH GOOD. this website does exactly that - I'm sure that you can find a use for it. If nothing else, community managers, this automatically gives 100% more life to any and all gifs on your content calendar *weeps*.
  • The 2013 IgNobel PrizeYou all know the IgNobel, right? The science prize awarded to research which 'makes you laugh and then makes you think', and gives recognition to such luminaries as the scientific team 'advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode' (no, really, these guys got a prize last year), was awarded last night. As ever, there are some GEMS - my personal favourite from this year's crop is the late Gustano Pizzo, 'for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane's specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival'. Amazing. Take that, Silicon Valley.
  • More Burning ManMainly because the visual spectacle's so amazing, this is a drone's-eye view of the campsite. Very impressive. Interest in the whole thing continues to grow each year - the people behind it's attitude to the press frenzy is quite pleasing, I have to say, and you can read their whole 'manifesto' on it here. And then there's this piece, which suddenly reminded me why I've always thought that I would actually hate the experience with the burning passion of a thousand suns. I mean really, just read it. It's enough to make you go and watch Top Gear or something (almost, but not quite). 
  • Behind-The-Scenes Breaking Bad PhotosBecause I know quite a few of you probably watch it and may like these. I really cannot tell if they are good or interesting or not.
  • Curiator - Pinterest For ArtI'm sure that this isn't the first service of this type that I've seen, but I think it's quite slick and nicely put together, and if nothing else it's an excellent place to get some visual inspiration and to maybe get a quick overview of some art and artists that you mightn't know. A cursory wander around it a few days ago certainly gave me an insight into Czech erotica I could never have hoped to attain without it. Take a look now, before it becomes popular and thus Jack Vettriano-central. 
  • Photos From A Chinese Road TripAt least I think that's what these are, it's quite hard to tell what with everything on the page being in Chinese. Anyway, it looks like this is a bunch of COOL KIDS from somewhere in China taking a long trip across some pretty spectacular scenery and going through some pretty remote places and photographing it. Scroll down - once you get past the slightly tedious 'prepping to set off' images there are some pretty cool photos, with the added bonus that they feel quite different to more professional shoots of China you may have seen. If these all turn out to be of another Asian country I am going to feel quite stupid.
  • PhonebloksSuch a clever idea. As the world goes mental over the latest rich person's non-essential gadget, it's worth taking a look at this video which outlines the concept of modular phone technology which neatly sidesteps the built-in obsolescence which handset manufacturers have relied upon to keep their coffers full for the past decade or more. A really, really smart idea which, I think, will never get off the ground as there are far too many companies in whose interests this is most definitely not. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am.
  • A Nice Website By People Who Make VideogamesNo more, no less, but I really like the design and feel of it. 8-bit and lovely. 
  • Beautiful Light-Reactive Kids' StorybookSuch good design. UK designer Rebecca Sutherland has created this kids book with light-sensitive paper - what look like white spaces reveal themselves to be far more under torchlight. The possibilities for creative storytelling are huge, and if you work for a brand which has anything to do with kids and storytelling and stuff you could do worse than pay her a lot of money to make some nice things for you. 
  • A Library For ManualsNot exciting, not a curio, but REALLY useful. Huge repository of digitised instruction manuals for all sorts of stuff. Bookmark it - you will one day need it to unfcuk a dishwasher, I promise you. 
  • TL;DR ReviewsA one-gag website giving very short reviews of famous novels for the tl;dr brigade (tl;dr = too long, didn't read = the world's standard response to this blog YOU ADHD PHILISTINES WHAT'S WRONG WITH 6,000 WORDS EVERY WEEK ON THE SODDING INTERNET YOU INGRATES ahem sorry). Some very funny ones on there, though your mileage will vary dependent on your tolerance for Americanisms.
  • Johnny Cash & JesusA brilliant comic from 1976, telling the story of how Johnny kicked the pills and found his way back to God. What it neglects to mention is the massive difference in the quality of the man's musical output as soon as the big JC got on board, but whatever. Our musical loss is Mr Cash's immortal soul's gain.
  • David Cronenberg's PODThis is really weird. I'm not quite sure what it's part of - whether it's a general Cronenberg oddness-thing, or whether it's part of the promo for a previous/forthcoming film...but it's creepy and strange and, in typical DC fashion, just on the cusp of near-plausibility. Mining the director's trademark vein of body-horror scifi crossover, this is ostensibly the site of Body, Mind and Change Labs - who are researching a biological organism which, when implanted inside your body, will predict your desires...even the ones you don't know you have. I KNOW IT'S CREEPY ISN'T IT? Really interesting and slick and transmediaurgh, and, obviously, pretty unsettling. Existenz, though, remains a hugely underrated film I reckon. 
By Mateusz Gapski
  • Drug Users And The Places They OverdosedAn artphotoproject which spoke to heroin users who had overdosed, taking pictures of them and the places where they nearly died. Part of an awareness-raising initiative for a Denver-based charity, there are some great (sad) photos in here.
  • The Bible's Contradictions, VisualisedI'm including this more as a piece of data analysis and visualisation than some sort of tool to go and bait believers with - I think militant atheists are just as irritating as religious zealots (although, I am willing to accept, generally less bomb-y).
  • The Most Impossible Film Quiz In The WorldI can confidently predict NOONE will be able to answer any of these, as I don't think I number any secret maths geniuses amongst my tens of readers. These are, apparently, mathematical symbols and equations which correspond to famous films - I think that whoever compiled this is just making fun of me, personally. 
  • Google Documentary On The ClashNot really sure why they have done this, although I'm guessing they have some sort of deal with the record label of sales of the band's back catalogue through the Google Music store and hence this is part of all those rights. Still, if you like the band then this apparently contains all sorts of UNSEEN FOOTAGE and stuff. Nothing says PUNK ROCK like Google. 
  • Spoken Word StoriesI've mentioned Twine, the choose-your-own-adventure thingy, before - this is a short Twine piece which uses a combination of text and audio, which I think is HUGELY effective as a technique and that people should explore further. Go on, have a play - I think that it's a lovely piece of miniature storytelling, and that the audio clips really do add something. You might not agree, but you're wrong.
  • Unleash The BeesYou will send this to at least one person this afternoon, FACT.
  • The Match Day Posters of Lewes FCNon-league football is HARD. Not least because, as a player, not only do you have a level of physical punishment inflicted on you by the opposition that would make MMA fighters wince, but you also get to hear every single imprecation that the idiots on the sidelines shout at you about your sub-par performance. And there's NO MONEY. On the plus side, though, some clubs are very creative in their fundraising attempts - in this instance, Lewes FC who cottoned on to the fact that people on the internet quite like posters drawn in the style of other posters, and have done their matchday imagery in a variety of different styles and made them available for sale. There are some rather good ones in there, take a look.
  • Play Xylophone With Your HandsYou need a webcam to make this work, but if you have one then do try it - you will be swiping at the air like the cutest of all internet cats in minutes. Brands - next time you make some crappy Facebook game, at least make it interestingly crappy and try and do something like this. 
  • Turn a Single Image Into Giant, Multi-Panel PostersErm, basically that. Think of the applications, though! Have a colleague who's leaving today? Get a horrible picture of them, put it through this, and then plaster the nearest gigantic flat surface with it. BANTERSAURUS REX. Or, you know, use it for guerilla marketing purposes. Which is worse? Dear God I can't even tell any more :-(.
  • The Vogueing BattleThis is LOVELY webwork, highlighting the mental drag queen dancing scene in NYC's nightclubs. The premise is that you pair dancers off against each other in a series of battles, eventually getting to pick the winner, but this is really beautifully put together and should serve as a bit of a 'this is how you make this stuff' lesson for brands. Really, really slick (and so, so gay).
  • Balloon Animals For JesusA website telling you how to make religious-themed balloon animals. I was actually crying with laughter when I found this - seriously, you have to click on some of them.
  • The Amazing Houses of Romania's Rich RomaniesAnd a wonderfully alliterative description to boot. Some incredible pictures of the opulent dwellings of some of Romania's (and Moldova's, actually, but that would have ruined the alliteration) better-off families. These are bywords for taste and restraint, although in fairness they probably wouldn't think much of my flat's unique 'bare walls and a rug for a curtain' look either.
  • Miniature MixerMixtape Alpha is a crowdfunded miniature mixing desk which is the size of a cassette tape. It looks, if you're a musician, like it could be a LOT of fun, and is apparently a lot more powerful and useful than the initial specs would suggest. You might like it, you might not. Take a look.
  • Raindrop SimulatorThis would probably have been more pleasing in the summertime when we were all complaining about how hot it was and how we were sweating the very marrow from our bones, but I find it vaguely soothing so you might too.
  • Oldskool (their spelling, not mine) Hardcor & Jungle MOTHERLODEINCREDIBLE GENERAL LEVY doesn't, as far as I can tell, appear to feature on this site - but lots of other stuff does. If you're into that sort of thing, and if you still go misty-eyed at the thought of people dancing like this, then this could be right up your alley. 
  • AMAZING 3d Images From VideosAmazing and slightly creepy tech of the week pt3, you will probably already have seen this on Us vs Th3m (plus ca change) - if not, though, click it and get amazed. If this is real, and there's no immediate reason to think it's not, the 'oh my god, you can basically print ANYTHING' revolution is imminently upon us. Is that a good thing? Er, probably. Ish.
  • GifComicsThis is the final edition of a much longer comic (sorry, I can't figure out how to link to the whole thing) and it's all in French BUT don't let that put you off - this is a very cool example of what you can use gifs for, and proof that they work REALLY WELL as part of a comicbook format. Worth an experiment, I think. NO, NOT YOU BUZZFEED.
  • Mapping The World's Small Arms TradeAbout as cheery as that sounds, but very nicely made. 
  • The Sound Of WarIt feels a bit flippant just dropping this here, but I'm not quite sure where else to put it. This is a recording, found in an attic, made during a firefight in Vietnam in 1966. It's the sound of gunfire and shouting and it's scary and unpleasant as you'd expect. It's also the sound of quite a lot of very scared, very young sounding men. Take this away and listen to it somewhere and have a bit of a think. 
  • What Word Magazine Looked LikeWord was one of the first online magazines, which launched in 1995. This is an archive of some of its pages, and a fascinating look back at what constituted cutting-edge web design back at the very beginning of web 1.0...
  • HaberdashboardHorrible name, VERY clever idea. This is basically an eBay overlay which makes the site's search work better for men's clothes. If you are a clothing brand that already sells on eBay, I'd get in touch with the people behind this asap. Were I not such a fashion idiot I would probably find this personally useful too, but I am scared of clothes. 
  • Comic CollagesMike Alcantara makes wonderful comic book-themes collages out of...er...comic books. They look very cool indeed, I think.
  • Audio Mixer For SoundcloudThis lets you mix tracks from Soundcloud in the manner of a DJ. IT IS FUN, play with it. Though don't use the Vietnam track from above, please. 
  • Dogs For Sale: This made me very happy on Monday - hopefully it will do the same for you, whenever you happen to be looking at it.
  • The 80s & 90s in NYC: An increasingly wonderful collection of pictures of New York from a few decades ago, curated by legendary musician Richie Beretta. Some great things in there, and very much worth a peruse. 
  • Photographs Rendered in PlayDohBecause someone, somewhere, has a lot of time on their hands (or, perhaps, has convinced a small child to spend their playtime replicating photos in playdoh and is sitting back waiting for the inevitable Christmas cash-in book deal that can be only weeks away. Smart).
  • Bacterial ArtA series of pretty pictures of nice-looking moulds growing in petri dishes. I realise that that sentence probably constitutes the very worst conversational option for that 'would you like to come back to my place and take a look at my etchings?' moment of dateromancing, but I promise you that these look quite cool and are pretty ungross as far as mould goes. 
  • Los Bravo BrothersI don't really know what this is or what it's about, but there are quite a lot of very cool little animated illustrations here which I quite liked and thought that you might too. 
  • Office FridgesA tribute to the horror and wonder that is the communal workplace fridge, source of literally millions of HILARIOUS 'reply all' email chain gags on a Friday afternoon (or at least they were if you worked at one of my former employers - *waves*).
  • POOPTOr, to explain, people passed out on public transportation. This needs more entries, and certainly a London version. Can we also have 'people standing on the wrong side of the escalator' and 'people who've literally just failed to get on the tube as the doors close and are now looking angrily inside the carriage with that slightly embarrassed sense of impotence that there isn't a name for even though there ought to be'? Thanks. 
  • Messing With Renaissance Paintings: Turning them into silly little animations actually improves a lot of them, it turns out.
  • Carter Family PortraitsInserting JayZ and Beyonce and their child into classical paintings, because that doesn't even feel that weird any more.
By Mikko Lagerstedt
  • Living Like Its 1986: This Canadian family is living the life of 28 years ago for 12 months in an effort to give their kids the childhood they remembered, apparently. I think that the father's decision to take on the moustache/mullet combination is possibly above and beyond the call of duty, but it's an interesting idea.
  • Caroline Criado Perez Speech On Cyber HarassmentWell, that Twitter boycott by the famouses and their friends put a stop to all that trolling unpleasantness, didn't it? Eh? Oh. Look, I know that that wasn't the point - but still, does that mean we can start thinking about the bigger issues which underpin all this rather than just shouting 'BAN!', ;BLOCK!', "REPORT!', like a flock of opinion seagulls? Thanks. This recent speech by the person who suffered the abuse which kickstarted the whole debate is very much worth reading, whatever side of the fence you come down on, if only as it gives a reasonable outline of where the battle-lines are.
  • Weird Hotel RoomsThis week's Reddit Gold comes in the form of this thread, inviting posters who've worked in hotels to share their oddest experiences. There are some pretty incredible stories in here, and there is a LOT of faecal matter (no photos, though, thank God). Who are the people who go to hotels and use them as some sort of performance art space for their scatological daubings? I bet some of them are reading this RIGHT NOW *stares out from monitor, darkly*.
  • Teen Drug Gangs Of NYC, 1996You may remember that I posted a very, very old profile piece of Chloe Sevigny a few months back, just around the time Kids came out. This is a different picture of the same world at the same time, looking at the teen gangs of very rich and very poor kids whose paths crossed around the weed scene in the city. Basically reads like Larry Clarke wrote it, which is either a recommendation or a red flag depending on your taste.
  • The 60s Marijuana DreamProbably the best piece in all of this week's longform selection, but VERY LONG, this is by Joshuah Bearman (who wrote Argo) and is all about 60s weed smuggling in California. Just a brilliant yarn about smugglers and contraband and how it all went sour, and almost certainly destined to become a film. As I always say at this point, WHY DO WE ONLY GET THIS SORT OF WRITING OUT OF THE US???
  • Barrett Brown - America's Least Likely Political PrisonerIf you've followed any of the stories around Anonymous and their battles with the legal system over the past few years then you will probably have heard of junkie journalist and Anonymous cheerleader Barrett Brown, a truly singular character who, as things stand, seems to be facing a potential 105 year jail term for not actually having done very much illegal at all. Another excellent piece from Rolling Stone, this profiles a very 21st century agent provacateur, who is either a genius or a complete fool (probably both).
  • Revisiting GuantanamoMolly Crabapple's second illustrated piece for VICE, reporting from Guantanamo. No less weird and Kafka-esque than the last one, but still essential reading. 
  • The Sikh Captain AmericaHappy, heartwarming story of the week - a Sikh man dresses up as Captain America and PEOPLE ARE NICE ABOUT IT. Obviously this didn't happen in Alabama or Tennessee, not that I'm sure that those aren't two of the most wonderfully tolerant places IN THE WORLD EVER, but still. Happymaking.
  • The Beat Tape In HipHop CultureBrilliant hiphop history, looking back at the era when DJs would scrape beats from vinyl to tapes, compile them and share them. Before you had every sample in the world, ever, at your fingertips, this is how music got made and distributed and how cultures were born. Sociologically interesting from the point of view of the development of REAL LIFE networks as well as all the rap-y stuff.
  • Gladiator 2 By Nick CaveNick Cave wrote a script to Gladiator 2, which was eventually canned. This is that script. The best thing about this, other than the insanity of the whole thing, is Russell Crowe's response to Cave's eager questioning on his opinion of the draft: "Don't like it, mate". 
  • The History of the London CoffeehouseBrilliant piece on the culture, customs and society of 17th-18th century London. Proves, amongst other things, that men really will find ANY excuse to escape their domestic lives and sit around together talking RUBBISH.
  • Who Was History's Greatest Badass?A thread on Quora which will make your jaw drop. Really, we are all PATHETIC by comparison. 
  • What It Means To Be Popular (When Everything Is Popular)Actually this is another must read - on what popularity means now in contemporary culture, how it should be defined, and how we relate to it as a concept. We sort of need new words for this - someone invent some, please.
  • The Diary Of The Juggalos, Pt3Continuing the chronicle of this year's visit to the white trash Glastonbury, this continues to be great reading. Even if you missed the other couple of parts a few weeks back, this is really good. Honest. 
  • The Weirdness Of The GuidestonesFinally, the strangest thing I saw all week. Who built these standing stones in the US? What are they for? NOONE KNOWS. Well, one man does but he's not telling. TV people, if you're reading this then my commission is MINIMAL.
  • Arresting For Reporting On The EDLSecond VICE link this week - sorry - this time to a piece by Simon Childs on how he was arrested whilst reporting on the EDL's march last weekend. Startling, mainly due to the inevitable conclusion that the reader draws - namely that we are moving towards a point where protest, of any sort, is deemed unacceptable. Bit worrying, that.
By these madmen

1) First up, we have the fabulously named 'Jackson and his Computer Band' with the song 'Dead Living Things', which as the title might suggest has a generally creepy and unpleasant video. It's nicely done, though, and I'm quite a fan of creepy and unpleasant videos, so here it is (also, the song's really, really good - or at least I think so, largely as it sounds like exactly the sort of indiepop I was buying on tape around 1994ish when I went to BIG CITIES with actual proper record shops and stuff): 

2) I don't know what this is. I mean, it's a video, it's called 'Poom', there's a website for it which suggests that it's a single that is being made available for sale...but I don't know who it's by, or anything else really. I do know that the video's awesome, and the song isn't my sort of thing at all but is kind of fun and shiny and plastic and electrodisco-y, and it feels like it should do quite well. Seriously though, the video is GREAT. Contains a naked bottom or two, but of both genders so I reckon that's ok:

3) This week's piece of stop-motion brilliance comes in the shape of this video called 'The Ballpoint Barber'. Marvel at the technique and how long it must have taken to do, and then, if you work for Gillette or Wilkinson Sword, book them to do your next online creative stuff. Go on, run, before the other lot get there first:

4)  This is pretty brilliant too, although equally baffling in terms of what it is or what it's for. I think it's dust, being moved by soundwaves, and filmed in superHD. Whatever it is, it looks beautiful and whoever made it is rather talented:

5) Phoenix are REALLY popular amongst quite a lot of my friends. In a desperate attempt to induce them to read this bloody blog, I am going to email them and tell them that there is something in here JUST FOR THEM, which will hopefully sort of make it ok when they realise that it's right at the bottom and they've had to wade through all that crap up there to get to this, which is a 20-minute short film made by Phoenix and which features them and some of their songs and is all FRENCH and ARTY and stuff:

6) They Might Be Giants are something of a Web Curios favourite, although last time I mentioned them I was pilloried for linking to 'Birdhouse In Your Soul' rather than 'Boss Of Me' (HAPPY NOW?) - anyway, this is their latest song which is called 'You're On Fire' and features whimsy and singing meat and is rather good unto the bargain:

7) Little Freak is the best student animation I saw all week. The facial expressions are just heartbreaking, and the acting's rather good too. A good 3-minute watch:

8) OK, I know that asking people to watch something that's a whole 17 minutes long is a stretch, but I implore you. This is called Noah, it recently won a lot of plaudits at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it's all about one young couple and social media, and it's told entirely through online interactions and it is BRILLIANT. Really, really brilliant. I can't recommend it highly enough - one to watch on Sunday afternoon with a mug of chocolate. It's not weird or dark at all, I promise:

9) Finally the weird thing. This is called 'Endtrip', it's meant to be a visual journey through a young woman's mind as she overdoses, and it's ODD. Tell you what, why not play this game - give a 'friend' some mid-strength hallucinogens, wait a few hours and then play them this - AND WATCH THEIR FACE. Gets properly 'good' around the 2 minute mark, but deserves to be watched all the way through from start to finish. Happy Friday (or whatever day it is when you're actually reading this):

That's it for now

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