43 minutes reading time (8674 words)

Web Curios 22/06/18

Web Curios 22/06/18

Hi! How are you! Still alive? GREAT!

It seems a bit redundant to kick this off with some sort of tired scream about how everything is in fact terrible and frightening, so I shan't. Instead, let's focus on the good and happy stuff - the sun is shining! It's Friday! Your team may or may not still be in the football! Maybe your fantasy team is doing well! Maybe your least favourite person in the office drew Argentina in the sweepstake! Tonight might be the night when you finally meet the person who will give you the illusion of completeness and with whom you might feel a momentary sense of connection in those brief, fleeting moments of complete personal honesty one feels immediately post-orgasm! WHO KNOWS!

Basically what I am trying to say is that we've reached the point in the crazy rollercoaster ride that is 2k18 where I think it's better for all concerned if we ignore reality entirely and just focus very hard on the screens in front of us as a desperate sort of coping mechanism. With this in mind, then, let me humbly lay before you this week's selection of ephemera, gathered from the farthest-flung corners of the world wide web, given a cursory cleaning and then lain before you - will you accept my offering? Will you take my gift, or will you just throw it back in my face like the ungracious swine I fear that some of you may in fact be? TAKE MY GIFT, WEBMONGS, I DO THIS ALL FOR YOU - this, as ever, is Web Curios.

tyler spangler

By Tyler Spangler



  • Insta TV: The tedious thing about writing this every week (the only one, I promise) is that very little in the world of s*c**l m*d** news is actually new - we’ve been waiting (I say we - I promise, I really haven’t at all) for this for nearly a month now, and so the impact of the announcement is slightly dulled (although not so much that the Today programme didn’t make it the fourth headline yesterday, which is sort of mental really). ANYWAY - LOOK! IT’S YOUTUBE ON INSTAGRAM!!!! I can’t really be bothered to go into the whole thing here (here’s a reasonable writeup if you’re in the market for real journalism), mainly as you’ll have heard about it all already, but the shortform precis is basically that a) you can now post video upto an hour long on Insta (and there are rumblings that they may go even longer in time); b) it’s all vertical; c) you can now skip through the videos a la YT; d) it has its own app in InstaTV, but can also be viewed through trad Insta; e) it’s firmly focused on single ‘creators’ (sorry, but that word really makes my teeth itch) and as such is pitched right at YouTube from a competitive point of view; and f) it’s ad free at the moment, but the nature of the IGTV app (you open it, video starts playing immediately, there’s a feed of STUFF from the people you follow on IG, etc) suggests that ‘pay to discover my stuff’ is likely to be one of the first monetisation options the platform explores. If you were wondering whether it’s worth investing in some training around shooting vertical, this probably ought to be the thing that tips you towards actually doing it.
  • Facebook Makes Video More Interactive: I’m not a senior person at YouTube (obviously; you think they have to write 8k words about webspaff every week to keep a vague sense of self-worth?), but if I were I might be feeling ever so slightly embattled this week what with all this aggressive manoeuvering from Facebook. This update is honestly really quite interesting - it’s part of a suite of creator-focused tweaks FB has made to its platform this week, and effectively means that the aforementioned ‘creators’ can make interactive bits using FB video with minimal fuss. Specifically, this will let people easily incorporate polls and quiz functionality in their videos - meaning, in theory, that anyone can start to make interactive entertainments using FB’s own tools. Were I HQ, I might start feeling a little like my days were numbered.
  • A Whole Bunch Of Other FB Stuff For ‘Creators’: God, that word. Horrid, isn’t it? Anyway, this is a load of other feature updates on FB for people who make stuff - there’s a reasonable amount of stuff in here, but none of it probably that relevant to any of you (ad breaks in vids, subscriptions to channels, etc) apart from the fact that Facebook’s starting to take control of the brand/talent relationship by offering the opportunity for brands to search for relevant ‘influencers’ directly through the app, and then get in touch with them without the tedium of having to go through the parasites at the influencer agency. I know I have been saying this for a year or so now, but it bears repeating: if you work in ‘influencer marketing’, you a) are a dreadful person; b) need to get out now before the bottom absolutely disappears from this silly, made-up market.
  • Facebook Launching Paid Tier to Groups: Turns out it’s not only YouTube that Facebook’s looking to fcuk, it’s Patreon too! This is a really interesting move imho - FB is launching a paid tier to Groups, meaning that adins can effectively create a tiered membership scheme, with access to ‘premium’ content restricted to Group members who pony up some cash. Which, effectively, turns this into a rather neat crowd subscription service with inbuilt reach and promo capabilities; a pretty strong lure. Although can I just quote the following to you, which made me die slightly inside: “One such community leader looking to support her work, Sarah Mueller, started a group called Declutter My Home as a way to inspire and motivate others to tidy up their apartment or house. The group quickly became an active community for helping tens of thousands of people across the world to reduce clutter in their spaces. With her new subscription group, Organize My Home, members will be able to work together on bite-sized projects, and have access to easily actionable checklists, tutorials, live videos and more to help with home organization.” CAN YOU IMAGINE THE INNER LIFE OF PEOPLE WHO PAY ACTUAL CASHMONEY FOR ADVICE ON HOW TO TIDY STUFF????
  • FB Launching Autoplay Video Ads In Messenger: You know who wants autoplay video ads in their messages? LITERALLY NOONE! This is a terrible ad format that noone ought to buy, ever.
  • YouTube Also Adds New Stuff For ‘Creators’: The more I type it, the more that word makes me feel ill. Anyway, in the face of this rampant corporate aggression from Zuckerberg’s Big Blue Misery Factory, YouTube is also adding new features for the people who make stuff to make it money (look, if I can avoid writing the ‘c’ word again then by God I’m going to)  - subscriptions, priority chats, that sort of thing. None of you are YouTubers, I’m pretty sure, so you’re unlikely to care too much about this, but WEVS, at least I’m thorough. Mind you, based on the following quote, I’m tempted to start a YouTube series about, I don’t know, Muggsy the bug-eyed webmong - “Just take a look at Joshua Slice’s merchandise shelf. The creator of Lucas the Spiderrecently turned his hero character into a plushie selling over 60,000 furry friends and generating over $1 million in profit in just 18 days”. $1m ON PLUSH CUTE SPIDER TOYS IN
  • LinkedIn Adds Carousel Ads: It’s almost impossible to make this interesting, so I’m not going to try.
  • Amazon Launches Alexa for Hospitality: MechaBezos’ mission to ensure that one of his incredibly sinister spy microphones is installed in every single human-occupied space in the world continues apace with this, the announcement that Amazon’s actively courting hoteliers to include the tech in their rooms. Whilst the human in me is obviously really not into this at all, the advermarketingprdrone is obviously tumescent with excitement at the possibilities for brands to create bespoke Alexa skills for travellers; if you were Time Out, say, the idea of a ‘what’s on in XX city today, Alexa?’ recipe is too obvious to ignore, no?
  • Uber Trialing Cheap Rides If You Wait: This has literally nothing at all to do with brands, really, but I wanted to point it out to you because there is nothing more dystopianly scifi as the idea that Uber is contemplating employing tiered service delivery based on how much you’re willing to pay. Welcome to the future, kids, in which the rich are never late and the poor, by contrast, have to wait until 3am to be able to afford a cab. I fcuking hate the ‘slippery slope’ argument in philosophy, but this is exactly what this is and I don’t like it one iota.
  • FFS England: This is a classic piece of PR and I like it a lot - a promo for LivingDNA, promoting its self-testing DNA kits, based around the ‘insight’ that England always leave the World Cup early (btw, I say this is someone who wants literally ANYONE but England to win any football game ever, but I have an ominously good feeling about Gareth’s Plucky Young Lions, fwiw) and offering fans the chance to win a free DNA test in order to find out who their second team ought to be. Simple, smart, and let down only (sorry, but I have to find something to complain about) by some slightly shonky webwork (the website’s not bad, but it would be nicer if it didn’t look and feel like it was a Squarespace template).
  • Idea Mic Drop: I am SURE I have featured this before, possibly over 6 years ago, but seeing as it’s Cannes week (about which I am going to say nothing other than that the fact that Mother won for the KFC ‘FCK’ ad buy sort of puts the final nail in this as festival of creativity) then here’s another chance to enjoy this wonderful idea generator. Who knows, YOU could win a Lion next year too!!
  • FutureFest: Nesta’s annual festival of all things techfuturey is happening in a few weeks’ time - they kindly invited me to drink free booze at their launch thingy last night, so the least I can do is plug it here. It actually looks rather good - if perhaps a little lacking in deep focus - and the lineup of speakers is 60% female which is laudable for a conference in this space. Check it out, there are some interesting sessions on futuretechweirdness which will appeal to Curios readers.

rob mulholland

By Rob Mulholland




  • Spotify Rewind: LOOK OUTSIDE IT IS SUMMER!!! Not that you can enjoy it - you’re at work, aren’t you, probably, wasting your time doing pointless tasks for less money than you think you’re worth and failing to make the world a better place on an hourly basis - but, if you could, then perhaps this new musictoy from Spotify will help you enjoy it. Connect your account and it will compile you a playlist of ‘summer’ tracks just for you, based on stuff you’ve listened to over summers past. Remember - if what it presents to you is awful, unlistenable garbage then it’s all your fault.
  • Photo Roulette: This came to me via Lauren Epstein’s lovely occasional newsletter, and is just GREAT - a simple idea where you are presented with a series of historical images from the Library of Congress’ website and asked to guess what year they are from, taking you on a gently ludic journey through history via the medium of photography. Basically anyone with a photo archive at their disposal really ought to rip this off, because, well, why not?
  • Crown: As I feel I have said more often than is necessary, I’ve never done online dating - that said, from what I can tell from the web, it’s...well, it’s sort of over, isn’t it? I mean, all I seem to see is people complaining about how it’s a cesspit full of unsolicited dickpics and abuse and men (it’s always men, isn’t it? Fcuking men) being twats and, generally, noone seems to actually meet and fcuk on Tinder anymore, they just go in it so they can have something to bitch about on Twitter. BUT! THIS IS A NEW DATING APP! IT MAKES THE WHOLE PROCESS MORE LIKE A GAME!!! That...sounds terrible, really, doesn’t it? What will make the process of dating online even better? Oh, I know, let’s lower the stakes even further and increase the likelihood that you see the faces cropping up on your screen as weird non-human toys put there for your enjoyment rather than actual humans! Anyway, Crown is by one of the people behind Tinder, so may well be the next BREAKOUT DATING SUCCESS! “Every day at noon, you’re presented with 16 curated matches, picked by some mysterious algorithm. You move through the matches by choosing who you like more between two people at a time. That is, the screen displays two photos instead of one, and you “crown” your winner. (Get it?) This process then repeats with two people shown at a time, until you reach your “Final Four.”” Sounds, well, ghastly, but who knows, maybe you’ll meet the person who’ll make you miserable for years through it!
  • NASA Spacecraft: A site collecting 3d models of all the satellites that NASA has sent into space over the past 60-odd years. Notable in the main for the fact that literally 90% of the machines in question look almost exactly like the sort of crap 6 year old boys make with LEGO, all spiky and misshapen and implausible. I know that the aesthetics really aren’t important here, but, really, satellite designers, try a little harder to make something that doesn’t resemble a frightened porcupine with priapism.
  • Vframe: Regular readers may have noticed my slight...skepticism when it comes  to AI and related issues - ‘machine learning’ is in fact pretty fcuking rudimentary database analysis at heart, and whilst neural nets achieve hugely impressive results they are some way from being anything which I would accurately describe as ‘intelligence’ - but occasionally I see stuff, like this, which makes me appreciate quite how amazing and useful this stuff can already be. Vframe is image recognition tech specifically designed for human rights organisations, which “is developing tools to detect evidence of illegal munitions; filter graphic content to reduce vicarious trauma; efficiently search for related visual media in large datasets (over 1M videos); and a web annotation platform to construct custom datasets for training computer vision models.” Given the fact that Amnesty International employs people to give PTSD support to the people who have already given PTSD support, anything that reduces the emotional burden of this sort of thing can only be considered A Good Thing.
  • FindSounds: A search engine for sound files. It looks shonky as hell, but I just typed in ‘farts’ and got a whole load of .wav files back so, frankly, aesthetics be damned.
  • The Hip Hop Radio Archive: Oh WOW. This is a WONDERFUL collection of digitised recordings of hiphop radio shows from the 80s and 90s, mostly from the US but including some from the UK, Australia and elsewhere - you can search by title or browse them by title and country, but however you choose to explore it this is a truly fantastic wealth of classic hiphop radio - I am writing this whilst listening to snippets from the Capital Rap Show from 1986 and it is ACE. Seriously, any of you into hiphop really need to spend some time with this.
  • The USDA Pomological Watercolours: You weren’t aware, were you, when you awoke this morning that what you REALLY wanted to make your day complete was access to a huge database of watercolour paintings of fruit and vegetables? This, you see, is why Web Curios is such a deeply satisfying and HUGELY WIDELY READ resource - it literally knows you better than you know yourself. This is, I promise, more interesting than you’d think - it also excitedly announces on its homepage that it includes 3,807 images of apples which is so oddly cute I might die.
  • Not OK: The older I get, the more I find myself becoming slightly cranky and hairy-eared about YOUNG PEOPLE and YOUNG PEOPLE’S ISSUES (yes kids, we are all terrified and uncertain and scared, it doesn’t get any better and YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL); that curmudgeonly attitude aside, this app is an interesting idea. It’s designed to be a simple and easy...I suppose ‘distress flare’ is basically the best way of describing it, whereby users can ask the app to send an ‘I need help’-type message to a preselected list of contacts, with their current location. A smart, simple way of letting people know you’re in trouble, this is a neat piece of tech - although I can equally imagine that your friends’ goodwill stores might well be exhausted if you use it every time you get upset because Tesco Metro runs out of avocados (HAHAHAH MILLENNIAL STEREOTYPEZZZZZZZZZZZZZ).
  • The Sheffield Tape Archives: Another EXCELLENT online music repository, this - the Sheffield Tape Archives is “a series of archive recordings from around 1980 onwards: sheffield bands, demos, concerts and rarities”, and contains everything from Smiley Culture to...well, a whole bunch of local bands who you’ve never heard of but who might be your new favourites. Worth a dig around for the musically curious, this.
  • Blood Is Blood: This (imho) is a great initiative ruined by being slightly too edgy. I didn’t know this, but gay people in the US aren’t allowed to donate blood because of antiquated legislation dating from the time of the AIDS crisis - this is a campaign to overturn that legislation, selling tshirts and donating the proceeds to an LGBT healthcare organisation. The gimmick? The tees are printed with ink made from the (freely donated) blood of gay men - the ink was made by Stuart Semple, part of his continuing experimentation with pigment and production techniques. It’s SUCH a clever, if macabre, idea, which makes the slogan that the tees are printed with all the more annoying; I don’t care how edgy it is, wearing a tshirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘THIS SHIRT IS PRINTED WITH THE BLOOD OF GAY MEN’ is very much the sort of thing which will cause you one or two issues wandering around town.
  • Put Her Forward: I am just going to C&P the mission statement here - this is A Good Idea, and you should get involved: “put her forward is an artwork by non zero one that recognises living women who have done remarkable things to positively impact the people around them.There are 925 public statues in the UK. 158 of these are women, and of these only 25 are of non-mythical, non-royal women. There are more statues of people called John. There are more statues of goats. With your nominations we aim to double the statues of non-mythical, non-royal women in England by September 2018. You are invited to nominate living women who you think should be recognised for the positive impact they have had on others. Up to 25 women will be selected from these nominations, to be 3D scanned and printed into small sandstone figures. Each new statue will be unveiled at locations across England during Heritage Open Day weekends of 6th-9th and 13th-16thSeptember 2018.” More statues of goats, ffs.
  • Tastespotting: Thanks to the lovely Lee for sending this my way - this is a GREAT site for foodies, featuring a huge collection of recipes, helpfully searchable by ingredient. Hugely useful and very much worth bookmarking, although annoyingly it’s mostly US stuff meaning you have to deal with fcuking cups, the most annoying unit of measurement in the known universe.
  • Prove It: This is a really interesting idea. Effectively piggybacking on the success of HQ, Prove It is a quiz app that you can play for money - the difference being that you’re playing directly against other people in a head-to-head scenario, making it effectively a multiplayer competitive quiz machine. Only in the US at the moment, but it’s interesting to see how the market for payout quiz stuff is going to develop - I do wonder whether the FB interactive stuff is going to stymie the development of these types of things. Also, this (or HQ, or something else) is SO going to be a Daily Mail “YOUR KIDS ARE ALL ADDICTED TO QUIZGAMBLING” story by the end of the year, FYI.
  • Missing In Footy: So, the WorldCup (in my head the tournament is always pronounced in one word, in the manner that Svennis always said it)! SO MUCH FOOTBALL! As previously mentioned, Italy’s failure to qualify (another reason to be massively disappointed in my motherland) means I don’t really give anything resembling a fcuk about the tournament this time around, but in the interests of satisfying those of you stricken with WORLD CUP FEVER, here’s a collection of rather lovely player portraits depicting some of those players who aren’t included in the official Panini sticker selection due to being surprise or last-minute picks. These are ACE.
  • Sweet Left Foot: A lovely collection of little 3d animations depicting World Cup moments, made by Fiasco Design and charmingly made. The one of Harry Kane getting taken out is particularly lovely.
  • Dreams: A brilliant series of interviews with one player from each team at this year’s World Cup - personal, intimate, revealing, and really well-written. Props to the team behind this, these really are superb; you may have seen the Romelu Lukaku one doing the rounds online, and the Raheem Sterling one, which dropped literally as I’m typing this, is set to do similar numbers - it’s lovely to read stuff which treats footballers as actual human beings rather than fetish objects, frankly.
  • Google Podcasts: If you do Android, and you like podcasts, Google’s newly-released podcast app is possibly worth a look - it’s apparently a bit light on ‘power user’ features (someone in the reviews complains about only being able to listen to stuff at 1.2x speed, which as weird - as my friend Nick pointed out, anything faster than that is “just spirited consonants), but as a search and discovery portal it seems pretty functional.
  • Inside The Sound: “Universal Everything poses the question: how does it feel to step Inside the Sound? Inside the Sound is the start of an ongoing series of immersive 360º environments that embraces the potential of VR. Each of the six environments takes the form of an infinitely looping audio­visual creation, which visualises the sensations triggered by its sounds, allowing the viewer to explore a multisensory space in ways only achievable in 360º” These are really rather cool, and pleasingly synaesthetic (to me at least).

amber vittoria

By Amber Vittoria



  • Slowmo With AI: Department of slightly-creepy futurevideo pt.1 - this is a tech demo from Nvidia (one of a few I’ve featured this year, on reflection) showcasing their nascent tech which, using machine learning to create super-slowmo videos from normal videos - effectively (NB - this is me sort of guessing at how this works, so apologfies if it’s totally fcuking wrong) the software ‘looks’ at a video and ‘imagines’ (it’s quite hard to write about this stuff without overusing inverted commas, turns out) what missing frames could be so as to enable them to be slowed down with high fidelity. The results in the linked vid are honestly remarkable; now all we need is tech that does the ‘ZOOM!’ photo enhancement stuff from CSI.
  • Machine Imagined Japan Idol Faces: Department of slightly-creepy futurevideo pt.2 - this is a short film showing all the faces that a neural net ‘imagined’ based on being trained on a corpus of contests in ‘Japan Idol’. Seriously, watch this and then look forward 5 years to a point where it’s literally impossible to tell whether someone in a video is real or CG-created. Is that a nice thought? Is it? It is, I content, not a nice thought at all.
  • OMDO: This is Doom, the classic 90s PC shooter, except entirely redone so that every single frame is a Magic Eye-type image - basically you can’t play this without being boss-eyed. Obviously a silly and pointless idea, but, hey, what do you expect?
  • A Butt With A View: An Insta meme account all about gay culture, using images largely taken from gay bongo. I say this as a breeder, but this made me laugh LOTS. Also, the name is ace.
  • The Diana Instant Square Camera: Hipster photography enthusiasts! A Kickstarter for you! This is basically a lomo x polaroid cross; if you like the idea of being able to do all sorts of fancy exposure play and fx work AND of being able to work your wrists trying to make the pics dry off then this is the crowdfunding campaign for you.
  • The End of the World: Another entry in the occasional Web Curios series of ‘podcasts I haven’t listened to because, frankly, life is too fcuking short for me to add another inefficient method of information consumption to the already kilometric list of sources I trawl through every week’, this is a new one in which the hosts “ask some of the UK’s top poets to re-tell some of their favourite myths, fairytales and legends. The stories they want to seal up for future generations – protecting them from rising waters, from nuclear disaster, and from the mundane tragedy of human forgetfulness. What kind of stories do we want to leave the future? How might they differ from the stories we’ve inherited?” Sounds cool.
  • The 2018 Nature Conservancy Photo Awards: Amazing photos of animals and nature (and the odd bit of urbanity too). Honestly, these are astonishing - perhaps a touch HDR-heavy, fine, but there are some remarkable compositions in here.
  • DeepJ: This is very cool and hugely impressive, though I’m obviously totally at a loss as to how it actually works. DeepJ is an ‘AI’ (not AI) piano playing bot, which will compose melodies on the fly which you can adjust using the on-site sliders to make the output more or less baroque, romantic, modern, etc. Give it a year or so and this sort of thing will be tied to image recognition stuff to attempt to soundtrack video on the fly based on its interpretation of what’s going on - which might finally put an end to Hans Zimmer phoning it in on every single big-budget production ever.
  • Leap Motion Table Tennis: Last week I mistakenly identified something as being by Leap Motion when it in fact wasn’t - THE SHAME! (Thanks to Peter for being the sub I can’t be fcuked to be) Anyway, this IS LeapMotion, or at least a video purporting to show it in action, and it shows the tech being used to play virtual table tennis and, Christ, this is so scifi it hurts (still don’t think it’s real, though).
  • Winds: Personally speaking I’ve never really been able to get on with RSS readers - they just don’t click for me for whatever reason, and so I’m forced (KAMPF!) to trawl through 40-odd website a day manually to get the assorted linkgoodness you’re currently feasting on (and do you thank me? Do you fcuk, you appalling ingrates); if, though, you’re more inclined towards them than I am, Winds is a potentially useful tool. It’s not hugely revolutionary - pick your interest categories /  feeds, set them up in tabs, etc - but it includes podcasts and videos, and the UX/UI is pleasingly efficient. See what you think.
  • Blackout Technologies: This is really, really interesting tech. Blackout Technologies effectively make mobile/app blocking exclusion tech - the idea being that businesses can use their systems to set up physically defined areas within which they can limit mobile functionality, from app usage to actual phone function. So, for example, you could make it impossible for employees to use their phone’s camera within your building, or to use Insta - it’s opt-in, insofar as people have to have the software installed on their phone for it to be able to act on the device, but you can imagine multiple use-cases for this sort of thing as part of, say, proprietary apps. You want to keep events Tweet-free, or stop dreadful pricks from using their phones at the theatre, this is potentially a very useful thing indeed.
  • Tabletop Football: By the time 2022 comes around and we’re all pretending that Qatar is a perfectly reasonable place to be hosting an international football tournament, this may well be the way in which we’re watching the games. This is proof-of-concept tech, fine, but OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE 3D FOOTBALL MATCH BEING PLAYED OUT ON A TABLE THIS IS INCREDIBLE. FIFA 2024, right here.
  • Cove: This is an interesting idea - Cove is an app designed to let people express their feelings via music, the idea being that it’s sometimes easier to communicate your feelings sonically rather than verbally. It’s part music making toy, part mood diary, and the idea is that users compose short musical snippets to reflect their current emotional state using the inbuilt, simple synth software; you can go back through your compositions to see how you were feeling at any given point and keep track of your highs and lows. Aside from anything else, there’s something gloriously synaesthetic (second time I’ve mentioned that this morning, oddly) about the idea which appeals to me hugely.
  • This Sounds Serious: A comedy podcast, which I obviously haven’t listened to and which might as a result be crap, riffing off the whole idea of Serial and other such crimewank material. Is it good? I don’t fcuking know, why don’t you listen to it and tell me? Do I have to do EVERYTHING??
  • Dinaa Amin’s Stop Motion Animations: Literally exactly that - the YT channel of Dinaa Amin who makes charming little stop-motion animations; the ones in which she takes apart small bits of machinery and animates their insides are LOVELY, and far better than that ham-fisted description makes them sound.
  • Nastybot: A rather nice idea, this, which sadly isn’t fully functional due to limitations on Facebook’s messenger tech - the idea behind it was to create a Messenger bot which would help people (most likely women, because us men are seemingly incapable of not being absolute fcuking trash online, innit) deal with unwanted, unsolicited approaches online. As it stands, you can ask the bot for advice on how to respond to and deal with harassment - the ultimate aim is to be able to integrate it into a users’ own Messenger so as to allow the bot to deal with the wankers so you don’t have to, which is SUCH a good idea. Here’s hoping FB opens up the platform a bit to allow for more of this sort of stuff.
  • The World of Playing Cards: Literally EVERYTHING you could ever want to know about playing cards, and, in all likelihood, an awful lot of stuff you really didn’t want to know about at all.
  • Vivisectionary: Kate Lacour is an illustrator - this is a collection of her incredibly odd, bleak and macabre drawings. Very much in the vein of Joan Cornella in terms of tone, but more 18C in visual style, these are really rather wonderful.
  • 24h London: One of those massively zoomable, super hi-res photos, this time of London - the gimmick here is that not only is it HUGE AND ZOOMABLE, but it also cycles through a 24h day/night cycle so you can enjoy watching our beatiful, fcuked, broken capital cycle through a whole rotation. Lovely.
  • Brian Sum: Brian Sum is an Illustrator who draws manga-style mech/robots. This is a collection of his work, and Christ is it good.
  • The Mckenzie Tapes: ANOTHER excellent repository of old school music recordings - “The McKenzie Tapes is a collection of live audio recordings from some of New York City-area most prominent music venues of the 1980s and 1990s. The collection itself was recorded by David McKenzie, a Kearny, NJ-native and former Maxwell's employee (that's him pictured above!).  It spans mostly from 1985 to 1993, and includes shows played not only at Maxwell's, but also The Ritz, Irving Plaza, City Gardens, and more.” Literally EVERYONE you can imagine is on here, no joke - this is a truly incredible archive of material, though as you can imagine the quality’s variable.
  • Notifications: A Twitter bot which punts out notifications which aren’t - “There are no updates to install”; “There are no new posts”, etc. Sort of funny, but if I’m honest this made me feel quite bleakly miserable about everything to do with s*c**l fcuking m*d**.
  • Reasons to be Cheerful: David Byrne is not only the bloke behind talking heads, he’s also a big fan of HAPPY NEWS, and as such launched this site earlier this year which collects GOOD NEWS from around the world. It’s the latest in a long line of similar initiatives, which are all well and good but ignore the fact that as a species we are hard-wired for schadenfreude - noone slows on the motorway to look at the non-crashes, do they? Oh David, you sweet, optimistic fool!
  • Somnivexillology: This is SO wonderfully odd - Somnivexillology (so good I had to type it twice) is a subReddit dedicated to images of frightening flags people have dreamed of - YES THERE IS A WORD FOR THAT ISN’T LANGUAGE AMAZING!!! Have YOU ever had a dream about a terrifying, imaginary flag? Do YOU want to share that terror with a community of like-minded, imaginary flag-fearing individuals? Well aren’t YOU in luck?
  • Scribit: Another non-dreadful Kickstarter! This is honestly AMAZING, and I am not 100% certain I believe it works as described, but let’s give it the benefit of the doubt; it’s a little robot drawing machine which you can program using designs found online and which will DRAW ON YOUR WALLS! Literally - it will climb all over your walls and write/draw whatever you tell it to. I am backing this for the pure joy of being able to use it to write “YOU ARE ALL MEDIOCRITIES” all over the walls of the next place to sack me.
  • Wankcoin: A cryptocurrency designed specifically for paying for bongo. Look, if you still think that the blockchain is going to SAVE THE WORLD then perhaps look at this and readjust your expectations accordingly.
  • The Crying Game: Not really a game, more of a short story delivery mechanism - this is beautiful, just click it and see.
  • Reunited: An excellent, simple-yet-fiendish puzzle game - you control two characters, one per turn, and your goal is simply to reunite them so that they can kiss. Starts easy, gets braintwistingly tricky very quickly indeed.
  • Zeppelin Adventure: A classic, Zork-style text adventure with a web-friendly interface, I enjoyed this very much indeed - it’s a very nice piece of work, and well-written to boot.
  • Going Home: Finally this week, an honestly GORGEOUS animated picturebook all about a small robot - it’s in Korean, so you’ll need to ask Google to translate the webpage, but then just sit back and enjoy it. It is SO CUTE, and, honestly, the final frames made me do a small emo at my screen. If you aren’t in some small way emotionally affected by this then you are even more dead inside than I am, which, frankly, really is saying something.

martin jonsson

By Martin Jonsson



  • Scott Park Illustration: Scott Park, as far as I can tell, is an illustrator - this is his Tumblr. Really nice, clean, vector-ish stuff here.
  • That’s Not Fun: Not in fact a Tumblr, I don’t think (why the fcuk do I bother with taxonomy if all I’m going to do is ignore it? WHY???)! Still, it’s Tumblr-ish in feel, so I’ll stick it here - this is Bennett Foddy (famed indie game creator of such impossible/frustrating titles as ‘Getting Over It’) giving occasional recommendations as to games he likes - it’s a rather nice repository of recommendations for stuff you might not have heard of.
  • Juchechat: This appears to be a North Korean propaganda blog. Who knew that Kim was a Tumblr kid?!
  • Kisz Kiloski: The best ‘silly little animated gifs from arty images’ site I have seen in an age, this stuff is really very good indeed.


  • The Dumbest Students: A truly SPECTACULAR Reddit thread, in which teachers recount the most spectacular examples of student idiocy they have witnessed. I encourage you to go through these thoroughly, as there are some absolute gems in here - my personal favourite is “I had a student who wrote an art history paper about Leonard Davin Chi”, but there are SO many great ones.
  • The 100 Greatest YouTube Videos Of All Time: I mean, this is entirely subjective and misses out some CLASSICS (how they haven’t included the yolk kiss I will never know), but if you want an superb way to pass the next 4 hours at your desk then YOU’RE WELCOME.
    • Making Trainers Go Viral: An excellent piece looking at the sad, beggy reality of brands (in this case Adidas, in a rare misstep for them) attempting to make their stuff go viral. There’s a sad reality at the heart of this that this sort of stuff does actually work, in the same way that putting hashtags on TV ads or title credits is literally the only way to get normal people to actually use the damn things (and even then, not so much).
    • Rating Your Servers: One of the lesser-discussed side effects of the gig ecomomy is the increasing readiness of us as consumers to offer ratings to the services we receive - ostensibly as a means of helping service providers like Uber maintain the quality of the offering, but, perhaps more accurately, also as means for said service providers to regulate and control their workforce. This piece looks at the impact of server-rating tech into restaurants in the US; honestly, the descriptions of the effect of this on the wellbeing of staff are chilling, and it’s a useful reminder of the fact that you probably ought to give everyone 5* all the time because, frankly, they’ll probably get sacked otherwise.
    • The Mass-Doubling Golf Ball:Or, in full, “How long would you have before you ran into trouble if you were given a golf ball that doubled in density once an hour?” Quora is a largely horrible mess of a site - seriously, there is some very weird and dodgy stuff being spouted on there if you dig hard enough - but occasionally it  throws up some gems. This is a serious(ish) investigation into how long it would take for the golf ball in question to completely destroy the Earth - honestly, the physics in here are just mind-boggling.
    • Stamford Was A Lie: I was AMAZED at this - turns out that the Stamford Prison Experiment, the go-to example for everyone when talking about systems of coercion and control, and how power corrupts and all that, was in fact largely faked. This is a fascinating and in-depth series of interviews with participants which reveal quite how much of the experiments results were faked by participants who were just looking for course credits; I’d be fascinated to know what impact this has on other long-standing theories of psychology which have stemmed from this.
    • I Saw Jake Paul Live: As we move towards a future in which literally EVERYONE is a creator, and EVERYONE is an influencer, let’s take a moment to ‘enjoy’ this report of a Jake Paul LIVE event in NYC, in which the YouTuber effectively does a 6-hour hard sell of merch to tweens and their parents. This is mad and horrifying and bleak, not least for the impression it gives of there being a near-infinite conveyor belt of Paul replacements waiting in the wings for when he finally decides that it’s no longer everyday, bro.
    • The Death of New York City: A superb essay on the evisceration of New York by money, and the slow fading of atmosphere and culture and community that cities experience when they become the preserve of the super-rich. Even if you don’t know New York this is worth a read, in part as it’s excellent writing but in the main because the parallels with London are myriad and miserable. Can we not just send all the cnuts to Dubai where they belong, to eat gold leaf-plated sushi in the cultural desert where they belong? No? WHY NOT???
    • Digital Archives and the Human Experience: An exploration of what is lost when archives exist digitally rather than physically. There’s a slight sense of ‘old man shouts at clouds’ about this, fine, but the basic point - that the lack of physicality makes a material difference to the way in which archives are explored and experienced, and this in turn leads to practical changes in the manner in which the archived materials are appreciated, processed and considered - is a strong one. I love the anecdote buried within the piece that Leonard Cohen explicitly forbade the digitisation of his archive so as to force future scholars to go through the source materials by hand; there’s something wonderfully cussed about that which I can’t help but admire.
    • Afroswing: A really good snapshot of the UK’s urban  music scene, specifically focusing on how the scene is being increasingly influenced by the collision of African and Caribbean sounds from the nth-generation of immigrants’ kids. A nice look at how the country’s sonic style’s evolving to reflect the makeup of its population, and how genres cross and collide to create something completely new, and a decent primer if you’re looking for some new sounds.
    • Astrology Memes: After witches, we have astrology as our big new online trend - this looks at why that might be (clue: because everything is fcuked and everyone is terrified and we are all clutching at any available straws for meaning and comfort in a world seemingly gone utterly mental), how this is manifesting itself, and how it’s just another layer in the weird dance of ironic sincerity which seemingly everyone
    • Wrestling With My Father: A heartbreaking portrait of the author’s relationship with their emotionally closed, borderline-abusive father; every single cliche about men being incapable of emotion, of being able to communicate only through physicality and violence, about power dynamics and masculine stereotypes, is painfully embodied in this. Thank Christ that we’re slowly moving away from the sort of society in which this is the only type of ‘manliness’ that is accepted or celebrated.
    • How To Spot A Perfect Fake: A SUPERB longread in the Guardian, profiling art forgery detector James Martin, employed by Sotheby’s to ensure the veracity of the works it sells. The art world is, as I may have mentioned before, utterly mental and quite spectacularly corrupt, and the depth of the investigations that Martin undertakes to determine the veracity or otherwise of a work’s claimed provenance is astonishing.
    • Forty-five Things I Learned In The Gulag: Pretty much the diametric opposite of the sort of crap lists you see published on LinkedIn, this - 45 lines penned by a former prisoner in a Soviet gulag on the lessons he managed to derive from his incarceration. There will be at least one of these that speaks to you, I promise.
    • Bell Pottinger: I’ve been doing vaguely comms-ish jobs since the early 00s (well, pretending to do them in exchange for money, more accurately); even back when I started as a lobbyist, Bell Pottinger were spoken of in slightly hushed terms as, well, bad cnuts. This is a quite astonishing New Yorker piece, charting the company’s demise in the wake of its dodgy dealings with the Guptas in South Africa, but that doesn’t tell half the story - for those of you who don’t work in this milieu, it’s worth noting that a) there are a LOT of other firms that do this stuff, all of whom are now a lot better off since they picked up BP’s old contracts; b) lobbying and public affairs are, in the main, truly filthy industries (you want to know who might in part be to blame for Grenfell? Why not try tracing back to the people who successfully lobbied councils for a relaxation of building safety regulations for tower blocks, for example?); c) Bell Pottinger were awful, but they were not unique.
    • Sex Workers Vs The Internet: A look at how sex workers in the US are using online platforms to find, and vet, clients, and how those online platforms are effectively traducing them and leaving them increasingly vulnerable, financially and physically. Without wishing to get all Big Nev about this, the fact that there’s still not any sort of adequate system of safeguarding the rights of sex workers here in 2k18 is slightly revolting.
    • The Radical Sensibleness of Gareth Southgate: I confess I wasn’t expecting to read the best profile of an England manager I have ever read in the pages of the New Yorker, and yet here we are. There’s a wonderful, slightly bemused tone throughout this, as though the author and indeed the whole magazine can’t quite get their heads around the weirdness of England’s relationship with their own national team (and identity, frankly), which fits the whole piece perfectly.
    • The Hod Complex: This is ASTONISHINGLY good - an exhaustive look back at England’s performance in the 1998 World Cup, and in particular at the breakdown in relations between the team and their manager, God’s own Glen Hoddle - not only a wonderful trip down memory lane, but packed with honest-to-goodness jawdropping anecdotes - the stuff about David Beckham’s stalker is mental, and makes you realise quite how collectively insane this country can become when goaded by certain sections of the gutter press.
    • Nobody Likes Me: I can’t really explain what this is about - it’s sort of about eating worms, but it really isn’t - so I’ll just say that it’s a lovely piece of writing, and a very strange one, and that you really ought to read it.
    • Ode To The Dinkus: If you work in publishing - or if, simply, you are a more erudite person than I - you might have heard the term ‘dinkus’ before. I had not, but now know that it refers to the trio of asterisks used to connote the passage of time or a change in scene between paragraphs in a novel. This piece is a joyous appreciation of it, revelling in the pleasure of language and form, and full of honestly superb writing throughout; it’s truly wonderful, and not a little happymaking.
    • The Trouble With Johnny Depp: Depp, it’s fair to say, isn’t having a great few years - his films suck, he’s been outed as an abusive drunk, and he’s bankrupt (or thereabouts). Oh, and the beauty of his youth has been replaced by the sort of puffy physique that speaks of far too much fine living (and cocaine, so much cocaine). This profile of him in Rolling Stone is honestly sort of heartbreaking - the man is obviously a total wanker, true, but he’s also an incredibly lonely-seeming one; the writer’s final observation, of Depp in a hugely expensive London mansion surrounded only by people who are paid to be there, is rather tragic. Love the detail about his hash and tobacco being pre-sorted for him, though.
    • A Farewell to Fuckboys: Minda Honey writes for longreads on sex and relationships and personal stuff - this is a column of hers from a few weeks back, on how she’s spent a lifetime with the wrong men in the wrong places at the wrong time. She is a SUPERB writer who I think you’ll be hearing a lot more of; this really is very good indeed.
    • Whale Fall: Short, odd, and truly beautiful, this is a piece of fiction by Alvin Park; take it as a metaphor for whatever you like, but enjoy the prose as you do so - glorious.
    • First Impressions: Finally this week, the sort of thing which should be dreadful and yet is surprisingly wonderful. I’ll quote the author’s own description and then leave you to get on with it: “First Impressions” consists entirely of first sentences from 268 short stories published in The New Yorker over the past 20 years, from 1997 to 2017, all of which are cited below. After collecting every first sentence, I found they fell into a number of patterns, some surprising, others obvious: points of view, different tenses, genre fiction like western and military, stories set in smalltown America, stories set in Montana (oddly there were a lot), etc. I then arranged these patterns into a sequence of vignettes, a short story in its own right.” So, so good.

    gregory halpern

    By Gregory Halpern


  1. First up this week, digital artist and general pioneer of neural net stuff Mario Klingemann has made something AWESOME. This is Take On Me by A-Ha, with the video reimagined by a neural net - it ‘sees’ the original, and then attempts to recreate what it ‘sees’ using images and footage plucked from elsewhere. Honestly, this is quite incredible:


2) This is called ‘Coexist’. It’s a bit hard to explain, so I suggest you just watch it - such a lovely conceit, and so well executed:


3) Now try ‘Tidal Wave’ by Parade of Light - I’m including it not only because it’s a great song with a Killers-ish vibe (don’t let that put you off, I’m talking about one of their 2-3 good songs rather than the majority of the toss they churn out) but also because the lead singer looks very much like he ought to be hanging out with Del and Rodney in the Nag’s Head:


4) Enjoy the best jazz-funk instrumental track you’ll hear all week. Also, the video is SUPERB - this is Kamasi Washington with Street Fighter Mas:


5) Finally this week, I don’t really know what I can say to prepare you for this - so I probably won’t say anything, other than it’s almost certainly the most incredible song about anilingus you will ever have heard, and absolutely the most WHAT THE ACTUAL FCUK piece of music I have heard since the seminal classic ‘Smell Yo Dick’. ENJOY AND IF YOU DO EAT ASS THIS WEEKEND I HOPE YOU HAVE A LOVELY TIME DOING IT HAVE FUN AND TAKE CARE AND BE SAFE AND KNOW THAT I LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU EQUALLY AND SPECIALLY (EROS OR AGAPE, YOU CHOOSE) AND I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY SEE YOU NEXT WEEK BYE!!:




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