Web Curios 27/07/18
HOT! SWEATY! DAMP! MOIST! SUPPURATING! ROTTEN! FETID! SEETHING! TURGID!
All of the above - and frankly there would me more were I not, as ever, so desperately pressed for time - can be used to describe the sensation in our great capital this week as we edged ever closer to a full-on, heat-induced brainmelt.
Even worse, you've now clicked on this link or opened this email and are about to be blasted in the face with approximately 8,000 words of hot air - FFS MATT CAN YOU NOT JUST WIND IT IN A BIT IT IS TOO HOT FOR ALL THIS?
No. No I cannot. I am physically incapable of stopping this, in much the same way as we are all physically incapable of not horripilating at the thought of what is to become of us should things keep on in this vein. So, then, suck it up and take your medicine. It is good for you. I AM GOOD FOR YOU. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS.
By Lola Dupre
THE SECTION WHICH DOES WONDER WHETHER THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF FACEBOOK DATING EARLIER IN THE YEAR WAS IN FACT A PREEMPTIVE STEP BY MARK ZUCKERBERG TO COMPENSATE FOR THE FACT THAT HE’S RUNNING OUT OF MEATSACKS TO CO-OPT BY MAKING SOME NEW ONES:
- Those Facebook Numbers: However bad your week at work was, however cataclysmically you may feel you fcuked things, at least you probably didn’t wipe £120bn off your company’s market cap. Nor indeed did anyone individual do that to Facebook, despite the media’s predictable desire to create a narrative which all points at one slightly sad-eyed man’s door - I’m not going to go into an in-depth analysis of the ins and outs of this week’s Q2 results because, well, I can’t, I know fcuk-all about business, but even a cursory look at the numbers suggests that the problem is mainly investor reaction to the realisation that there really aren’t that many new customers left to acquire in Europe and the US, rather than anything more immediately terminal. You’ll be shilling stuff on there for a while yet, don’t you worry.
- You Can Now Do More ‘Creative’ Stuff In FB Ad Manager: What could possibly be more ‘creative’ than the ability to crop or rotate or apply a filter to an image so that you could turn it into a more compelling advert, or indeed overlaying some text onto an image (but not too much!) so it now screams “BUY ME! BUY ME NOW!”? Nothing. Nothing at all. Which is why it’s so cheering that Facebook is introducing new features in its Ad Manager to enable people to knock up even BETTER ads from within the tool; this is hugely useful for small businesses and people who really, really don’t want to have to go back to their in-house graphic designer to ask them to just adjust the text on that ad one last time please no don’t stab me.
- Watch Party For Everyone: Facebook’s ‘Watch This Together, Group Friends!’ feature has now rolled out to everyone - anyone in a Group can start a ‘Watch Party’ (which term has now reached the point whereby I can’t type it without thinking of something hugely sinister and redolent - for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on - of the old horror film ‘Society’) where they and other Group members can watch videos in sync together; people can create these shared viewing events, add or suggest videos to view, and generally just get together and have a GRAND old shared viewing experience time. You don’t have to be some sort of genius of advermarketingpr to see the opportunities that this affords for fan rewards, etc, and you can definitely do some fun things with this if you work in and around broadcast; it will be interesting it see the extent to which it takes off amongst the normies. According to the announcement post they’re also looking at expanding it to Pages, though I find it harder to see quite how that would work.
- Instagram Set To Add Reactions To Stories: You will soon (I say ‘soon’ - I obviously have no idea when this will roll out, but it’s important to me to affect an air of authorial omniscience every now and again, however ridiculous that might make me sound) be able to react to people’s Insta stories with the standard wheel of FB’s ‘reaction’ emoji - except they’re leaving off the ‘angry’ one, presumably in a bid to make online interactions marginally less hateful which ahahahahahahaha look over the hills, look, there is the horse, his tail flapping so glossily as I stand here attempting to shut the flapping gate. Anyway, this is yet another way for adding some slight veneer of interactivity to the Stories experience in a lighter-touch manner than the Q&A input; you can see how this can be used as a voting mechanic or a way of being ‘driven’ by one’s audience should one so choose, as well as *shudder* a potential set of KPIs.
- Instagram Is Doing That ‘Letting People Know When You’re Online’ Thing: Here’s how you turn it off, in case you wanted to know.
- Changes To Twitter’s API Permissions: Of interest only to those of you who make software based on Twitter, this is a series of updates designed to tighten up the platform in order to help prevent ‘BAD ACTORS’ and the like; the main effect is limits on follows and RTs, or at least that’s the main one I can see, meaning it’s mainly going to be an issue for botwranglers rather than nice advermarketingprdrones like us.
- Twitter Launches Conversation Targeting: Slipped under the radar a bit, this one, but you can now target Twitter users based on 10,000 different categories of ‘things they are talking about’, from brands to athletes to sports teams to politicians. Interestingly (I say this advisedly) you can download a CSV of the whole set of Twitter targeting parameters from the site; these skew quite US as you might expect, but the possibility of targeting specific advertising messages at people who are talking about Nigel Farage is darkly appealing.
- Snapchat Launches ‘Storytellers’: Snapchat’s own attempt to wrest some cash back from the influencer marketing agency vampires by launching its own brokerage service, putting brands in touch with Snap creators for mutual benefit and love. A pretty stripped-down offering, this, with only 5 of the platform’s top ‘creators’ signed up so far and so thus very much aimed at the PREMIUM end of the market, but you can imagine this expanding reasonably rapidly if brands take the bait. Interestingly, one of the services it purports to offer is a slightly consultative ‘help you make better Stories’ service, which is a smart move imho; I presume all consumer agencies these days are offering ‘vertical storytelling and Story creation’ workshops and overpriced awaydays to clients, and if you’re not, really, why aren’t you?
By Hiroshi Sato
THE SECTION WHICH IS WORRIED THAT ALL THIS TALK OF A ‘BLOOD MOON’ DOES FEEL A TOUCH, WELL, DARKLY PORTENTOUS, PT.1:
- Move Mirror: Do you remember that site from YEARS ago which would track the movement of your cursor and find photos of people pointing as you did so, so it looked as though they were always pointing at your mouse and that it was like MAGIC? YES YOU DO IT WAS THIS ONE. Well this is sort of like that, except instead of following your cursor it uses your webcam to track your whole body, and displays photos of people mimicking your pose, and these chance on the fly as you move, and WOW is this impressive stuff. Not the outputs so much, though it’s quite a fun toy, more the fidelity with which this in-browser experience can track the position of your head and limbs through your webcam. In-broswer Kinect, though I can’t imagine why anyone would want such a thing, coming soon. Oh, and if you want a glimpse of where this stuff is inevitably heading, this is the slightly shinier version which Disney is working on - impressive, eh?
- Goya Move: Parents! Is it hard, making your kids exercise? Do you find that the siren lure of the magical distraction rectangle is stronger than the call of the wild, that your darlings are so busy staring at a screen that they’re developing adipose fatty deposits on top of their already sizeable adipose fatty deposits? FEAR NOT! You can make them exercise by WITHHOLDING PHONETIME! Goya is a...well, frankly miserable-sounding app which lets parents basically take control of their kids’ phones and block access to certain features at will, until certain conditions have been met - in this case, the conditions being ‘DO SOME EXERCISE LUDMILLA OR NO MORE FORTNITE’. “Goya-Move allows the parent to set Step Goals for their kids and lets parents choose which apps they want to block until the Step Goals are met. Once the child meets their daily or hourly Step Goal, the apps automatically unblock and are free to use.” Am...am I the only person who can see a slight flaw in this, to whit the easily gameable nature of step counters?
- FAMA: One of the main perils of recruiting is the occasional worry that, well, you might hire an absolute sociopath; the sort of person who seems reasonable at interview but who, three months into employment, has slowly constructed an intricate barricade around their desk and is beginning to stockpile biscuits in anticipation of what they will only refer to in hushed whispers as ‘The Event’. In order to guard against this sort of thing there are several steps you can take, to which list you can now add FAMA - this is a service which promises to weed out the BAD EGGS either during hiring or from your existing staff, using PROPRIETARY AI SOFTWARE (but of course). “Fama is an AI-based solution that helps companies limit the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace, and similar, crippling issues such as abusive behavior and insider threats. The solution applies machine learning to publicly available online information and internal HR data to ensure that you don't miss a thing.” So, welcome to a future when you can get knocked back, or even canned, from a job because a computer has literally said that you might be a wrong’un based on...some data (non-disclosed, obvs). Does this seem good? Based on my searchable, publicly available output I would say a resounding ‘no’.
- Famegame: This week’s Curios contains quite a few ‘hm, this is another really quite miserable indication of the direction of travel of society which I am pretty much entirely sure is down’ links, but I think this might be the very worst. I can’t really beat the app’s own description for horror, so here goes: “FameGame is a TV show on your phone, where you compete to become a social media star. Submit your videos to get featured on our show, win cash prizes and get more followers. Our daily challenges help you get discovered by more people, and get more followers.” In case you’re not clear from that, this is explicitly feeding the modern desire for INFLUENCER STATUS in a gamified manner, aimed at teens; it’s like a cross between HQ and Musical.ly, in which kids upload self-shot smartphone videos of their ‘talents’, based on rotating weekly challenges like dancing or lipsyncing; after an initial submission period, users can check out what’s been uploaded and vote for their favorites which will be included in a live show that’s hosted at 5:00 daily with winners winning CASH PRIZES and the all-important prize of social validation from strangers. SO MUCH IS WRONG WITH THIS, not least the seeming lack of any sort of serious moderation of what gets uploaded to vote on. I sense a moral panic coming in short order.
THE SECTION WHICH IS WORRIED THAT ALL THIS TALK OF A ‘BLOOD MOON’ DOES FEEL A TOUCH, WELL, DARKLY PORTENTOUS, PT.2:
- The Photos of John Margolies: The US Library of Congress has a huge collection of the photos of John Margolies, who took incredible shots of the US throughout the middle of the 20th Century; this is a wonderful look through 60s Americana, with a lot of great middle-America captured in technicolour glory.
- The Doodle Library: “theDoodleLibrary is an expanding collection of reusable simple drawings and doodles in a vector (SVG) format. The images are free to share and adapt - mix and match to create visual stories that increase retention and delight your audience.” These are SO NICE and I would like to see a whole site done with these, so, once again, get to it please. Oh, while we’re at it, this is another library of free SVG images and illustrations which are available to download and use however you see fit - ENJOY.
- Keyframes: Keyframes is a community for animators to congregate and share work, ask questions, encourage each other and learn - it’s seemingly a reasonably broad church with varying levels of expertise, so if you’re an aspirant Disney then this might be a nice place to find some kindred spirits with whom to obsess over...er....whatever it is that people are into animation obsess about, I honestly haven’t got the faintest.
- DevTube: This might be common knowledge to all of you, for which apologies, but I had no clue that there was this MENTAL repository of coding tutorial videos just sitting around like this - seriously, there are thousands, covering all the programming topics you could possibly think of and possibly some more besides. Not sure how good the search and discovery is, or whether it skews experienced rather than beginner, but it’s an incredible resource.
- Laurence Stephens: Laurence Stephens describes himself as a documentary photographer based in London, which is probably accurate but doesn’t quite do justice to the brilliance of his photos - these are brilliantly shot and pleasingly real.
- The Looking Glass: I had a very real moment of ‘wow, this is SO FUTURE’ when I saw this - obviously it’s a Kickstarter campaign, and so the standard ‘this may never actually come into existence and you might just end up being scammed by a very well-produced demo vid’ caveats all apply, but what’s on display certainly looks amazing. The Looking Glass (10x funded with a month to go, so if it is a scam it’s a very successful one) is a holographic display that lets artists create interactive hologram-type visuals with a proper illusion of depth, within the confines of the Looking Glass box itself. You sort of have to watch the video to get the idea, but basically imagine the BEST Tamagotchi you could ever envisage.
- 1988 Was 30 Years Ago: These photos will remind you of what a weird-looking place the world was back then; the photo of Prince Harry in particular is rather wonderful, as is the one of Trump hanging out with Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant - OH GOD IT WAS ALL SO INNOCENT THEN (except it wasn’t, was it? The 80s were terrifying and corrupt and mad and jagged too, I imagine, if you were living through them. Don’t worry, kids, it’s ALWAYS been a clusterfcuk!).
- How To Win At Texas Hold’Em: Or, more accurately, a 6-part video course from MIT teaching you how you might go about doing so. It’s free and WHO KNOWS, maybe this is the step that takes you from sitting in your pants, upping the ante by 10p on Pokerstars at 4am on a Tuesday, to the WSOP! Maybe! Maybe.
- Dankmus: I’m not 100% certain how best to describe this, but anyway - this is a YouTube channel featuring a bunch of dank Simpson’s remix videos (does that sentence mean anything to you? I really wish it didn’t mean anything to me) with some rather excellent-if-odd music, sampling the show in odd, wonky ways, underneath it. It’s the sort of thing that frankly is probably amazing if you’re stoned and 17, but which even if not warrants a quick look if only for ‘Young and Rich’ which by the end of its 2 minute runtime I was convinced was the most affecting evocation of ennui amongst the monied youth that I had ever seen (I am so, so tired).
- A Bunch of ‘Interesting’ Links from the Old Web: I can’t quite recall where I found this one and so have equally little recollection of the context of it, but, frankly, who comes here for context? WHO COMES HERE AT ALL (stop it matthew). Anyway, this is an alphabetical links of COOL SITES FROM AROUND THE WEB, seemingly dating back to the early 00s; I have no idea how many of these links still work, and there looks to be a LOT of Flash in there, but if you want a slightly less febrile version of Web Curios from The Past then this is the closest you’re likely to get.
- Weld Queen: Alexandra Ivleva is a Russian artist and performer who makes stuff out of welded metal. She calls herself WELD QUEEN which a) seems reasonable given how good she is at making stuff - seriously, some of the work is incredible; and b) is the most METAL name I have heard for anything in weeks. “Who are you?” “I AM WELD QUEEN” - I mean, really.
- Seriously Badass Women: Created and curated by Shannon Downey, this site collects profiles of contemporary women who are in some way or another ‘badass’ - there are some great stories of some remarkable people who you may not have heard of, and, much as I despise this term, it’s honestly a little bit inspirational reading through their stories.
- Structure Photography: The best architectural photography you will see all year, no question - these are so, so good, and they’re available to buy which frankly is tempting me an awful lot right now.
- Central Station: This is a GREAT niche website - Central Station is a blog which collects the stories and thoughts of women farmers in Northern Australia and, despite that frankly unpromising starting point, delivers a really fascinating selection of tales from one of the more remote parts of the working world. Not going to lie, though, I’m reasonably grateful that I myself am not a Northern Australian cattle farmer (although travelling on the tube at the moment probably gives you some sort of olfactory window into the experience, ISN’T THAT RIGHT, SWEATY LONDONERS??).
- The Geography of Pub Names: Have you ever spent any time wondering exactly where in the UK all those bloody Red Lion pubs are? Have you ever wanted to see them, mapped? No, I imagine that you have never even let that thought skate across the unworried pond of your mind, and yet credit to Jovan (no surname that I can find) who has not only thought about it but has gone ahead and done the mapping (you can see his accompanying blogpost about the project here). Weirdly compelling, not least because, well, MAN are there some truly appallingly-named pubs around our fair isle.
- Delete Your Friends: A Chrome extension which, when activated, will kill all your Facebook friendships. There’s a suggestion in the reviews that this has been depreciated by Facebook and thus works less well than it used to, but seeing as noone REALLY wants to use Facebook anymore anyway, why not try fcuking with it to see what happens to your experience on the platform when you’re no longer friends with THOSE PEOPLE.
- Omse Type: Instagram account of a type foundry / design agency which presents some of their work, not least their INSANELY impressive work on AR posters for an exhibition which, I believe, opens today (for those of you reading this in the future, that’s 27 July 2018 so if it’s now September you are TOO LATE) in Hoxton. These look very cool indeed, and the show itself might be worth a look if you like them.
- AR Graffiti Time Travel: Just a proof of concept in a Tweet, but the use of AR layers to take the viewer back in time through the history of the art on a particular wall is *such* a smart one, and an application of the technology that I’d not considered before.
- Wikunia: I don’t know why you would need to browse multiple Wikipedia entries within a single tab, but, should that be your wont, this will let you do that very thing. Useful, I imagine, for students, lazy journalists and VERY committed Wikipedians the world over.
- Super Depressed: A Twitter feed sharing little comics about super heroes - the gimmick being that they are all super, super depressed! Errs a touch on the twee side, possibly, but it’s cute and the gags / non-gags are nicely judged overall.
- Bad Cosplay: Some of these, fine, are legitimately dreadful, but the people making themselves Iron Man costumes out of that coloured paper you used to get at Primary school deserve crafting medals.
- Film & Furniture: A websiteblogthingy which focuses on the furnishings found in movies, and where you can buy them. If you’re an interior design-type person (HI ANDREW IF YOU’RE READING THIS) then you might find this a useful source of inspiration; alternatively, if you’re the sort of psychopath who wants to make your flat look as much like the set of The Shining as possible, then you might also find this a useful source of inspiration. Web Curios - ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN!
- Eclipse: Eclipse is a 40-minute real-life/VR EXPERIENCE in France, and I want to try it SO MUCH. You may recall I featured some sort of Timesplitters-style VR arcade game from Japan about a year or so back - this is like that, but looks SO SHINY and like an excellent way of getting all those Laserquest lols without the smell of wet dog and regret that always seemed to accompany the arenas back in the day. Obviously this is only the promo site and so OF COURSE it looks ace, but I am genuinely fascinated to see whether this sort of experience takes off at scale.
- 1337 DOOM: Doom, running in ASCII - there’s no reason why this exists, but if you fancy downloading what is still a truly excellent game but in a way which makes it near-impossible if aesthetically compelling then WOW will this be your thing.
- Pluffnub: Whoever the person behind Pluffnub is, they are an evil genius when it comes to making versions of popular songs that are slightly-but-deeply-upsettingly off-kilter. Seriously, this version of ‘Africa’ - go on, click it, it’s HORRIBLE. Your office terrorism task of the day is to set up some speakers somewhere inaccessible and then just play this channel through them ALL DAY whilst people (and, admittedly, you as well) go slowly mad.
- Northwoods Caskets: “Sustainability Starts With You!” burbles the front page of this website - and by ‘you’ they mean ‘your corpse’! Northwoods Caskets offer self-assembly coffins, for the discerning terminally ill patient (or indeed anyone) - on the one hand, this is a really sensible idea for a variety of reasons; on the other, I can think of nothing so bleakly, terribly redolent of the slightly dystopian scifi of the NOW than a bunch of dirt-poor people in middle-America slowly preparing for death from opiate addiction by slowly, shambolically hammering together their own coffins. Oh 2018!
- Fractal Fantasy: Finally this week, a selection of rather lovely little digital musicgraphictoythings presented by record label Fractal Fantasy. There are lots in here, so find one that pleases you most - they are FUN.
By Sharif Hamza
THE CIRCUS OF TUMBLRS:
- THE CIRCUS IS EMPTY! THERE ARE NO TUMBLRS!
LONG THINGS WHICH ARE LONG!:
- Theresa May’s Impossible Choice: I don’t, of course, feel sorry for anyone in Government at the moment, what with how they are continuing to attempt to fcuk literally everyone in the country simultaneously with knives, but this piece on the terrible mess Trees has landed herself - and, let’s not forget, US - in made me almost feel a twinge of pity for her. This is from the New Yorker, and as is often the case is a clearer-eyed view of the whole Brexit debacle for being presented through the prism of a foreign magazine’s perception (the writer’s English, but the angle is very much not). It would almost be funny if weren’t actually happening to actual us.
- LambdaMoo: I’ve mentioned LambdaMoo on here before, I think, possibly in the context of My Tiny Life (which, really, you must read), but this is a lovely piece about its creators and the weirdness of the community that built around and within it - LambdaMoo, if you don’t know, was one of a number of multi-user virtual worlds (MUDs, or Multi-User Domains), but become one of the more famous and popular due to the lovely idiosyncracy of its world building and the community it fostered. This is such a lovely throwback to a time that, well, just seems a lot more fun than now. I know that nostalgia is for cnuts - I do, honestly - but, well, still.
- There’s No Such Thing As A Feminist Brand: Nothing in here ought to be news to you, but as we reach the apogee of the PURPOSE-DRIVEN CAPITALISM trend (clue: capitalism has always had a purpose, to whit MAKING MONEY; anything else will inevitably be secondary to that, and don’t you forget it) it’s useful to be reminded of all the reasons why, really, it is not possible for a brand of any sort of size or scale to be ‘woke’ in any meaningful way at all.
- The Weird World of ‘How To Spend It’: Back in the day when I used to have to read the FT for professional reasons, I was always gladdened by the appearance of the ‘How To Spend It’ supplement as it gave me a good 20 minutes of that confusing cocktail of emotion that is seething rage and quite startling covetousness. I mean, I don’t even really like stuff that much, but it’s hard not to leaf through an issue of the mag without thinking “I mean, an ebony superyacht would be rather nice…”. Anyway, this is a Guardian piece profiling the magazine and its editor and detailing its slightly turbulent recent history. Fascinating.
- Streaming To Noone: As promised UP THERE approximately two hours ago, this is the piece about the oddity of Twitch streamers who are doing it to an audience of approximately zero people - which is lots of them. There is, inevitably, something deeply tragic about this - the idea that it’s something that everyone can do (it’s not), or that there’s an audience for everyone (there isn’t).
- Deaf Sex and Consent: The writer of this piece, Anna Pulley, is herself hard of hearing; the article explores some of the complications which can arise when you’re not 100% sure what it was that someone said when getting, or being, amorous. One of those wonderful pieces of writing which makes you think completely differently about something - I can honestly say I had never considered the implications of being a bit deaf on sex and consent, and it was hugely interesting to learn about.
- James Gunn and the Legacy of Gamergate:You will of course have seen that Guardians of the Galaxy Director James Gunn was removed from his gig last weekend in light of a whole bunch of really-not-very-funny-at-all offensive ‘jokes’ he’d made on Twitter back in the day; the whole thing was orchestrated by the Twitter right as a form of revenge or equivalence for the ‘silencing’ of controversial right-wing figures by the snowflake left. This piece draws a link between the whole hideous Gamergate mess and these last events in cogent fashion - the bit that stuck with me after reading was the characterisation of all of this as being fundamentally characterised by a belief in the ‘hypocrisy of virtue’ as the author puts it, which is so miserable and yet so true.
- The Story of Madvillainy: Still one of my favourite albums ever, of any genre, the 2004 Madlib/DOOM collaboration is honestly wonderful and you ought to listen to it RIGHT NOW. This is the story of how the record got made, which if you’re a fan of either of the artists or the record itself is sort of a must-read.
- The DFW Conference: David Foster Wallace was, it’s fair to say, evidently a bit of a cnut on many levels - most of them relating to the manner in which he treated the women in his life. That doesn’t stop him from being a fabulous writer - but how ought someone like me, who still loves his books and who still rereads them regularly, reassess that love in the knowledge that he was euphemistically-speaking a ‘problematic’ man? This piece visits the annual DFW Convention, where DFW fans and scholars alike congregate to lionise and discuss his work, to discover how attendees are attempting to reconcile - or distance - the author and the man. Really interesting regardless of your feelings on DFW and his work, not least as a general examination on how one can perhaps continue to engage with an artist on a critical level whilst acknowledging their failings and integrating those feelings into a deeper and more nuanced criticism.
- //medium.com/@thesjef/for-whom-the-computer-graphics-53d8a470cf06">For Whom The Computer Graphics: Probably the best essay I have read about Deep Fakes - that is, that thing where you can create videos of anyone doing anything if you have enough photos of them and a decent amount of processing heft - and where they might end up taking us in media, art and politics. It’s...unsettling, frankly.
- The Male Business Thots of Instagram: Mel Magazine is doing some really good reporting on fringe internet stuff right now, and this piece - profiling the slightly odd men who are seemingly simultaneously able to hold down jobs that let them earn 7-figure salaries whilst also spending all their time in the gym, and who are constantly followed around by a professional photographer and who appear to have their suits sprayed on in the morning, so tailored are they to their (admittedly impressive) physiques and who are, apparently, all over certain corners of Instagram. People are WEIRD.
- The Other Self-Driving Car: Whilst Google and Tesla are the names everyone automatically thinks of when discussing self-driving cars, Zoox has quietly been ploughing a different furrow. Rather than attaching sensors to existing vehicles, their vision was always to build an entirely new type of car, designed from the outset to be autonomous, from scratch. This profile of the company and its founder has its fair share of irritants - the guy sounds like a tool, albeit a brilliant one - but it’s a fascinating counterpoint to the seeming inevitable dominance of the big boys in this space.
- Science Fiction Is Not Social Reality: A very good essay indeed on why looking at the future - and the science and technology that are propelling us towards it - through the prism of science fiction will lead us to the sort of awkward position that we’re in now.
- The Big Flat Now: This is BRILLIANT, on the flattening and mixing and slash-ing of popular culture, the sort of post-post-post-modern soup of LAYERS and memes and ‘the unified slime that is CONTENT’. Honestly this is wonderful and I urge you all to read it, it will make you think.
- There Is Big Money In Bongo Games: Occasionally it’s worth pointing to articles from, er, areas of niche interest, just to show you quite how big those niches can become - this, all about the incredibly lucrative market for ‘sexy’ videogames, is such an article. THERE ARE PEOPLE EARNING OVER $200,000 A YEAR FROM SUBSCRIBERS TO THEIR WEIRD GAMES ABOUT HAVING SEX WITH A THINLY-FICTIONALISED VERSION OF HERMIONE FFS. I don’t really know what to say.
- The Rub of Rough Sex: What if the person you’re dating isn’t into rough sex because it’s a fun consensual kink so much as because they’re basically fundamentally abusive? How do you know, what do you do? Interesting, complicated stuff.
- That Goop Article: You almost certainly heard about it this week; if you didn’t, or if you haven’t yet read it, ENJOY. This is so, so well-written, and eschews a lot of the easy gags and punches in favour of some beautifully-controlled barbs which land far harder. Superb in every way, although as I did see someone somewhere point out there is also probably quite a large Venn Diagram overlap between ‘people who slag off Goop as new-age hogwash for idiots’ and ‘people who have spent money with Alain de Botton’s ‘School of Life’’ which, well, ha.
- The Last Blockbuster: Honestly, I don’t think I have ever read a more moving account of the demise of a retail outlet in mylife. No hyperbole - you will get proper emo about this, I promise you.
- Will Never Let Me Go: This week’s shot of interactive fiction is this SUPERB piece by Stephen Granade - I don’t want to tell you too much about it as it deserves being experienced cold, but it is honestly beautiful and lovely and sad and poignant, and deserves every minute you can give it.
- Love Island: Finally in this week’s longreads, a new short piece of fiction by John Lanchester which is SUCH a nailed-on skewering of the fundamental horror of reality TV that I could picture each of the cast, the inflections of their voice, the quick looks into the mirror when they thought noone was watching...this is superb.
AND NOW, MOVING PICTURES AND SOUNDS!
- First up, last year filmmaker Jas Davis took a trip to Hong Kong - this is the film they made of their visit. It is...a lot better than the film you made of your last holiday:
2) ‘Outside’ is a simple concept - what would happen if we could apply UI stuff from the software we use every day to the outside world? - but SO well executed. I would like to see more of this:
4) Not quite sure how to describe this, so I’m not really going to try, beyond saying that the vocal is beautiful and spare and the video’s pleasingly unsettling. It’s called ‘A Remedy’ and it’s by UMA and on repeated listening I am falling in love with it rather:
5) This is the new one from The Internet who I’ve been featuring here for YEARS but who look set to get some proper breakout success with their new album. This is the new single from it, and it’s called ‘La Di Da’ and it’s EXCELLENT:
7) Finally this week, an animation called ‘Ugly’. It is excellent. Watch it. YOU, THOUGH, ARE NOT UGLY AT ALL! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! IF NOT PERSONALLY TO ME BECAUSE WE HAVE NEVER MET THEN DEFINITELY TO SOMEONE! YOU WILL BE OK! I WILL BE OK! FINGERS CROSSED, EH? TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES AND EACH OTHER AND TRY NOT TO MELT OR COMMIT ANY HEAT-INDUCED CRIMES OR MISDEMEANOURS AND HOPEFULLY WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER AND WE WILL ALL SEE EACH OTHER SOON I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU BYE I LOVE YOU!