Guess who’s back? NO, IT IS NOT EMINEM! IT IS ME! (Though in fairness our level of musical / performing talent is comparable) Stop gawping at the back – I AM NOT DEAD! I wish that there was some sort of exciting reason for Web Curios’ long absence – an enthralling, Willy Fog-esque journey, an unexpected temporary career change, an unforeseen visit to chokey…but no, nothing so thrilling. Like Schrodinger’s Cat, Web Curios’ existence was momentarily uncertain – but now I am most definitely here. I think.
Anyway, there’s a lot to catch up on. Some people’s phones got hacked and everyone got VERY ANGRY; the most powerful man in the world turned 50; my new favourite rapper released a mixtape; I went to Boston and saw none of it (but did get to fly business class and thus received a pair of complimentary pyjamas – THANKS VIRGIN – which was well worth the £3,000 that the flights apparently cost); oh, God, loads of things.
Frankly nothing that you’re going to read from hereon in matters one iota compared to the above, but it’s probably going to be marginally more cheering. Read on, and make your Friday afternoon of wageslavery marginally less soul-crushingly worthless than it might otherwise be.
PHOTOUPDATE – The internet is incredible. The lovely Wes West tweeted me to tell me he’d tracked down the image above – it’s a mystery French woman at the Paris launch of arts/culture magazine ‘Pas Un Autre‘. So there you go.
Google+ – Of course, the other SEISMICALLY IMPORTANT happening in my absence was Google’s latest foray into social media (remember this?), in the shape of Google+. Too much virtual ink has already been expended by social media idiots working themselves into a frenzy over a) what it is; b) what it’s for; c) whether it will kill Facebook; d) how and when big brands are going to be able to use it as yet another platform from which to shill a load of worthless tat to a bunch of ordinary people who just want to talk to their friends, and so I don’t need (or, frankly, want) to wang on about it too much. The short answer to all of the above is “Calm down, NOONE KNOWS YET”, though I would say that the only standout feature that I’ve seen on it to date is the ‘Hangouts’ capability, which does offer some really interesting possibilities. The only tip I have, webmongs, is to keep an eye on it – and the best way to do that is to bookmark THIS PAGE – Google’s own resource detailing new features, updates, etc, updated as they’re rolled out. Go on, do it. Oh, a few other Google-related things:
- Make phonecalls through Gmail: I’m staggered that more people haven’t picked this up. Cheap, and an interesting alternative to Skype
- How Google Dominates Us: This is a wonderful, if long, piece from the New York Review of Books, looking at the growth of Google, how it makes money and how it’s integrated itself in such a massive way into the lives of every single internet-enabled person on the planet. Bookmark and read, you will be smarter for it.
- Gmail Man!: Of course, not everyone loves Google. Microsoft certainly doesn’t, and they want you to hate Google (and in particular Gmail) as much as they do. So they made this video – almost certainly one of the most toe-curlingly awful attempts to ‘do’ funny video content I have ever seen. Please show this to the next corporate client who comes to you wanting a ‘funny’ ‘viral’. The fact that comments are disabled says everything you need to know about the internet’s reaction to this gem.
It’s probably not worth bothering with QR Codes: I was on a train in Italy the other week, and for the first time ever saw a REAL PERSON trying to use a QR code from a magazine (it was from a Nivea advert, fact fans). They couldn’t get it to work. They got frustrated. They swore, colourfully. It was so Italian. I’ve written before, repeatedly, about how I think QR codes are the sort of thing that only people who work in media/advertising/PR/marketing are likely to care about; now it looks like there might be a viable alternative. Layar, doyennes of the Augmented Reality marketplace, have launched Layar Vision, which does what QR codes do without the need for a QR code. (Very) Basically, the software recognises real-world objects and shows digital content on top of them; so you could, for example, use to allow users to simply point their phone at a film poster and immediately see the movie’s trailer on their phone – no code, no download, no friction. Let’s see if it takes off. If it does, these people’s business probably isn’t going to go so well
YouTube Creators’ Playbook – This is useful. YouTube last week published a proper idiots’ guide to how to make the platform work best for you. Next time someone demands that you write them an online video strategy or somesuch, just cobble together something based on this and slope off to the pub instead.
Western Union Facebook Thingy – This is clever. Western Union, the money transfer people, created this application that trawls your Facebook profile, analyses the number of friends you have (and where they are, how many friends they have, etc) and then gives you a personalised infographic displaying all this data and (and this is the clever bit) ranking you against your friends, your fellow countrymen and THE WORLD. Smart because a) it gives you something pretty for free; b) it appeals to social media idiots’ innate sense of vanity; and c) it allows Western Union to find out who the ‘most connected’ people on Facebook within specific territories are, so that it can then attempt to use them for social media campaigns in the future. Bit creepy though.
Jello Twitter Thing – Smart use of a billboard by Jello (Jelly, but spelled wrong) in the US, analysing ’sentiment’ on Twitter based on the use of happy and sad emoticons – the gigantic animatronic face on the billboard gurns in response to fluctuating levels of happysad, and gives out discount vouchers when the world (or at least the part of it that is privileged enough to have internet access) is downcast.
A Portmanteau Collection Of Stuff I’ve Recently Liked:
- Beautiful Swearwords: I like swearing; I like typography. This website was always going to make me happy. If it doesn’t make you happy, you’re a [redacted].
- Holy Smoke: Apparently this is not a hoax, which is good as I will now be able to fulfil my lifelong dream of killing someone after I’m dead.
- Run For Your Life: I don’t really *do* exercise – those who know me personally can testify to my less-than-athletic frame and the fact that I have the muscletone of an elastic band. That said, this might persuade me to go running – I think the added frisson of a potential zombie attack would add zest to an otherwise mundane 5k. Reminds me of this, which is still one of the funnest things I’ve ever done, ever.
- Explain It Like I’m 5: This week’s obligatory Reddit thread is a gem; contributors explain complex concepts / issues in the simplest fashion they can. You will be cleverer for reading some of these, I promise you (and you may get a slightly better understanding of why the world is so utterly, utterly banjaxed at the moment).
- I Do Not Have An Eating Disorder: Brilliant and very honest comicbook account of a woman coming to terms with her problems with food. On a similar tip, this website collects pictures of real women’s bodies - no, not in a pervy way – categorised by bodyframe, weight, etc; an interesting study.
- The Best Headline Ever: Yes, I know that this is a spoof website (ChristWire is like The Onion for mental Christian fundamentalists), but it’s a genius piece of writing.
- Gorgeous Art From Videogames: Exactly what it says on the tin. Lovely work, whether you’re a geek or otherwise (no, really).
- Luke Haines Does Food: Luke Haines was, amongst other things, in a band called Black Box Recorder who were AWESOME. He’s written a brilliant, bitter account of his time in a minor indie band at the height of britpop. Now he’s got a foodblog, and like everything else he does, it’s brilliant. The talented sod.
So, that’s your lot. Was it worth it? Oh Christ, I don’t know. Look, have some videos:
1) I know nothing about this, other than that it is called ‘Trim’ and it’s WONDERFUL:
2) Scroobius Pip’s a very talented man (and by all accounts a rather nice one too). You probably know him from ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, but he’s actually loads better than that. Check out the below and see what I mean:
3) Continuing Web Curios’ proud tradition of championing young animation talent (I’ve done it 3 times; that’s PRACTICALLY tradition in this ADD internet age, alright?), Mac & Cheese is an awesome short animation by 4 students from the Utrecht School of the Arts. There’s a touch of Team Fortress 2 about the character designs, which is no bad thing imho:
4) I heard this last week, and it’s stuck with me – Hopsin’s an LA rapper whose style’s not dissimilar to early Eminem. This track – The Ill Mind of Hopsin 4 – is awesome, and contains a rather nice Tyler The Creator diss:
5) Speaking of Tyler, this is an unofficial video for his track ‘Transylvania”, by High 5 Collective. It’s a dark, dark song, and the video’s not exactly happy-go-lucky either – it’s got strong echoes of Larry Clark’s ‘Kids’, for those of you old enough to remember it. Watch, but caveat emptor and all that:
6) Until I googled them just now, I had no idea who Kap Bambino are. Presuming Wikipedia’s not lying to me, they’re a couple of hipsters from Bordeaux. No matter, this is a brilliant video for their song ‘Obsess’:
I’ve featured Manchester Orchestra before, but make no apologies for doing so again. The song, Virgin, is great – as is the video, made by Ben Disinger, a fan who made the band watch it on his laptop whilst they were touring. They were so impressed they used it as their official promo. Which is nice.
9) Ok, so be aware that this video is pretty much entirely NSFW, despite just being an animation. It’s all for a good reason, though, SO THAT’S OK THEN. I’ve featured AIDES before (remember Smutley The Cat?); this is their latest AIDS-awareness promo, called ‘Sexy Fingers’ – there’s a website too, should you fancy investigating further…: