“Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness; close bosom friend of the maturing sun…” – or that’s what Keats said. Personally speaking, I think Keats can do one, as can September and Autumn in general. Everything smells of wet dog and regret, it’s cold and miserable and it’s now just the long, slow trudge towards another season of crass mass-consumerism and endless, interminable, incomprehensible perfume adverts (NB – anyone who works in advertising who reads this, please feel free to explain to me why perfume advertising is so oblique, as I have literally no idea).
Think, then, of this edition of Web Curios as the lightbox to your SAD, the plaster to your axewound (for future reference, an unpleasant conjunction of words to Google), the United Nations to your genocide. I’m here to help. To that end, here are some recommendations for awesome stuff you can do in London over the next few months (NB – that last link is one of the best things I’ve seen in years, very much recommended. Oh, and for an interesting take on Libya, you could do worse than read this). In the real world! NOT ON THE INTERNET! Crazy but true.
But for now it’s still all about the internet. Well, on this particular blog it is, anyway. If you don’t like it, you know what you can do (though I’d prefer it if you didn’t; I’m needy, and low-to-moderate traffic figures are all that’s standing between me and a P45).
The Section Which Pertains Most to My Job And Which I Know Most People Skip:
- UK Internet Usage Stats: Fresh from the Office of National Statistics. Unsurprising, but useful.
- TwitterStuff: So it’s been a big week for Twitter announcements. Yesterday they confirmed that they’d hit the 100million active users mark, along with a host of other stats which those of you who are on Google+ should be able to see here – the main points to note are in terms of the rapidity of year-on-year growth, and monthly visits to the website. In case any more proof is needed, this simply reinforces the impression that the vast majority of Twitter users are logging on to glean information rather than to share it. Whilst they’ve selfishly failed to give any demographic data – because, fact fans, that’s what they are going to be making big bucks from selling to advertisers – it’s still useful stuff to chuck into presentations to convince people they NEED TO PAY YOU MORE MONEY. Speaking of ads on Twitter, apparently most people exposed to them don’t find them annoying – which is either great news for advertisers or (and let’s have a quick think as to which of these two options is most likely to be true) a sign most users simply don’t notice them. In either case, we’re getting them in the UK next month, which is convenient given Twitter have just hired 5 people to sell them. Still not hired me, though, the fools.
- Google Correlate: I tweeted this on Monday and then realised that I am simply not a good enough writer to explain it in 140 characters. Google Correlate allows users to draw a trend graph of volume against time, and then finds search volumes that map against that curve, allowing you to draw totally spurious correlations between entirely random variables. Which, given that’s what makes up a large part of PR stories in the press, is a GODSEND for this beknighted industry.
- A Cute Thing on Google+: (which, I think, you can only see if you’re on Google+ OMG SO EXCLUSIVE) So Emilio Boronali posted this picture of Batman hitchhiking on Monday morning – within 24h, the picture had been shared by 60+ people, taking it literally all the way around the world. Which isn’t, obviously, earth-shattering news, but it’s a nice illustration of the way in which G+ ties together a lot of Google’s elements (in this instance maps + location + social) into one package. You watch brands shamelessly rip this off for promo purposes as soon as their filthy, moneygrabbing hands are allowed anywhere near the as-yet-pristine, shiny, unmolested purity of the platform.
- Facebook Things: So Facebook’s changed loads of stuff since I last did one of these, including ditching its deals service, but loads of people have covered that already so I won’t. Couple of brief things, though: firstly, you can now check in to non-physical locations on Facebook which is pretty big for marketing around TV shows and videogames; secondly, my colleague Chris Smith (who, let it be known, bears an uncanny resemblance to power-larynxed chart-topper Adele) wrote this rather helpful blogpost containing template T&Cs for Facebook competitions; thirdly, this list of the ‘most engaged’ Facebook brand pages in the UK is useful to gauge how you’re doing – and also as a proof-point to clients that high numbers do not equal an engaged audience.
- A really, really horrible diagram about earned/owned/ohgodiwanttokillmyself media that will doubtless be in hundreds of generic ‘this is why you need to hire a digital agency!’ presentations for evermore. Get it, before it gets you.
- Another infographic, this time about why your client’s fascinating ‘viral’ (read: advert) probably won’t go viral. Oh, and this is one of the best YouTube ‘takeover’ things I’ve seen in ages for TV show Primeval.
- Something that annoyed me: So, this week, esteemed digital industry bible New Media Age published a list of the 100 most influential pr/marketing types on social media in the UK – as ranked by PeerIndex (which, like Klout, is a tool purporting to quantify online influence algorithmically). A list populated by people who had to NOMINATE THEMSELVES to be on the list, ranked using a technology that even the most charitable of observers would at best class as ‘iffy’. If there’s any way to make people who work in digital-type stuff look more self-regarding, onanistic, blinkered, kool aid-addled and downright pathetic then please let me know in the comments and I’ll probably resign. (NB – This post is by no means motivated by my non-appearance on this list. Honest).
The Bambuser Challenge: Ok, so this is technically still PR-ish, but it’s fun enough to come under the ‘not really strictly to do with my job’ section. Bambuser is a live streaming service that allows you to broadcast direct from your phone, etc, to the web. To promote it, Hans from Bambuser is RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT wandering around London for 24h – until midday tomorrow, in fact – taking suggestions from the internet as to what to do. A really nice piece of promotional activity, if potentially life-threatening to poor old Hans. Please, internets, don’t send him to try and buy rock on the Walworth Estates at 4am.
Andy Carvin Profile: One of the most interesting things (in internetty terms, at least) of the year to date has been the emergence of filtering and curation as a legitimate new form of journalism. Noone has embodied this better throughout the Arab Spring than NPR’s Andy Carvin on Twitter, who has effectively become the de facto filter and fact-checker for on-the-ground conflict reporting. Really interesting piece, and worth reading if you’re at all curious about the intersection between Twitter and journalism.
The Story Of The Exile: This is a few years old now, but it’s still an amazing tale. I used to read The Exile many years ago, primarily for the legendary / horrific ‘Whore-er Stories’ column – this account of its rise and fall from Vanity Fair gives a pretty comprehensive overview of what was almost certainly THE most Gonzo newspaper of the modern age.
A Few Interesting Story-related Things:
- This is my favourite iPad thing ever – an app that can create infinite children’s stories. It almost makes me want to have children so that I can read to them (but not quite)
- Snapjudgment is a wonderful website, collecting stories set to music, each week collating them around different themes. It’s sort of hard to describe, but if you like poetry, spoken word, or just being read to, this should tick quite a few boxes
- The Karada is a new Transmedia project by one of the writers behind Heroes and Tea4Two. Detail are sketchy at the moment, but the teaser video looks interesting and it will be worth keeping an eye on this to see how it develops. It feels very much like transmedia as a concept should work, and yet I wonder whether we are too ingrained into passivity as consumers of narrative to fully engage with it. Wow, that was a poncy sentence. Sorry.
- Little Free Libraries – I cannot endorse this project heartily enough
Huxtable Hotness: Ever wanted to go over EXACTLY what everyone in the Cosby show wore, episode by episode? You’d get on with whichever weirdo’s behind this blog, then.
Art-Inspired Fashion: My love of this website is conceptual more than anything else, as a) I’m not a cross-dresser and b) I dress appallingly, but it’s a beautiful idea. Taking classic art and putting together outfits based on either the garments depicted or the colour-palette. This feels like something Selfridges would do in a window display, in a good way.
London’s Campest Statues: If you have any sort of interest in London as a city then you really should pick up some back issues of Smoke, a semi-regular fanzine to the city that was put together by some very talented people indeed for much of the past decade. It’s on hiatus now, but their overview of London’s campest statues survives online, and is wonderful.
Hollywood Home Movies: No, not in the Kardashian / Hilton sense. From a time when Hollywood stars had dignity and class and had sex in private. Amazing footage of some proper icons.
And now to the videos. Some good ones here this week, even if I do say so myself:
1) I’m getting this out of the way first, as I’m guessing lots of you will have heard it already, but this has been an absolute earworm for me the past week and I am hoping this will exorcise it. Lizzy Grant calls herself Lana Del Rey and is either the most beautiful woman ever or slightly duckfaced. This song is called Video Games; try getting it out of your head.
2) From someone who is very obviously going to be VERY VERY FAMOUS quite soon, to someone who might not be but really deserves some recognition. This bedroom recreation of Gorillaz’ Feel Good Inc. is absolutely jawdropping – long time since I’ve seen someone use loops this well:
3) I don’t quite understand what’s going on here. I think the video’s from the Philippines, but frankly that’s immaterial. HOW DO THEY DO THIS???? The level of mimicry is simply uncanny, and not a little frightening:
4) In The Fall is an excellent short animation by Steve Cutts that will either make you strangely zen or quite depressed. Your mileage may vary:
5) This video for White Nights by Oh Land (who, apparently, is a Danish-born singer-songwriter and record producer who now lives – unsurprisingly – in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) wins this week’s award for ‘throw the kitchen sink at it’ visual design:
6) Mowgli’s a London-based hiphop-y artist (you can read an interview with him here), who’s made a truly ODD video for his song Skydiver. It’s got nipples in it, though not many, and according to Dan it’s basically ‘taxidermy porn’. Don’t worry, though, it’s not really:
7) This is just a really lovely song, if a little sad. Peter and Kerry – Knees:
And this is a beautifully shot video for Low’s latest single Especially Me. Will make you want to go to New York:
9) Finally, this is called ‘Going to the shops’. No, I don’t understand either, but it’s HORRIBLE: