I once read somewhere that the oft-cited factoid about goldfish having a memory of just 3 seconds is in fact a MYTH (yes, that’s right – Web Curios, pulling the scales of falsehood from your eyes one lie at a time!). Interestingly (I use the word advisedly), though, whilst our piscine friends are apparently swanning around their memory palaces, we on THE INTERNET are apparently as amnesiac as they come. How else can one explain the TWITTERMOBSPLOSIONFRENZY (yes, it’s a great word, isn’t it? Yours to use for only a nominal rights payment) that erupted over the latest piece of linkbait to be vomited from the online hellmouth that is the Daily Mail?
For those of you who’ve not had the pleasure, you can read Samantha Brick’s controversy-courting piece here (TOP TIP!: Pinko lefty types! Assuage your guilt at linking to Daily Mail articles by using Daily Veil instead, thus denying them approximately 2p in advertising revenue. Put your finger in that dike! (note the spelling)). What’s startling about the piece is less its hideousness – the Mail, after all, has form on this – or indeed the frankly insane tone of the piece (it’s par for the course) ; rather, it’s the apparent sense of shock expressed by the thousands of people rabidly tweeting their disapproval and SPEAKING THEIR BRANES (sic) about how dreadful it is. Look, all of you, a few points.
1) This is how the Mail works – IT CREATES CONTENT DESIGNED EXPLICITLY TO MAKE PEOPLE SHARE IT, FOR BETTER OR WORSE
3) Also, by doing this, it makes an awful lot of money from advertising
4) Everyone on the internet getting all outraged and excited is the online adult equivalent of children saying to each other “Urgh! Smell this – it’s disgusting!”
So, you know, STOP IT. The more outraged people get, the more people share links to articles that MAKE THEM SICK, the more frothy liberal outrage the Mail causes…THE MORE THEY WILL KEEP PRINTING THIS STUFF. It’s not hard to work out. Stop feeding the gigantic media trolls. Please.
*Ahem*. Anyways. It’s HOLIDAYTIME, so enough woe and anger and fury (there will be enough of that with your families, no doubt). Whether you’re spending this weekend worshipping a strangely anthropomorphised rabbit, mammon, or the dead-then-miraculously-reborn everliving Christ, have fun – let Web Curios ease you into the long weekend like a nurse easing in a catheter.
The Work Bits:
- Google+ Hangout API Now Open: I couldn’t really have started with a more boring piece on information, on reflection. Nonetheless, I will pretend that at least one of you is reading this and soldier on. I’ve previously mentioned, I think, that G+’s Hangout feature is the one properly interesting thing about the whole platform, – Google have now opend up the API to allow people to make programmes / apps using Hangout. Which, if you’re a broadcaster or a games company or indeed anyone with an interest in streaming content and letting people talk about it / interact with it, is actually quite interesting. Honest.
- Google Now Lets You Track ‘Conversions’ From Social Media: Google Analytics, the bit of code that you can plug into a website to get stats on traffic, etc, is being improved to allow users to track ‘conversions’ from social media – that is, people coming to your website from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc, and doing a specific thing, like subscribing to a mailing list, downloading a PDF or buying a tshirt (there are more details here if you want them). The whole horrific ‘value of social’ debate is an increasingly big one, and will only get bigger (as predicted here in January, folks – I SAID SO SO IT MUST BE TRUE). Stuff like this will make it easier for people like me (and probably you) to justify our pathetic corporate existences, which can only be a good thing – right, kids?
- An Excellent Essay on Brands: This is actually the second part of a much longer piece of writing (you can read the first here, but it’s not really necessary and frankly it’s full of statistics and numbers that I barely understood what with being a numerically challenged dolt) . It’s LONG, but don’t let that put you off. No really, don’t – just put some effort in for once. It’s a very smart piece of writing that I won’t try and summarise here, except to say that it touches on the fact that noone cares about brands, brand identities and brand voices anywhere near as much in the real world as people who work in advermarketingpr think that they do, and that ‘Be Interesting’ is the sole important commandment of 21st Century branded communications. Which is pretty much true. On a similar note, this is a very good presentation looking at similar issues, which won my heart with the line ‘we create fake movements for things that people don’t care about’. TESTIFY!
- The XXXX Island: I’m slightly amazed that more people haven’t picked up this. Australian lager mediocrity Castlemaine, whose urine-analogous product spawned some of the best advertising of the 1980s, has BOUGHT A WHOLE ISLAND OFF THE COAST OF AUSTRALIA. No, really, they have. It’s all part of a marketing campaign that sees them appealing to real Australian men by creating a MANLY PARADISE in island form, with Joe Public deciding exactly how the island should be developed to best appeal to BLOKES. Leaving aside the concept of exactly how horrific an island created by ‘real Australian men’ would be, I would *love* to know how much this costs.
- Goofy Is Coming For You: I found this slightly more sinister than I think Disney may originally have intended. Slick execution, though.
- The World’s First Interactive Shoppable Music Video: Allegedly, that is. I think Burberry have already done this, as have Diesel, but anyhow – this is US label SSense who’ve dressed US rapper Iggy Azalea and producer Diplo for this video, and make EVERY SINGLE THING in the film purchasable. It’s quite well-executed, but it does make me a little bit sad inside.
Other Internetty Things I Have Recently Enjoyed:
- EnemyGraph: An art project in the form of a Facebook app, EnemyGraph allows users to subvert Facebook’s ordinary ‘I like therefore I am’ structure and instead define oneself in opposition – that is, to highlight things, ideas and even people that one dislikes in order to create and delineate one’s own online identity. This cropped up a few weeks ago and breaks all sorts of FB terms of service, so have a play while you still can.
- Pentametron: Another arty service, this Twitter-based programme analyses Tweets to find fragments of iambic verse, and then stitches them together as cut-up improvised sonnets. Some of them are terrible (ok, most of them are terrible) but occasionally there’s the odd diamond. Go have a look – in fact, if you have an anniversary or something coming up, why not transcribe one into your beloved’s card and pass it off as a work of your own inimitable genius and then watch them wrestling with its incomprehensibility? You know you (I) want (you) to.
- Multiplayer Piano: See, this is the sort of collaborative future that the internet was meant to provide us with. Play piano online with an ever-changing roster of nameless, faceless other webmongs. What’s nice about this is that it’s a lot more collaborative than one might expect – people do seem to really make an effort to create pleasing sounds, rather than simply producing the aural equivalent of a host of crudely drawn penises all over the metaphorical blank audiocanvas.
- Fame: No, not that one. This is a Twitter ‘game’ that plays on our fundamental narcissism. Every 24h, one of the ‘players’ (currently numbering over 7,000) gets chosen by the game – that player is, for a day, automatically followed by all the other players. 24h, they automatically un-follow them and start following the next day’s anointed one. The ‘game’ insofar as it exists, is to make the best use of your 24h of inflated influence. A brand will do a variant on this soon enough (and bad things will happen, mark my words).
- WebCam Tears: A webpage collecting footage of people filming themselves crying on their webcams. I think that this was built as a cruel ‘ha ha ha look at the pathetic people’ piece of trolling – what it’s ended up being, I think, is quite a sad, moving collection of fear and angst and and and and (Jesus, I’m so emo). Dreadful haircuts, though (pot/kettle).
- Amazing, Scary Recursive Animations: Exactly what it says.
- A Fact and a Photo: Providing a great fact and a great photo each day. Lovely.
- Watercolour Google Maps: These are gorgeous, and I quite want them on my wall
- An Illustrated Visit to a Toy Fair: Illustrator and cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt visited a toy fair in New York recently and wrote about the experience, accompanied by some rather cool illustrations.
- Clever Typographic Designy Art Things: Yes, I know that that’s a horrible description. Sorry. Just click the link.
- Create Fake Tweets From ANYONE: Go – WREAK HAVOC!
Stuff For You To Read With Tea Or Coffee Or Wine Or Meths:
These are long(ish) but worthwhile – savour at leisure:
- Fratboy Confessional: You’ve seen Animal House, right? The US Universities’ Greek system looks like SO MUCH FUN, right? This account of whistleblowing at Dartmouth is horrible – I for one am thankful that I have yet to experience the peculiar delights of the vomlette.
- Making Music With Superproducers: This is a fascinating New Yorker article on the business of making hits in the 2012. Frighteningly mechanical and calculated.
- ReTweeted by Barack: You’d think that getting a RT from the leader of the free world would be quite a nice thing. Apparently not, it transpires.
- How To Avoid Hating People: Tim Rogers is a divisive figure in games journalism – for everyone who loves his hyperwordy style, there are about 500 who simply post “tl;dr” under everything he writes. Your mileage may vary on this one, but I think it’s a great essay touching on online prejudice, gender roles and stereotyping, trolls and the needless hatred that perpetuates a huge percentage of online discourse. Oh, and there’s some stuff about videogames marketing too, but don’t let that put you off.
- Paintballing With Hezbollah: Occasionally Vice Magazine comes out with some cracking journalism. This is one such piece, getting up close and personal with the Shiite militia group often described as “The A-Team of Terrorism”.
- The Life Story of Charles Darwin Snelling: Last year, David Brooks of the New York Times asked readers over 70 to send in their life stories. These have been collected under the heading ‘Life Reports’ on the NYT website. This is the life story of Charles Snelling, who last week killed himself and his wife. Both were 81. It is beautiful and you may cry.
- And If That’s Not Enough…: The shortlist has been announced for the US National Magazine Awards, highlighting the best long-form writing in US media in the past year. There are some brilliant pieces in there, and enough words to keep you from talking to your relatives ALL weekend.
Right, that’s your lot for this week. VIDEOS! Happy Easter one and all:
1) Austrian Drum’n'Bass duo Camo & Krooked released this video for their ‘Afterlife’ remix and it is AMAZING. You like LEGO? You like Kill Bill? You will LOVE this, in that case:
2) Amidst reports that the children of the Beatles are set to form ‘Beatles 2′ (let’s all stop for a moment and think exactly how much of a GREAT IDEA that is, shall we?), here’s a salutary reminder that we’re getting to a point where we won’t actually need real people to make music at all, because THE ROBOTS CAN DO IT INSTEAD. Mind-boggling:
3) Orbital are back! Old people like me will see this as significant; anyone younger will wonder what all the fuss is about (CLUE: listen to this). Anyway, their latest studio album Wonky was released this week. This is the title track – not only is it great, but the video is disturbing and features cats which ticks two very important boxes in internet terms:
5) I tend not to feature a lot of Italian music on here, mainly because it’s 90% dreadful (I’m sorry, but it is – anyone remember this?) – my cousin was over the other week, though, and she mentioned I Cani, who are actually really good. Even if you can’t understand the words, which I think will apply to the majority of you:
6) Set aside 8 minutes to watch this. It really is worth it. Channeling bits of the best videogame cutscenes and a large sprinkling of Terminator 2, RUIN is one of the most impressive pieces of animation I’ve seen all year:
7) This looks all retro but in fact is not. It’s a recent single by Costa Rican band Rey Nocivo, and deserves inclusion because a) the video’s pretty cool; b) the song’s actually excellent and c) when was the last time you listened to music from Costa Rica, eh? Borderline NSFW, but only just:
US band The Neighbourhood are annoyingly ungoogleable, it would seem. This is a great piece of summery songwriting – I think these people are going to be famous. Then again, if I knew anything about stuff like that I’d be a lavishly remunerated A&R man rather than a webmong. Such is life.
9) To close, the oddest thing I’ve seen all week. David Lynch, eh? WHAT A CARD! This is ‘Crazy Clown Time’ (potentially NSFW due to almost-nipples):