HASTY EDIT – I published this and then realised that this was the 18th Web Curios. Web Curios is now of legal drinking age; should any of you fancy buying Web Curios a bottle of whisky (or meths of suitable vintage), please feel free. Thanks.
Another week down, another 7 days spent at work feeling like Sisyphus (if you’d prefer a visual representation of this, you can’t go wrong by clicking here). Yet again, it might be argued that I shouldn’t be writing this and should instead be knuckling down to some HARD GRAFT (for which phrase Google Images suggests this – proof positive that people who spend time on the internet have NO CONCEPT of what work actually means); those who hold that opinion, though, are ignoring the JOY that Web Curios brings to literally tens of webmongs across Soho. I am performing a public service, big bossman Richard Miller. Frankly I should be subsidised by the state – after all, there’s some extra cash knocking about these days.
Having said that, this is going to be the last Web Curios for a while as next Thursday I am going on HOLIDAY. Yes, I know that I have tried that before this year and failed spectacularly, but this time nothing can go wrong. I’m only going to Italy, for God’s sake *prays, fervently*. Before I embark upon my Roman holiday, though, have some things – oh, and for those of a sensitive disposition, please be assured that nothing in this week’s selection comes anywhere near to the creepiness of last week’s stuff. Which is a shame, frankly (there was a video of a Satanic mass, but I’m not quite sure how far I can test my employers’ patience at the moment). Enjoy, or don’t, but whatever you do DON’T HAVE NIGHTMARES.
Facebook Location-based Functionality – …is still coming soon. Christ, this is like waiting for Godot. I promise not to mention this again until it actually happens, but just be ware that it is coming and that you should start thinking of ways to use you could use it. Unless, you know, your job involves real work instead of this made-up sort of internet stuff. In other Facebook news, meanwhile, the BIGGEST WEBSITE IN THE WORLD EVER (so far) is about to inveigle its way even further into our lives. Upset about the fact that you can’t watch television on your favourite social network? Then your life is empty and meaningless, but you will be cheered by the fact that UK broadcaster and recent acquisition of pornography magnate Richard Desmond has inked a deal with Facebook which will allow people to watch 5’s catch-up service through it’s Facebook page. This is a very smart move, and one which we will inevitably see more of – watch as more retailers join in as well, following the inimitable Stelios’ (he’s the one on the left) lead and allow consumers to purchase goods and services through FB.
More Location-based Stuff – An interesting article on Mashable looking at how the concept of the ‘check-in’ can usefully be applied to entertainment media, and in particular television shows. Requires a bit of thinking, but worth reading as it’s something that it’s useful to know about, particularly if you couple that with augmented narrative, transmedia and the like (I am well aware that that last line will have made 99% of you disinclined to click. Hey ho).
MySpace In ‘Not Dead’ Shocker! – Despite the fact that MySpace is something of a ghost town these days (if you’d like to see exactly how the relative popularity of various websites has changed in the past few years, by the way, compare this ‘Map of the Internet’ from about 2006-7 with this updated 2010 version published the other week), this week it announced that it was redesigning its homepages to make them look a little bit less like a Geocities sites designed by teens with ADHD (which, in fact, many of them were). I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is too little, too late. Obviously, though, don’t quote me on that in 2013 when we’re all laughing at Zuckerberg’s immense hubris and complimenting Rupes on how he turned it all around.
And In Entirely Predictable Fashion, Next Up Is Twitternews – Twitter has partnered with Tweetmeme to create it’s very own ‘Tweet This’ button. Consolidation rather than huge news per se, but nice to see that rather than trying to beat Tweetmeme at their own game, Twitter have in fact acknowledged their skill to date in owning this space by partnering with them. Sky are one of the first major sites to install this functionality – take a look.
Oh, and in other Twitternews, this week saw MTV appointing its first ‘Twitter Jockey’ (yes, that probably is the silliest sounding job title currently at large in the Western world). Scoff all you like, but the winner – the very, very fortunate @Gabifresh (or, professionally, @mtvtj) – is now trousering a frankly insane $100,000 to mess about on the internet for the next 12 months. Look, before you start rolling your eyes at me I know that there is more to it than messing about on the internet, and I know that there are all sorts of brand / voice considerations to consider, and I know that it’s not that easy and will probably be quite stressful at times, but come on…that is a lot of money. Anyone who fancies employing me to do much the same for about 1/3 of that, do let me know in the comments. Thanks.
These Photographs Are Beautiful – Dancers, dancing out of context. Look, just click – really gorgeous stuff.
*TOTALLY IRRELEVANT ASIDE – comments aren’t available on that article, primarily as Mr Meltzer’s previously been victim of some pretty vicious trolling on Guardian blogs he’s written before. It happens every time the Guardian decides to give space to people under the age of 25, as far as I can tell, and is frankly unpleasant to watch – a lot of very bitter people in their 30s bemoaning the nepotism that must have been required for the author to get the gig. The ur-example of this is the e-beating meted out to poor old Max Gogarty when he had the temerity to try and start a Guardian blog series detailing his travelling experiences - go and check it out now, if you fancy a look at exactly how nasty people can be to a poor kid when they’re hiding behind a keyboard. Pathetic) END OF TOTALLY IRRELEVANT ASIDE*
Anyhow, that article started me thinking about whether or not the internet does actually make people more lonely – and social media in particular. This is a thin theory, but I quite enjoyed thinking about it, so bear with me. You may have read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books (and if you haven’t, you really should) – in the second one, one of the characters is punished for a series of crimes by being placed in the Total Perspective Vortex, which drives people insane by showing them “in one instant the whole infinity of creation and [themselves] in relation to it”. The point being that we are small, insignificant and meaningless in the grand scheme of things, and that a large proportion of our brainpower is devoted to stopping us from thinking about this too hard lest we go mental.
Now, in the context of social media…before we had social networks it was actually very easy to ignore the fact that the world went on perfectly well without you, and that most people frankly couldn’t give a flying one whether you were alive or dead. You didn’t know that there were parties to which you were not being invited; you didn’t know that there were people having (or pretending to have) a vastly better time than you EVERY DAY; you could focus on yourself, your life, and the few people you cared about and it was good. Now, though, you can’t log on to anything without getting both barrels of the world’s life in the face – a life that, for the most part, doesn’t involve you and couldn’t care less about you. Which, in a way, is a bit like what that Total Perspective Vortex thing did. MAKES YOU THINK, EH????? Oh.
[as an aside, did you know that before Wikipedia there was H2G2, run by the BBC to create the world's largest archive of user-generated and curated knowledge? You do now. Why not read the entry I wrote almost exactly a decade ago on working at Buckingham Palace?]
Americans, Gamble On Your Exam Results – I really, really wish that this had been around when I was at school.
If This Doesn’t Make You Cry, You’re Probably Dead Inside – A gorgeous, tragic project collecting and displaying photographs that people have sent in because they can’t bring themselves to keep them any more. No explanations are given, which gives you room to imagine the backstory. Genuinely heartbreaking, in the best way.
Photographers, Check This Out – Fourster is a service that works like Flickr but also allows you to sell your pictures through the site to whoever may want to buy them. Obviously utility depends on traffic / uptake, but in theory could be a nice little earner. Unless your photos are crap.
Mapping Happiness Across The UK – A lovely project by the LSE which looks to track the state of the UK’s moods using an app for iPhone that asks users the daily questions of “Where are you?” “What are you doing?” and “How are you feeling?” and then collates and maps that data. Take a look, and if you have an iPhone, participate.
Right, this has been unusually verbose. Sorry about that – it’s probably just a work-avoidance tactic, and I’ll try and be pithier next week (work out yourselves whether I’m saying that with a lisp. Have a tolerable time of it over the next couple of weeks, and this stuf will return soonish. Unless I die, or run away to join the circus. VIDEOTIME!
1) We kick off this week with a 1-minute video of the coolest evolution of graffiti / projection that I have seen in years. I WANT ONE:
2) Nick Cave is a legitimate genius, and I have to grudgingly accept that even though I know that my girlfriend would leave me in seconds should he as much as bat a languorous eyelash at her. This video for the latest single from his side project Grinderman is brilliant. The talented git. (NB – Contains nipples, so if that offends you you might want to not watch this and go off and reevaluate your life instead):
3) I’ve been listening to this track non-stop this week. It’s genuinely lovely, honest. No video to speak of, so why not set it to play and then go and check out the sad photos linked to above – fits quite well, I think, moodwise. Mt Eden Dubstep – Sierra Leone:
4) The Twitter Movie – surprisingly funny parody of the forthcoming Facebook film. Or at least it’s funny until someone actually decides to make a film about Twitter (ETA – about 9 months):
5) Sensology is a short animated film produced to accompany some improvised piano music. It is soothing, lovely, beautiful and probably the closest I’m ever going to get to experiencing what it’s like to be synaesthesiac:
6) This is a slightly mental animation showing the morphing faces of pretty much every cartoon character you can think of. Watch it, marvel, and then find someone on mushrooms and make them watch it whilst you laugh at their increasinly boggle-eyed incomprehension:
7) A beautiful video about words. Yes, video about words. It’s not that hard to understand, just watch:
To close, my favourite music video of the week (thanks for the tip, @Wheres_My_Owl); Miracle Fortress with Have You Seen In Your Dreams: