Thursday 29 February 2024

world of pure imagination (11. 390)

As with other disastrous and disappointing venues, last week’s fiasco surrounding what was billed as an immersive family event organised by the House of Illuminati did not fail to garner a viral attention over this sad and pricy—up to £ 40 for a group ticket and spurring angry visitors to call the police and shut down the attraction that same afternoon (I recall similar reportage over dull and expensive Christmas Carnivals and Winter Wonderlands—Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory Experience. Contrary to an advertisement campaign aggressively enhanced by AI, the venue was in a largely empty warehouse in Glasgow sparsely festooned with a few candy-themed props, a bouncy castle and some vinyl printed backdrops from the above ad guided by poorly costumed actors. One photograph that emerged of this Oompa Loompa, looking herself rather humiliated to be party to this all around flop, adding insult to injury by framing her as some dreary technician at a meth lab, but awarding (or cursing) her with some standout meme-treatment and twice interviewed about the mortifying few hours. Rightfully skeptical about the gig posted on a jobs site, the professional actor, children’s entertainer and yoga instructor, she walked into a slapdash production not fully thought out but couldn’t back out of the contract (none of the cast was paid ultimately) and hope she might bring a little redemptive fun to the show. Much more from Super Punch at the link above.

Sunday 25 February 2024

11x11 (11. 380)

sure, write stuff for free—but write it for yourself: maintaining one’s creativity in the bleak media sector brickwalling and the loss of journalistic records  

rage-baiting: viral Tik-Tok couple troll influencer culture with such precision most don’t realise it’s satire—via Super Punch  

the paint explainer: a primer on the twenty-seven amendments to the US Constitution—via Memo of the Air 

dark dimensions: there’s a new theory about where dark matter might be hiding  

the sony smartwig: a 2016 patent granted for a connected hairpiece one pairs with their phone for tactile feedback 

the navel on an orange is a mutation that created a conjoined twin: weird information to dispense on a first date—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links 

the riker manoeuvre: small towns with monuments to Star Trek characters—via Marginal Revolution  

selectric funeral: the Boston Typewriter Orchestra hopes to appear in NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert with this submission  

awful yet lawful: US Supreme Court to entertain grievances on social media moderation for deplatforming hateful and dangerous content  

multi-level marketing: a supercut of huckster Donald Trump’s merchandising scams 

you can out-buzzfeed buzzfeed after all: media group in takeover talks with UK’s The Independent—see previously

Saturday 24 February 2024

cognitive offloading (11. 376)

Via Good Internet, whilst there have always been panics over new technological extensions of the human mind leading to decline and atrophy from platonic criticism of the written word to the “boob tube” to the toxicity and tribalism of the web, one researcher with the University of Monterrey fears that the capacity of artificial intelligence for mimicry goes beyond facilitating study and investigation with instant answers and unverifiable connections (possibly beneficial—yet to be seen and the verdict is still out—for navigating a native digital environment for things like programming and debugging and those onerous tasks, and jobs, that only exist because systems don’t talk to one another and integration is difficult) that might make us lazy and less critical but poses a real threat in supplanting our executive functions. Rather than stimulating and enhancing thought and examination, ready answers, verging towards dogmatism when it comes to nuanced and complex ideas, these shortcuts, short-circuits could make judgment and creativity an increasingly rare commodity.

Friday 23 February 2024

and the oscar goes to (11. 373)

Ahead of the Academy Awards to be held on 11 March, the always excellent Kottke, who just turned nineteen, directs our attention to film critic Wesley Morris’ appreciation of outstanding performances in categories that don’t exist but should. We especially appreciated ‘Best Acting in a Mirror’ and ‘Best Acting over a Landline,’ which both seem like an especially displaced skill by the same technology, like period suspension belief over mysteries that would be easily dispatched with and resolved by modern standards though some of the scenes are transcendent of place and time. And yes, the ceremonies are worth it for the GIFs, example not pictured, alone.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

10x10 (11. 365)

royal mews: King Charles’ one of a kind electric Jaguar up for auction—via Miss Cellania  

ppe: the portable nuclear bomb shield, patented by Harold Tiff  

got clearance clarence: after embarrassing blunder over bad travel advice, Air Canada advocates personhood (and limited liability) for its chatbot customer representative 

1776 days: Julian Assange’s long detention and fight against rendition to the US for Wikileaks

that which you call hardee’s, we call carl’s junior: food deserts, prevalence and distribution of casual dining chains in the US 

tigers blood: new singles from Waxahatchee 

daddy daughter day: breakdancing, bitcoin father revealed as a veteran of member of the Christian Coalition and conservative speech writer 

the second in line: Swedish illustrator Mattias Adolfsson—via Messy Nessy Chic  

body armour: Casimir Zeglen, the priest who invented the bulletproof vest  

motorcade: Joe Biden’s Cadillac sedan for sale—via tmn

synchronoptica

one year ago: artist creates a prosthetic extra digit plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy, the subterrene (1972) plus The Shape of Things to Come (1936)

three years ago: introducing the Jeep (1941), a Nyan Cat NFT plus a suite of Japanese pictograms

four years ago: more mass-transit upholstery, RIP Larry Gordon Tesler who invested copy-and-paste, superannuated map styles, the possible extradition of Julian Assange plus the new US ambassador to Germany

five years ago: all the presidents’ meals, a secret meeting between industrialists and the Nazi government (1933), more links worth the revisit, the US emergency broadcast system (1971), vintages mazes plus the bokeh technique

Sunday 4 February 2024

i have it on good authority that greta thunberg is against carbon dioxide emissions and yet emits carbon dioxide with every exhale (11. 322)

Via Nag on the Lake’s always excellent Sunday Links, we enjoyed this netiquette piece by Rebecca Solnit on how to comment on social media, a facetious send-up on Goodwin’s Law that’s well worth one’s time, which prompted us to return to a taxonomic analysis of the dominant, text-based platforms. Though the label of lurkers somehow does not sit right as the term to describe the ‘silent majority’ of the reading audience, consuming but not necessarily engaging, it is very true that most users fall into this category, leaving only a slim minority to comprise the other classes. Whilst not certain if we sometimes forget and that platforms are an imperfect reflexion of what’s going on in the real world, maybe it is something that social media in crafting their walled gardens does fail to remember from time to time at the risk of alienation its base. The rest are the familiar lineup of influencers/promoters, commenters/reply guys that shape and refine the online discourse of posters and content-makers. What do you think? Platforms cannot survive for long with an unbalanced ecosystem that rewards the shrillest at the expense of the casual visitor. Remember, the word privilege can be used randomly. People who are breathing are unfairly privileged over people who died in the year 1816, who you also speak for.

Thursday 1 February 2024

emotional support muppet (11. 312)

The dear child furry red muppet from Sesame Street Elmo did a social media check-in with his substantial number of followers with a seemingly innocent and innocuous question: How is everybody doing today? The responses immediately went viral with over ten thousand comments and a hundred million views, underscoring a deep sense of widespread despair and anxiety and enlisting Elmo as a therapist ready to take it all in, though the trauma dumping was a lot to lay on any single individual. A lot of us are going through a lot, and by Tuesday as replies were still coming in with Elmo and friends giving supportive answers, having read through the overwhelming amount of messages, shared, “Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you ❤️”

Sunday 28 January 2024

zombified by a thousand bots (11. 302)

Via Super Punch, we are referred to the sad insult waylaid on shuttered digital media outlets that are revived—due to a lapsed domain registration—by opportunists (in this case a Slovakian DJ who has bought hundreds of expired websites) seeking to cannibalise the defunct blogs for their reputation, longevity and wealth of backlinks and keeping them in circulation as a wholly AI-generated version of their former selves. Looking forward to their eventual distress and demise, media properties are advised to pay more attention to estate-planning to avoid this cruel fate and face regurgitation by the scavengers. This trend—and we’re sure we’ve not heard the last of it—sounds horrific, like seeing some veteran sites turned in on themselves and mirroring advice forums. More from Wired contributor (also a Condรฉ Nast publication) at the link above.

Friday 12 January 2024

#tbt (11. 261)

Via Web Curios, we are pointed towards an intriguing albeit a touch nostalgic and could have, should have been written for Gen X or any other cohort about the phenomena of ageing out of the internet in an NYT opinion column—which to a degree rises above the on-going argument that fun is work and its been haemorrhaging from being online for a while now and bemoaning the cannibalisation and repackaging of the old web that was no one’s particular bailiwick—and posits a generational shift to platforms, engagement and presentation that honestly does feel insufferable and burdensome. The places worth the visit are drying up (which is why we must cherish those who do remain) with some old standbys absolutely desiccated and much fewer opportunities for serendipity or at least shilly-shallying. Decades later, of course, we are also getting old and curmudgeonly, but the prospect of signing up for the next social media platform with its attendant “enjunkification” seems onerous (much the same way that the pivot to video has been) and not an in-group to be envious of.

Tuesday 9 January 2024

10x10 (11. 254)

job security: the US only created seven-hundred new IT positions last year—compared to two-hundred seventy thousand in 2022—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

tidy mouse: an industrious rodent sorts out a human’s workspace 

a theft from those who hunger: Dwight Eisenhower’s Chance for Peace Speech of 1953   

seo: how Google’s search algorithm has shaped the web  

past is precedent: Austin Kleon shares one-hundred things that made his year—a very good list 

the big mac index: the rising costs of fast food and its political implications 

high school high: graphic designer Veronica Kraus curates gems from old yearbooks—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic  

armed conflict survey: mapping wars around the world  

double fantasy: celebrated photographer Kishin Shinoyama, who captured the intimate moments of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for their album art (see below) passes away, aged 83 

 year-on-year: the word from Davos forecasts anaemic economic growth

synchronoptica

one year ago: Nobody Told Me plus canal workers’ jargon

two years ago: Mambo Italiano, RMS Queen Elizabeth plus the premier of the iPhone (2007)

three years ago: classic rebrands, assorted links to revisit, a snowy day, more on Cats plus a diet inducing doorway

four years ago: attempts for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq War (1991), the yacht whisperer plus plans for a Woven City

five years ago: the diplomatic status of the EU downgraded, more Hampsterdance, repairing the Azure Window plus more links to enjoy

Sunday 7 January 2024

ensh*ttification (11. 250)

As shared by Waxy, the venerable American Dialect Society, founded in 1889, selected as its Word of the Year (technically referred to in the broader sense as a “vocabulary item”) the coinage from Cory Doctorow used to describe, and perfectly encapsulate, how digital platforms degrade and become decrepit, following a tragic bait and switch trajectory of first being good and usefully, then abusing users by commoditising them for the sake of advertisers to finally abuse those sponsors and shunt value for themselves as a brand—to die the death. Among other contenders short-listed were ceasefire for those calling to stop the hostilities in Palestine, context for its invocations from university presidents on free-speech, Kenaissance for the depiction of the heroine’s companion in the Barbie movie, “let someone cook” as an urging to allow an individual to do something they are good at without interference and stochastic parrot for the tendency of language models to generate plausible text without any understanding. The jury also announced categories of most useful, mostly likely to succeed, such as a gendered-x, girl math, boy math and era defined as a personal period of defining style or behaviour. Their euphemism of the year nominees included effective altruism as a movement to benefit all of humanity but as an excuse to spend the money of others, and in the politics category, ๐Ÿ‰ (employed for the similar colours to the flag) was picked as a symbol of solidarity with the people of Gaza with hot labour summer in second place. More at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: close-up photos of the year, the US House of Congress elects a Speaker, a tiny generative remixer, Emperor Norton I plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: the Slovak gaming community, the Tokyo metro in real-time, Powers of Ten, St Distaff’s Day, more links to enjoy, Web 3.0 plus Macron’s vulgarities

three years ago: words that are their own opposites plus the introduction of DALL·E

four years ago: here come the seventies, an animated medieval songbook, the tattoos of a Danish king, fancy apple varieties plus covering GITMO

five years ago: more Japanese New Year cards plus more on the Year of the Periodic Table

Thursday 4 January 2024

piso mojado (11. 241)

Via Miss Cellania, we not only learn of the existence of a universally understood slipping hazard sign, a wet floor marker in the shape of a banana peel but also there is a whole sub-site devoted to their sightings. We’ve never encountered such a warning (we wonder where they are most common as opposed to the foldable one that props up) and though the trope of the obstacle and the prat fall certainly still are prevalent and comprehensible, it seems a little ironic that the cultivation practises of the fruit has led to the extinction of the variety that was particularly prone to cause tumbling, prompting concern for public safety in the mid-nineteenth century when importation became especially popular in America (leading to the gag) and municipal ordinances (with posted signage) regarding their proper disposal.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the Dark Forest of the Internet plus outsourcing one’s outlet

two years ago: assorted links to revisit 

three years ago: Trump harasses election officials plus more facts gleaned from the past year

four years ago: AI generated beetles, an anti-Bob Ross, a book on bricks plus cities coping with sea-level rise

five years ago: preserving the present plus more links to enjoy

Thursday 14 December 2023

memeification (11. 188)

We quite enjoyed the rather uniting distillation of the year’s news in meme form from Hyperallergic, covering topics from Barbieheimer, orcas attacking yachts, AI images of the Pope and how most men think about the Roman Empire on a daily basis, a viral moment of Karenness and the mugshot of Donald Trump all re-contextualised.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus Dune (1984)

two years ago: Preserved Fish III, the Wall Street Charging Bull, more MST3K classics, mushroom-derived dyes plus pyrotechnic posters

three years ago: End TimesSaint Nicasius, filming locations for Topaz plus Well-Armed Peasants

four years ago: first-flight (1782) 

five years ago: interesting trivia, the brief monarchy of Finland plus predictive text

Monday 11 December 2023

schminkautomat (11. 182)

Via Messy Nessy Chic’s peripatetic findings and although originally staged as a hoax (Aprilscherz from the photo archives of the Sรผddeustsche Zeitung), such acoin-op beauty dispensary must certainly be a contemporary, inevitable reality regardless of whether the calibre of the technology has seen much improvement over the intervening century. 

Prospective users are invited gauge the colours to right tones and style, insert 10₰, face the portal and turn the hand crank. A bell sounds when the makeup (the word comes from the Late Middle High German verbs for smearing and stroking) has been applied.

Thursday 7 December 2023

9x9 (11. 169)

sub-space: the potential problems of communications with relativistic spacecraft, traveling at a fraction the speed of light with solar-sails  

new quality productivity: Chinese buzz-words of the year, including a coinage by President Xi 

ailex: artist Alicia Framis announces her marriage to a hologram  

der nussknacker: the Fรผchtner family who made the first traditional nutcracker is still in the business  

wallsynth: Love Hultรฉn’s custom, one-of-a-kind musical creations have a Mid-Century Modern aesthetic  

the day of the animals: a 1977 nature rampage film from William Girdler  

network effects: building a better, unbundled Craigslist turned out like the trajectory of Twitter 

american dream: Investopedia’s most searched economic terms of the year reveal a lot about how people feel about their financial situation 

 in space, no one can hear you kern: when lost in the inner Solar System, typography can come in handy

synchronoptica

one year ago: Blue Marble (1972), Sovereign Citizens plus using AI to invent a language

two years ago: galaxies outside our own plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: birdsong in December, more links to enjoy, non-conterminious territory plus more words of the year

four years ago: the Guzman Prize awarded (1969), Scientology HQ plus a lunar cruise

five years ago: the etymology of chauvinism, Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, circular economies, more movie typography plus juxtaposing photography

 

Friday 1 December 2023

fifty-two things (11. 154)

Continuing an annual tradition, Tom Whitwell shares some interesting and intriguing things, one per week, learned over the past year. Some of the more tantalising facts (most new to us) include how there was a hourly bank robbery in Los Angeles three decades ago, the apparent kidnapping of solar pioneer George Cove, forest cover in Scotland and England have returned to levels not seen in a thousand years, fake navel tattoos that create the illusion of height is hailed as one of the best inventions of the year plus the advent of psychedelic cryptography, concealed messages that can only be received by those on LSD. Much more at the link up top.

Friday 24 November 2023

top of the deck (11. 136)

Fellow peripatetic and committed flaneur Diamond Geezer is celebrating the milestone of his ten-thousand post, mini-essays since starting blogging back in 2002. We especially appreciate the data analysis that’s typical of his content, showing trends and distribution over the years, unlike my deportment, counting the quick missives and links (increasingly dead ones) and the tendency lately to fudge the dates, use placeholders and shift things around a bit so PfRC doesn’t seem so neglected. Crunch the number, so to speak, he compiled a rather resonant and relatable list of common tropes (not labels) characteristic to his blog: 

• I went for a walk

• I went on a journey
• I went sightseeing
• I went somewhere seemingly mundane
• I visited disjoint linked locations
• I spotted something unusual
• I invented a silly challenge
• I attended an event
• I see TfL have done something
• I wouldn't have done it like that
• I disapproved of some marketing
• I considered the human condition
• I dug into some data
• I made some lists
• I scoured a map
• I made a quiz
• I looked back in my diary
• I was inspired by today's date
• I reacted to the news
• I am being sarcastic

The blogosphere congratulates Diamond Geezer on this achievement and speaking on behalf of quite a few of us, we are grateful to the Blogger platform for its consistency and dependability over the years.

Monday 6 November 2023

dak industries incorporated (11. 100)

Via Waxy, we are directed to Cabel Sasser’s decade-long curation of a consumer electronics catalog print editions from company founder and enthusiast Drew Andrew Kaplan who operated his mail-order service out of North Hollywood from the mid-1980s to the early 90s. Assembling the ephemera to complete the collection, a retrospect appreciation of the Golden Age of Gadgetry and it’s a rather fascinating anthology of glossy, ad-filled hand-selected inventories to see what was available and aspirational, including pedometer, heart-monitoring wrist watches, exquisite telephones, synthesisers and all variety of hi-fi and recording media and is certainly worth the slow scroll though this gallery (with links to the complete catalogues) of competitors, antecedents and predecessors, like the iconic though arguably derivative Sharper Image.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, a Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes classic plus Gustavus Adolphus Day

two years ago: a classic from Cher plus more links to enjoy 

three years ago: clashes in the Gutenberg workshop plus even more links worth revisiting

four years ago: the geometrical art of Lorentz Stรถer

five years ago: low-angle satellite imagery, Meet the Press,  recreating the Old Dutch Masters with packaging material plus an illustrated Roman iterarium

Friday 3 November 2023

the murmur of the snarkmatrix (11. 092)

In honour of the collective’s twentieth anniversary, Kottke has declared today Snarkmarket Day—actually the quietly influential, occasional blog that’s not been so active in the past few years (I can relate) is pretty thoughtful and reflective and not particularly snarky—and is turning over the reins to members and guest hosts Tim Carmody, Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson for an indulgent cast back to earlier days of the blogosphere and think about how online interactions have changed in the past two decades. Much more at the links above including some pieces I can remember from over the years and a prescient 2010 coinage about generative chat called the “speakularity.”

synchronoptica

one year ago: another classic from Enya, Saint Hubertus plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: a classification of creatives, another MST3K classic plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: the November Revolution that led to the formation of the Weimar Republic plus Carrie (1976)

four years ago: a pervasive number from Rusted Root, more awful library books plus an embarassment of social media platforms

five years ago: Nixon’s Silent Majority plus a trip through the Rhรถn

Wednesday 18 October 2023

digital chindลgu (11. 066)

Via fellow internet caretaker Pasa Bon!’s latest link roundup, we are pointed to an constantly updated directory of “pointless sites” to poke around and play with. In the spirt of the Tiny Web and recalling the above concept of “unuselessness,” this carefully curated catalogue of dedicated pages and apps that do (or don’t do) one thing is anything but pointless and enjoyed discovering infuriatingly challenging games and puzzles like pick the colour not the word, a museum of dead links and the lava lamp emulator. There’s a showcase of most popular places to visit and a reliquary of the least favourited spots to waste one’s time.