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weblog archives
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Monday, September 30, 2002
Guitar shops used to hold a special place in our heart. A space so full of promise and raw potential, they were the Aladdin's Caves of our youth. It's a dismal sign of growing old that today one can walk in and out of a guitar shop and give barely a passing glance at all the shiny toys on display. When did this passion evaporate?

Similarly, walking along Tottenham Court Road, central London's equivalent of Akihabara (poor comparison), one's eyes are assaulted by window after window stuffed with silvery promise, yet things remains strangely unmoved. Have we really reached saturation point with gadgets and toys? All those buttons, screens and winking lights just say 'dust trap' to us these days, and as a result devices that fold, buzz, and gently glow no longer hold the attraction they once did. Of course, companies are still beavering away, creating dreamy devices that are meant to drive us wild with desire. Yet somehow the spark has gone.

Some links. Small houses. Windscreen galleries (goes with these, sort of) and the finest song in the world. Maps of the world's subway systems. Finally, a trio. Finding this - best-of lists - reminded us of the original List Magazine, which arrived and then vanished without a trace, and finally this - a hipper version of a more established publication, although which one we know not.

Sunday, September 29, 2002
Is this the end of that?

Friday, September 27, 2002
Frighteningly comprehensive: the Philip Morris advertising archive versus's ads. Light relief: food advertising.

We've only dipped our toes into Ubu, but it's well worth a closer look. There's no point in even pretending we know what the site is about, but we'd hazard that fans of concrete poetry and strange sound should check it out. Hear, for example, Kurt Schwitters reading aloud.

Do thoughts of new forms of warfare hang heavy over your day? Step back in time to this extensive archive of civil defense films from the era of high paranoia. If anything, it should cheer you up. (these came via green fairy - a very worthy runner up in the Guardian’s controversial weblog competition which for some reason we didn’t enter. I think we just forgot).There are some truly fantastic films on the site, but be warned, downloads start at around 40mb.

Another automobile gallery, this time, the cars of Tintin.

Thursday, September 26, 2002
A snarky article ridiculing Jaguar USA's decision to use the Clash's punk anthem 'London Calling' for their current ad campaign. We first noted this punk-into-luxury appropriation in Scottsdale airport - a poster with a Jag next to a classic K6 telephone kiosk and 'London Calling' as the strap. This created an instant mental association with the song, but surely, we thought, they wouldn't, would they? (more autos - a gallery of the fantastic work of Pietro Frua)

The collected reviews of David Lynch's Lost Highway. More menacing, initially less opaque than Mulholland Drive.

Architecture. Compare the slender resources available at this online browser of Irish architecture, English Heritage's ongoing Images of England site and Archnet's quite excellent gallery.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
While we're getting riled about tube strikes and our other latest irritant - small windows in new houses (no pictures, maybe later) - other people seem to be getting on with their lives. Case in point. Over at tmn you can read the trials and tribulations of a writer's life in Barnes & Noblin' - highly recommended.

Some vaguely related links. We like the idea of the Do-Not Press, home of 'fiercely independent publishing', but the recent story about Dave Eggers' latest venture (We saw it in print first! Honest! We're not cribbing every tmn link...) mentioned a renaissance in self-publishing. Most notably, it explained how the so-called 'stigma' of paying to be published is being superseded by print-on-demand technology. If 30,000 manuscripts really are submitted to publishers every month (and we hope they have sturdy recycling procedures in place), then a friend of a friend's decision to go to Xlibris after several years of closed doors and rejection letters can only be applauded. Especially, when the result - here or here (Xlibris has a lousy search facility) - is really very readable indeed.

Monday, September 23, 2002
Remember that oft-quoted statistic about how half the world has never made a phone call? This Wired article calls the stat into question, with some eye-opening figures about recent global telecommunications growth.

Fun with maps - the zip codes of me-fi members plotted on a big green map of the US. Unsurprisingly, there are big blobs round NY, LA and San Francisco, with great areas of emptiness in the centre of the nation. A UK map would, we suspect, have a big, London-shaped blob and little else...?

New article - the official way to make paper planes (which conflicts slightly with our earlier advice).
08:49 / 0 comments

Saturday, September 21, 2002
A piece about the debris surrounding Robert Smithson's 1973 artwork Spiral Jetty, a piece of earth art that has (at least) two pop culture links. Firstly, Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo named a solo album Amarillo Ramp (for Robert Smithson), an hour-long shower of guitars and drones that claims 'wave shaping/spectral improvement' on the liner notes. Check the song 'Outside my window' for more of Ranaldo's solo work.

Secondly, the Jetty is located in Box Elder County, Utah. 'Box Elder' is also the name of a song by Pavement. But this is possibly unrelated. We also learnt from the article that people who live in Utah are called Utahns. (Official Smithson site, me-fi source)

Enough about old music. This essay on game emulation dates back to 1999, making it a relatively early look at a scene that goes in fits and starts, hobbled by legalities. For example, you can still download the latest build of MAME, the legendary Multi Arcade Machine Emulator, but you're no longer able to download any of the roms needed to actually play the games. They are out there, though... (we touched on the subject lightly a short while back, as well.)

Blogger now has merchandise, through geek chic boutique CafeShops. Apparently, however, photo logs are the new weblogs (according to lightningfield (which we’ve been citing as Lightning Field for a while. Sigh).

Friday, September 20, 2002
Late addition: Taxi art. Really very clever indeed.

Old bookmark lists are like old notebooks, nostalgia feasts rich with incomprehensible scribbles, dead-ends and confusion. Sifting through some links that had incredibly survived being transferred from an old computer, this acronymn finder is just about the only thing of any worth.

That got us thinking about usefulness, and usefulness of websites in particular. What use does newthings serve? What purpose? Not a lot, really, especially when compared to those websites that have such an elegant presentation of 'found' visual and audio material (e.g. Coudal, Portage, Sharpeworld, Travelers Diagram - the 'a-list' of design weblogs). This site was initially started to provide a handy archive of back issues, along with articles (and the occasional web-only special). Is that useful?

Today's links. This quote from a late silly season story:

“A spokeswoman for Southampton City Council said: "It is nationally accepted that flats higher up tower blocks are further away than those at the bottom - it may seem harsh but that is standard practice according to guidelines.”

Elsewhere, we're feeling rather pleased about this synchronicity: a New Scientist competition that offers cryonic suspension as the first prize - we have related galleries, coming soon... (limited, unenthusiastic discussion here).

Thursday, September 19, 2002
We have a fresh gallery, with the promise of more to come. Web space isn't infinite, is it? In fact it runs out rather quickly once you start putting up photos. things had/has grand plans that involve .mp3 files, dating back to our collaboration with the Sonic Catering Band (who are seemingly dormant). One day, one day...

Architecture thoughts and rants. Scourge seems to be dedicated to complaining about Herbert Muschamp, venerable New York Times architecture critic and instigator of an alternative set of WTC plans. Unsurprisingly, these are proving controversial, and are nicely timed to coincide with the NEXT architecture show at the Venice Biennale. Suggestions of an architectural mafia, anyone?

Related. The raw enthusiasm of the archlog, vs the rancour of the architecture hate page, where not even sacred cows are safe.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Ever wondered what three-dimensional grafitti looks like? Try this. That's a relatively old link, so we fully expect to get called up by the link police. If we had a tagline, it would probably be: ‘newthings: sharing and pointing.’

The BBC’s new graphically pleasing, but deeply depressing, breakdown of UK crime figures. Staying with the BBC, this kind of web-based project probably helps thousands of schoolkids with their homework: Disposable Planet. Also consider the Washington Post's similar feature, this time with a photo-journalism approach. Check Jose Azel's galleries for glorious images of waste.

Some sharing and pointing. LSD blotter art gallery, best viewed in conjunction with this natty '24' plot generator. Two great pictures we wish we'd taken: I, II.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Some interesting projects at, especially these sketchbooks (related, Caterina's collection of on-line art). We also liked the creepy Alumni project - lots of pop-ups here, but that seems to be the point.

Getting married surrounded by heart-stopping natural beauty.

A wall in France.

Monday, September 16, 2002
A week away from the internet means there is a profusion of things - words and pictures - to catch up with. To kick off, we'll have a few galleries. There are some elegant desert/Vegas photos over at Kottke, nicely juxtaposing the sheer architectural insanity of the Strip with the geological curiosities that exist just a few miles away. Staying with the desert, the Burning Man gallery at Harrumph is the best we've come across, encapsulating (for this remote observer, unfamiliar with the feel and spirit of the event) sandy, sun-lashed madness.

Back to the city. Escaperail is a gallery of fire escapes, after-thoughts in the urban fabric that carry the memory of former tragedies. The fire escape is also highly photogenic, and has become an integral part of the landscape of cinema and the computer game. These pictures also remind us of the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher - not so much the aesthetic, but in spirit. As we've mentioned before (over and over again), the idea of recording elements of industrial archaeology is highly appealing.

Finally, a digression (and another kind of archaeology). This link charts the distribution of those who say 'pop' versus those who say 'soda'. We like the idea of using the internet as a collecting point for oral history, not to mention the quirks of language and interpretation across a continent. Interestingly, neither 'pop' nor 'soda' is common currency in the UK. (The link comes via metafilter, as do many others. Perhaps we should act as a thingsfilter, sifting through the day's posts and finding the most object-related? Just a thought).

Finally, finally, finally - this story from the New Scientist - 'Speed of light broken with basic lab kit'.

Monday, September 09, 2002
That ferry still seems a long way away. Time to trawl through the links document and see if there are any interesting clippings. The vast majority of these have expired, vanished into the ether. Of course, we can be sure that someone, somewhere has archived them, but like swift, scrawled jottings in a notebook, it's hard to remember why any of these were bookmarked in the first place.

Originality, ever prized, is increasingly scarce, but we can offer you these. The tale of a girl's true best friend, an interview with Amy Holman Edelman over at Cool Girls Japan (a great title for a site). Perhaps there was something else there that originally got our attention. It's nice to see that the hypertext kitchen is still alive and well, linking to projects - especially in the literary arts - that use hypertext, such as art interactive (which is, well, interactive, but confusing).

Some things are deserving of their longevity, such as chemosphere, an online furniture store that fuels the slightly desperate craze for 1970s leather sofas. Others vanished in an all-too predictable way, yet rather unsportingly created their pages all in flash (which is a sign in itself), making them hard to archive. Whatever: marvel at Unit 26's desire to sell you art and design online, or Room 12's snooty travel booking site, and remember the days when these services seemed entirely plausible.

Seen recently, David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. As unsual and inpenetrable as we'd been led to expect, yet convincingly explained and deconstructed here (and in this ensuing debate).

Sunday, September 08, 2002
So much for being away for a week. This time, however, we'll be sure to take the camera, as the continued brilliance of certain photologs (I, II, III,) is making us jealous. Words or pictures? Words or pictures? Who knows. There's nothing better than crisp images of tatty, anonymous warehouses to get us in the mood for photography. And just look at these!

Friday, September 06, 2002
Crash Bonsai is beautifully realised - a kind of logical extension of two contemporary obsessions. The rapid appearance of the link here, just a few short hours after we first saw it (here), leads us to wonder aloud about how links get to where they are. There isn’t sufficent web-savviness at things to do clever searches that trace links back to their origins, but it sometimes seems that this particular backwater of the internet revels in self-reference.

A collection of grocery lists, the kind of found object that we love so much. There are more here, neatly organised by geographic location. A quick examination of who buys what would be invaluable market research for someone, and might perhaps explode a few regional myths.

The links above came from Coudal, our new favourite website. The Coudal people also link to Briar Press, a traditional letterpress with a website to match their meticulous nature. We adore letterpress - look at these. Reminds us of the work of Bruce Licher's Independent Project Press, Sedona's finest.

We'll be away for a week, so apologies in advance for the lack of updates.

Thursday, September 05, 2002
Is this the end of the electric car? GM's EV1 project is being wound down and the cars - all leased - are being repossessed from their proud owners. Ford have also pulled the plug (sorry, journalistic tendency to make every sentence punningly relevant) on their Th!nk project, leaving the market to the small players (I, II, III). Nothing seems to polarise debate (see! more journalese...) more than big car vs small car.

Look at some classic covers from the past, courtesy of Conde Nast's new archive website (which should also be a nice little earner). Related, has contemoporary magazine design gone to the dogs? (and a fairly small me-fi debate about the same subject)

Some lazy summer songs from Geed Up, with added aircraft noise. Handy mp3 calculator - how much disk space will your CDs take up?

We have a new gallery, Autostadt. There must be an easier way of doing these galleries...

Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Found photos (as previously discussed) often lurk around the photobooth – rejected or forgotten images, churned out throughout the day (this was one of the main plot devices in Amelie, for example). The photobooth was allegedly invented by one Anatol Josepho, a Siberian immigrant, who devised a small curtain-enclosed space that could take photos without the need for an attendant. Read more in Babette Hines’ upcoming ‘Photobooth’ (Princeton Architectural Press, although it's not mentioned on their site just yet). Looks interesting.

Some links between the world's four major media conglomerates and the ever-present military industrial complex, courtesy of the new Godspeed you Black Emperor album.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002
The Shinola Awards are a US-based scheme for rewarding for creativity and innovation in branding 'science' (via kottke). Their weblog does a good job of clearing up the stories behind the apparently entirely arbitary name-changing that passes for marketing these days. It's also refreshingly irreverent. But branding is a serious business, and for a slightly less frivolous insight into the naming industry, check out Landor's brand dictionary. Did you know that the official definition of 'endorsement' is:

Use of the parent brand identity to support and add credibility to an allied offer. Implies subordinate emphasis of the parent to a sub-brand, though relative emphasis will vary case-by-case.

All this emphasis on subordinate and parent - 'sub-brands' - reveals the whole cunning charade for what it is; an opaque language that, ultimately, benefits only one element of the producer-consumer relationship - the brand engineer, in this case Landor. Like most consultancies, Landor considers branding a 'science', allowing them to teach their clients that brands are 'familiar beacons of trust to consumers,' a positive asset that will make their 'buying decisions much simpler.'

We thought about brands long and hard back in things 14, concluding, as have many others, that the corporate benevolence behind simplifying our lives and 'buying decisions' is highly pernicious, an attempt to gain control of our sub-conscious and infuse the everyday with definitions and ideals that derive from and benefit marketing strategies. But what to do?

Revel in raw aesthetics instead. Some more photographs. Kimm is a Norwegian photographer with a flashy site and good taste in cars. Two more galleries - earthy and someshots (which also has a good selection of links).

Monday, September 02, 2002
Pictures, not words. Voxus brings together the kind of images you snap at the end of a roll - when the camera's pointing in some forgotten corner, although these are actually carefully considered compositions of the places you don't normally notice. Also stumbled across,'s photo gallery and John Humble's images of the grey concrete channel of the Los Angeles River. Gritty present and sleek futures: the signs of New York, and the visual futurism of Syd Mead, especially the future of steel.