Novel Uses For (Rap) Genius

Genius started out as a platform for annotating clever rap lyrics but has since expanded to include more than hip-hop, and more than just lyrics. Over the last week I have stumbled across some increasingly novel uses for the Rap Genius website:

  • First was an annotation of Hamilton: An American Musical soundtrack. These annotations are filled with interesting tidbits and insights into the song lyrics, American history, and production plot.
  • Second was an annotation of the entire Great Gatsby. Wonderful.
  • Lastly, Travis Korte used the Genius Web Annotator to create an informative takedown of the GOP’s recent Mainstream Media Accountability Survey. The annotation exposes the confusingly worded questions, sample bias and leading questions used in the survey.
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GifCities: Over 4.5 Million Searchable, Old-School, Animated Gifs

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In celebration of its 20th anniversary of archiving the web, the Internet Archive has released GifCities. It’s an animated GIF search engine that has indexed millions of animated GIFs from the obsolete GeoCities websites.

Geocities was an early web hosting service, started in 1994 and acquired by Yahoo in 1999, with which users could create their own custom websites. The platform hosted over 38 million user-built pages and was at one time the third most visited site on the web. In 2009, Yahoo announced it was closing down the service, at which point the Internet Archive attempted to archive as much of the content as possible.

Mining this collection, we extracted over 4,500,000 animated GIFs (1,600,000 unique images) and then used the filenames and directory path text to build a best-effort “full text” search engine. Each GIF also links back to the original Geocities page on which it was embedded (and some of these pages are even more awesome than the GIFs).

Head over there to relive a classic era of the World Wide Web. And please, go notify all your readers that your site is still under construction.

Crocheted On TV

As Crocheted On TV

Crocheted On TV

The Crochet Time blog has an entire category that discusses crocheted blankets seen on TV. The blog’s author figures out the patterns and yarn types used in all kinds of throws and blankets from tv shows like Roseanne, Mad Men, Taxi (as seen above), and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Most of the afghans use a variation of the basic granny square but there is great variation in color, style and stitch.

If you google around you’ll find all kinds of people replicating blankets from their favorite tv shows. Things like this are why I love the internet.

Chance The Rapper

A Collection Of Thousands Of Hip Hop Mixtapes

Chance The Rapper

Jason Scott has uploaded thousands and thousands of hip-hop mixtapes to the Internet Archive (almost 6,000 to date). He says he has access to over 17,000 tapes and somewhere close to that number might end up on the Archive over the next few months. There is obviously a ton of hip-hop culture to dig through here. Jason notes:

There’s a lot coded into the covers of these mixtapes (not to even mention the stuff coded into the lyrics themselves) – there’s stressing of riches, drug use, sexual drive, and oppression. I’m personally fascinated at the amount of reference to codeine and the purple color of “Purple Drank”, which, if you’ve missed that subject matter up to now… good for you.

If you’re new to the world of hip-hop mixtapes (as I am) the links below should get your discovery started

This is a great time to point out that the Internet Archive is an invaluable resource. In these times of link rot and the haphazard closing of essential web services (we miss you Google Reader) the Internet Archive is, well, archiving the web. The Wayback Machine now indexes over 435 billion webpages going back nearly 20 years.

The end goal here, like all the things I do in this realm, is simple: Providing free access to huge amounts of culture, so people can reference, contextualize, enjoy and delight over material in an easy-to-reach, linkable, usable manner. Apparently it’s already taken off, but here you go too.

Bookslut Is Dead. Long Live Bookslut

RIP Bookslut. It has published its final issue. I’m sad to see it go. I was never a heavy reader the site but I always had an affinity for it. See, my foray into the blogging world started fourteen years ago with a book blog that started just a month after Bookslut. So I have always considered Bookslut to be a much more worthwhile, articulate, entertaining and much smarter stepsister-blog to my little “I Love You Too” book blog.

There is an excellent interview in Vulture with Jessa Crispin, the site’s founder and editor. Here’s a favorite pull-quote to get you salivating:

There’s always space to do whatever you want. You won’t get as much attention, but fuck attention. Fight for integrity. Now everyone has a TinyLetter instead of a blog. As soon as the first writer got a book deal for a TinyLetter, everyone’s TinyLetter just became book-deal bait, written the same way. This weird conformity just takes over as soon as the possibility of money or access or respectability comes up. That’s disappointing.

Hamburger Helper Album Cover

Hamburger Helper Wins April Fools

Yeah yeah yeah, I know, you think April Fools Day on the internet sucks. I get it, most attempts at authentic humor by major brands fall flat, are completely annoying, or even potentially harmful. And Paul Ford is right when he says, “As the number of users (of a service or product) increases, humor opportunities approach zero.” It’s true, laughter does not scale. And most attempts by major brands to appear to be authentically funny on funny day, just end up not being that funny.

However, that doesn’t mean all attempts aren’t funny, or at least enjoyable, even by the most jaded of internet denizens. Comedy is hard. Very hard. But if it’s good it doesn’t matter the size of the audience. This year, General Mill’s Hamburger Helper bucked the trend by dropping a surprisingly great mix on SoundCloud. I love this. Yo Glove, turn up!!