Mega virtual indie mall
A Wall Street Journal article last November noted that Fab.com was a gay social-networking site until Jason Goldberg decided the name was better-suited for a flash-sale site—similar to Gilt or Touch of Modern— where folks sign up for email alerts about limited-time deals on retail goods. How Fab is different is in what it sells—stuff by smaller, lesser-known designers, some of whom you might recognize if you frequent indie boutiques and others struggling to get a foot in the shop door. The selection is well-curated, though the site itself can easily become overwhelming—there's a lot of stuff here. Unless you've got, say, a fivehour airport layover, Fab can be a time-suck. Best to sign up for the daily email alert that features 18 to 20 new items, ranging from men's and women's clothing to food products to housewares (like the Hammers and Heels pendant light shown here) to art. Give it a glance and see if anything jumps out. Fab also has apps for iPhone and Android.
Silent is golden
The Silent History is a serialized novel for iPhones/iPads by former McSweeney's editors Chris Ying, Eli Horowitz and Russell Quinn. According to their website, they strive to develop projects that "organically integrate storytelling, design, and technology," and The Silent History is the perfect fulfillment of this mission statement. The basic premise follows the history of an epidemic that disables speech in children (or "silents") and explores the effects of a gradually muted world. The chapters are episodic, usually about 1,000 words long, and told from many points of view—a format anyone who's read Max Brooks' World War Z will recognize. However, the most exciting part of The Silent History is that it can use the GPS technology of your iPhone to unlock site-specific chapters in the story. These "field guides" are reader-submitted and can only be read while standing in the target location. So far, there are only five field guides in San Diego, all written by Corinne Goria (whose chapter, "Damage," located and set in an empty lot in Logan Heights, is extra-creepy).
Whenever my friends ask me what podcasts I listen to, I tell them "other people." But I'm not being snarky. Other People features indepth interviews with contemporary writers of every stripe. While the interviews are ostensibly "about" the author's latest book, the conversation almost always veers into biography. The host, Brad Listi, a renowned author and publisher of the website The Nervous Breakdown, doesn't get caught up in criticism. Sometimes it's clear he hasn't even read the book. With new hour-long (free) episodes every Sunday and Wednesday, how could he? What matters to Listi is insight and inspiration. He wants to know how they got their start as writers, what they were like in college, what obstacles they overcame. Listi doesn't dance around his subjects. Were you a fuck-up? A prodigy? A jerk? Eventually, even the most reticent writer opens up. The result is something that book culture usually is not—lively, timely and incredibly entertaining.
Wondering what the next Instagram is going to be? Wonder no more. It's Vine, and it's awesome. The free app, currently only available for Apple products, allows you to create six-second looped videos that give viewers little snapshots of your life; basically, you can make a gif on the go. To film, you just hold your finger down on the screen. Once you've finished, you can write a caption, tag your location and share on Twitter, Facebook and on the Vine website. It's already received a ton of buzz on the Internet and boasts some celebrity users, like Sir Paul McCartney, who made a fun game out of it by filming a cute illustration soundtracked by a snippet of a song and tasking his followers to name that tune. Disclosure: No one at CityBeat was able to identify it. Other users are getting creative with Vine, as well, making it a fun time waster for anyone bored while standing in line at the DMV.
Crowdsourcing an invention
Some of us like to shop, and some of us like to make things for those of us who like to shop. That's where Quirky.com comes in, an invention incubator that provides crowdsourced feedback to erstwhile inventors and, if an idea is deemed worthy, kicks in funding, support and a marketplace. It's sort of like Threadless for inventions. It costs $10 to submit your product idea, which then goes through a rigorous analysis via professionals and amateurs. If you go the distance, your product will eventually be made and sold, and you'll get a cut of the take. Not all of us are idea types, though, and you're free just to shop the inventory of things that have already been made, many of which are nifty new takes on old ideas. Travel outlet with both electrical and USB ports? Done. Funky egg separator? Check (and pictured here). Unsurprisingly, there's no shortage of Apple accessories, but many of them come in ways you haven't seen before. It's the perfect place to shop for someone who's really tough to shop for.