Armchair critics

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The Independent Culture

One of the things about the Edinburgh Festival that always strikes me is how little you hear about the Internet. In two weeks up there this year, I never once saw a show or heard a stand-up routine that mentioned it. That may be because the kind of people who tend to go to the festival are more likely to end up under a pub table rather than at a computer screen. But the fact that festival goers don't do much surfing actually came as something of a relief. I'm told that a comedy show I produced this year was the victim of a particularly scathing write up on one of the festival websites. The Fringe Society has been offering people the chance to file their own reviews for some time and I suppose the Internet was always liable to make everybody a critic. The Edinburgh Fringe Society has taken its 1998 web page off-line but many of the venues will already be cranking up for next year. One of the main festival venues, The Gilded Balloon (), still has its site up and running. Perhaps next year will see the Internet's belated entry onto the festival scene.

A New Page

Just before travelling to Edinburgh I rather reluctantly bought a pager. This is after years of shunning any kind of portable technology, and I'm desperately hoping that it won't prove to be the start of a slippery slope into mobile phonedom or laptop hell. The manufacturers' web page ( rather helpfully lists a number of reasons why it's vital to own a pager just in case you're not convinced you really need one. Apparently, "As a business person in this day and age, it's unprofessional to be unavailable and unreachable at any time." Page One's well laid out site also offers the facility to page people via the web. I have to admit that I've tried paging myself via this facility a few times and it doesn't seem to actually work, but it does provide a glimpse of the convergence of technologies that we're always being promised. Overall this is an interesting site, providing information with just the right amount of hard sell.

There's a certain circular logic about The Samaritans having a website, given the talk about the Internet making people depressed. For what it's worth, I'm surprised that they didn't find that in fact people don't get just depressed but rather stressed by the interminable waits and the frustration at not ever being able to find the thing that you're looking for. This no-frills site has been put together to tell you about The Samaritans, the charity that provides emotional support for people in crisis and the work they do. Here you'll find an instant way of contacting them via anonymous e-mail (presumably if you're too shy to speak on the phone), learn about ways to help them by fundraising or volunteering, there's a report on young people "Exploring the Taboo" (whatever that is), all the latest news from The Samaritans, plus photographs and information on the subject of suicide.

The Samaritans