It seems that the Star Trek franchise is rolling out again. The ninth film in the series, starring the Next Generation cast, opened in North American cinemas yesterday, and is scheduled to be released in Europe at the beginning of next year. Will it fall foul of the curse which has, without fail, afflicted all the odd-numbered films rendering them turkeys? As Star Trek fans are often blamed for starting the Internet's obsession with pop culture trivia, way back in the mists of time (we're talking about 1994 or so), it's hardly surprising that the Web is buzzing with early Trekkie speculation about the fate of the latest addition to the canon. The trailer for the film, Star Trek: Insurrection, is available at the official Star Trek site. As you'd expect, the site, which is run by the film company Paramount, is extremely comprehensive. As well as the trailer, which, if you don't have a very fast connection, you may well find takes rather too long to download, you'll find sound files and picture stills. The rest of the site, which takes the form of a virtual tour of the Enterprise, is clearly aimed at younger fans, and there's a disappointing lack of information about the camp classic classic TV series that started it all off. It couldn't be, surely, that Paramount feels the original crew to be nothing but embarrassing elderly relatives: remembered with affection but kept safely out of sight? Perhaps mail from dedicated fans will get them to open up a corner of the site dedicated to the 1960s crew and their exploits.
The ratio of time you spend looking for worthwhile things to read on the Internet against actually reading them, moved way beyond crisis point a long time ago. Search engines, once able to market themselves as being comprehensive, have started to look for more efficient automated ways of filtering out the dross. But it has become clear that nothing beats human intervention. And if you're looking for websites with a bit of intellectual bite, then worry no more. The Arts and Literary notes page is for you. It's a fantastic digest of essays, articles and opinions, with links to the sites that contain them. It's one of those sites that shows that the medium is finally consolidating. The information is updated daily and the mix of material is excellent: everything from herbal medicine to moral philosophy. Last week, for example, it had an interview with Woody Allen taken from the New York Observer website (www.observer.com) side-by-side with an analysis of new copyright laws regarding information taken from Salon Magazine, (www.salonmagazine.com), from which, for obvious reasons, it would perhaps be best not to publish an extract. The curious can always check it out.
It was only a matter of time before artists got really creative with the Internet, which meant doing something more than scanning in their interpretations of JRR Tolkien stories. For an example of where it's all heading, try The Shredder. It takes the images and text on a given website and radically rehashes the entire layout. Our own website (www.independent.co.uk) wasn't really improved by going through it: our picture of Ken Livingstone isn't, it has to be said, particularly improved by being turned upside down and distorted out of all recognition, but the site has a list of recommended sites which you might find to be more rewarding. Best viewed with a sense of humour.