If it's online, it's the official line: Web sites

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The Independent Culture

A lot of claims were made about how the Internet was going to change the world, not least that, with information set free and allowed to flow around the globe, totalitarian regimes might finally crumble. There isn't much evidence of that yet. Indeed, one could argue that the opposite is happening: the Chinese government, which has always displayed a hostile attitude to the medium, seems finally to be embracing the inevitable with the online People's Daily, the organ of the communist party.

The official Chinese view has always been that the Internet would contaminate the country with unsavoury Western culture. But letting the rest of the world access the People's Daily certainly represents some kind of progress. The Sun it ain't. The lead story when I looked trumpeted the success of yet another 10-year plan. There was also a touchingly badly written account of the Chinese customs' current "smuggle struggle". I'm not sure headline writers at The Independent would have let that one through, but it's a start at least.

Loading down to a fine art


If you need further proof that the Internet is moving beyond the reach of cybernerds and computer programmers, the new Interactive Collector could be it. It allows browers to look through an enormous collection of art, antiques and crafts from galleries all over the world, with works by David Bailey, Lucien Freud, Picasso, and Henry Moore.

The site's premise is fairly straightforward: it contains a series of links to commercial galleries, enabling you to pick up any basic information that you might need about items for sale. It divides into three basic sections: art, collections and auctions.

For my money, the art section is the most interesting, allowing people to look at photographs and artwork from around the world. The site looks extremely classy and it takes some time to navigate around but it's definitely worth doing so, if only as a taster of how the Internet is going to change in the future.

Film festival


The Edinburgh Film Festival, which opens this weekend, has a Website containing the full festival listings as well as a host background information and links. It pulls off the rare trick, too, of being in many ways better than the festival's own printed guide.