NET GAINS

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The Independent Culture
Outside edge

By Mike Higgins

netgains@independent.co.uk

www.straight-edge.net

Amid the shifting sands of conspiracy and prejudice stirred by thousands of obscure American sects and sub-cultures on the Web, you can count on one thing: they look awful. There is the odd mesmerising exception, however - more of which later.

Straight-edge is one of the more interesting sub-cultures to have developed amongst American teenagers. Taking their name from a hardcore thrash hit a few years back, straight-edgers eschew alcohol, narcotics, smoking and promiscuous sex, and are often identified by the distinctive black "x" they paint on their hands. Popular amongst white teenagers, it has grown into a distinctive suburban, ascetic cult. A number of sites exist which are as straightforward and introductory as they sound (www.globalserve.net/rolyn/sxe) but there are fuller sites, like straight-edge.com (www.straight-edge.com). This one earnestly expounds straight-edge's increasing role in environmental issues, as well as offering comment on the hardcore music scene around which the movement still centres. But just as you're about to dismiss straight-edge as bored American kids in search of puritan kicks, you come across straight-edge.net (www.straight-edge.net). It's not that the content is better than that on other sites, it's the understated design. The application of straight-edge as a motif sounds obvious, but see how sparingly that and the colours are applied. Stunning.

Web of gold

www.StrikingItRich.com

This site (above) is really just an extended trailer for StrikingItRich.com, Jaclyn Easton's book on 23 independent sites that struck web gold. Barely a week seems to go by without another Internet success story being reported, so if you've set your heart on creating a money-making site, it'd be worth seeing what this one has to offer. However, apart from a few sample chapters and the odd business tip, the site itself is just trying to get you to fork out for the book. For those who want to dream, there are links to some of the successful sites. But be warned: judging by the majority of the 23 web sites on offer, the only way you're going to make a serious amount of money on the Internet is by opening a bargain- basement retail site.

SITES OF THE WEEK

store.niebaum-coppola.com/consumer/ default.asp

After he packed in making decent films, Francis Ford Coppola indulged his passion for winemaking and food. This on-line store is one result. You can buy wine here from his Napa Valley vineyard and even get a little Coppola pasta sauce too. Sad but strangely tempting.

theregister.co.uk

Don't be put off by internal links marked "Semi-conductors" and "Networks" at this IT news site - just click on the "Web" link and you'll have dozens of up-to-date news stories relating to the Internet. There's also a search function for archived stories.

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