NET GAINS: Making the most of a cat scan

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The Independent Culture

Congratulations to Kyle, winner of the Internet's first Cat Scan contest. The rules were simple: entrants must place their moggies on a flatbed scanner and email the results. The winner managed to get two moggies onto the scanner, and in case you're worried, the site's owner assures us that entries will be disqualified "if the cat looks like it is in serious pain. If you have to hurt the cat to scan it, your entry will not be allowed," he says. "I love cats, I just believe that a scanned cat is hilarious." He also includes a picture of his own rather satisfied looking cat sitting happily atop a scanner, just to prove you don't have to scar your cat psychologically in order to get that picture.

The winner was decided on the basis of five criteria:

* Style: Does the cat's hair make an interesting pattern?

* Cat beauty: Is this an attractive feline, or a fat, dirty old bag of fleas?

* Form: Does the cat's squashed body look like a pear, or a pile of dough?

* Positioning: Can you see the cat's face or paws?

* Consistency: Did the cat squirm much? Full-body scans have a better chance of victory.

Clinton's sexual scandal rebutted

US President Bill Clinton's web page does not dodge the issue. It includes transcripts of all the President's recent speeches and his office's official rebuttal of the Kenneth Starr report. Whether anyone ploughs through these documents is anybody's guess, but at least it leaves the democratic decision up to the individual.

I had a grudging hope last weekend that the release of the Kenneth Starr report on US President Bill Clinton would push the Internet to total collapse. The sites - which were due to place the report online - were unaccessable for hours before the report was issued. If anybody, like me, tried to log onto Congress's website over the evening of the 11 September, you would have found it impossible.

Everybody was having the same problem, it seemed. At 7.30pm - half an hour after the report was released - the report had not been posted on CNN's website, although it was promising it as soon as possible.

The entire event proved an interesting insight into the world wide web's cruel limitations. It may be excellent for bypassing the usual controlled channels of communication, but when its big day came for disseminating a lot of information very quickly to a lot of people it proved to be hopelessly inadequate for the job.

A Starr report