Net gains: The king of comedy

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The Independent Culture

While the much-trailed idea of a technological convergence in our living rooms is still very much over the horizon, broadcasting forays into the Internet make it clear that it will one day happen. Currently broadcasters tend to use their websites as testing grounds for new ideas, something that will come to full fruition when suitable technology arrives. Ultimately, broadcasters will transmit information along with pictures so that during a football match, for example, you would be able to pull up player profiles and examine their statistics on your television. This could be done while the match was in progress or you searched the Internet for other relevant information.

Paramount's comedy website is a basic example of the convergence principle: it works in parallel with the company's satellite channel by including information about the show that is currently in progress, as well as listings about what it coming up. Paramount claims that the ultimate aim of the site is to provide what it calls a "portal to comedy", including listings of upcoming acts in various comedy clubs and a service selling comedy merchandise. Every time we tried to pull up the site we found a "transmission interrupted" test card, but once up and running, it could prove to be a valuable service for comedy fans. Paramount's own website ( doesn't carry any details of the service as yet, but is still worth a visit anyway.


As well as all the practical problems associated with the Melissa virus - which when sent to victims plunders their email address books and send out lists of pornography sites - it does terrible damage to the idea of the Internet as a mainstream medium. It gives the uninformed an impression that the Internet is populated by hackers and dangerous viruses. General interest in the virus is fading fast, but if you're interested in checking out where Melissa came from, how it spread and information about the alleged perpetrator, David L Smith, then the Melissa Update Page is the place to head. The site isn't particularly well designed but is comprehensive and regularly updated. As well as a non-technical introduction to Melissa and it's background, there's an excellent introduction to viruses and the the type of people who create them. If you're using search engines to look out more examples of Melissa, you are advised to be a little careful. There are a lot of rogue Melissa sites around at the moment. As with anything that attracts interest on the Internet, pornography sites and evangelical religious groups soon hijack the name so that keyword searches pull up their sites rather than the ones you're looking for.

Millennium Music

Up until now the Internet has been only of limited use to people wanting to break into new careers such as writing or music. No writers to date, for example, have been discovered by publishers after posting their work on the Internet. However, a new site, Y2K music, aims to help new musicians get their work heard via the website.