Network: Websites

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The New Statesman New Media Awards

www.newstatesman.co.uk

The Statesman launched its full online edition last month, and with it a crusade to promote the democratic potential of the Internet. The 1999 Electronic Town Hall Competition offers a series of awards to those who employ the new media to improve accountability and civic participation. Nominations are already being invited, but readers who register online will have a chance to influence the debate before a judges' panel of web designers, politicians, journalists and other low life makes its final decision. Winners of the contest, a joint undertaking with political consultants public - policy.net, will be announced in a special edition of the magazine in June. Meanwhile most of the usual Staggers content is available free, for now at least, on the upgraded site, including its more traditional competitions: limericks or even haiku inspired by the euro to be submitted by Thursday, please.

Voycabulary

www.voycabulary.com

Go link crazy with this innovative service, which will turn any Web page into a palimpsest of dictionary definitions and alternative versions. Enter the URL of the chosen site, and then click on any individual word within it to obtain an explanation from Websters or from specialised medical and computing glossaries or an equivalent term from a thesaurus. A range of foreign language dictionaries will translate the text - with variable success - into French, Italian, Portuguese or Welsh. The online Works of Shakespeare or, more obscurely, a page about Poisons and their Antidotes, are suggested for a test run, and text from elsewhere may also be pasted in for elucidation.

The Oldie

www.theoldie.co.uk

Richard Ingrams' gerontozine shuffles into cyberspace in a bid to "overtake the whizzkids on the information superhighway". The former Private Eye editor has now grudgingly accepted the new medium, despite previous disdain for its youthfulness and trendiness, though the main aim of the rather minimal site seems to be to recruit subscriptions and adverts for the print version. There is a Guide to the Internet for "silver surfers", though the carefully jargon-free suggestions for older Web users (book ordering and scanning family snaps) seem rather tame compared with the usual tone of the mag. A page on how to write an obituary is, however, entitled "Putting the Fun into Funeral". There are details of literary lunches, and a selective online bookstore including usual suspects such as Auberon Waugh, along with odder choices such as Lowry's Under the Volcano.

Adopt an MP

www.stand.org.uk

A visit here may not result in a youthful parliamentarian being delivered to your doorstep in a basket. However, it will enable you to "adopt" (or, as the site puts it, @dopt) an adult version and take responsibility for his or her education in matters digital. The emphasis here is on worrying trends in the Government's encryption policy. Volunteers receive a personalised adoption certificate ("I've adopted my MP!") that they can post on their own websites, and they are asked to e-mail their political representatives with comments and suggestions once more details of the forthcoming Electronic Commerce Bill have become available. Responsible for this lobbying wheeze is Stand, a loose and insistently single-issue group which is campaigning for secure and uncompromised e-commerce legislation.

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