Network: Websites

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The Independent Culture
Cromwell 400

www.cromwell.argonet.co.uk

Our former Lord Protector is celebrated at this 400th-anniversary site, part of a year-long series of events in honour of Huntingdon's most famous son. The account of Cromwell's life finds "decency, humanity and compassion", while acknowledging the alternative view of a ruthless "brave bad man". With input from the Cromwell Museum and leading scholars, this site is free of too many embellishments, though still to come are an online exhibition of statues and stained glass, and details of a CD-rom. The diary lists lectures such as "Cromwell's Head and its Curious History" and opportunities for today's would-be civil warriors to dress up. An anthology of quotations has the famous "warts and everything" (on having his portrait painted).

Paddington Bear

www.paddingtonbear.co.uk

Another important cultural figure recently celebrated his birthday, though if you ask Paddington about his age, he responds indignantly in a speech bubble: "That's something you don't ask a bear." Since the Christmas Day launch of his site, the figure in the duffel coat and floppy hat has been sitting on his suitcase and swinging his legs to a relentlessly jolly theme tune. Links in the form of little marmalade pots distribute their contents with a distinctive "squelch" and lead to a biography of his creator, Michael Bond, jigsaws, a screen-saver, a colouring book and much heavy merchandising. Here are bear-approved bags, purses, umbrellas, figurines, paperweights, T-shirts, place-mats, waste bins,wood-effect air fresheners, and pretty much everything else except exotic lingerie. There's an online shopping basket, though orders must be made by fax or phone.

The Multi-Cultural Recycler

shoko.calarts.edu/alex/ recycler.html

This site, from a California-based Web artist, combines webcam images from around the world. Inputs may be chosen at random or selected from a list for merging; for example, GhostWatcher Cam can be combined with Matterhorn Cam, and Belfast Bar Cam can be combined with Guinea Pig Cam. Different rationales for this are also available, one in plain English, another in what it calls "artspeak". The recycling process takes a minute or so, the site warns, and the result may in turn be combined to create more cultural compost. Other fun includes a "Debabeliser" that borrows Altavista's translation engine to create "pidgin-Thesaurus" versions of, say, the Starr report or The Independent, by translating them into a foreign language and then back into English. There is also a Plagiarist Manifesto, which becomes more garbled with each visit. Readers should remember, however, that "plagiarist.org is the registered domain and intellectual property of plagiarist(tm)".

Franklin Furnace

www.franklinfurnace.org/

Having closed down its real, on-street premises, this New York theatre and exhibition space has reinvented itself as a "virtual institution". Online performance art now goes out live in RealVideo every two weeks - tune in this Friday at about 10pm UK time for "Mir is Here!", a joint Ukrainian/US project in which astronaut training exercises and space-walking techniques are applied in the context of revolving doors, escalators and other "urban situations" across the city.

Send interesting, quirky or, at a pinch, cool site recommendations to websites@dircon.co.uk

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