Network: Websites

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The Independent Culture

Fancy giving Tony Blair or David Beckham a virtual slap? They're just two of the personalities here who, thanks to the joys of Shockwave technology, will grimace and contort their faces at the click of your mouse. Football, rave culture and activism are under the spotlight at this site run by Mike Slocombe. The former punk drummer turned dreadlocked HTML warrior has also designed some corporate pages (only for companies deemed cool enough), but here his sensibilities are given full sway, and the result is both a playful site and a resource for information about, for example, drugs and the law. Direct action figures strongly with news and links to campaigns ranging from Reclaim the Streets to GM food and the worst excesses of multinational profiteering. If that sort of thing gets your blood boiling, you can head for the slapping gallery or follow the advice about "trolling" - the subtle art of posting nonsense to newsgroups and irritating the over-earnest.

Highways Agency

With the holiday season limbering up, now might be a good time to bookmark this site. The online version of the cones hotline is a useful adjunct to improve the travel plans offered by route-planning CD-Roms. An interactive map (or a text-based version for speed) gives the lowdown on planned road improvements in different regions, and their probable impact. Telling route-planners to plot courses avoiding the roadworks could pay significant time dividends. For journeys that look too hideous to consider, links to public transport alternatives are given. Details of the government agency are available, so too are archived documents and White Papers.


Underground heroes and charters of the avant-garde, Alt-X and Berkeley Interactive Design have unleashed a sassy virtual grrl with attitude on to the Web. The Sorceress of Language in Uncharted Territories (Slut to her friends) is brought to life in a browser window courtesy of the Cosmo Player VRML plug-in. The aim of this point-and-click technology is to enable you to use multimedia to communicate with and learn things about the young woman and her life. Be prepared, she has not led a sheltered one. Jay Dillemuth, one of the program's co-creators, summarises what it's all about: "Holo-X weaves a variety of multimedia elements into a truly unprecedented interrogation of contemporary mores, gender assumptions, identity politics, radical sexuality and conventional hypertext."

Handwriting And You

Can't make your mind up whether graphology is a respectable discipline or a first cousin of phrenology and astrology? In cyberspace, no one needs to see your handwriting. But judging character traits by examining penmanship is a ploy used by some employers to try and weed out undesirables and loose cannons before they get a foot in the door - which is good enough reason to investigate further. If nothing else, a little knowledge is a wondrous thing at parties. After five minutes browsing here, you'll be able to offer instant and detailed analyses of every piece of scrawl that comes your way. The basics are covered succinctly, such as analysing written characters by size, slope, and how they make use of spatial zones within a line of text. There is also an outline of how this is supposed to tie in to personality theories.