Monday 13 September 1999
George being Washington, as featured on US banknotes. This page tracks the career of individual notes as they move from person to person: users enter the denomination and serial number of a bill, along with the post code where it was was obtained. If there's a "match", the bill's history slowly accumulates. The likelihood is increased by marking notes can be marked with a special stamp in red blue or purple ink, so they can be more easily noticed by subsequent users. So far, the hugely popular site has attracted 39,501 users, who have entered 548,892 bills between them.
The Blair Kitsch Project
"In 1999, three trendspotters disappeared in the woods near their Hamptons share while shooting a documentary. A week later their footage was found." The Blair Witch Internet hype, of which the movie is apparently a pale reflection, has already generated a series of sendups. "BKP" describes the search for a mysterious force in the forest that decides whether old pop cultural artefacts are cool or not. Only one of those responsible has the excuse of being a student, the rest work on Cosmopolitan. See also The Blair Witch Budgie (http://www.teachingthebudgie.com/), put together by student chefs in Manhattan from QuickTime video clips - perhaps the ultimate low budgie movie.
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary takes to the Web next March, the start of a 10-year revision and expansion process heavily dependent on online input from the general public. Contributors are invited to submit likely new entries, with evidence of use: print references are preferred, websites and e-mails still being a bit ephemeral, not to say non-U. Anything goes, however: political correctness is not an issue, it is stressed, and Internet slang is expected to feature heavily. The online version will cost in the region of pounds 500 or so - still more manageable than the 20-volume text version at pounds 1,800. Meanwhile, the site offers a Word of the Day, and accounts of old-fashioned detective work in researching first recorded usages. "Nachos", for instance, was traced down to 1943 and one Ignacio Anaya, "chef at the old Victory Club in Piedras Negras [a small Mexican town], who assembled the first nachos for some Eagle Pass ladies who were on a shopping trip."
"Send a message in the language of life - say it with DNA!" urges this site. It features a DNA-o-gram generator, which uses the genetic code to specify letters of the alphabet, instead of its more usual function of coding our essential proteins. "Websites", for instance, translates as GTGACAAACGTAAAGGCAACAGTA. Things get more adventurous with a so-called generalist guide to the new, still largely hypothetical breed of DNA computers. A fairly advanced level of generalism seems to be called for, but it's thrilling stuff: "A pound of DNA would have more computing power than all the computers ever made." Other extra-genetic uses include jewellery, scaffolding and communicating with aliens. A teaching kit is for sale - the language of life looks remarkably like Lego.
Free Artifical LifeSoftware
More double-helical frolics from this expert in the field, offering a range of organically cultivated Web experiences, from his own academic papers on the subject to some witty cyber-art and even a fresh take on mandelbrot sets. Download minimalist games such as "Brain Maze", featuring the adventures of a question mark, and software such as Darwin's Pond for Windows, a "primordial puddle of genetic surprises" allowing users to model lifelike evolutionary processes. Also available, a Zen page (blank, of course), some personal dreams about Eric Clapton, and a display of breeding vodka bottles used in an Absolut promotion.
This sophisticated "online guitar community" is a music tutorial site, put together by guitarists for guitarists; it comes complete with MIDI playback to accompany the tablature and chord charts on show. There are ear tests, and tools are provided with which skilled players can create online guitar lessons for others to follow. It's an extensively Shockwave- powered shared educational site, with complex-looking composer tools and a "Groove Builder". Users can also select their own preferred sound and tempo for the examples given. The reviews and articles are complemented by online forums where users can discuss their progress.
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