Network: Websites

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The Independent Culture
The Monster Motel

Bundlerug, Bubblibandibink, the Three-headed Slipsloop and the Zimp are all currently in residence here in the youth wing of the trAce International Online Writing Community. The Monster Motel's multi-antennaed guests spring from the fertile imaginations of young contributors, who can post images and descriptions in the motel's rooms for visitors to enjoy. So far input has been from the lower age groups and the beasties in question, if not exactly cuddly, are unlikely to strike terror: "Jekklenog is very hairy, but he's not that scary."

Children's Express

Young people create serious journalism at this innovative news agency for writers and researchers aged eight to 18 and their stories appear regularly in national and local media. There are details here of the story production process, as well as plans for an online roundtable facility to assist the young writers in developing ideas. The site also offers background information for parents and for mainstream journalists seeking to commission work. The scheme began five years ago as a summer project for inner-city kids, and the charity now has bureaux in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Newcastle.

Prose only, no poems please, is the rather defensive rule at this collaborative web site devoted to stories of lost love. Breaking up may be hard to do but afterwards you can reminisce about it here, adding your personal vignette of rejection or of a chance meeting further on down the road. There's a daily e-mail version for those needing more frequent reminders of the transient nature of happiness: "I shuffled on to the plane that would take me away from here and her, tears streaming behind my Ray-bans."

Patron des Internautes Catalans

There appear to be at least two contenders for the title of Patron Saint of the Internet. At his Catalan-language site, Santa Tecla offers to intercede in problems with "El Windows" and "El Zip", and provides a confessional form, absolving users of various online sins including spamming and not paying for shareware. A rival contender, says HotWired, is San Pedro Regalado, san-pedro/index.htm, a priest whose gift (first noted in the 1500s) for appearing in several places at once makes him an ideal candidate for adoption by the net community. A group of Franciscan friars are submitting his name to the Vatican.

The Museum of Soviet Calculators

An indispensable asset for any planned economy, the pocket calculator was high on the development agenda in the former USSR. In 1974, under tremendous pressure, a team proudly delivered the famous Elektronika B3- 04 to the Central Committee - though sceptics noted a Concordski-style resemblance to a Western machine made by Sharp. But much genuine ingenuity as well as nostalgia is in evidence here, with details of 1967's "Low- Dimensions Electronic Computing Machine" and of the Russian abacus, or "schoty", still in use in the mid-90s. The site, a labour of love from an Australian obsessive, also features a catalogue of Russian batteries.

All Day Breakfast

Chloresterol rules at this site celebrating the Great British Breakfast, with its chequered plastic tablecloth background, and and optional ashtray. There is a Greasy Spoon Hall of Fame with nominations from Nottingham to North Carolina, and expressions of regret for the passing of "the great motorway service caff." A conversation archive draws on the newsgroup alt.2eggs.sausage.beans.tomatoes.2toast.largetea.cheerslove where Spam is often on the menu.

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