Network: Websites

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The Independent Culture

Can news be presented on the Net as anything other than a boring series of links? As surfers drown in a surfeit of information, this site maps the density of the incoming data in geographical terms. The result is a sort of aerial reconnaissance view of what's happening. Individual news items are shown as dots on the landscape, while larger masses of information pile up to form peaks. Distance on the map becomes a measure of overlapping relevance, and flags may even be planted as bookmarks. Potentially, this is a revealing guide to the topology of news coverage on any given day, though it tends to be a slow Java-load and, ultimately, it all leads back to Associated Press, ABC News, the Washington Post, Yahoo! and the rest. The service is really a promotion for "content analysis software" called Themescape, and perhaps better suited for previewing content trends across thousands of documents.

The map of Canada changed irrevocably at the start of this month. Some 1.9 million square kilometres of the Canadian Arctic became Nunavut, a largely self-governing expanse of ice and tundra extending as far as Greenland. This site is the information gateway to the new territory, and includes an optional Inuktitut font as well as details of the newly designed coat of arms - an imposing blue and gold number featuring caribou and narwhal, the ensemble topped by a crowned iglu. The 1 April celebrations, with their fireworks and speeches, are recorded as a "a loud, proud wonderful day", and there are pages for tourism, health, hunting and fishing, as well as discussion forums. The online newspaper, Nunatsiaq News, offers insights into a community struggling to deal with serious problems, though these sometimes have less serious aspects, such as an "unlicensed speak- easy on the West 40 Road". Meanwhile, Okie Kunuk is Iqaluit's Honorary Toonik this year - but the downloadable TV listings reveal, unsurprisingly, that Nunavut has the same TV as everywhere else in the world.

Channel Five

Navigation here is by page-zapping via a TV-style remote control. This state-of-the-art creation is not the porn site which recent output may have led some to expect, though it does include a fulsome tribute to Melinda Messenger, complete with Babelicious Photofest and downloadable Virtual Mel. "Download this pint-sized PC playmate and you'll never be lonely again." There's a seriously useful programme guide to all broadcast cable and satellite channels, background to the station's own output and a range of web-specific features such as Drizzle Beach, an "e-soap" sending up the Channel 5 soap Sunset Beach.

Send interesting, quirky or cool site recommendations to websites@ dircon.