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Universal Human

Knowledge Base


The sum total of human knowledge all at one URL? A bit ambitious, perhaps, as well as, of course, contradicting the entire pluralist spirit of the Web. But the authors of this proposal for the ultimate database insist that the plan " will pave the way into a new frontier for all of humanity". An objectively verified version of the Net - free of junk and with even the most valuable information free of charge to everyone - certainly has its merits as a concept. At the moment, there's just a a series of suggestions and proposals in which idealism is tempered with the prospect of endless bureaucracy - a Standards Body, for instance, will apply a credits and points system to potential contributions. Luckily, "sophisticated translation software" will take care of the language problem.

the eXile


This sardonic cross between Time Out and Private Eye for the Moscow ex- pat community offers an insider perspective on the city. Most of the monthly print version seems available on the site, with archives going back to February 97. The nightlife listings are compelling enough - try the the "Miss Africa-Russia Contest", in which African students at Moscow University dress in Russian costume and perform folk songs before parading in bikinis. But the political content offers a useful corrective to official versions, with an emphasis on how outsiders misrepresent the facts and how Western journalists are manipulated: a recent Reuters report on the supposedly improved state of prison conditions gets a going-over in the Presswatch section. Things go really over the top with a lurid "Death Porn" column, which fills out the city's murder statistics with blackly satirical, true- crime reports and grotesquely captioned shots of corpses. Intriguing, tasteless, and as genuinely "alternative" as it claims.

Water: a journey


A long-running, award-winning personal homepage, as in very personal: Chicago-based Web designer Magdalena Donea puts her life story on the Neb in a series of autobiographical stories and casual diaries, clustered around an oceanic metaphor borrowed from Salman Rushdie. "Tread lightly, this is the stuff of life to me," she warns readers, who will find out about her early relationships, experience of single motherhood and battle with cervical cancer as well as the contents of her bookshelf and CD rack. Exemplary in its fluent presentation of text, and still convincing despite its enigmatic role as both confessional and (inevitably) a design showcase.

The Portuguese


http://www.iut-orsay.fr/guet/ Pietons.html

The pedestrians may be Portuguese, but the author is actually French, and an implacable opponent of creeping conformism, the European Union and the modern world in general. Devolution, difference, and "quiet driving on country roads" are his watchwords, and roadsigns are his obsession. In Portugal, he discovered, many of them remain unstandardised, depicting not the usual, regulation "dummies" but real human figures. At crossings, the pedestrians can be stout or wispy or leaning into the wind, while "men at work" are not always gung-ho, but sometimes seemingly about to topple from exhaustion. Then there are the endangered, one-off oddities - "Beware of Chameleons" - and, in the Pyrenees, a smiling cow. Hundreds of signs in all, from Spain, Belgium and Germany but not so far from the UK, though contributions would doubtless be welcome.



This comprehensive online ballet resource offers reviews and listings for upcoming dance events in the UK. No fancy footwork here, just useful information, a message board for gossip - are the Kirov coming this summer? - and lots of background for novice balletomanes. A tasteful Impressionist slideshow is available to download as a screensaver. For those happier with terminals than tutus, there's an account of a ballet devised in 1846 by Charles Babbage. This moral and mythological spectacle was unfortunately never performed.