Web sites: Light and darkness, underground and out of the window
Monday 17 August 1998
This unique webzine is the work of Hero Joy Nightingale, a wheelchair- using 11-year-old with a serious disability described as "locked-in syndrome", and with, on this evidence, quite remarkable creative and editorial skills. No design slickness here - just a contents page and then the full text assembled in sequence, with readers advised to make a cup of coffee while it downloads. Journalism, poetry, travelogues and "experiential" submissions are invited from round the world: the third edition includes pieces on working with disabled Palestinian refugees in Jordan, on being the victim of an armed robbery, and a stream of consciousness meditation about kettles by a young London actor. The Guest Column has featured more famous contributors, such as composer John Tavener, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and, next issue, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Neither alligators nor mole people lurk beneath the streets of Glasgow, it seems. But there are magical symbols and even mysterious framed pictures hanging on tunnel walls, not to mention rumours of bodies being washed out during floods. The notorious Milk Crate Gang - a group of local computer programmers and others - here delves deep into the disused rail tunnels of the Lanarkshire and Dumbarton Railway and the old Glasgow Central, emerging with few urban legends but lots of evocative photos of sooty walls, overgrown cuttings, dank ventilation shafts and a haunting sense of local history. There are maps of forgotten lines, safety tips for explorers and a keen sensitivity to the eerie pleasure to be had visiting the platforms of the old Botanic Gardens station (closed in 1939). Trainspotting tendencies are enlivened by quotes from pagan rock group Inkubus Sukkubus and by links to other burrowers in Liverpool, Melbourne and Toronto (where, it seems, some thrill-seekers take walks along the subway tunnels during rush hour).
Black Britain Online
This new site aims to promote the diversity of black achievement in Britain, which it sees as lagging behind in fields such as politics and economics, and, indeed, computing. Feature articles, covering, for example, the Afro Hair and Beauty Exhibition and a Barclays Bank report on ethnic minority businesses, are accompanied by services such as a bookstore, free classifieds and a jobs page intended to become the "default site for UK Plc employers to recruit from the black community". Part of the project is a survey to test assumptions about limited Internet use among black professionals and business people.
Did you know that Yu Qian, a dentist from China, built a tower of 28,000 human teeth to try to raise awareness about dental hygiene? Or that Fidel Castro once tried out as a pitcher for an American baseball team? Inveterate bluffers, and those who score highly in multiple-choice tests, will enjoy this site, which every day serves up a selection of five strange, twisted or just interesting facts, only one of which is actually true. Make your choice, and come back the next day to see if you guessed correctly: high scorers are acknowledged on the site.
Light on the Net Project
This site allows viewers to control over the Net a battery of 49 lightbulbs situated in the lobby of the Softopia IT building in Gifu prefecture, Japan. A clickable map allows different combinations to be selected, and those with knowledge of kanji script can spell out simple messages. The setup, which has been in operation for over two years now, was designed by the Japanese multimedia artist Masaki Fujihata. Mr Fujihata's other interventions include a plan for a "Real Time Clock" using light sensors positioned around the world and linked by the Net, registering the progression of light and shade as an example of "global consciousness".
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