Websites: HRH goes http, photos inc
Monday 16 November 1998
A day after launch, the Prince of Wales's new site had accumulated 1.75 million hits. Linked to, but independent of the mothership (http://www.royal.gov.uk/), the new online presence is meant as a platform for direct communication with the public. The voluminous, 354-page production includes a biography, picture gallery and continuously updated details of HRH's activities, while the design, from the Press Association's new media division, is gimmick-free and efficient, rather than palatial. The most useful aspect may be the fully indexed database of the Prince's speeches and articles. An Online Forum solicits visitors' views: selected e-mails are posted at the site, though, of course, "it will not be possible to respond individually".
The China Society for Human Rights Studies
A bracingly different perspective, or just rhetorical hot air? Plenty of both in this intriguing Chinese account, official in all but name, of its human rights record. Less a website than a filing cabinet, these pages tend to emphasise "subsistence" and "state sovereignty" as human rights above all others, along with the expected counter-critique of the USA's own failings. Some of the arguments are persuasive, and even aspects of the party line on Tibet, criticising those who want the country to remain a "museum culture" for tourist purposes, might seem seductive - were it not for the reality on the ground. For a critical view on the same subject, try Human Rights in China, http://www.igc.apc.org/hric.
A canned history of Britain since 1886 is among the goodies on show at this technically ambitious, multi-layer site for Heinz in the UK. The closing years of Queen Victoria are evoked by Mr Heinz's first sale at Fortnum and Masons while on a trip from the US, and his Zelig-like spirit hovers over key events of the the 20th century. Lots of nutritional advice, too, and an online ordering service, Heinz Direct, starts next month, but a "Baby Hamper" (soft food and Farley's Rusks) can already be purchased online for pounds 29.99 and delivered to, say, Afghanistan, for an additional pounds 75.
This newly-launched forum is a rather self-conscious crusade to raise the level of online debate. Participants are required to stay with the conversation for at least four weeks, and the exchanges take place in small, manageable, and it is hoped, friendly groups. It is subject-specific and free of charge. Visitors are allowed to lurk and "listen", but not to contribute until they sign up. The non-profit group behind the site aims to enable risk-taking debate rather than what it calls "drive-by postings" - quite a challenge when the first topic is the Clinton scandal.
Welcome to the New and Improved Amazing CowCam!
"TuCows" is the name of a famously useful software download site. But this page, promoting a rural US access provider, really is just two cows, standing around in a muddy field. A couple of Jerseys - as in New Jersey - here patrol their paddock beneath the all-seeing Web camera. Africam this is not, yet despite the lack of drama, Hamburger and Cheeseburger ("no sense having cute names when you plan on eating 'em") claim to have generated some 450,000 hits.
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