Look up and be amazed; sites
Michelangelo's masterpieces and Tupperware burps - Bill Pannifer finds the truly wonderful and the seriously weird on his tour of the Web
Monday 07 October 1996
Airhead site: Anyone feeling a bit nauseous wandering round Russell Square recently may have been breathing too much. Now the Department of the Environment has an air monitoring station in Bloomsbury, and the newly launched National Air Quality Information Archive (http://www.open. gov.uk/doe/aq/aqinfo.htm) will supply a breakdown of locally circulating poisons in mind-numbing detail, going back several years and as recently as last night. Claiming to be the only archive in the world exclusively dedicated to the air around us, the site provides hourly data from 100 such checkpoints around the country. Ozone, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and something called "particulate matter" are detailed, along with a forecast for the next 24 hours. One page offers a chemistry lesson, but overall it's an uncompromisingly statistical area, accreting long-term data with immense thoroughness but without much in the way of interpretation to tell people where and when to put on their respirators.
Polyethylene site: Hardware, software ... Tupperware. This vital third force in cyberspace gets its own Web site (http://www.tupperware.com), with inspirational product history, glowing accounts of current containers and an implacable sense of mission. Thanks to the ModularMates range, a disordered, bulging kitchen cupboard is transformed into an austere study in rectangles. Make a snide comparison with Mondrian and politely be reminded that the V&A and the Smithsonian have both acquired Tupperware pieces. Smirk at the references to "consultants" (salespeople) and then ponder the 97 million people who, according to the site, attended Tupperware parties worldwide last year. Resent the blandly seductive tastefulness of the page design and then press a raspberry icon to hear a sound sample of the famous Tupperware Burp (caused by closing the air seal on the lid). This stuff is invincible.
Literary site: More Web pages are dedicated to favourite authors than are actually authored by them. But the Adventures in Capitalism site (http://www. webcom.com/reeduk/litt/index.html), promoting Toby Litt's first book, offers three exclusive short stories. Marketed as a sort of Martin Amis Jnr for the E-generation, Litt - his real name, apparently - has the distinction of being the only writer whose work is on sale at Wagamama (he name-drops the hip London noodle bar in his book). During his creative writing course at the University of East Anglia, Litt spent a lot of time sending emails, and one story, about voyeurism, discipleship and Jeremy Beadle, is told entirely in that form, while another offers a hyperlinked punchline if you can't work it out yourself. Sample first-person narrative: "He was a funnylooking guy: Lennonspecs (1966), Maccalips (1968), Ringonose (1970), Georgehair (1972)." A serious sell-by-date looms over Litt's own enterprise, but his notes include oddly naive little caveats - "its a bit nasty" - "don't post this to newsgroups. It's highly inflammatory" - suggesting he might just be uncool enough to survive it.
Contrite site: Last week the URL monster took a bite from Biscuit of the Week (http://www.symetrica. com/biscuit) and from Texts and Contexts (http://paul. spu.edu/hawk/ t&c.html). Genius displays itself at Inventors Corner for a mere pounds 150, and not as stated.
Life & Style blogs
Men in crop tops seem to be trending thanks to Kid Cudi, the social media and the catwalk
What is ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge?
Greggs Google fail: bakery chain falls afoul of search engine's algorithms with 'unofficial' logo
Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion'
Is this the end of apps? New research says a third of us don't bother to download
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Why are UK rail fares so expensive?
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
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