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
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 3 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 4 Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
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