Network: Web sites

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Comic Relief

http://www.comicrelief.org.uk/

This Friday, of course, is Red Nose Day once again, and the Web site is a busy but largely joke-free affair, despite rib-tickling fingers for links and the promise of extra goodies such as a "build your own Spice Girl program", which hasn't yet materialised, if it was ever meant to. Instead, there's an overview of what the event has achieved so far (pounds 112m since 1985), and impressive fundraising ideas ("Schtumm - keep quiet and charge people for the pleasure of your silence"), along with downloadable sponsorship forms and full details of the range of scarlet proboscuses [sic] now available from your local retailer. How much longer before a simple, safe route for online donations is devised for this kind of site?

The Book Burners Homepage

http://w3.gwis.com/west/burning.htm

Setting fire to overrated artworks can be a legitimate critical response, according to this jolly jape by a group of jaded US liberal arts graduates now working (variously) in radio, publishing, and pizza delivery. Flaunting more gratuitous umlauts than The New Yorker, the site celebrates the unjustly maligned tradition of incinerating works which, for whatever reason, have failed to meet with the reader's approval. No Fascists here - the conflagration is politically neutral and has included Ayn Rand, Mark Twain, John Grisham and various floppy disks, as well as AC/DC albums - but first on the bonfire, inevitably, is that notorious anti-book-burning tirade, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Regular participants are invited to join the Distinguished Circle of Fire, sort of a critics' circle for pyromaniacs.

Physical to Digital

http://www.backspace.org/phytodigi/

This alternately baffling and intriguing site uses the geography of Newport to explore the boundaries between "Euclidean space" and "memory space". Abstruse musings on what it calls "virtual banality" are scattered graffiti- like against a brick wall background, as though to render them less pretentious. The centre-piece, though, is a clever, Shockwave-assisted interactive street plan of the Welsh town, which the cursor can swoop down upon to isolate certain human events on particular street corners - random memories of, for instance, a favourite baseball cap ("I can't wear it now, it needs stitching again"). Eventually, it seems, visitors will be able to leave traces of their own experiences behind, and modify the map themselves. Very much a work in progress.

Cyber-Finn Shopping Centre

http://www.polar-blue.fi/cybershop/index.html

Unrepentant carnivores should enjoy this online delicatessen for exotic food products from Finland and Lapland. Tuck into reindeer meat, elkburgers or even something ominously called "bearpaste" (pate?), in presentation boxes or handy ring-pull cans. Or try the more palatable-sounding, if insubstantial, "cloudberry jam", and Archangel Archangelica, a power drink made from native herbs. There's a conversion table from Finnish markka to a range of national currencies; if your conscience and credit card can stand it, a reindeer-fur bikini costs pounds 50 or so and will leave you looking like an out-take from Quest for Fire

The British Monarchy

http://www.royal.gov.uk/

More and more families are setting up their own home pages. This one was only a matter of time, though the emphasis is institutional rather than personal. Much useful material here, from details of admission fees to Buckingham Palace, to definitions of concepts such as "Commonwealth", often hazy to subject and tourist alike. Overall, there's a low-key air of reassurance that money is being well spent - the Queen's daily routine is chronicled, and, we are told, she is often the last to go to bed at night. There's a sort of online Court Circular, links to No 10 and Parliament, and a visitors' book (though no way as yet of viewing previous entries).

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