On another planet
Tuesday 08 April 1997
If you've visited Planet Science before, you'll doubtless greet with a small cheer the news that there is no longer a registration hurdle to take on your way in. This simple mechanical change is in a way the most significant feature of the new zine, and certainly the one the people behind it will have agonised over most.
The theory of visitor registration is that it gives site publishers the information they need about their readers (for example, to sell advertising). Unfortunately, the information is largely unreliable, because people make things up. (I plead guilty myself, in similar circumstances: in registering for a certain medical site, you are asked to state your medical specialism, which I found an irresistible invitation to indulge in a spot of ER-style fantasy.)
The registration barrier also creates various problems. Planet Science's editor, David Brake, reckons that half the people finding their way to his fortified site were turning away at the gate, for a start. Then you have to invest time in responding to e-mail from people who persist but are having difficulty getting through the process. To cap it all, there is the drawback that inhuman search agents can't get through to find and index your material; for a science site, in particular, this is seriously bad news.
The next improvement, apart from a classy new visual style, is that there is a clear division between material that duplicates the printed edition of New Scientist and material that is special to the Web. Praise be. Time and again, I find myself wandering around the Web site of a paper magazine, unsure of which features I've already looked at (if I possess the paper edition), or of how well the site represents what I could get on paper (if I haven't yet paid the price).
There is new, improved content. The site climbs aboard the current bandwagon by offering "five channels and 18 main sections"; David Bracke says the practical meaning of "channels" is that there are separate, simple URLs for separate areas of interest.
You will have to look at the Planet Science site to judge the value of this academic-sounding development. What seems clear already is that this version of Planet Science is a rich publication that anyone with an interest in the scientific side of life can immerse themselves in for hours.
Planet Science http://www.newscientist.com
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...