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
Britain's kitchens so filthy that they present a health risk, says new research
Google Maps hides image of Android robot urinating on Apple in surprisingly insolent Easter egg
How to turn off/stop 'seen by' on Facebook: Disable it to make your chats seem less passive aggressive
KickassTorrents down: new Isle of Man domain taken offline just hours after launch
Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...