The Blair Witch Project

http://www.blairwitch.com

Advance word differs on whether this is actually as frightening as claimed - the UK audience will find out at the end of October. But the website certainly tries hard, with teasing film-trailer style opening and an austere, white-on-black insistence on the documentary truth of the whole thing. "In October of 1994, three student film makers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary... A year later their footage was found." A po-faced chronology goes back to the witch's infanticidal debut in 1785.

The American success of this micro budget horror flick is attributed to canny Internet marketing at this and related sites. Real or not, get your Blair Witch dossiers, CDs and fridge magnets here.

Sports ID

http://www.sportsid.com

From archery to windsurfing, from basketball to water polo, this site teaches the basics, and more, of practically every form of sport, including obscure varieties - anyone for boogie-boarding? Only cricket seems to be beyond its grasp. Such a comprehensive mission needs a big health warning in advance: only after agreeing to absolve the site from possibly injurious consequences may one proceed to the QuickTime animations and movies of jet-skiing, mountain biking and something that sounds oddly comforting called "deskercise". It's all a free taster for a digital library covering more than 70 different sports and available for purchase on VHS, DVD, and CD-rom. Members get access to chat rooms "with actual talent".

National Signs of the Times Museum

http://www.signmuseum.com

This is the online precursor of a planned museum celebrating the "sign industry", and the homage to a century of Americana will hold much of interest for those for whom old cinema marquees, hotdog stands and diners are not irretrievably cliched. No semiotics here, just details of obscure manufacturers from the Thirties, and depictions of exhibits still in their original roadside context. Here are lovingly restored motel signs from Route 66, a walking tour of old Philadelphia neon, and "details of an Iowa mail pouch sign" from 1889. A recent acquisition is a KFC plastic Colonel Sanders from the Fifties - thanks, Larry and Jerry from Ohio - though "research is under way to try to determine a more exact date for the vintage fast food sign".

Balloons by the Million

http://www.ballons-par-millions.com

An additional worry for bold Y2K flyers may be the cluttering of the skies by message balloons, though the organisers confirm that precautionary measures will be taken near airports. The plan at this multilingual site is to persuade just one citizen in every hundred, worldwide, to release a millennial goodwill note into the ether. The result will be 60 million balloons floating about, seemingly a desirable end in itself. The organisers invite queries not only from individual participants but also, unsurprisingly, from balloon retailers and event promoters, and presumably those with large quantities of helium going spare. The most beautiful messages will be selected by a special panel and printed in The Big Book of the World Citizens' Wishes to Humanity.

As a twee little graphic suggests, the world itself may just be one big balloon.

Neoplanet

http://www.neoplanet.com

This infinitely customisable box of tricks claims to be a browser, search engine and portal site all in one - "interface" might do. Downloadable as a separate browser, but dependent on an existing Explorer or (soon) Netscape technology, Neoplanet offers an innovative series of interchangeable "skins" (MP3-style) for its surface look. Current options in the archive include NeoZappa - "Zappa sounds for everything you do" - and anime, cartoon, gothic and industrial styles. Among 300 or so other choices are a slinky leopard-skin number, and "Soft Unicorns on a pink background - light and kind of feminine".

Various Austin Powers permutations indicate the potential for desktop branding, with the browser itself enlisted in order to promote product.

Send interesting, quirky or even, at a pinch, cool site recommendations to websites@dircon.co.uk

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