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Which is the Spot for you?

Hooray for Silliwood. At the end of last month the award ceremony for the Webbies was held. It was just like it should be, air-kissing, trophy-waving, agent-thanking, the lot. And it was held in LA, of course. Only it wasn't films that were being celebrated, it was World Wide Web Sites on the Internet.

Glenn Davis's useful service, Cool Web Site of the Day, is a welcome still point in the churning universe of information. This year, Mr Davis (gdavis@infi.net) organised Cool Site of the Year, and held an e-mail poll on a shortlist of five Web sites.

Here are the highlights from his e-mail interview with the Independent:

Q. Do you agree that the way to "renew American civilisation" is not to write drab books about it and sit in Congress, but to kill your TV? (At least for the summer.) A. I'd have to agree on that one. It's been a real joy to me to learn that as people are using the Web, they are watching less television. Myself, I never watch television. I own one simply so that I can rent an occasional video. Television is the mind killer.

Q. Is the Web a male thing?

A. I don't think so. That's a rather sexist question don't you think? Quite frankly, some of the best work being done on the Web is now being done by women. At least when they stop concentrating on their feminist issues and just work as designers. I'm sorry, but I'm sick to death of all the "feminist" sites I run across. Why can't we just all be people?

Q. What makes a good corporate web site?

A. Providing a service - if they're not, they are wasting their time as well as yours. Many companies are simply putting brochures on the Web. Give me something I can use!

And the winner was ... the Spot. The Spot focuses on the personal lives of seven beautiful people and a cute dog living in a rambling beach house in LA, via their personal journals and copious snapshots. It looks good, and more important, is updated daily, so the Spot has become a genuine on-line soap opera - a cross between Baywatch, Friends and MTV's Real Lives.

You can e-mail the participants, who often reply, and post notes in discussion threads. Lol, Tara, Michelle with a little heart over the "i" ... they're all in their 20s, they like to party, they're all something to do with movies. They provide brief CVs, and even pictures of their beautiful bottoms.

So, has the Web reached its natural level and become the Nineties equivalent of xeroxing one's own rear end? Sadly, it is not that innocent. It turns out it's all paid for and scripted by an ad agency, Fattal & Collins, of Marina del Rey, which stumped up $500,000 to find out whether the medium is worth advertising on. Click on Tara's dress to see where to buy it, that's the plan.

In contrast to the Spot's clean-scrubbed narcissism, a satirical site called the Squat has already sprung up, featuring the lives of five southern simpletons and a horse named Hal, living two to a bed in a trailer home. Now that really is cool.

Cool site of the day: http:www.infi.net/ cool.html

The Spot: http://www.thespot.com

The Squat: http://theory.physics.missouri.edu/ georges/Josh/squat/welcome.html