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The Independent Online

YouGov.com

YouGov.com

MPs and local politicians may tremble at the thought of this site, which threatens them with continuous e-monitoring by their constituents. "E-government arrives in the UK" is the boast here, the aim being to give citizens voice via the Net - one aspect of which is to create opportunities for democratic pestering of one's representatives at national and local level.

Users will be able to vote online on the day's parliamentary business, and match their own views against an MP's subsequent performance in the House: the MP will then be e-mailed with the peoples' opinion. A search-by-postcode facility will identify named official contacts for specific issues (such as parking or schools) and supply an e-mail form addressed to them.

League tables are planned grading government and council performance in serving the citizen. Lots of potential here, but early days as yet: there's already a news service, an intriguing Political Colour tester, and contributions from John Humphrys, Peter Kellner, Fay Weldon and the former Independent editor Ian Hargreaves.

Press Freedom Survey 2000

"Freedom" is painstakingly and rather grimly quantified at this site, showing the extent, or otherwise, of media independence around the world. A little diagram summarises things, with the free sector by far the smallest slice of the worldwide cake compared with partly free or not free at all.

An A-to-Z describes conditions in each of 186 countries and a numerical index assesses the free flow of information in each, with penalty points for economic and political influences compromising content, as well as "physical violence" and "killing journalists". Top (ie, bottom) of the charts is Myanmar (Burma), with a damning score of 100 following the torturing to death of employees of a newspaper critical of the regime. The UK scores 20, but free-est overall seems not to be the US (13) but Sweden (11). A separate article discusses internet freedoms, and the full report- from US human rights organisation Freedom House - can be downloaded.

World No Tobacco Day

The end of this month is World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organisation-sponsored event aiming to encourage smokers worldwide to kick the deadly habit. This worthy bid to reduce the number of people killed each year by tobacco (currently 3.5 million) includes an online pledge form: "I want to be able to breathe easier, walk faster and have whiter teeth. I want to live longer so I can watch my loved ones grow older." This will be followed up by some encouraging e-mails from the site.

A World No Tobacc'O'Meter enables users to calculate what they will save from not smoking: currency options include pounds, yen, francs, Finnish markaas, or, most persuasively, additional lifespan.

Word Perhect

The "typo" is deliberate. This online exhibit by a Japanese web artist takes a Flash-powered look at how computers have altered our experience of writing. The result is a send-up word-processing screen, reconfigured as though scrawled in an old exercise book. Pressing spellcheck produces a Sellotaped note saying: "Go and find a dictionary"; the paste option advises "get a glue pen"; while the mail facility suggests a trip to the post office.

Unusual extra plugins include "Cup of Tea" and "Alcohol". Backgrounds can be a scruffy old London A-Z, or the back of a used envelope. It's meant as a critique of "standardised corporate language" which aims to "reclaim the initiative back from the software".

websites@dircon.co.uk

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