Web sites

William Morris Gallery http://www.lbwf.gov.uk/wmg/

Real wallpaper becomes virtual desktop "wallpaper" at this official site for the London museum in honour of the socialist visionary. Morris's mediaevally inspired designs are here made available for downloading: the results of his consciously simple block-printing methods and the seamless repetition of patterns like Wandle and Marigold, seem quite at home on screen - certainly as beautiful, if perhaps not as useful, as its creator would have wished. Elsewhere, there is a page for children and details of exhibits in the gallery itself - the Morris home from 1848-56 - which in addition to various treasures of the Arts and Crafts movement include his coffee cup and the satchel from which he distributed political pamphlets.

Convomania

http://www.mania.apple.com

A 13-year-old with cerebral palsy first suggested this online meeting place for seriously ill and disabled children. Apple's Worldwide Disability Solutions Group has created an extended site with six areas for them to communicate with each other and with the world, including "Say It", an online chat group; "Solve It", a place to ask questions about chronic illness; and "Stick it", a Java-assisted refrigerator door with click- and-drag magnetic letters. An online yearbook gives sometimes heartbreaking biographies and pictures of the children taking part. The site could well assist those socially stranded by illness, and Apple hopes the resulting increase in self-esteem could assist their recovery. It's a delicate project - how to avoid being falsely gung-ho or patronising about "the kids" - but the site brings it off over all and the individual messages have an honesty of their own: "I had a clown visit me in the hospital. I just wanted him OUT OF MY ROOM! I didn't want to cheer up, is that OK?"

UK Cannabis Information

http://www.foobar.co.uk/users/ukcia/

With somewhat different aims to those of its US namesake, this British version of the CIA stands for Cannabis Internet Activists. Their newly redesigned site offers an overview of UK drugs policy and the iniquities of recent legislation, described by the Home Office in approving terms as "Draconian". There's a guide to the new political career of celebrity dealer Howard Marks, a long article on the role of herb in film and literary culture, and tips on stoner etiquette - "don't bogart that joint". A detailed growing guide with emphasis on the UK climate is strictly "for educational purposes only".

Dan Dare/The Eagle

http://members.aol.com/nicholashl/ homepage.htm

A labour of love, harking back to Fifties childhood and redolent of Bovril adverts and Meccano sets, when comics were comics and not "graphic novels", and the strongest available expletive was "suffering snakes!". The site pays tribute to the immaculately drawn adventures of space hero Dan Dare and his faithful sidekick Digby, in their struggles against the evil Mekon, with lots of well-reproduced examples of Frank Hampson's artwork. There's also an account of the rise and fall of the Eagle itself, from conception, in part as a reaction to the corruption of British youth by American horror comics, through its clean-cut heyday, including those instructive cutaway drawings of troop ships and combine harvesters, to its decline in the Sixties. A new Dare story, Project Pluto, is exclusive to the site, and there's a link to the Dan Deri page - the Croatian version of the strip.

Bill Pannifer

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