Neat Web Pages: January 1995

Stepping the light fantastic: Tango on the Web.

You find URLs in the strangest places these days: there I was taking in a dose of mindless Friday evening channel-surfing (us net-surfers do take a break every now and then...), when there it was, flashed up on the screen: a URL. No longer the orange man in a nappy, the strange telephone numbers, or the spoof product recalls. This time Tango has its very own web site.

Just like Tango's advertising, their web pages are a strange and surreal place - though unfortunately unusable by text mode browsers, as they rely on image buttons. There's also a lot of very big video samples - so be prepared for it to take some time, unless of course you're not using your own phone!

The web pages are all part of a TV sponsorship deal: Tango sponsors The Word, and gets to put some clips from the cult yoof program on the Net. You'll find handy household tips (there's a lot of water in an animal's eyeball), some strange poetry (about peas), large movies of children's TV science guru Johnny Ball and of Stuart Hall in funny clothes in Belgium. All quite peculiar, really...

This one is odd, and it'll try to get you to buy some fizzy drinks, but it's still worth a look!

The Big Boys come to CyberTown.

Entertainent is a multi-billion dollar business, and the multimedia conglomerates are about to colonise the Net. One of the first online is MCA/Universal, with their CyberWalk web pages.

Yet again it's a set of pages designed for the graphical browser connected to a fast link: lots of lovely coloured pictures, but very little text. Universal Pictures' online premiere for "Junior", the new Schwartzenegger film is one of the biggest things on the Web. It'll eat bandwidth as you download the digital movies and soundfiles.

You'll also find an online version of Amp - the MCA Records house magazine (though you'll find out more about music with a copy of Melody Maker or Q) - and the Winterland T-shirts pages - the only part of these pages with any sign of an attempt to escape the corporate mold.

This one's very nice to look at, but at heart really rather sterile.

"Yes, Minister. It's called a computer...

There's an oxymoron loose on the net:

The British government's web pages aren't a patch on their American counterparts. In fact, they're not even as good as most of the home pages built by first year computer science students.

A rather smug looking gif of Robert Hughes MP stares at you as you download a sample of a speech he made to a government conference - a speech that's not really worth the download time. He's the only part of the government you'll actually find on the Web: all the rest is civil servants and Citizen's Charters.

A better effort comes from the Treasury: the on-line Budget. The whole budget speech can be found here (if you want to read it), as well as a large amount of facts and figures that attempt to explain why we pay the government what we do. There's still a lot to be done here, as the web maintainers haven't understood the power of hypertext - the Treasury could have helped people understand the budget a lot more easily if they'd built some links between the figures and the speech.

Ho hum. Wander through these, and fill out the response forms. It's the closest thing to democracy we have.

Oh Boy.

The Web is the future of publishing. The people who put together fanzines were the among first to realise it. With a quick net surf you can find all sorts of fannish publications: football, music, art, science fiction, film, TV - just take your pick.

One of the best fan pages out there is The Accelerator Chamber, run by fans of the TV series Quantum Leap. Here you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about Sam Beckett's leaps through time, from FAQs to episode guides to samples of choice one-liners - there's even a drinking game! The pages are also linked to the "official" ftp site, with its newsgroup archives and fan-fiction library.

If you're wanting to build a set of fan pages, then The Accelerator Chamber is a good model to use. If you don't, then it's still worth leaping into.