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The web takes print media beyond fishwrap



The Internet has brought about the dawning of a new period in publishing. In the last year, electronic magazines- or "ezines"- have sprouted up all over the World Wide Web, promising an alternative to mainstream media, delivering uniquely tailored content to all who care to point and click.

So, let your subscriptions to TIME and Rolling Stone expire, because from the obscene to the absurd to the pedantic to the sublime, ezines serve it up with style-often with better writing and web design than their big media counterparts.

What follows is a brief list of some of the quality ezines out there.

(One warning: True to their technological nature, many of these sites make use of plugins, applets, and scripting languages. You'll need a richly featured browser such as the most recent version of Netscape or Explorer to fully appreciate them.)

A smart, funny, provocative and cutting ezine with social commentary (and movie reviews) Feed presents a broader and deeper philosophical agenda than your standard journalistic fare. Sponsored by Barnes & Noble and The New York Times.

Everything you ever wanted to know about dating, mating and relating-get your horoscope fix, browse the personals, chat till you're blue in the face, and peruse the love and dating advice columns. Then participate in a forum on how soon you can start smooching after meeting someone. Woo!

Word may be the only site I insist you visit immediately. Word has more intelligent content than one person could read in a night-I tried. One recent installment included a devastating critique of the cattle industry, a must-see "full frontal intellectual nudity," a dark tale of drugs and corruption in Thailand, and chilling real-life audio accounts from people who have shot people.

For your daily dose of national news, this ezine delivers a review of the nation's biggest newspapers and magazines combined with insightful political and financial commentary. Slate was gobbled up by Microsoft last year, which has served to improve its content and technology.

nerve° focuses on the titillating subject of human sexuality, including some of its more curious aspects. A recent issue of this "Literate Smut" included an article by Joycelyn Elders, which began: "Masturbation: it's not a four-letter word, but the president fired me for saying it. "

Other highlights include a smattering of erotic fiction, some artsy-sexy photography, an interview with Norman Mailer on ethics and pornography, and essays on "culture and eros."

Always crisp, smart, cunning and clever, Suck is updated every weekday with artful prose which covers the obscure connections between the issues of the day. For the writers at Suck, the most trivial acts become indicative of megatrends, and the things popular media has declared important become as chaff in the wind. This site is insightful and witty.

Representing the underground web in its darkest glory, Pug dredges up horror, absurdism, Tarantino, body modification, serial killers, punk, speed metal and anarchy-with loads of links to similar sites, if this is what you fancy.

El Zine de Eugene
Always funny and self-deprecating, the author presents his approach to writing fiction: "Make it short-and if possible-make it about haircuts." And art: "Hey-How often do you see something so poorly drawn on the World Wide Web?"

Randomly generated each and every visit, Tweak takes full advantage of the new paradigm of hypermedia through bizarre, self-directed web-driven adventures, interactive games of blackjack, psychotic comics, and interviews with the likes of Kim Deal, Laurie Anderson and Ben Harper.

Tweak describes itself: "The idea that freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one is an old one, but it is fiercely held by the old media guard. The Web offers new, revolutionary opportunities in mass communication.

"It is the closest we've ever come to a truly democratic, many-to-many medium. Never before has the playing field been more level."

I think Tweak is right on the money.

No longer must we rely on television and People magazine to stay abreast of the issues of the day. The web's ezines' rich and varied content, presented in unique ways from numerous alternative angles, promises an opportunity to turn away from the conventional sources of news and entertainment; this is truly the stuff that makes the web worthwhile.

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