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E-zines offer pure, unadulterated -- and sometimes weird -- entertainment

July 1, 1996
Web posted at: 12:20 p.m. EDT (1618 GMT)

By CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman

(CNN) -- The World Wide Web provides a wealth of opportunities daily -- information gathering, self promotion, shameless exploitation of new technologies. As if those opportunities didn't already make the WWW distracting enough, a group of devilish Web surfers have designed sites so fascinating that you'll want to spend at least an hour to get their full impact. Or five or six.

The sites, updated on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly) are known in the trade as e-zines because, like their newsstand counterparts, 'zines, they are not run by the big names, but unlike 'zines, they exist only on the Web. Here are a few we like.



Word's stories are not always the most profound in the world, but they are always fun. You should go there just to see how stories can be used as a vehicle for the latest Web technology. The best thing about this site is how cool it looks.

Word's designers are taking advantage of every last drop of new technology, no holds barred. If you don't have Netscape 2.0 with all the attachments, you may be disappointed.

My only other quibble with the site has long since passed: The first time I visited it, I thought it was completely stupid. All the stories I read ended abruptly and seemed to be only one page long. In fact, every story is several pages long, but you have to poke around on the page to figure out which picture to click on to jump to the next part.

Word's story about the travails of being a bike messenger in Manhattan is a good example: The bike seat is the key. Trust me, once you do this for a story or two you will think it's easy and obvious.



In marked contrast to Word, the only strong point in this brand-new site is its content. Slate, headlined by former CNN Crossfire host Michael Kinsley (the liberal counterpart to conservative Pat Buchanan), has conscripted some of the best-known thinkers in the United States to write its columns.

But the layout is amazingly inflexible -- they have chosen a font type and size for you, which I can live with, but the page designers have actually thrown invisible pictures onto the pages just to take up space and force their text to be positioned on the page exactly the way they want it. From reading their premier issue read-me, I gather that they want the site to look just like a magazine, only on the Web. I'm just not sure that the memory one page eats up is worth the look.

Slate aims to be self-supporting through user subscriptions, arguing that it isn't healthy for news sites to be totally supported by advertising. A $20-a-year subscription fee kicks in November 1.



Salon has a lot in common with Slate: intelligent articles, a fairly simple layout, a disinclination to cram all of the newest Internet technology on the same page.

Unlike Slate, Salon doesn't make a pretense of being unimpressed with the new technology. In fact, Salon uses it. The site breaks some of its pages down into windows, when they add to the story.

And, it provides a BBS-type location for Salon members to discuss their views on almost everything. Discussion is lightly and ably moderated by Salon employees. Salon is mostly updated weekly, but plans to have daily updates soon.

You will see mention of Slate, Word, and Salon -- in addition to a host of other e-zines with names like Hotwired, suck, spiv and feed -- all the time, now that we've pointed them out. But there are millions of other e-zines that for whatever reason have received less press but are equally cool.

Addicted to Noise

Addicted to noise

Addicted to Noise is one of them. This e-zine's focus is music, and I suspect that their graphics designer listens to everything with the volume turned all the way up. The page design screams a little louder in the hi-fi version than in low-fi, the version designed for anybody still dialing onto the Web with anything less than a 28.8 modem.

However, both versions are good, and it's easy to find what you want on both, whether you're interested in music industry news (updated daily), editorials, reviews or interviews of the newsmakers. ATN also hosts an on-site chat room.

A recent issue included interviews with Pete Townshend, Radiohead, and director Jim Jarmusch, whose new movie "Dead Man" stars Johnny Depp. If you're into the entertainment industry, go!


Related sites:

  • Addicted to Noise
  • Salon
  • Slate
  • Word
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