Web sites proliferated with almost Malthusian gusto in 1997. Although keeping up with this sort of growth is impossible, we have nevertheless tried to make some sense of it all, and one of the results has been our weekly Web Citations feature—brief reviews of Web sites that we find novel, important, useful, interesting, or simply good fun. In the democratic spirit of the digital age we've given equal attention to personal sites and corporate ones—not to mention others that defy categorization. Our aim has always been to highlight the places on the Internet that illustrate—in astonishingly different ways—how in the midst of all the chaos there is something distinct and new emerging: a digital culture. As 1997 comes to an end, join us as we revisit ten sites, featured this year in Web Citations, that, considered together, reveal just how vibrant this emerging digital culture is.
The Atlantic Unbound Editors
Alive on Everest
"For those seeking a surprisingly authentic encounter with the world's tallest peak, NOVA's Alive on Everest site is well worth a visit. Track the mental and physical states of a team of four seasoned climbers as they brave the 'Death Zone.'"
AltaVista Translation Service
"Clearly this is something big—and the creators of AltaVista know it. They claim to have 'broken the Internet language barrier.'"
"This site is a visual feast. Among the highlights: a graceful stalk of slime mold, a delicately rolled-up butterfly proboscis, the prickly quills of a cat flea, the hairy eyeballs of a jumping spider,and the intricate skeleton of a kind of algae."
Internet Chess Club
"In 1878, when two country gentlemen in Derbyshire, England played the first-ever game of chess by telephone, they had no idea what a felicitous combination (chess, phone lines) they had stumbled across. Today chess on the Internet is booming."
"To visit the relentlessly cheery McDonald's Web site while the outraged folks at McSpotlight whisper in your ear is to experience an activist frisson once considered the sole province of Greenpeace zealots shadowing whaling ships and nuclear testers."
The Museum of Jurassic Technology
"'When you're in there . . . everything just seems self-evidently what it is. There's this fine line, though, between knowing you're experiencing something and sensing that something is wrong. There's this slight slippage, which is the very essence of the place.'"
The New York Times: Women's Health
"By laying bare the ambiguities of sensitive health concerns, this site -- doggedly open-minded, thoroughly investigative—arms readers with a bank of knowledge heretofore not readily available."
"The art of the news parody is alive and well, nowhere more so than in The Onion, a Web site and weekly newspaper with more guaranteed potential for laugh-out-loud-in-your-cubicle, get-odd-looks-from-your-coworkers, gee-I'd-better-compose-myself humor than a year's worth of Dilbert."
"Without a note of piety or pedantry, the editors of Poetry Daily have set out to show how the Web can offer an inexpensive and potentially powerful way to promote poets and their publishers while also serving readers."
The Witches' Voice
"There has been a growing movement toward pagan unity in the last year or so, fueled mainly by the connections witches have made over the Internet. Finally, witches may have found a home out of the broom closet."