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World Birthday Web

Banal online gimmick or digital dadaism?

Witness: Roads to Refuge

An innovative online documentary looks at the plight of Bosnia's uprooted population.

The Library of Congress Exhibitions

A look at one of the country's -- and the Web's -- most extraordinary resources.

For more, see the complete Web Citations Index.

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October 23, 1996

Must a search engine be devoid of character and point of view? The answer is no. DisInformation, a new search engine that goes decidedly against the grain, aims to provide "a portal to the emerging radical intellectual movement flourishing in the World Wide Web community and point users of the service towards the highest quality, most powerful and culturally important information the Internet has to offer." Though DisInformation may not be the one-stop source of counterculturure it pports to be, it does make for an intriguing and (perhaps inadvertently) amusing starting point.

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DisInformation's search engine draws on a large database of informative, broad-ranging links intended to offer an alternative to the mainstream, corporate news media. It also features "dossiers" of staff-selected, left-leaning sites (with the cooler ones identified by cute little hand grenades) that cover many sides of current, sometimes obscure, issues. Rubrics are "Revolutionaries: Intellectual Outlaws" (now featuring a great collection of Noam Chomsky links), "Propaganda: Media Manipulation," "Censorship: Attacks on Freedom," "Counter-Culture: From the Belly of the Beast," and "Counter-Intelligence: Intellectual Self-Defense." These in turn feature such subcategories as "End of the World News" (described as "Dispatches from the Apocalypse"), "Brain Wash" ("Buy Things You Don't Need"), and "New Science" ("Everything You Know is Wrong"). A few clicks around these deftly structured departments and you'll be armed with information on everything from ozone depletion to the untold tragedy of South American glue sniffers to the Chupacabra, the bloodthirsty alien "goatsucker" said to be roaming Puerto Rico and recently spotted outside a posh Cambridge, Massachusetts, eatery.

Two main ideological notions inspire this journey into the eclectic. The first is a familiar refrain from the far left's anti-media tirade: what passes for news today is nothing more than propaganda, churned out by spineless journalists and filtered through an extended, well-remunerated family of pundits, pollsters, and so-called experts. The second is that barring a monumental shift in the way large, multinational corporations do business, a breakdown of the biosphere is imminent. Alarmist? Realistic? DisInformation gathers up the links -- you can decide for yourself.

Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
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