Art and Architecture
A painter named Barrie has created a site that puts the "space" back into "cyberspace."
March 19, 1997
The interesting thing about Annoy.com is that many will find it more amusing and enlightening than irritating. This is a site recently created (anonymously, it appears) to challenge the provision of the Communications Decency Act which would make criminal any computer communications that are, among other things, "indecent, with intent to annoy."
Whether the much-publicized clause in reference is legally defensible will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the slick cyber-pests at Annoy are shoving as much free speech onto the Web as they possibly can, and the site is liberally sprinkled with "offensive" language and graphics.
Annoy enables its visitors to do quite a bit of free-speech envelope-pushing themselves. In Heckle, for example, you can e-mail an "Annoy Lib" (remember Mad Libs?) to a high-profile individual mentioned in an adjacent and invariably feisty Annoy article (on, say, the benefits of pornography). "Censure" permits you to choose from a selection of politically incorrect graphics and then to "displeasurably dispatch" e-postcards to friends and foes alike. Then, of course, there are the freewheeling forums in "Gibe."
The more umbrageous among us may not click past Annoy's home page, primed as it is for publicity with repeat-looped images of a wide range of uncovered private parts and brazen racial epithets. That would be a shame. The site is worthy of exploration for its irreverent use of interactivity, and there are also other kinds of provocative material here -- in particular, cogent essays on media and social issues that are as edgy as anything on the Internet. In the end, nothing you'll find on the site will be as annoying as the legislation that spawned it.
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.