This site is best described by its 1993 founder and then-Wired employee, Brian Behlendorf, as "a home on the Internet for information and activities surrounding the memes of music, dance, art, altered states of consciousness, and experimental ways of expressing those memes over the wires". Sourcing its name from a song by The Shamen, an early 90's electronic outfit, the site changed its .com status in 1997 to .org to reflect its non-profit nature. Its strength lies in the fact that technologically savvy people all over the world regularly contribute to the forums.
Having existed for such a long period, the amount of archived content available to search through is nothing short of massive. There are four main areas: Music, Chemistry, Rave-Culture and Intersection. Music deals with all facets of electronic music from mailing lists, hardware and software guides to fan sites and many other links. The chemistry section has been integrated with www.erowid.org, providing an educational resource on the effects of legal and illicit drugs. The Rave-Culture section provides worldwide information on that particular scene and the Intersection area has interactive content and e-zines featuring Internet-TV, virtual worlds and links to music documentaries amongst much more to delve through.
It's not just for the propeller heads and tech-nerds, however - for the curious inquirer there are expansive tutorials and glossaries on most of the aforementioned topics. Having seen the Web catch on and rise around it, the site has come a long way from its origins as a supplement to a rave mailing list. Its ethos is free access to information - information that we all have a right to see, without the interference of some larger institution's concerns and agendas.
Web-based email is hugely popular because it offers the convenience of an account that can be accessed from any browser, as well as a degree of anonymity. However, the security of many well-known Web mail services is so poor that if you use them, you might as well post your letters on a public bulletin board.
LokMail is a service which seeks to address this deficiency. It uses military-strength encryption and special software to ensure that your messages are both safely stored and transmitted to you in a format which cannot be intercepted as easily as ordinary email. The software also ensures that plain-text versions of messages are not left in the computer's memory or in the browser cache.
So you've decided to be evil?
If you've been rejected by ASIO (covered in last month's Web section), perhaps you should consider working for the really bad guys.
This site, which describes itself as "a step-by-step guide to joining the Forces of Darkness", contains all the information you'll need to set yourself up as an evil mastermind. Covering essential topics such as Evil Plans, Henchmen, Lairs and, of course, Fashion for Villains, this site is a great place to kick off your new life as an evil-doer.
This is one of the new crop of community-built Web sites which have begun to spring up all over the Net since the trend was started by Slashdot. With an emphasis on finding and evaluating useful sites elsewhere on the Web, Sitereview relies on the votes of its subscribers to rate the accuracy of its reviews.
Anyone can become a member for free, and submit a link and review for consideration. The review is then evaluated and voted on by other Sitereview members, and if it's considered good enough, it will appear on the front page for public viewing. Members also rate each other, with people who produce the most reliable reviews gaining in front page credibility.
Using similar methods to Sitereview, but concentrating on a different area, the purpose of ShouldExist is to generate good ideas in the hope that someone will put them into practice. The site primarily concentrates on computer-related ideas, since it was originated by programming nerds, but this is an idea that potentially has far wider applications.
As with Sitereview, a free membership gives you the right to sift through the ideas that have been proposed and vote for the best, as well as proposing new ones.