Media & Technology

—— Netscape: The Labour Partg

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Snappy soundbites may win the election, but as every spin doctor knows, you're nobody until you've pinned your colours to the Web. Words: John Henderson.

With the election now imminent. all the major parties. and several minor ones. have managed to stake their claims in cyberspace. but the path to their glossy finished products has not always been smooth.

It helps. when creating a Web site. to have an understanding of the medium you are dealing with. The typically expensive Conservative Party site ( at one point saw John Major indulging in a little revisionist history. ‘It was not the state that created the Internet.’ he pronounced. ‘It was millions of individuals. just like you.’ This interpretation of the Net’s genesis was offered as evidence that only the Tories could provide the right atmosphere for technological advance. A nice argument. but one that entirely ignored the fact that the Internet was created by the American military. some years before the British Tory party came to power.

Then. there is a problem of site names. Spare a thought for Alex Salmond and the SNP. Its drive towards independence has been hampered in cyberspace by the fact that its Internet address runs At present all sites in Britain end with so should the SNP achieve its goal. a new set of Internet addresses for Scotland must be high on the list of priorities.

Apart f’rom a QuickTime video of Salmond that would take till polling day just to download. the SNP

One site that has not garnered any controversy is that of the Liberal Democrats. Blandness has probably discouraged this.

site itself is fairly barren. The server has a tendency to drop the connection. Perhaps it knew I was dialling from south of the border.

Site security has also proved a problem. The original Labour Party offering suffered the ignominy of becoming front page news when some happy-go- lucky hacker changed its title from ‘The Road to the Manifesto’ to ‘The Road to Nowhere’. The problem was swiftly rectified. but red faces were turned an even brighter shade of the party colour when the hacker announced to the media the next day that he would do it again. and promptly did so. Having learnt from their experiences. the Labour Party now has a confidently titled and well ptit together site that it must hope is more secure (

Hackers tampering with a party’s site may cause embarrassment. but failure to update content quickly enough can be just as catastrophic. The Scottish Conservative Party‘s online information drew attention to itself after chairman Sir Michael Hirst quit over allegations about his private life. His welcome message to prospective voters remained on view for some time after his departure. This led to considerable amusement for Glasgow Hillhead’s Labour MP George Galloway.

‘Far from being a mould-breaking user of technology.’ be mocked. —-‘the Tories are frozen in time.’ Considering that the Scottish Labour Party had yet to even enter cyberspace at the time. this did smack slightly of the pot calling the kettle black.

One site that has not garnered any controversy is that of the Liberal Democrats (www.libdemsorguk). In terms of content and presentation. blandness has probably discouraged this. but the site does offer something that none of the other political sites do in the form of an election game. It is your duty to take the role of Paddy Ashdown as he persuades the marginal seats to propel him into power. True evidence. if any is needed. that at least one party is living in the virtual world.

Lowdown Games - Web Sites - CD ROMS


Soul Blade

(PlayStation £39.99)

Tekken 2 has, until now, been the undisputed king of PlayStation beat 'em ups, but Soul Blade is set to steal its crown. The plot is the usual barmy excuse for a gathering of pugilists, and the only novelty it offers is the use of weaponry. The combat system, graphics and sound are certainly more advanced than Tekken's, and they work well together, but the only real point about Soul Blade, apart from the fact that it is good, is the question it poses. How much life can there be left in this genre?


Puzzle Bobble (PC CD-ROM £19.99)

No game has yet been produced to rival the simplicity and addictiveness of Tetris, but Puzzle Bobble looks as though it might come close. Long popular in the arcades, Bobble offers a sharp rejoinder to the increasing complexity of most modern offerings. You face a screen of coloured shapes equipped with a gun which fires off more of them. The aim is to clear them away by linking up three or more of each type. Knocking off large chunks of the descending mass by aiming strategically brings bonus points. Neither Terri's nor Bobble come alive in description. You just have to play them.

WEB SITE Cheap Flights (http:l/

If you're toying with the idea of flying anywhere in the world, it would be well worth taking a look at this site. Simply by entering your destination, you'll get a list of the cheapest flights available, together with details of the travel agent or a link to an online booking service. Access to all the information you might need about your destination is also provided, including links to regularly updated entertainment listings. Cheap Flights is a very simple, but well presented Site, and it will save you having to wade through the travel sections of the Sunday papers.


Soul Blade: beat 'em ups don't get much better


l8 Apr—i May 1997 THE LIST 91