our mother may have told you that appearances can be deceptive, but mother's maxim does not apply on the internet.
If you come across a site that is:
But it's not just corporations who have ideas above their station. your ordinary Aussie queen also seems to want to project 'Look at me! I am a pedestrian idiot!' at the world.
Or so you might think if you were E.T. viewing *us from the Net and landed on - say - the page for Brisbane's Sleaze Ball 1997.
Actually, it was arriving at this site (and one other) that let these unpatriotic thoughts creep in. What is, no, what the *hell is, this 1.1 Mb file which I'm waiting to download, Brissie Sleazeboys? <drums fingers on table ... makes tea ... gets frustrated 'cos it slows up everything else .... gives up and fucks off 'Sleaze Ball 1997'>.
And the other? Well, blowing perceptions that Jeff Kennett's 'sophisticated' Melbourne has it over ocker Queensland, who let a 20 year old Doom expert design the Festival site? Great idea to run one of those fancy new panorama plug ins on the page. Funny how all we're getting is a panorama of the sky. (And it's a very pretty, Victorian sky). And here's 'bad website design point #3' with frames upon frames 'till you end up with something so small that you're three centimetres from the screen trying to read tourist guff about Lygon St.
One word: wanky!
Back to the gay sites and an alien might be systematic, <perhaps they're a gay Vulcan>, understand the word 'media' through the universal translator and take a look at Australian lesbian/gay newspapers online.
Starting alphabetically with Adelaide Gay Times, last revised October 31 1997. Now I have a *hideous flashy gif giving me a real hissy fit. Like, convulsions on the floor. Similar to that of those Japanese school kids sent en masse to hospital with brain damage from two seconds of a cartoon.
Okay. All it not lost. On to the next one in the list, Brother Sister. Much better. Still setting off my fit, mind, but now I'm merely getting a headache from the colour choices. Perhaps I'll click on the advert for 'Migraine Sufferers: you now have a place to turn'?
Now we're getting somewhere. But where's the link for the requisite neck exercises?
Moving on, how does the old sophisticate itself, Capital Q Weekly, website launched with gay abandon, stack up? "Updated Friday Oct. 3rd 1997". Now, why would you want to advertise your incapacity to the world in such an obvious way? Is this merely incompetence or is it contempt? "We have so much bloody advertising you can all get stuffed"? Who knows. Who cares. Not going there again. Even if you do 'relaunch'.
Someone's got to be getting it right. Surely the Bluestone empire with their emphasis on design and cutting that edge have something worthwhile?
The Melbourne Star Observer, excuse me, "MSO on the web", is blunt. No nonsense and buisiness like. Only there for advertising and subscription enquiries. Well it would be if someone had bothered to update the links. How professional!
This is getting depressing. But the alien is still here. He/she/it has heard all about the sophisticated gay community 'down under' and wants to know more. So far he/she/it's disappointed but hasn't given up. Athough he/she/it's getting the sinking idea that it's
bloody all flash and no bloody content! Queensland Pride newspaper offers more flash with a serious undertone, "please read the Statement of principles before proceeding". The principles attached to a revolving red light. Just so you get the message. We're *serious girlfriend. We have principles. And what are they. Well, the same as any other paper by the sound of it. They'll try and include you if they have the space but they offer no guarantees. Everyone else understands these as the 'legals'. Here they become 'principles' (of lesbian and gay liberation no less). What was the 'W' word again?
So, what does the mother of Aussie GLBT rags, Sydney Star Observer, Australia's biggest circulation etceteras, what does this tell us?
What no flash? Nothing moving at all. Just ... text! And news stories. And it's up to date.
This is a bit better but it's hardly making use of the medium except in the most obvious way of being there.
You set up your system for transferring stories, well some stories. Do it once a week and voila! Internet newspaper. Sort of.
In reality it's like I said. The newspaper content transferred with no add on. No archives or past (also put on the net) stories. No chat room or bulletin board. No web based feedback. No features, unless you count old Sleaze ball photos. No .... well, have
a look at .. well, actually, the lesbian and gay media on the net is not a lot to write home about. What's the over riding, in-your-face, concern that hits you when you visit, say, the Advocate? How can we make money from this.
Here's an honourable exception, the Washington Blade but it's papers like the San Jose Mercury News that are *using the medium best. Do the Australians, thinks our alien, care what they look like?
Of course, the reality is that most aliens come here looking for some Aussie dick. And we give it them in spades (some of us hand over a trowel). Taking a peek through gay sex sites listings our randy alien found a disproportional number of URLs ending in .au.
So *here's what we do well! And with such style!
Take Aunt Lillian's Home for Old Queens or Col & Pete's Sydney gay page or Toyboy's Temple.
Here's where the good design is. And content! Wow baby! <wolf whistle> These queens add on their life stories and want to educate you on everything there is to know about Oztrailia.True patriotism. The Tourist Board should sponsor them.
They're doing better than the Sydney 200 Olympics site from which you get the distinct impression that they don't really believe in this Internet lark.
Dull as dishwater and only for those speaking English.
© Paul Canning 1998