Be serious and put yourself in the cyberspace firing line

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 January, 1998, 12:00am

There are no sacred cows on the Internet. The ease and speed with which people can build their own Web pages means no individual or institution is above criticism.

In fact, the more seriously people take themselves, the more likely it is that a parody of their site will soon appear.

The one thing most people hate about Wired magazine is that it takes itself very seriously. Both Wired and its Web persona, Hotwired, ( provide plenty of ammunition for the on-line satirist.

Underwired ( underwired) is probably the best of the bunch, taking digs at everything from Wired's intense colours to the bragging details in its publisher's panel.

From the same stable as Hotwired, the Webzine Suck set out to be a radical, angry and elitist soapbox for Hotwired staff to air their grievances about the world, and it succeeded.

In the traditional style of Wired , the design is modern and irritates, especially the long columns with an average of five words per line.

A Suck sister site, Net.Moguls, ( takes 52 of the most influential Internet personalities, from the obvious superstars (Scott McNealy, Esther Dyson) to the more obscure (John Doerr, Brenda Laurel), and caricatures them on the back of electronic bubblegum cards. Embarrassing or revealing quotes are offered from each celeb, along with their age, working history and estimated net worth (no pun intended). The cards are fairly large graphics, so be prepared for long download times.

Suck also doesn't escape parody. The cockroaches at Joe's Apartment ( take a determined swipe at the Webzine with their own angry page, Molt (

In place of Suck's motto of 'a fish, a barrel and a smoking gun', the Molt site gives us 'a server, a domain name and a crappy attitude'.

Not wanting to miss out on the wired generation, Microsoft launched on-line magazine Slate (, its attempt to establish some digitally cool credentials. Stale, at, is a great lampoon of the Slate site and offers a lot more content than the average spoof page.

Among its sections is a take-off of Slate's Dialogue section, where a cast including Adolf Hitler, Satan and Charles Manson debate the question of 'Is Microsoft Evil?' The Drudge Report ( has built its reputation on using the lawless nature of the Internet to publish often scandalous and unsubstantiated rumours that the traditional press may be afraid to touch. The problem is, it's the unsubstantiated nature that makes it both an essential read for US politicians and an easy target for critics of its author, Mike Drudge.

The Sludge Report (www.sludge mixes other people's news stories and columns with its own, exclusive opinion pieces and special offers.

Like Drudge, The Sludge Report also has links to a huge list of randomly picked Web sites.