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Hot on the Web

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on March 8, 2002
(Issue 2010, Household Projects)

Trolling the supposed information superhighway, looking for anything interesting:

:: anti-complacency ::

Founded and run by current and former staff members from SignOn San Diego, the Web site for the San Diego Union-Tribune, :: anti-complacency :: (yes, the colons seem to be part of the title) is a hip, fun online 'zine devoted to music, culture and all things artistic.

Both readable and interesting, :: anti-complacency :: proves that you can grow up yet maintain your brain. Yeah, it's the kind of anti-mainstream "underground" publication we all either started, contributed to or read in college. But rather than the usual post-adolescent blathering most rags published by college-age kids put out, :: anti-complacency :: contains some thoughtful ideas.

In addition to reviews of alternative and other contemporary music styles, there is also some short fiction, poetry, non-fiction essays and travelogues. They range in quality from intriguing to insipid, but are weighted more toward the interesting side of things.

Issue No. 2 had just come out as this was written, and if the first two editions are any indication, this is going to be a site worth watching for some time to come.

KPBS San Diego

The local public television and radio affiliate in San Diego, KPBS has come up with some imaginative uses for its web site.

One of the best of these is the online auction currently (as this is written; it may be over before you read this) being run on the site as part of the seemingly perpetual pledge drives that public broadcasters must engage in.

Instead of simply asking viewers/listeners to pledge X amount of dollars to get the tote bag or license plate frame, KPBS has gotten local businesses, non-profits and its own on-air personalities to donate unusual gifts and/or special events to the winning bidder.

So put up enough cash, and you can attend an evening of opera with Ian Campbell, director of the San Diego Opera. Or vacation in Jamaica. Or weigh yourself each morning on your new designer scale. They actually have an interesting collection of prizes to bid on, and your winning bid goes to help keep public radio and TV going in San Diego.

Colorado Public Radio

Colorado Public Radio is a mini-network of nine AM and FM stations covering Boulder, Delta, Denver, Grand Junction, Montrose, Pueblo and Vail. The AM stations carry National Public Radio's news format, the FM stations air classical music.

But the site doesn't have all that much information, at least compared to other PBS and NPR affiliates. There is a plain-looking text-only schedule of shows, a no-frills page where you can subscribe/pledge, and short biographies of each of their own-air hosts.

You can listen to either the AM or the FM signal online, but only in Windows Media Format. So much for alternative programming.

Public Broadcasting Service

The central network for publicly funded television in the United States, PBS is probably still best known to most folks as home of the children's show "Sesame Street."

The PBS web site is well-designed, easy to navigate and full of information about your favorite PBS programs.

In addition, there is a section titled Teacher's Source that contains lesson plans for different grades on different sections. And the Adult Learning Service offers college-credit courses via television or, in some cases, by Internet.

If you missed one of the PBS specials, you can often order it on VHS or DVD from their online shop.

National Public Radio

The radio counterpart to PBS, National Public Radio offers centralized news broadcasting to affiliate stations. With shows like "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and "Car Talk," NPR has built up a loyal listenership across the country.

As with PBS, the web site for NPR features pages devoted to each syndicated show. Since public radio is less centralized than public television, the NPR site also includes links to public radio shows not part of NPR – like "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor or "Whad'ya Know" with Michael Feldman.

If you travel frequently, you might find their station locator a benefit – it can help you keep up with your favorite public radio programs while on the road.

And like PBS, NPR has an online shop chock-full of bric-a-brac perfect for the trendy suburbanites in your life.