NEWS FLASH: The Communication Decency Act was ruled unconstitutional by Federal Court in Philadelphia on June 12, 1996. That's right, kiddies, your right to say "fuck" on the internet has been upheld, as has your right to look at pictures of pierced privates, and scantily clad sex objects.
In its ruling, the court said that "Just as the strength of the Internet is chaos, so the strength of our liberty depends upon the chaos and cacophony of the unfettered speech the First Amendment protects." The court decided to view the internet as one continuous conversation, and ruled that the CDA was a tool the government was attempting to employ to interrupt that conversation, which would deny the rights of free speech.
Of course, the goverment isn't about to admit they fucked up. They have vowed to fight the injuction imposed by the court, by taking it to the Supreme Court. That's right, more of YOUR money spent fighting for the removal of YOUR rights. I will, of course, let you know once that case comes before the Supreme Court, and keep you updated with other attempts by those in power to limit what you can see, hear, and read on the net.
For more information about the injuction against the CDA and other net issues regarding free speech, head to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org), the ACLU (www.aclu.org), or the Center for Democracy and Technology (www.cdt.org).
Last month my column was about what the internet could do for you, if you were in a band, or did a zine, or had a label, or wanted to tell everyone how cool you were. This month, I plan to tell you what YOU can do for the internet.
Nothing turns me off more, when I'm surfing the net, than to crash into a site that is nothing but an ad for the product offered by a business/organization/DIY Project. I don't give a shit about your ads! I don't want to browse the net just to see that I can order your newest catalog, or buy stuff from your label, or get a copy of your zine. If I wanted to see only ads, I'd skim the pages of MRR or tape TV shows and only look at the commercials. What I crave is information, entertainment, and rants and raves about everything from politics to the price of heavy metal in Outer Mongolia. What I often get is crap -- not much information, or just a tease of what I could get if I were to buy the product.
I realize, of course, that some of you are limited to the amount of shit you can stick on your web page. Putting up a whole song might use all the space your internet service provider gives you. Fine, stick up a couple of song samples, and then give me a lot of information about the bands, the zine, or the label. Point me to sites where I can find more stuff that interests me on a topic. Give me photos of the bands who you are promoting. Let me read all of your record reviews from your zine, not just a few selections. C'mon, cyberspace isn't SO big that it's gonna put a dent in the sales of your product (which reminds me, if you refer to your zine/band/record as "product" then you ain't punk rock, plain and simple).
When I find out about a new web site, or newsgroup, or mailing list and I check it out and get nothing but ads, I rarely return. Usually, it takes someone saying "Hey, have you checked out yournamehere.com lately?" to get me to go back and look at something again. If you want people to come to your location more than once, you have to give them a reason to return. I'm talking about more stuff than anyone could possibly look through in a couple of hours, or so many links that they'll return to your page just for that, or maybe constantly (or at least daily) updated information that people want. Just don't give me another fucking ad!
Speaking of constantly updated material, Assault fanzine has an online compilation going that allows you to download a complete song by a band to listen to on the computer. Masterminded by Jay Johnston, the idea behind the compilation is to be a constantly changing and evolving sampler of music. Pretty good idea, if you ask me, and a pretty good way to get me to come back for more. You can check out the Assault Fanzine comp at http://students.vassar.edu/~jajohnst/asscomp/ .
Another decent site is a Slice of Stale Pizza at http://www.ozemail.com.au/~crust/ . Other than the fact that most of the information is on one page, so it takes a long time to load, Chris Rust does a nice job of documenting some of the happenings of the Melbourne, Australia scene. This is sorta like an electronic version of a small handout zine you'd get for free at gigs, but the pictures here are in color and there are a few interesting links to other places.
Bloody Wanker is a cool e-zine from NYC that is full of stuff. There are still those little annoyances like links to pages that say "coming soon", but there is also a lot of information here relating to bands, music, record labels, and comics, including a ton of links to various punk sites, with a guide to what each of them contain. This can only get better, as long as they continue to work on it. As it is, it's pretty damn good now. You'll find Bloody Wanker at http://marymount.mmm.edu/data/splash.htm .
Fend For Yourself is also well worth your while, even if it is run by a straight-edger (heh heh). J Scott Beacher has put together a site that offers his opinions on everything from trendy bisexuals to the hypocrisies of some vegans, to the things he hates at shows. Lotsa good rants here. He also has information, pictures, and sound samples of his favorite bands, pages on Satanism, and a good list of interesting links. Also, just for fun, see if you can find his secret hidden links, so you to can become part of the alien force (okay, so it's kinda dorky, but it is a bit fun...) Anyway, pop open a beer and browse to http://www.negia.net/~issachar/ .
I missed a pretty good site in my listing of online record stores in a past column, and that site is the one for Sound Idea Distribution (www.ezbizware.com/sound). This is actually just an ad for the store, along with an online catalog, which kinda annoys me, but their catalog is really quite good, so if you need to order records, this is another site to browse. Just wish they'd add some more content.
Finally, I've received e-mail from some of you in the past wanting me to review your band's site in these pages. I haven't done so yet, because there are a lot of bands with homepages out there, and I couldn't think of a way to cover all of them and still have any space in this column. What I've decided to do is feature one punk band site (or so) per issue, based upon requests I get from the creators of the site for a review. It'll be sort of like sending your record in for review, but instead all you have to do is e-mail me your url for possible (not guaranteed!) inclusion in Net Punk. Send your reviews to the e-mail address at the bottom of this column.
Once again, you can read all of these columns at http://www.primenet.com/~hanford/maximum.html or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, send me snail mail at PO Box 752; Boise ID 83701. That is all.
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