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Web Monitor

17:39 UK time, Monday, 20 July 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor acts like an automated interestingness-filter for the internet - but in human form. You can simply read on, follow the links and give your brain an evening treat - or you can jolly well take part, by linking to the best online features you've seen using the box top right.

jackson_getty126.jpgEerie pictures show Michael Jackson... just 48 hours before he died, yells the Daily Mail's website. What's especially eerie about these pictures, at time of publication, is that the background is entirely different around different parts of MJ's body - almost as if, as speculated at Photoshop Disasters, the eerie pictures have been eerily put together from more than one eerie source:

"In one of the newly-emerged images, taken on Tuesday at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, the singer points towards the audience as backing dancers perform in front of a huge This Is It banner."

Rick Astley and Kurt Cobain• Staying with music, Web Monitor has always regarded "Rickrolling" as a juvenile waste of time and energy that could better be spent bringing you the finest of the web, but is prepared to make an exception for DJ Mogroth's remix of Rick Astley's biggest hit with a certain Nirvana track (but was precursor Smells Like Teen Booty really six-odd years ago?). Ben Parr at Mashable introduces the video in a fair and balanced manner:

"The beats and the lyrics match up almost perfectly. The video editing combining Kurt Cobain's guitar prowess with Astley's giant puffball of hair is just extraordinary."

• "Cricket commentary's like Norfolk, football commentary's like Soho," says Russell Davies. Maybe, but why mention it? Because the chap who brought us Permanent Bedtime is continuing his search for "ambient speech" as an aid to repose. (Attentive readers will already have listened to Giles Turnbull's London, and those with memories as long as they are keen will recall that Mr Turnbull was a contributor to a previous incarnation of the BBC's dot.life blog.)

"It's the background sound of a cafe or a bus. A conversational, human noise that lets you know you're alive and not alone but doesn't intrude too much.
The shipping forecast is a great example, and Test Match Special, and baseball commentary, and Dan recently reminded me of Alan Licht's New York Minute which is a splendid example (and you can listen to it on last.fm). And there are some perfect ambient speech moments in Giles Turnbull's lovely sound fragment portrait of London."

• In one of the leafier of The Times' groves, Mary Beard considers the new laws requiring those visiting schools to be vetted (and Private Eye's Adam Macqueen bagsies the original story in a post with some direct language). Beard is not impressed by impediments to academics visiting schools (which is, she says, "[a] jolly good thing"):

"There is something dreadful about the name of the Act anyway. It seems to imply that if you are against it, you really don't care about Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups. A better title would be 'Mass compulsory registration and tracking of all those working with the under 18s' Act."

• More bookmarks to add to Web Monitor's straining-at-the-seams Favorites. Bloggers' Circle is, according to the RSA's Matthew Taylor, a valiant effort to sort the weblog wheat from the chattering chaff, and looks round these parts like a good opportunity to watch and, well, learn:

"We are starting small and maybe we won't succeed but it's always worth having a dream. Imagine if there were hundreds or even thousands of amateur bloggers signed up so that the best content we produce gained the kind of impact and recognition that is now generally restricted to professional journalists."

Jay-Z• And to close, we return to music - specifically hip hop. Web Monitor has no way of knowing what your immediate reaction was to the reignition of the rap wars between The Game and Jay-Z. Not so, though, in the case of associate professor of political science Marc Lynch, who (like finance guru Alvin Hall before him) finds a nobler story to tell in this petty feud:

"[My first take], me being a professor of international relations, was to start thinking about how this could be turned into a story about the nature of hegemony and the debate over the exercise of American power."

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