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Web Monitor

17:47 UK time, Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.
Today on Web Monitor: the power of television and why we surf the net when we're meant to be getting on with work. Share your favourite bits of the web by sending your links via the letterbox to the right of this page.

Melanie Chisholm• Melanie Chisholm aka Mel C aka Sporty Spice was candid on Radio 4's Woman's Hour about her eating disorders saying that the pressure of seeing herself in the media led to over-exercising and under-eating followed by a binge eating disorder. With the benefit of her own experience of eating disorders, she felt able to insist ex-bandmate Victoria Beckham is not suffering the same:

"Victoria has been thin for a long time now and I've spent time with her and I've seen she does eat well, she's very healthy. She has a very strict diet but she does eat so now I tend to be less concerned about her. There was a time when I didn't spend a lot of time with her and I thought, 'wow what is going on' but I've spent time with her now and she is a healthy woman just every disciplined, very thin, but very disciplined."

• If you feel the boss glance over at your screen while you're reading Web Monitor then here's the perfect defence from Clive Thompson at Wired magazine. He says day-dreaming is necessary for our brains to have time to store data and to think up new ideas. But we can't just sit there glancing into space so instead we surf the web:

"Most scientists think that if you really want to let your mind roam, you need to engage in a non-demanding task, like going for a three-hour walk.

Most jobs don't allow that, of course. That's why I've begun to think that the 'social' internet has become a rough substitute. If your boss is trying to force you to focus on PowerPoint and Word documents, you might gravitate to mentally discursive, floaty experiences - the idle surfing of Facebook updates, Wikipedia entries, YouTube videos, casual games like Bejeweled. Maybe these things aren't so much time sucks as desperate attempts by our brains to decouple from the go-go-go machine and head off on its own."

• Development economist Charles Kenny in Foreign Policy magazine says despite the rise of social networking, television is still king across the world and it's not a bad thing. When it comes to changing the world he cites TV's ability to reduce drug taking, make us more cosmopolitan and in the case of Afghan Star - a talent show in Afghanistan where a woman reached the final five last year - empower women:

"In the not-too-distant future, it is quite possible that the world will be watching 24 billion hours of TV a day - an average of close to four hours for each person in the world. Some of those hours could surely be better spent - planting trees, helping old ladies cross the road, or playing cricket, perhaps. But watching TV exposes people to new ideas and different people. With that will come greater opportunity, growing equality, a better understanding of the world, and a new appreciation of the complexities of life for a wannabe Afghan woman pop star."

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