Picks of the Week - Irish Picks
Welcome to Scottish Picks, hand-picked by our Scottish web connoisseur. If you have a favourite site that we haven't mentioned, do drop us an email with the site's name and address and we shall despatch our reviewers to cast their discerning eye upon it. Click here if you only want to view this month's list of sites.
Last month marked the end of an era for Edinburgh-based Scotsman Publications
as it moved from its grand, city centre headquarters to a purpose-built office
beside the new Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. Perhaps more important news
to web surfers, is that the newspaper group's Sunday publication, Scotland
On Sunday, has finally gone online. The format and design of the new
site is exactly the same as the recently overhauled site for its sister publication,
The Scotsman. You can find seemingly everything that you would find in the print
version of Scotland's most popular Sunday broadsheet, including news, sport,
columnists, Spectrum (the lifestyle magazine) and a good smattering of supporting
photographs. Only you can't do the crossword online.
If the word "tweed" summons up images of chaps puffing on pipes, then pay a visit to The Harris Tweed Authority to have your viewpoint adjusted. This site suggests style. Using Flash, with a lush, royal purple theme throughout, it offers a media-rich tour of the manufacturing processes, history and development of this ancient industry. The excellent maps, with pop-up images of island scenes, remind you why Harris Tweed has become such an important part of life for Scotland's remote Western isles communities. And just in case any thoughts of fuddiness creep back, you can find links to fashion designers who have used tweed, play online games, download screensavers and put a sample of tweed cloth on your desktop. It's quite hairy...
The bagpipes, a potent national symbol, have also been feeling the pressure of modernity. US-based Pipe and Drummer magazine take their piping seriously: their recently redesigned site seems to tackle any aspect of piping, from competitions to moisture control when playing the bagpipes. If you want to get to grips with your chanters, reeds, and piping tunes this is a likely place to head for. The publication invites interaction, with its polls, forums, trivia, user survey, and "racy joke" puzzle. It also suggests, rather provocatively, that Scots bagpipers are late adopters of new technology, piping away with traditional sheepskin bags and cane reeds, while pipers with goretex bags and synthetic reeds are lifting the trophies. This story is sure to run.
Christmas is coming, as if you need reminding. The next Scottish Pick, Webchurch, is really an alternative to the e-commercialism of Christmas, as well as an interesting site on its own. The subject is God. And He is everywhere on this site. "Scotland's Virtual Church" appears to be run by a grass roots group of Christians, keen to spread the good word. Their enthusiasm leaps off the web pages. You can email the Webchurch a request to pray for you or even ask for a prayer for your pet. Trekkies may be intrigued by the Star Trek section where previous episodes are analysed as if they were Christian parables. And if you want to chat, there are various "side chapels" that lead off to chat rooms and related web sites for various Christian denominations.
Have you decided where you will be on New Millennium eve yet? If you can't make it to Scotland for the mega Millennium Hogmanay celebrations you can still share the occasion online, in Wrap the World, a unique global art event being run by the organisers of Glasgow's Hogmanay. The idea is that artists in Glasgow, the States, South Africa, India, Australia, and Portugal will collaborate on an artwork by faxing it around the world at the eleventh hour of this Millennium. By the time, the bells strike twelve in Glasgow, the artwork will have "wrapped the world" to reveal the final composition. The process will be caught as it happens on webcams. For the moment, you can find out more about the artists and the event at the web site.
Time to bid farewell: whether you are going to one of the street party bashes, or celebrating at home with friends, have a stupendous Hogmanay!