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Sites With a Twist
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 25, 1999

  The Navigator

This article contains links which take you outside washingtonpost.com.

The Internet sometimes magnifies everything. If a person is quirky, her Web site is quirkier. If someone is hardhearted, the bile bubbles up big time online. If a guy is mannerly, his Web presence is a courtly joy. It takes all kinds to make up the Internet.

Here then, a handful of very peculiar sites. And behind every one, a very particular person:

Roger M. Wilcox is a self-described, self-respecting geek who has created a site dedicated to all things wacky. You can see a couple of photos of the bearded lad and you can read in his acronym-laden re»sume» that he received his bachelor of science degree from UCLA in 1987.

Spend a little time with Wilcox's site and you'll get a glimpse into the deep digital mind. He writes in unadulterated geekspeak of the Year 2038 Problem-the next programming nightmare after the Year 2000 Problem. And he sets out to prove that the speed of dark is faster than the speed of light.

You can also read his goofy histories of the century and the millennium. "I ain't a historian," Wilcox writes. "I don't need to be. All I need to do is publish false information on a Web page and everybody will send me e-mail correcting it, won't you? Ah, the beauty of modern technology."

Eric Janszen works for a Boston investment house. He has created iTulip, a fake Internet company, as a cautionary tale of financial mania. "It's aimed at people who are critical of the current evaluation of Internet stocks," he explains. In other words, he's preaching to the saved.

But preach he does. On his home page, Janszen explains, "iTulip.com is not a real company, but it's not unlike a few of the Internet companies whose stock is the target of wild investor speculation." So he sells bogus stock certificates for $9.99 apiece and he laces his site with parody and words of caution. An opponent of banner ads on Web sites, Janszen says iTulip is considering one advertiser: a company that has created software to filter out banner ads.

The site is named for the tulipmania that swept across 17th-century Netherlands. Janszen believes that a shakeout of overvalued high-tech stocks is inevitable. He writes, "iTulip.com uses the Internet in the spirit of the Dutch citizens who used the personal publishing media of their day, the pamphlet, to warn investors of the dangers of tulipmania in the 1630s (in 1637, at the peak of the mania, one bulb sold for 4,200 guilders, roughly US$1,500,000 today)."

Ann Lovell, a library technician in Auburn, Wash., goes bananas over bananas. On her Web site, she explains the appeal. When she was young her family took a trip to Hawaii and bought her a shirt from a bar called Anna's Bananas. From there, it was a slippery slope.

"I started finding banana things and saving them," she writes. "Friends began noticing and would also seek out banana stuff. Though I never really intended to collect bananas, the collection just came in a bunch!" Today she has a Banana Museum. On her site you'll get a taste of her tastes. You'll find photos of banana cookie jars, refrigerator magnets, a vintage banana crate and other things. Give her a hand.


   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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