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Cool Britannia Plods Along the Digital Path, Slowly and Unsteadily
By Sabrina Dent

Two seemingly contradictory states: first, we all know Britain is now officially hot and trendy and that we’re living in the era of Cool Britannia. Second, anyone in Britain who uses the Internet will eventually be heard whinging "Everything out there is American!" Which begs the question we will attempt to answer here and now: where are all the cool British web sites?

Jolly good question. We are, predictably, strong in sport sites, a lot of which are really quite cool from a design and information point of view. One can get excellent rugby coverage at Scrum, view comprehensive online racing information at Formula1, and make a strong argument that Soccer Net provides the best footie for your mouse.

But as much as we love football, it is not the icon of Cool Britannia. Our thriving and creative fashion, music, art, and nightlife are the elements that have combined to give Britain her new outlook and identity, and they are sadly under-represented on the web.

The arts put on their best web-face with What's On, a site giving detailed and up-to-the minute information about London’s ever-changing theatre scene. Not really on the raging edge of cool, but good enough. Music is well-represented by Dot Music, who do indeed provide "the fastest charts, the hottest talent and the latest industry news." British fashion, however, is abysmally absent from the web. This Is London gives excellent coverage to fashion as long as its news, as it was during the recent London Fashion Week. Otherwise, fashion lacks a first-rate, permanent home on the British Internet.

A bit more about This Is London: the site recently won the prestigious Yell Award for Best Site of the Year, which is probably deserved. It is possibly the best place on the web to get Cool Britannia-type information, from funky nights out to what and where to eat and drink.

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