{picture of 
Bryan Hance}

 - It was a good week for news - and an even better week for the web.
 - Last Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down the Communications Decency Act, killing legislation that would have made the transmission of indecent material over the Internet a crime punishable by a $250,000 fine and a 2 year prison sentence -- if the mate rial was inadequately restricted from or directly transmitted to minors. {NoCDA!}
The court's decided that, among other things, the CDA "lacks the precision that the First Amendment requires when a statute regulates the content of speech."
 - And that, in a nutshell, was exactly what opponents found wrong with the CDA. The online community, which had lodged protests in the past and had been eagerly anticipating the court's ruling, celebr ated in typical fashion. {Hate
 - The fight isn't over, though, as up to 20 state legislatures are currently examining or attempting to put CDA-like legislation into effect on the state government level. But for now, the Internet as a whole can chalk up a victory.
 - In other news, the Hong Kong transfer was the other big 'net story this week, and unless you've been hiding in a closet you really didn't need me to tell you that. What made the transfer special in terms of the media coverage was the level of pre paredness - it's not often that the press gets a 156-year advance warning for a story. Among all those TV crews and print journalists were untold legions of new media reporters, sending their take on the Hong Kong handover out to the world in all manners of electronic transmission. The world ate it up.
 - And, with the possible exception of the Olympics, it's been a while since webmasters had this much time to prep for a big event. A slew of Hong Kong handover sites have been sucking up surfing time for net-heads across the world, including those at the O nline Wildcat.
A few of these sites are:

  • The Hong Kong Standard News Local
    While not the flashiest of sites, the Hong Kong Standard News Local has been running good handover coverage - ranging from stories on the f irst children born into Chinese rule to a fair amount of protest coverage. It's a good read, straight from the heart of Hong Kong.
  • PathFinder's AsiaWeek is a great starting point for curious web surfers who may not have the entire lowdown on the Hong Kong transition. Their "Handover made simple" section condenses everything you'd need to know into a few relatively short pages, and the site dictionary makes for a good reference when you're reading other news articles as well.
  • Intel, in regular Intel fashion, went nuts, wiring 32 live, 360-degree panoramic cameras in and around central Hong Kong. They cameras provide views from places like the Convention & Exhibition Centre (where the official handover ceremonies took place), the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway , the Bank of China building, Kowloon city, and the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. While you have to download a plugin in order to view the images, they're worth the trouble. A webcam is one thing, but a 360-degree webcam planted in the middle of the Hong Kon g Mass Transit Railway is another breed of 'net voyeurism entirely.
  • Hong Kong's public broadcasting company, RTHK is transmitting its video and audio broadcasts in a wide variety of audio and video formats - RealVideo, RealAudio, CU-SeeMe, and MBONE.
  • AT&T also has a webcam pointed out of their 35th floor offices, which overlooks Victoria harbor from right smack in the middle of downtown Hong Kong. Remember to compensate for the time difference though - Hong K ong at night looks the same as anywhere else.
  • There are also other live feeds coming from non-official sources, such as these three radio stations that transmit live RealAudio. Y ou're more likely to hear static-filled pop music instead of anything handover-related now that the hoopla is over, but that's still fun - I swear I heard a Beatles remake around 2 p.m. yesterday.
  • As far as still photos go, the Hong Kong Tourist Association photo archive has a very large repository of Hong Kong-related images. They're a helpful reference when flipping through text-only articles on the handover.
  • China Internet Corporation's site has a pretty firm handle on the handover, including a Hong Kong pictorial history and a five-month calendar of the handover celebrations. Their 'encyclopedia' content runs the g amut from "Handover Documents" to "Deng Xiaopeng's Views". Judging by the ads on their site, though, you would think the handover was sponsored entirely by gigantic US corporations. Here's one story the news crews missed - when was the last time a foreign country's governmental made for a good advertising opportunity?
  • And lastly, America's own Public Broadcasting Systems put together an incredible site called Lives In Transition that contains, among other things, the diaries of 17 Hong Kong residents who have chronicled the handover from their own various points of view. Some of their writings are on par with anything the myriad foreign journalists covering the Hong Kong handover have turned out . They're definitely a thousand times more personal, and a captivating read.

(Wildcat Chat)

#1- January 24
#2- January 31
#3- February 4
#4- February 7
#5- February 11
#6- February 14
#7- February 18
#8- February 21
#9- February 25
#10- February 28
#11- March 4
#12- March 7
#13- March 11
#14- March 14
#15- April 15
#16- April 18
#17- April 22
#18- April 25
#19- April 29
#20 - May 2
#21 - May 16
#22 - May 24