When I first wrote about Surfing the Cut (WW April 2000) I had found just 160
waterway related sites. Now I know of 230 web sites and more are appearing every week. This is the first of a regular series of articles which will try to help you to keep up with this ever increasing mass of information that is available with a few clicks of your mouse.
Not that a mouse or a computer is essential for surfing the net. Increasingly
television sets with add on boxes are being used to get on-line and now the latest WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) mobile phones allow you to access data on the net. If you buy a WAP phone thinking that you will be able to access your favourite waterways web site you are likely to be disappointed, unless your favourite site is the London Canal Museum, which is probably the only canal (or museum) site to support WAP. If, like me, you thought that HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), which is the basis of all web pages, was supposed to be the standard format for all information on the web, you may be surprised that a new WAP Markup Language has been introduced and that WAP phones cannot display any information from normal HTML web pages.
So will WAP phone sales take off with such a restricted access to information on the web? Will web site owners feel that its worth while converting their data to WAP format while there are only a few users? Will the next generation of mobile phones, with better web support, come along before WAP is off the ground? Your guess is as good as mine. If you have got a WAP phone the only canal address you need to know is www.canalmuseum.org.uk/index.wml - The London Canal Museum.
Become a Publisher
One of the web growth areas is personal pages, where individuals can make their own contribution to the information revolution. A good example of this is a hotel boat trip on the Swan and Mallard from Whaley Bridge to Stone
http://micronica.com.au/~jkentwell/smtrip.htm which the Australian Rosalind Kentwell made in July 1996. A page of text and pictures for each of the eight days, plus an index page, cover the whole journey. Pages like this can be produced by anyone with a basic knowledge of HTML or with one of the many web publishing software packages. Rosalind Kentwell made the wise decision to put her pages on the UK Waterways Network Web Ring www.ukwaterways.net/ which is free to non-commercial waterways sites and which for private individuals, and for clubs and societies, is the best way of bringing web pages to the notice of canal enthusiasts. So don't just content yourself with looking at other peoples pages. Go on-line with your own trip, towpath walk or local canal history.
An example of a more extensive set of personal voyages can be found in Travelling the Inland Waterways www.lola.ltd.uk/trips/ which has trips on 27 waterways, from the Kennet & Avon in the south to the Leeds & Liverpool in the north, covering practically all the popular cruising waterways.
Site of the month
Covering the Huddersfield Broad and Narrow, Peak Forest, Ashton and Rochdale
canals, Pennine Waterways http://penninewaterways.co.uk/ is probably attracting more
visitors than any other waterways site at present. The site is regularly updated with news of
restoration progress on the Huddersfield Narrow including photographs of work in
progress. It also offers virtual cruises down each of the canals, consisting of photographs
taken at various points along the route with informative captions. It has links to the
Tameside Canal Festival pages and a keyword search facility to help you find what you are
looking for on the site. You can even join the mailing list so you can receive news of the
progress of the restoration work by e-mail. Beside being a member of the UK Waterways
Network Web Ring this site is also a member of three other (non-waterway) web rings and
so attracts visitors from the local area, those with interest in industrial archaeology and
history. This wider audience certainly adds spice to Pennine Waterways' new feature, a
discussion board where a lively debate on various aspects of canal restoration is taking
place. Not everyone that visits the site starts with the assumption that canal restoration is
necessarily a good thing.
Having returned from my real waterway voyages I will now be wandering the virtual
waterways on the look out for interesting new sites. If you have any suggestions please e-
mail me Jim.Shead@btinternet.com. All the sites mentioned here can be found on the UK
Waterways Network Web Ring, as can many others. All waterways related sites that I know
of are listed on the links page of my site www.jim.shead.btinternet.co.uk/, so get clicking.
You never know where the next hyperlink will take you.