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In the tangled, frantic world of the Net, it's hard to know which sites are cool and which ones, well, just plain suck. Here to sort out the mess are Tor Hyams and David Scharff, two webaholic cousins behind the Web-reviewing site fierce.com and its companion book, fierce.com: the exclusive book for web elitists (Four Walls, Eight Windows, $16, www.fourwallseightwindows.com).
Sites are reviewed and categorized as follows: "unfierce," "not quite," "erotic," "useful," "ridiculous" or "fierce" (the highest rating). We glanced at a few sites to see just how fierce their take on the Web is. If you've got some surfing time, do the same.
- If you're on the site for more than half an hour, it's "fierce." Gaining this distinction is the Church of the Subgenius site (www.subgenius.com). Whether this is a church, a cult or a practical joke isn't clear, but the site is hard to leave. Unbelievably weird, it's a perfectly distracting destination.
- If you're angry, it's "unfierce." The fierce.com writers were bothered by many things at www.royal.gov.uk, the official site of the British monarchy. They especially loathed the tribute to Princess Diana, who they say was the victim of a mass conspiracy orchestrated by the royal family.
- If you have pity, it's "not quite." It seems like a good idea to bring people of the world together in virtual neighborhoods based on their interests, but in reality, the neighborhoods of www.geocities.com are hard to navigate and are pretty lame as far as subject matter. (Power Rangers, Hanson and The Bridges of Madison County? This must be stopped!)
- If you laugh, it's "ridiculous." Bert is evil. That's the premise behind www.fractalcow.com/bert/bert.htm, which uses doctored photos to claim that Ernie's friend on Sesame Street is devil spawn. They've even got pics of Bert in bed with Pamela Lee! Now that's fierce.