The Internet & New Media

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By Akosua Kathryn Albritton
The Funk Won’t Let You Down
The players of instruments and their Web sites are honored for African-American History Month.  What players and what music?  The musicians who introduced funk.  It is only fitting to start with the entity that tells us to “Tear the roof off the sucker”; “S?%t, G#d D#mn!  Get off your !ss and jam”; and who showed a generation the flashlight’s true use.  Yes, it’s George Clinton.  George Clinton has the intergalactic mission to advance soul into the time of funk.  He acknowledges James Brown as the root and funk the fruit that he bears.  His Web site, www.georgeclinton.com, is unsurprisingly dynamic and fun.  The site is heavy on color and unimposing animation.  In fact, a visitor has the option of entering the site’s Flash or HTML version.  With three choices of beats to play while clicking through, a great online experience is had.  The content is arranged in the categories of “Da Tour” (concert dates and locations, ticket sales); “Viagraphy” (lists all musicians who ever played for the Parliament-Funkadelic All- Stars); “Cyber Sto* (online store of T-shirts, hooded pullover sweatshirts, baby bibs, jerseys, etc.); “Funkateerz” (downloads, the message board, games, and the funkcyclopedia); “Mugshotz” (photogallery-George Clinton resembles reggae legend Burning Spear); “Video Clipz” (the funkitorium is powered by QuickTime and WindowsMedia 9); and “Contact” (e-mail addresses for fans, business inquiries and the press).  The Web site has several download selections and video clips of the Fuji Fest 2002 concert in Japan.
WWW.chakakhan.com satisfies die-hard  aficionados.  Violet is the dominant color and photos of Chaka and her glorious mane abound.  The Web site is a testament to Chaka Khan being self-possessed at 50.  Her departments are “Home”, “Biography”, “News”, “Discography”, “Tour”, “Foundation”, “Media”, “Soundtracks”, “Gallery” and “Contact.”  Chaka compassionately requests that visitors refrain from using vulgarities when using Club CK’s message board.
This Web site is a marketing tool for her Chakalates (gourmet chocolates), media appearances, and Chaka! Through The Fire, her autobiography.  She has a foundation to assist women and children and a literacy project.  The site misses the mark by not doing e-commerce.  Rather than buy online, the site refers visitors to retailers.  The foundation will benefit when donations are accepted online.  There is redundancy within the departments.  For example, similar information exists in “News” and “Press Release”.  This is the case for “Accolades”, “Soundtracks”, and “Discography.”  The site is under construction; perhaps the Web designer will make changes.
The Ohio Players produced funk examining the emotions and deities (there are fire deities and honey-loving deities).  This band doesn’t maintain a Web-site.  Rather, //wfunk.com/ohioplayers/ is the unofficial online home.  Though static, the site has many photos and much information.  Content departments include “Music”, “Band”, “Images”, “Press”, “Links”, “News” and “Credits.”  “Music” is a database of their albums.  “Band” records the changes in the band’s lineup.  “Links” connects visitors to other funk artists’ Web-sites.  The site uses simple technology with few navigational tools.  In fact, it’s one long scroll up and down.  It was updated March 2002.  The site closes with an interview with Sugarfoot and Merv.
Earth, Wind and Fire (EWF) continues the transcendental, mystical funk conquest through www.earthwindandfire.com.  The Website uses a celestial background to merchandise music, clothes and other goods.  The essential tools powering the site are frames, QuickTime and JAVA2.  The departments are “The Promise” (online CD sampling, sales, and product review); “Live In Rio” (online CD sampling, sales and product review); “Shining Stars” (the official story of the band on DVD, online music and interview sampling, sales and product reviews); “News” (upcoming media dates); “Store” (selling T-shirts, tourbook, magnets, etc).  The product reviews are independent critiques so flaws and beauty marks are revealed.  EWF embraces downloadable music by converting their music to MPEG4 files.  Though the Webcast offers to download speeds, the playing is quirky.  The site also offers video clips; tour dates arranged by the month and links to individual band members’ Web sites and other sites that mention EWF.
Quick  Mentions
Are you a bookworm?  Do you have a penchant for research?  It may be in your genes.  Do you want to know more about your African heritage?  Visit www.timbuktufoundation.org to learn about West Africa’s glorious empires, old university towns and their libraries.
To prepare for a spring technology conference, I need a count of column readers.  Please e mail akos_a@juno.com by February 24.  Thanks much.