If you want to appear like you’re at the cutting edge of net culture but can’t be bothered to spend hours online, then never fear. Scotsman.com’s pathetic team of geeks, freaks and gimps will do the hard work for you one last time. While you sip wine, read a book or engage in normal social interaction, they have sallied forth, burned out their retinas staring at badly designed web pages and dodged creeps in chatrooms to prepare for you: the final lazy guide to net culture.
Dear "Lazy Guide" reader,
This is goodbye.
After more than three years, 160 columns and 1.3 million page views, I am retiring the Lazy Guide. It's been a lot of fun but, as shown by its long summer then autumn break, there aren't enough hours in the day to continue with slogging through the flotsam and jetsam of online trivia.
This is a pity as the flotsam and jetsam of online trivia kinda sums up the totality of my journalistic expertise. Still, it's been a wild ride. I've greatly enjoyed the close contact its brought me with the users, both good and bad. Often bad. Mostly bad. And worse than bad. And threatening. And sinister. And downright disturbing. But, hey, that's the internet for you.
I started this column in 2003, when it was a whole lot colder out there. The first Lazy Guide - in January 2003 - was about the sport of Googlewhacking.
My favourite Lazy Guide was about the passing of my journalistic hero, the late, great Hunter S Thompson:
The good doctor stood for a different kind of journalism: one that cared less for facts than truth. His writing reproaches the rest of us, who rewrite press releases, follow the party line and only have the courage to offend the powerless - in other words the ones whose lofty ambitions didn't work out too well.
The funniest one I wrote was probably the Lazy Guide that dealt with the online cult of Comical Ali, the artist formerly known as the Iraqi information minister:
God knows there are few laughs to be had in any war. Killing - whether morally justified or not - is not a humorous matter. But one man had the courage to turn downtown Baghdad into Edinburgh Festival Fringe Venue 985 for a few short days: Iraq's own king of comedy, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.
While other members of the regime were busy looking out their false passports, shaving their suddenly-no-longer-fashionable moustaches and generally getting ready to take French leave - sorry, freedom leave - al-Sahaf put on the best military comedy act since It Ain't Half Hot Mum.
However, the most popuar Lazy Guide was about those daft Yeti sports games so popular a couple of years ago. It received more than 28,000 page views, which is extraordinary. Eeh, there's no accounting for taste.
Since I started the Lazy Guide, Google has become worth billions, YouTube is a global phenomenon and Web 2.0 has changed the media.
In the spirit of the latter, I will now give the reader community the tools to build their own Lazy Guides. (In other words, I'll post a list of links full to empty frivolity, much as I used to do…)
So here are five sites that are good places to find entertaining links. For one final time, let me point out that I cannot vouch for the tastefulness of what you find. But then again you are online and are no more from three clicks from sites involving donkeys - and not in a good way:
One final link: here's a truly soothing piece of genius plucked from YouTube. It's called Cloud Hands and I've chosen it for no other reason than it's really cool.
To leave on a positive note, I foresee a wonderful future for the net - and for online journalism in particular. We are living in the midst of a revolution that makes the Industrial one look like a brace of over-rated gadgets. So let's enjoy it.