At a recent gathering of new-media types, the subject of came up. Or, should I say, it came up again.

At a recent gathering of new-media types, the subject of

came up. Or, should I say, it came up again.

Out came the metaphorical baseball bats, and with some relish and not a

little humour, the assembled began to beat the proverbial crap out of

the UK internet industry’s favourite joke.

But, even better, a few brave people put their hands up and admitted to

having worked on developing elements of This in turn produced a

round of guffawing and sniggers and qualified as excellent fun.

But if comes in for ridicule, it’s for some pretty good reasons:

if you are going to set yourself ludicrous deadlines, you shouldn’t miss

them by a whopping, world-beating five months.

And even when it did arrive, back in November, it wasn’t exactly

perfect, and it’s still a Mac-free zone. But, hey, we all know that Macs

and the internet aren’t the cosiest of bedfellows.

But if the venture capitalists are on your back and you are playing with

pounds 120 million of their money, maybe you just have to go ahead and


Things still may not be perfect, but what has been launched is an

ambitious site and more than a step in the right direction.

The people at have created something that attempts to improve on

and advance the basic experience of online shopping. That isn’t a joke

by the way. I’m serious.

Somewhere along the line it has slipped imperceptibly into common

acceptance that online shopping is just - and nothing else - a

hit-and-run, in-and-out experience. This probably stems from the idea

that people who shop online don’t want any fuss or to waste any time,

they just want to get what they want and get it now. Or maybe I am

confusing them with men.

Whatever. This is simply not true. Some people might want to buy a book

in under four minutes, but others will, from their comfort of their PCs,

be quite happy to browse an online store like just as they would

a high-street store In Real Life.

You would hope that not all of these online stores went for that bland kind of look and feel, but instead were brave and interesting

online environments that attempted to break new ground and offer

something different. Sites that were, well, you know, kind of fun and

kind of cool. is getting there with features like allowing e-shoppers to zoom

in on products or spin them through 360 degrees, which, along with other

innovative elements like trying clothes on using a virtual mannequin and

Ms Boo, are very cool - and, no, I’m not just saying that about Ms Boo

because I spend far too much time online. is a nod to the future in another way as well. It is one of a

small but growing band of sites that recognise that while English

dominates large parts of the globe, the world is bigger than that. And

if the web is global then multilingual sites like will win


Congratulations are in order. has been creative and interesting,

and let’s hope it continues to be so. Otherwise this is all going to

suck pretty heavily quite fast.


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