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A YEAR AFTER

Web Sites Mark Anniversary With Tributes, Discussion

September 12, 2002|ANICK JESDANUN | ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — Yahoo.com's home page was devoid Wednesday of its usually vivid colors, its white background replaced with gray. Amazon.com carried drawings, essays and poetry from New York City schoolchildren.

"I've learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words," eighth-grader Stephanie wrote. "It may be the last time you see them."

The Internet, already home to poignant electronic archives, marked the Sept. 11 anniversary in its own way.

Some Web gathering spots emphasized the medium's power for instant reaction to galvanizing events. Others stressed reflection, not expression.

Slashdot, a site frequented by techies, reran messages from its stunned readers a year ago.

The online auction site EBay draped a flag over its home page and opened a temporary discussion board about the anniversary, while White House, Lycos and other sites replaced their front pages with tributes.

Most sites had their regular materials accessible through a link.

But Topica, which sends more than 50 million messages a day to about 4,000 corporate and community discussion lists, took down its site and suspended service for most of the day.

Anna Zornosa, the company's president and chief executive, said Topica worried that some messages, particularly commercial advertising, could be seen as inappropriate or insensitive on a day of reflection.

"E-mail is just such a powerful medium," Zornosa said. "We really saw that a year ago with how well it was used as a tool to keep people connected."

Banner ads at AOL Time Warner sites were replaced with pictures of candles and links to a site where visitors could learn about opportunities to give money, volunteer and remember, as well as obtain information on discussing issues with children.

The online greeting-card site Blue Mountain featured anniversary-themed cards in categories such as "Thinking of You" and "Thanks to the Troops."

The Web site MemorialsOnline lets visitors light a virtual candle and offer a word of tribute.

At the e-mail and Web community board Craigslist, users shared details about vigils and other events offline.

A year ago, while major news Web sites were jammed as people craved details on the attacks, the Net proved its mettle as a communications facilitator.

People who found telephone voice circuits clogged were able to send "I'm OK" e-mail messages to their loved ones.

Web journals, known as blogs, emerged as forums for trying to make sense of the events.

Some sites found the best way to mark the anniversary was to keep doing what they have been doing. Wednesday was business as usual at the InstaPundit blog, run by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds.

"Fancy memorial pages aren't what I'm good at," Reynolds said on his journal. "So while I'm going to post a couple of retrospective items, I plan to spend today thinking about today and tomorrow--not last year."

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