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RYT Hospital

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It's been argued that the Hugo Award for Best Website, if it's to become a regular Hugo category, should go to sites that do things that can't be done on paper.

I can see some validity to that argument. But if that's going to be a criterion, then I really want to see more self-contained fictional sites nominated for the award.

I wrote a couple years ago about the excellent Bill Gates Is Dead site. I've also mentioned the amazing Cloudmakers system of sites.

Now here's another one to join their ranks: RYT Hospital: Dwayne Medical Center. "From the first human male pregnancy to the first successful medical application of nanotechnology, RYT Hospital-Dwayne Medical Center has dramatically advanced the art, science, and technology of medicine." As with the Gates memorial site, it's completely straight-faced; there's even an FAQ that explicitly says the site is "not a hoax like Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast." You can read about the nanomedicine revolution, view a realtime ultrasound for the first human male pregnancy, create your own genetically healthy child online, and chat online (and run a maze race) with Clyven, the world's first transgenic mouse with human intelligence. There are interactive features and video clips all over the site. Good stuff.

Apparently the author is Virgil Wong, whose "concurrent careers as an artist/filmmaker, Web Center director, MFA faculty member, and Nia teacher all revolve around his interests in medicine, technology and the human body." His full-time job is "Head of Web Design and Development for two prestigious non-profit medical institutions." See also the RYT Hospital pages of his "Installations and Net Art" section. I gather that Lee Mingwei (the pregnant man) is also an artist, and was also involved in creating this work; both artists are apparently members of an art group called Paperveins.

I'm always tempted with this kind of thing to link to it as if it were something real and let y'all gradually figure out what's going on. But for some reason this time I felt like talking about it in terms of sf from the start.

I was going to note that one thing you can do online that you can't do very easily on paper is provide that twist-of-reality feeling a reader gets when they're reading something they think is true and then realize it isn't. Except then I remembered that last time I got that feeling was from a story in Interzone last month.

(One issue for Hugo eligibility is the question of when a site was "published"; the Bill Gates site, for example, has been at least slightly modified in 2005, but originally went up in 2002, so what year(s) would it be eligible in? I don't know.)

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On the "twist of reality" front, let me point out an instance where paper did it *better* than the web.

I just got back from Minneapolis, where I was reading a newspaper that somebody had left lying around. I'm reading through this article about the Guggenheim, my jaw dropping more and more. It's about 3/4 of the way through, where the Slip and Slide gets mentioned, that I finally think, "now wait a minute here...". It was this week's Onion. But The Onion gets distributed as a physical newspaper in the midwest, and they're very sneaky about not having an obvious header on the inside pages. A fantastic way to suck you into thinking it's a real newspaper for a surprisingly long time, we're so trained to trust things we read on newsprint - context is all. This happened the last time I was in the Midwest too, reading over somebody's shoulder on the bus. Dang they're good...


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