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Princess Digerati vs. the stalkerazzi

The DuBauds are known for many things, and being sentimental is not one of them, but upon the untimely death of Princess Diana we let it all hang out.

The DuBauds are known for many things, and being sentimental is not one of them, but upon the untimely death of Princess Diana we let it all hang out. Unable to hop the pond to attend the funeral of the century, Vermel and I paid our respects to Princess Diana at the British embassy here in San Francisco. Returning home from that sad, highly floral scene, I was intrigued to receive a schpielspam touting something called the Princess Diana Tribute Screen Saver.

In short: It's not that bad. "Twenty-one colour photographs" show the princess at hospitals, charity balls, family retreats, and so on. But this being the Web, perhaps most revealing are the "rave reviews" sent in from grateful downloaders around the world. Comments such as "this screensaver is tough to watch for the first time without getting a bit teary-eyed" and "it is a contribution as lasting as Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" seem to represent the weepy-Wanda side of the bereaved, while others--for example, sentiments like "it is an isle of good in this sea of crap we pompously call humanity"--are a window into the "screw the stalkerazzi" contingent of the world's mournful.

Yet another Princess Digital creation that has made its way onto the Skinnydar tilts the scales definitively against the stalkerazzi: The 3D video game called--get this--Paparazi. Although offered as freeware, this piece of work attempts to illuminate the darker side of celebrity, namely the "visceral experience" of being stalked by psychotic photographers. Oh, joy! Released by G.O.D.D. Game Development Group, Paparazi offers the intriguing experience of flashbulbs in the face, ruthless verbal taunting, and wildly thrusting cameras seeking out your every celebrity crevice.

Online masochists of every stripe will no doubt flock in response to the starkly sarcastic sales pitch: "Subject yourself to the cruel torment of violent intrusion from the comfort of your own home!" In future, I'll confine my grieving to the simple Dianalog pleasures of the dewy photo spreads of the newly "reformed" tabloids. Even all that 20-point type is a lot less...oh, I don't know...visceral than a 3D game.

Another sought-after digicelebrity--Netscape's Marc Andreessen--took time earlier this week in a briefing for press and analysts to state his newfound pride in the previously derogatory, Microsoft-coined acronym NOISE, which stands for Netscape, Oracle, IBM, Sun, and everyone else. While your faithful Skinster has, in the past, seen it as a semantic thorn in Netscape's side, Marc was happily spouting a new mantra: "The NOISE is getting louder," like a highly caffeinated political campaigner.

To show that he's verbally creative in his own right, Marcy Marc (sounds like Marky Mark) also coined his own term for the yet-to-be-released version of Java Navigator: Javagator. I can see Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the lead in the film of the same name, gleefully intoning "I'll be back..." to a nerdy Gates surrogate. Hasta la vista, Bill baby!

Microsoft vs. Netscape may be a fine rivalry, but let's not forget another David and Goliath clash: Ziff-Davis vs. Imagine Publishing. For pure guerrilla warfare, you really can't beat Imagine's aggressive billboard just off Highway 101 in Silicon Valley, which says "Imagine a whole new way of publishing: Not Ziff.com." True, this slingshot might seem strange coming from a company that had to take one of its magazines, The Net, on a "hiatus," but you can bet Ziff bigwig Eric Hippeau must have driven his Mitsubishi 3000GT off the road once sighting this broadside billboard.

On a final, self-deprecating note, after all of the fine parody sites I referenced in my last column, I'm obligated to point my faithful readers to a spoof that takes aim at none other than my venerable publisher, CNET. Yes, a Mr. Woody Stranieri has taken the time to futz with our code and create what he calls P/NUT--a sort of alternative CNET universe for cyberwiseacres. Keep those cards, letters, and URLs coming! A final thought: With all this satire in the air, I must remind you, gentle reader, that you must jettison me your feistiest rumors lest I become a parody of myself.