Xtra's silicon Trip

It's a Trip and the word in the corridors of power is that it's the part of Telecom Xtra (http://www.xtra.co.nz) that the corporate bigwigs have been frothing over.

Trip is an online magazine within Xtreme, Xtra's youth section and it's the part of the service which most fully employs Netscape Navigator's bells and whistles, with its use of Java applets, plug-ins and frames.

"The idea is that people get here and then drive themselves," says Trip editor Paul Shannon. "There's a lot of interactivity in the site, including a place called the Demo Lounge, where we'll place demo tapes from young bands and encourage feedback from users."

The strong emphasis on fashion and music at Trip has echoes of Planet magazine, where Shannon and his partner Steve Hill cut their teeth before their publishing company Future Pacific won a contract to develop an online youth magazine for Xtra. Shannon says initially Telecom had sought to employ the pair, "but we explained to them that it would work far better if we kept our independence and created the site on contract."

Since then, they've become the embodiment of what Telecom Internet boss Chris Tyler describes as "a culture that's got a real Silicon Valley feel". Hill, in return, pays tribute to Tyler as "the one with the vision."

Trip's current team of five has come up with a number of what Shannon describes as "good hacks", including animation applets and forms which can be used to access the major Internet search engines.

Shannon also wants to make star chats a feature of the site; music awards winners Shihad will be chat guests early on and Shannon hopes to woo visiting grunge superstars Smashing Pumpkins into the "chat room" when they tour here later this month.

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