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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Making a difference in cyberspace

By Brady Haran
BBC iCan Reporter

It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword - but is the PC mightier than the placard?

Are the days of chanting protests outside town halls coming to an end, with people instead opting to use their computers?

BBC News Online met with three people who are using the Internet to get their messages across.


Darren Baskill

It is approaching midnight and Darren Baskill is putting in another late night at the University of Leicester.

But as he gazes into the night sky, the astrophysicist is not greeted by a vista of stars - instead it is a yellowy haze caused by the city's street lights.

Like anyone with an interest in astronomy, Dr Baskill is more sensitive than most people to the frustrations of light pollution.

He runs the website for the Campaign for Dark Skies, and is using it to "enlighten" people about the problems his profession is facing.

See some examples of light-polluted skies

He says the Internet has become a useful device for people to share their problems and co-ordinate campaigns.

A major part of the campaigns involve lobbying officials to install better street lighting.

Dr Baskill says: "It is a common misconception that the Campaign for Dark Skies wants people to turn off their lights ... that's simply not true.

"We want people to shine their lights downwards where it's needed, and not into the sky where it does so much damage."

The frustration of astronomers is perhaps best summed up by a short comment on Dr Baskill's website.

It says: "The light from the rest of the Universe takes hundreds, thousands or millions of years to reach our eyes. What a pity to lose it on the last millisecond of its journey."


A pictorial look at Alex Walker vs Nottingham Forest

When Alex Walker and a friend started a website dedicated to their beloved Nottingham Forest Football Club, it was supposed to be light-hearted.

But Mr Walker says the site has evolved into a forum where fans express serious opinions about the club.

Last season Mr Walker, 21, also used it as a powerful campaigning tool.

Angered that loyal fans were missing out on tickets to away games, Mr Walker started a campaign called "Bring Back the Stamps".

It called for a re-introduction of the old principle of tickets being allocated to people based on how many stamps they accumulated for attending previous away games.

The club kind of regards us as bit of a nuisance
Alex Walker

More than 100 people joined his online campaign and a letter was sent to the club.

The club has since changed its ticketing system for away games, adopting a system similar to Mr Walker's suggestion.

Mr Walker says: "The club kind of regards us as bit of a nuisance because we cause trouble, we don't toe the party line.

"But it is good to have somewhere where the fans can exchange views and have their say."


Glen Burdekin
Mr Burdekin a self-confessed moaner

Until now, Glen Burdekin's identity has been bit of a mystery.

He anonymously runs a website called "The Derby Gripe" - filled with complaints and negative comments about the East Midlands city.

While his name has been a secret, Derby City Council are aware of the website and last year were considering legal action against Mr Burdekin.

Changes to the website have since been made and the council has no plans for further action, but Mr Burdekin continues to vent his frustrations online.

His targets have included road works, public transport and council spending.

Mr Burdekin says his website started a year ago with six pages, and now has more than 1,000.

I get on people's nerves
Glen Burdekin

However he does not consider himself a campaigner - just someone who wants to "get things off my chest".

He says: "For as long as I can remember I have been complaining about everything under the sun, having a right moan.

"I get on people's nerves, I must admit... I get on my own nerves."

Instead of annoying his friends, Mr Burdekin decided to put his gripes in writing.

"I thought the Internet was a great place to stick it so that other people could have a laugh."

Part One
Glen Burdekin has a moan on the streets of Derby

Part Two
From the City Ground terraces to the far reaches of the Milky Way

Astronomers oppose 'light relay'
04 Aug 04  |  Leicestershire
Forest fans vandalise Pride Park
23 Mar 04  |  Derbyshire
Council unhappy over spoof site
28 Jul 03  |  Derbyshire

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