Log: Brief reports and tidbits from the Info-Sphere

Webby acceptance speeches:nFive-word wonders - Purple Moon and Barbie -- together at last - New Gates book: Buzzword bonanza - Steve Holtzman, R.I.P. - This Web site wants your spam


Salon Tech Writers
March 16, 1999 1:00AM (UTC)

Webby acceptance speeches: Five-word wonders

If glamorous self-congratulatory affairs are a sign of an industry's success (read: Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and Grammys), then the Webby Awards in San Francisco are proof that the Net industry has finally arrived -- somewhere, anyway. The Webby event, which began two years ago as a minor schmoozefest organized by Tiffany Shlain, became a bona fide extravaganza Thursday night, with elaborately dressed fashionistas, red carpets, free-flowing liquor and carefully constructed "ironic" touches. The ceremony was even punctuated by a punk-rock moment, when the subversive German artists of jodi.org knocked a cameraman aside and flung their Webby across the room.

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The choice of winners by 220 judges didn't display too much innovation -- many of the awards went to the same winners as last year (PBS Online, Internet Movie Database, CNN, the Exploratorium, BabyCenter and Salon all won repeat awards). But the true test of creativity was the acceptance speeches, which were limited to five words -- a shorter ceremony means more time to booze it up. Although many winners fell back upon self-promotion, and several seemed to have a difficult time counting (including Salon's own David Talbot), the brief acceptance speeches did become, in their own way, a kind of miniature art form.

Herewith, for your edification, a complete transcript:

Ugly commercial sons of bitches. (jodi.org)
Books, music, video and Webbies. (Amazon.com)
Wow. Yes. SeniorNet and Webbies. (SeniorNet)
Monarch butterflies, bald eagles, children, nature, Internet. (Journey North)
Thank you. We deserve it. (PaperMag)
I'm the king of the World Wide Web. (Internet Movie Database)
It's about power to the people. (Motley Fool)
Thanks, it's a team effort. (Gamers Central)
Like an EKG with attitude (IntelliHealth)
Thank you very very much. (The Onion)
Thanks Mom and Dad. (BabyCenter)
SonicNet, SonicNet, SonicNet, SonicNet good. (SonicNet)
Who what where when Webby. (CNN Interactive)
Thanks. Contributions are tax-deductible. (California Voter Foundation)
I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Shlain. (Salon)
In the spirit of free speech, thank you. (Free Speech Internet Television)
No ads. No registration. Exploratorium. (Exploratorium)
Thanks, I really appreciate it. (Sportspages.com)
The best is yet to come. (Amazon.com)
Join the mile-high club online. (biztravel.com)
This one's for Tinky Winky. (PBS Online)
Thanks a lot. This is nice. (Superbad.com)

-- Janelle Brown

SALON | March 19, 1999

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Purple Moon and Barbie -- together at last

Last month, the "girl game" industry was mourning the demise of Purple Moon, the ambitious software company founded by Brenda Laurel that sought to create positive games for girls. They didn't need to mourn for long: On Thursday, Purple Moon was given a second life when Mattel purchased Purple Moon and promised to revive it within Mattel's software-for-girls division.

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That Mattel should be Purple Moon's savior is richly ironic. Mattel is, of course, the womb of Barbie -- the top-heavy one-dimensional nemesis of Purple Moon, whose own mascot Rockett had been designed as the anti-Barbie, a wholly human character that little girls could relate to. Mattel's powerhouse position on the girl-game shelves has also been cited as a root of Purple Moon's retail troubles.

Still, according to Chris Nolan, the spirited gossip queen of the San Jose Mercury News, Mattel had previously attempted to buy Purple Moon -- but the price was too high. Although Mattel wouldn't disclose the terms of the new agreement, it's a fair assumption that Barbie's new sibling was acquired at a discount.
-- Janelle Brown

SALON | March 19, 1999

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New Gates book: Buzzword bonanza

If the excerpts in the new issue of Time are any indication, Bill Gates' new book, "Business @ The Speed of Thought," will be a buzzword bonanza. From its decade-bracketing opening sentence -- "If the 1980s were about quality and the 1990s were about re-engineering, then the 2000s will be about velocity" -- to its program-code-like diction ("Making data digital from the start can trigger a whole range of positive events"), Gates' new tome promises to make his authorial debut, "The Road Ahead," look like a bona fide Great Book.

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Other publications have already noted the deep irony in Gates' recommendation that companies "insist that communication flow through e-mail," given the difficulties e-mail evidence has caused Microsoft during its antitrust trial. Gates' assertion that "I read all the e-mail that employees send me" could cause him difficulty, too -- given how frequently, in his deposition in the antitrust trial, he had asserted he couldn't remember reading or sending particular e-mail messages.

The book excerpt also endorses tracking sales digitally, which, Gates explains in publicity for the new book, is something Microsoft routinely does. The trouble is, that contradicts Microsoft's own witness in the antitrust trial, who told the court that the company tracks its operating system sales by hand, on paper.

Gates may be less interested in the fallout from such inconsistencies than in the chance to preach the gospel of the "digital nervous system" -- a buzz-phrase from a massive Microsoft advertising campaign. Instead of having to buy full-page ads in Time to promote the phrase, his new book allows him to do so for free. No doubt it also helps that his publisher, Warner Books, is part of the Time Warner conglomerate. Perhaps the 1990s aren't about "re-engineering" after all -- but rather about "synergy."
-- Scott Rosenberg

SALON | March 18, 1999

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Steve Holtzman, R.I.P.

Digital art may be an extremely young field, but it already has a handful of serious chroniclers and theorists. Steve Holtzman, who died earlier this month, was in their front rank, thanks to his two well-received books -- 1994's "Digital Mantras" (from MIT Press) and 1997's "Digital Mosaics: The Aesthetics of Cyberspace" (Simon and Schuster). Holtzman's writing placed the new fields of digital expressions in historical context and related them to important trends and movements in the contemporary arts.

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Holtzman, born in Great Neck, N.Y., received a Ph.D. in music and computer science from the University of Edinburgh. A composer and musician in both acoustic and electronic media, he initiated and directed the first Electronic Music Concert at the Edinburgh Festival.

In his business career, Holtzman participated in the founding of high-tech companies such as Liquid Audio and Perspecta. He also served as an executive for Radius, Farallon and Wyse.

Holtzman died of cancer at his home on March 4. He was 43 years old. He is survived by his wife, Trudy Edelson, and two sisters. His family has founded a scholarship fund in his name for aspiring students of digital expression. Contributions may be made to the Steven R. Holtzman Scholarship Fund, c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 2925 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA 94062.
-- Scott Rosenberg

SALON | March 17, 1999

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This Web site wants your spam

Stop! Don't trash that spam! Finally, someone has found a use -- however useless it may be -- for the endless stream of unsolicited junk that fills your in box every day. C-Spam wants your spam.

C-Spam is "an interactive art project created by a consortium of concerned artists for the purpose of educating the general public about the relationship between commerce and the Internet." Translated, C-Spam is a sleek and silly little site that serves up a smoothly scrolling stream of other people's spam, to the accompaniment of a soundtrack of classical composers.

The site also includes resources for those who would like to join the anti-spam cause, learn how to get off those pesky lists or simply send a can of Spam to a friend. And for the low, low price of $19.99, you can purchase 100 of the "best spam messages ever sent" packaged in a tasteful binder. Not only that, but you, too, can donate your spam to their cause, simply by sending it to spamseum@cspam.com. Think of it as "a gift to the American public" -- a donation to the spam museum.
-- Janelle Brown

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Salon Tech Writers

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