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Inside Web Lab Issue 11.0 January 3, 2002 Hello, This is Web Lab's first newsletter in a long time, so I wanted to begin with a personal note. Although the months since September 11 have been hard for all of us at Web Lab, we've been fortunate to be working on two projects that we think can make a real difference in people's lives and in the potential of the Internet. The groundwork for both of these projects was laid in 2000 and 2001, but both have taken on a new intensity since September. First, we've developed a brand new version of our Small Group Dialogue (SGD) software that will make it possible for other organizations to put it to use on their own sites. Second, we've completed months of preparation for Crossover, a first-of-its-kind cross-media retreat designed to create a new generation of interactive projects, hopefully for commercial development and distribution. In the agonizing days following September 11, we looked for ways we could harness the power of the Web to allow people to explore both the emotions and the political implications surrounding those horrific events. We realized that our greatest contribution would be to invite people into the kind of in-depth, transformative dialogues that SGD has enabled in the past. And fortunately, the new SGD software was close enough to ready that we could propose a partnership with a major media company to host the dialogues. The result is our new dialogue on -- see details below. I hope you'll take a look at the rich discussions that are unfolding, and sign up to participate! My best to you for a healthy, safe and peaceful New Year. Marc Weiss Executive Producer ========================= CONTENTS SGD on Crossover Is Taking Off H.S. Civic Engagement Initiative New DIGs, New Faces ========================= Small Group Dialogue on We're very excited to announce our latest Small Group Dialogue project, in partnership with Entitled "A World Transformed," the dialogues are a place to discuss the rush of questions about security, religion, national identity and global policy confronting Americans and people everywhere in the weeks since September 11. The Internet has been a vital outlet for grief and a key source of information during this crisis, but we want to go beyond that and offer a way for people to explore, deeply and safely, their emotions and opinions, and to think together about who we are, as individuals and as a nation. Read the dialogues and sign up for a discussion group: MSNBC - A World Transformed This event also marks the premiere of our newly-rebuilt SGD software, which includes new email digest and member bio features, new levels of scalability and customization, and a sophisticated toolkit for automated admin and reporting. The new build was funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and developed in collaboration with Web Crossing a leader in online forum technology and the provider of discussion tools for sites including Salon, and ========================= Crossover Is Taking Off With Studio A just under two months away, the Crossover team is busily getting ready for the big event! When we put out a call for entries many months ago, we were happily overwhelmed with applications for Web Lab's new program, designed to bring together an amazing group of minds with the time and resources to imagine new possibilities in new media. With over 400 applications from installation artists, interaction designers, Web designers, physicists, hackers, cognitive scientists, gamers--alongside award-winning filmmakers, video producers, and screenwriters--we had an incredibly tough time narrowing it down to just 30 people. After an intensive series of reviews and interviews, we are thrilled to announce our fascinating and eclectic group of selected participants for Studio A, which will take place at the famed White Oak Plantation. Watch for the names and bios of all participants on our Web site in the coming week. We've been working with the Banff New Media Institute, our colleagues at the Directors Guild of America and the Sundance Institute, and independent consultants to create a structure for the retreat that not only exposes all of us to a wealth of new ideas and perspectives, but inspires us to collaborate in imagining projects that "cross-fertilize" our respective media. The Crossover advisory board includes Allison Anders, John Cameron Mitchell, David Lynch, Rob Nilsson, Penelope Spheeris, Barbara Kopple and Robert Townsend. We're happy to report that we've received a grant from the AOL Time Warner Foundation to conduct what we're calling an "Environmental Scan," a survey of Web sites and other digital projects that have attempted to extend the possibilities for creativity and interaction online. And just before the holidays we also received word that the MacArthur Foundation has joined the Rockefeller Foundation as a funder of Studio A. However, we're not all the way there, and the Crossover fund-raising process is ongoing. Find out more about Crossover: ========================= Web Lab Begins High School Civic Engagement Initiative Web Lab is delighted to be the online partner in the High School Civic Engagement Initiative (HSCE) a Providence College project funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The goal of the two-year initiative is to enlist 100,000 young people in discussions of the issues they care about, and the opportunities and barriers to civic engagement in their lives, schools and communities. These discussions will take place in 200-250 schools in ten different locations across the U.S. We are developing the Web-based hub for the HSCE project, which will host small group dialogues for at least 10,000 students, along with collaborative tools enabling project participants to read, search, discuss and add to a survey of civic engagement programs nationwide. The site will also offer training resources for project leaders and key information for the press and the public. Learn more about HSCE: ========================= New DIGs, New Faces It was a busy autumn at Web Lab. In addition to new dialogues and new progress preparing Crossover, we've got a new parent company, a new location, and several new faces on the scene. We're pleased to announce the incorporation of Digital Innovations Group, Inc. (DIG), our own 501c3 organization, which replaces the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) as Web Lab's "parent." We've also got another kind of new "digs": We've moved offices! After a year at 1350 Broadway, we've found a new home at 126 Fifth Avenue, one block from Union Square. Our new office comes just in time to house an expanded Web Lab team. For details, you can check our site's growing staff bios section, but new faces on the largest Web Lab team ever include "digeratess" Vanessa Wruble and Web Lab veteran and a new mom Suzanne Seggerman. Vanessa and Suzanne are knee-deep in Crossover production, so "don't call them, they'll call you." Jed Miller is directing the SGD projects, and Renee Lertzman, who recently arrived from the Bay Area, is helping to manage the dialogues. Addison Smith is juggling the expanding operational challenges (with occasional balloon sculpting on the side). And we're delighted and lucky have Rich Zahradnik and Elizabeth Thompson focusing on business development and fund-raising, respectively, for the exciting array of projects we have in the works. ========================= Please send comments/letters to:
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