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Web Development Fund Round 1

For Immediate Release
Contact: Suzanne Seggerman (suzanne@weblab.org)

Sites about Adoption, Working Life, Suicide and Cold War to Receive Support
New York City, May 4 - Launching eight unique experiments in Web content, Web Lab today announced more than $150,000 in financial support for projects selected for the first round of its Web Development Fund (WDF).
Web Lab www.WebLab.org is an online laboratory dedicated to developing the potential of the Web as a powerful new medium that can involve people and transform their lives in unprecedented ways. The organization was founded in 1997 by Marc N. Weiss, creator and former executive producer of P.O.V., the award-winning PBS showcase for independent non-fiction films.
Weiss said the Web Lab sites are intended to explore the "public purposes" the Web can serve. "These sites will encourage people to think, act, and interact in new ways," Weiss said. "They make the most of the Internet's potential as a participatory medium, and we're excited to be supporting the sites and the passionate people behind each one. We will share what we learn in developing these sites and want to be a catalyst for much more of this kind of work on the Web."
Four sites have been selected for full funding:
Adoption: A Gathering will provide a meeting place where those touched by adoption can speak their minds and turn to each other as guides. By opening communication across the triad - birthfamily, adoptive family, adoptee - this site will help bridge the silence and create a community of support, understanding, questioning, and seeking.
The Dark Museum is an on-line cultural museum about the toxic effects of the Cold War on American society, presented as a combination of dramatic stories, self-guided tours, and original comic art from some of the leading underground artists of our time. With ground-breaking design created by leading New York Web design companies Funny Garbage and I/O 360, the site will include film noir, cold war politics, drug lords, dark fiction, and Thanksgiving Day Parade-type balloons of cultural icons like Annette Funnicello.
Living with Suicide: Shared Experiences and Voices of Loss will break the silence and isolation created by the self-destruction of a loved one and encourage "survivors" not only to find a voice, but to help build a community. Rather than a solemn memorial, the site will be a dynamic, interactive forum - a wellspring of passionate voices and shared experiences about self and society, love and loss, hope and growth.
Working Stiff is a webzine for working people, designed to provide a space for employees of every stripe to gather and be empowered by a lively exchange of information and advice. Various sections will give voice to, or offer space to reflect on, the workplace lives of the average Jane or Joe: daily work diaries, feature articles, an advice column, a stress-o-meter, and an active bulletin board.
A second group of sites will receive "development funding," Weiss said, "to help them move from concept to prototype." Some will receive additional support later from a WDF reserve fund to bring them from prototype to full realization.
Cataclysm: Glimpses of the End of the World is an interactive online theater piece exploring the collective fears of humanity at the turn of the millennium and what these fears tell us about ourselves. Through an innovative combination of the Web and MUDspace, visitors join one or more "morality plays" where, as in Colonial Williamsburg, they can interrogate the actors, wander about the sets, handle the props, and become a part of the story.
Convince Your Computer You're Human playfully explores the increasingly blurred lines between humans and machines. For decades, the Turing test for Artificial Intelligence has forced computers to mimic humans. But why let humans off the hook? This project turns the test on its head by creating various challenges for humans to prove their humanity... to computers and to themselves.
Ever imagined you might have an opportunity to exchange views with a Nobel Peace Prize-winner? Ten years after Oscar Arias's Peace Plan paved the way to end armed conflicts (in which the U.S. government ardently took sides), Postwar Central America will engage former leaders and ex-combatants of the region with North Americans in an unprecedented people-to-people dialogue about issues like refugees, reconciliation, NAFTA and the best role for U.S. foreign policy.
The Teen Screen While the Web provides a level of grass roots participation not seen before in other media, large segments of our population are still dramatically under-represented. Working with an experienced communications firm, kids from inner-city Philadelphia will create their own web site, from graphics and stories to the nuts and bolts of programming, while building life skills for the future.
More detailed descriptions of the sites, bios of team members and background information about the selection process are available through this office or online at www.WebLab.org/press
WDF projects were selected with the aid of an Advisory Committee that included Marisa Bowe, Word Red Burns, Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU Glorianna Davenport, MIT Media Lab Stacy Horn, Echo Cindy Johanson, PBS Online Joan Konner, CJR and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Adam Clayton Powell 3rd, The Freedom Forum Jai Singh, news.com (C|NET) Maria Wilhelm, formerly of The Well.
The WDF is a project of Web Lab in association with PBS Online. Web Lab is a program of the New York Foundation for the Arts.

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