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  • O'Reilly & Associates and the NETFUTURE newsletter announce a $5000
    writing contest:
                                 SPIDER OR FLY?
                   Are we masters of the Web or trapped in it?
       Catching the dew and sunlight, and serving as an efficient means of
       livelihood, a spider's web is one of the glories of creation.
       Depending on your perspective, a spider's web is also a prison -- the
       most delicate, flexible, and refined instrument imaginable for
       immobilizing life.
       As you and I settle into the World Wide Web, are we in the role of the
       spider or the fly?
       The SPIDER OR FLY? contest invites you to illuminate the deep nexus
       between computerized networking technologies and the human being.
       Where, amid all the dizzying technical advances, do we carry
       responsibility for their social consequences?  How can we exercise
       that responsibility?  Have we been embracing it or shirking it?  In
       other words:  does the Web own us, or do we own it?
       The contest does not aim at identifying what you like or don't like
       about the Net and the World Wide Web -- not, at least, unless you can
       relate these likes and dislikes to the most fundamental levels at which
       our personal choices in front of the computer screen are shaping the
       future for good or ill.
       Scholars now debate whether certain technologies determine us more
       than we determine them, and whether the determination in either case
       is healthy or unhealthy.  The SPIDER OR FLY? contest is not premised
       upon any particular answer to such questions.  While the questions
       signal our passage into new spheres of responsibility in relation
       to evolving technology, the terms of this responsibility haven't yet
       become clear.  The contest seeks to stimulate a highly personalized
       exploration of the issues.
       The best of the entries will be published by O'Reilly & Associates.
    Press contact
    Steve Talbott
    First prize:  $2500.  Four second prizes:  $500 each.  Five third
    prizes:  $100 each.
    If any prize is not awarded due to lack of meritorious entries, the
    associated prize money will be donated to the Wilderness Awareness School,
    Redmond, Washington.
    Contest themes
    The contest's themes are those of the NETFUTURE newsletter.  Subscriptions
    to this newsletter are free.  The themes can be summarized as follows:
    * What, within you and me, drives the success and progress of the Net?
    * How does technology determine us and how do we determine technology?
      That is, where are we most free, where are we most unfree, and where is
      the greatest promise of extending our freedom?  As technology changes
      the face of society, are we masters of the change, or are we being
      taken for a ride by forces we can no longer control?
    * Does it matter how we form all those little habits that shape our
      interaction with computers -- from the way we scan the words of another
      human being, to the way we hammer out our own words, to the way we bow
      with our attention before the unfolding pattern of screen events, to the
      way we submit our senses and bodies to be trained by electronic
    * Does it matter when we support, through our purchases and use, new
      technological capabilities that exist solely because the massive
      machinery of research has made them possible -- that is, when we add
      our own share to the impetus of a largely self-driven technological
      evolution?  What are the human implications of such an evolution?
    * How are we being affected by computerized technology in our self-image,
      our personal relationships, our attitudes toward community?  Is the talk
      about the Net as an intimate or democratizing or prejudice-free medium
    * Is the computer affecting education as advertised, or is it redefining
      what it means to learn and teach--and in ways we have not yet fully
    Make your entry relevant to the themes, persuasive, original in thought,
    and effective in expression.
    Everyone is eligible for the contest except for employees of O'Reilly &
    Associates, the judges, and their immediate families.
    Length and form of entries
    We prefer entries to be submitted by email.  However, hard-copy entries
    submitted by regular mail will be accepted.  All entries must be written
    in English.
    Entries must be between 2000 and 5000 words.  You may submit up to three
    entries.  Do not include your name or clear identifying information in
    the main body of your entry.  (Your failure to observe this restriction
    will disqualify your entry.)  Supply your name, mail address and email
    address separately, at the head of your entry.  This information will be
    removed before the entry is submitted to the judges.
    Dale Dougherty, President, Songline Studios
    Leonard Muellner, Professor of Classics, Brandeis University, and
        Supervisor of Production Tools, O'Reilly & Associates
    Tim O'Reilly, President, O'Reilly & Associates
    Frank Willison, Editor-in-Chief, O'Reilly & Associates
    Submission and deadline
    Send email entries to contest@ora.com.  They must be received by midnight,
    Eastern Standard Time, April 30, 1996.  Or, send hard-copy entries to:
           SPIDER OR FLY?
           O'Reilly & Associates
           90 Sherman Street
           Cambridge MA 02140
    Hard-copy entries must be postmarked no later than April 30, 1996.
    No entry will be considered official until a signed, hard copy of the
    Permission Form (see below) is received at the above address.
    Announcement of awards
    Approximate date for announcing awards is May 31, 1996.
    Permission Form (must be submitted as hard copy, signed)
    Name of contestant:
    Mail address:
    Email address:
    Title of entry:
    I hereby grant O'Reilly & Associates nonexclusive rights to print,
    distribute, and sell copies of the above-named essay, and works derived
    from the essay, in printed form and in electronic media such as CD-ROM,
    and to license others to do so, for the duration of the copyright in the
    essay, in all languages, throughout the world.  I understand that my name
    will appear as author of the essay.
    -----------------------------                  --------------------
    (Your signature)                               (Date)
    Sign, date, and mail this form to:
       O'Reilly & Associates
       90 Sherman Street
       Cambridge MA 02140

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