Oscars on the Net

For a second year, the Prix Ars Electronica has included a Digital Communities category. The winner, Akshaya (India), is an initiative that has helped to bridge the digital divide in Kerala by establishing 6000 Internet centres, and will continue their work with the prize money. Following 20 years in "business," the Free Software Foundation and GNU(USA) recieved a Distinction. So did Italian media hackers NGV/Telestreet for creating alternative TV channels to the Berlusconi empire, as did BitTorrent, for it's free p2p file sharing software. Honorary Mentions went to localised services (upmystreet and e-democracy); to worldwide accommodation finders (couchsurfers) and to the up-to-date tsunami blog (tsunamihelp). A trend was in the inclusion of developing communities using the Internet for information exchange--the Borneo Project (Malaysia), Catcomm (USA/Brazil), huaral.org (Peru) and Kubatana (Zimbabwe). The uber-cute microRevolt (USA), which can transform any corporate logo into a knitting pattern, and TXTmob (USA), the mass sms programme developed by IAA and used as a protester tool, were both chosen for their specialized executions of chaos. Free media-bank Wikimedia Commons (USA)--offspring of 2004 winners Wikipedia--rounded off the mentions. - Joni Taylor