Washington, DC (December 31, 1994) – To celebrate the New Year, L-Soft international, Inc., is earmarking $50,000 for donations to student groups with innovative ideas for making the Internet more useful to non-technical users. These Awards for Student Internet Innovations will consist mostly of high-end personal computers and related equipment, together with licenses for L-Soft's renowned LISTSERVTM software for easy electronic mailing list management. The equipment is to be used to support LISTSERV and other Internet tools, such as World Wide Web and gopher servers, plus of course the students' own projects. L-Soft will not assert ownership rights to the software the students develop. To be considered for an award, student groups should send electronic mail to AWARDS@LSOFT.COM with a description of their association and projects.
The first recipient of these awards is NetSpace, a student-driven Internet project at Brown University, which is "dedicated to supporting student innovation with computers and the Internet". Projects currently underway at NetSpace address such issues as the environment, world hunger and cooperative living. NetSpace also provides a meeting point for the fans of various musical groups, including the alternative rock band Phish. Lee Silverman, founder of NetSpace, describes the project in these terms: "Essentially, what we have tried to do is create a culture much like the Internet used to be: People learn how to solve problems and share the solutions with others when they need them. So far, it has been a remarkable success." LISTSERV mailing lists will be an essential component of new NetSpace developments, nurturing the creation of "Internet neighborhoods" that bring together people with similar interests, without the geographical limitations of traditional media.
Eric Thomas, Manager of Design and Development at L-Soft and author of LISTSERV, remembers the difficulties he had, as a college student, in getting support and access to equipment on which to develop LISTSERV and other networking tools. "As a student, it can be very difficult to get support or funding for your ideas. When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to be offered free access to an IBM mainframe at another university, with no strings attached, and this is how LISTSERV came to be. If I hadn't had the freedom to work as I pleased or if the university had asserted ownership rights to my work, I would probably have done something else with my time. I wish more companies would extend such opportunities to students because, in the long run, it benefits everyone."
Dedicated hardware is particularly difficult for student organizations to come by. According to Silverman, "The hardware donated by L-Soft will be a boon to NetSpace because our current server has been overloaded by the traffic generated by a new mailing list supporting the Linux server community." Linux, a unix operating system for personal computers, is the result of an ongoing cooperative effort by Internet users all over the world, and is available at no cost on the Internet. "By supporting communication between individuals involved in this effort, NetSpace makes a significant contribution to the international Linux community", adds Silverman.
Since its inception in 1986, LISTSERVTM has set the standard for electronic mailing lists. On an average weekday, LISTSERV delivers between 6.5 and 8 million messages to a subscriber base in excess of 1.8 million. While most of LISTSERV's 16,000 lists are used to coordinate project development, reduce paperwork and the need for conference calls, and to host thematic discussions on thousands of different topics, L-Soft is looking forward to the new, creative uses that students will find for LISTSERV when given free reign with the software.
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