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GNN'S second annual "Best of the Net" awards celebrate the rich diversity and character of the global Internet community; twenty awards presented in gala event and Esther Dyson chosen as Netizen of the Year.

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 4, 1995--GNN, the first fully-integrated and consumer-oriented Internet service recognized the best sites on the World Wide Web (Web) in the second annual "Best of the Net" awards held in San Francisco yesterday.

Twenty world-class Web sites, representing the fascinating and dynamic character of a flourishing Web community were named. In the same ceremony, Esther Dyson was presented with the "1995 Netizen of the Year" award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the evolution of the global Internet community in this watershed year.

Twenty winners were chosen from 100 nominees in ten categories: arts and entertainment; computers; food and wine; interactivity; Internet navigation; K-12 education; literature; personal finance; sports; travel. Winners and nominees were all recognized at the event.

"The Web has become a place where the conscience and culture of an exciting new global environment is reflected," said Lisa Gansky, vice president of GNN. "Dreams are being born on the Internet every single day - from the eleven year-old kid next door who builds a Web site for his online magazine to the eager entrepreneur who `sets up shop.' The Web has become the playground, meeting place, newsdesk, and business venue of millions of people all over the world."

The first "Best of the Net" Awards honored the Web's "coming of age" in June of 1994. This year, the "Best of the Net" awards represent the collective progress of a brave and fast-growing new world. Once a network primarily used by the academic and computer communities, the Internet is now a place where mainstream culture thrives. Since last year's awards the number of Web sites has increased from 3,100 to 185,506 with the number of new Web sites now doubling every three months, according to Internet Solutions, Inc. of Seattle.

Room for everyone

This year, the GNN staff thoughtfully developed a new structure for the awards. For each award category, both an amateur and a professional winner was chosen, recognizing that sites conceived by professional organizations evolve differently than those built by amateur individuals. This distinction ensured that sites created by Web enthusiasts in their spare time did not go head-to-head with corporate or institutional sites.

Web sites were considered to be professional if they were maintained by businesses, government or educational institutions, or formally recognized non-profit organizations. Amateur sites were considered to be those maintained by an individual seeking neither profit nor promotional gain from the online venture. Amateurs also included informal groups such as support or interest groups, or students and/or faculty of an educational institution whose work is not "officially" sponsored by the institution.

"One of the most compelling aspects of the Web is that there is room for both kinds of expression - professional and amateur," explained Gansky. "It's a place where sites like MidLink, an online magazine written by and for children, and Pathfinder, the online home for Time-Warner's publishing empire, can exist side by side. The Best of the Net awards not only reflect but also encourage this fundamentally democratic spirit."

During the process of selection the judges noted that many sites that would have fallen in the amateur category a year ago had caught the eye of the business community and were now being maintained by professional organizations. In most cases, the original founders of the site have remained as the hosts and are now getting paid to be passionate about the Web.

Selection process

The GNN editors considered seven factors when they selected nominees in each category:

-- Content - A nominated site should have rich and unique content that inspires users to visit regularly for information or entertainment.

-- Design - Design should be attractive, appropriate to a site's subject matter, and functional. Good design directs users towards the information they want, rather than away from it.

-- Updates - Sites should be updated and/or maintained regularly.

-- Medium - Sites should make use of the Internet in ways that transcend the delivery of information via traditional media like newsprint or television.

-- Track Record - Nominated sites should have a proven performance record dating back at least three months prior to nomination. (Former winners and nominees can be nominated again in ensuing years.)

-- Reputation - Sites should be well-regarded by the people on the Internet.

-- Cost - Sites are nominated on the basis of free content.

Nominees were selected by the GNN editorial staff. Primary responsibility for selections in each category fell to the GNN subject specialist in each area. For example, the personal finance award nominations were made by the editor of GNN's Personal Finance Voice. The remaining nominations were chosen by the editors of the Whole Internet Catalog with assistance from subject experts on the Web. Final winners in each category were determined by consensus of the GNN editorial staff.

In selecting the recipient of the "1995 Netizen of the Year" award, GNN staff consulted with its Internet Advisory Council, a group that includes Mitch Kapor (CEO and Founder, Lotus; and Founder, On Technologies and ESF), Dale Dougherty (President, Songline Studios), Tim O'Reilly (CEO, O'Reilly & Associates), David Cole (President, AOL Enterprises), Lisa Gansky (Vice President, GNN), and David Weatherall (President, CMG Information Services). GNN's Netizen of the Year award is given to one who has significantly advanced and protected the popular use of global electronic networking over the past year. Last year's honoree was Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community, among other books, and keeper of a linklist of resources related to virtual communities. Rheingold was also the editor of The Whole Earth Review and editor in chief of The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog.

Company Background

GNN is a service provided by America Online, Inc. The first truly national, fully integrated Internet service for consumers, GNN has offices in Berkeley, California and in Vienna, Virginia. America Online, Inc., (Nasdaq symbol: AMER) is the world's largest and fastest growing provider of interactive services. Personal computer owners can obtain GNN software by calling 1-800-819-6112, or through the GNN site on the Internet at

-0- The Winners

Arts & Entertainment

Amateur: X-Files: Trust No One

Maintained by Stephen Banks, technical director at, X-Files: Trust No One features a collection of resources related to Fox Network's "X-Files" television show. The comprehensive site includes links to X-Files images, audio snippets, FAQs, and episode guides.

Professional: Pathfinder

Pathfinder is the online home for Time Warner Inc.'s publishing empire. Visitors to the site will find scores of articles and reviews from LIFE, Sports Illustrated, Money, People, Time, Entertainment Weekly and Vibe, as well as special features like daily news reports and chat bulletin boards.


Amateur: The Consummate Winsock Apps List

Forrest Stroud maintains this regularly updated list of the full range of winsock software applications, from browsers and servers to chat software. Each application features a link to a download site, a star rating, and a quick profile of the application's version number, size, cost and author.

Professional: ZD Net (Ziff-Davis Publishing)

The ZD Net site is a rich source of current information from one of the largest publishers of computer magazines. Articles from the major Ziff publications (PC Week, MacUser, PC/Computing, Computer Life) are available here as well as daily news updates and a large collection of links to other valuable Web sites.

Food & Wine

Amateur: Dining out on the Web

Maintained by John Troyer and Dan Whaley, Dining Out On the Web is an index of restaurant guides for many of the world's major cities -- from San Francisco to Tokyo. Some of the directories use search engines while others list restaurants by type or location.

Professional: Electronic Gourmet Guide (eGG)

A monthly food and wine online magazine edited by Karie Heydoe, eGG features high quality photos, articles, columns, interviews, recipes, and news snippets. Although the tone is champagne and marinated herbed cheese, even the skeptical gourmand will be charmed.

Interactive Sites

Amateur: Electric Postcard

Judith Donath's Electric Postcard server allows Internet users to choose an image from a virtual "Card Rack," compose and address a private message, and send it to a friend. The intended recipient is notified via email that a postcard and claim number is waiting for htem at the site's "Pick-up Window."

Professional: Votelink

Votelink is an ambitious interactive polling station published by Alexia Parks, an ex-Washington Post columnist in Boulder, Colorado. Each week Internet users can participate in polls on national issues conducted for the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K., as well as certain U.S. states and cities.

Internet Navigation


BOBAWORLD is Bob Allison's amazing collection of links, images and information, including Spider's Pick of the Day; Daily, Weekly & Monthly Goodies; and Uncle Bob's Kids' Page.

Professional: Yahoo

With over 50,000 entries, the Yahoo Guide is the Internet's largest subject index of Web resources. Given its size, Net users are fortunate that designers David Filo and Jerry Yang have created an index structure that is both easy and fun to browse.

K-12 Education

Amateur: Midlink Magazine

MidLink Magazine is a bimonthly online magazine created by and for children ages 10 to 15 to link middle schools around the world. The site is a collaborative project created by several middle schools and hosted by the University of Central Florida.

Professional: AskERIC

AskERIC provides a wealth of curriculum materials and extensive research on education. Visitors can ask questions of researchers (hence the name AskERIC), or explore some of the site's hosted resources such as PBS's series "Newton's Apple" or the Discovery Learning Community's education materials.


Amatuer: Hyperizons

Created by Duke graduate student, Michael Shumate, this site is chock full of resoures on postmodern fiction and its computerized cousin, hypertext fiction. It links to a wonderland of Web sites including The Hypertext Hotel, begun by Robert Coover at Brown University and Victory Garden and Marble Springs, hypertext novels from Eastgate Systems.

Professional: The Mississippi Review Web

This online edition of the prestigious print literary magazine features entirely new content and is edited by Frederick Barthelme and Rie Fortenberry. It publishes original prose, poetry and fiction from established and emergent writers.

Personal Finance

Amateur: Webfoot's Used Car Lot

Founded by Kaitlin Duck Sherwood, a graduate student at the University of Illinois, this site is a terrific free resource for buyers and sellers of automobiles, boats, motorcycles, bicycles and aircraft. Sellers can place free classifieds while buyers can browse listings for every state and province in North America.

Professional: NETworth

NETworth is a commercially-sponsored investment information service presented by GALT Technologies. Visitors to NETworth will find 15-minute delayed stock quotes, mutual fund data, fund ratings from Morningstar and links to a host of other investment sites on the Web.


Amateur: Home of the Lady Vols

Thalia Hooker created this Web home for one of the nation's best women's basketball programs last season. It contains all the information a fan could want in addition to Netizen coverage of the women's NCAA basketball tournament.

Professional: GolfWeb

This comprehensive and well-crafted site features an extensive "Library," a list of "Places to Stay," a "ProShop," and "Tour Action" sections. Within these are a surprising number of articles and reviews on equipment, antiquities, courses, schools, tournaments and much more.


Amateur: Foreign Languages for Travelers

This superb site helps travelers learn a few phrases before departing on their next trip abroad. The language list is expanding and currently features German, English, French, Hungarian, Italian, Russian and Portuguese.

Professional: Lonely Planet

The lonely planet site is home to a major travel guide publisher of the same name. It offers in-depth information from the company's popular series of books, its own online newsletter, health tips for travelers, and a bulletin board for visitors to the site.

Netizen of the Year/Esther Dyson

Esther Dyson is editor of Release 1.0, a monthly software industry newsletter, and president of EDventure Holdings, a small but diversified company concentrating on emerging information technology worldwide with a particular focus on the emerging computer markets of Central and Eastern Europe. Dyson is presently active in industry affairs as a member of the U.S. National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIIAC) and as chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She sits on the board of the Global Business Network, a consulting organization, and on the advisory board of Perot Systems. She is a limited partner of the Mayfield Software Fund as well.

In addition to her involvement with the NIIAC and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Dyson sits on the boards and executive committees of the Santa Fe Institute and the Institute of East West Studies.

Dyson is also a founding member of the Russian Software Market Association and a member of the (U.S.) Software Publishers Association. She also serves on the advisory boards for the Software Entrepreneurs Forum (Silicon Valley) and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Fluent in Russian, Dyson is a regular keynote speaker at the annual Comtek, International Computer Forum and Windows Expo Shows in Moscow and at CERF in Bucharest. Dyson's recent publications include two articles in WIRED (an essay on intellectual property and an interview with Newt Gingrich) and an essay on censorship in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. She also published an article on Eastern European computer entrepreneurs in the Harvard Business Review, a New York Times article on "Remaking Russia, by computer" and an op-ed article urging Western companies to send managers to the "Soviet Units."

Dyson is a graduate of Harvard University with a B.A. in economics. She spent five years learning the dynamics of the computer and software business as a securities analyst for New Court Securities and Oppenheimer & Co. For three years Dyson was a reporter for Forbes Magazine where she gained most of her business education.

Dyson has been featured in full-length interviews in Upside Magazine and Micro Times, and profiled in WIRED magazine. The San Jose Mercury's Sunday Magazine has recognized her as one of the Silicon Valley's 100 most influential people. At the same time, Russia's Softmarket newspaper notes her as one of the 100 most influential people in Russia's computer industry. GNN recognizes Dyson as the 1995 Netizen of the Year.


Note to Editors: All brands, products and service names mentioned are trademarks or registered service marks of their respective owners.


Jane Dryden, 510/883-7109


Niehaus Ryan Haller

Kelli Tejada, 415/827-7061
COPYRIGHT 1995 Business Wire
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 4, 1995
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