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Subject: Linux wins Prix Ars due to MICROSOFT INTERVENTION


Below you will find a press statement from members of the .net jury of this years Prix Ars Electronica. You will read about the real paths that lead us, the jury, to award this years golden nica to the operating system linux.


Marleen Stikker


Linz, Sep 6, 1999

Media Contacts:
Marleen Stikker
Centrum de Waag
Amsterdam/ The Netherlands
Tel: (+31)20-5579898
Fax: (+31)20-5579880

Dr. Christine Schoepf
ORF Prix Ars Electronica 99
Linz/ Austria
Tel. (+43)732-6900-24218
Tel. (+43)732-6900-24270



We, the "net." jury, have just learned that next years ars electronica festival will be titled "OPEN SOURCE". This has been inofficially agreed on by the direction of the ARS ELECTRONICA and the sponsors Siemens, Microsoft, Oracle and HP, e.a. From reliable sources we also learned that the decision was made weeks before the ".net"-jury decision on "linux".



Because we have also just learned that the above-mentioned IT-companies are involved in a linux distribution joint venture and a strategic alliance. Their joint venture startup will most probably become one of the leading linux distributors, directly attacking Red Hat and SUSE.

This is the classic oligopolistic strategy. They cannot buy linux, nevertheless, they will take control over the distibution of the competitor.

We were suspicious before, but now we are strongly convinced that there was indirect but heavy influence by corporate and ars electronica executives to reach the "linux" decision...



For the jury welcome dinner, a few corporate people had been invited, too. Everybody was discussing about where Ars Electronica could or should be going. For the corporate people the main hype was of course the .net category, e-commerce and the commercial impact of the "mass communications" medium internet... and they were all constantly talking about the creative potential of linux and its open source strategy.

Then, at the actual jury meeting, deciding on a winner appeared to be quite a hard decision (not to say compromise). Whilst the majority of the jury had a clear favourite in the russian info-intelligence startup "", another juror started talking about "that we need to decide on something that is really taking two steps ahead, not some arty-farty stuff". So "linux" just came up as a smart solution. we took this path, we formulated our statement and came up with the source code as art work, with our position against "beautiful" web-sites. it was a strong moment. And we saw linux as the perfect continuum to the corporate artwork of, the Ars Electronica winners of 1996.



But the information about the secret linux distribution joint venture between Microsoft and Siemens in combination with next years topic made us alert.

Our conclusion: the industry has strongly lobbied and put pressure on at least one jury member to award "linux". We now have to interpret this in persepective of next years ars topic. They pushed the topic. The idea is to use the art and science community to soft launch their linux activities and control open source strategies. They do understand that open source has evolved into a stronger development strategy and they have to jump that train early enough, in order to avoid another "internet" desaster.

So as artists writers and scientists we are used as lab-rats and cheap alternative researchers. This is NOT what artists need and it is certainly not what Ars Electronica should be aiming at.



We believe that investigative journalism is needed to further describe and interpret this incident.. We definitely want to engage in bringing transparency into the "who`s, when`s, where`s, and for how much money" of this years decision making process of Prix Ars Electronica.

For the press, we are available for background information and extended infos on the topic via email or at our on-the-fly press conference:

sept 8, 1999, 1630h
brucknerhaus in linz



Derrick de Kerckhove
Lisa Goldman
Joichi Ito
Marleen Stikker


Marleen Stikker
Centrum de Waag
Amsterdam/ The Netherlands
Tel: (+31)20-5579898
Fax: (+31)20-5579880


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