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Sleepless in Silicon Alley

From Hyperspace to Cyberhell

Tuesday, June 10 Hyperspace Cowgirls made headlines in the Village Voice for our glowing exploits in the 24 hours in CyberHell competition.

The following are highlights from "Sleepless in Silicon Alley: Firms Compete to Build a Web Site in a Day" by Austin Bunn, published in the June 10, 1997 issue of the Village Voice p. 31.

For new-media firms, the all-nighter is part of the professional code. But at ''24 Hours in CyberHell,'' a contest sponsored last week by the New York New Media Association, it became an art form.

The mission: To design a Web site from the ground up--in 24 hours.

The competitors: Four diverse Silicon Alley start-ups: Small World Software, Hyperspace Cowgirls, go-Digital, and US Web Cornerstone.

The booty: The chance to show off before the city's only liquid patron: Microsoft, in the form of M3P, the content-development wing managed by Lara Stein, and a panel of MSN Channel producers.

On the evening of June 2, after a hard day at the office, they were off. 8:00 p.m., 55 Broad Street: Microsoft execs outline the project: to create a site fostering ''democracy on-line'' that could run on one of Microsoft Network's six subscriber channels. Stein fires off buzzwords: ''real-time chat and polling,'' ''streaming media,'' and, of course, the holy grail--''community.'' The teams' eyes don't glaze over.

11:15 p.m.: Union Square: Huddled around a table, four Hyperspace Cowgirls (and three 'boys) pull out their own big white sheets of paper and draw green bubbles. Not surprisingly for a children's CD-ROM company started by a mother-daughter team, they've also dreamed up a site about kids' rights.

1:35 a.m.: The Cowgirls have all abandoned the ranch, leaving one designer to deal with graphics.

5:45 a.m.: The Hyperspace Cowgirls return to the office and start selecting images for Splitsville, their site for children of divorce . . . The brainstorming has been taxing, says Susan Shaw, the sedate CEO. ''With a client, if you go and pitch and it fails, it's private failure,'' she confesses. ''It's just much harder to work with your peers because that's public failure.''

7:15 p.m.: The Cowgirls' bright green Splitsville includes gems like a question-and-answer area called Peer Abby. Shaw presents an interactive ''Children's Bill of Rights.''

. . . Now we cowgirls make no excuses! Sure we didn't snatch first prize, but we're darn sure we had the best site!

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