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DARPA's Information Technology Office has issued a request for ideas (RFI 98-04) on Research Directions in Smart Spaces, Information Visualization, and Visual Interaction. Smart Spaces covers mobile computing and intelligent objects. Information Visualization includes domain-independent techniques for military planning and situation display, computer system monitoring, WWW information resources, and military intelligence sources. Visual Interaction includes virtual reality, gestural input, and audio-visual analysis, with coupling to the system being visualized. "Ideas submitted should lead towards revolutionary advances in the state of the art, rather than evolutionary improvement to the state of practice," although it's OK to suggest ways of overcoming current obstacles. DARPA particularly wants new directions or visionary applications "that could motivate a coordinated effort by the research community to develop convincing demonstrations of the new capability." 25Feb98; Dr. Kevin L. Mills or , (703) 522-7161 Fax. . [05Jan98.] (Responses will not be considered proposals and DARPA/ITO may not provide feedback, but this is your chance to get the request for proposals worded to include your research interests.)

The Merrill Lynch Innovation Competition (TCC 7.86) has a Web page at or . The winning proposal will be awarded $50K; two others will win $20K and two will win $10K. The winning candidates' university departments will each receive $5K. Applicants may be from any country, having defended their dissertations between 01Jan96 and 31May98. Proposals must be postmarked by 01Jun98. The story was written up in Wired as , and in CybervilleGossip as . Phone contact is 1-888-33FORUM. [Michael Cleary , 23Dec97.] (Thanks, Mike!)

State spending on higher education in the US rose 6% last year, with decreases only in Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Tennessee. (Wyoming held constant.) Community and technical colleges received higher increases than four-year colleges. Almost every state increased spending on technology in higher education. . [FEDIX OPPORTUNITY ALERT!!!, Dec97.]

The Commerce Department is trying to decide whether to provide funding to learning technology ventures through its Advanced Technology Program. "The advantages of the Internet make for a new economy of learning." Richard W. Morris is the program manager. [New York Times Cybertimes, 04Jan98. EduP.] (Now is the time to influence the decision.)

Microsoft will give $7M to community colleges for their training programs in information technology, to help fill an estimated 190K-person shortage in the US. Awards will be distributed in three annual competitions through the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) "Working Connections" program, in about 25 grants of up to $300K (plus Microsoft software and technical assistance). . [FEDIX OPPORTUNITY ALERT!!!, Dec97.]