"Because their technology is probably highly advanced," states Prof. Allen Tough of Toronto, the group's founder, "some extraterrestrial species may be using unobtrusive methods of observing humankind and other fledgling civilizations in this Galaxy. As its name indicates, the Invitation to ETI invites these visitors to dialogue with all of humanity. Sooner or later, advanced extraterrestrials will have an enormous impact on humankind."
The group's website, www.ieti.org, has recently been overhauled by Dr. H. Paul Shuch, executive director of the non-affiliated SETI League, Inc., and Web Design Consultant for Invitation to ETI, to maximize accessibility. "Throughout the Web community," Shuch explains, "there is a growing awareness that this enabling technology must not be restricted to the able-bodied alone. Websites are striving to be accessible to persons with a variety of disabilities, and standards are emerging to aid in this process. What greater accessibility challenge is there than making the Invitation to ETI accessible to our cosmic companions, creatures with whom we may have nothing biological in common?"
In addition to a graphical overhaul (which he admits is purely for the benefit of the website's sighted human visitors), Shuch has embraced Bobby standards in an attempt to make the site accessible to alien web surfers. Bobby is an organization that validates websites for ease of access by humans (and, Shuch hopes, extraterrestrials) with a wide range of physical abilities and differences. Every page of the new website is tested for Bobby AAA compliance, as well as conformance to standards established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). "Like all websites," emphasizes Shuch, "this is a work in progress. However, our new accessible design is intended to set the direction for future enhancements."
Dr. Shuch has been assisted in the website overhaul by Dr. Scarlett Wang, the project's Webmaster. Dr. Wang is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the ieti.org website. She became the project manager 16 months ago.
Although several of the 90 members of the Invitation to ETI team happen also to be active members of the nonprofit SETI League, the latter organization concentrates primarily on conventional radio telescope-based SETI. The focus of the Invitation, on the other hand, is to attract the attention of extraterrestrial civilizations that have invented technologies for monitoring our terrestrial Internet. This could be done through physical presence, robotic exploration of our Solar System, or long-range telecommunications.
Largely using radio telescopes and optical telescopes, SETI scientists seek to determine whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have privatized the research. Amateur and professional scientists interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, and citizens wishing to help support it, should email join_at_setileague_dot_org, check the SETI League Web site at http://www.setileague.org/, send a fax to +1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at +1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the scientific Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
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this page last updated 20 November 2004
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