This year's Brighton Virtual Festival is under way with plenty of projects taking shape across the city.

The annual festival, now in its fourth year, was created by Sussex Community Internet Project (SCIP) to demonstrate how new technology is being used by people in Brighton for business and education and in the community.

Project manager Mark Walker said: "Every year, we try to bring something new to the festival.

"This year, we have a varied programme that shows just a few of the ways that local people are using new technology to express themselves and the impact of this technology on our lives."

Awards: The festival has launched Brighton's first Web Awards, sponsored by thisisbrighton andhove and Lycos. They aim to seek out the best web sites created in and about the city.

Entries can be submitted in three categories - business, community and education.

An online entry form with full competition details are available at and nominations close at the end of this month.

A shortlist of sites will be drawn up by a panel of technology experts and the public will be asked to vote for the winner during June. Results will be announced at an awards presentation in July.

Haiku: A haiku project aims to share original Japanese-style poetry using mobile phones.

A poem a day will be sent to people registered for the service at the VF website.

A database of poems, written by school children in Brighton and Hove, will be being used to source the daily messages.

Haiku is a direct form of writing designed to express emotions as simply as possible, the basic format being a three-line poem using 17 syllables.

The short poems are ideal for sending as texts to mobile phones, which have a limit of 170 characters per message.

So far, more than 80 subscribers have been taking part.

Green computing: A free talk about computers and the environment will take place on Friday. The event will look at how to deal with "dead" computer equipment and how to minimise the impact of the huge turnover of computer goods.

Andrew Lunnon, from the recycling policy unit of the Department of Trade and Industry, will discuss the new Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive.

Other speakers include Daniel Brace, environmental co-ordinator for East Sussex County Council and representatives from Crash UK, a company that refurb-ishes old computer equip-ment for donation to community groups; computer monitor manufacturer View-Sonic and Ecosys, a not-for-profit environmental consult-ancy and education company.

The talk will be held at noon at Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton.

Big Issue vendor video diaries: The culmination of a project bringing Brighton Big Issue vendors to the big screen will take place at the Duke of York's Cinema on May 20.

A charity screening of the Vendor Video Diaries will be shown in partnership with a film about homelessness starring Mark Little.

Adam Clamp, of SCIP, organised video production workshops for Big Issue sellers in the city. The result is a combination of personal testimony and street footage produced by the vendors themselves with assistance from production expert Millie Young of Millimations.

The preview will be at 11am.

Multi-media local history: A workshop looking at how is being created by people in the city will be held at Phoenix Community Centre, Lewes Road, 6 to 9pm on May 22.

Young people's multimedia day: An event for young people to have a go with technology for video, music, email, web pages and the internet.

The event is at the Young People's Centre, Ship Street, Brighton from 11am to 3pm on Saturday.

Matsuri family fun day: A Japanese-themed fun day, to close the festival, from 2pm to 5pm on Sunday, May 27. It includes a free cybercafe at Japanese restaurant Moshi Moshi in Bartholomew Square, Brighton.

The Virtual Festival runs in tandem with the Brighton Festival from May 5 to 27. Sponsors include thisis, Brighton and Hove City Council, Lycos, Virtual Brighton and Midnight Communications.

Full details of all the events, including roadshows and internet sessions, can be found on the web site or by calling 01273 234049.