About the 5k
The purpose of the competition was expressed on the original contest site thusly:
The idea behind the contest is that the rigid constraints of designing for the web are what force us to get truly creative. Between servers and bandwidth, clients and users, HTML and the DOM, browsers and platforms, our conscience and our ego, we're left in a very small space to find highly optimal solutions. Since the space we have to explore is so small, we have to look harder, get more creative; and that's what makes it all interesting. Just celebrating that is all.
The 5k contest was conceived of by Stewart Butterfield in the fall of 1999 and the first competition was launched in early 2000. It is now run by Stewart and Eric Costello. (You may contact them using this form.) The design for the 2002 site was created by Caterina Fake. You'll note that it only uses black and white pixels ("look Mom, no gray!")
The 5k competition is entirely non-commercial and does not accept sponsorship or advertising. It will continue on an annual basis for the foreseeable future and hopefully the goals of the contest will continue to be fulfilled: an exploration of what's possible with relatively little information, an opportunity to learn from everyone else's explorations (both in terms of technique and imagination) and recognition of some of the most talented designers, developers and programmers around.