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Webby Awards showcase best of the Internet May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet.

Hidden among the millions of websites with their billions of pages, there are many remarkable examples of what the Internet can offer. These are Internet locations which demonstrate great creativity, technical excellence, and often a commitment to change the world or correct great injustices.

Some of the websites are the product of an individual’s brilliance or vision and many others are the creations of large companies. Great movies are recognized by the Academy Awards and the music industry lauds its luminaries at the Grammy Awards. The finest sites on the Internet are celebrated at the annual Webby Awards.

Since the Internet is a fairly new medium, this is only the 11th year that the Webbys have been presented. Honouring notable websites was an assignment handed to Internet designer and reporter Tiffany Schlain in 1997 by The Web magazine. She raised barely enough money to hold the event and only managed to give out a statue in 15 categories. In 1998 The Web magazine ceased publication and everyone was laid off, except for Tiffany and her one staffer, Dave Skaff, who continued to work on the awards presentation. It’s obvious by the growth of the event that Tiffany had come up with a winning formula. The Webby Awards now attract interest from all over the world. The judging is carried out by members of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (www.iadas.net) which includes Internet luminaries and celebrities such as musician David Bowie, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, and Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons.

The awards are presented in numerous categories within several areas of websites: interactive advertising, online film and video, and mobile, which designates websites written to be displayed on a portable device such as a cell phone. This is the first year that online film and video has had its own category which reflects the increasing role of the Internet as an entertainment medium.

The presentation of the Webbys will be in June at a gala ceremony to be held in New York City but the nominees and winners have already been announced and listed at the Webby site (www.webbyawards.com). The best entries were selected from more than 8,000 nominees by the panel of judges. A second winner in each category was determined by online voting by Internet users and is called the People’s Voice Winner. The really nice thing about these awards is that, unlike the Academy Awards and various music awards, it’s very easy to see all of the winners and runners-up without leaving home or having to buy anything.

Perusing some of the 70 categories and viewing the nominees can be informative, often entertaining, and occasionally awe-inspiring.

The winner for Activism this year is called Green My Planet (www.greenpeace.org/apple) by Greenpeace International and its aim is to get Apple, the maker of Ipods and Macs, to stop polluting the planet with toxic materials found in its products. Interestingly, Steve Jobs of Apple has recently announced that Apple will move to phase out the worst chemicals in its product range. Other sites in the Activism category range from those attempting to save the planet to protecting refugees of war.

Many websites look pleasant, but two websites have astonishing blends of artistry and technology. Jonathan Yuen’s personal site (www.jonathanyuen.com) won for the best use of animation or motion graphics and is beautiful in its understated use of Flash technology, soft music, and black and white graphics. It’s hard to describe the wizardry at work in the first two “ways” at the Ten Ways site (www.interacttenways.com/usa) from Getty Images, which was a runner up in the Art category.

The Internet is so often depicted as the root of many evils, which is why the Webby Awards are so important for showcasing the technical brilliance, creativity, and social conscience that make up the best of the Internet.

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