Forget The Oscars, Bring On The Webbys
The lights. The glitz. The celebrities. The awards. The Oscars? Noit's
the Webby Awards. The Webbys are organized by the International
Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), which is fully owned by
IDG.net, and are considered by some to be the preeminent awards for Web
sites. The awards, implemented to honor creativity and innovation on the
Internet, were handed out at The 4th Annual Webby Awards ceremony, which
took place amid a great deal of flash on May 11 in San Francisco. How
different can this awards ceremony be from others? Well, for one thing,
there seemed to be a lot less Armani, and for another, acceptance speeches
were limited to five words. (Though rumor has it one winner broke the
speech limit and spoke seven words.) Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming
(Cabaret), was featured as a presenter of the Webbys' curious,
spring-shaped gold statues.
The awards are separated into categories and are two-pronged. First,
there are the Webbys themselves, which are chosen by a panel of IADAS
judges. The list of judges is extensive and reads like a Who's Who of the
Rich, Beautiful and Very, Very Famous. Peppered through the list of judges
are names such as Dilbert creator Scott Adams, David Bowie, Julia
Child (I haven't quite figured this one out yet, either), Olympic
gold-medallist runner Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Deborah Norville, Francis Ford
Coppola, Jerry Greenfield (better known to the ice cream world as the
other half of Ben), new-age guru Deepak Chopra and author Tom Peters (In
Search of Excellence), along with a host of journalists, educators,
corporate big cheeses, psychologists, politicians, lawyers, writers and
television and film personalities.
The second half of the awards are called The People's Voice Award.
Ballots cast by the online community are counted to determine the winners.
More than 134,000 Netizens registered to vote for The People's Voice, and
it seems likely as the Webbys become more prominent, that number will
increase sharply next year.
Both the Webbys and The People's Voice Awards cover 27 categories:
activism, arts, broadband, commerce, community, education, fashion, film,
finance, games, health, humor, kids, living, music, news, personal Web
sites, politics and law, print and magazines, radio, science, services,
sports, technical achievement, TV, travel and "weird." Notable
winners of Webbys included BabyCenter
for the commerce category, the legally beleaguered Napster.com
in the music category, Google.com for
technical achievement, The Onion in
the humor category, Media News for
news, Video Farm for broadband and Gamespy
Industry for, logically enough, games. (Robin Williams was a judge in
this category, being, apparently, an avid gamer.) I would have provided
the URL here for the "weird" winner, since I am always amused by
offbeat and twisted things, but I visited the site and found it to be
offensive, mindless and containing about as much innovative material as
the average bowl of store-brand cornflakes.
While the Webbys may initially smell like so much hype, they do seem to
serve a purpose. Winning a Webby could raise a site's profile to the point
that hits, advertising, venture capital and partnership opportunities flow
in far faster and more liberally than before. Without exposure, a site
cannot thrive or even continue to exist, and these sites and the
individuals behind them certainly received thatand then some. According
to those in the know, the ceremony attracted over 3,000 attendees and 27
different countries submitted sites to last year's call for entries.
If you are interested in viewing the somewhat goofy ceremony or seeing
photos of the after-parties, you can visit www.webbyawards.com
and see the archived Webcast. At the risk of sounding like a Cosmo
fashion editor, you must check out emcee Alan Cumming'serrinnovative
Are you coveting a Webby yet? Do something about it: Hop onto the Webby
Awards site and nominate your own site for consideration. The 2001 Webby
Awards call for entries begins May 17, 2000. Each site you submit will
cost you $75, which the IADAS states is to cover administrative costs for
qualified "site testers" to thoroughly review your Web site.
Judging is assigned by category, so it's unlikely you'll have Emeril
Lagasse reviewing your broadband site or Cindy Crawford weighing the
merits of your mortgage calculator.
If you win, thank me in your acceptance speech. Only remember to keep
it to five words or less.
Rich, beautiful and very, very famous people can contact the author