Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: Free speech? Try the 'Net... .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Free speech? Try the 'Net...

That's my five word acceptance speech...

Probably the best thing about the Webbys is that they don't condone lengthy acceptance speeches. In fact, they're limited to five words.

Five Words of Wisdom Each From the Web's Winning Sites

Rob Corddry, one of the more tawdry of the "Daily Show" stable of reporters was the host of the annual Webby Awards show in New York this year.

With the implosion of the internet bubble, the show has only taken place online the past few years. And before that, the west coast had outbid the mediacentric east coast for access to the show. Now that the playing field is leveled, New York has embraced the culture with open arms and open legs, hoping to cash in on the popularity of the web with the not-so-mainstream population.

The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence in Web design, creativity, usability and functionality. Established in 1996 during the web's infancy, the Webbys are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 500-member body of leading web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities.

Reflecting the tremendous growth of the Internet as a tool for business and everyday lives, the 9th Annual Webby Awards will greatly expand the mission of the Webby by honoring excellence in over 60 categories.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Al Gore. That's right, Al Gore. The Vice President who was attributed to claim that he invented the internet. Mr. Gore was introduced by Vinton Cerf, a man who could have certainly laid claim to achieving the same accomplishment. Mr. Cerf's five word speech was: "we all invented the internet".

Mr. Gore's speech? "Please don't recount this vote". It met with thunderous applause.

Mr. Gore, by virtue of his résumé, was dragged back to the dais to say a few more words.

"It is time to reinvent the Internet for all of us to make it more robust and much more accessible and use it to reinvigorate our democracy," he said, again to thunderous applause.

The Webbys were once an overblown internet awards show that reflected the expanding bubble that was the internet back in the early 00s. Since then, they've mirrored the bust and slow emergence that's resulted in the presence that the internet has in current society.

One example is Tyler Morgan of Amarillo, Texas.

[he] was getting all of a dozen hits a day on the personal Web site he built in his bedroom - - until Yahoo named it as a site of the day and he was listed as a nominee for the Webby. In May he had 1.2 million hits.
After he learned he had won the Webby, there was the problem of getting to New York.

"I put a personal plea on my Web site, and people sent in something like $1,700 and here I am," he said, wearing one of the red corsages that identified the winners. His five-word speech was to the point: "Desperate - need money for college."

Of course, there were many commerical sites in contention as well. And marketing acumen was not igored either.

Because the Webby sculpture is shaped like a large spring, it invited short-form, salacious annotations, with many speeches that drew hoots from the crowd but might draw flags from the editor of a family newspaper. One of the more demure, low-tech speeches came from a staff member at .uk, who stepped up to get her award in a gorgeous white frock.

"Do you like my dress?" she said. Yes, they did, and her speech as well.

And of course, there were the rags to riches stories, best exemplified by Craigslist, now a household word:

The Webby for Person of the Year went to Craig Newmark of , whose once-tiny community bulletin board now attracts more than eight million people in 120 cities, including Sydney, Australia, and Bangalore, India. Mr. Newmark's various sites have given fits to the classified ad business of both daily and weekly papers.

And I couldn't report on this story without paying homage to fellow bloggers. Although they are on a national scale, with gazillions more hits (and quite a few more posts) than I could even conceive - they still blog, so I must bow in homage before their mastery... , whose idiosyncratic approach to what constitutes information worth sharing - robot bands, charts on disappearing oil, or an Osama Bin Laden cigarette lighter replete with World Trade Center towers - received top blogging honors.

A complete list of the winners is at


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