Before the rise of the Digerati and Geek Chic, an awards ceremony to honor people who built Web sites probably would have had about as much glamour as the Technical Achievements segment of the Oscars.
But if you'd been at the fourth annual Webby Awards in San Francisco Thursday night, you might say the shindig had all the glitz of the Academy Awards. Don't let the show's presenters hear that, however: They insist the funky fete is not "the Oscars of the Internet," but "the antidote to the Oscars."
Sure, the VIPs arriving on the red carpet are more likely to be swathed in feathers and fairy wings than Harry Winston jewels and Halston haute couture. The show may feature elaborate dance numbers, but the Webbys feature performers who climb, rappel, and dance down columns outside the auditorium. The after-party isn't at Spago, but in a tent-enclosed park, complete with flowing fountains and picnic blankets. A rambunctious display by Roberto Begnini may not be part of the evening, but Turkish e-Casanova Mahir did bring the surprised crowd to its feet when he arrived to present the award for Best Personal Web Page.
And perhaps the biggest difference between this awards show and Hollywood's big night out: Acceptance speeches are limited to five words. Not five minutes, not even five distinct thank-you's. Five words. A full list of Webby recipients and People's Voice winners is available at the Webby's Web site, at http://www.webbyawards.com/event/webcast/awards/. The site includes an archived Webcast of the event and the text of the five-word acceptance speeches.
And the winners (most of which found creative - not all publishable - ways to comply with the quota) in each category were:
ARTS: Web Stalker
BROADBAND: Video Farm
COMMUNITY: Cafe Utne
EDUCATION: Word Central
FASHION: Paul Smith
FILM: Atom Films
HUMOR: The Onion
NEWS: Jim Romenesko's Media News
PERSONAL WEB SITE: CockyBastard
RADIO: Lost and Found Sound
SCIENCE: The Cave of Lascaux
TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT: Google
TRAVEL: Outside Online
WEIRD: Stile Project
THE SF MOMA WEBBY PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE ONLINE ARTS: Michael Samyn and Auriea Harvey, Entropy8Zuper!