The Webby Awards has week announced its annual honours for the seventh crop of outstanding sites, but organizers made it clear that this year's event was different. See who won (with links) here.
Recognition of online excellence went exclusively online itself, and the Webbys site bore the warning: "Cocktails not available online."
Instead, winners were revealed throughout the day - unlike previous years of celebrity-studded awards ceremonies followed by lavish parties at flashy San Francisco venues.
Avatars accept awards The Webby Awards honour outstanding Web sites in 30 categories, including Broadband, Finance, Community, Technical Achievement, and "Weird." This year's winners learned of their recognition Thursday in a Webcast program.
Rather than merely a streaming Webcast of a live awards ceremony, this year's ceremony took place online only - featuring a techno music soundtrack, canned applause sound effects, and animated characters representing hosts and winners. The avatars were created by Webbys participants and designed by Oddcast, a maker of interactive media software.
While most winners submitted their acceptance speeches in text form - adhering to the Webbys' historical five-words-or-less mandate - some phoned in their statements, which were then delivered by their animated talking-head avatars.
People's Voice awards winners were announced online throughout the day, with a new winner revealed every 40 minutes.
The Web, it is a-changin' Webby Awards founder and Chief Executive Tiffany Shlain reinforced the subdued, reflective mood of the event by opening the online program with a quote from Greek philosopher Heraclitus: "There is nothing permanent except change."
"Our nominees are using the Web in new and original ways to bring people together," Shlain said. "We want to follow their lead by using the medium to honor winners in a powerful and uniquely Webby way."
Nearly 90 per cent of this year's nominees were sites based outside the San Francisco Bay Area; among those were a record 24 international sites representing countries such as Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Italy, France, The Netherlands, and Germany. Many nominees had expressed concern about travelling to San Francisco in light of heightened terrorism threats, according to a statement on the Webbys' Web site.
"With our nominees now reflecting a truly global Web, we're facing new considerations, especially in light of everything that's going on in the world," said Maya Draisin, executive director of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which chooses the Webby winners. While the decision to forego a live ceremony was initially made in recognition that many nominees are unable or hesitant to travel, Shlain notes, "We realize now it was really out of a need to meet the times."
Shlain said thousands of users registered to watch the event online, representing 991 US cities and 81 countries.
More than 200 votes were cast online for People's choice awards, Draisin said.
The Webbys are launching a second awards program, The Webby Business Awards, this autumn. Those awards will recognize best business practices and leading trends in online business.
A different kind of party The first Webby Awards in 1997 recognized sites in 15 categories amid a party for 700 in a San Francisco nightclub. At the height of the dot-com boom in 2000, some 3,000 people partied with The Webby Awards, including a post-conference event atop the city's ritzy Nob Hill. By 2002, given the then-recent September 11 tragedy and a slumping technology economy, the ceremony had evolved into a more symposium-like event with 600 attendees.
Organizers of this year's online event tried to stay true to the jubilant, anything-goes spirit of Webbys past. The site offered users a "party-in-a-download" package, including a specially designed Evite, Webbys screen wallpaper, cocktail recipes, printable signs, name tags, party hats, and MP3 music files. Video chat service CU World provided streaming video of Webbys parties around the world, as well as live chat, photo posting, and discussion boards.
Dress code for the event was designated "all over the map" (guidelines for past ceremonies have ranged from "future swank" to "spiffy" to "smart"). User responses to the online question "What are you wearing?" ranged from "my birthday suit" to "pajamas."
The awards ceremony was originally scheduled for Teatro ZinZanni, an interactive dinner theatre and circus-like show in San Francisco. The Webby Awards plans to donate a portion of the tickets purchased for that night's performance to local charities dedicated to bridging the digital divide, according to a statement.
We have the winners! The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which chose the winners, comprises more than 350 members who are experts and leaders in fields from technology to media to music and film. The winner of the Rising Star award was determined using Nielsen//NetRatings Internet audience measurement data.
Webbys balloting is audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Following are the winners in each category, including some of the five-word acceptance speeches of the Webby-awards winners.
Speech: "Activists do it online."
Best Practices Moveable Type
CBC Radio 3
Speech: "Repent Sinners: Support Public Broadcasting"
Speech: "People of the world unite!"
NASA Earth Observatory
Speech: "God Bless Our Home Planet."
Speech:"Broadcasting fashion in motion, live."
Speech: "Upturns, downturns, independent voices survive."
Speech: "Thank you for this award."
Speech: "A simple kind of fun."
Government and Law
Speech: "Science, technology, people, inspiration: cool."
Planned Parenthood Golden Gate
Speech: "Planned Parenthood makes safe sexy."
get your war on
Speech: "Sorry about the curse words."
Speech: "Somewhere, a repairman gently weeps."
Speech: "First a Grammy, now a Webby."
Speech: "scriptedformula vegans political fashionable washingtontimes"
Speech: "Hear all sides - Google News."
Personal Web Site
Speech: "... wanted to be a mime."
Speech: "Won Webby; next, beat Bush."
Print and Zines
Speech: "It's all in the mix."
Speech: "No comment."
Speech: "Mars or bust; preferably Mars."
Speech: "Americans engage with religious differences."
Speech: "Nothin' beats winning a Webby."
Apache Web Server
Speech: "Thank you, one and all."
Lonely Planet Online
Speech: "Inspiring and enabling travelers worldwide."
Speech: "SpongeBob rocks, kids rule!"
Speech: "Thank God for little kittens."
Speech: "The team made it happen."
Speech: "Family photo site beats porn."
People's Voice Winners
Best Practices Wired News
Broadband CBC Radio 3
Education NASA Earth Observatory
Film Rotten Tomatoes
Government and Law NASA
Health HIV STOPS WITH ME
Humour The Onion
Living Do-It-Yourself Network
Music Flaming Lips
Net Art Penny Arcade
News BBC News Online
Personal Web Site Cockeyed
Politics The Note
Print and Zines The Onion
Radio CBC Radio 3
Spirituality Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Technical Achievement Google
Travel Lonely Planet Online
Youth Disney's Toontown Online