I attended the Webby Awards for the third time last night and enjoyed the irreverent evening as always. I continue to find the exact purpose of the ceremony rather vague -- exactly what kind of online innovation do the Webbys encourage when SelleckWaterfallSandwich gets the same trophy as TCP/IP inventor Vinton Cerf? I suppose the Streamys have adopted a more focused direction by emphasizing web video, but I live in New York, which means I'm a Webbys guy by default.
I do admire the almost childlike glee of the event, a recognition that the Internet continues to be a place of reckless invention rather than dull rigidity. Along with its admittedly vapid fixation on celebrities (yes, I'm being an apologist here), the Webbys honors online personalities as dedicated outlaws. "I am B.J. Novak, from bittorrent's 'The Office,'" joked last night's host, who couldn't one-up 2009 emcee Seth Meyers, but held his own well enough. At one point, Novak introduced an "In Memoriam" montage that included such lost values as "Grammar," "Accountability" and "Civility," which gives you a sense of the self-awareness this geeky conclave aims to recognize. And it works, for the most part.
I especially enjoyed the personal/professional overlap last night, having watched both film critic Roger Ebert and Cerf (an old colleague of my computer engineer father) grace the same stage within minutes of each other.
Here are a couple of five-word speeches from last night: