Webby Awards reveal finalists

The 2003 Academy Awards are history, but recognition of the best of the Internet is just gearing up, with the announcement of the finalists for the 7th Annual Webby Awards.

The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences released the list this week, recognizing outstanding Web sites in such categories as education, games, politics, finance, spirituality, technical achievement, and the catchall: weird.

June Presentations

Organizers note that sites encouraging dialog and action on everything from the war in Iraq to grassroots organizing are acknowledged this season. So are fashion, news gathering, and online auctions–a perennial favorite.

A complete list of nominees is available at www.webbyawards.com.

Awards will be announced June 5 in San Francisco. The Webby tradition restricts winners to an acceptance speech of five words or less.

The Webbys invite all Netizens to participate in the awards by voting on the People’s Voice Awards. Through May 23, all are welcome to cast online ballots for their choice of Web sites. Any site may be submitted in this open category.

Awards are given by the Academy, a global organization whose more than 480 members are recognized experts in numerous fields. Among the participants are musicians Beck and David Bowie, Internet co-creator Vint Cerf, political columnist Arianna Huffington, Smart Mobs author Howard Rheingold, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser, The Body Shop President Anita Roddick, and Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison. Other members include Web developers, Internet experts, and technology writers and editors.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers audits The Webby Awards and People’s Voice Awards voting process.

“This year’s nominees clearly demonstrate how the Web is increasingly being used as a tool to empower people, not just politically but also technologically, spiritually, and in countless other ways,” says Maya Draisin, executive director of The Academy.

Draisin cites nominees such as Movable Type, a finalist in the Best Practices category, and LiveJournal, in the Community category, which have contributed to the explosion in personal Web logs (blogs).

The Webbys also recognize sites that provide innovative ways to organize people and pursue political activity, such as Meetup.com, also a Community category finalist; and MoveOn.org, noted in the Politics category.

“This year’s nominees are a tribute to the Web’s power to facilitate worldwide conversation on ideas that are often overlooked in traditional media,” says Tiffany Shlain, founder and creative director of The Webby Awards.

For the third year, the Academy will also present the Best Practices Award, which recognizes a single Web site that serves as a model of excellence. This year’s nominees are Commanding Heights Online, Edutopia, Movable Type, Theban Mapping Project, and Wired News.

The list of nominees this year includes many long-established sites and recognizes a record 24 international nominees, according to Webby Awards staff.

Several sites received more than one nomination. BBC-affiliated Web sites led the entries with three nominations: BBC Video Nation in the Community category; BBC News in the News category, and BBC Religion & Ethics in the Spirituality category.

Organizations with Web site finalists in at least two categories include PBS, Google, CBC Radio, Disney’s Toontown Online, NASA, The New York Times, The Onion, oddtodd.com, Sodaplay, and Metacritic.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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