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Websites Get Red Carpet Treatment

Sunday, June 12, 2011

For actors, there are gold Oscar statues and Tony medallions. For web designers and tech-types, the prize is a Webby, a swirly statue covered in ones and zeros. The 15th annual Webby awards will be held Monday at the Hammerstein ballroom to recognize the Internet tech innovations that change the way we use the web. 

Journalist and engagement strategist Chrys Wu says the awards are a big deal, but only in certain circles. "They're really important and matter to the people who think that they matter," she said. "To everyone else, it's like, so what? You won a Webby and hey I won parent of the year!" 

Jokes aside, Wu sees the Webbys as an important harbinger of cultural and technological change. In the 15 years since the awards began, categories have been added and taken away in conjunction with the way that the tech world has grown and shifted. This year, the Webbys won't have a broadband category, for example.

"You can kind of posit what the rationale was when you look at the way the web, and all of this stuff on the web, has changed" Wu said. "Broadband isn’t really a special thing anymore, whereas once upon a time not everybody had broadband access."

For media critic Jack Schafer, his opinion on the Webbys hasn't changed since 2008, when he wrote a Slate column likening the awards to a box of Cracker Jacks where "everybody wins a prize."

"When you’ve won a Webby," he said, "all you’ve won is an arbitrary designation as the best. It’s completely indefensible."

For Schafer, though, most prizes are on the chopping block alongside the Webbys. "The Pulitzers, the National Magazine Awards, the Peabodys, even the Nobel prize. There is no objective measure of who should win any of these prizes," he said.

 

Lisa Kudrow will host the ceremony, which for the first time will be streamed live on Facebook.

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