Glitzy Webby Awards show honours top sites

Top Web sites were honored on Friday at the Webby Awards ceremony, a lavish event that is fast earning itself a reputation as 'the Oscars of the Internet.'

          Top Web sites were honored on Friday at the Webby Awards ceremony, a lavish event that is fast earning itself a reputation as "the Oscars of the Internet."

          Among those recognised by judges from The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences were Evite Inc. for best services site, Napster Inc. for best music site, BabyCenter Inc. for best commerce site and search engine Google Inc. for best technical achievement.

          If the show aimed to spotlight achievements in Web design, at least as much energy was spent by the digital elite on looking good for the occasion. Feather boas, ball gowns, retro suits and sunglasses were in abundance, along with astronaut and pixie costumes.

          "I've never seen so many snazzy revolutionaries in my life," quipped Tina Brown, editor of Talk Magazine, who presented Nerve.com the award for best print and 'zine site, beating out nominees Salon.com and Slashdot.

          Other notables included actress and comedian Sandra Bernhard, who gave The Onion Inc. the award for best humor site, and Scottish actor Alan Cummings, the master of ceremonies.

          By tradition at the Webbys, which is now in its fourth year, acceptance speeches for the 27 categories were limited to five words to keep things moving along.

          "Three letters: I.P.O," said an optimistic representative from Adbusters, which took a Webby in the activism category.

          "Friends, it's time to party," was the message from Evite, which offers a free invitation service.

          A representative from Merriam-Webster Word Central, which took the award for best education site, milked her time on stage by reciting five of the longest words she could find in the dictionary, including antidisestablishmentarianism and pseudopsychoanalysis.

          The most irreverent acceptance gesture came from Michael Samyn and Auriea Harvey, who were presented by video artist Bill Viola with a special online art award for their site, Entropy8Zuper! They mesmerized the audience with a long, silent French kiss at the podium.

          Big name Web sites were frequently beaten out by less well known contenders. The Webby for best news site went to Jim Romenesko's Media News, edging out nominees ABCNews.com and The Wall Street Journal Internet Edition. BabyCenter took the commerce award at the expense of Amazon.com and eToys.

          The Webby Awards were judged by members of the The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, including director Francis Ford Coppola in the film category, David Bowie for music, and actor Robin Williams for games, although those celebrities didn't appear to be at the event.

          The public was invited to vote for a separate People's Voice Award in each category. About 135,000 people voted online, according to show organisers. They chose Amazon.com in the commerce category, Blue Mountain Arts for best living site and Shockwave.com for best games site.

          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.

          The Webby Awards is a division of International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.

          The Webby Awards, in San Francisco, can be contacted on the Web at http://www.webbyawards.com/.

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