It was a fabulous night at the Webby Awards in San Francisco last month, says New Zealand web producer Paul Reynolds, who attended as a judge.
However, there were plenty of signs of the dot.com meltdown, one of which was the dress code, "gritty", which meant to dress grittily in the face of the downturn, Reynolds says. “There wouldn’t have been one attendee who hadn’t felt the pain of the past year.
“In New Zealand, we might say to ourselves ‘we didn’t feel the pain’, but in California they did – the Print and Zine category winner, Plastic.com, was heading into bankruptcy and others were struggling to stay afloat.”
Reynolds was one of three New Zealanders who had input into the judging of the webbys; the other two were writers Russell Brown (former IDGNet newseditor) and Peter Sinclair, neither of whom attended. The trio are the three New Zealand members of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Science, the organisation that runs the Webbys.
Membership is by invitation and Reynolds says New Zealand is well represented with three members, considering our small population.
As a judge, it was Brown who had the most work to do, Reynolds says, as he was a “nominating judge,” tasked with helping whittle down some 500 entries in the News category down to a handful of finalists. “I was just a judge who judges the finals.”
All 350 members of the academy voted for winners, after the nominating judges decided on the finalists, with original nominations open to the public.
The categories at the Webbys were activism, broadband, commerce, community, education, fashion, film, finance, games, government and law, health, humour, kids, living, music, news, personal website, politics, print and zines, radio, science, services, spirituality, sports, TV, travel and weird.
The Webbys may be touted as the online equivalent of the Oscars, as the title of the body that runs it implies, but there’s one key difference – acceptance speeches are limited to five words. Sinking Plastic.com’s owners said “bankruptcy never felt this good”, and other acceptance speeches included “Hey Mom, I love you.”
This year’s was the sixth annual Webbys.