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Last Updated: Friday, 17 June 2005, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
New York honours best of the web
Ian Hardy
By Ian Hardy
Click's North America technology correspondent

Each year the 500 members of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences vote for the best websites in the world, in the equivalent of the Oscars for the internet. Ian Hardy went to the award ceremony in New York.

Webby logo
Anyone from individuals to large corporations can enter the Webbys

It was a very important night for the organisers of the Webbys, which has a checkered history that runs parallel to the fortunes of the internet industry itself.

After five years of careful promotion, its profile peaked in 2001, when 3,000 guests filled a prestigious San Francisco opera house.

Then came the tech crash and suddenly it was an online-only event. So this year it was crucial to put on a live event with 500 participants, ranging from CEOs to students.

Tiffany Shlain, the founder of the Webby Awards, says: "I love that about the web. It's the great equaliser. There can be these huge corporations and then this one guy with a day job creating a website that wins."

The Webby Awards is hailed as "the best of the web". This year more than 4,300 sites entered in more than 60 different categories ranging from Best Community Site to Best Home Page to best Bill-Paying Website.

Winners are picked by Academy members, including David Bowie and Richard Branson, and the public via online voting.

Uniquely, every winner is allowed an acceptance speech of just five words or less.

News category: BBC News
Music category: BBC Onemusic
Best Personal Website: Tyler Morgan
Best Artist award: The Kleptones
Humour and Weird categories: Joel Veitch
Best Navigation and Structure: Jonathan Harris
Best Game: William Ngan
Webby Person of the Year: Craig Newmark
Lifetime Achievement Award: Former Vice President Al Gore
Not surprisingly perhaps, the BBC won several awards. BBC News won in the News category whilst BBC Onemusic was on top in the Music category.

Best Personal Website went to 19-year-old Tyler Morgan from Texas.

He said: "There's so many websites out there that are standard, cookie cutter type websites, that people go to look at them and they just get lost, they don't remember. I wanted something that someone would remember."

The Best Artist award went to the British group The Kleptones, known for their musical mash-ups. So why did they win?

Eric Kleptone says: "I have absolutely no idea, I really don't. We've been putting out our music and our mixes online for about the past year or so, they've been gradually working their way around the internet and it's grown and grown and grown to the point where somebody turns around and says: 'you've won an award!'"

Despite submissions from more than 40 countries, the Brits seemed to do incredibly well, helped along by the fact that Joel Veitch won in both the Humour and Weird categories.

He commented: "The beautiful thing about the internet is that any kid in a bedroom with a budget of precisely zero can just put their stuff out there and if people like it they'll e-mail it to their friends and it'll go around the world before you know it."

Please don't recount this vote
Al Gore's acceptance speech
Jonathan Harris, winner for Best Navigation and Structure, explained how his site worked. "It runs every hour on the hour, it takes about three minutes to run.

"It goes out and it looks at the New York Times, the BBC and Reuters international websites, and it analyses the word usage and the articles that are being run. Then, based on that usage, it selects the top 100 words and pictures in the world that hour."

William Ngan, winner for Best Games, said: "It's not so much about games as in Tetris or Quake. It's more about: once in life you see things like a form or a pattern of movement and those things just come to pass really quickly and then there's no more."

Craig Newmark was honoured with Webby Person of the Year for founding craigslist, a classified advertisement site that operates in 120 cities in 25 countries around the world.

But the biggest award of the evening was saved until last. Former Vice President Al Gore won a lifetime achievement award for lending crucial political support to the technical development of the World Wide Web.

His five-word acceptance speech: "Please don't recount this vote."

It is just a shame all politicians do not stick to a five word maximum!


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