7th Webbys Reflect Activism, Community, Commerce

Grassroots organizing, politics and sites that help Web loggers be better bloggers are among the nominees for the 7th Annual Webby Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of the Web.”

Along with the usual popular nominees, such as ESPN.com in sports, eBay in services and Amazon.com in commerce, a crop of newcomers made the list for the first time across 30 categories, which span Activism, Community, Film, News, Personal Web Sites, Politics, and Spirituality.

They include http://www.oddtodd.com, whose quirky vignettes about life as a laid-off dot-commer have been a hit with cubicle dwellers (nominated in the humor and living categories). Also nominated are online movie-rental play NetFlix, whose business model does not include late fees, and online grocery newcomer Freshdirect.com.

Other e-commerce nominees are upscale gift site Red Envelope and car tire retailer Tire Rack.

PBS’s “Commanding Heights” series about the global economy was among the five nominees in the broadband category, along with the popular animation site Heavy.com

“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,” said Maya Draisin, executive director of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which organizes the awards.

“By transforming traditional offline routes, this year’s nominees are helping to change the way we think, interact, work, and live in ways both large and small.”

She said nominees such as Movable Type in the best practices category, and Live Journal in the community category have contributed to the explosion in personal web logs.

Some sites were nominated in more than one category, such The Onion (Humor and Print, Zines) and Metacritic(Film and Music).

Among the cities with the most sites nominated, New York-based Web sites were in the lead with 27 sites out of 150 nominated for the awards, including Web consulting shop Plumb Design’s Visual Thesaurus and The New York Times Learning Network.

One of the newcomers in the community catetory was MeetUp.com, a popular networking and meeting site that is credited with helping foster a large turnout at a recent event for Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

In the politics category, MoveOn.org, which is active in protesting the Iraq war and organizing peace rallies, was also cited.

This year’s crop named a record 24 international sites, including Homeless (Australia Homeless); Japanese Streets (Japan), and City of Bologna(Italy).

For the second year, the public will be allowed to vote for favorite Web sites in what the Webbys organization calls The People’s Voice Awards”. Balloting begins today and closes on May 23rd.

A complete list of nominees is available at http://www.webbyawards.com/main/webby_awards/nominees.html.

Winners will be announced on June 5th in San Francisco. Unlike the Oscars, the Webby winners are held to a five-words-or-less acceptance speech.

News Around the Web