January is the month that two of the Internet's most revered awards organizations seek out the best and brightest of the Web.
The 11th annual Webby Awards are accepting entries through Jan. 26, and the seventh annual Weblog Awards are winnowing down their nomination list and will allow the public to vote for winners starting Jan. 22.
In terms of stature, the Webbies are the big leagues. The awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and have been around since the Internet stone ages of the mid-90s. Over the years the Webbies - webbyawards.com - have expanded the scope of their awards far beyond personal Web sites and now honor the biggest digital media innovators in more than 100 categories including blogs, news, mobile media, movies and advertising. Or as the awards' Web site puts it: "The annual Webby Awards serves as a snapshot in time of the state of the Internet, the industry, and the world."
Winners are chosen by the academy - whose 550 members include musician Beck, Internet inventor Vint Cerf, Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson and Simpsons creator Matt Groening - but most categories also have a "people's choice" winner chosen by public votes.
The annual awards ceremony has become an old- and new-media spectacle unto itself.
Last year's event was hosted by The Daily Show's Rob Corddry. Presenters and guests at last year's ceremony in New York included New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman; entrepreneur, blogger and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban; and the pioneering animated musical supergroup Gorillaz.
Honored blogs from the event included the business site 5 Blogs Before Lunch (daveibsen.typepad. com/5'blogs'before'lunch), new media stalwart We Make Money Not Art (we-make-money-not-art.com) and political powerblog the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).
This year's winners will be announced this spring, and national media writeups are sure to follow.
The Bloggies - 2007.bloggies.com - are a little younger, not nearly as well known and quite a bit more informal. But in many blogging circles, these peer-presented awards are the ones that matter the most.
Bloggie nominations can be made free (Webby nominations, by contrast, come with a $95 to $395 entry fee, depending on the category).
The public nominations for the awards closed last week, and finalists will be announced online Jan. 22, at which time public voting for a winner begins. Winners will be announced in mid-March at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.
The voyeuristic and addictive site Post Secret (postsecret.blogspot.com) took the Weblog of the Year honors last year. Jurgen Nation (jurgennation.com) won the Best New Blog honors, and everybody's favorite tech and culture site Boing Boing (boingboing.net) received a lifetime achievement award.
Like last year, this year's top winners will receive a cash prize, says organizer Nikolai Nolan.
"Because of the large amount of categories, I won't personally give [an] award to every winner," Nolan wrote, "but the final four categories, including Weblog of the Year, will receive 2,007 US cents (US$20.07)."
Not to mention the eternal envy of bloggers around the world.
Listen to Troy McCullough's podcasts at baltimoresun.com/onblogs.