The Internet puts on a tie

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At the close of 2008's Internet Week in New York Webby winners gathered last night at the cavernous Cipriani Wall Street for their formal recognition, accepting awards and delivering the show's renowned five-word speeches among net celebrities and special honorees.

Television personality Stephen Colbert received the Person of the Year award for myriad mobilizations of his online fanbase, summing up the efforts with the speech "me, me, me, me, me." Later on, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson presented David Byrne with a Lifetime Achievement award for his multimedia endeavors, including campaigning for creative uses of PowerPoint, ventures in internet radio and online music selling and his most recent sound installation, "Playing the Building."

SNL head writer and "Weekend Update" co-anchor Seth Myers was funny throughout as the evening's emcee, responding well to varied technical glitches and strange winner behavior during the show. Myers started with a gentle ribbing of the crowd, tiptoeing towards bawdiness; one of his opening jokes noted the Webbys was the only place where you didn't have to be a suicide bomber to meet 72 virgins in one place. He also went through a list of "If it wasn't for the Internet" things, like "If it wasn't for the Internet, Tila Tequila would have only five or six friends, max." Unfortunately, Myers overlooked the irony holding the event in the crucible of capitalism while many Web 2.0 ventures struggled to think of a way to make money other than advertising.

Ad industry attendance at the gala was strong, with groups from BBH, Poke, 42 Entertainment, Tribal DDB, CCCP, AKQA and more in attendance. A representative from Tribal DDB used his five word speech to reach out, saying "We're hiring, send us resumes," while Poke creative head Iain Tait, picking up the accolade for Best Visual Design – Aesthetic for its everlasting Orange site, went the witty route with "Mine is longer than yours." Pundit Ariana Huffington, picking up the award Best Political Blog for the Huffington Post, was met with rousing cheers when she said "President Obama: sounds good, right?" Another celebrity recognized for his political impact online was Black Eyed Peas musician, whose "Yes We Can" video featuring a host of celebrities endorsing Barack Obama became a viral sensation.

Monday night the Film and Video winners were at NYU's Skirball Center, where Tay "Chocolate Rain" Zonday sang the national anthem (and did not move away from the mic to breathe in) and Michel Gondry received the Film and Video Person of the Year award. Actor Rosie Perez delivered it, and confessed to having a foot fetish and wondering what the Rubik's Cube Gondry 'solved' with his feet smelled like after he was done. Gondry's five word speech? "Keyboards are full of germs." Lorne Michaels also received a lifetime achievement award on Monday for his work on the SNL Digital Shorts.

Along with award winners two Webby partners built noteworthy sites. Digital Kitchen (which designed and directed the category idents for the Film and Video awards Monday and the show opener last night) created WebbyFlick and TwitFlick, two visualizers that mashup Webby speeches and tweets, respectively, with Flickr images. The Barbarian Group, which built the Webbys site, debuted its new site for Getty, Moodstream, in an installation Monday night at the Angel Orensanz Center afterparty. Moodstream is a showcase for tagged content—film, images and music—from the Getty library, tweaked according to specific emotional attributes. You can easily stow the assets onto a Moodboard and license the content.

Approaching nearly 70 categories, the Webbys are judged by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Prominent judges coming from advertising backgrounds include R/GA's Bob Greenberg, Crispin Porter + Bogusky's Alex Bogusky, AKQA's Rei Inamoto and others. View all the winners at the Webbys site; use the Webby Winner's Guide for a more seamless browsing trip.

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