Two years ago, while at Portfolio.com, I was moved by my colleague's review of the Webby Awards -- the Oscars for the Internet. She was disappointed that, given the great democratic premise of the web, the ceremony was held on Wall Street. Silicon Valley and web stars alike ditched their t-shirts, sandals and jeans for fancier threads -- sell outs! Capturing her dismay in five words -- the limit for Webby acceptance speeches, she asked, "What happened to the revolution?"
Two years later, Twitter exploded (and that feels like an understatement), turning just about everyone into micro-bloggers, breaking news before Google and CNN, changing the way journalists hunt down leads, improving the way people look for jobs and raising money for urgent causes. Can the internet revolution end?
Finance is dead, and the web industry doesn't mean to dance on Wall Street's grave by celebrating its stars at the 13th Annual Webby Awards last night at Cipriani's -- a world-famous restaurant and financial institution in its own right. "Couldn't you find an Indian burial ground?" SNL's Seth Meyers ribbed in his opening remarks as host.
The internet will always be the great tech hope; as expressed by Twitter founder Biz Stone in his acceptance speech for breakout of the year: "Creativity is a renewable resource."
The most remarkable event of the star-packed evening (see the video above for a look at some of the big names in attendance), was the acceptance speech, for Lifetime Achievement, by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. (Ever since I found out such a person exists, I've fantasized of an interview; breathing the same air is nearly just as exciting.) A modern-day Prometheus, Berners-Lee offered up a warning to us all: "Free, open, keep one web."
This is the revolution! Future breakthrough companies depend on us sticking to this instruction manual that built the web.
Ironically, Berners-Lee was inspired by an old Victorian how-to book called, Enquire Within Upon Everything -- in its own right a beautiful Webby speech. Berners-Lee not only gave those in Cipriani's last night our jobs, but all of us, optimism.
And what a better way to celebrate that than the actions of one Webby winner, Dick Buschman, of Amsterdam, winner for Best Banner Campaign, using his five words at the podium to ask: "Erna, will you marry me?" Suddenly a gorgeous brunette jumped up from the audience, reached her man on stage with an ecstatic hug and kiss. She said yes.
Viva la Revolution!
Now, what would an awards show be without the stars. My video footage (above) of last night's red carpet at the Webby Awards includes, Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe from Friends! And winner of Outstanding Comedic Performance for Web Therapy, an online show where she plays a self-absorbed shrink), Seth Meyers (the too-adorable-for-his-own-good-host of SNL's Weekend Update and the show's head writer), Victoria Secret Models Doutzen Kroes and Alessandro Ambrosio in attendance to accept an award for VictoriaSecret.com (trust me, they don't need the airbrushing), Isabella Rossellini (who looked elegant in little white Keds, very smart choice), stylist to the stars Rachel Zoe and her husband, Arianna Huffington (who Meyers called the Meryl Streep of the Web), and Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor, the Webby's Artist of the Year, who just raised nearly $1 million, for a fan's heart transplant, using Twitter.
Now a personal shout-out: I'm glad the People's Voice Award went to Shiba Inu Live Puppy cam -- watching those adorable puppies pounce around and take naps helped me, and countless people, find something to smile about while facing lay-offs. The internet is about simple pleasures and conveniences, and that's something to celebrate.