Voting begins today for the Webby People's Voice Awards, the populist portion of the premier honor bestowed upon denizens of the Internet (a panel of judges picks its own winners).
The Webbys hold a special place in my heart -- not just because HuffPost won Webbys in each of the last three years and took one home in 2006 as well, and not just because the Webby gala is always one of the most entertaining events of the year.
I also love how the Webbys have, since 1997, served as a snapshot of the Internet zeitgeist -- capturing the best of what the exploding online universe has offered up each year. In the process, they've become an invaluable resource for future historians, not to mention everyday surfers looking to experience the crème de la web.
A 15-year glance back at the inaugural Webby winners provides a delicious blast from the past: a mix of extinct species (anyone remember HappyPuppy.com?) and now-mature sites, then in their infancy (did you realize Salon.com and imdb.com were almost old enough to drive?).
It's worth taking the time to visit and click around the sites honored at the time -- it's like unearthing a time capsule that contains both broken links and prophecies of online juggernauts to come.
But to return to the present, between today and April 28, you'll have the chance to vote for your favorite websites, series, performers and more.
On May 3, the winners will be announced, and a new generation of innovators will deliver their five-word Webby acceptance speeches -- a Webby tradition.
Past favorites of mine include:
"Creativity is a renewable resource" -- Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter
"You ain't seen nothing yet" -- Vint Cerf, Internet co-creator
"How am I on time? Shit!" -- Zach Galifianakis, comedian and actor
And here are the five-worders I've delivered through the years:
"Darlings, make blogs, not war." (2006)
"President Obama... sounds good, right?" (2008)
"I didn't kill newspapers, okay?" (2009)
"Goldman Sachs shorted my speech" (2010)
So click here to see this year's nominees -- and remember to vote!