5 Web Awards You Should Know

Janelle Brown described the Webby Awards in 1997 in Wired Magazine as an event spawned by fledgling glossy The Web Magazine, that “felt more like a parody of the Emmys than a replication of them.” It's safe to say that the Webby Awards have come a long way from those days, having established a genre of web awards that web entrepreneurs may want to pay attention to.

At its inception, the Webby Awards (aka Webbies) had a noble cause for coming into existence (other than self-promotion): gaining a mainstream audience for websites unknown outside of digital circles. Today, web awards don't promote websites to a non-digital mainstream audience; they bring brilliant websites and services to a global internet audience of over two billion that wants to know about the brightest ideas online.

For anyone running an online business, web awards are both something to aspire to and an opportunity for studying the competition. In fact, some entrepreneurs take knowing every online business in their region and industry to a near-religious level. Many of them don’t compete, but treat the awards as a research opportunity not to be missed.

In the spirit of helping all aspiring entrepreneurs get the inspiration they need for their next big idea, find a service they want to localize, or simply hear about the cheapest ways to get a website up & running, here’s a list of 5 web awards that you should know about:

1. The Webby Awards. Based in the United States, 'The Webbies' includes four media categories: Websites, Interactive Advertising, Online Film & Video, and Mobile & Apps. They present two honors in every category, 'The Webby Award' & 'The People's Voice Award.” The event celebrates 100+ sites in over 70 categories including everything from Religion & Spirituality to Social Media, and even the Weird.

The Webbies are arguably the web's largest annual source of the best online services. Every year I spend around a month going through the nominee list in every category for fun. You will rarely spend a boring day that month if you follow this award.

2. South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Awards (aka SXSW Web Awards). Also based in the U.S., SXSW Web Awards covers around 20 categories, attempting to uncover the world's freshest, most innovative digital work, from mobile and tablet apps to websites, kiosks, installations, and beyond.

The award is only a small (albeit prestigious) part of a series of events including arts and technology demonstrations from some of the world's most interesting performers, making it a rich cultural celebration. SXSW is sprinkled with specialized panels that you can follow online as well.

3. The Crunchies. Created by none other than the web fanatics who brought us Techcrunch.com, one of the web's most prominent tech blogs, The Crunchies celebrate the web's most compelling internet startups and technology innovations of the year.

Although The Crunchies focuses primarily on the U.S. market, it also boasts a number of panels and presentations by leading tech bloggers and editors from around the world. It proves to be an educational event that doesn't highlight new startups as much as it brings forth the trends and thinkers creating an impact today.

4. LeWeb.  Founder by French entrepreneur Loic LeMeur, LeWeb is Paris’s answer to the U.S.-based tech award shows. Billed as “the #1 European internet event,” LeWeb promises to bring a more global crowd to the table, having featured Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan and President Nicolas Sarkozy in the past along with its typical collection of tech leaders. It hosts a dedicated startup competition, selecting 16 finalists from 1,200 companies, and choosing only 3 as winners. Don’t miss out on the online talks.

5. The Next Web. For six years running now, the founders of this top 5 tech blog have hosted a conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where TNW is based. The event hosts a startup competition in which startups pitch on stage to a panel of judges.

As a startup tide rises around the globe, our need for regional and global gatherings to discuss innovation, design and business is growing. Here are more conferences that you can look to for inspiration (and find even more on the lists below).

The D Conferences. Organized by one of the tech world's leading blogs, AllThindsD holds a series of annual events on everything from mobile and media to region-centric digital events like AsiaD although the flagship event is the notorious 'D#' event the latest of which was the D9 held in May/June of 2011.

- Techcrunch Disrupt. Setting up shop in many U.S. cities, it provides battles, a hackathon, and speakers of a caliber rarely matched.

- TED Global: Standing for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, TED boasts “ideas worth spreading.” Check out local TEDx chapters that are cropping up in your neighborhood as well.

- DLD (Digital - Life - Design). Based in Munich, DLD occurs in cities throughout the world, focusing on innovation, digital science, and culture.

- Web 2.0 Summit: Moderated by Federated Media CEO John Battelle and O'Reilly CEO and founder Tim O'Reilly, Web 2.0 Summit digs into the principles of how Web 2.0 affects
businesses. Interesting Web 2.0 is differentiating itself by increasing the diversity of its speakers.

- GeeknRolla. This conference now focuses on deal flow, bringing European tech startups together to discuss their startup process and pitch to investors.

- Google Zeitgeist. While Google Zeitgeist events are limited to Google’s partners and advertisers, the unparalleled videos from the events are available online.

You can find more resources on the matter at Quora and Wired.com.


[photo courtesy of LaughingSquid on Flickr]

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