Getting 300 Internet people together in one place, at one time, on a sultry July night, on a Sunday, for an awards gala, would be a midsummer night’s dream for most of the nascent online trade associations. Ask the same group to purchase a ticket and turn out in black- tie (or gown), and things could quickly become nightmarish.
Yet the above scenario was a dream come true for the founders and members of the Seattle Online Network . Co-creators Dan Sundgren, Kristine Asin and Tim Reha have succeeded in capturing the spark and creative energy of the Seattle Internet community where others have failed. (Among the dim bulbs, the Seattle Chapter of the Association of Internet Professionals (AIP) was unable to attract more interest than that of its self-appointed board of directors before fading away.) But S.O.N. has excelled by inviting its members to simply meet and socialize with one another, making cutting-edge expert symposia an available option rather than the main thrust of the dot org.
SON’s evangelical efforts culminated July 23rd in an awards ceremony that recognized Seattle’s “Best of the Web. ” The city’s First Annual Zurbie Awards took place in the cavernous and richly-adorned meeting hall at Union Station (situated across Fourth Avenue from the railroad terminal). While I may differ with the judge’s conclusions in some of the categories, I’m willing to let them pass without perlustration — at least this time. In this case, I’ve surrendered to a childlike exuberance for awards shows in general, and premiere award events in particular.
The Zurbie Awards borrows its unusual name from Kristine Asin’s pet cat who was also the inspiration for the cat-shaped award design, an outlined glass cutout (about 1/2″ thick) of a cat in the classic sitting position A matching ice sculpture of the statuette greeted guests as they entered the hall. Presenting the awards with his usual wit was comedian John Keister.
To determine the award winners, Web site nominations for each category were accepted at SeattleNetwork.com’s June event . Nearly 500 attendees were given the opportunity to fill-out forms nominating the best of our Web world.
In addition, 2000 corporate members, individual members, and non-members, who regularly attend SeattleNetwork.com events the third Tuesday of every month, received the opportunity to cast their vote online.
One of the often credited features of industry award ceremonies, (The Oscars, Grammies, and Emmy’s most famously), is that the winners are selected by their peers. Fellow professionals can cast a trained eye on the subject matter and admire their colleagues’ handiwork. This can sometimes result in recognition of aspects that are not plainly visible to the general public. In this regard, a few of the winning sites seem to speak as highly about the people behind the screens as they do with what’s on the Web page.
The night’s big winner–the Zurbie for Seattle’s “Best” Web Site–went to next-generation entertainment company AtomFilms.com.
And the Zurbies go to:
- Best Service Site – HomeGrocer.com
- Best Site to Kill Time – SeasonTicket.com
- Best E-Commerce Site – Gear.com
- Best B-2-B Site – Onvia.com
- Best Business Model – Onvia.com
- Best Web Development – Saltmine.com
- Best Brick and Mortar Crossover – REI.com
- Hottest Startup – TeraBeam.com
- Best Local ISP – FreeiNet.com
As cliche as it sounds, the real winner of the evening was the city’s local Web cosmos for its demonstrated solidarity. Long live Zurbie! (we hope this cat has at least nine lives).
Larry Sivitz is managing editor of Seattle24x7.