NEW YORK--On Tuesday night, Webby Awards executive director David-Michel Davies welcomed a crowd of media and tech enthusiasts to the nightclub-like Nokia flagship store in midtown Manhattan for a pre-Webby cocktail hour.
The specific purpose was to draw attention to the "Peoples' Voice" division of the awards, which take place on June 10; many nominees were present to drum up support, and the massive video screens lining the walls of the posh Nokia store were playing Webby video contenders on repeat.
But the party chatter didn't necessarily have anything to do with the awards ceremony. I asked one dot-com founder, whom I'll leave as anonymous, if he was nominated this year. He turned to his business partner and said, "I don't know. Are we?"
True, the newsworthy announcement hadn't yet gone out that Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers and 30 Rock actor Judah Friedlander were selected to respectively host the Webby Awards on June 10 and the Webby Film and Video Awards on June 9. (That release hit the wires on Wednesday.) And the Webbys are still more than a month away. That's eons in Internet time.
More heated topics of conversation: the fact that GroundReport founder Rachel Sterne and Rocketboom producer Elspeth Rountree were both in attendance, considering that one was mistaken for the other a few days ago; and the fact that earlier in the week, MainStreet editor Caroline Waxler had triumphantly connected her boss, TheStreet.com czar and Mad Money host Jim Cramer, with Wine Library TV's Gary Vaynerchuk, who made a name for himself with a loudmouthed Web show and a reputation as "the Jim Cramer of wine." (Vaynerchuk will be appearing on Cramer's show in the near future. Watch out. Something might explode.)
Let's face it. I've forgotten most of last year's Webby Awards winners already. It's kind of like how I've already forgotten most of this year's Oscar winners, except for Marion Cotillard because her speech was all over YouTube within hours, and her wacky September 11 conspiracy theory sound bites were all over the Web a few days later.
The real reason to get excited for the 12th Annual Webby Awards isn't who actually wins. It's the surprise guests, the photo ops, the parties, the chance to see some Web personalities whom you might not normally see (or whom you might not normally see within two days of a shower), and the ephemeral feeling that geek culture is worthy of celebrity cred too.
It could go either way: on one hand, the Webbys could get extra attention. On the other hand, they're on the last night of Internet Week; interested locals might be too wiped out or hung over from seven days of panels and parties. Call it South by Southwest syndrome.
I just hope they can get Rick Astley to perform at the ceremony.