Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Rant on NYTimes, The Webbys and Attitude

I have a bone to pick, and it’s not going to be pretty, so watch out. For years when I was writing my newsletter I would get comments from “interested parties” that I shouldn’t be so nice, that the way to make it in the newsletter biz is to be a little more catty, start a rivalry, throw some mud around. Well, that was not in my nature—then. But like they say, “that was then, this is now.” And so, let the mud-slinging begin.

Let me also clarify that I love all the people who are about to get some good ol ‘New York trash–talking to (except Mr. Carr).

Ladies and Gentlemen: Start your engines. Hold onto your seats. This is going to be the one where Courtney let’s loose!

In case you didn’t know, the Webby Awards were in town this week. And they are like the Vogue for the Internet. Fashionable. Cool. Hip. Or so they like to think of themselves.

The PR firm for the Webbys, a New-York-based firm nonetheless (Michael Kaminer
Public Relations), does a bang-up job every year on promoting the Webbys and hyping it. Good ol’ New York PR firms. They really know what they’re doin’.

They even got some coverage in the venerable New York Times on June 7th in the Arts section.

Now here are my comments, point-by-point on the article by David Carr and statements therein:

Mr. Carr writes, “It was an awards banquet where hype and self-congratulation were mixed with bracing messages about the cultural and civic good that can come from the Internet.” He got the hype and self-congratulation part right.

And then, “The decision to present the awards in New York is less a recognition of the city's growing role in digital culture than its longer-running one as the media capital of the Western hemisphere.” Ahem, “growing role in digital culture?” I’m sorry. “GROWING ROLE?” What the *&^%. New York has been, as in everything, a leader in culture, including digital culture. Where has this guy been? At least he was accurate in his recognition of its role as “the media capital of the Western Hemisphere.” As an ancestor said, “Accuracy! Accuracy! Accuracy!”

And then, “It is also an indication that the Web does not live exclusively in Silicon Valley; its ubiquity has rendered it transparent and free-floating.” WHAT?!!!?! Did I hear that right? “The Web does not live exclusively in Silicon Valley...” When did the Web EVER live EXCLUSIVELY in Silicon Valley?! The Web has been worldwide from the get-go. And it certainly has been in New York—as we all know now—for over a decade!

“’Every year we have done something different to reflect the pulse of the Web, and tonight we are in New York because the Web has been dispersed,’ said Tiffany Shlain...” I’m shocked! She, of all people knows that the Web “has been dispersed,” why would she say something like that? That’s the *only* reason why they’re in New York? Because the “Web has been dispersed?” Gimme a break! The Web in its very name, in its very nature has been dispersed.

"Great Web sites are being created and accessed everywhere." Now, if she said this in 1995 I would understand, but 2005?!

“The host was Ron Corddry, one of the funny guys on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," who brought an air of knowing befuddlement to the events at hand.” Well, no wonder! I would be befuddled if I was getting this spin on things myself and didn’t have any background in Internet history.

“The Webby for Person of the Year went to Craig Newmark of” Now I really am taking offense. Of course I know Craig and of course I’d agree that he deserved this award as much as the next guy (or GAL!), but this is yet another detail that is as screwy as the actual award (a coil). If the Webbys decided that the Web is finally dispersed, and that they can now come to New York City, the media capital of the world (of which the World Wide Web is a MEDIUM), why would they not consider honoring a NEW YORK Internet veteran? Perhaps because even though they are still in New York City, their own vision is too short-sighted. It’s just typical West Coast naval-gazing, oblivious attitude that’s we’ve come accustomed to.

Just to reiterate this point, it’s interesting to note that even back in 1998 the show was “feeding off the growing hype surrounding the Web” and got an offer from then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani to bring the Webbys to Radio City Music Hall. Apparently the counter-offer from Mayor Brown was enough to convince them that New York really isn’t savvy enough yet.

I’m just glad they finally did see the light and came down from their pedestals to grace us with their presence.