Cybernaut 14.19 

Getting Webby with it

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It’s like the Academy Awards, only with about 50 more categories and a lot less cleavage.

Last week the 11 th annual Webby Awards ( www.webbyawards.com ) were presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, recognizing the top websites in 69 categories — as picked by Academy members and the general public.

If you’re looking for new websites to visit according to your interests, the nominees list is always a great place to start browsing. Although some websites have been nominated every year, like The Onion ( www.theonion.com ) in the Humour category, the judges do go out of their way to find new and different sites that are graphically elegant, technologically advanced, inventive, and work like they’re supposed to.

There’s not enough space in this column to list every single nominee and winner, but I’ve put together a short list of the sites and categories I think are the most interesting.

www.greenpeace.org/apple — Winner of the Activism Webby. Despite its hip, new age image, there are some serious concerns with Apple’s environmental record, both at the point of manufacture and post-market as their products are placed in the waste stream. It’s an interesting PC vs. Mac comparison you won’t see in the commercials.

www.zopa.com — Winner of the Banking category. It’s not available in North America yet, but the basic concept is genius. Let’s say you have $5,000 to lend that’s not going to make much interest in the bank, and somebody needs to borrow that $5,000, but doesn’t want to pay bank fees and interest rates. This site connects those two people, guaranteeing the loan, and ensuring a guaranteed, stable rate of interest and repayment for both parties. The lender gets more interest, and the loaner pays less back.

www.howstuffworks.com — Winner of the Best Copywriting Webby. Detailed, graphics rich explanations of how things work, and how to do things yourself. Indispensable for do-it-yourselfers and the chronically curious.

www.samorost.net/samorost2/ — Winner of the Games category. A fun, free, and beautifully designed online puzzle game. I’m considering paying for the full version so the designer will continue to make games of this kind. Everything is done by pointing and clicking with your mouse, and the puzzles get harder as you go. It’s easy to get stuck early — just click everything that moves and it should all come together for you. Also check out www.miniclip.com , http://adfg.fuelindustries.com , www.fantasysoapnet.com , and http://zwok-game.com .

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