Some of the Internet’s brightest stars recently converged at an event in Singapore to highlight the call for entries for 13th Annual Webby Awards; the winners of which will be announced in April 2009, and honored at a gala ceremony in New York City in June 2009. Last year’s Annual Webby Awards received a record 10,000 entries from over 60 countries, with the June gala featuring the likes of Stephen Colbert, David Byrne, and Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am. At the Singapore event, the Webby 5’s gave local and international Web luminaries, namely David-Michel Davies, The Webby Awards; blogger Mr Brown; Graham Perkins, Elasticity; Melvyn Lim, Ogilvy & Mather and Kilostudio’s Benjy Choo, the opportunity to present a five minute show and tell about their favorite web thing of choice. The event also saw the announcement of new categories that reflect a boom in online entertainment and mobile services. Two new categories salute online video’s growing ranks of entertainers, performers, and personalities: Best Host of Reality/Variety Series and Best Individual Performance. Other new categories recognize the explosion in widgets and applications that allow real-world activities to be performed online (Best Web Services and Applications) or via mobile devices (Best Mobile Applications). The Webby Awards is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550-person judging academy including Vinton Cerf, R/GA’s Chief Bob Greenberg, Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening, Arianna Huffington, and Harvey Weinstein. “The Internet has become the breeding ground for exciting new forms of entertainment and new tools and services that are transforming everyday life,” said David-Michel Davies, executive director of The Webby Awards. “We’re looking forward to honoring innovators from around the world who are taking the Internet in new and exciting directions.” Davies also shared the Webby Awards’ top five tech trends for 2009: The Internet President Just as his campaign leveraged new media to forever alter politics, President Barack Obama will fundamentally change government by becoming the first president to embrace the Internet’s full potential. From simulcasting his weekly radio address on YouTube to appointing the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer to promoting net neutrality, Obama’s ambitious agenda promises a new era of more efficient, open, and transparent government. Big Brother is Watching (Kind Of) Remember the ‘smart’ electronic billboards in 2002 sci-fi film Minority Report? They’re coming to a shopping mall near you in 2009. Digital screens with video cameras that gather real-time metrics about shoppers will be able to personalize ads based on a product you just picked off a shelf or even based on your age, gender, and body type. Networked Economy Drives Recovery The Internet and technology will be critical to beating the recession and driving the transition from an industrial to an information economy. Major investments in technology infrastructure _ universal broadband, electronic medical records, and a smarter energy grid – will be a sign that a networked economy is essential to economic growth. Cable Stumbles Failing to learn lessons from the music industry’s own missteps in the Internet era, cable subscriptions will continue to decline as the Internet offers better, higher-quality programming, and a richer viewing experience that enables viewers to connect with other fans, track what friends are watching, and more. Mobile Media Power A billion new users – most in the developing world – will come to the Web through mobile devices over the next decade. Just as blogging revitalized news gathering in the developed world, mobile-based services like twitter are poised to give unprecedented power to billions of people. Case in point: the major role that twitter played in first-hand reporting of the Mumbai attacks. Asked about the point at which traditional mass media and on-line media converge, Davies says that technology and its cost have been the two major catalysts behind the explosion of on-line content. “Ten years ago it was pretty rare for anyone to be making content for on-line, because cameras and editing suites were so costly. It was also difficult on the consumer side because of low bandwidth and lack of media players. Regarding the consumption of longer-form content on-line, Davies said what’s watched is still very much dictated by consumer experience rather than by what’s available. “Long-form content is available, and the technology to support it, but most people accessing the Internet on PC at work tend to watch short-form clips. Only once the living room is connected to the Net will we see a shift from short- to long-form consumption.” It would also appear that the impending convergence of TV and on-line is still further away than one might be led to believe. In terms of Webby Film and Video Awards winners who have gone on to greater success after winning a Webby, the list was shorter than anticipated. A few examples include the folks behind The Wild West, It’s All in Your Hands, Hometown Baghdad, etc. Jessica Rose of lonelygirl15 fame (2007 Best Actress) went on to star in ABC Family’s Greek, the Big Fantastic/Warner Bros.-produced Sorority Forever, and HBO’s Hooking Up. Matt Bledsoe and Troy Hitch, creators of You Suck at Photoshop (2008 Best Comedy Series) moved on to Adobe sponsored new series called Agency of Record which debuted November 2008 to very positive reviews. EepyBird, Diet Cokes and Mentos Experiment (Best Viral Video – 2007) ABC Family commissioned EepyBird to create a video series using Post-It Notes as a promotion for the network’s show, Samurai Girl. TVAplus