Last night, June 8, New York Times personal technology columnist David Pogue was beaming. He couldn’t keep from smiling, despite the fact that he was missing Apple’s announcement of their new iPhone 3G S in San Francisco. He blogged about it anyway.
“It’s funny because I had to choose between going to that and coming to this,” Mr. Pogue told the Observer at the Webby Awards gala, before sitting down at his table next to Denise Warren, the general manager of NYTimes.com. “And I’m like, let’s see, that I could watch on the Web, this is once in a lifetime!”
Did Mr. Pogue know David Byrne was performing at Prospect Park at that very moment? No matter. It was tech’s most glitzy yearly media event–the “Oscars of the Internet,” after all–and Mr. Pogue and his wife, Jennifer Pogue, were scampering about the red carpet and the party floor at Cipriani on Wall Street, recording their every Webby Awards experience (she had a fancy digital video camera on hand). How “meta,” Mr. Pogue added.
Naturally, Mr. Pogue, a gadget addict and the Times‘ “official personal shopping coach,” was armed with a fancy digital camera, and snapped pictures of all the Web celebrities who had shown up for the Webby Awards dinner that night–from host SNL‘s Seth Meyers to Arianna Huffington to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.
As Mr. Meyers ushered “clusters” of about ten Webby winners to deliver their five-word acceptance speeches, guests abandoned their tables to taste wine served by Wine Library TV’s Gary Vaynerchuk or to record videos to post on YouTube in a room hidden two stories from the party–a library lined with books (where’s the Kindle?). But, mostly, they were schmoozing as white-suited servers spooned courses of sea bass or chicken on their white plates on white linen tables. Tiny daisies and white roses spilled from glass vases as centerpieces.
Before the ceremony began, Mr. Meyers told the Observer that despite the fact that SNL is one of the most-watched shows online, the first YouTube clip he remembers watching on the Web was a sketch from Late Night With Conan O’Brien of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, bantering with Star Wars fans waiting in line for the Attack of the Clones. That was way back in 2002. “I came to SNL right when clips were getting on the Web so that counts,” Mr. Meyers explained.
The Observer called over Ms. Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, who was dressed in a simple flowery blouse and pants, and she gave her usual mantra in response to the recent blogs versus traditional media debate: “Integrating the two rather than seeing it as either/or is the future,” she said. “I prefer to look at opportunities for us to work together.”
Her five-word speech to accept Best Politics Site and People’s Voice for Best Political Blog: “I didn’t kill newspapers, okay?.” A series of speeches sounded like bells ringing the death toll of old media (The Economist: “Read a fucking newspaper, please!”) or fighting for it (Boston Globe: “It’s not journalism that’s dying.” The Onion: “Free all attractive political prisoners.”). It must say something that so many newspapers and other traditional media companies were receiving honors at the awards, right? But Mr. Pogue reminded us that they give out more than 140 awards across 70 categories–so everybody wins.
Mr. Pogue himself collected two Webby Awards last night, honoring his “Pogue’s Posts” Web series for Best Reality/Variety Host and Technology in the online video and film category.
“In all seriousness, it looks as though, from the size and prestige of this, that this whole thing about Web 2.0 that means that ordinary people will have a stage, that true broadcasting talent doesn’t need an organization behind it, has come true!” Mr. Pogue said. “I mean, half of these people, total unknowns, have been discovered purely through merit alone.” And some Facebook connections didn’t hurt either.