March 26, 2007
The Votes Are In for YouTube's First Awards

The YouTube Awards are now history, and the seven winning videos have been selected. The famed OKGo video has won the most creative video award for their "Here It Goes Again, while the Ask a Ninja videos won Best Series. Among the other winners was Kiwi!, the Free Hugs Campaign, TerraNaomi's Say It's Possible music video, The Wine Kone's Hotness Prevails commentary, and Smosh's short Stranded.

Over the weekend, I wrote that the attempt of the awards was not just to recognize some of the most creative user-created work that appeared on YouTube in 2006 but also "to create the air of authenticity for YouTube videos." I was interested in seeing how people would debate, in the end, divisions between the degree of which the various videos were professionally produced versus completely amateur.

However, Steve Bryant has harsh words for the choices made in the award categories in the first place. "The problem, of course, is YouTube's press image. Can't very well make tough editorial choices or promote controversial fare. What about best hoax? Best police brutality? Wittiest international racism? Most artful use of a stun gun? YouTube is the world's town hall. This is Chuck E. Cheese fare."

Aside from his gripe about tame categories (such as most inspirational and most adorable), Byrant also points to a comment that would surprise few, that "the votes were cast in views a long time ago." I guess the argument is as to why viewers should vote again when their views counted in the first place, but I don't know how on-target this particular point is.

As I wrote about last month in relation to the series from Read/Write Web, there are potentially more effective ways to measure popularity beyond page views. I wrote, "The point is that there are many ways to measure popularity, and it is certainly true that page views is not the be-all and end-all. Rather, it is a measure much akin to the counting of impressions for television (although with much better accuracy, one would think), instead of measuring any qualitative relationship with the content."

In this case, plenty of people may view a video without actually liking it once it's over. Of course, the viral spread of these videos is indicative of its popularity, but it doesn't mean that many of the people who watched them ended up liking them.

After reading Eric Auchard's Reuters story when the awards started, I'm wondering how creative the acceptance speeches will be.

Angela Natividad at Adrants calls the winners blogebrities and ends with the warning "Congrats to the rock stars of Web 2.0. Use your newfound recognition well, and don't start blowing coke because we heard that's a slippery slope."

While I know she's being tongue-in-cheek, I am wondering how much widespread attention these awards will continue to get and whether they will lead to any greater attention for the videos in question. Basically, I am wondering if online video awards will become in any way entrenched in online video celebrity culture or whether this will ultimately just be viewed as a silly promotion from YouTube that will not particularly become entrenched in the community's culture.

I guess only time will tell...