Tom's Night Out at the Web Site Awards…

[Being an expository piece investigating corporate web site hell and a scientific study of the effects of combined alcohol abuse, loud music and the presence of a television crew]

The Yell UK Web Awards is a pretty strange creature. Ostensibly for the public, and televised via BBC World to every single country in the world, except of course the UK, it is almost totally predominated by a corporate view of the web and what it is for. Not here do were have awards for the best designed site – no, here we have awards for the best web design agency. In fact only two of the twelve awards are really for sites which aren’t commercial, and these are named accordingly – “BEST PERSONAL SITE” (a fairly strange category which means any site NOT run by a large multinational) and “BEST SITE FROM A NON PROFIT MAKING ORGANISATION”, which of course prompts the standard jokes about Amazon, Last Minute and the inevitable

Into this corporate creature strides two representatives of – one of which is my good self. The site is up for the award “BEST ENTERTAINMENT SITE”, which is extremely flattering, but a bit of a misnomer (yet again) for the Time Out site. [The awards are clearly geared towards “types of business” rather than on type of content.]

Jonathon Ross was presenting the awards, and was generally pretty amusing, even though he was clearly reading mostly promotional fluff copy from Yell itself. Meanwhile, David and I were busy exploring the opportunities for drinking Vodka, which were surprisingly limited.

About halfway through the evening the award for “MOST INNOVATIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY” arrives, and to my complete surprise, k10k are nominated. Finally, I think to myself, someone here who really deserves an award, who builds a highly creative site without expecting to become an e-millionaire out of it – someone who actually has passion for the medium.

Of course they don’t win. But I start hunting around the room to see if any of the people from the site are actually in the room. I can’t see any sight or sound of them. By this stage our quest for Vodka has driven David out of the TV studio itself and he is roaming the building looking for non-wine. A plan begins to form in my mind as I watch yet another corporate president expressing their delight in their award and thanking everyone who has worked hard to get them to float their IPO. I cease to be interested in what the representative of might say.

David returns to the table – our barman has finally come up trumps, and I have text messaged David, “Vodka has arrived! Return to Base Camp immediately!” Time Out’s award is up next. I am increasingly nervous for some reason, particularly when I realise that I am going to go up on the stage with David and say a couple of words with him if we win. And win we do.

With my hands in my pockets I sheepishly follow the rather exuberant David up to the platform. We shake Mr Ross’ hand and David turns to the audience with a huge grin on his face, says that everyone seems to have been very serious, thanks Bart Simpson, Eric Cartman from South Park and the barman who supplied our “Special Water” and then stands aside.

Before they get a chance to turn on the dirge-like music which means our little speech-slot is over, I bounce over to the microphone. Lights shine in my face, and two hundred mildly drunk corporate people loom at me out of the darkness.

With mounting horror and staring resolutely at my feet I say something to the effect of: “The heart and soul of the net is the individual creative and personal website – and I’d just like to say that I’m delighted to see that all the representatives of the Personal category and particularly k10k have been recognised here tonight.”

Suddenly extremely embarrassed (and yet proud of myself) I stand aside, shake Jonathon Ross’s hand and stand for the press shots, looking as sheepish as I can possibly imagine. “Nice speech”, he says…