Seth Callaway and Angela Kuo stopped by our studio last Friday as part of their Webby Talks World Tour, “The Internet Can’t be Stopped”. The tour, presented by Google, is comprised of 300 talks in 16 cities. The Webby’s mission is to honor outstanding achievement online. With over 13,000 entries from seven countries and a star studded line-up of presenters and performers, the award ceremony is gradually becoming the Oscars of the internet (that is, if the Oscars were more international and more inclusive).
Keeping up with the spirit of pithy statements that go viral, the five-word acceptance speech became the staple of the event. The speech by Steve Wilhite, the inventor of the GIF file format, put an end to a long debate: “It’s pronounced ‘JIF’ not ‘Gif’.” he proclaimed. The internet has not made up its mind yet.
From tiny hamster videos going viral to global advertising campaigns, the Webby questions how the relentless and transformative effects of the internet are bringing us face-to-face with humankind’s biggest questions. On one hand, they demonstrate the positive effect that connected technology can have on our lives. For example, project Link NYC is an effort to transforming old payphone stations into free, super fast Wi-Fi stations. On another hand, and despite these positive initiatives, our growing dependence on the internet is reaching an all-time high: 76% of 18-34 year olds confirmed using their phones in the restroom, and 64% of people have negative feelings when they can’t connect to the internet. When everything is connected, we ought to pause and re-think how we construct our social lives and how we feel about privacy and intimacy.