Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

The Shorty Awards: Celebrating The Wrong Things

In Ideas on February 11, 2009 at 11:11 am

The Shorty Awards ceremony will be held tonight in New York City as part of the Social Media Week NYC activities. Let me say that it’s not the Shorty Awards that I really have a problem with, at least conceptually. Celebrating the best of Twitter is an interesting idea and many of the award winners are worthy recipients who have added much to the community. There are a lot of exciting things happening on Twitter and many really smart people are using it in interesting ways.  Unfortunately, the awards became a microcosm of many of the worst traits of our culture.  A couple cases in point:

1. Self-promotion

When first announced it was kind of fun to nominate someone (even yourself) as the novelty of this first time event was still fresh. But as time wore on, many of the nominees did more campaigning than John McCain and Sarah Palin. When winning a Shorty Award becomes your goal, I’m not sure how much your adding to the conversation.


2. Our obsession with celebrity

I think it’s cool that Shaquille O’Neal is on Twitter. And MC Hammer. Good for them. But having them both involved in the Shorty Awards does not, to me, add to the legitmacy of the event. It kind of feels desperate, for all parties involved.  Is having MC Hammer at the award show really going to bring more people to Twitter? Is it going to help people understand how it can be used as an effective personal and business communication tool, or is this just like watching a VH1 reality show?

Everybody wins when more people use Twitter and see the value of it, but celebrating self-promoters and 20th century stars seems short-sighted.

I hope the Shorty Awards continue in the future, but I’d like to see a less democratic approach to the awards. I’m happy to let a ‘blue ribbon panel’ select the Best of Twitter based on a different set of criteria. And, not that you asked, here’s my personal list :

Not Just In It For Themselves Award:

@PRSarahEvans for #Journchat

Vangaurd Award for Best Experimental use of Twitter:

@Bud_Melman and the Mad Men on Twitter gang

Method Acting Award:

@badbanana for never breaking character

Sticking To His Guns Award:

@sethgodin for realizing this wasn’t his thing, but not exploiting his brand in this space which he easily could have done

It’s all subjective and I’m sure we all have our favorites, maybe yours are MC Hammer and The Real Shaq. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

  1. I agree completely with the overarching point of your post; however, I do think having celebrities voice their use of Twitter and make an appearance at the Short Awards will bring in new people who are skeptical about it being some tech trend they don’t want a part of.

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