Ze Frank is a very, very funny man. He emceed the SXSW Web Awards Sunday night. It was a straightforward awards event and moved along at a nice clip. I learned about a few new companies when I was looking over the list of finalists. I'll be covering them soon.
The two biggest awards were People's Choice and Best of Show. The people voted for an interesting experiment in interactive media: SocialSaga, a site where video clips ask questions, to which users upload their answers. The site currently is used to build pass-along stories, and for people to debate issues. As you watch watch a clip, you can see the tree of the video replies to it. It's like a threaded message board, but in video. Neat idea, although I don't know how the site won the award. By my research it's barely made a blip on the Web.
Related to SocialSaga and running a demo booth here at SXSW: ChoiceInteractive, a new site for showing--and helping people create--videos where users can influence the narrative by making choices at key points. Not an original idea, but if the team can deliver on its promise to bring this technology to the iPod, it could make long commutes a bit less mind-numbing.
Back to the awards: The judges' selection for Best of Show was OwnYourC, a Flash-heavy site designed for teenagers who need to make choices--which careers to look into, the choice to quit smoking, etc. I don't get this award. Despite glitzy Flash programming, the interaction model is very flat, the site is filled with advertising, and I found it patronizing (although I no longer have the mindset of a teenager, so I could be misreading its impact on the intended audience).
There was no award for belle of the ball, although Twitter, which would have won that title handily, did walk away with the honors in the Blog category.
For more, see the SXSW Web Awards page.