On 3 May 2011, this year’s winners of the Webby Awards will be announced. The Webby Awards celebrate the best of the internet in a series of categories that focus on design, as well as content. The major awards are chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, as well as by the general public in the People’s Voice Award. Voting for the People’s Voice Awards is open until 28 April. The full list of competitors can be accessed, but I thought that I would use this space to note a few contestants that may be of relevance to those engaged in the fields of history, public history, museum studies or web development for cultural institutions.
First off is:
Anne Frank House – The Secret Annex Online has been nominated for two awards, including best Cultural Institution, and best Visual Design – Function. The website is an interactive exploration of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The site uses 3D imagery to take the user on a tour of the secret annex, while also providing context through narrated videos that use excerpts from the Anne Frank diary, as well as other holdings at the Anne Frank House. This site serves as an example to others designing online exhibitions for cultural institutions, in particular, smaller institutions.
Letters of Note – Warning: Addictive! Letters of Note is a blog devoted to publishing one letter, postcard, telegram or memorandum a day. While the premise may be simple, the site is a unique compilation of information, covering both the historical and the pop cultural. Run by Shaun Usher, the site publishes a digital image of a letter along with a transcription. The notes are fascinating, heartfelt, funny and odd, running the gamut of authors that include Mark Twain, Yoko Ono, Theodore Roosevelt and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, as well as unknown and ordinary people. An amazing find for anyone who understands that joy of coming across a great letter in an archive, or that sense of glee in reading a note originally intended for someone else’s eyes.
Historypin – Featured previously on ActiveHistory, this site not only has created a photographic archive, but has also partnered with Google Map to geographically locate each photograph. The photos are also given further context through user generated content that provides a description of the photo, or a related back-story.
PBS.org – Most of us know PBS for its documentaries, but its online component also provides useful information related to its historical programming, including further background information and timelines of events. Personally, I have found the site to be an excellent teacher resource when using PBS documentaries in class. PBS.org has been nominated in the field for Charitable Organizations/Non Profit.
Smithsonian Institution – A website that one could easily wile away the hours on, but also an extremely helpful site for researchers, and a fine example for major museums involved in digitizing collections and improving online accessibility. Smithsonian Institution provides basic information to visitors, but also allows online visitors and researchers to fully explore collections and exhibitions.
A History of the World – Nominated in the field of Radio/Podcasts, BBC’s A History of the World uses 100 objects from the British Museum and other UK institutions to tell a history of the world and human development. In each 15 minute episode, an expert lends insight into an object and describes its relevance to human history. In addition to the podcasts, the website also includes photographs of the objects used in the series and a map detailing where each object was discovered. A fascinating series and a benchmark public history project. The series has now ended, but each episode remains available for free downloading.
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