Zombies, stories and wordplay win SXSW Web awards
Lost Zombies and Internet-age storytelling took top honors Sunday at a South By Southwest Interactive Festival with a track record for uncovering hot new websites and online trends.
Britain-based Penguin publishers won a Best In Show award from judges for We Tell Stories website that blends well-crafted tales with games intended to immerse readers in story worlds.
The 21 Steps by Charles Cunning uses Google maps to lead readers on an adventure along real London streets.
Mohsin Hamid used Tales from One Thousand and One Nights as inspiration for a story of the "melancholic meanderings of a former general," with online readers influencing his steps in his palace and the direction of the story.
SXSW fans that voted online for their favorite went in a darker direction, with a Lost Zombies website winning this year's People's Choice Awards.
Lost Zombies describes itself as "a social network whose goal is to document the zombie apocalypse and create the world's first community generated zombie documentary."
Members of the Zombie community create and film scenes showcasing antics of the living dead and then share them at the website, where editors are weaving the digitized snippets into a movie.
"There are vampires, zombies, and werewolves," Lost Zombies founder Ryan Leach said after his team received the award in Austin, Texas.
"Zombies don't have special powers; they are just animated dead people, so it is more believable. And, if you do a bad werewolf movie, it's bad. But even a bad zombie movie is good."
A top Activism award at SBSW went to Tweet Congress, a website devoted to compelling each legislator to use micro-blogging service Twitter to have ongoing, two-way, exchanges with constituents about goings-on in government.
"We have 110 members of Congress tweeting and we harass the congressmen who aren't tweeting," said Chris McCroskey of Texas-based Squeejee.com, the internet firm behind Tweet Congress.
"We want politicians to get on Twitter and communicate with the people who actually put them there."
A version of the website in Britain is called Tweetminster, and it is aimed at having elected ministers micro-blog daily thoughts and activities to citizens.
There are also versions of the website in Sweden and Switzerland, according to McCroskey, who says they are eager to get underway in France and are eyeing India and Australia.
"France has one of the oldest and best democracies, so of course we want to get started there," McCroskey said.
"It works best in places where you don't get thrown in jail if you say something bad about someone in government. I don't think we'll be in China or Cuba any time soon."
Wordplay website addictionary.org won a SXSW Web award in an amusement category. Addictionary lets people play at creating English words for ideas, situations, moments, feelings, or things that seem to lack them.
For example, website users picked "matrimoney" as a word ideally suited to describe marrying for money.
The website Monday featured a contest for a word meaning a person that loudly gabs on a phone while in public.
Top vote getter at the time was "cellulouse," followed by "mobile dick" and "ventrilotwit." "Blah-hard" and "cell-yeller" hadn't gotten any backers.
Yahoo-owned Flickr took top honors in a SXSW Web classic category, but no one from the popular photo-sharing website was on hand to pick up the award.