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Culture

Best of the Blogs Awards Enter the Final

Deutsche Welle’s 2004 Best of the Blogs Awards moves into the final round of its international Weblog competition.

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Vote for the best Weblog at www.thebobs.de

All the candidates for Deutsche Welle’s 2004 International Weblog are ready to advance to the next stage, the final round. Starting Monday more than 100 blogs, in 11 categories will be put to the test, by both a jury of blog experts and users around the world, who can vote online to give their favorite sites a BOB -- Best of the Blogs.

With over 1,000 Weblog suggestions, the evaluation process was “two weeks of hard work and pure stress,” according to jury member and German blog expert Jörg Kantel. He and the other nine jury members had to choose, with the help of the DW-WORLD.DE’s Weblog team, which of the Weblogs would make it into the final round.

“It really wasn’t an easy job, we had a lot of excellent blogs to choose from,” fellow jury member Konstantin Klein said. “There were heavy hitting bloggers as well as a lot of newcomers; It really wasn’t easy for us to agree on just 10 candidates per category.”

Very different blogospheres

“Mainstream journalism around the world is taking more and more of an interest in Weblogs,” said Holger Hank, editorial director for DW-WORLD.DE, Deutsche Welle’s Internet site. “This is the first time a competition has looked at the international blog scene.”

It was particularly interesting to see that despite all the similarities of blogs around the world, it’s still possible to pick out regional trends, Hank added. In the United States, the Weblog scene has been professionalized to the point where bloggers make money with their entries, while blogging for cash in Germany is still unheard of.

“The German blogosphere is very focused on itself at the moment,” Hank said. “There is a lack of well-written German blogs dealing with the day’s hot-button issues like globalization, social reforms or terrorism.”

Different cultures have different concerns

There’s a clear trend toward bloggers talking about other blogs in the Spanish speaking world, according to communications scientist Jose Luis Orihuela.

“In the Spanish blog scene we’ve seen a trend toward developing a community,” he said. “This is driven by the growing number of portals, rankings and tools available to bloggers.”

Chinese bloggers, on the other hand, have taken quite a different tack. They tend to concentrate on personal matters.

“It’s much more of a typical diary, just online,” said star blogger Li Li, who is known to the blogosphere as the Chinese sex blogger Mu Zimei.

The lack of political issues in Chinese blogs is the result of the limited freedom of expression, Hank said. Even journalists seldom mention political topics in their blogs as a way of not upsetting the government. But many Chinese bloggers are proving that the Internet is an excellent way to get around government regulations.

Vote and win

The jury nominated 10 blogs in 11 categories, and they are all ready to be put under the loop. While one BOB per language will be awarded to the Best Journalism blog in each of the competition’s seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) the nominees from all languages will be thrown together to fight it out for one jury prize each in the Best Weblog, Best Topic, Best Design and Best Innovation categories.

But bloggers won’t just be trying to impress the jury. All Internet users will have until Dec. 5 to vote for their favorite blog in each of the 11 categories, with one User Award, along with international bragging rights, being given out the public’s favorite.

DW-WORLD.DE has made sure there’s plenty of reason to participate. Anyone who chooses to take part will also be able to enter a lottery for a Canon digital camera and other prizes.

The international panel of experts meets in Bonn, Germany, at the end of November to decide which candidates get the Jury Prize, and all BOBs winners will be announced on Dec. 6.

Sponsored by TypePad and Maritim Hotels

Deutsche Welle’s 2004 International Weblog Awards are being supported by TypePad, SixApart’s blog services. TypePad is a blog provider that gives users a rich set of features to immediately share and publish the information they want. The Maritim Hotel Bonn is also providing accommodation for the jury.

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