Deutsche Welle’s ninth annual international award The Bobs begins on Wednesday. The contest, which looks to honor the best in online activism in a total of 14 languages and 34 categories, is now open to submissions.
Internet users around the world have until March 6 to submit candidates for The Bobs in any of 14 languages. The contest aims to honor the people and projects taking an online stand to promote integration and social engagement as well as freedom of expression on the Internet.
Winners of The Bobs are decided both by an online vote - the Users' Choice Prize in all 34 categories - and by a 15-person international jury responsible for handing out the Jury Awards in the contest's six main, multilingual categories. Last year more than 3,000 initiatives were submitted to the contest and more than 60,000 votes were cast in the online poll.
Turkish, Hindi and Ukrainian join The Bobs for the first time. Turkey placed fifth of 31 countries in terms of social media use, according to the October 2012 GlobalWebIndex. Germany ranked 26th in the same report.
“The so-called Web 2.0 has led to an enormous increase in Internet users in Turkey,” Ozgur Uckan, a Bobs jury member and communications professor at Istanbul's Bilgi University, told DW.
Uckan added that he has clear expectations for what he hopes The Bobs will help achieve in Turkey.
“The Turkish blogosphere is rich in topics and variety,” he said. “But explicitly political or otherwise ‘dissenting' content makes up only a small part it. I hope that joining The Bobs will strengthen these Turkish alternative voices on the Internet.”
Blogs as independent platforms
In the final days of 2012, German blogger Johnny Haeusler wrote in his blog, Spreeblick, that 2013 should be the year to take back the Web. Haeusler called for a return to the strengths established by bloggers and a shift away from social networks like Facebook and Twitter. In his appeal, he emphasized the importance of an independent platform free of the restraints of a commercial network as well as blogs' ability to host extensive debate and discussions on topics in one place that would not disappear in a matter of seconds under a flood of tweets and retweets.
Uckan said that even as social network use increases, he still sees an important role for blogs in providing commentary and analysis of culture and current events.
“Digital activism in Turkey is widespread but too dependent on social networks,” he said. “We need more blogs that dedicate themselves to taking an in-depth look at topics that are important to society. We need more perspectives and a public debate by many people for many people. I think The Bobs will help do that.”