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Web Watch by Leslie Walker

Awards Salute Best in Blogging

By Leslie Walker
Sunday, March 20, 2005; Page F07

Blog mogul Nick Denton's gossipy online empire walked off with four awards at the 2005 Bloggies, while a woman fired for her Web log also snagged four prizes for her edgy postings about motherhood and the mundane annoyances of life.

Dooce, the comic diary written by not-so-super mom Heather B. Armstrong, was named Best American Blog at the ceremony held in Austin on Monday. Dooce (www.dooce.com) also won in the humor, writing and tagline categories (one of her site's mottos: "Not your average clenched-cheek sprint to the bathroom"). Until last week, Armstrong was best known for getting canned from her Web-designer job in 2002 for writing this caustic, often sexually explicit blog. "Dooced" has since become cyber-speak for getting fired for blogging.

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Also cleaning up in the fifth annual Web log awards were three sites owned by Denton's Gawker Media company. His Hollywood gossip site, Defamer (www.defamer.com), was named best entertainment blog and also best new blog; D.C.-based Wonkette (www.wonkette.com) got the nod for best political blog (that makes it official: politics is basically snarky gossip); while Gizmodo (www.gizmodo.com) took top honors for technology writing.

Web log of the year went to Boing Boing (www.boingboing.net), a tech-savvy site about "wonderful things" jointly written by several people. Best "meme," or new idea, about Web logs went to Flickr (www.flickr.com) for pioneering a photo-tagging system that makes image-sharing more social.

Winners were chosen through public voting at the official Bloggies site (2005.bloggies.com).

Betting on Buzz

Think you can divine people's fickle tastes in technology? Try your hand at the Tech Buzz Game, a new simulated market in which participants attempt to predict the future popularity of gizmos by buying and selling pretend "shares" in each.

This joint experiment created by Yahoo Research Labs and the O'Reilly Media group lists a bunch of technologies O'Reilly editors deem important and lets gamers buy and sell virtual shares in each.

The value of a make-believe portfolio rises or falls on the popularity of gadgets or concepts "purchased," with popularity determined by how many people search for them online at Yahoo.

So far, shares in the iPod are outselling all music-player rivals by 10 to 1 or more. And podcasting (spoken-word musings saved as audio files, then published online for users to download and listen to on an iPod or other music player) has a huge lead over other forms of radio. The grand winner of this fantasy market-prediction contest, which ends July 29, gets an Apple Mac mini computer.


Amazon Opens Up A9

Amazon.com chief executive Jeff Bezos previewed a new technology last week on his company's A9 search site.

The A9 OpenSearch tool lets Web publishers create a special search box that will look for items on their own sites, then return those results in a way that can be displayed as normal search hits -- or reproduced on other sites or published as a Web subscription that users can read with "RSS" (Really Simple Syndication") software.

A9 users can see how this works by revising their personalized A9 pages to display a special column that presents OpenSearch results from participating Web sites. So far, A9 offers nearly four dozen site-specific boxes built with this technology.


Music Videos To Go

CinemaNow Inc. launched a Web site last week called WatchMusicHere that sells music videos formatted for both desktop computers and Windows-based Portable Media Center players. The site started with 75 downloadable music videos but plans to offer more than 1,500 titles by December, at prices ranging from $2 to $3 each.


E-mail Leslie Walker at walkerl@washpost.com.

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