The 16th Webby Awards
Patton Oswalt, comedian and actor of animated film Ratatouille fame, will host the Webby Awards May 21 in New York City, and the nominees for 2012 are in. The 16th annual awards will feature a new social change award spawned in the aftermath of 2011's Arab Spring uprisings that have forever transformed how social media is portrayed and used. The new award will be chosen by voters and not by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences judges who select the Webby nominees.

You Suck at Photoshop.jpg

Matt Bledsoe and Troy Hitch won a 2008 Webby Award for their video series called You Suck at Photoshop. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Rubenstein under Creative Commons license.

Sometimes called the Oscars of the Internet, the Webbys will be broadcast live online unlike Hollywood's annual rite. Furthermore, Oswalt brings a bitingly satirical performance style that should fit in well with the sprawling award show format. 

This year's nominees number over 500, and there are sections for websites, Mobile & Apps, Online Film & Video and Interactive Advertising. Inside those main sections are over 100 categories ranging from Experimental & Weird Online Film & Video to Best Editorial Writing for a Web site.

While the IADAS picks the nominees, there are two winners in each category, and people can vote on their choices through April 26. IADAS looks for the most creative and innovative websites, David -Michel Davies, executive director of the Webby Awards said in a statement. 

Winners will be announced May 1, and the May 21 award show will be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, beginning at 5:30 p.m. EST. The live broadcast will be at the webbyawards.com website.

Nominees for the inaugural People's Special Achievement Webby for Social Change are Kiva, Change.org, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (seriously). Voting in the People's Voice section is open to the public, and some websites or companies have multiple nominees across categories. Here's some of the section highlights for the 2012 Webby Awards.

Websites

There's about 70 categories in this section alone, and they go from Activism and Art to Humor, Politics and Youth. Nominees range from Sesame Street's Muppets page (Best Home/Welcome Page), The Art of Pho, a Web comic (Best Use of Animation) and TED.com (Education) to GameSpot and TreeHugger for Games-Related and Green categories respectively.

Interesting to point out that Pinterest made the list in the category of Best Visual Design and Function and Dropbox received a nomination for Best Practices.

Mobile & Apps

Google Wallet received a nomination in the Experimental & Innovation category despite not being widely adopted by major U.S. mobile carriers. Additionally, Pandora and Flipboard for iPhone both received nominations for Music and News (Handheld Devices), respectively.

Online Film & Video

With the explosion of online video in recent years, it's no surprise there are some really unique nominees in this category. One of them is a game made by a company called Party Inc, and it's an interesting use of interactivity, music video and social media. The game is based on a song called Bell from Japanese music act androp, and the game uses themes from the song as its inspiration. Instead of simply sending a short message over Twitter, the game turns the message itself into an adventure where the letters from the message are used to create an animal character based on the message's length. Try to navigate the animal past virtual enemies, and the message gets delivered.

There's also a movie trailer spoof on YouTube called The Man Without a Facebook, and the short video won a nomination for Comedy: Individual Short or Episode for its silly send-up of all things liked or friended. Tell us in the comments if you've ever won a Webby or if there's a particular category you think will be the most competitive.