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An anonymous online writer understood to be from south Dublin won the award for best blog at the first Irish Blog Awards at the Alexander Hotel in Dublin on Saturday.
The blogger, known only by the name of his idiosyncratic website, Twenty Major, also scooped awards for best blog post and most humorous blog post.
A man identifying himself only as Tim, a self-described “childhood friend” of Twenty Major, accepted the awards on behalf of the blog and its author, but declined to offer any comment apart from a brief apology on behalf of the mysterious blogger.
“Twenty couldn’t make it tonight,” he joked. “Maybe he can next year when there aren’t so many people after him.”
More than 160 members of the Irish blogging community attended the awards. A total of 1,700 people, not all of them bloggers, submitted votes in an online poll to decide the winners.
Founder and organiser Damien Mulley, a technical writer and chairman of Ireland Offline, a voluntary organisation that lobbies for the development of internet infrastructure, said the idea behind the awards was to expose Irish blogs to a wider audience and “to encourage passionate people to blog themselves”.
RTÉ 2fm DJ and blogger Rick O’Shea, the MC for the night, said the awards showed “blogging had gone from something done in dark rooms at 3am to something more mainstream”.
Members of the audience were disappointed but not surprised that the man behind Twenty Major – whose anonymity is as much a part of his authorial persona as is his frequently scatological approach to social commentary – chose not to attend.
Other winners included Annette Clancy, a management consultant, whose site Thinking Out Loud was honoured with best fiction and best personal blog awards.
Sinéad Gleeson, winner in the arts and culture category said: “Thank God some women won awards. With these things there’s a perception it’s male-dominated.”
The winner of best use of the Irish language, Conn Ó Muíneacháin, started his blog after getting tired of “looking for content I couldn’t find”.
“Maybe next year we’ll see some Irish language blogs in other categories moving into the mainstream,” he said in his acceptance speech.
Mr Ó Muíneacháin, a software engineer, is the first person to begin podcasting in Irish. He recently reached the 100 mark and currently does one podcast per day. Podcasting is the distribution of audio or video online for downloading, often through subscription services.
Microsoft Ireland was the largest sponsor of the awards, having offered €2,000 to pay for the function room at the Alexander after the number of registered attendees exceeded Mr Mulley’s estimates for a smaller venue.
“What I’d like is for [ the awards] to show that this isn’t just about online diaries,” said Mr Mulley. “We had stuff worthy of journalist prizes.”
Blogging: a beginner’s guide
Blog is short for “weblog”, a website or online diary to which items are posted on a regular basis in reverse chronological order.
Blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as politics or technology, although this is not a requirement of the medium.
A key characteristic of blogs is real-time reader interactivity and participation, usually through comment software.
Blog entries typically contain some combination of text, images and links to other websites, but video, photo and audio blogging are becoming increasingly popular as broadband becomes more widespread and multimedia technology becomes more robust and affordable.
There is some dispute as to who was the first blogger – some credit Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the worldwide web, others an American college student named Justin Hall – but it is generally accepted that blogging began in the mid-1990s. Although the term “blog” came into currency in 1997, blogging didn’t take off as a mass movement until the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, dramatically expanded the global appetite for political commentary, news and media criticism, which bloggers such as Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) and Josh Marshall (Talking Points Memo) supplied in abundance.
By the time of the US presidential election in 2004, blogging was cemented in the American media landscape, as bloggers began breaking news stories, most notably discovering a story by CBS news on president George Bush relied on forged documents.
Blogging in Ireland emerged in the wake of this upsurge in the US. Apart from blogs such as best political blog winner Slugger O’Toole, which covers Northern Ireland and has won a loyal global readership, much of the Irish blogosphere steers clear of politics, preferring to focus on overlooked art forms, cultural ephemera or just the vicissitudes of daily life, among a huge range of topics.
Many of the first reports and images of the Dublin riots of last month appeared on blogs.
Annette Clancy, whose site Thinking Out Loud was honoured with best fiction and best personal blog awards describes blogging as the gathering of “communities of interest”.
“There’s a discourse out there that we’re wannabe journalists, but that’s a naïve understanding,” she says. “Blogs are curatorial spaces, individual statements of voice where sophisticated conversations about identity can take place.” -Jon Ihle
Irish blog awards: winners
Best Blog: Twenty Major – twentymajor.blogspot.com
Best Blog Post: Twenty Major – twentymajor.blogspot.com – “New York Diary”
Best Fiction: Thinking Out Loud – www.thinkingoutloud.biz – “47 Hours”
Best Comment: Kevin Breathnach – disillusionedlefty.blogspot.com
Best Technology Blog: Tom Raftery
Best Use of Irish Language: An tImeall
Best Political Blog: Slugger O’Toole
Most Humorous: Twenty Major
Best arts and culture: Sinéad Gleeson
Best group blog: The Community At Large – www.tcal.net
Best photo blog: In Photos – inphotos.org
Best personal blog: Thinking Out Loud
Best contribution to the Irish blogosphere: IrishBlogs.ie