The evening is over, the winners have spent the night reading their books in the glow of their new, special-order Flashies desk-lamp trophies, and the rest of us have had an evening to ponder last night’s Flashies awards ceremony and, like good bloggers everywhere, relate the occasional burst of helpful feedback in between mortar rounds lobbed from West Internetistan.
First of all, I had a fun time. I think Seattle has relatively few of these type of dress-up soirees where the smart geeky people can mingle over canapés and cocktails.
And I’m an optimistic guy. So I know that next year the Flashies will be better. This is the first year as a live event, and it showed. Not so much logistically, but in flow, in feel, in tone, in real-world hiccups that couldn’t be well anticipated, etc. More to come on that. But first:
WHAT WENT WELL
The venue is hard to beat. The Sky Church area at the EMP is gorgeous and visually stunning and for a moment there I wished it was 1992 and The Doors were on repeat.
The hosts and hostesses were uniformly helpful and everpresent.
The buffet was varied and tasty.
The categories were unusual and in some cases interesting (I’ll have more to say about categories and nominees in a minute, though). “Biggest Tech Debacle” is a category you just can’t help but love.
The orange color theming was a hit, including the ties worn by John Cook and Todd Bishop.
WHAT DIDN’T GO WELL
Well, crud. Where to start.
First of all, I thought that there were some obvious misses in list of categories. As one example, philanthrophic donations from members of Seattle’s tech sector being an obvious example of a feel-good category that everyone can get behind. In general, I thought the categories were a little *too* offbeat and unusual.
I thought that the nominees in many cases exhibited what we call “inside baseball” analysis – John Cook and Todd Bishop are as connected to local tech news as anybody, and it showed in the, well, arcane nature of some of the nominees. Not only the nominees, but in the winners. As an example: Shwetak Patel, a professor at the UW, won in the category “Newsmaker of the Year” for his role in the development of Zensi and subsequent sale to Belkin. Yet, if you do a Google news search for “Shwetak Patel”, you get – zero results. He seems like a truly nice guy, and the type of smart, high-energy contributor that Seattle needs – but newsmaker of the year? Really?
Next: Scope. The nominees ranged from the relatively unknown (see above), to the mega-known (Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer). Maybe more attention could be paid to targeting a certain niche/theme/area that would ensure that (a) nominees mostly came from the groups sponsoring, attending, or reporting on the Flashies, and (b) that winners would actually show up. I’m actually very surprised at some of the no-shows, not only among winners but among nominees. Again, this is probably first-year underwear peeking out under the skirt.
Next: Wine. Bleh. Whatever the red was, I’m pretty sure that Wine Spectator hasn’t gotten their hands on it. OK, that was petty. I’m a blogger, sue me.
Next: Anchor. By this I mean that the categories lacked an obvious “anchor” category, the big one, the one that everyone just KNOWS is the one award to win above all others. I’m guessing that as former hard-news guys, that John and Todd were thinking “Story of the Year” was the one to want, but I don’t know if the majority of the audience or the voters shared the same sentiment. As a result, there was a lack of natural dramatic buildup to the events as the evening went on.
Related: the event itself was too short. Maybe 45 or 50 minutes of actual awards banter? TechFlash might consider some interstitial presentations from the nominees for the “big category” (see above) as a way to build interest an excitement for the final winner.
Finally, I’m not convinced that the dual-host thing worked out for the best. The banter between John and Todd sometimes worked, but sometimes seemed a little under-rehearsed.
I predict that the awards will take place again next year, and that a lot of the first-year kinks will be worked out, and that in five or ten years’ time Seattle’s tech community will be able to host two or three annual awards programs, each focusing on a slightly different niche.
In the meantime, to the Flashies winners and nominees – kudos, congratulations, and I’m looking for big things from you and TechFlash in the next year!