Incredibly exclusive camera-phone coverage of the Webby Awards

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That’s eBay powerseller Brandi Ramos (purveyor of big and tall clothing to men of 52 nations) on the left, and eBay CEO Meg Whitman on the right. I sat with them at the Webby Awards last night, where Meg, Brandi, and a couple of other successful eBay merchants (Lanny and Deena Morton, who sell sporting goods) accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of “the eBay community.” The other lifetime award went to this guy:

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That I was at Cipriani Wall Street sitting next to Meg Whitman, at a better table than the one the Beastie Boys (winners of Artist of the Year) got, was the result of a strange chain of events that began with this name-dropping blog post about Princeton University’s soon-to-be-completed Whitman College. (Note to self: Write more blog posts about soon-to-be completed buildings named after prominent businesspeople.)

The Webbys are a deeply weird event. Some of that’s intentional–speeches are limited to five words each, Rob Corddry is the host. But the whole idea of honoring “the best of the Web” as the Web comes to encompass pretty much all previously existing media and then some is also just inherently ridiculous. (I counted 86 different award categories this year, not including the special awards for the likes of Meg and the Beasties.) The result is something that’s half industry awards show for ad agencies and half scattershot celebration of all that is Internetty. You know, like Diet Coke and Mentos, which were combined in great quantities on the street outside the venue (Wall Street, to be specific) just after the show:

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Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Meg seems really nice. Nice but tough, as when she told the event organizers that there was no way she could accept the award half an hour later than planned, because she had a plane to catch. After that was made clear, Corddry stopped telling jokes and started running through the winners at a blistering pace.

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