Web 2.0 construction computing awards, anyone?

Tomorrow (10 November) is the last day to register online votes for the Construction Computing Awards 2009, promoted by BTC, the UK-based publisher of Construction Computing, CADuser and other magazines.

Back in August, when nominations opened I blogged on ExtranetEvolution.com about there being no category for Web 2.0 type applications. Since then, I have been thinking further about this, and I have come up with five reasons why we don’t yet have any awards in this field….

  1. ConComputing homepageFirst, the fact that the Construction Computing website (and those of its sister publications) doesn’t have a blog, a Twitter account, an RSS feed, discussion forum or bookmarking tools might be a clue that social media isn’t really on BTC’s radar (see post). Other publishers targeting the business-to-business market – and the architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) and property sectors in particular (eg: Emap, Reed, UBM) – have all been revamping their websites and offering new online services to build stronger connections with their readerships, but we currently have no construction IT publication or organisation that ‘walks the Web 2.0 talk’.
  2. Second, for Construction Computing readers to vote on Web 2.0 applications they really should be using them, and despite the enthusiasm of the leading media channels, individuals and companies in the AEC sector have not been the most enthusiastic adopters of the tools and technologies. Instead, some organisations have gone out of their way to restrict or even completely block access to some platforms. So, individual ignorance or scepticism, combined with corporate control freakery, might also limit meaningful voting.
  3. Third, the success of awards often depends on capturing the interest and attention of the relevant industry organisations, companies, software vendors and other potential sponsors. At this early stage in AEC adoption of Web 2.0, few software vendors have emerged with marketing/PR budgets big enough to justify involvement, the effects of the recession are still being felt, and ongoing unease about Web 2.0 (see 2. above) may limit some corporate enthusiasm.
  4. WebbyawardsFourth, forget anonymous judges, behind-closed-doors decision-making and closed voting processes. Web 2.0 awards should naturally be decided based upon the transparent “wisdom of crowds”. Open nomination of candidates would be a start, perhaps using online polls to decide upon a final shortlist. Publishing the names of those voting might deter some people from participating, but equally it could encourage others pleased to be associated with the company/application/product they’ve endorsed. And I think revealing the final voting figures during or immediately after any awards (so that we all know how much the winners won by, or how narrowly runners-up missed out) would be good. (The Webbys, for example, have a People’s Voice Award, which I think is a good model)
  5. Traditional awards programmes often involve a lavish awards dinner: lots of tables of ten getting dressed up before sitting down to a three-course meal and getting drunk networking while watching a steady succession of awards being spread around many of the table sponsors (for the Construction Computing awards “Tables of 10 are available from £1695” – ouch!). Perhaps new technologies deserve a new approach? Just as web 2.0 has adopted the informal ‘unconference’ type approach, perhaps we should be thinking about more informal awards ‘unceremonies’, maybe with an element of ‘tweet-up’, complete with live-blogging and other audience involvement?

In fact, I am beginning to think about organising some Be2camp awards….

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