When I wrote about "Our Message of Hope" at the end of last year, it was simply to highlight a cool online video. The mash-up -- created by Minneapolis-based agencies Brew, Sevnthsin and others -- used snippets from 2008 political speeches to string together a quirky holiday message. I thought it was worth checking out. Others apparently agreed, because "Our Message of Hope" was nominated recently for a Webby Award, in the video mashup/remix category.

It's one of four websites with Minnesota connections that are vying for what are widely considered to be the Internet's version of the Oscars. The others are the official site for the kids' TV show "Yo Gabba Gabba!" in the celebrity/fan and television categories, the popular Yearbook Yourself time-waster for best viral marketing and Pizza Lucé for best restaurant site.

Each is competing against four other nominees in its category.

The winners in more than 100 categories will be announced next Tuesday. The honorees will then receive their prizes at a gala in New York City June 8.

But in addition to those Webby winners chosen by a panel of judges, each category will also have a winner chosen by Internet users. It's called the People's Voice Award, and your vote can help determine who takes the equally coveted prize.

Deciding on a pick won't be easy, because the many nominees represent a Who's Who of Internet pop culture for the past year. They include Digg, the Huffington Post, Flickr, Wired and the Fail Blog.

Of course, the websites closer to home hope you vote for them.

Here's a look at those nominees and their Minnesota connections.



Creators: Minneapolis-based agencies Brew, Sevnthsin, Ditch, Rumble and Fast Horse Inc.

This clever mashup worked so well because it pilfered source material that was fresh on everyone's minds, following an election year in which politics and the accompanying bluster continually accosted users online and viewers offline. I mean, Sarah Palin winking and saying, "Ubetcha"? That's gold. It also has a top-notch pedigree, driven by an agency (Brew) that also brought us the memorable viral videos of a soldier leaving a message of peace in the desert sand and a spectral memorial bridge materializing over the Mississippi River. The new clip's fellow nominees include an Apple Mac music video, a sendup of Bill O'Reilly and a mashup from the FX show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."



Creator: Minneapolis-based PUNY.

The Nick Jr. show "Yo Gabba Gabba!" is bright, colorful and in-your-face, just as its young viewers like it. So it's no surprise that its official website offers all of that and more. The site uses an eye-popping amount of video-generated animation that cries out for wee visitors to click on something -- anything -- to see what happens next. Visit PUNY's website (www.punyentertainment.com), and you can see where the innovation originates. The other celebrity/fan nominees are no slouches -- Yahoo, E! Online, Muhammad Ali, Celebrity Tweet -- so this one's wide open.



Creator: Minneapolis-based Colle+McVoy.

Designed for a Michigan-based developer of shopping malls -- that popular hangout for teens -- Yearbook Yourself lets users upload a photo of themselves and see how they'd look in a school yearbook plucked from various decades. You could go from horn-rimmed glasses to a huge afro with the click of a button. Saved images from the site became a sensation not only on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Flickr, but also on TV shows around the world. Based on popularity alone, Yearbook Yourself deserves to win over nominees promoting things such as Volkswagen and "The Dark Knight." By the way, the original Yearbook Yourself is no longer active. But you can sign up to be notified when the new edition comes out, sometime in July.



Creator: Minneapolis-based Pizza Lucé.

At first glance, Pizza Lucé's site looks like many other well-designed restaurant websites. It features an inviting layout, easy navigation and fetching photos of scrumptious food. But the nomination is for the site's redesign. To appreciate it, you have to go to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine (www.archive.org) and check out old versions of the site, which featured static text and garish background colors. But while the turn-around is impressive, Pizza Lucé faces heavy competition from nominees such as Smokey Bones, whose eye-candy entry not only has fireworks but a cheerleader rah-rahing from a rooftop and a giant bunny working security in the parking lot -- really.

Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542.