I've done some searching and... okay, maybe that Best of the Blogs award is bigger than I thought...
It turns out the Deutsche Welle Best of the Blogs competition has been conducted since 2004. There were over 7,000 entries this year (up from 1,500 last year) and 150 finalists. The Valour-IT blog received special mention in DW's coverage of the event:
Inspired by Army Capt. Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, a military blogger who was severely wounded in Iraq in 2005, Valour-IT uses the Web to raise money to provided injured soldiers with voice-controlled software and laptops.Interviewed on a video clip on DW is Mark Glaser of PBS' Mediashift, the man I believe responsible for drawing the jury's attention to Valour-IT. About a year ago he wrote one of the best and most in-depth profiles of the project that we have received from any media outlet.
"This site is truly outstanding in how it has expanded the use of blogging beyond what we are used to," Baron [jury member, founder of Rocketboom] said.
The other winners were very diverse, but held something in common. From the stories of a 95-year-old Spanish grandmother, to the blog of reporters in Baghdad, to a voice of protest in Burma and an amateur photographer in Belarus, the winners are each making the world a better place in their own ways. A jurist interviewed on Deutsche Welle radio put it this way:
Most of them represent some kind of positive value for a culture, it’s not just pure entertainment, it’s not for somebody’s personal benefit… it was because they seem to be having the biggest effect on the world.Well, I'll demur about affecting the world, as Valour-IT is by definition rather U.S.-focused. But the sentiment that the various winners' corners of the world are better places because we blog is something I accept as a heartwarming honor.
I still can't wrap my brain around having been nominated for something I didn't even know existed until a couple weeks ago, and then having won it when I had a thoroughly inadequate understanding of what it actually was. Embarrassing, but it's been fascinating to go rooting around the Internet to learn more about it.
Now I have to go write a press release, as Soldiers' Angels has insisted that we widely advertise having won this award. Back to the grindstone... ;)