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Hidden gems of the Webby Award nominees

Heather Kelly, CNN
The Humans of New York site, which featues photos of everyday New Yorkers, has been nominated for a Webby Award.
The Humans of New York site, which featues photos of everyday New Yorkers, has been nominated for a Webby Award.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The nominees for the 17th annual Webby Awards were announced on Tuesday
  • There were 11,000 submissions this year but only five nominees selected for each category
  • In addition to big names and brands, there are many interesting and stunning sites

(CNN) -- The annual Webby Awards are always a treasure trove of fascinating sites and apps. The organization behind the awards, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, announced the latest, lengthy list of nominees on Tuesday.

The awards started in 1996 and over the past 17 years have expanded to include categories such as mobile apps, ad campaigns and online videos. For the final Webbys list, the academy narrowed down 11,000 applications to find five nominees for each category, as well as some honorable mentions. Though the official winners will be chosen by academy members, anyone can vote for the People's Voice Awards.

Big names and major brands with sizable marketing budgets tend to dominate the nominations. Nike nabbed the most nominations, followed by Google and The New York Times. But the list is also an excellent place to find some cool and unusual projects that you may have missed over the past year. We dug through to find some our favorites.

Milwaukee Police News

A website for a local police department seems like an unlikely place to find inspirational Web design, but the official page for the Milwaukee Police news is a stunner. Look through crime stats, browse photos of the most wanted criminals, and check out a timeline of the department's history, all on a background of amazing photos of the department.

The Space

Take a break from the usual streaming (Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, YouTube) and enjoy some free on-demand video and content about dance, opera, music, art and more on the The Space, a site from the Arts Council England and the BBC. Start with one of the five short films about David Bowie or flip through the site's sizable photography collection.

Gallery of Lost Art

The Gallery of Lost Art from Tate is an interactive online exhibit tracing the stories of missing art. Some pieces were stolen, others destroyed or thrown out. The site combines art history and intriguing mystery using high-resolution images, essays and videos.

Humans of New York

This photography site is based on a straightforward premise: capturing photos of everyday New Yorkers. Luckily, there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of interesting New Yorkers, making the site an addictive time-suck. Photographer Brandon Stanton also includes captions that capture bits of his subjects' lives.

Clouds over Cuba

This expertly crafted interactive documentary on the Cuban missile crisis from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library has archival video footage, documents, audio clips, and fresh interviews. You can watch from beginning to end or skip around on the timeline.

Bloomberg Billionaires

Ever wonder who the richest people in the world are? This collection of dossiers lets you search for billionaires by age, gender, country, industry and source of wealth. View the index on a map to find the billionaire nearest you and invite him or her over for tea. Each person has a colorful profile page that includes a biography, summary of net worth, and a slideshow of possessions. The index is updated daily.

First men on the moon

Relive the 1969 moon landing with this minute-by-minute re-creation that puts you in mission control. It uses real audio clips from the Apollo 11 landing with photos and names indicating who's talking. The center of the screen shows video from the landing and graphics at the bottom show the lunar model's angle.

Chaos to perfection

If you can't make it to France to see the stunning Versailles grounds in person, this site is the next best thing. A fully realized 3-D model of the royal palace, it takes you through areas like the Grand Canal, the Hall of Mirrors and the King's Bedchamber, where you can explore every angle. This project is a collaboration between the Chateau de Versailles and the Google Cultural Institute.

Lumosity

A workout for your brain, Lumosity features training exercises developed by neuroscientists to help improve your memory, problem-solving skills and concentration. Researchers can then mine the data collected by Lumosity to learn more about human cognition. The service has over 35 million users.

REI 1440 Project

One of many marketing campaigns among the nominees, the REI 1440 Project is a soothing, crowdsourced collection of travel photos from outdoorsy types around the world. The images are organized according to their time stamps to make up a 24-hour timeline of shots.

Chrome Web Lab

Google projects are spread throughout the Webby nominations, and with good reason. The experiment-happy company has created the Chrome Web Lab projects to show off the browser's processing power. There's an interactive orchestra, live videos from around the world, and a real robot that will draw your portrait in sand at the Science Museum in London.

Beatbox Academy

Ever been at a party and thought, "If I only knew how to beatbox I could really kick this event up a notch, maybe make some friends"? Head over to Beatbox Academy and get started mixing your own tunes with the interactive beatbox machine. The site is promoting a DVD that teaches you how to beatbox in the comfort of your home.

FixYa

On this site it's possible to get help fixing pretty much anything, including computers, fax machines, hair driers, cars and tattoo guns. Look up your broken device to find manuals, issues and solutions from other members, or ask your question and hope an expert comes back with a helpful answer.

Sitegeist

Tap into your smartphone's location features to learn more about the world around you. This app shows stats like Census Bureau facts (age, gender), weather, Foursquare favorites, average rents and recommended places to grab food. Another app for discovering information based on your location, History Here, finds historical facts for your area.

The Silent History

This is a book, but it's also an app that mixes in user-generated feedback and location-based participation. The serialized piece of fiction draws the reader in with interactive elements, creating a new kind of narrative that could be the future of e-books.

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