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Streamy Awards: Chris Hardwick on the viral video myth. Plus an insider's picks to win!

Since the birth of YouTube in 2005,  the platform that hosts EVERYTHING, including actors, artists and comedians — has spread like wildfire, launching careers and shining a spotlight on many outstanding talents beyond that dog on the skateboard. Eight years later, rather than being a springboard for these creatives to move to TV or labels, the Internet has become another medium for them to showcase their work. The third annual Streamy Awards will honor that work this Sunday.

Chris Hardwick, comedian and host of The Talking Dead on AMC, will host the show. He is an advocate for the global, niche audiences online shows reach.

“It’s exciting for me as a performer because I remember the days when the fate of your entertainment career depended on someone at a network in an office. None of those things exist that way anymore,” Hardwick says. “The medium still exists but there really is a much truer meritocracy at work, which is that talented people now have the delivery system to get their voices out into the world and they don’t need big media companies anymore to deliver them to people or decide if they’re good enough.”

Hardwick’s advice for anyone looking to create a video is to forgo the idea of a viral video.

“The audience will decide if they want to make them viral or not. Focus on quality, don’t focus on … ‘I want to be trendy.’” READ FULL STORY

Vote for the Streamys Audience Choice Awards!

Vote early, and vote often. The polls are open for the 3rd Annual Streamys Audience Choice Awards for the categories of Personality of the Year and Series of the Year, and you can go to the site to vote for your favorite show and personality once a day until February 11.

But now comes the tricky part: deciding who to vote for. The finalists are all over the place, ranging the very sincere to the very silly. Some are dramatic, some are just for laughs, and some…are actually pretty explicit. If you’re not a devoted follower of any web series, this is actually a pretty good and diverse primer on some of the current options out there. Take a look at the finalists after the jump, and then head over to streamys.org to vote.

Winners will be announced during the Chris Hardwick-hosted ceremony, scheduled to be broadcast live online, Sunday, February 17 starting at 6 p.m. EST.

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