With the South by Southwest festival just over a month away, the finalists have recently been named for all categories of the SXSW Interactive Awards. These finalists all had projects or sites launched in 2010 that created a buzz and contribute to on-going dialogue. In the run up to the awards ceremony, which will be held during SXSW on March 15, there are plenty of nominees worthy of your attention.

BOVAP (Bolsa de Valores Politicos) was an online tool launched on March 9, 2010, and created by Brazilian brokerage firm Souza Barros in order to increase public discussion and political awareness leading up to Brazil’s 2010 election. The concept is based on the financial market, but instead of buying and selling shares of a company, users bought and sold stock of politicians’ public images using a fictitious currency. All transactions and opinions would then impact each politician’s worth. Candidates for President and Governors of State were featured. Not only did this site teach users how the financial market works, but it promoted activism and increased public discussion of politics.

What makes BOVAP so revolutionary and worthy of its SXSW Interactive Award nomination is its contribution to what is often called ‘Democracy 2.0’ — the role the web plays in democracy and our ability to participate in it. The more tools we are given for social interaction on the web, the more the conversation changes and evolves. In this case, in addition to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts, BOVAP created a site that allowed users to participate, engage in the conversation, and learn about politics and the financial market in a way that was fun and fascinating.

The BOVAP website is still accessible, and while much of it is in Spanish, you can still get an idea of the experience. Though the elections in Brazil are now over, one can only hope that this project and the ideas behind it continue to grow and expand.