Getting over the disappointment of finding out I wasn’t one of the 2006 Weblog Award finalists has been made much easier. You see, I have been named Time Magazine’s Person of the year.
I wonder if there’s a check that goes along with this? I’m only asking because I do have to share the award — with about six and a half billion other people — including you.
But look at 2006 through a different lens and you’ll see another story, one that isn’t about conflict or great men. It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.
The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It’s not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution.
In reality it is a smaller subset of the 6.5 Billion people currently riding this rock we call home. So, who are they talking about?
Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?
The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
Captain Ed thinks that they punted with this selection.
The entire point of a Person of the Year is to acknowledge that some people play larger roles in history. Naming all of us may make us feel good about our anonymity, but in the end it’s either pandering to millions of readers or a refusal to take a stand on anyone. Choosing everyone is an abdication on the entire purpose of the project.
Don Surber likes the choice, saying,
Technology can liberate people, which is why so many regimes are trying to keep the lid on the Internet as if it were Pandora’s box. Most of the technology is used for crap: baseball fantasy leagues, crotch shots of celebrities and spam, spam, spam.
But like Pandora’s box, the Internet also unleashes upon the world hope.
He is right about most of the technology being used for crap. Some of it’s fun crap, but it’s still mostly crap. It is often that way with new technologies. Look at what could be grouped together as information technologies — printing, broadcast radio and television, movies, and now the internet — the ratio of garbage to gems is pretty one sided. But every now and then you get something that makes sifting through the rest worth while.
Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard has some fun with this story as well, but does add this.
But seriously, there has been a huge change in the world due to the internet. The repercussions of that change have yet to be fully understood. I think Time, while dodging a tricky call that would have brought them some serious abuse (see the link), may be on to something whether they meant it to be so or not. The world is changing. One pixel at a time.