You Are the Person of the Year!

Time magazine has selected “You” as its person of the year. The magazine is recognizing the power of individuals to shape the world and public opinion through sites likes this blog, YouTube, MySpace, etc. Instead of cover someone famous like President Bush,  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea’s Kim Jong II, Bono or Brad Pitt,  the magazine hit on the trend of the digital error as the Internet has made the world a smaller place.

Here is how one news article explained it…. 

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.

“You. Me. Everyone. Everyone is who is transforming the information age by creating and consuming content,” Richard Stengel, the magazine’s managing editor told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “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.”

“You know, I felt in a very profound way something in the world change this year, that there was an ebbing of power from the few to the many, and big media companies like ours were, in fact, not in control anymore. It’s a great new digital democracy,” Stengel said.

“We’re looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it’s just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy,” the magazine says.

Sure, it’s a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary, Time says. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred.

But that’s what makes all this interesting. Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There’s no road map for how an organism that’s not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion, the magazine concedes.

But it says 2006 gave us some ideas. “This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person.”

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