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.I suppose if I was cynical, I would say this was just an attempt by the mainstream media to sell a few copies of their magazine in a web 2.0 world. But, considering it's all free online, I imagine most of "us" just might read it there. And they had some interesting lines, both in the main story and in the message from the editor (I haven't had time to read all the other stories yet).
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.Hmm, "change the world", I think I've heard that somewhere before . . . But I also think the idea of "change the way the world changes" is an interesting one to consider. It makes me think of exponential growth and second derivatives (sorry, but I used to teach math). We live in a time of rapid change, where the pace of change itself is increasing. If we live in exponential times, then how can the world not change?
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.Friedman's flat world meets web 2.0.
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. It's a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who's out there looking back at them.As I mentioned, I used to teach math, not history, but I wonder what social studies teachers think about this? Citizen to citizen is a powerful idea and is a step beyond our current representative government. I vaguely remember discussions about how true democracy could never, ever work - and I wonder about the implications of this. Is there a point where we could be too democratic?
There are lots of people in my line of work who believe that this phenomenon is dangerous because it undermines the traditional authority of media institutions like TIME. Some have called it an "amateur hour." And it often is. But America was founded by amateurs. The framers were professional lawyers and military men and bankers, but they were amateur politicians, and that's the way they thought it should be. Thomas Paine was in effect the first blogger, and Ben Franklin was essentially loading his persona into the MySpace of the 18th century, Poor Richard's Almanack. The new media age of Web 2.0 is threatening only if you believe that an excess of democracy is the road to anarchy. I don't.Now if I could only find Thomas Paine's RSS feed . . .
We chose to put a mirror on the cover because it literally reflects the idea that you, not we, are transforming the information age. The 2006 Person of the Year issue—the largest one Time has ever printed—marks the first time we've put reflective Mylar on the cover. When we found a supplier in Minnesota, we made the company sign a confidentiality agreement before placing an order for 6,965,000 pieces. That's a lot of Mylar.Almost seven million pieces of mylar. How much does that cost? What effect does it have on the environment? And I've read the story before any of those pieces of Mylar have even been delivered . . .