You are Time magazine’s Person of the Year

Really. You are. And so are you, and you and you and.. You get the idea. As the BBC report reminds us last year Bono was one of the 3 named winners of the title.. ANYhoo.. Technorati’s tracking the reaction and the opening of the envelope article is hereFrom the article

The “Great Man” theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men.” He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

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.

And the winner is…

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.

Sure, it’s a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. 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. But 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. It’s a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who’s out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you’re not just a little bit curious.

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  • joeCanuck

    the times sure are a changin’

    I think (hope) it’s for the better.

    pols should definitely take notice.

    at last the “wee” guys have a voice.

    And, yes, some of it is horrible.

    But the good will win.

  • smirkyspice

    happy birthday week Joe

  • Rory

    Only problem is if they follow through with consistency on the persuasion of their editorial they will either have to expand the thinking extra-globally and place a picture of a little green Martian, “And it’s also YOU!”, on the cover next year or deny themselves completely and retreat to the more certain comforts of Carlyle with a front page portrait of Britney Spears or such.

    Still, you just gotta love Time magazine, it’s always been terrific for those moments in life when a man’s just gotta have a rest from thinking too much.

  • Christopher Eastwood

    When I was 10 years old, Nelson Mandela won the “Time Magazine Person of the Year” award. I was reading the article aloud to a less-than-inspired friend, and I told him in no-uncertain terms that, one day, I too would win the coveted accolade. He scoffed, and I couldn’t resist tempting him to “put his money where his mouth was”. I gave him a pound, at odds of 100-1. Generous enough odds, i thought (my da would have been disappointed!)

    Needless to say, this year I am expecting an unusually generous Christmas present from this particular friend 😉

  • joeCanuck

    thanks Smirky

  • Valenciano

    That’s awesome – we join a list of worthy previous winners who have included such “greats” as Pierre ‘Vichy’ Laval, Richard Nixon, Wallis Simpson, Newt Gingrich, Adolf Hitler and the Ayatullah Khomeini, not to mention serial winners like George W. Bush and Joe Stalin.

    I’m flattered, I really am.

  • dalek

    1936 Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson was a good one too…………………..

  • North Antrim Rambler

    And I thought it would be one of the two reverend, geriatric contenders in the North Antrim Assembly elections (if there are any), 77 and 80 if my counting is correct. There must be something in the water, if not the whiskey.

    According to the 77 year old in the Sunday Life he was asked to run again, maybe his wife wants him out of the house for a while longer, it was not by HQ I’ll bet. He hardly fits into their new young candidate wishes or maybe in that party he does.

    No wonder North Antrim is still in the last century!

  • So, it really is all about me. I mean, us.

  • It is just the latest advertising gimmick by the sorry magazine. What better way to get back declining readership than to compliment potential new readers!

  • GrassyNoel

    Er..Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but a few (or even a lot more than a few) million Cybernerds blogging their lives away as opposed to lounging on the sofa watching LOST does not, in my book, constitute “the wrenching of power from the hands of a few into the hands of the many” and anyone who believes or pretends to believe it does is being very naive. I don’t see the 2 lads who invented and sold YouTube sharing out the billions they made – not that I’m suggesting that they should, or that I would, for one moment – but isn’t that just cementing the status quo, that 2 postgraduates in their 20s get pad €2bn, for what must have amounted to not a hell of a lot of work. And may I repeat that I’m not begrudging them, I heartily congratulate them on their success, but to me dividing $1.64bn between two people, even in today’s terms, is EXACTLY putting an awful lot of power into the hands of very few. So I’m afraid, Mr Time Magazine man, and may I also admit here now publicly that I’m a subscriber, but that’s only because I’m a sucker for gimmicky free gifts, but your head’s up your arse on that one.

    Blogging might be more interactive than TV watching but it’s essentially the same form of entertainment, just via a slightly different medium. And if we’re all being truthful and honest isn’t it just a little bit sad really, having to sit at home by your PC and wait for stimulating virtual conversation instead of genuine face-to-face ACTUAL interaction. I read an article in last week’s Sunday Times magazine as well about some new website where people can log on and lead ‘new’ lives,it’s all just a bit weird and sad. I also find it interesting, for example that this bloke who’s after being arrested in Ipswich for those prostitute murders had his own page on myspace, and I notice you still haven’t put up a thread on Slugger about it.

    Face it guys & gals, there’s nothing special about Blogging. I’m glad I get to make these contributions on my employer’s time ‘cos there ain’t NO WAY I’d spend my free time in the evenings doing this! Don’t we all spend too much time in front of computer screens nowadays as it is, and not necessarily by choice?

  • BBC Northern Ireland is asking for nominations in its Person of the Year competition. Some already nominated – Ian Paisley, Al Gore and Paul Berry. Follow my live link. Berry ges my vote 😉

  • Rory

    Grassy Noel,

    Blogging from the office at 3.26pm indicates to me that you are not using your employer’s time well.

    I had always considered that anyone who returned from luncheon before 4pm was a careerist toady.

    If I were you I would sharpen up. Life is short after all and curtailing one’s time at luncheon simply in order to return to the office to go “blogging” seems a terrible waste of time.


    We are not surprised that you have cast your vote for Paul Berry. Clearly, as your name suggests, you are a Graecophile and he has, I am told, been to the fore in promoting a love for Greek taste. I may follow your lead as I am partial to the odd juicy keebab meself.

  • Christopher Eastwood

    GrassyNoel, the creators of Youtube must certainly have put more work into their fortune than it seems you put into making yours. “Employer’s time”, indeed. Maybe form their point of view!

  • GrassyNoel

    Rory, CE…

    Yes you’re both right, I feel deeply ashamed. Any chance of either of you actually addressing any of the points I made in the post though?

    As for chiding me for blogging at work, I’m not sure if either or both of you are being tongue in cheek there, but if not, maybe you should consider the possibility that you are spending too much time online in your little ‘virtual’ universe to have noticed what actually goes on in the real world.. Which sort of proves my point really. If you seriously think being online while at work is unacceptable behaviour, You may as well chastise everyone on the planet who works in an office with web access. Case in point: a Times article about 2 weeks ago (which of course I read online while at my desk at work) which revealed that on average a relatively substantial proportion of the typical office worker’s day was spent online in a NON-work related fashion.

  • Christopher Eastwood


    I couldn’t care less that you, like most people, get paid for nothing. Yet, from that self-proefessed position, any complaint about the distribution of income reeks of hypocrisy.

    It’s hardly indicative of any fantasy-land mentality on my part to point this out (The way you said that really was a bit sad and a bit lame).

    Though I am still in education, my chosen career will allow me to work for myself, unburdened by the demands of “the big bad employer”. Believe me when I say that if I fail to amass a “fortune” for myself, I will have only myself to blame. Though, regardless of whether we are employed or self-employed, this is surely the same for everyone, no?

  • Christopher Eastwood

    As regards your opinions of “blogging”, i’ll bypass the fact that you still choose to contribute to it . . (I mean, there are many interesting things on the net, but something still compells you to Slugger. . doesn’t this something suggest some inherit worth in the activity?) . . .

    Slugger provides a good forum in which to discuss local political issues in a relatively structured way. That’s it. When you start reading in to it so much, far from making a valid point about us (you don’t know us, after all) you only provide a portent into your own “universe” . . . you might want to consider this. Meditate on it, if you will. Maybe tomorrow, whilst at work? 😉

  • GrassyNoel


    I specifically called notice to the fact that I had no problem with the success achieved – critically, financially or otherwise by the founders of YouTube, therrefore I reject the charge of hypocrisy. As I said myself in my original post I wasn’t suggesting for one second that I would have wanted the money redistributed any other way if I were them. What I did take issue with was a direct quote from the Time article about ‘wresting power’ and I genuinely believe this is horsemanure in a pretty lame, sentimental, touchy-feely article about how we’re all reaching out to each other through the net in some kind of velvet revolution.

    That is my genuine belief – that there is nothing remotely special in the way that we are using ICT technology or have used it up to now. Many people have chosen to buy into such ridiculous soundbites like ‘radically altering societal structures’ etc (not quoting anyone directly there, just using an example of these vacuous phrases that get bandied about) but I do not concur.

    I’m glad you’re still in education and are acquiring the skills that will one day allow you to work for yourself. (Never seriously considered going down that route myself, but you never know, I’m still young enough to have dreams!) However it’s not been too long since I was in education myself and I have considered this particular subject at some length as part of research in was doing for an essay as part of a communications diploma a few years ago. I believe the mistake people make is that they are, in a way, ‘dazzled’ by the rapidly changing face of technology and they think – or maybe choose to believe – that the forces behind all these technological ‘advances’ must be so powerful as to be effecting some kind of ‘revolution’.

    But don’t believe the hype – that’s all I’m saying. And Mr Time Magazine is peddling the same old hypetripe we’ve been listening to since the first commodore 64 came out, about how new technology and how we use it is ‘radically altering the future’ or ‘fundamentally redefining’ social and cultural boundaries, blah blah blah etc. The conclusion I came to in that essay was that the phenomenon of globalised communication has been with us for many decades already, and it is actually a very gradual process of advancement – more evolutionary than revolutionary. The internet/blogosphere is just its latest guise, but nothing to get too excited about.

    Remember all those fantastic gadgets on Tomorrow’s World & beyond 2000? I bet nobody 15-20 years ago thought we’d still be as dependent on hydrocarbon-based fuels as we still are today. And we will be for some years to come yet, believe me.

    And I never meant to deride the practice of blogging, sure as you can see I’m on here most days because yes, it is interesting, but I think I’m a lot more engaged with the subject matter(s) rather than the blogging itself. With a lot of people it sometimes seems to be the other way around. They seem to think the context is secondary – or even totally irrelevant – to the fact that you’re blogging.

  • Christopher Eastwood


    1. I agree that, with a lot of people, it does seem to be the other way around, though I would take issue with your suggestion that I could be included in that group. therefore I DID take issue with it! Naturally . . . (lol)

    2. Your cynicism about soundbites strikes a cord with me, and I agree. To a certain extent. Yet the revolutionary aspects of this new techno-interactive culte should not be underestimated.

    3. On this note, your whole post (i.e. post 18) seems to centre around your opinion that the world hasn’t changed nearly as much as people say it has. In fact, I believe that the world is changing beyond interaction. One need only need any of the countless journalistic expositions of the new-globalised world (e.g. T. Friedman’s recent “The World is Flat”) to notice this is the business world.

    4. When people spoke of the Commodore 64, they were not, at the time, referring to that system in itself, but rather the potential for the future. Most likely they UNDERESTIMATED the radical impact of the technological revolution, rather than rhetorically underestimated it.

    5. Research paper sounds interesting, though I am quite unimpressed with most social sciences (not being sciences at all; certainly if you set out on your research with the pre-fromed opinions that you obviously have).

    6. Apologies for setting out this reply like a legal opinion. My degree is in Law – in final year at the moment. the research paper that I wil be doing in the new year will focus around Intellectual Property rights in the music industry, and the suitability of traditional formulations of these rights (e.g. copyright) for application to today’s RADICALLY DIFFERENT market (my own opinion at present is very much along the lines of Stanford Professor Lawrence Lessig, whose new book – “Code 2.0” – arrived this morning)…. I emphasise the words “radically different” because they provide another opportunity to make my point. Could anyone have envisaged file-sharing technology twenty or thirty years ago? Napster? And does this not transmogrify beyonf recognition the particular market (i.e. Music) that we are discussing????

    7. You are happy for the creators of Youtube to pocket their fortune, therefore I assume that you suport some form of capitalistic economy – and so you won’t mind if blog culture does nothing to change this, as you support it.

    8. I also assume that you realise the difficulties and inadequacies of a perfect democracy (which, indicentally, the internet may be able to accommodate, to some extent) – and that you favour the representative model. If this is so, then if our only resultant power is the ability to scrutinise government actions. You may cynically point to the impotence of the electorate pre-Iraq War, yet my point about scrutiny remains. If this is to be done properly, we need access to information. Yet, can there be any doubt that we today have much greated access to the same? Compare with 1906, and my point will be proved. Indeed, the internet offers much more than television ever could – only superficial debate is offered on television. On here, it is more probing. Let me borrow a phrase from Brian Friel to make my point even clearer (though no less drawn out lol apologies) – “the impermanence and anonymity” of blog interaction prevents political correctness from getting in the way of genuinely constructive debate. I, for one, think it is revolutionary in the truest sense of the word. Onwards and upwards . ! . ! . ! . . 😉

  • Christopher Eastwood

    Needless to say that, in paragraph two of the previous post, “culte” should be read as “culture” . . . Typo or Freudian slip? You decide. You are, after all, Time Magazine Peson of the Year! 😉

  • Christopher Eastwood

    And again, Paragraph 3 – “Changing beyond recognition” – Typos galore! What is happening to me! 😉