In its person of the year, Time Magazine named YOU, the savvy internet user as person of the year. Since the announcement a lot of the pundits and powers that be have been decrying the decision. They instead point to the political players and world leaders as better choices, saying Time weaseled out. Well I’m here to say Time got it right.
This isn’t the first occurrence of Time awarding a group of people the “Person of the Year” award. Back in 1950 Time awarded “G.I. Joe”, or the American Soldier the award. Most akin to this award is 1966 when they gave the title to what they call “Young People”, people under 25 years of age.
Over the last year I’ve seen the growth of what the web refers to as “Social Networking” or “Web 2.0” explode. Words like blog, podcast, and videocast have become common everyday language. Bloggers have risen to the point where they are almost considered journalists. News breaks first in the blogosphere before it hits the traditional media. Your average individual is creating podcasts and / or videocasts using minimal equipment.
The new social networking phenomenon has created it’s own slate of niche superstars. Just look at the popularity of ZeFrank (http://www.zefrank.com/theshow). In the Microsoft .Net arena, Carl Franklin’s Dot Net Rocks show (http://www.dotnetrocks.com) has made him a superstar in the programming world.
Meanwhile, stars from the “old” media have found new homes on the web. Take Leo Laporte for example, formerly of TechTV (before those idiots at G4 bought ‘em out and ruined a great channel) has a new home on the web, http://www.twit.tv. Each week Leo heads a huge list of informative podcasts. And let’s not forget his former co-host Patrick Norton, who now co-hosts a biweekly videocast at DL.TV (http://dl.tv) with Robert Heron. Another TechTV alumnus is Kevin Rose, who has used the whole Social Networking concept to create Digg (http://www.digg.com). Digg has turned Kevin into a rich (or at least well off) man by allowing people to recommend blog posts.
I meet people everyday who just a year ago were clueless as the existence of blogs and podcasts but today are using RSS aggregators like old pros. I can’t tell you why 2006 was special, maybe the world is finally broadband enabled enough, maybe it was just timing. Certainly the popularity of portable media devices such as the iPod, combined with powerful, low cost computers have a great deal to do with it.
Regardless, 2006 was definitely the year the Web and Social Networking took off, and it was YOU, the internet user who made it possible. You have given up your spare time to produce creative content to share, for little or no monetary return. Thanks! Now give yourself a pat on the back.
You can read the entire Time article at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1569514,00.html.
Think I got it wrong? Say so, and why! Agree? Leave a comment and stroke my ego.