It has always been us

So the Time person of the year is you. Otherwise know as us.

Well, I suppose I should give Time some credit for recognizing the power of the people. Only thing is, there’s no news here. This is nothing new. We have always been in charge. It’s just that the people who thought they had the power now have no choice to but hear us and recognize that we are, and always have been, the boss.

This is stated in the hammer-and-chisel language of a Time tome:

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 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 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. . . .

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 don’t disagree with a thing they say. I just want to turn down the volume a bit. And people think bloggers like me get overheated.

This year’s cover reveals that the notion — or they would like to think, institution — of a single person of the year in the single biggest news magazine is such a social anachronism. It is a vestige of the mass era. It is the conceit of mass media that they could pick one person who mattered for the world and that we would listen.

So it’s wise of Time to pick many people. That’s the way the world really works. There are many worlds within our world and many leaders in them. So if Time were doing its job properly, it would highlight a million people of the year. But, of course, it can’t. The form doesn’t allow it. And the form is what led to massthink. But mass is over. And I see this as Time’s admission of that. And so for that, I applaud them.

God knows what they’ll put on the cover near year. (Knowing them, it may well be God.)

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  • I agree. This proves that TIME has become irrelevant and has lost it leadership. No doubt this decision has always been made by committee, but somebody has to be in charge. The person that let “you” be the person of year, just abdicated any responsiblity or leadership.

    Don’t you wish you were a fly on the wall, when some wise cracker said, “hey, you be person of the year” and everybody jumped on the bandwagon?

    “You” is blah.

  • ronbo

    It is the conceit of mass media that they could pick one person who mattered for the world and that we would listen. So it’s wise of Time to pick many people.

    Perhaps in the Age of Luce Time was an advocate of the “great man” theory (takes one to know one), but I don’t think that is still the case. Rather, I think at least part of the rationale for POTY is to inform and stimulate political and social discourse (another part, I’m sure, is to have a good week at the newsstand).

    Does naming “You” as POTY accomplish that? I don’t think so. First, as you say, there is nothing new here. Second, much of what will make “You” interesting hasn’t happened yet. Yes, “You” are TiVo-ing Letterman, customizing ringtones and ordering movies on demand, but in numbers (and demos) that matter “You” aren’t yet uploading your own television commercials, forming your own social networks, creating newscasts or even linking to each other’s blogs.

    So if it is both too soon and too late to recognize “You” as POTY, why now? Perhaps, in a year in which so much has happened involving so many notable people, “They” couldn’t decide. Or perhaps “They” they were being clever. Or lazy. But wise? “I” don’t think so.

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  • “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.”

    It is nice to read that.
    I, who am a pragmatist and far away from being an idealist, always thought that they suddenly realized that the customers’ made content was so cheap to be like nothing and it paid much more than the professionals’ made.
    Because people like to know what your cat eats for dinner instead of knowing how many Iraqis died in a few hours.
    I thought in a way it was regress instead of progress, because the blogs which really were successful and got many visitors were the ones that the mass liked most.
    I thought that 90% of what we see on TV, we hear on the Radio, we read on the Internet was not worth listening or looking at.
    But I am glad to know that “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.”

  • It’s obviously a clever move by them to generate buzz for the aging magazine. Seeing the response of the blogosphere, i would say that it was a rounding success.

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  • When this topic came up on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, George Will looked like he had a stomach ache. I don’t think he much likes the idea that everyone has a voice and a platform.

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  • It may have always been us but until recently, we don’t have the efficient and effective means to have others listen to us directly and bypassing the old media.

    Thanks for the idea of putting your picture on the cover of TIME. I may play with photoshop and do that as well. (smile)

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  • This reminds me of how a professor at my school opened his first class in January 1993. He said,

    “1992, The Year of the Woman…….Well it’s over.”

  • well said. I like where Jeff mentions it’s always been us, Time just realized.

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  • The best part was the pre-roll ad from Chrysler before you can view the article. “You might not be Time Person of the Year. But you can drive like you are.” Screen-cap here.

  • CRC

    Jarvis you missed the point big time! Your following statement is ridiculous:

    “Only thing is, there’s no news here. This is nothing new. We have always been in charge.”

    What have you been smoking? What planet have you been living on?

    The point of the article is that the masses have never really had a very powerful voice until technology, the internet and blogging have turned everything upside down and reversed the power based…

    In 2006 every day people are creating and publishing content that affects the sales of products, the success of companies and politics and the way society thinks. Is that how you think it was in the 40’s…. 60’s…. 80’s???

    The Time article is relevant and profound!

    “We have always been in charge???? BULLSHIT… IN YOUR DREAMS.

  • The issue here Jeff is the relevance, if there is any, of Time Magazine. Come on, its almost as dead as Henry Luce. Hold it by the edge and it folds across the staples of its own weight, or lack thereof.

  • I can’t wait to put this on my resume!

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  • Peter

    another moronic post. this guy is like the thomas friedman of the internets. how on earth did this post show up on TechMeme? isn’t that supposed to be a curated list of non-nonsensical news and blog posts?

    hilarious. keep preaching, brother. you’re mostly harmless, but good for a few chuckles every now and again.

  • People of the year award – it is a tired idea in an age of empoweed web citizens. BBC already called 2005 the year of digital digital. So, what’s new.

    Mediavidea says there are more problems with Time Magzine.

  • nofsras

    Sadaam ……. “come on down” – YOU have been selected by Time Irrelevant as person of the year.

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  • Bob

    On the “perhaps bloggers don’t always have to be negative”–that was my thought too–but it raises an interesting question about the primary message of this medium–it seems that being negative, emotional, dramatic and a bit pissed off is what seems to get readers to the blog.

    This has interesting implications for the rest of the media world traditionally the newest forms of media influence and seep into the other forms, I wonder if as attitude becomes an even greater draw for readers (and therefore ultimately the metric for success), in the blogosphere if we are going to find this seeping first on broadcast (I think we already have) and then more and more in journals and newspapers. Look at the influence of CNN’s “way” has been on other media as an example.

    Attitude–negative and critical–is fine–when used appropriately for the topic at hand but not if it is just an automatic and substitutes for thinking, reflection and good judgment.

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  • Hello,

    Just wanted to let you know I linked to your blog in my column on today. Thanks!

    If you want to take a look, here’s the link:



  • I had a chance to interview Time Magazine’s number 2 editor. I asked him about this. His response — “I think that this year it reached critical mass because of the rise of sites like YouTube that really took hold. Wikipedia had been around, but this is the year that people really started to understand this new wave of media, what does it mean and how it unfolds….”

    More here

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  • observer

    Notice that when you get to the end of the Time article there’s no place to comment.

  • Yes it is true that the web 2.0 has empowered the people around the world, and Time Magazine has indicated right that the power lies in the hands of people “YOU”. But the real empowerment needs more efforts and I tried to look from an Indian perspective – where we need to improve a lot to make the internet reach till the bottom of the pyramid (society) ..then it will be the real empowerment of “YOU”. Check my blog ( I tried to raise few questions with respect to Indian perspectives and web.

  • Why is it that every blogger who’s been screaming for attention for the medium and the new reality of user/consumer empowerment is now bitching about the fact that the attention is starting to appear? I’m so sick of reading bloggers complaining about this Time cover story. This is a GREAT thing for us all.

    All of this grumbling reminds me of that high school music snob… you know the guy who tried to get all of his friends to listen to Nirvana before they hit it big, but then laughed off the band as uncool when they did hit the big time.

    Ugh. Be happy that we’re making progress with all this stuff. There’s NOTHING bad about this cover story!!

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  • Wow! Hooray for Me!

    I’ve been working on my acceptance speech. This is what I have so far:

    Wow! Time’s Person of the Year! And my mom said I’d never amount to anything! Let me start by saying that I was very lucky to receive this honor. In fact, I came very close to NOT getting an award at all. I only downloaded my first illegal video from YouTube last week.

    The truth is that all great achievements are shared and no one person can lay claim to the complete credit. Therefore, I’d like to thank all of the 150 million little people who helped make my winning of this award possible. I need to mention by name WZUP97, ScottAB, Chairgrrl, 2Bchronic, Deeeh, Shaggy7teen, Playah, Netsoul, PDiddyplus2, HoneyB, MCLMNOP, BaddBrainz, and XPimp. And remember, I love all of you – even when I have to brutally flame you for posting something idiotic on my blog. You mean more to me than my real life family.

    Together, we share an awesome responsibilty to build from the foundation we’ve constructed and go out and have an even greater impact for freedom in the world. And there is a lot to do. I noticed last night that none of you have posted that Beyonce CD that I asked for yet. Let’s get on it!

    In closing I want to say that I really do deserve this, even if my MySpace profile is a lot of B.S. and all my Wikipedia posts were cut and pasted from someone else’s Web site. I put the ME in media. It is SO rewarding to finally be given my props. It almost makes having my identity stolen by one of my 30,000 MySpace friends worth it.

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