Saturday, January 20, 2007

Time's Person of the Year

While browsing through the extensive magazine section of a Barnes and Noble, I looked up to see my distorted reflection on the cover of TIME Magazine. With closer examination, I saw that it was the highly sought after “Person of the Year” issue.

The cover said “You. Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world” under a graphic of a reflective computer screen. Dreams of seeing myself on the cover of TIME fulfilled, I walked up to the checkout line with little fanfare, save that of my own horn. To my disappointment, I still had to pay for the magazine—$4.95 plus tax, and I even offered to autograph it for the humorless sales attendant.

At first, I thought it was a bad choice on TIME’s part. You? What a cop out. Why even designate a person of the year if it includes everyone? According to TIME, it is because we are all the newsmakers of 2006. Individuals are the new gatekeepers controlling the information flow in the age of digital democracy.

It is the rise of Web 2.0 sites that have given anyone with computer access the ability to report, publish and broadcast news to the world with the perfunctory click of a mouse.

According to O'Reilly Media, Web 2.0 refers to a perceived second generation of Internet-based services, such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users.

For college students, Web 2.0 is our guilt-free cyber-stalking on Facebook and MySpace—now the only way to keep in touch with friends even if they live with you. It includes popular sites such as YouTube and Second Life, and is addictingly fun. Blogging gives everyone a chance to publish whatever they have on their mind albeit politics or family recipes.

In 1968, Andy Warhol correctly predicted, “in the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.” His prophetic remark has come to fruition, and while it has opened amazing lines of communication between peoples of the world, digital democracy has not ushered us into peaceful utopia.

Some of the self-published works make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred they can represent.
TIME insists that it is this autonomy that makes the web 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.”

No road map? There is always MapQuest or my personal favorite Google—our dependence on the web in evident when our first solution is to turn to it for help.
It is the information highway that beats all other forms of media. Now we can be present all sorts of events. Digital cameras, videophones and bloggers’ fact checking bring in a more authentic and immediate news.

If this continues, and I believe it will, I will need to look for a new job. Media is an ever-changing profession, and as I posted on my blog last week—we have to keep up with the times. I wonder if I can put my TIME’s Person of the Year accomplishment on my résumé.


Anonymous said...

vote for sanjaya

Zarifa said...

Good words.