Sunday, December 17, 2006

Waaay Behind the TIMEs

Is it even news any more who the TIME person of the year is? Can you name last year's cover? (I couldn’t—it is a strange mix of an Irish rock star inserted between a very wealthy couple. Very odd.) I have never been a TIME or Newsweek reader, but the Person of the Year cover used to make some interesting noise in the ritual of the year’s closing.

This year, “TIME Person of the Year: You” feels like the gasping, desperate “we get it” of OM. Does anything sound more square than “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.” Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.”

Ugh. "Welcome to your world" is a sentence so lame it almost makes me want to close down the newly opened shop. And it’s really not a contest. There is a deep need for the resources, expertise, and talents of professional journalism. If OM wasn’t reeling from the scandals of Rathergate and the likes of Stephen Glass, it wouldn’t doubt itself so.

What sets the blog apart from the Op-Ed page and page one isn’t “beating the pros at their own game,” but the sheer creativity that is part of the blog essence. Blogs are fabulously individual and creative. Even just the naming of a blog requires thought that can be pushed to wit. The form just begs for and rewards connections and allusions to other cultural forms. Even the more journalistic blogs, like the extraordinary posts from the soldiers in Iraq, show a wide range of sensibility from their titles: All Along the Watch Tower, Hello from Hell, Blogs of War—each telling a story imbued with a personal sensibility.

The real point is this: the blog/vlog has unleashed an explosion of creativity upon the world--geographically, not metaphorically--the reach, depth, and scope of which has never been seen. What will this torrent of creative energy lead too? When the ripple effects of the user-generated revolution can be detected and articulated, that will be the story of the century.


Taro said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your point about Time's absurd position of its 2006 cover.

I, too, wonder how globalization via news and media will affect us all when Web 3.0 comes. On one side, I think editing is needed when there's sound judgment. But, this time, Time is really just trying to appeal to new audience. It is such a turnoff to acknowledge it's own cleverness while engaging everyone and anyone with the "You" factor. It's such a dated journal and so middle-of-the-road, albeit their reach is immense.

People are so concerned with the self. On a tangent, last night I was watching a cable special titled, "The World's Smartest Boy," and it was about Akrit Jaswal, 12 y.o. child prodigy, who was interviewed by folks at London's Imperial Cancer Research Laboratory. I thought how wonderful that this child is so selfless and revered...but at the same time, (I was projecting then) how disappointed he would be of the world when he reach adulthood. I felt sorry for him because of how he is and would be judged.

Your post gave me a chance to think again about who is 2006's person of the year.

M.A.Peel said...

Taro--so, have you decided who you would call 2006 POTY?