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Time's 'Person of the Year' is You

I guess this means we should pat each other on the back, eh? (Reuters):

You were named Time magazine “Person of the Year” on Saturday for the explosive growth and influence of user-generated Internet content such as blogs, video-file sharing site YouTube and social network MySpace.

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,” the magazine’s Lev Grossman wrote.

The magazine has put a mirror on the cover of its “Person of the Year” issue, released on Monday, “because it literally reflects the idea that you, not us, are transforming the information age,” Editor Richard Stengel said in a statement.

You beat out candidates including Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, China’s President Hu Jintao, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and James Baker, the former U.S. Secretary of State who led Washington’s bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

If you think about it, “Our” ability to retain the influence that garnered this award is hanging by a thread in many ways. Let’s look at one element honored here, blogs. The consolidation of “new media” (the purchase of You Tube by Google) — or the fact that millions of blogs are tethered to Blogger, which is also owned by Google, represents a huge Achilles’ heel for You.

If the Big G decides to start charging for the use of those services, particularly Blogger, a big chunk of the folks of influence Time is lauding — who pay zero and rely on Google’s servers and good will — will simply drop off the map. Even worse, the blog content held on Google’s servers could simply vanish based on some bean counter’s decision that the cost of hosting all that “free” content isn’t worth it, or because Congress passes some legislation that puts the Internet giant at some legal or financial risk and Google cuts the cord.

Also, it’s no wonder that the political establishment (members of both parties, mind you) sees “new media” as a threat, and has shown little understanding of blogs, the Internet, or for that matter, the right to free speech. We’ve seen multiple attempts to censor, cripple, or discredit bloggers by the Hill, corporate America, or the MSM.

Here’s the Time piece.

UPDATE: Apparently William Beutler at Blog P.I. is a pretty good prognosticator; he was on target with his call on the Time selection — two months ago!

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding