My take? Big deal.
Call me a cynic, but I'm guessing this was more a publicity stunt than anything else. Time knows that bloggers will go apeshit over this story, and we are. I just did a Google Blog Search for links to the Time POY piece, and there are already OVER 1,200 LINKS to the story!
I'm sure next week we'll have more mainsteam media jumping on this angle by making bloggers and YouTube fans and MySpacers part of their 'Best of 2006' list.
As Chris says: 'The majority of the public will say..."What's a blog?...."What's a YouTube?"..."Wiki-what?"'
Does Time let its writers blog? Does the magazine have a presence in Second Life? Are readers given the opportunity to submit stories? Does Time link to bloggers as sources for their stories?
I wondered as I read this passage from the Person of the Year article:
And we are so ready for it. We're ready to balance our diet of predigested news with raw feeds from Baghdad and Boston and Beijing. You can learn more about how Americans live just by looking at the backgrounds of YouTube videos—those rumpled bedrooms and toy-strewn basement rec rooms—than you could from 1,000 hours of network television.
And we didn't just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.
Note that 'we' was tossed around early and often in that section. The beauty of social-media is that it gives simple communication tools to the masses. Always wanted your own pirate radio station? Now you can start a podcast. Always wanted your own website but didn't know enough about HTML to start one? Fire up a free blog. An aspiring filmmaker or simply a daredevil that loves attention? Welcome to YouTube.
But looking at Time's website, I don't think they are part of the same 'we' that the rest of us are. I see plenty of RSS feeds, and even a few blogs. But those are tools to send content MY way. How do I respond? If I go to the blogs on Time's website, I see that I can't leave comments. And ironically, the Person of the Year article itself doesn't accept comments or feedback. If Time really believes that social-media is so important that it's dubbed 'You' as the Person of the Year, then why won't they let 'You' send content back their way?
So Time, I have to call bullshit. This was simply a publicity stunt in order to get a boatload of free links, and an attempt to gain some relevance with bloggers. If you actually believed in the power of the people, you'd be using those tools to give us a way to let our voice be heard, instead of simply as another channel to push more content in our direction.
The Viral Garden, Marketing