Congratulations, readers of this esteemed blog. The venerable TIME magazine has deemed its Person Of The Year to be You. Well, this blog wasn’t named specifically, but I’m sure they had us very much in mind when they discussed the explosion of user-generated content. That’s right – the most significant contribution to the world this year by anyone was, in part, your comments right here on Radar. Users who generate content, I, like TIME, salute your world-beating excellence.
This strikes me as another one of those lamo attempts by an old-media publication to show that it’s oh-so hip to the Digital Revolution. Mmm, yeah, YouTube and MySpace. Incredible. Facebook, Flickr, Wikipedia, Del.icio.us, Friendster, Second Life, blogging, yada yada yada. There hasn’t been this much hype around the internet since the bubble burst five years ago. And most of that hype isn’t user-generated. It’s magazines like TIME flailing to pretend that they’re staying abreast of changes that their own hype says will threaten their very existence.
They’ve tried awfully hard to write in a fresh, funky, dare I say blog-like style:
Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?
The answer is, you do. 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.
Will TIME no longer have a business if enough ordinary joes write on WikiNews and their blogs, and punters take photos of current events? Of course not. Because what all the hype fails to mention is that 99% of user-generated content is rubbish.
Everyone who’s ever trawled through YouTube knows that the only good stuff on it is from broadcast TV. If you want to watch Warney’s famous ball to Gatting, or Sacha Baron Cohen on Letterman, or Spinal Tap’s anniversary concert, it’s all there. But the stuff that goes ‘viral’, the weird random clips that the collective e-consciousness somehow decides is funny, is invariably trash. I just checked out YouTube’s most popular clips for today, and almost all of them are ripped off television. The most popular user-produced clip is the ‘Why I Don’t Rap Rap‘. Hardly a fitting winner of Person Of The Year.
Then there’s MySpace. It’s big, sure. For one thing, it’s turned a generation of girls into cybergeeks – if anything, they’re more into it than the guys. But it’s also incredibly mediocre. Sure, it’s fun to message your friends, chat up new people, check out bands and whatever else people do. But giving a bunch of teenagers an ability to send inane messages to each other is hardly the greatest achievement of 2006. MySpace is basically a place where people SMS for free, with pictures.
I sound like a dangerous iconoclast, don’t I? But this is a blog. Meaning that I too am part of that future. So, deal with it. Perhaps by commenting, adding your unique and special voice to the collection of e-chatter that TIME thinks is so awesome?
But the next time someone hassles you for blogging at work, you’ll know what to say. You’re not wasting time. You’re participating in the digital revolution that has made you TIME‘s Person Of The Year. So tell your boss to bugger off and stop being so Web 1.0.