2006 – the year of “You”

Every year, Time Magazine chooses its Person of the Year to put on the cover of their last issue. Usually, it’s some world leader or president. Sometimes it’s more abstract, like 1968′s Apollo astronauts, or 1982′s winner – “The Computer”. This year, they put a mirror on the cover, and chose “You” (see article). At first I thought that an odd choice, but after reading the articles and thinking about it, I can see why. In my experience, 2006 was a year when a lot of Web 2.0 technologies became popular. “Web 2.0″ is a vague term referring to new technologies that enable more online collaboration and sharing among users. Many of these kinds of sites existed before 2006, but it was during this year that a lot more people became aware of them. YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia, and Flickr are all examples. Most of these sites work much better with broadband, which is becoming more and more popular.

  • YouTube lets anyone broadcast video to the whole world. Music videos, funny clips, and online diaries are common. I uploaded my first YouTube video (Here’s a link; it’s a tour of Biola’s newest dorm) in July 2006
  • MySpace is the world’s largest social networking site. I joined September 1, 2005. During 2005, it grew from 5 to 43 million users, then in 2006 to 135 million. It sort of feels like a disorganized mess, but I think that’s part of the appeal. Users can write blogs, post pictures, music, and videos, and comment on friends’ pages. I asked a friend who teaches at a local high school how many high-schoolers are on MySpace now, in 2006. His answer: “100 percent.”
  • Wikipedia is a self-governed collaborative encyclopedia that anyone can write for. A few months ago, I created an account and fixed a few typos, just to say that I had contributed, but I haven’t done much more. It’s a useful source for quick facts, although some question its reliability. Because it’s so large, it has articles on many obscure topics. It even has an article about Tlapa, the little Mexican town where my parents live. Encyclopedia Britannica doesn’t.
  • Flickr is one of my favorite sites to browse. Anyone can upload pictures, then users “tag” eachother’s pictures with keywords. Here’s a picture I found just now on the site:

    Asturian Sea Caves
    by asturnut, free under Creative Commons License

    It’s a picture of the Asturian Sea Caves of Spain, and some stranger (asturnut) uploaded it last week. There’s nothing special about this picture in particular, but the point is that I can find good, high quality pictures of just about anything for free. I just started using this site in 2006.

“If Web 1.0 was organizes around pages,” says Steven Johnson in this issue of Time Magazine, “Web 2.0 is organized around people.” Not just famous and important people, but amateurs, like you and me. The growth of blogging is another example of this trend. Blogs have been around for a few years, but I know a lot of people who just started a blog during 2006. Before this year, I knew a few people with blogs: Dave (started Feb 2001!), Justin (Dec 2004), Heather (July 2005), and Adam (on MySpace, Nov 2005) were early adopters. But this year saw the beginning of blogs by, Dan (March), Brent (July 2006), Eric & Josie (May 2006), just Eric (Dec 2006), Brent & Jill (July 2006), Rob (August 2006) and of course, me (July 2006). Also, our family just started one (which will open to the public Dec 31, 2006, just in time to be a part of the 2006 blog revolution).

Blogs can be about anything. Most of them have a tiny audience, but that’s okay. For example, Teddy the Labradoodle is all about Brian & Laura’s new dog. There are 51 pictures of their dog on this page. Yes. 51. I counted. Plus one of a wad of fur they combed out of him. And a video of him chasing his tail. Traditional media would never publish any of this. Now, instead of everyone having their fifteen minutes of fame, as David Weinberger says, “On the Web, everyone will be famous to fifteen people” (from a New Yorker article about citizen journalists).

We live in a new age where anyone can write about anything. Including you. That’s why you made it on the cover of Time Magazine this week. Congratulations.

2 Responses to “2006 – the year of “You””

  1. Teddy the Labradoodle Says:

    Teddy says ‘woof’ (hello) and he’s happy you added to his fame. :)

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