No doubt you've already seen that Time Magazine has cleverly named "you" as "Person Of The Year." They'd asked me a few weeks ago to write an essay for the issue about the rise of amateurism online and my own experiences with outside.in, and in asking, they mentioned that Web 2.0 was a candidate for the cover. They've chosen non-people before -- the computer was "machine of the year" in 1982, but as I was writing this piece, I kept thinking that putting Web 2.0 on the cover was going to be a little odd, almost like nominating "B2B Enterprise Solutions" in 2000. The way they've done it is much more elegant, and the mirrored covers are pretty sly too. I'm pleased to have my little essay in there as well:
If you read through the arguments and Op-Eds over the past few years about the impact of Web amateurism, you'll find that the debate keeps cycling back to two refrains: the impact of blogging on traditional journalism and the impact of Wikipedia on traditional scholarship. In both cases, a trained, institutionally accredited elite has been challenged by what the blogger Glenn Reynolds called an "army of Davids," with much triumphalism, derision and defensiveness on both sides.
This is a perfectly legitimate debate to have, since bloggers and Wikipedians are likely to do some things better than their professional equivalents and some things much worse, and we may as well figure out which is which. The problem with spending so much time hashing out these issues is that it overstates the importance of amateur journalism and encyclopedia authoring in the vast marketplace of ideas that the Web has opened up. The fact is that most user-created content on the Web is not challenging the authority of a traditional expert. It's working in a zone where there are no experts or where the users themselves are the experts...
Added 12/21: A friend writes in with these wise words:
The format of blogging - the actual interactive design part of it where feedback posts are possible, (and this goes for the wiki nature of wikipedia too I guess) is that it's self correcting and precipitates over a period of time.
So there is a wisdom of crowds kind of Emergent nature to it - - i.e., a piece in a newspaper or magazine is a finite piece with clear limits that exists in a moment (or an hour) in time - - however long it takes to read it. A blog, with its self correcting counter posts and track backs gets at the information in a "process" that the readers participate in. the ultimate truth of it, or actual thesis of what's said "happens" over a period of time and with the self correcting help of the interactive, collective responses....
I get and agree with the spirit of "it's You". But in a way they had it wrong. It's us. (though that's what they meant). Still, if they had actually said "Us", it would have made the Web 2.0 concept instantly clearer to the many who've never heard of it.