星期日, 十二月 17, 2006

Person of the Year: You

From the December 25, 2006 issue of TIME magazine

Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.

The "Great Man" theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It's not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it's really a revolution.

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.

America loves its solitary geniuses its Einsteins, its Edisons, its Jobses but those lonely dreamers may have to learn to play with others. Car companies are running open design contests. Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed. Microsoft is working overtime to fend off user-created Linux. We're looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it's just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.

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.

Sure, it's a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred.

But that's what makes all this interesting. Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There's no road map for how an organism that's not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion. But 2006 gave us some ideas. This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It's a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who's out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you're not just a little bit curious.

Copyright © 2006 Time Inc.




当然,我们可以为今年发生的许多痛苦和令人不安的事情指责一些人。伊拉克的冲突变得更为血腥,更加难以解决。以色列和黎巴嫩爆发了一场激烈的武装冲突。朝鲜领导人获得了核弹,伊朗的总统也想寻求核武器。与此同时,没有人能解决全球变暖问题,索尼公司也没有生产出足够多的 PlayStation3。


使这一切成为可能的工具是万维网,这不是英国工程师迪姆·伯纳斯·李当年为科学家们分享研究成果所研发的那个万维网,也不是九十年代末期那个大肆渲染的点COM。这一新的网络是一个非常不同的事情,它是一个将数百万人们所作的小贡献放在一起的工具,并使这数百万人变得重要。硅谷的咨询人士称它是Web 2.0,好像它是一些旧软件的升级版,但它真的是一场革命。


我们并不是只在观看,我们还像疯子一样工作,我们在facebook上写东西,在Second Life创造虚拟形象,在亚马逊网发布自己写的书评。我们在自己的博客上讲述我们的候选人落选的事情,写反映自己被情人抛弃的歌曲。我们录下投弹的镜头,共同去写开放源代码软件。




当然,对这些加以浪漫化是一个错误。Web 2.0不仅有人类的智慧,也有人类的愚蠢。YouTube 上的一些评论仅就拼写而言就会使你为人类的未来而哭泣,更不用说那些不堪入目和宣传仇恨的东西。

但这使所有这一切非常有趣,Web 2.0是一个大型的社会实验。与所有值得尝试的实验一样,它可能会失败。这个有60亿人参加的实验没有路线图,但2006年使我们有了一些想法。这是一个建立新的国际理解的机遇,不是政治家对政治家,伟人对伟人,而是公民对公民,个人对个人。这是人们看着计算机屏幕,认真地去想谁会在那边看到他们的一个机会。所以请继续,告诉我们,你不只是感到有点好奇。