Tuesday, December 19, 2006

An honor just to be nominated

By now I’ve no doubt you’ve heard that I am the TIME Magazine Person of the Year.

Okay, not just me… all of us really. I mean, TIME, that bastion of the old school ink and paper aesthetic, has elected to acknowledge the ground-breaking work that’s being done by those of us on the ground floor. Rather than confer this auspicious title upon some ultimately corrupt and self-serving political figure or some mindless corporate Svengali, TIME has instead bestowed the honor upon all who generate user content on this, the cusp of the digital age.

You can call it Web 2.0 or you can call it the computer/cultural revolution, but at the end of the day it’s just a bunch of people doing what they’ve always done. True, I may not’ve always written about nerd music and culture in a public forum such as this, but I’ve always written and it’s always been nerdy. Whether a song about the Super Friends or the back-story for a D&D campaign, I’ve been a nerd writer since I became a nerd who could write. I imagine the same goes for the rest of you. All you other bloggers and podcasters, all you YouTubers and MySpacers, all y’all who rhyme about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, bend circuits, or bust chiptunes: just like me, you’re just being yourself and doing your thing.

So does that mean that a major media outlet is acknowledging the hard (and generally thankless) work that we content monkeys crank out due to our own insatiable need to produce and our nigh-limitless free time? Probably not. More than likely it’s just a ploy to sell magazines, because that’s what TIME magazines does. It’s what they’ve always done.

So we’re back to square one; God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. We’re all doing what we’ve always done, and that, for me, is enough. Sure the world on its ear as pandemonium beats down the door, but that too is a constant. Same as it ever was.

There’s simply something within the human condition that causes people to create, whether it be for the global audience or simply for their own satisfaction. The WWW changes the rules, certainly, but the game is still the same. We can only hope that the Web itself will finally help to level the playing field and assure that those who are the most creative, the most noble, the most diligent, the most deserving, will finally get the gold rather than simply those who are the most connected.

Could such a thing really happen?

Hey, strange and wonderful things happen all the time.

For example, you are currently reading the words of a tiny man in a remote location via a technological marvel that our grandparents could scarcely have imagined.

The world’s funny that way.

At the end of the day, what TIME has said is at once both no big deal and an amazing revelation. Hopefully it reflects a shift in modern thinking that makes it more congruent with our modern age. Possibly it marks a turning point where we as a people can wrest power from the conglomerations that control what we see and hear and think and put that power in the hands of those with a more altruistic slant, those with a more in-depth understanding of the ramifications of this exceedingly technical world.

Of course I’m talking about the nerds.

But let's talk baby steps; with any luck, this time next year people like MC Frontalot and Dan Lamoureux will reap the rewards of a world where the D.I.Y. ethic has finally gained some clout.

Sure, it’s a pipe dream, but it’s my dream and you can share it if you like.

If, however, the new year brings with it the same foibles as the old year, I don’t reckon we’ll be too surprised.

And I suppose we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.

After all, it’s what we’ve always done.


churchHatesTucker said...

I'm in ur internets, adding my contents.

Z. said...

Just like you've always done! :D

churchHatesTucker said...

I've been kicking around what you've said, and I have a couple observations.

What the computer revolution has proven, is that there is (and has been) more talent than opportunity. Technology in general, and the web in particular, has leveled the playing field to an astonishing degree. As you said, this is both 'no big deal' and an amazing revelation. I'm old enough to remember when amateur journalists and comic artists used to trade APAs. Even that was quite an undertaking for the participants, and the results were visually substandard to the professional look they aspired to. No more. Bloggers routinely scoop 'real' journalists, and their web pages look every bit as good.

Equally important, communication barriers are hovering on non-existant. If an APA member scooped the Times, maybe thirty people knew about it. When a blogger does it, pretty soon the (interested) world knows about it. Likewise, when some schmuck in the Mid-Atlantic gets an itch to do a video, he can pretty quickly tap the expertise of, say, someone with audio expertise and someone with action-figure-modding talent.

The third point (Three! Three observations!) is that despite your concerns, I don't think Net Neutrality is the biggest conern we have going forward, rather it's the ability that was taken from us in the last couple generations of being able to build upon the work of our fathers, or even grandfathers, as "Intellectual Property" has become ascendent. It's particularly strange since the notion of "physical property" becomes borderline meaningless on the internet.

Alright, not as pithy as I usually strive for, but I did appreciate your insightful take on Time's sort-of-getting-it cover story.

Z. said...

Well put, Church. And, while I didn’t mean to imply that Net Neutrality is the paramount concern of our kind, I do think that it is one of several problems that could well undermine the integrity of this ever-leveling playing field. The IP vs. fair use struggle is definitely a pressing issue. As a matter of fact, I plan to address that with my first podcast of ’07.

And, for the record, I’d say you were plenty pithy. :)

Thanks for sharing, bro.