Well, congratulations to all of you, since we're all collectively Time's Person of the Year. Granting this honor to the second-person pronoun may be slightly goofy, but it does show that Time understands the growing importance of user-generated content. Some, however, have problems with Time's selection, and not just because it's an amorphous mass of people. Take, for example George Will, who, growing increasingly agitated on a segment of This Week, criticized the choice as "narcissism." "So much of what is done on the Web is people getting on there and writing their diaries as though everyone ought to care about everyone's inner turmoils."
Will is right in that narcissism probably does play a big part in a lot of user-generated content. But that's not the sum total of what's on the Web, and even that narcissism is put to good use. The thousands upon thousands of people who "narcissistically" upload their ideas, voices, and videos to the Web create a vast pool of information from which we all can draw, and see for ourselves (and our friends) whether it is funny, insightful, or informative. And the distributed, individualistic (narcissistic, if you will) nature of all of these contributions means that, within that massive pool, there's going to be something that appeals to even the smallest niche group. Even more interestingly, the broad diversity of stuff means that the sudden popularity of a blog, song, video clip or catchphrase can identify previously unknown cultural touchstones among people scattered all over the world. These are the ideas that would have escaped the notice of television executives and record labels, ideas that have their day through people voting with their eyeballs–and then their links.