Did you know I was Time’s person of the year once…

…so were you, kind of.

In 2006, Time Magazine ‘You’ (us, we, the users of the world wide web) the people of the year.

I know I am six years late in discovering this, but it reminded me of the content of DIGC202- growth of internet technologies, user created content, social networks, citizen journalism, creation, remixing, collaboration, media convergence, prosumers, produsers, and this weeks topic, the long tail and the attention economy.

Time Magazine chose we, the active users of the internet, the person of the year because of how we use Web 2.0 (a term which I’m sure was less bandied around back then),

“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.”

So, yes, we were the new interactive audience of the web, and we still are. I would even say that we are the driving force behind the long tail. It may be the companies such as Netflix, Amazon and iTunes who are uploading their commodities, but their reason for this and their reason for their success in sales is because of the buyers, the people purchasing this content from home. The consumers of commercial/popular products  online are driving the purchasing of and the demand for more niche products. Consumers are also helping other consumers by the way of the ‘People who bought … also bought…’ and the filters and recommendations features. As Chris Anderson said, the long tail isn’t about throwing a whole heap of niche products online and expecting them to benefit from the long tail,you need hits on the popular products to lead to hits on the nice products.

Ted asked us to think about what the real value of sites like Google, Netflix, Trip Advisor are. I think that the value is is that they allow this idea of scarcity vs abundance to co-exist. For instance, with Trip Advisor, I can go online and find an abundance of information about holiday destinations, hotels, things to do and see, all rated by people who have been there and experienced it. Where as at a travel agent, I can only access the personal knowledge and experiences of a handful of people. There is a scarce amount of knowledge in a small amount of space.

Companies that go online can hold so much more knowledge, products and information than any physical place can, and for practically free. If we, as users, did not interact with this online economy, it would not succeed.

So yes,  I think that us active users did deserve to be named Time’s person of the year. Congrats.

References
Time Magazine, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1570810,00.html

Anderson, C, 2005, http://longtail.typepad.com/the_long_tail/2005/06/what_the_long_t.html

[Week Seven]

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13 thoughts on “Did you know I was Time’s person of the year once…

  1. From reading your article, I Googled “TIMEs person of the year 2012” and I found this (http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/04/03/2012-time-person-of-the-year-prediction-the-slacktivist/) article. I thought it was a quite interesting progression, although it is just a prediction, from the 2006 Person of the Year. It doesn’t necessarily create a bad connotation of Slacktivism, yet just tells an fairly unbiased and somewhat neutral opinion of Social Media.

    However, that first part might be a little off-topic! You are correct in the opinion of consumers being the driving force of the online long-tail. Going online to shop, get travel advice, basically anything seems like the extremely wiser choice than entering the real world to do them. The Internet is just a shopaholics dream! Especially with services such as LivingSocial and Groupon.

    • Oh wow, that is a much more negative outlook on online audiences compared to 2006s ‘you’, and 2011s ‘protester’. But I think it would be kind of… rude? for Time to actually name 2012s person of the year The Slacktivist, because there are more examples of actual activism streaming from online dissemination of knowledge and information.
      In 2010 the readers choice was Julian Assange, but Time chose Mark Zuckerberg. I think Assange would be a more appropriate choice for this year, rather than the slacktivist!

  2. As consumers, we are most definitely the driving force behind the long tail and I think a lot of the time the influence that we have over the production of items is underestimated. If a number of people purchase an item, it becomes a recommendation- so technically, we do all of their ‘popular search’ for them…making their lives much easier!

    Personally, I think trip advisor, hostelworld and other travel related websites are lifesavers. Being able to read reviews and get recommendations from other users is how businesses get customers- it’s like a cyber version of ‘word of mouth’ and can reach a numerous amount of people in a shorter time, overseas.

    It’s amazing to think of just how much information we are able to access online.

  3. I tend to agree with you on your thoughts about the value of websites like amazon and trip advisor. Before making any substantial purchase I always ‘shop around’ first – reading others reviews and recommendations on these sites. I think Amazons value is in it’s community – and without it, Amazon wouldn’t be the money making machine it is today.

    • Yeah definitely. Shopping is a totally difference experience now than what it was over a decade ago because more products are offered online and more people are logging on and offering advice/reviews/recommendations

  4. You’re right, the long tail wouldn’t be so “long” as what we purchase is driving the degree of popularity for others. When planning a trip I automatically go to those who have gone to the same place or are regular travelers, but sometimes it’s difficult to find good advice for my entire trip, so when in doubt I automatically look it up on trip advisor and similar sites.

  5. It is really true that the value of these sites lie within the ability to review and add recommendations from others experiences & detailed information. Such value is above and beyond any that a travel agent can offer from their selected brochures, propelled by purchased advertisements and specials linked to their company. Value is instantly doubled when offered in a free context, like in the form of a recommendation or review.

  6. When researching a bit more into weeks topic and concepts, I turned to some textbooks that I’ve bought for other digital subjects and around commerce and was surprised to (not) find any trace of the long tail, attention economy or mass-amateurization concepts. One book in particular only dates back to 2006-9, and although it provides features on new media developments and the ‘new’ or ‘creative’ economy, it has now proven somewhat ‘useless’ as a point of reference.
    This highlights the usefulness and convenience that online book stores/distributors can now provide by being able to respond to supply and demand promptly. So will our uni textbooks soon be only accessible online, and if so how will I go about selling my subject texts/content to other students when I need money to buy new ones, or will they be cheap enough to not even bother?

    • Hmm that’s a good point! If they do become accessible online, maybe you will be able to sell your unique username and password on to another student- and the transaction would due so much more quicker and easier than planning on a time/place suitable for both of you. Everything could be done online- the payment and transfer of login details. But as you have said, it might be fairly cheap and not worth selling on.

  7. I agree that the long tail gives us scarcity and abundance. It allows people in niche markets to build a community and in turn create an abundance of information. Forums allow people to group together and link information and so do review sections. The best part is that the reviews are by people who have significant interest in the item. The online economy is definitely booming and constantly growing because people are understanding just how much value it holds!

  8. I really liked your post. It has a different perspective to the other posts I’ve read about the Long Tail. I do agree with you, we as consumers, are the driving force behind the Long Tail. Its those purchasing products from sites like Amazon etc that increases the popularity and makes them stand out in the cluttered world of the Internet. When trying a new restaurant or hotel/motel I too look it up to read other users reviews and when buying from eBay.

  9. I notice that the conversation above turned a little to using other users reviews of the product/ place to evaluate their purchasing decision.
    Personally I do not pay much attention to these types of reviews as I don’t know the person and therefore don’t value their opinion… Harsh, yeah I guess so.
    This is because I work in restaurants and the food reviewer sites like urbanspoon.com serve as a double edged sword.
    Often people will only comment on a restaurant when they have not enjoyed their experience, which leaves an online reputation that may not be representative of the product.

    What this makes me think is that, given the way humans tend to follow the crowd, will we all just recommend our way back to the mainstream?

  10. Thanks for enlightening me I didn’t know that we users were Time magazines person of the year. The world wide is only as widespread and successful because of our input and demand for it to be better, bigger, and more exciting. Our input have changed the world, our desire to digitize our life had been fulfilled.

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