What Time Wrote: 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.
What Time Meant: This article was written by a man with a liberal arts degree. As he learned in college, the first thing you do in an essay is cite an authoritative source, preferably a European intellectual. Edmund Burke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the best choices, but we thought we'd mix it up a bit. This way, we sound serious and credible. Follow this rule, and you can write whatever you want but still sound impressive.What Time Wrote: 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.
What Time Meant: Holy shit this is a seriously tragic messed up world and man alive don't we know it. Wow we are just all tiny meaningless specks in a cycle of hatred and violence that never will abate but it doesn't really matter because global warming will lead to planetwide remigration and famine and drought.What Time Wrote: 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.
OMG, Playstation 3!
What Time Meant: A professor at San Fernando Community College once wrote an article in Funky Chicken: A Journal of Ideas. It was about how the internet democratizes our understanding and redefines conventional boundaries of community, and argued there is no meaningful difference between the self and the world. It's weird, because up until then, we thought the internet was just about furtive masturbation and buying Star Trek figurines off E-Bay. Here at Time, our understandings have evolved. Wikipedia is highly reliable -- also, cosmic (i.e., it has a lot of stuff). YouTube has funny videos of cats doing silly things and freshman boys lip-synching to Taylor Dayne in their dorm rooms. MySpace has allowed Rupert Murdoch to mediate our most basic relationships.What Time Wrote: 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.
We are all equals.
What Time Meant: People don't clean their room. Some people have toys in the basement. We know that you're a pack of douchelords who watch too much televsion in the first place. And it's important, what you're doing -- to see the dirty bedrooms of others, to see toys in basements. Obviously.What Time Wrote: 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.
What Time Meant: We secretly masturbated to every cast member of The Brady Bunch. We were sweet at Dungeons & Dragons. We ate whole sticks of butter -- butter tastes good. You know that baby cage you built using chickenbones? We call it folk art.What Time Wrote: Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed.
No, really. Tell us more. We're not patronizing. We're serious. This is a think piece -- Thomas Carlyle and whatnot.
What Time Meant: We've all given up. (This is underscored by our use of passive voice.)What Time Wrote: 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.
What Time Meant: We don't want you to think that we're exaggerating or anything. Let's keep this in perspective.What Time Wrote: 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.
What Time Meant: There are fewer than 6 billion ants and mosquitoes.What Time Wrote: 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.
What Time Meant: Also, about that Lebanon thing? Wouldn't have happened if Israel and Hezbollah became MySpace friends.