were named Time magazine "Person of the Year" on Saturday for the explosive
growth and influence of user-generated Internet content such as blogs,
video-file sharing site YouTube and social network MySpace.
"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," the
magazine's Lev Grossman wrote.
The magazine has put a mirror on the cover of its "Person
of the Year" issue, released on Monday, "because it literally reflects the idea
that you, not us, are transforming the information
age," Editor Richard Stengel said in a statement.
You beat out candidates including Iran's President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, China's President Hu Jintao, North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il and James Baker, the former U.S. Secretary of State who led Washington's
bipartisan Iraq Study Group.
Time has been naming its person of the year since 1927
and the tradition has become the source of speculation every year, as well as
controversy over unpopular choices such as Adolf Hitler in 1938 and Ayatollah
Khomeini in 1979.
The aim is to pick "the person or persons who most
affected the news and our lives, for good or for ill, and embodied what was
important about the year, for better or for worse."
Grossman said the creators and consumers of
user-generated Internet sites showed a community and collaboration on a scale
never seen before.
"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," said Grossman, Time's technology writer
and book critic.
"The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide
Web," he said. "It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of
millions of people and making them matter."
MySpace -- bought by media giant News Corp. last year for
$580 million -- has more than 130 million users around the world and adds around
300,000 members a day, while YouTube -- bought by Internet search leader Google
Inc. last month for $1.65 billion -- gets about 100 million daily views.
"These blogs and videos bring events to the rest of us in
ways that are often more immediate and authentic than traditional media,"
"Journalists once had the exclusive province of taking people to places
they'd never been. But now a mother in Baghdad with a videophone can let you see
a roadside bombing or a patron in a nightclub can show you a
racist rant by a famous comedian," he said.
Time's 2005 Person of the Year was the richest man in the
world, Bill Gates, his wife Melinda, and Irish rocker Bono for being Good
Samaritans, while the 2004 choice was President Bush. In 2003 "The American
Soldier" graced the cover in a year when U.S. troops invaded Iraq.