RANT: Bloggers morph into Jack Black.

Do you remember Jack Black’s character from High Fidelity? Black is a clerk at one of those fantastic There’s a great scene where Black goes nuts on a potential customer who asks for a cheesy album for his daughter. (Here’s a reminder) Rather than use this request as an opening to enlighten the customer with better musical options, Black goes nuts and kicks him out of the store.

The attitude Black and his co-workers have is summed up by a frequent customer later in the movie:

"You guys are snobs. You’re totally elitist. You feel like the underappreciate scholars so you shit on the people who know less than you, which is everybody."

Why do I bring this up, you ask? Because apparently we bloggers, we social media gurus, we fans of user interaction are snobs and elitist too.

Time Magazine’s latest issue was their cover story offering their selection of "You" as the Person of the Year. The issue is a fantastic look the trend of user empowerment and participation that started years ago, but really came to fruition in 2006. Literally the issue was chalked full of stories about YouTube, blogs, Second Life, and much more.

And like Jack Black, bloggers have been reacting with mostly disdain. We too have felt like the underappreciate scholars, but we always said that appreciation would come of the form for recognition. When the rest of the world understand what we were talking about, we said, we’d feel like we’d accomplished something.

Apparently that was bullshit, because like the line goes, we’re shitting on those who know less than we do.

Jeff Jarvis is completely dismissive to Time, basically saying that this story is a non-story since bloggers have known about it all along. Jeff, "normal" people are new to this. Give them a chance to catch up!

"Well, I suppose I should give Time some credit for recognizing the power of the people. Only thing is, there’s no news here. This is nothing new. We have always been in charge. It’s just that the people who thought they had the power now have no choice to but hear us and recognize that we are, and always have been, the boss."

Amanda Congdon thinks that only people who are doing well known social media (you know, like her) are important. Amanda, talk about elitist, crickey! Fine, you’re important. Fine, you have lots of cool friends. Move on. The revolution taking place isn’t only about the content producers – after all, you’d have nothing if not for your audience, your commenters, your supporters. Don’t ever forget that.

"The collective ‘You’ isn’t Person of the Year, although many of you are. Not everyone participated in the media revolution. Gosh, many people I spoke with had never even heard of a blog. In New York City! Of course there are too many mllions, yes millions of bloggers, podcasters, and video bloggers to name us all. "We" are the people of the year, not "You". (And then she flashed the A-list blogger’s photos)

(Update: Amanda stopped by the comments section and pointed me to her blog entry where she tries to clarify her position. There’s a lively debate raging there. Personally, I stand by my points, and still think her point has gotten completely lost in her delivery. But thanks to Amanda for being willing to engage in the conversation)

Dan Gillmore is complaing about the usage of the word "You" rather than "We". I understand what he’s getting at, and perhaps he has a point. But a minor, seriously minor semantic rant isn’t helpful. Again, think of the Jack Black character – he can’t understand why more people don’t get more into music, yet berates those who try.

"But there’s a tiny bit of reality in the fact that the cover didn’t say “Us” instead of “You” — in part because it was a vestige of the magazine’s traditional, royal thinking wherein they told us everything they thought we needed to know (and what to think about it). Our role: We bought it or didn’t."

Even my friend Josh is nit-picking. The point of this cover isn’t as much about the people producing today, it’s about the evolution/revolution of what’s happening today vs. 2 years ago vs. 5 years from now. It’s about the fact that YouTube and WIkipedia have great participation, but also that they have incredible consumption.

"The question is, what about the people not taking part in creating/using any of this user-generated-content? Are they part of the ‘You’? Perhaps they should have a different cover of Time that says, ‘Them’."

How about we just say thanks, give ourselves a big round of applause,  and enjoy a moment of success after years of hard work before we start bitching about the form our success arrives in? Hell, let’s skip the bitching and head straight for figuring out where we go from here? At a readership of tens of millions, the awareness bar was just raised in a big way.

In my book, anything that can help my mom understand what I do is a good thing. Thanks, Time!


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