Web 2.0: 'The Media' still in control

Web 2.0 'users are in control' has been affirmed, by Time Magazine, circa 2006. NOT SO FAST!

Web 2.0 ‘users are in control’ has been affirmed, by Time Magazine, circa 2006.

It’s annual “Person of the Year” issue proclaims “YOU”:

Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.

Time also underscores “Power to the People”:

You control the media now, and the world will never be the same.

REALLY? Do “YOU” control “THE MEDIA” of Time Magazine? NO.

It is a Web 2.0 irony that a 80 plus year old mainstream media publication proclaims that “The People” control “The Media” now, given that “The (Time Magazine) Media” controlled the conception, writing, publication and distribution of its “Power to the People” issue, not “The People.”

Time reiterates:

We chose to put a mirror on the cover because it literally reflects the idea that you, not we, are transforming the information age.

In explaining the massive editorial, operational and business development effort behind the mirror-adorned cover, however, Time illustrates that powerful, big media business is “in control":

The 2006 Person of the Year issue—the largest one Time has ever printed—marks the first time we've put reflective Mylar on the cover. When we found a supplier in Minnesota, we made the company sign a confidentiality agreement before placing an order for 6,965,000 pieces. That's a lot of Mylar. The elegant cover was designed by our peerless art director, Arthur Hochstein, and the incredible logistics of printing and distributing this issue were ably coordinated by our director of operations, Brooke Twyford, and director of editorial operations, Rick Prue. The Person of the Year package, as well as People Who Mattered, was masterfully overseen by deputy managing editor Steve Koepp.

TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel with the cover of the Person of the Year issue.

Time is using its “see yourself in the mirror” take to spur reader contributions, saying “Now it’s your turn”:

Designing a cover with a Mylar window does create one unanticipated challenge: How do you display it online when there's no one standing in front of it? If you go to Time.com, you'll see an animated version of the cover in which the window is stocked with a rotating display of reader-submitted photos. Maybe you'll see yourself.

Most likely not; What percentage of readers will submit photos? A very, very small minority, as I have often put forth at this Digital Markets blog, See “Social freeloaders: Is there a collective wisdom and can the Web obtain it?

As an example, my story, “Google to Microsoft: Wolf in sheep’s clothing?” garnered thousands of readers, but only a handful commented.

Digital Markets readers are not “freeloaders,” but the very small ratio of “TalkBackers” to readers is consistent with overall Web 2.0 user “participation.”

Last June in “So many video sharing sites, so few video uploaders” I underscored:

In YouTube’s case, the average user is watching the content, not generating it for while YouTube is now serving “50 million videos per day to six million unique users daily, only 50,000 videos are being uploaded per day”; the ratio of uploaded videos to watched videos is less than 1%.

YouTube has since grown its usage, but its ratio of uploaded videos to watched videos is still very, very low.