Time’s Person of the year is a tradition that dates back to 1927. It used to be individual mavericks who left their mark on history. Yet twice in recent years Time magazine named as person of the year a collective of individuals that influence bottom up their landscape out of different levels of civic indignation. User centricity and citizen centricity are the real honorees of this manifestation of the central place of grassroots wisdom of the crowds and individuals’ power to reshape a collective future.
In 2006 You ( meaning us – each us of us) were chosen as Time Magazine’s person of the year “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 .” It was a cornerstone in user centered influence, the era of the rise of web 2.0 user generated web content and was a reflection of the growing power of individuals and grassroots influence through uncontrolled exchange of ideas and peer based influence.
In 2011, the protestor is Time’s person of the year. From NY’s “occupy Wall Street” to Russia and to Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Lybia, Syria…where Arab world protests are reshaping the future of millions of Muslims, the world is witnessing very different protests, perspectives and aspirations – and yet – there is one clear common denominator – we, citizens are rewriting the book of our civic future. Bottom up, masses of individuals are shaping history in new evolutions of notions that we, citizens, just as we, users, before, are the centers of the civic systems created for us and have the right and power to fight the disintegration of the regimes that do not deliver.
In the Arab world people got tired of dictators who held back the development of their countries and the hope for an affordable future and rioted to dethrone them. Bloodshed led to revolutions. No one knows what the future of the Arab spring will be, but the ordinary citizens could raise their heads and say We did it.
In the US, Europe, Israel, where there are no dictators, discontent from the economic and political systems erupted with no bloodshed, yet with ardent calls to re-embrace long lost values, care for citizens with solidarity, social sensitivity and authentically minimize the gaps between rich and poor, providing an affordable future to all.
User centricity and citizen centricity are intertwined. Growing freedom and power of expression over the digital landscape, the rise of social networks and the growing power of consumers reflects on our relations with our civic providers. The same aversion we had as users from unilateral top-down dictation of providers who strove to keep us captive for their own ends, is now erupting in different forms in frustrated civic battle zones, calling for new civic ecology, based on more humane values and strategies.
In any case we, users, citizens, crowds, can no longer be put back into the bottle. We are out, writing our own story and landscape. The dialog balance is changing a paradigm.