Monday, November 16, 2009

Tweeting vs. Spending: Which is more universal?

If Time magazine cannot come up with one interesting-enough person in this big, wide, interesting world to name as its person of the year, then they should at least choose the Economy over Twitter.

In what can only be perceived as Time's position that there is currently an absence of news-making, attention-garnering people gracing the world stage, the pub has apparently tossed out the concept of a person altogether and has narrowed the field down to two inanimate contenders. Baffling? Yes. What would make this worse? Picking a thing that lots of people don't care about. Do I personally think that Twitter is inconsequential? Far from it. But the title should go to someone or something that registers with as wide an audience as possible.

After 2006's kitschy cop-out (You), it seems the Editorial department over there needs to step up its game and get back to the roots of its annual POTY story. The You choice was the perfect compliment, time-wise, to what has become the train wreck of blogo-journalism. Sure, technology has exploded and is allowing people to connect and share ideas in ways and in time spans never before imagined. But to make You (Designers, Users, and Keepers of the Information Age) the person of the year? Come on, Eds! Why didn't you just give "The Passage of Time" the honor and call it a day? The You story should have been a feature inside the book and someone good should have been on the cover.

Historically, the person (most usually a man...maybe they should re-think that strategy as well) is a well known, sometimes polarizing figure. (Personally, I think choosing a controversial name is more fun.) In regard to one of the top possibilities for this year, Twitter, I've heard way too much of this over the past two years: "twitter? I've never used it" or "I don't get it" or "it's only for narcissists" for it to be considered Thing of the Year. Hmmm, that just doesn't quite have the same ring to it...

Now the economy on the other hand, affects everyone, very personally. No one can take the 5th on the economy. You will never hear someone say, "the economy? I've never used it."

"The economy? I just don't get it." Now that's something people say, and that's why the story would be so good. If people don't get twitter, they just ignore it. Few people have a tight grip on how the economy works and doesn't work and yet everyone has to use it every day, like it or not. A story about the economy (provided it is handled correctly) will be way more confusing and harder to write than a twitter piece, and I guarantee that will make it a more interesting read and it will have a resonance with a much wider audience.