Time agrees… users are in control

This year’s Man of the Year from Time Magazine is You.

All hail the power and relevance of the user centered revolution that started with Pong and continues into the future with VRM.

Pong? Yes, Pong, that simple little game that created the interactive entertainment industry. The great ancestor of Quake, The Sims, and Second Life. A bit of interactivity that started the great reversal of the industrial era of media. Mass production and mass media led to literal generations of couch potatoes and an American mono-culture dominated by the big three TV networks and the Hollywood Studios. Mass production of passive entertainment taught people to sit back, relax and just enjoy the show.

Interactive entartainment was, and is, fundamentally different. To get any value, you have to do something. You have to. It isn’t an option, it is a requirement. Fail to move the controller and the game ends in short order. No points. No advance levels. No victory animations. No stirring love story and climactic ending. While mass media teaches passivity, interactive media teaches pro-activity.

The Internet took the interactivity of single-context video games and extended it to a worldwide network of infinitely variable services and content. One of those services, the World Wide Web, made that interactive network visual and immediately accessible to hundreds of millions of people.

Now we have a new generation of entertainment, commerce, society, and even politics  built upon interactivity, where users’ actions drive the outcome. Powerful stuff. No wonder Time Magazine makes You Man of the Year for 2006.
Vendor Relationship Management, or VRM, is another one of those services built upon the interactive capability of the Internet. VRM creates an open marketspace where, with a single gesture, a person can create a market of one, where vendors compete on-demand for their purchases and relationships. As VRM goes from an inspiration to a working system, we will see users gaining even more and more control.

That makes me wonder, if this year’s man of the year is You, what does Time Magazine do when VRM really hits its stride?

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