According to the cover story of the latest issue of TIME Magazine YOU are the person of the year. And to visualise it they put a mirror on the front page. The motivation is that the social web made a major break-through with reader content based sites like MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia, LastFM and Flickr.

We have global warming, war in Sudan and a leader in North Korea with the finger on the trigger. But if you look through a different lens you will see a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. The new web, called 2.0, will change the world forever. We are not inactive watchers any longer. It is you and me that creates the content, and thereby are in command. We created Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars. We reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged, we wrote songs and built open-source software.

As I reported the other day in the post Involve the end-user this will create possibilities for companies to involve their customers in everything from design to marketing. Because when we have started the crusade we will not stop by only creating our own stuff, we would very much be involved in the creative process of our favourite brands as well. Companies that will understand and quickly adopt this new creativity will be the winners of the future. We will see old habits change as well. The print-on-demand company BookSurge owned by Amazon is an example of a new born flexibility. The publishing companies have to understand that they are selling stories which necessarily doesn’t need to be in the shape of a book, and doesn’t need to be shipped around the world on a trailer.

Influxinsights is commenting on the story and asks how much control the established companies are willing to give up? Can new entrants emerge fast enough to take a large enough share from the established order? They mean that these questions are critical to the future of the real idea of “You” and will determine if we look back in 2016 and see 2006 as a real inflection point, or a short-lived idea that wasn’t fully supported, so people got tired of contributing, without being listened to, noticed or acknowledged.

Who are all the people that have that time and that energy and that passion to fill all the social communities with content? Actually, once again, you and me. We make movies, we mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals and we blog about the state of the nation. And we vote for what’s good. Seth Godin reports here about Chris Anderson owned Reddit and some other sites that reward people for being curators.

Web 2.0 is already building a new international understanding, citizen to citizen, person to person. And 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.

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