London, December 17, 2006 In its most anticipated annual issue, TIME names "You," citizen of the digital democracy, as its 2006 Person of the Year. With this choice, TIME recognizes that every person, powered by the web and sites like YouTube, MySpace and Wikipedia, has the ability to change the way we communicate and shape world events.
Richard Stengel, TIME's Managing Editor, writes, "Individuals are changing the nature of the information age, that the creators and consumers of user-generated content are transforming art and politics and commerce, that they are the engaged citizens of a new digital democracy. From images of Baghdad strife and the London Underground bombing, to the "macaca" moment that might have altered the midterm elections, to the hundreds of thousands of individual outpourings of hope and poetry and self-absorption, this new global nervous system is changing the way we perceive the world. And the consequences of it all are both hard to know and impossible to overestimate."
Also included in TIME's Person of the Year cover package:
TIME's Lev Grossman profiles 15 user-generators, including Lane Hudson, S. R. Sidarth, and a real-life Lonelygirl15. Hudson, the Washington blogger who first posted former Congressman Mark Foley's e-mails to Congressional pages, tells TIME, "The magnifying glass over people in public life is getting bigger and bigger. Politicians have to start being themselves from the beginning…. Stop pretending." Sidarth, now known to many as "Macaca," for his role in Senator George Allen's defeat, tells TIME that it was not his idea to put the clip of the Senator calling him that name on YouTube. "Ultimately I'd hope people wouldn't pay as much attention to things like this, instead caring who can serve the country or the state better," he says. "Of course," he adds, "character plays into that."
In a rare interview with YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, TIME's John Cloud reveals that they still fly coach and that the broadband in the YouTube office is so slow that it takes forever to watch anything good on their own site. Chen tells Cloud, "We haven't actually seen any of the money [from the Google deal] yet, and I keep thinking there will be some lawsuit or it will fall through somehow."
In an essay on the dangers of the culture of user-generated content, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams writes in TIME, "It is now possible even common to go about your day in America and consume only what you wish to see and hear…. The problem is that there's a lot of information out there that citizens in an informed democracy need to know in our complicated world with U.S. troops on the ground along two major fronts." The danger of all this celebration of self, he writes, "just might be that we miss the next great book or the next great idea, or that we fail to meet the next great challenge ... because we are too busy celebrating ourselves and listening to the same tune we already know by heart."
The runner-up for TIME's Person of the Year is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. In a rare interview, Ahmadinejad tells TIME, "The behavior of the American government has severely damaged the position of the United States in the world. No country in the world looks upon America as a friend." He also says, "Friendship with the Iranian people is better than confronting us. Experience has shown that we have the capability to defend ourselves and take advantage of any circumstance. The Iranian people are an extremely intelligent people. They know how to make the best opportunities from the harshest of threats. And make ill wishers regret themselves."
TIME For Kids readers' choice for Person of the Year is The American Soldier, which won by an overwhelming 44% of the vote between nine candidates. Previous winners of TIME For Kids' Person of the Year have been J. K. Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe, and "The American Firefighter, Police Officers, and Rescue Worker." This is the third time The American Soldier has been chosen.
TIME.com users voted for Hugo Chavez as Person of the Year, with 35% of the vote. Runners up in the TIME.com poll were Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, and YouTube Founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley.
This year's Person of the Year issue the largest ever marks the first time mylar has been used on TIME's cover. The print run for this unusual cover image of a mirrored surface reflected from the center of a computer screen required 6,965,500 pieces of reflective mylar material and 9 days to complete production.