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THE TOP STORIES OF THE YEAR 2006
(or why I missed out on being the second most prolific author for WinoStuff.com

This has been a crazy year.  I havenít had too much time for writing and definitely not enough time for wine shopping.  The vast supplies in the cellar have served as my Mecca, as the days of weekly wine buying trips shriveled to a random few, mostly to replenish my wifeís summer white wine urges.  Consequently, Iím looking forward to some time in 2007 to restock the shelves and regain the edge in finding the next great red.  Meanwhile, Iím going to reflect on 2006 in reverse.

TIMEís PERSON OF THE YEAR Ė You
I normally donít read Time because I donít have much of that.  However, I had to pick up a copy of the year end issue when I saw the subtitle of the cover story:  ďYou control the Information Age.  Welcome to your world.Ē

The folks at Time work hard at evaluating trends.  Their cover story begins with a discussion of YouTube and Lonelygirl15.  While this is interesting, who hasnít heard about Lonelygirl15?  If the writers had wanted to experience the true impact of YouTube, reading our own WinoJohnís column and sharing the link about the all important wine bottle opening (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6yxkrRu91E) with their readers would have given the world a greater appreciation about the power of videos.  Perhaps the most famous YouTube video described in the Time article was the moment when Senator George Allen referred to UVA senior Shekar Sidarth as ďMacacaĒ.  Sidarth did not post his video on YouTube, but a number of other folks who were present did.  One of those videos has been viewed 320,000 times.  Needless to say, the incumbent and front-runner Allen lost the election and many attribute this isolated incident as the tipping point.

Blogs are another powerful tool according to Time.  They cite the blogger, Lane Hudson, who outed Representative Mark Foleyís emails to congressional pages.  Lane, incidentally, was fired from his job because he used company computers to write his blog.  Winostuff has been nominated as a top blog.  Weíre flattered, but arenít sure whether or not blog is the appropriate term for our top-notch journalism.  However, if the difference between hard-hitting news-oriented websites and blogs is the fact that the writers are willing to express their opinions on topics, then Winostuff is definitely a blog.  Wino Bob is willing to provide his opinion on anything ranging from the sublime wine he consumed at un-Bacchus to the former governor of New Jersey and his penchant for state workers of the same sex.  I wonder if weíll receive fame one day for turning an election.

Flickr (www.flickr.com) is a website where anyone can post their photos for reviews and comments by others.  According to Time, there are 320 million photos currently posted at Flickr.  Time claims itís a great way to receive constructive criticism on oneís photography.  With that volume of photos, it seems to me that people are using it to back up their digital photo collection from their home pc.

Social networking was made famous by MySpace and Facebook.  Time chooses to profile a Facebook user and the ways that she stays in touch with her 708 friends.  This is where I can see a generational gap.  I donít have time to write these articles, much less stay in touch with 708 friends.  The closest that I come to that is my annual Christmas card letter which at this date has not been written yet since my wife has yet to agree on what picture of the kids that we use for the card.  Iím sure weíll get this yearís out by Groundhog Day.  Still, I may know 708 people, but they arenít on my Christmas card list and Iím not sure that Iíd share as much information with them as I do on my Christmas letter much less a Facebook page.  By the way, Time doesnít discuss the kids who have been denied employment by companies that accessed their Facebook entries and read descriptions of their alcoholic binges or drug escapades (Bill Clinton would have written that he didnít inhale if he had a Facebook page).  For every plus, thereís probably at least half a minus.

Other modern communicators cited by Time include a husband and wife team from the UK who post video podcasts of their attempts at cooking, a retired librarian from Georgia who reads 4 books per day and has posted over 12,000 book reviews on Amazon, Tila Nguyen who has over a million friends on MySpace, the person who has edited the most articles on Wikipedia, and the 21 year old who started Firefox after working for Netscape.

Web 2.0 is all about empowering consumers according to Time.  The blurbs above are just the summary of the remaining articles in the issue.  These articles deal with the spiderweb interactivity between a handful of sites like Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, SecondLife, etc.  They discuss the power of YouTubeís 100 million videos and growing, the ability to lead a fantasy life in SecondLife, and the ability of amateurs to pick up and cover events and topics that the mainstream media has chosen to ignore but which may cover after an amateur makes an important find.

After digesting the pages discussing the new world of information that I control, I had to sit and ruminate on the facts and theories that I had just read.  Time is absolutely correct that the new version of the web, Web 2.0, is changing the way the world processes information.  However, I believe that they could create an entire issue with articles discussing the ability of anyone to process the volumes of information available and synthesize it in a way to improve the quality of their job and/or their personal life.  Thereís just too much data available today and the quantity is increasing, not decreasing.  Weíll all need an internet librarian (not sure if that job exists, but I need one) to keep up with the flow and sort through the chaff.  I receive about 20 professional and personal periodicals per month and find little time to read even half of them due to the distractions caused by the instant information available through the internet.  Iím glad that my six year olds are computer savvy and techno-conversant because theyíll need it the way weíre increasing the data available.

Wino John, Iím sorry that there are very few references to wine in this article.  That probably doesnít help our organic search score on Google (not that we care about that since weíre bloggers and not professional money-grubbing internet website operators).  I have to drop back into a writing mode and think that this multi-part rambling diatribe about why I havenít written might help improve my routine submissions.  Stay tuned for part 2.

Wino Wally
Baltimore, MD
December 23, 2006



 

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