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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Congratulations! You have been named… by Laura N. '09

Time Magazine's Person of the Year!

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

It’s you. The person reading this right now. In fact, those of you who are avid blog readers, writers, and commenters are an even bigger part than others.

Here’s a brief summary of the article- lots of things happened in 2006, but one of the biggest was the general explosion of user-created on-line content. YouTube and MySpace and Facebook and even Wikipedia. And straying a little farther from the Internet there’s user-generated software like Linux.

I don’t usually blog about magazine articles here. But I am so, so excited after reading this, because open-source is quite possibly my favorite thing. Ever.

Seriously. I’ve been writing some form of a blog since I was in the 8th grade. I think wikis are brilliant creations- not just Wikipedia itself, but smaller, themed wikis as well. Yes, just like Weird Al, I edit wikipedia.

And speaking of Weird Al- even our music is being influenced by this fancy thing called the Internet. Smaller bands can get their music out there for anyone to listen to. I know I have Ben’s band on my iPod. =P

One of my favorite books ever is The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Joe Trippi. He was Howard Dean’s campaign manager in the 2004 presidential campaign. I highly recommend this book to anyone- no matter where your political opinions lie. (I personally am an independent- I think political parties are too busy hating each other to get it right more than half the time.) If you disagree with the political left, you may find yourself rolling your eyes every once in awhile (I know I did), but even though the book follows the trajectory of Howard Dean’s campaign, that’s not what it’s about.

It’s about the oxymoron of the 21st century- national grass-roots efforts. It’s about how people from all over the country who felt disenfranchised by their government were able to turn on a computer and actually help run the campaign of the man they wanted in the White House. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t want the same guy to win- it’s the method that matters. It didn’t even matter so much that they lost in the end- it mattered that these people were able to care about politics again, were able to feel as if they were in control of their own government, like they should be.

Nothing gets me more excited than grass-roots. I get excited by other people being excited. I would be thrilled if 10,000 more young voters went to the polls and all voted against what I believed in, just because I wish people in this country would actually vote!

I’m filing this entry under the “MIT’s Mission: Who We Are” for a couple of reasons. One is pretty simple- I go to MIT, and this is who I am. I can’t say for sure, but this aspect of my personality was probably one of the reasons that my application was sorted into the admit pile. Because the truth, and my second reason, is that this is what MIT is, at its core.

Hacking and open-source both have deep roots at MIT. (I always get kind of annoyed when people outside of MIT laugh at us for calling pranks “hacks.” It’s like, “hey, we created the word, we can use it however we want!”)

People here are very much into taking things apart, seeing how they work, and using that knowledge as power.

We want to change the world with knowledge, and with the Internet, we can redistribute knowledge and trade and expand it millions of times more quickly than ever before. You can see that all over MIT- our podcasts (like Zig-Zag), OpenCourseWare, even the blog I’m writing right now. These are all our attempts to overcome the obstacles of the past- time, space, wealth- and remake the world with the power of information.

That’s MIT’s Mission. And that’s what makes us excited to be here.

11 responses to “Congratulations! You have been named…”

  1. Jess says:

    As Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, I’m inspired.

  2. Evan '10 says:

    Hmph. We don’t call pranks hacks. We call hacks hacks. End of story.

  3. Open source is awesome.

  4. Sarab says:

    Profound. I still hope to amke it to there sometime soon.

  5. Bien says:

    If you’re into music, checkout WikiMusicGuide, the wiki for music lovers.

  6. Sh1fty says:

    i love open source! i have slackware on my desktop and freebsd on my testing server and i don’t have to pay a dime to microsoft :D i’m actually an open source programmer if you think of nanotemp as software :D nad i agree with Evan, pranks aren’t hacks smile

  7. Michelle says:

    Hear hear for open source! Wikipedia, Limewire & YouTube, to give three examples, were once detested but now have hit (and are really welcomed on) the open market. I still shudder to think of the impact that we, the members of the Time 2006 Person of the Year award, have had on the profits of the authors, directors and musicians, the products that we flagrantly look at and download, free of charge… (Think about that for a moment before you download your next song…)

    That said! Do you think that it’s really well-thought-out to put “everyone” as the person of the year, especially when “everyone” are those people that use the internet for these happy open-source postings & everything else? Imagine those people that don’t have internet – are they NOT People of the Year too? Is it then so inclusive to say that “you” are the person of the year, when you’re not?

    Okay, forgive me on that weird ramble. I’m starting to lose track of what I’m saying. :p

  8. xiao qiang says: