"Person of the Year" Right Here in Madison

By: Justin Ware Email
By: Justin Ware Email

It doesn't matter if you've ever won an election or even run for office.

With no political experience whatsoever, you could end up influencing what happens at the state capitol.

"I know I check in on Madison.com a couple of times a day," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, (D) Middleton, "and I know the Isthmus has the "Daily Page" and I'll check in on that as well."

Erpenbach is talking about blogs, or on-line forums, that give anybody the chance to say anything they want in front of a very large audience ... the internet.

And Erpenbach says some state lawmakers are listening.

"I don't think it's the ultimate, perfect barometer," said Erpenbach, "but it gives you a pretty good idea."

Thanks to this new-found power, Time magazine has named You, me and every other human being who has the potential to use the Internet, "Person of the Year."

And if you think that's far-fetched, check out these Madisonians.

Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda's "Chad Vader, Episode I" appeared on Youtube.com in June.

Since then, more than 2 million people have watched it.

"They've been on good morning America, the BBC has talked about them," said Jesse Russell, Dane101.com co-Founder, "and they're going to be one of VH1's top 50 web celebrities in February."

Russell says local success stories like "Chad Vader" would be a lot less likely without the internet.

Russell says the web gives users, who have no money, the power that used to be reserved for huge media conglomerates.

"On the Internet, you don't have a lot of cost, you don't have a lot of overhead," said Russell, "if you have a blog, you probably don't have any overhead."

And in Madison, this free avenue of expression not only makes you Times Person of the Year, but could also take you to the top of the Box office ... or, to the floor of the State capitol.

"I'm sure that down the line," said Erpenbach, "some initiatives that you'll see become law, will be a result of someone saying 'I saw this online the other night and this makes a lot of sense.'"

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