By Nathan Rudyk

I wonder if Michael Dell reads Time Magazine?

The pick for Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" should send him a strong signal. Time's editors correctly call the Web 2.0 era of user-generated content a "revolution" that is changing the way we experience and react to products, services, politics, entertainment and news in our world:

"But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes. ... The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It's not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter."

We at market2world, a company that positioned our Web 2.0 product launch and public relations services in the heart of this revolution since our inception in April, 2005, are in violent agreement with Time's assessment. Companies, governments, not-for-profits and individuals that understand and engage in building Web 2.0 collective intelligence have great futures ahead of them.

For proof, look at the two year stock charts of Apple compared to Dell. Apple's products and promotion embrace Web 2.0 phenomenon such as podcasts, blogs, and other forms of user-generated content.

Dell's computers can also be used to create user-generated content, but as Bloggingstocks' Amey Stone reports, Dell has been distracted by everything from burning batteries to SEC investigations.

This distraction has clearly blinded Michael Dell and his marketing crew to to the world-changing trend noted by the editors of Time magazine. Today when I went to I saw a lovely white MacBook with the screen lit up by a happy little kid in a pirate hat. He was surrounded by the interface of a video application. This is a clear message that a Mac is a computer anyone can use to create user-generated content.

Below this anchor image on Apple's home page were two promotions for new iPods, and a third promotion for the "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ad campaign that's creating a cult-like following based on the Mac character's mastery of user-generated content versus the PC's bungling of same. The fourth promotion was for the new MacBook Pro with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor that mitigates any reason to purchase a Dell or any other PC that can't run Windows AND Apple's growing suite of integrated, in-the-box tools like Garageband and iPhoto that are fueling the the era of user-generated content via podcasts, blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and community publishing platforms.

Over at Dell's home page, the presentation was decidely different. The foundation image there was of an imposing silver and black pair of Dimension 9200 desktop boxes. No hint of what they would be used for in a headline that states "Built to Perform. Designed to Impress." and a copy deck below that said "Raw Power and Quiet Precision with the Dimension 9200".

Below the silver and black boxes were images of five more product lines and again, no attempt to connect what those products do to the profound shift in how people are using computers as pointed out by Time's editors.

Not that Time Magazine totally gets it either. Is there a comment button below its Person of the Year article? No. Time's blogs are buried on the left-side navigation below the magazine's editorial departments. Podcasts are almost impossible to find. No hint of a wiki. No community publishing platform.

That said, it's one thing to recognize a trend and act on your recognition, as I'm sure Time's editors are doing with their employers after their smart pick for Person of the Year. It's another thing to be unaware of what's going on in the world around you to push faceless silver and black boxes while your competitor shows the happy inviting face of user-generated content in the Web 2.0 era.

(Nathan Rudyk is President of market2world communications inc., Canada's Web 2.0 tech product launch and public relations agency, and founder of Ottawa's tech business podcast)