December 15, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg — not Julian Assange — is Time's Person of the Year.

So they stayed in the realm of the internet and picked someone who more people can agree is a hero. It's straightforward and nice to celebrate Facebook and leave Wikileaks for more serious news analysis.

ADDED:  Link to the actual Time article:
In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network, thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S. If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest, behind only China and India. It started out as a lark, a diversion, but it has turned into something real, something that has changed the way human beings relate to one another on a species-wide scale. We are now running our social lives through a for-profit network that, on paper at least, has made Zuckerberg a billionaire six times over.

Facebook has merged with the social fabric of American life, and not just American but human life: nearly half of all Americans have a Facebook account, but 70% of Facebook users live outside the U.S. It's a permanent fact of our global social reality. We have entered the Facebook age, and Mark Zuckerberg is the man who brought us here.
AND: The runners up are: The Tea Party...
In a sense, identifying with the Tea Party movement was like catching Beatlemania in the 1960s. People were drawn in for different reasons — the beat, the haircuts, the lyrics — and great gulfs of taste divided the John fans from the Paul fans, the George fans from the Ringo fans.
... Julian Assange...
He is inclined to the grandiose. Contempt for nearly every authority drives his work...
... Hamid Karzai...
There are two schools of thought about Hamid Karzai. The first is that he's a vain, incompetent, monumentally corrupt leader with serious mood-disorder problems that require medication....
... and the Chilean Miners....
A mother lode of luck and faith was involved. But the rescue also showcased a commodity even rarer today than the gold the miners were quarrying: leadership.

48 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Zuckerberg as Person of the Year seems late to me. Facebook is so 2008, I guess Time is 2000 and late.

Misty said...

Glad it's not Assange, but Zuckerberg? Really? It's like they're not even trying, not that I've ever much agreed with them on this.

Why not the John Tyner? His famous words certainly resonated with air travelers across the world.

Original Mike said...

This might be the first first person of the year I had to look up to find out who he was.

Fred4Pres said...

Yawn.

Paddy O said...

This Facebook revolutionized social interaction on the world wide web in 2010!

In other revolutionary online news, have you seen all the recent changes
to myspace? Not only massive visual changes, you can link your facebook profile to your myspace page. Craziness!

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

It's fine to leave Assange for serious analysis rather than "celebration". But Facebook? I'm sure the thing is a force for good in some very limited way. It's also a huge force for making relationships as shallow and outsourced as possible.

But maybe some people don't see that as a bad thing...

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

But that's still not a reason to deny the little misfit Person of the Year, of course.

EDH said...

Don't tell "New Ham," it'll just piss him off.

bgates said...

What made Zuckerberg a hero? Was it having Aaron Sorkin write a movie about him? Showing up on Oprah? Giving away 1/70th of his fortune?

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

I think reading "celebration" and goodness into the doings of the recipient of Person of the Year is a stretch.

They just have to have done something that notable has impacted or changed society. Didn't Hitler win it one year? I'm pretty sure at least a few times the notoriety was decidedly for less than entirely noble reasons.

Which is as it should be.

MrBuddwing said...

Didn't Hitler win it one year?

Hitler was Man of the Year for 1938. And for weeks beforehand, people were writing letters to TIME saying please, please, please don't make Hitler the Man of the Year.

When TIME chose the Person of the Century, I thought Adolf was a likely contender, if only because he had such a huge impact on world events because of his evilness. But TIME took the safe way out and chose Albert Einstein.

Word verification: wingu.

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

Einstein edges out Hitler in overall impact.

c3 said...

Would this have happened if The Social Network had not come out this year? And if true, how ironic: a Man of the Year based on movie lies and distortions.

And if you win Time's Person of the Year do you get a plaque or something? Is it something you would want to hang on your wall? And if you link to the Time story on your Facebook pages do you get extra points for Farmville?

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...
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Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...
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Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

Don't you get the impression that Einstein had a greater impact on the way we think about things, even in metaphorical ways? The pace of technological change in the 20th Century was immense, even before the Manhattan Project. But I really think Einstein helped open up the doors for people to realize just how much our scientific understanding of nature could accomplish.

Further, he dramatically increased our emphasis on the role of creativity in coming up with better ideas about... well, nearly everything - even in the empiric realm. And finally, as an anti-nuclear weapons activist, he impressed upon people the importance of idealism and working actively for a positive vision. Being negative about the nature and future of humanity was no longer a choice, unless you were prepared to accept annihilation as a price for it.

Hitler achieved nothing so great as any of this.

MrBuddwing said...

Hitler achieved nothing so great as any of this.

I'm not disputing the importance of Einstein, and I don't want to fall into the trap of trying to compare him directly with Hitler.

My thinking was, anyone monstrous and powerful enough to ignite a Second World War and the Holocaust, and whose evil deeds reverberated well after his death in the form of the Cold War, the arms race and the creation of Israel (which in turn affects events in the Middle East) was a likely contender for Person of the Century.

But I'm not unhappy that Einstein "won."

Scott M said...

Hitler's achievements were arguably much greater than Einstein's. Greater in the sense of larger, not better.

Entire regions of the world had their geo-political structure upending and changed due to Hitler. Enter swathes of people cut down and their families forever changed. The history of the world since 1945 has been impacted to such a large degree, directly as a result of Hitler's actions, that I believe a solid argument can be made in his favor.

I'm loathe to do so, but regardless of Einstein's scientific chops, I'd have to lean Hitler if just describing impact.

Scott M said...

wow...typos on parade...sorry, all.

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

I don't mind an overall comparison, I just think that Hitler's impact on global politics - or anyone's impact on global politics, for that matter - pales when your impact on intellectual history is as great, as permanent, and as widespread as Einstein's.

Modern Israel seems to play an important role in cultural history, as the reincarnation of the ancient state that people point to as having given rise to Western civ. But I still think Hitler's role in exacerbating that development is not as great as Einstein's on how we think about and perceive the world, culturally.

MrBuddwing said...

Zuckerberg as Person of the Year seems late to me. Facebook is so 2008, I guess Time is 2000 and late.

Instead of a Person of the Year, perhaps TIME should have named Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and other like-minded sites Social Networks of the Year.

(There's precedent. Remember when Earth was named Planet of the Year? And how about the year the personal computer was recognized?)

Word verification: funrix.

Scott M said...

Modern Israel seems to play an important role in cultural history

Therein lies a good measure of comparison. I believe geo-political history trumps cultural. Cultural can be nebulous and fleeting. The boundries of a nation-state are fairly easy to discern and it's impact on the surrounding region great. Hitler effected a whole lotta nation-states directly and, arguably, continues to do so.

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

Hitler effected a whole lotta nation-states directly and, arguably, continues to do so.

No doubt.

But I'm still apprehensive about giving greater importance to political history than to cultural/intellectual history as a general rule, as much as I fear that you're probably right.

Scott M said...

The Library Of Alexandria, or the ashes thereof, argues in favor of political history over cultural/intellectual history. I'm not thrilled about it either, but it seems to be the way we humans roll.

Simon Kenton said...

Well, my terminal unhipness self-reveals again. Tired of hearing about moods and visits to the bathroom, I snuffed myself off facebook late last week, just before ... The Apotheosis.

WV quitions - a fiery burst of quitions that far exceeded the MLD50 ended his sojourn on facebook. Witnesses claim a fleeting look of peaceful irrelevance disfigured his features immediately before the end.

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

OTOH, the actions of a few not very political monks in Ireland did much to retain, and eventually, reinvigorate our very Greek and Roman sense of all that makes us who we are.

I guess it depends on whether you're living in a time when politics is more relevant than ideas, or vice versa. In the dark ages and early Renaissance politicians seem to have waned in importance, as they seem to be doing now in the age of the internet and Facebook.

Who knows? Maybe the two arenas are starting to merge.

tim maguire said...

Zuckerberg is a strange choice.

Facebook is merely the flavor of the week, not distinguishable in any meaningful way from Friendster and MySpace, it's just having its heyday right now whereas the other two, having come years before Facebook, have already enthralled and then bored the "it" crowd.

edutcher said...

I believe in 1941, it was Admiral Yamamoto (a late entry).

Henry Luce had more guts.

Fen said...

Is there any doubt that the Tea Party would be picked if it had been a left-wing organization?

And does anyone here still read Time?

Meade said...

...I'm still apprehensive about giving greater importance to political history than to cultural/intellectual history...

Okay, but in human existential history greatness, you'd have to have who? - Australopithecus afarensis "Lucy," Alexander the Great, Apostle Paul, Muhammad, Genghis Khan (or, as we like to pronounce it, chez Meadhouse, Jenjis Khan), Hitler, Steve Jobs, and George W. Bush.

Scott M said...

Meade pulls out a Lucy reference. Well played, sir.

Bob Ellison said...

A twelfth of humanity? Time is naive. Facebook claims "More than 500 million active users" and that "50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day". 500 million is a little more than a fourteenth of humanity. More importantly, FB almost certainly counts every account that has never been deactivated as an "active" user, including accounts set up but never really used, multiple accounts set up by the same individuals and the various ones people (not me, of course) create just as tests or as jokes and then never use again.

A much more likely estimate would be something a bit south of the 50% figure Facebook cites. Still very impressive at 250 million.

edutcher said...

Meade said...

...I'm still apprehensive about giving greater importance to political history than to cultural/intellectual history...

Okay, but in human existential history greatness, you'd have to have who? - Australopithecus afarensis "Lucy," Alexander the Great, Apostle Paul, Muhammad, Genghis Khan (or, as we like to pronounce it, chez Meadhouse, Jenjis Khan), Hitler, Steve Jobs, and George W. Bush.


You're turning Kerry on us?????

I'm so crushed!!!!

Saint Croix said...

The Tea Party is far more relevant to our society than Zuckerberg. I mean, that's not even close.

On the other hand, facebook is hugely relevant to Time magazine and their business model. Zuckerberg is a proxy for all the internet threats to traditional media. (Newsweek sold for a dollar). So they got Zuckerberg on the brain.

From Time's perspective, Zuckerberg is the enemy. It's like making Hitler or the Ayatollah the man of the year.

I wonder if they try to make him look bad? Like Hollywood did. Hollywood doesn't like the internet, either. Nobody likes the internet. Except people on the internet.

I wonder if I can find a free copy of the article online?

Saint Croix said...

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2036683_2037183_2037185,00.html

Free. Boy that business model is in trouble. Does Time do any frickin' reporting? It's all pictures and BIG FONT. They ought to change their name to BIG FONT.

Bender said...

This might be the first person of the year I had to look up to find out who he was

Yes, who is Zuckerberg, and what is "Facebook"?

And before I'm accused of being out of touch, what the hell is "Time Magazine"?

The former is a "that's it?? that's all there is??" trendy gimmick, and the latter is a rotting dinosaur that no one reads.

Scott M said...

I probably check Facebook once or twice a week. It is what it is...a great way to get back in touch with people you've lost touch with or want to catch up with.

Outside of that, I'm finding only limited usefulness. It is, I will admit, a great way to converse with up and coming comics. They are usually of the type that are dying to see their followers grow and most are pretty involved with their limited fan base. Maria Bamford is pretty good about it, for example.

Bender said...
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Bender said...

Facebook claims "More than 500 million active users"

There are probably 500 million fewer people in this world today, and hence 500 million fewer people making any kind of impact at all on the world (for good or ill), largely because of Adolf Hitler.

Add the Jews and non-Jews who died in the concentration camps and mental hospitals, the battlefield deaths, the civilian war casualties, and all of the people that were never born because of these former people dying, and you see in Hitler an impact on the world that makes Einstein look like an ant.

Meade said...

Bender said...
The former is a "that's it?? that's all there is??" trendy gimmick, and the latter is a rotting dinosaur that no one reads.

Yeah. Who has the Time Warner?

Saint Croix said...

Facebook, by the way, is an absolutely essential networking tool. I'm a filmmaker. Whenever I try to put crew together, I go to facebook.

But that's all it is, really. A cyber rolodex. Not saying they can't monetize that. I'd rather own Facebook stock than Time stock. Hell, I'd rather own Althouse stock than Time stock. But aside from its innate value as a networking tool, it's just another website where you can waste time.

Speaking of websites where you can waste time, Ann Althouse as Person of the Year, now that would be cool. "Her readers are exclusive and high brow intellects. Sexual dynamos, witty and fun."

Revenant said...

Facebook is merely the flavor of the week, not distinguishable in any meaningful way from Friendster and MySpace

Being orders of magnitude more successful seems sort of meaningful. If you remove that distinction, the only people in the history of Time's list that truly merit it are Charles Lindbergh and the Apollo 8 astronauts.

Scott M said...

Being orders of magnitude more successful seems sort of meaningful.

Wasn't Facebook the only one of the three that has been updated from orbit? That's meaningful.

Revenant said...

I just started using Facebook about a year ago. I use it for the usual purposes -- keeping in touch with friends and family, occasionally wasting time with Mafia Wars and Farmville, etc. It hasn't had a huge impact on my life, but it has had a hell of a lot more impact than Wikileaks has.

An incremental improvement to the lives of hundreds of millions of people seems pretty significant. Plus, it is nice to see a Man of the Year who earned his place through business and technology instead of through politics.

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

I'm confused, Meade. Most if not all of those examples you pulled out sound like politicians to me.

Michael said...

Tomorrow is the anniversary of Beethoven's birthday. Listen.

Donald Douglas said...

Progressives aren't pleased, "Mark Zuckerberg is Time's Person of the Year 2010 — Progressives Slam Choice of 'Billionaire Jew'".

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