Mark Zuckerberg: 2010 Time Person of Year Title

The following is a post about Mark Zuckerberg being named the 2010 Time Person of the Year written by Patrick Mackaronis.

The computer whiz becomes the 83rd such designee; and he is the 77th man, 52nd American and 10th businessman so recognized.

Mark Zuckerberg Public Response Mixed

Public reaction has ranged from complete agreement with the magazine’s choice to scornful derision for what critics called a “safe” choice, with possibly no lasting significance to humanity; and, furthermore, some added it was calculated to incur no political repercussions in this prickly world (C|Net News).

In describing the achievement of the winner, who dropped out of Harvard University in his sophomore year, the Time citation said: “For connecting more than a half billion people and mapping the social relations among them, for creating a new system of exchanging information and for changing how we live our lives, Mark Elliot Zuckerman is Time’s Person of the Year.”

Facebook’s Evolution in Six Years Shows Speed of Digital Age

So astounding is the concept of connecting over 500 million (and counting) subscribers on Facebook, 70 percent of whom live outside the US, that one tends to forget Zuckerberg’s visionary genius in managing the development of the software and platform and management structure to make using the Website simple yet creative in just six years.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the value of the privately-held Facebook is $43.1 billion. This places Zuckerberg, with his equity of $6.9 billion, in a tie as the 35th wealthiest American, according to Forbes magazine.

Time magazine’s top five choices for Person of the Year were:

  1. Mark Zuckerberg
  2. The Tea Party
  3. Julian Assange
  4. Hamid Karzai
  5. The Chilean Miners

Time Person of the Year Title Not Always for Good Deeds

The magazine’s annual selection has expanded in scope considerably, since it first recognized the intrepid Charles Lindberg in 1927, as the planet’s supreme mover and shaker for that year and the one most impacting the lives of people.

The magazine’s editorial folks are quick to point out the citation is not necessarily an honor or good Samaritan award, but a recognition of a person(s), group(s) or thing(s) that have most affected peoples’ lives. Adolph Hitler was the recipient in 1938 and Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942.

In 1982 the Computer Was the Most Important Thing

In a radical departure from the “people” convention in making choices, the magazine named the computer in 1982 as the person of the year, although it would be a stretch to say the machine impacted lives greatly that year. IBM had introduced their IBM PC only the year before.

Perhaps the rush to crown the computer was Time’s secret ploy to expedite the developing of artificial intelligence by computers, providing a jump start toward parity with humans and maybe even chimps.

Just suppose the magazine had adopted the “thing” deviancy early on. Is it not entirely possible the rickety Spirit of St. Louis, the plane which Charles Lindberg jockeyed across the stormy Atlantic ten feet above choppy waves at times, would have been named “machine of the year” instead of “Lucky Lindy”?

Zuckerberg Finished 10th in Time Reader Poll

Candidates for Person of the Year are chosen by magazine staffers from outside interviews, archival research, staff filtering discussions and even a poll of Time readers.

Readers parted company with magazine insiders on a number of candidates. For example, the winner Mark Zuckerberg was 10th in the reader poll. Closest match between the pollsters and Time was Julian Assange, the stealthy Wikileaks whistleblower. He was tops in the reader poll and third in the final magazine selection.

A listing of top winners in the reader poll, in order of preferences, follows:

  1. Julian Assange
  2. Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  3. Lady Gaga
  4. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert
  5. Glen Beck
  6. Barack Obama
  7. Steve Jobs
  8. The Chilean Miners
  9. The Unemployed American
  10. Mark Zuckerberg

Men Outnumber Women Seven to One in Annual Recognition

The Time recognition is an event in which women have some catching up to do. Through the years, males have been tapped 77 times, while women have won the acclaim 11 times.

In occupational categories, politicians have dominated results in 54 years; businessmen in ten years; soldiers in six; space pioneers in five; and clergy in four. The rest of the winners are scattered among social activists, law and science.

Mark Zuckerberg Received Distinction for Actions in 2010 Only

There is always a reluctance to drape a mantle such as “Person of the Year” around the shoulders of such a youthful founder of something as grandiose as an engine of social change. There are many directions in which the young global network can metastasize, for good or evil or in between. Only time will tell.

However, it is important to remember the designation of Mark Zuckerberg as “Person of the Year” by Time magazine was not about the future; rather, the acknowledgement was a proclamation that he had affected the lives of over a half billion people on earth in a single year.

Using that criterion alone, he might well be the most deserving recipient since the title was begun in 1927.

Patrick Mackaronis is the CEO and Founder of Brabble, and can be reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.