Mark Zuckerberg – Man of the Year

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social networking phenomenon Facebook, was announced as Time Magazine’s Man of the Year last week, becoming one of the youngest people ever to hold the title.

Time said the honour had been awarded for Zuckerberg’s achievements in ‘connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives’.

It’s a pretty fair assessment of Facebook’s development over the last couple of years, and 2010 alone has seen Facebook reach 500 million users, helped in no small part by the now Golden Globe-nominated movie The Social Network. It’s also the year Zuckerberg has become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire and pledged a huge amount of his fortune to charity.

Still there are some who say this is a political decision and that the true ‘Man of the Year’ should be Wikileak’s Julian Assange, who won the reader’s vote for his role in release of top secret US diplomatic documents. Assange has certainly been high-profile, notorious, and thought provoking, but have his actions influenced the lives of 500 million people globally? Time thinks not.

Of course, the full consequences of his recent actions remain to be seen, and this time next year Assange may well have succeeded in redrawing the political and legal landscape, making this a very different discussion.

Whichever man you believe to be the true winner – the debate surrounding the award shows how the ways we are influenced are changing, with this year being the first award given to a key player from the dotcom industry.   On a personal note, I don’t mind waiting a wee while longer…

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