Time Magazine’s Person of the Year Is Not Julian Assange

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Being named runner-up to Time magazine's Person of the Year isn't cool ... Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Despite speculation that Time would name the WikiLeaks founder its Person of the Year, the magazine went for the safer option, leaving Julian Assange in the same runner-up category as the tea party and the Chilean miners. Better luck next year! Seriously, miners, we hope next year is much better for you. By any definition of the term — person with the most impact, person most speculated over, person with the awesomest hairstyles — Assange was it. So the decision to name Mark Zuckerberg instead feels dated. Time magazine! Did no one tell you that you're in a struggle to stay relevant in a rapidly changing media landscape? The profile, which starts with the overhyped fact that Zuckerberg doesn't have his own office — de rigueur for any tech start-up — goes to great lengths to demonstrate that Zuckerberg is both nothing like his character in The Social Network and a human person.


This is another area in which the angry-robot theory of Mark Zuckerberg doesn't really pan out: he understands a remarkable amount about other people. Sometimes it seems like the understanding of an alien anthropologist studying earthlings, but it's real. "In college I was a psychology major at the same time as being a computer-science major," he says. "I say that fairly frequently, and people can't understand it. It's like, obviously I'm a CS person! But I was always interested in how those two things combined. For me, computers were always just a way to build good stuff, not like an end in itself."

There are other people who can write code as well as Zuckerberg — not many, but some — but none of them get the human psyche the way he does. "He has great EQ," says Naomi Gleit, Facebook's product manager for growth and internationalization. "I'll often ask him for advice about, like, a girl issue that I'm dealing with. And he'll very rationally give me his opinion on the situation." His mother Karen, a psychiatrist who left the profession to manage her husband's office, attributes what she calls Mark's "sensitivity" to the fact that he was raised with three sisters.

Did anyone besides Aaron Sorkin actually think that the man who built the definitive social network by leveraging our most basic urges — to crush, to procrastinate, to stalk, to leer — didn't understand people?

Person of the Year 2010 [Time]