Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fear And Loathing On The Awards Circuit

Time just proved how relevant it was today: it called Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year and derision and outrage followed. Well done.

Of course, Time will always court outrage and derision no matter who they choose: for one, the world is bigger than it once was (more people, more people connected to one another, more information being produced; all this means more stuff; more stuff happening means more actions; the Person of the Year, theoretically, is the person who’s involved in the most “stuff”, but with the amount of ‘stuff’ increasing there are more people involved with that more stuff meaning it’s harder to determine who’s most important); for two, it may not be obvious until much later who was the real Person of the Year (and probably it is less obvious at the time, what with the torrential increase in information and meta-information these days.) So the choice is always going to be debatable.

I suppose Mark Zuckerberg is as good a choice as any: Facebook proved—maybe not this year, but certainly recently—that it’s no fad, and it’s also proven it has the kind of totalitarian empire-building impulse that defines all of the really successful tech companies these days. And while some people are tempted to discount The Social Network when considering the Zuckerberg case, I’m not: The Social Network is the rare film that’s commercially and critically successful while being based on an original concept that didn’t involve comic book heroes, animation or science fiction. How many films can say that? And while the very savvy media campaign leading up to it probably played a role in its success, Zuckerberg wasn’t unimportant to its success.

So: congratulations on your outrage, Time, it’s well deserved.

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