Should Zukerberg Have Been Time’s Man Of The Year in 2010?

Time's Man Of The Year

Mark Zukerberg and Julian Assange

Time’s man of the year (2010) is Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame.

But was he really more influential than than Julian Assange of WikLeaks fame?

And I have very mixed feelings about WikiLeaks.

Is the continuing release of the classified documents a good or a bad thing?

I would lean toward saying that it’s a good thing.

If diplomats continue to lie to one another then how will they ever achieve any real breakthroughs?

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11 Responses to Should Zukerberg Have Been Time’s Man Of The Year in 2010?

  1. peterson says:

    I have to confess that I’m torn too.

    I had the same surprised reaction to Time’s Person of the Year choice as as most of my friends because it’s hard to see the calculation that makes Mark Zuckerberg more influential than Julian Assange in 2010.

    When people talk about the impact of Wikileaks, you typically hear how it’s forever changed diplomacy or intelligence-gathering and many folks will mention the implications for journalism too, and all of that’s true and somewhat relevant.

    But it also misses the deeper point.

    The Wikileaks revolution isn’t only about airing secrets and transacting information.

    It’s about dismantling large organizations, from corporations to government bureaucracies and it’s likely to lead to the failure of many of them.

    Because Wikileaks is revealing insider information about companies and governments it is, in effect, a huge tax on their internal coordination, and, as any economist will tell you, the way to get less of something is to tax it.

    As a practical matter, that means that the days of huge bureaucracies with tens of thousands of employees are probably numbered.

    In a decade or two, we may not only see USAID spun off from the State Department, but we’re likely to see dozens of mini-State Departments servicing separate regions of the world, or hundreds of micro-State Departments, one for every country on the planet.

    Granted, there are a few key assumptions built into the above prediction, with the first one being that Wikileaks is here to stay.

    But whereas Daniel Ellsberg spent the better part of a year photocopying the 7,000 pages that became the Pentagon papers, thanks to the IT revolution, copying and transferring data on that scale takes all of fifteen seconds today, and perhaps more importantly, Wikileaks is a self-perpetuating phenomenon.

    Pre-Wikileaks, a would-be leaker’s only shot at wide-scale circulation was a newspaper or magazine and the problem with such outlets is that they tend to have their own views on how a story should be told.

    MSM people more often than not simply interview corporate spokespeople and government officials to get their side of the story, and they’ll more than likely bow to a censor’s request to suppress information.

    Wikileaks, on the other hand, promises mass distribution without the filter, and the more the organization proves it can get leaked information in front of tens of millions of readers, the more leakers will flock to it.

    So my bottom line is that, "Yes Facebook was a huge game changer, but I’d say that long term Wikileaks will be a bigger one because it will continue to be a huge and even bigger game changer long after Facebook has become just another social network service".

  2. big-thoughts says:

    It’s easy to have mixed feelings about WikiLeaks because it would be hopefully be a much better world if people were much more honest with one another.

    And by “people”, I mean governments and companies too.

    But just take a look at this latest statement by Julian Assange….


    Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, said he holds the names of senior officials in the Arab world who visit US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily “to establish links” with the CIA.

    “These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” Assange said in the second part of his interview with Arab television network Al Jazeera. He said the leaked documents in his possession show that Arab officials reveal sensitive information on their colleagues and respective countries.

    The WikiLeaks founder said the website would consider exposing the names of the Arab officials only if it would be certain it would not lead to their death.

    Assange warned that the revelations may lead to dangerous coups in the Arab world. He added that WikiLeaks plans to reveal some 7,000 documents related to Egypt and its president, Hosni Mubarak.

    Other leaked documents, he said, reveal information on the oil industry in the Arab world over the past few decades.

    Coups in lots of countries, and like Peterson said, “the demise of companies and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs”, (paraphrased) sounds like a huge amount of damage.

    But maybe we have to experience the “damage” in order to get to a far better place?!

  3. divka says:

    Facebook, like Google, fundamentally changed the way people communicate, and it has altered the way people interact, for better or worse.

    WikiLeaks, for all its drama and the justified interest it has produced, has not spawned anything close to that type of revolutionary change.

    It has aroused political interest, by giving a context in which to understand events, but it has not fundamentally changed anything, not even diplomacy.

    Diplomacy was, and will continue to be, based on communications, on meeting people, on sending impressions and thoughts and assessments back home to those formulating policy.

    It may very well be that the way the cables are sent, and how they are stored and protected, will change as a result of the WikiLeaks site, and in the short term many people are likely to be more hesitant about speaking openly to diplomats, especially American ones, than they were in the past.

    But the unauthorized leak of the records of tens of thousands of meetings will not put an end to the meetings themselves, or the evaluations those meetings generate, because those meetings, and those analyses, are the building blocks of diplomacy and they a crucial element in how nations interact.

  4. MacTheKnife says:

    Is Wikileaks a good or a bad thing?

    The New York Times is reporting on cables that describe the scale of corruption in Afghanistan as "overwhelming" and quotes Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry as saying one of the U.S.’s biggest challenges in Afghanistan was "how to fight corruption and connect the people to their government, when the key government officials are themselves corrupt".

    Corruption in Afghanistan is well documented, with the war-torn country ranking as the third most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International’s annual list.

    But the collection of confidential diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of publications, offers a fresh sense of its pervasive nature, its overwhelming scale, and the dispiriting challenge it poses to American officials who have made shoring up support for the Afghan government a cornerstone of America’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

    The Guardian cites one example of the rampant corruption, telling of then-Vice President Ahmad Zia Massoud arriving in Dubai with "$52 million in cash".

    The report says that:

    "Massoud, the younger brother of the legendary anti-Soviet resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, was detained by officials from the US and the United Arab Emirates trying to stop money laundering. However, the vice-president was allowed to go on his way without explaining where the money came from".

    The cable, sent by the ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, detailed the colossal scale of capital flight from Afghanistan – often with the cash simply carried out on flights from Kabul to the UAE.

    Massoud has denied the allegations.

    Elsewhere, the New York Times relayed the damning views some diplomats hold of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, including Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg calling Mr. Karzai as "indecisive and unprepared" during a meeting. The fraught relationship between Karzai and the U.S. is characterized as "one that began as lukewarm, turned frigid and is back to lukewarm".

    Is Wikileaks a good or a bad thing?

    I’d say that, "Yes it is", because from the leaks we learn just how ineffective our present administration is.


  5. miss skeptic says:

    Everyone has the right to know everything!

    That includes everything and anything hidden by the government!

  6. Gladys says:

    I don’t necessarily see WikiLeaks as something horrible in itself.

    Being that the documents are not top secret (they’re apparently only low-level classification), they’ll provide little more than an uncomfortable exposure of what happens over there.

    Fine. Whatever.

    What I fear is that WikiLeaks will end up becoming a collection of documents showing occurrences from the side of the American soldiers, and no more, used for smearing the military as though it were actively hunting down women and children.

  7. straight-talker says:

    The Wikileaks summations published in the NY Times paint a damning picture of American foreign relations. The accusations reveal the lying, the inconsistencies, the spin, and the outright b.s. that the press is being fed and re-publishing by and about our government and others.

    Some of the most consequential revelations are those that confirm the inconsistency between the U.S. government’s actual understanding and opinion of the ongoing conflicts around the world and what the U.S. government is telling the American people about those conflicts.

    If the allegations are further supported by publication of the 250,000 documents of raw data, and their authenticity is not significantly refuted by the U.S. government, the revelations, admissions, and opinions in these documents will shake up the status quo, maybe for the worse and maybe for the better, around the world.

    Regardless, a government made up of officials afraid of being embarrassed by the press for telling lies to the American people is far better than one that controls the press as its docile concubine.

  8. el-paso says:

    In the bizarro world, the truth is a Bad Thing!

  9. eagerwatcher says:

    Ultimately, this latest dump on Wikileaks will only serve to undermine its own stated agenda, which is, “to promote the politics of peace and accountability”, by giving the absolutists a chance to spread their stereotypes and illusions of a black and white world.

  10. anon-lady says:

    The anti-Semitism of American racialists is a somewhat novel phenomenon!

    It is worth noting that Jews never experienced the sort of discrimination in the Jim Crow South that Negroes endured and Jews were more often than not seen in a positive light and were accepted within Southern society.

    This began to change during the 1960s/1970s and I believe that it was caused by the drastic overrepresentation of Jews in the Civil Rights Movement and although this was downplayed by segregationists like Wallace at the time, it did not go unnoticed.

    Carleton Putnam, George Lincoln Rockwell, and others traced the roots of Alfred Radcliffe Brown (a British anthropologist) back to Boasian anthropology which places culture as the fundamental key to understanding race, and it was but a small step from there to the conclusion that “maybe Hitler had a point.”

    You might ask: Why does anti-Semitism then become an all-consuming pathology?

    In my experience, and I’ve interacted for years with many “Judeo-obsessives’, I’m convinced they pick this meme up from the Jews themselves.

    They become so obsessed with the Jews that they start to think and behave like them.

    The all-consuming paranoia of anti-Semitic White Nationalists has analogues in the paranoia of Jews like Abe Foxman who are constantly trying to sniff out anti-Semitism in otherwise innocent Gentile activity.

    There seems to be this all-consuming fear in the Jewish community that it is only a matter of time before Gentiles rise up and strike them down and this often translates into individual Jews pathologizing and relentlessly criticizing Gentile culture.

    The anti-Semites pick this up from the Jews and invert it against them.

  11. knopfman says:

    Why anti-Semitism?

    The common thread of anti-Semitism, wrote Michael Medved (a talk show host) in FrontPage Magazine last August, is the belief that Jews see themselves as a superior people and seek world domination.

    Medved looks at the three ideas that feed this view of Jews, “the ‘Chosen People’ concept, Jewish prosperity in the Diaspora, and Israel’s success (so far) in nation-building and self-defense,” and he concludes that none of them “demonstrates in any way a push for world conquest or superior standing for the children of Abraham.

    How, then, can we understand the imperishable belief that Jews function as an arrogant, imperious, overbearing people?”

    Medved continues:

    In a few words, that resentment stems in truth from the age-old Jewish refusal to abandon our separate identity, our irreducible distinctiveness through the millennia. My friends Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin provide the most compelling exposition on this dynamic in their invaluable book, Why the Jews?, recently reissued.

    In any event, the logic becomes most accessible when considered in personal, intimate terms. If a small group among your neighbors refuses invitations to worship in your churches and mosques, to eat the food you prepare in your homes, to marry your daughters, to embrace your nationalisms, or to share your enthusiasm for the ultimate, universally applicable perfection of your Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Catholic, Islamic, Nazi or Communist worldview, then it’s all but certain you will resent the members of that stubborn group, and assume that they exclude themselves from elements of your society due to an innate, obnoxious sense of superiority.

    For Jews who try to remain faithful to the old covenant, there’s no choice about the unyielding refusal to assimilate and disappear and no surprise at the angry reaction in much of the world.

    After all, the Bible repeatedly predicts that response.

    This realization doesn’t make it any easier to cope with anti-Semitism, but it does make the eternal hatred comprehensible.

    No matter how inconvenient or unpopular, we get our marching orders from the commandments including the crucial and celebrated injunction to choose life, for ourselves and our people.

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