Geek of the Year: Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook's boy wonder has won Time's nod as the Person of the Year - Cringe isn't sure he deserves it

The ballots have been cast, the votes have been counted, the results are in, and once again, I was robbed. Instead of being named Time's Person of the Year, they gave it to that sweaty creep Zuckerberg.

Bitter? Moi? OK, maybe a little. I mean what has he done, besides create a social networking platform that everyone and their dog now uses? I now cannot leave the house without hearing somebody somewhere talking about Facebook -- in cafes, hardware stores, movie theaters, what have you. And it's almost always someone who'd have a hard time picking any other website out of a police lineup.

Facebook is now the world's third most populous nation, behind China and India. (Soon tech companies will start opening support call centers there.) Facebook is responsible for more people hooking up with their old high school sweethearts than too many tequila shooters at your 20th reunion; it's also at least partly responsible for one in five divorces, as well as a rise in sexually transmitted diseases in Britain, according to one U.K. researcher (those last two facts might be related).

Per Time mag:

One out of every dozen people on the planet has a Facebook account. They speak 75 languages and collectively lavish more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. Last month the site accounted for 1 out of 4 American page views. Its membership is currently growing at a rate of about 700,000 people a day.

It is no longer possible to just quietly like something any more; now we must Like it and tell all 4987 of our closest personal friends.

In short, Facebook has changed most of our lives -- even those of people who will invariably append a comment to the end of this blog bragging about how they've never been on Facebook (if only because the existence of Facebook has compelled them to point that out).

So what if Zuckerberg stole the idea from the Winklevoss twins? (Frankly, if you were born with the name Winklevoss you almost certainly had it coming.) Or that keeps trying to convince the world that we're all better off if Facebook butters our personal information all over the WebberNets?

Of course, if I'm bitter, think about Julian Assange. He won the Time reader's POTY poll by a landslide: 382,000 votes, or 364,000 more than Zuckerberg got. He's sitting in a British lockup while at least 20 sovereign nations would like to see his head on a pike. He's thrown a spanner into world diplomatic operations that will probably never be extracted -- all because he failed to update his relationship status from "It's complicated" to "Bent on screwing the U.S. State Department." But heck, it's Time's POTY and the magazine can do what it feels like.

Then there's Anonymous, the amorphous righter of wrongs and DDoSser of corporate networks, and his enabling cousins at 4chan. It's probably a fair bet they're the ones who put Assange over the top in Time's poll, like they did with founder and spiritual leader Christopher "moot" Poole last year. Don't they deserve some consideration too?

Maybe Zuckerberg deserved it, though I'm not fully convinced that Facebook has changed our lives forever or necessarily for the better. I'm also still a little miffed that my name didn't come up at all, even as an honorable mention. Heck, I'd settle for Miss Congeniality.

Maybe next year.

Who's your pick for Geek of the Year? E-mail me: cringe@infoworld.com.

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Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
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