In preparation for choosing my new Probaway – Person Of The Year, it was obligatory that I check on what TIME magazine itself is conjuring up. In the past years I haven’t been very positive about their search techniques, and have explicitly stated that they were focusing entirely too much on short term popularity, and not enough on the lasting contributions which will be remembered in the distant future. What a surprise when a few minutes ago I discovered this quote on the Huffington Post site.
“When judged on his contributions to the world this year, Jobs had understandably done very little compared to the other nominees,” wrote the IBT, also pointing out that while Jobs’ products have made our lives more enjoyable, the contributions he has made do not measure up to other nominees who are “fighting to make the world a better place.”
Whoever wrote that piece apparently had been reading my complaints of the last four years, but it remains to be seen what will come of it. TIME hasn’t hesitated to choose someone who didn’t do anything in particular the year before. Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize and the TIME man of the year, after he had won the election but before he had been inaugurated, and even had a chance to do anything, was clearly a shallow political ploy to gain leverage. After all, someone was going to win that election, and the fact that a Harvard Law School graduate, a member of a very select and elitist group, won shows he wasn’t exactly an outsider to the establishment.
If we are talking about tech things which have made our lives more enjoyable, then Jobs is clearly standing on the shoulders of the whole Silicon Valley industry. That would include people who made the chips that made the Apple products possible, and without which they wouldn’t exist. People like Andy Grove and Sanjay Mehrotra, and obviously many more people all but unknown to the public, who created the basis for the whole modern high tech society. Jobs made the products everyone loves, but if he never existed most of those products would probably exist right now, just not in such elegant form.
In the tech industry right now, this year, it would appear that Jeff Bezos, with Amazon and much other cool stuff is taking over the world. But if I am going to take that approach the person most responsible for taking over the world is the Premier of China Wen Jiabao. He has shepherded a huge, recently unstable third world country from poverty to what many economists predict will surpass the United States economy in the not distant future. China already produces more automobiles than the US and Japan put together, and better cars too, because they will get their workers to and from work far more efficiently than American gas guzzling behemoths. That means their workers can create more value for the world market at a lower price than American workers, which then means they will surge ahead even more quickly.
Twenty years from now Jobs and Jiabao may be history but China will be dominant.