Posts Tagged ‘people of the decade’

Who are the people who have shaped the world over the last ten years? (I promise that this will be the last “…of the decade” list this decade.) A panel of editors and columnists from the Times nominates fifty personalities who have most influenced the world in this period. Here are the top ten:

  1. Barack Obama (US politics)
  2. Simon Cowell (TV)
  3. Tony Blair (British politics)
  4. Francis Collins and J. Craig Venter (Human genome)
  5. Richard Dawkins (Evolution and atheism)
  6. J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter)
  7. Osama bin Laden (Al-Qaeda)
  8. Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google)
  9. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
  10. David Beckham (Football)

I’m guessing they didn’t ‘weight’ the lists given by the contributors. So with Simon Cowell at no. 2, this didn’t mean that people thought him more significant than others, but simply that he turned up on more people’s lists.

Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign by Barack Obama.

It doesn’t feel quite right putting these people in a list together, as if they are contestants in a new series of Celebrity Big Brother, sitting together on garishly designed sofas, swapping stories about the cultural splash they managed to make. I’m uneasy at the idea that it’s possible to ‘compare’ David Beckham or Simon Cowell with Osama bin Laden – it seems to flatten and trivialise the mountainous differences that exist between them in terms of who they are and what their lives mean.

The Guardian instead chooses ten icons of the decade: faces/images that capture something essential about these last ten years. It’s more about symbols and cultural resonances than explicit influence. It’s well worth clicking through the photographs, and seeing whether you agree with the reasons given in the captions for including them. If you don’t have the energy, here are the names:

  1. Osama bin Laden
  2. David Beckham
  3. Barack and Michelle Obama
  4. Carrie Bradshaw
  5. Jamie Oliver
  6. Tony Blair
  7. Madeleine McCann
  8. Britney Spears
  9. Harry Potter
  10. Google

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