A few years ago, my aunt Rosie told me of a great Thanksgiving tradition: After the big meal, her family discusses who should be named Time's Person of the Year. I decided to offer up the question as a topic for post turkey day conversation and included a survey in this post. I have suggested a few nominees, and you can vote for one of them or write-in your own.
Quick background: Time named Charles Lindbergh its first "Man of the Year" in 1927, and each year since has featured a person, group, idea or object that "for better or for worse has done the most to influence the events of the year." Previous winners have included U.S. presidents, world leaders, executives, scientists and bad guys like Hitler, Stalin and Ayatollah Khomeini. Concepts and groups win too, such as "The American Soldier" in 2003, "The Protestors" in 2011 (representing the Arab Spring, Tea Party and Occupy movements) and my personal favorite, "You" in 2006 (representing the individual content creator on the Internet.)
My nominees for 2013 follow:
- Edward Snowden: The computer specialist, former CIA employee and former NSA contractor disclosed about 200,000 classified documents to the press. He is considered a fugitive by American authorities who have charged him with espionage and theft of government property. He has been called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a traitor, and a patriot. His actions precipitated an intense debate on privacy and domestic surveillance.
- Jerry Brown: A friend offered up this nominee with an excellent description: "This is the year of efficiency and competency -- because there is so little of it at the national level. Governor Jerry Brown saved California from bankruptcy, reduced the deficit and resuscitated its public education system. Now companies are entering the state at a higher rate than others. Who knew a 75-year-old moonbeam was a pragmatist?"
- Chuck Hull. Who? Chuck Hull invented stereolithography, also referred to as additive manufacturing, but mainly known as 3D printing. In the past year, 3D printing has been used to manufacture a wide variety of products including turbines by General Electric, artificial human ears and firearms. Though first conceived 30 years ago, the technology gained a foothold in 2013 and is dramatically changing manufacturing worldwide -- while posing ethical dilemmas.
- Millenials: The oft-maligned generation born between the early 1980s and mid-2000s are getting newfound respect as innovators. Because social media permeates the personal, academic, political and professional lives of Millennials, it helps foster the type of environment where innovation flourishes. In a New York Times article, a Northwestern University professor said "Millennials work more closely together, leverage right- and left-brain skills, ask the right questions, learn faster and take risks previous generations resisted. They truly want to change the world and will use technology to do so."
- "Nobody:" During a year that began with the fiscal cliff and ended with the government shut down, political gridlock in the nation's capital was one of the top news stories of the year. But it's tough to put a single name to it. Pundits point to Senator Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner or President Barack Obama. Is any single person synonymous with Washington dysfunction and deserving of Person of the Year? Given a lack of leadership, perhaps "Nobody" is the best vote to represent Washington gridlock.
Follow this link to vote in my survey. I will keep you apprised of the results and look for Time's winner Dec. 11th.