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The Web Weighs In: Mark Zuckerberg as Time's 'Person of the Year'

time magazine Time magazine anointed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as its 'Person of the Year' yesterday, much to the surprise of many (but not all). The 26-year-old became the youngest person to take home the honor since the magazine chose Charles Lindbergh in 1927. Zuckerberg beat out runners-up Hamid Karzai, the Tea Party, the Chilean miners, and, most notably, Julian Assange.

Time's editors wrote that Zuckerberg earned the award for "connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives." But not everyone agrees with their selection. Here's a taste of what the rest of the Web is saying.

Some were quick to offer alternative candidates from the tech world. Brandon Greife, of US News and World Report, makes a semi-convincing argument that Twitter creator Jack Dorsey should've gotten the nod over Zuck. Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt, on the other hand, makes a compelling case for Steve Jobs, whom he describes as "an individual who has shaped our world as much as -- if not more than -- Mark Zuckerberg, and who has a business model that actually works." (Ultimately, though, he explains why Zuckerberg was the more logical choice.)

The general consensus, however, is that this was always a two-man race, between Zuckerberg and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Assange, after all, handily won a reader's poll that concluded last week, garnering twice as many votes as the next runners-up (Lady Gaga and Turke's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan). Zuckerberg finished seventh. "Dear TIME Magazine," writes Computer World's Richi Jennings. "What's the point of asking for votes, if you're going to go ahead and choose an unpopular choice? It's a simply juvenile defense to say, 'TIME's editors who choose the actual Person of the Year reserve the right to disagree.'"

Media commentator Jon Fine thought Time's ruling mirrored its decisions from years passed, when the magazine avoided plastering controversial figures on its cover. "So essentially, Time's decision came down to this: Pick the man whose work brought together more than 500 million people, or the man whose work exposed dirty secrets and sent governments into panic mode," writes PC World's Jared Newman. "Time choose [sic] warm and fuzzy."

Others, however, have come out in support of Time's decision. CNET's Caroline McCarthy, for example, argues that Assange only became a major figure in the last three months of the year, whereas Zuck's made headlines throughout the year. McCarthy also points out that the average person may never be affected by Assange's work -- a sentiment echoed in the Wall Street Journal.

"If, in the end, the WikiLeaks way means more public knowledge, more public involvement, and less public deception, then Assange is clearly the one who will have improved more lives, even saved lives," writes the Journal's D.E. Wittkower. "But we don't know yet, and maybe Assange's year will be 2011, or maybe he won't have a year at all. Facebook, though, has already brought about changes in the meaning and experience of our most basic social categories, as well as their day-to-day texture."

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