Earlier this week, TIME unveiled some unofficial nominees for 2011's "Person of the Year" award, and as expected, Apple icon Steve Jobs was on the list. His competition? Elizabeth Warren (the consumer advocate running for Senate in Massachusetts), Mohamed Bouazizi (the Tunisian fruit vendor who sparked the Arab Spring), Esraa Abdel (an Egyptian activist), Michael Pollen (a crusading food writer), and "angry people." Those were the choices of "six prominent panelists" whose advice TIME sought, apparently hoping for "a little inspiration." Panelist Brian Williams of NBC News nominated Jobs, saying that he not only changed the world, but "gave us that spirit again that something was possible." If chosen, Jobs would be the first person to receive the award posthumously. Does he deserve it?
Of course. It's about time Jobs won: To say that Jobs "'changed the world' isn't hyperbole," says Joshua Jackson at App Storm. "It's nearly impossible to imagine [the world] without the ripples of his influence present in personal computing, digital music, even animation." He also has history with the TIME honor. According to Walter Isaacson's bio, Jobs thought he would win in 1982 for his work on the Macintosh. Instead, the award went to "the computer" as "'Machine' of the Year," and TIME wrote a negative profile of Jobs that left the tech titan in tears. Now, almost 30 year later, it's time he finally won.
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But he didn't affect social change: While Jobs is "certainly an important figure," he didn't capture the "spirit of the times," says attorney Anita Hill, a member of the panel. "What I see as the spirit of the times is a movement towards social justice," from the Arab Spring to the fight for women's rights. 2011 was about "bridging inequalities," and that's not something a massively successful CEO like Jobs really embodies.
"Transcript: Steve Jobs as TIME's 2011 Person of the Year"
2011 just wasn't his year: "Steve Jobs was undoubtedly a tech genius who helped shape the world" — but "he didn't actually do anything of real note this year," says Alastair Stevenson at International Business Times. This is an award for the year 2011, not a lifetime achievement award. His competitors, from Tunisian instigator Mohamed Bouazizi to "angry people," have been very busy this year trying to change the world, while Jobs has — understandably, given his poor health — done relatively little.
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And picking him would flout the rules: Despite the many reasons to pick Jobs, says Dylan Stableford at Yahoo! News, one basic factor argues against it: He's dead. In 85 years, TIME "hasn't bestowed the honor on a nonliving candidate." For that reason, the editors at TIME making the final decision will likely take a good look at alternatives — such as Egypt's revolution-fueling women, who were nominated by Anita Hill.
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