Time has released another list-- the Time 100 most influential people, 2019.
The problem is, the way they create the list is extremely top-down, pretty much the opposite of the way influence and power has been flowing for the last 20 years or more.
Time offers an article, Here's How We Chose the 2019 TIME 100, but the article does not in any way describe the process of selection.
About the closest they get to describing their process is in these two paragraphs:
Warren Buffett praises the leadership of LeBron James, whom he met (on a basketball court!) more than a decade ago. Legendary chef Alice Waters recounts how rising food-world star Samin Nosrat who began her career working for Watershelped show her how to cook with care. London Mayor Sadiq Khan calls New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's swift, compassionate response to the shootings at Christchurch mosques "an inspiration to us all." Viola Davis reveals her lifelong admiration for fellow Oscar winner Regina King, praising her for elevating artists of color and "making me feel seen." And Bill Gates, whose upbringing could not be more different from Tara Westover's, shares what she taught him about overcoming our divides.
In many ways, these connectionsforged across and among industriesare the heart of the TIME 100, which now, in its 16th year, is far more than a list. It is a community of hundreds of global leaders, many of whom support and challenge one another. And at a time when so many of our problems require cross-disciplinary solutions, they are also uniquely positioned to effect change. "When you connect extraordinary people," says Dan Macsai, editorial director of the TIME 100, "they can do even more extra-ordinary things."
Basically, they ask high visibility, famous, powerful elites to choose the people in the list. This is top-down old school, the way history was handled for hundreds, if not thousands of years, up until maybe 40 years ago. But history is not handled in this top-down way any more. In fact, top-down historians have become rare in university history departments.
I don't blame Time for using this approach. It panders to celebrities and it does burnish the list in a way that attracts certain people. But are these 100 people really the most influential people in the world? I don't think so. Some probably are, but the process they seem to have taken is not very impressive.
It's too bad, in past years, they've based selections on different bottom-up measures, such as social media followers. I'm not saying that such numbers are the best or only way. Curation by "experts" is also a legitimate approach, but such curation leads to siloing of and by the elites and "experts."
I am not saying that all the people on the list should be crowd-sourced. But we should recognize that when only top-down selection processes are used, it produces a very different result.
It's not simple. There are liabilities to going with a crowdsourced approach. One is that Time, as the arbiter and curator of the list, gets to control who is on the list, and getting on the list certainly profoundly magnifies the influence and power of the people listed. In other words, if Time adds a person to the list, it helps to make them more influential and powerful. It opens doors for them. Conversely, people who are not on the list do not get that boost.
Further, this is, outside of celebrity artists, and a few politicians, a list of new faces, not a real list of the most influential people. Otherwise the list would have included Rupert Murdoch, Bernie Sanders, and while they listed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar is also among the powerful new influencers, as are Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, and many other billionaires. Sadly, many of the most influential people in the world are billionaires. And then there are the heads of banks and hedge funds.
The thing is, we need to change the balance of influence. We need to make influence a collective function of our culture-- groups of people, communities, villages, average people who empower themselves. That process is well under way. Teenagers with millions of youtube followers are now powerful influencers. In today's bottom-up world, access to influence and power is far less restricted than in the past, and high school students like David Hogg and Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg are wielding it effectively. We've seen the power of groups like Moveon, Democracy for America and others. We need to start including them in lists of influencers. Thinking in terms of collective influence is an important step towards making the world a more connected, connection conscious, bottom-up world.