A friend and I had a conversation about the most influential person over the last two decades not too long ago. The conversation was lead off with some comment shortly after Steve Jobs passing (guess that dates the conversation a bit more than I care to recall) that he was probably the most influential person in the last twenty years to twenty-five years or so. I took objection to that, and suggested that maybe it could be argued to be the case for the last decade or so (going back really to the iPod, including both the iPhone and iPad), but that really there are a LOT of other players to be considered for most influence even there, and especially if you look back as far as quarter century from 2012. What do you all think?
My first point of contention was that if you go back a full twenty-five years, it really becomes a toss-up with what Bill Gates and Microsoft accomplished in the late 1980’s into the 1990’s when compared to what Jobs did with Apple in the 2000’s. Think about it, by the end of the 90’s nearly everyone was trying to get an edge in on the big behemoth of Microsoft. Everyone who was anyone in the technology world was either in court with them or being bought up by them. Apple was in that same earlier period with Jobs for part of it and struggling to put it mildly in some years. In those days, based on a few happy things Bill Gates definitely shaped the computer world much more Jobs. Get to the around 2001 and that begins to change certainly Jobs has had more influence in the last ten years, much to Gates’ and Microsoft’s chagrin.
But that really gives a huge emphasis on the effects that technology plays, and while that does have impacts to a large part of the world, there is a good size of the world that is just now starting to get on that first and second rung of technology ladder. I personally think that probably George W. Bush has probably had more influence on the world at large then either Jobs or Gates, especially if you are looking at a some comparison that is just around a decade or so long. Think about it, 9/11 falls just barely outside of the 10 year mark, but even if you had a hard cut-off, the fallout from that is still going now in 2012. Iraq has supposedly been all taken care of, but even last week it was still in the news and Afghanistan is at least for two more years. But it is much bigger then even those two countries. The whole Middle East situation seems to reach a thunderous crescendo every few months and for better or worse some of that has a direct influence from policies and practices implemented and enforced under Bush.
It was then that I realized, though deceased now, perhaps the most influence on a world level held by anyone in the last twenty or so years might very well be Osama Bin Laden. I realize, probably a slightly less liked person that even Bush by especially more Americans, but just think on it a bit. Huge involvement in so many things that has effected the world as a whole. Sure, Bush did things after 9/11, but it was the lead of Osama that prompted those moves on Bush’s part even then. In some ways, yes, he and Bush were dance partners, but Osama was the lead partner and certainly had much more involvement on the world stage before Bush was even Governor of Texas.
With interest and reflection from that perspective, I realized that probably the largest influence of the last century, for better and especially worse, probably resides with Hitler. What do you all think?
** – Image is common of Steve Jobs, maybe from Apple advertisement?