Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How famous is Obama?

The current Vanity Fair magazine includes an article that says President Barak Obama is the most famous person who has ever lived. The reason? Well, outside of a little historical amnesia, it's the internet. Author Dee Dee Meyers (formerly of the Bill Clinton White House) says that because of the internet, knowledge about President Obama has penetrated even the most out of the way places. Even very rural people in Africa and Asia know who the President is.

I actually agree with many of the bloggers who commented on the story--probably not. My own personal vote would be for Mohandas Gandhi who, because of where he lived, was better known to people in Asia and African before he became news in the west. I think if you took that knowledge as a percentage of the people alive in the world at that time, Gandhi would be at least as famous as President Obama.

But, having said that, I do wonder why a magazine is printing a story like this. There is no data cited--public opinion polls, etc.--it's just personal observation and anecdote. It's not that well written, and I can't find any independent research. Readers get a provocative headline, and that about it. Surely the editors could have found something else to fill their pages.

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