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Priya Motiani

JWB Blogger

2015 Global Thought Leaders Index Is Out. Meet The Top Influencers!

  • JWB Post
  •  December 11, 2015


The year has almost come to a close; and magazines, publications, institutes etc. are unleashing their lists of top-tens and ranks and other things of that sort.

One significant list amongst the swarm of such year-end analyses is the 2015 Global Thought Leaders Index released by The WorldPost and the Zurich-based Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute. The index is a ‘collective intelligence’ scrutiny undertaken to map the global conversation on the Internet and to rank the most influential voices emerging out of it.

Why is it so significant? Well, that’s because it is for the first time ever that the index’s purview has been broadened to include Spanish, Chinese and German language infospheres, instead of just considering the globally-dominant English language infosphere.

Hmmm. Doesn’t that pique your curiosity? It piques mine. #JustSaying

Here’s what the results tell us:

Altogether we rank the nearly 400 people who are most often mentioned and discussed online, ranging in the global index from Pope Francis, who ranks #1, to Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk at #4, Edward Snowden at #5 and cellist Yo-Yo Ma at #9. Other top influencers of note include former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis at #78, Chinese novelist Mo Yan at #83, Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez at #99 and Indian novelist Chetan Bhagat at #136.

In Spanish, Fidel Castro and Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa top the list, with Mexican poet Homero Arijidis at #11, Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel at #13 and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar at #48. Edward Snowden leads the German list with philosophers Jurgen Habermas at #53 and Peter Sloterdijk at #83. China’s “outside” rankings mirror the global list since those living in Hong Kong or Taiwan almost exclusively use Wikipedia, Twitter or Google. However, the “inside” China rankings, which are most accurately measured by the Baidu Index, put Chinese President Xi Jinping and Alibaba chief Jack Ma in the top spots, with Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami at a curious #8 and Communist Party theorist Wang Huning at #10. Baidu is China’s largest search engine, akin to Google.

And here are the overall observations:

In the German and Spanish language areas, a layer of common global voices dominates at the top of the list, overlapping with the English-language global rankings, while voices not generally known beyond language borders concentrate in the bottom half of the rankings. This reflects the more or less free flow of ideas across the Internet. One interesting note is the sparse use of Twitter in the German area, apparently due to privacy preferences.

The Chinese analysis indicates a situation in which there is “one language, two infospheres.” Rankings for the Chinese language “outside” the mainland in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the diaspora indicate an influence pattern similar to the top “global layer” in the other language spheres. But “inside” China, using the Baidu Index of the more than 740 million web pages to which the search engine has access, the rankings are markedly different, with few non-Chinese voices.  As Zheng Weiwei, a former interpreter for Deng Xiaoping who collaborated on this project, puts it: “The Chinese Internet world is already a universe in itself, given the size and scale of China’s Internet population and IT industries. It is in many ways on par with the English Internet universe. China’s Alibaba is already larger than eBay and Amazon combined.”

Interesting much, isn’t it?


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