The TIME 100 is not a list of the smartest, the most powerful or the most talented--it is a thoughtful and sprightly survey of the most influential individuals in the world. Influence, like those other categories, is subjective, but you try to measure it in the effect people have on the world. You look at how Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor, has reached millions of people via YouTube with his poignant "last lecture" and its message of fortitude and good humor in the face of death. Influence like that is a form of power, but power is not always influence. The sheer hard power of a Hu Jintao or a Vladimir Putin can put them on the list, but their influence can be different from what seems most obvious. For example, Henry Kissinger writes that Hu's lasting influence may be as much about achieving a harmonious society in China as achieving territorial integrity.
What really makes the TIME 100 special is the pairings: Jerry Seinfeld explaining how Chris Rock gets away with breaking every rule of political correctness, novelist Robin Cook on how scientist J. Craig Venter may be coming close to inventing a living thing. The maestro of those pairings is deputy managing editor Adi Ignatius, who presides over the TIME 100 issue and orchestrates not only the choices but also who will write about whom. He was ably helped by editors Belinda Luscombe, Bobby Ghosh, Bill Saporito, Jeffrey Kluger and Amy Sullivan. Deputy art director D.W. Pine came up with the elegant design, and the resourceful TIME photo department masterminded the beautiful images. And those of you who took part in our online poll chose Shigeru Miyamoto, the Japanese Nintendo designer who developed the Wii, to be the most influential. The runners-up were South Korean pop star Rain and American television host Stephen Colbert. Sorry, Stephen.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR