by Peter Gloor*

Wikipedia’s notability criteria are a robust mechanism by which to filter out the most notable 800,000 people. We then constructed the network among these 800,000 people by linking two people if their Wikipedia pages are mutually linked (we call this a bi-directional link). The more central somebody in this network is by number of links, and the more popular their friends – in this case, the people pages to which they are linked – the more important that person is. The list below shows the most influential people in the world by this metric, which we call ‘reach-2‘; i.e. the number of people one can reach in two degrees of separation.

Rank Name Country Sector
1 Barack Obama US Politics
2 George W. Bush US Politics
3 Donald Trump US Politics
4 Bill Clinton US Politics
5 Elizabeth II UK Politics
6 Hillary Clinton US Politics
7 Bob Dylan US Music
8 Vladimir Putin RU Politics
9 Elton John UK Music
10 Steven Spielberg US Film/TV

The 10 most influential people include seven current or former heads of state, two world-famous musicians and director Steven Spielberg in 10th place. Politics looks less dominant, though, when we look at the top 100 places. They include 27 politicians, but also 30 musicians and 34 actors and directors. From the business world, only Bill Gates (70th place) made it into the top 100.

The overall ranking is heavily biased towards English-speaking people, who occupy more than 90% of the top 100 places. The Top 100 includes only one German citizen (Angela Merkel, 39), one Swiss (Tina Turner, 86) and half an Austrian (Arnold Schwarzenegger, 51).

The complete list of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Wikipedia can be found here.

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* Peter A. Gloor is a Research Scientist at the Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT’s Sloan School of Management where he leads a project exploring Collaborative Innovation Networks. He is founder and Chief Creative Officer of Social Network Analysis software company galaxyadvisors. He is also a Honorary Professor at the University of Cologne, Distinguished Visiting Professor at P. Universidad Cattolica Santiago de Chile, and a lecturer at Aalto University Helsinki.