When Time magazine declared "the protester" its 2011 person of the year, it chose a popular vision of history over the usual egocentric view. Call it a Howard Zinn, bottom-up take on influence. Time's selection boldly claimed no individual or idea influenced 2011 more than millions of people whose names we don't know.
And in 2012, they're still out there. On Wednesday, Egyptians protested — some violently — their democratically elected president's recent power grab. On Nov. 22 President Mohamed Morsi decreed that until a new constitution is ratified, his executive decisions are above judicial oversight. Tens of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace, banging on gates and voicing their opposition.
There's madness in crowds — you never know what dangerous things people will do en masse — but there's also tested wisdom in the tyranny of the majority.
What draws a crowd can be just as surprising as their behavior. In a bizarre turn this year, Time's 2012 person of the year list was again dominated by the masses: An online community of 4Chan members thrust North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un to the No. 1 spot. It's strange and disturbing, but it's democratic.
Here's a look at the crowded world of 2012.