It would be impossible to list the most influential people of 2010 without recognizing the individual who made the biggest splash in technology this year: the iPad. That's right, the iPad. Did you see what we did there? We replaced the human being you naturally expected in a list of the year's most prominent newsmakers with an inanimate object, Apple's new tablet computer. We just played with your expectations in an incredibly clever way.

It might not be surprising to find the launch of the iPad discussed among the year's biggest stories. We easily could have written about Steve Jobs, the iconic CEO of Apple, and adequately described the iPad in that predictable context. But instead, we made the radically unorthodox decision to grant this product—a one-and-a-half-pound wafer of aluminum and glass, mind you—the same status accorded to members of the human race. You've already read through a number of stories constructed around people, but just when you expected to encounter another, we pulled the rug right out from under you.

This year, we are choosing a computer as one of the most influential people of 2010.

Have you fully grasped what you've just experienced? It may not even be possible for you to wrap your head around it, we realize, but try just for a moment to let this fact sink in: On a list specifically dedicated to actual men and women, we have inserted a mere gadget, a thing. We've boldly subverted the very editorial convention we worked so hard to establish. You are not seeing things. We actually did this! It happened. And we stand by it, no matter what.

Anyway, not to brag, but we're pretty fucking proud of ourselves.