This part of the Who's Dot Who
guide offers pointers the 'digerati' - profiles of Dyson, Saffo,
Rheingold, Negroponte and other members of the chattering classes.
(Savants, such as McLuhan, who are "no longer taking calls"
are featured in the prophets
Publishing maverick and master of
self-promotion John Brockman
edited Digerati - Encounters With The Cyber Elite (San Francisco,
Hardwired 96). It features profiles and interviews with Clifford Stoll,
Lou Rosetto, Howard Rheingold,
Paul Saffo, Kevin Kelly, Brewster Kahle, Steve Case, Stewart Brand,
Esther Dyson and of course Bill Gates.
While disfigured by mantras such as
value is in activity. Content is no
longer a noun. Content is context. Content is activity. Content is
relationship, community. Content is not text or pictures as distinct
from the interactive components that provide access to them. Content
is the interactive quality. Content is a verb, a continuing process.
Value on the Internet will be created through services, the selection
of programming, the presence of other people and the assurance of
authenticity - reliable information about sources of bits. In short,
intellectual processes and services will appreciate, intellectual
assets will depreciate. Content is information and information is not
a thing. Value is in activity
the interviews and exchange of views by
the digerati are good value. Brockman has recently established an online
literary trading company called Rightscenter.com
and advertised - so far without major impact - as "the publishing
network of the next century".
In The Company of Giants: Candid
Conversations With The Visionaries Of The Digital World (New York,
McGraw-Hill 97) edited by Rama Dev Jager & Rafael Ortiz
restricts the vision to corporate CEOs.
There's better value in Road
Warriors - Dreams & Nightmares Along the Information Highway
(New York, Dutton 95) by Daniel Bursten & David
Kline - with interviews of cable czar John Malone,
regulator Reed Hundt
and telco executive Ray Smith among others - and in The Highwaymen -
Warriors of the Information Superhighway (New York, Random House 97)
by 'old media' specialist Ken Auletta. Hundt's memoir You Say You
Want A Revolution: A Story of Information Age Politics (New Haven,
Yale Uni Press 00) provides a personal perspective, as does Cyber
Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age (New York, Times
98), a memoir by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Mike Godwin.
Dyson and Denning
interim chair of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names &
Numbers (ICANN) and
the thinking person's Don Tapscott, is famous for her ode to cyberspace Release
2.1: A Design for Living in the Digital Age (London, Penguin 98).
Sadly, it provides little information about her life. For that you
should point your browser to the 1993
profile in Wired.
Dyson, the Wired mafia and
others are pungently described in Paulina Borsook's Cyberselfish:
A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech (New
York, PublicAffairs 99) and by her colleagues at the iconoclastic ReWired. Borsook's
more biting and more interesting than faded starlet Camille Paglia, the
galloping Gertrude Himmelfarb of the 1990s.
Controversial ecommerce security guru
has a homepage at Georgetown University. She also featured in a Wired
Negroponte and MIT
MIT Media Lab star Nicholas Negroponte
appears on the MIT
sites; the latter is useful for links to several profiles - replete with
'gosh' and 'gee whiz' - by journos.
Stewart Brand's The Media Lab:
Inventing the Future at MIT (London, Penguin 88) presents an unduly
rosy view of 'Mr Digital', especially when compared with the more
hard-headed examination of Negroponte's role in the debate about
interactive tv described in The Billionaire Shell Game: How Cable
Baron John Malone and Assorted Corporate Titans Invented A Future Nobody
Wanted (New York, Doubleday 98) by L J Davis. Arguably
Negroponte's been better at marketing the Lab - and himself - than the
more substantive contributions of less-publicised bodies.
Simson Garfinkel's Architects of the
Information Society: Thirty-Five Years of the Laboratory for Computer
Science at MIT (Cambridge, MIT Press 00) is part history of the
Media Lab's rival, part exploration of themes such as artificial
intelligence and the information marketplace.
the EFF and information that just wants to be free
For a personal perspective on the
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
turn to Mike Godwin's memoir Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in
the Digital Age (New York, Times 98). The Foundation was captured at
Linus Torvalds, aka the Big Penguin and
inspirer of Linux, was profiled in a 1998
Wired and features in Open Sources: Voices from the Open
Source Revolution (Sebastopol, O'Reilly & Associates 99) edited
by Chris Dibona & Mark Stone.
Mavericks Eric Raymond and Richard
Stallman are also given voice in that book, although you might want to
turn to the latter's The Cathedral & the Bazaar (Sebastopol,
Ted Nelson, hypermedia guru and
proponent of global digital library Xanadu was memorably profiled
Open Source advocates Richard Stallman
and Eric Raymond
have characteristically quirky homepages. Peter Wayner's new Free
For All: How Linux and the Free Software Movement Undercut the High Tech
Titans (New York, Harper 00) is a rose-tinted account of the free
Gilder, Rothschild, Saffo and other futurists
memorably eviscerated the Wired techno-weirdies such as Gilder
and Rothschild. Po Bronson's
entertaining Nudist on the Late Shift: And Other Truer Tales of
Silicon Valley (New York, Random 99) profiled futurist George Gilder
of the wacky Life After Television: The Coming Transformation of
Media & American Life (New York, Norton 94) and Microcosm:
The Quantum Revolution in Economics & Technology (New
York, Simon & Schuster 89). There's an online
version of the Bronson profile. Gilder has another site;
we await his magnum opus Telecosm, due for release in September.
Michael Rothschild, author of Bionomics:
Economy As Ecosystem (New York, Holt 92) has a site.
Futurist Paul Saffo has a personal site
and profiles on his Institute for the Future (IFTF).
Futurists Arthur C Clarke
and Alvin Toffler
feature in early Wired profiles.
Howard Rheingold, author of The
Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier (London,
Secker & Warburg 94) and Virtual Reality (New York, Summit
91) has his own site.
Ray Kurzweil, author of AI tracts The
Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (London,
Phoenix 99) and The Age of Intelligent Machines (Cambridge, MIT
Press 90) has a site.
AI guru Marvin Minsky
gets the MIT treatment; for the man's flavour we'd recommend instead his
fascinating, infuriating The Science of Mind (Simon &
Schuster, New York 1985). His Semantic Information Processing
(Cambridge, MIT 69) is for specialists; we'd suggest instead Pamela
McCorduck's excellent Machines Who Think (New York, Freeman 79)
and Philip Agre's Computation and Human Experience
(Cambridge, Cambridge Uni Press 97) - authoritative introductions to
Hans Moravec's Mind Children: The
Future of Robot & Human Intelligence (Cambridge, Harvard Uni
Press 90) and Robot: Mere Machine To Transcendent Mind (New York,
Oxford Uni Press 98) are either distinctly loopy or provocative,
depending on your stance.
part (3: moguls)