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    who's dot who guide          intro | scientists | digerati | moguls | money | media  

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 profile)

  the digerati

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, Sherry Turkle, 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

Esther Dyson, 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 Dorothy Denning has a homepage at Georgetown University. She also featured in a Wired profile.

  Negroponte and MIT

MIT Media Lab star Nicholas Negroponte appears on the MIT and Knopf 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 its height and nadir in Wired.

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, O'Reilly 99).

Ted Nelson, hypermedia guru and proponent of global digital library Xanadu was memorably profiled in Wired.

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 software push.

  Gilder, Rothschild, Saffo and other futurists

ReWired 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.

  Robot People

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 artificial intelligence.

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.

  next part (3: moguls)

paulina b.

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