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The digerati (or digirati) are the elite of digitalization, social media, content marketing, computer industry and online communities. The word is a portmanteau, derived from "digital" and "literati", and reminiscent of the earlier coinage glitterati (glitter + literati). Famous computer scientists, tech magazine writers, digital consultants with multi-year experiences and well-known bloggers are included among the digerati.
The word is used in several related but different ways. It can mean:
- Opinion leaders who, through their writings, promoted a vision of digital technology and the Internet as a transformational element in society;
- People regarded as celebrities within the Silicon Valley computer subculture, particularly during the dot-com boom years;
- Anyone regarded as influential within the digital technology community.
The first mention of the word Digerati on USENET occurred in 1992 by Arthur Wang, and referred to an article by George Gilder in Upside magazine. According to the March 1, 1992 "On Language" column by William Safire in the New York Times Magazine, the term was coined by New York Times editor Tim Race in a January 1992 New York Times article. In Race's words:
- Actually the first use of "digerati" was in a January 29, 1992 New York Times article, "Pools of Memory, Waves of Dispute", by John Markoff, into which I edited the term. The article was about a controversy engendered by a George Gilder article that had recently appeared in Upside magazine. In a March 1, 1992 "On Language" column in The New York Times Magazine, William Safire noted the coinage and gave me the honor of defining it, which we did like so:
- Digerati, n.pl. – people highly skilled in the processing and manipulation of digital information; wealthy or scholarly techno-geeks.
Some people who have been named as members of the digerati, particularly in the first sense of the word, with their title in John Brockman's Digerati: Encounters With the Cyber Elite (1996) in parentheses when they have one, include:
- Mike Godwin (The Defender) Counsel, EFF
- David R. Johnson (The Judge) chairman of Counsel Connect, codirector of the Cyberspace Law Institute.
- John Perry Barlow (The Coyote) – cofounder, EFF, ex-lyricist, Grateful Dead
- Howard Rheingold (The Citizen) was the editor of Whole Earth Review and the Millennium Whole Earth Catalog, coined "Smart mob", involved with the WELL
- Stewart Brand (The Scout) founder Whole Earth Catalog, cofounder, WELL
- Stewart Alsop (The Pragmatist) – Former editor-in-chief, InfoWorld
- David Bunnell (The Seer) founder of PC Magazine, PC World, MacWorld, Personal Computing, and New Media
- Kevin Kelly (The Saint) executive editor of Wired magazine
- Jane Metcalfe (The Publisher) president and cofounder of Wired Ventures. She is also a board member emeritus of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- Louis Rossetto (The Buccaneer) editor and publisher of Wired and HotWired, and cofounder and CEO of Wired Ventures, Inc.
- Tim O'Reilly (The Documenter) founder, O'Reilly and Associates publishing.
Authors and columnists
- John Brockman (The Connector) – author, editor.
- John C. Dvorak (The Gadfly) technology columnist
- Esther Dyson (The Pattern-Recognizer) writer, founding chairman of ICANN
- Denise Caruso (The Idealist) runs Spotlight conference, The New York Times columnist, founder of The Hybrid Vigor Institute
- John Markoff (The Scribe) NYT tech journalist, author, widely scorned by the "hacker underground" for his stories on Kevin Mitnick
- Jerry Michalski (The Pilgrim) managing editor of Release 1.0, the newsletter published, and originally written and edited solely by Esther Dyson.
- Richard Menta – Editor-in-Chief of MP3 Newswire, long-running web publication focused on Digital Media
- Christopher Edwards – Editor-in-Chief of Digerati Magazine, a trade magazine for the digital marketing sector
- Ted Leonsis (The Marketer) President, AOL
- Steve Case (The Statesman) founder and CEO of America Online
- Greg Clark (The Physicist) President, News Technology Group, News Corporation
- John Doerr (The Matchmaker) Venture Capitalist, microprocessor
- Bill Gates (The Software Developer) founder, Microsoft
- Steve Jobs (The Alternate Software Developer) founder, Apple
- Doug Carlston (The Thinker) cofounder, Brøderbund Software
- Scott McNealy (The Competitor) cofounder and CEO of Sun Microsystems, Inc.
- Nathan Myhrvold (The Chef) chief technology officer at Microsoft
- Doug Rowan (The Curator) president and CEO of Corbis
- Linda Stone (The Catalyst) was an executive at both Apple Computer and Microsoft Corporation. She coined the phrase, "continuous partial attention."
- David Gelernter (The Conservative), professor, Yale University.
- Cliff Stoll (The Skeptic) astrophysicist and the author of Silicon Snake Oil (1995).
- Sherry Turkle, (The Cyberanalyst) MIT professor, studies people's relationship with computers.
- Linus Torvalds "(linustorvalds)" The first and foremost developer of the Linux kernel.
- Richard Stallman "(rms)" The founder of the GNU project, the free software movement, and the Free Software Foundation.
- Steve Wozniak "(Woz)" Co-founder of Apple Inc., created the Apple I and Apple II computers in the mid-1970s, thus boosting the personal computer revolution.
- Dennis Ritchie "(dmr)" The inventor of the C programming language, and co-creator of the UNIX operating system.
- Ken Thompson "(ken)" The inventor of the B programming language, co-creator of UNIX alongside Dennis Ritchie, co-creator of Google's programming language Go.
- Bill Joy Founder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems. He was the main developer of Berkeley UNIX, and was involved in the development of the Solaris operating system, SPARC microprocessor architecture, and the Java programming language.
- Brian Kernighan He coined the ubiquitous "Hello World" example program and co-authored the first book on C; also known as a coiner of the expression "What You See Is All You Get (WYSIAYG)".
- Leonard Kleinrock mathematical background to packet switching, the basic technology behind the Internet.
- Lawrence Roberts co-creator of packet switching, led the development of the ARPANet.
- Robert Kahn "(Bob)" invented the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP).
- Vinton Cerf "(Vint)" co-designed the DoD TCP/IP protocol suite with Kahn.
- W. Daniel Hillis (The Genius) vice president of research and development at the Walt Disney Company, cofounder/chief scientist, Thinking Machines Corporation
- Brewster Kahle (The Searcher) inventor and founder of Wide Area Information Servers Inc.,
- Jaron Lanier (The Prodigy) writer, musician, artist, virtual reality developer
- Jacob Villines (The Divine) former IT Manager for Samsung Corporation of America. Information Consultant for State of South Carolina
- Stewart McBride (The Maestro) Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of United Digital Artists
- Burnie Burns Co-founder and former CEO of Rooster Teeth Productions. Original writer of Red vs. Blue and pioneer in the filmstyle Machinima.
- John McCrea (The Force) manager of Cosmo, Silicon Graphics's next-generation Web software product line.
- Kip Parent (The Webmaster) founder of Pantheon Interactive and is former electronic sales manager of Silicon Graphics.
- Paul Saffo (The Oracle) director of the Institute for the Future
- Bob Stein (The Radical) founder of the Voyager Company (CDROM)
- Lew Tucker (The Evangelist) former director of Advanced Development at Thinking Machines Corporation and is the director of JavaSoft's Corporate and ISV Relations for Sun Microsystems, Inc.
- Dave Winer (The Lover) software and blogging pioneer
- Richard Saul Wurman (The Impresario) chairman and creative director of the TED conferences. He is also an architect, a cartographer, the creator of the Access Travel Guide Series
Digitally successful firms
- "firms are what (MIT Centre for Digital Transformation) we call the "digirati." These firms not only do more digitally, but are also building the leadership and governance capabilities to drive true value from their digital investments." – See more at: http://mitsloanexperts.mit.edu/why-digital-maturity-matters-digerati-drive-true-value-from-investments-george-westerman/#sthash.pkZQX3Tk.dpuf
- Markoff, John (January 29, 1992). "BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY; Pools of Memory, Waves of Dispute – New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Digerati: Encounters With the Cyber Elite by John Brockman, Hardcover: 354 pages Publisher: Hardwired; 1st ed edition (October 1, 1996) ISBN 1-888869-04-6
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