Edgerati are people who venture out onto various edges, engage with participants on those edges, develop deep insight from their involvement on the edge and report back to the rest of the world what they have learned. Visit www.edgerati.com to see who they are.
Along with the Edgerati, here are some of my personal favorites:
Brian Arthur. Increasing returns economics are critical to understanding competitive dynamics in technology and electronic networks in particular. These economics can be powerful, although they are far less widespread than often believed. Brian is one of the most insightful economists regarding increasing returns. Read: Increasing Returns and Path Dependence in the Economy (Economics, Cognition, and Society)
John Perry Barlow. John and I went to Wesleyan together, stirred up some trouble there and each, in our own way, have continued to stir up trouble ever since. John has been a champion of individual freedom on the Net from its inception. He is also very astute about the diminishing value of information on electronic networks and the increasing value of personal relationships.
John Seely Brown. JSB and I have been collaborating for the past several years on a variety of research and writing initiatives. More than any other person that I know, JSB has a deeply textured understanding of the social dimension of technology and information. His range of interests (and expertise) is truly awe-inspiring. Read: The Social Life of Information and Seeing Differently: Insights on Innovation.
Erik Brynjolfsson. Erik is one of the most thoughtful economists writing about the impact of electronic markets on buyers and sellers. Read: Understanding the Digital Economy : Data, Tools, and Research and Strategies for E-Business Success
Clayton Christensen. Clay and I go way back to early days at BCG. His concepts regarding the business implications of disruptive technology are essential for any business executive – we are all operating in markets that are being shaped by technology capabilities. Read: The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
Peter Drucker. This man is amazing. Writing for over sixty years now and still going strong, Peter Drucker essentially pioneered the study of business management as a distinct discipline. He has always been at the leading edge of understanding changing management challenges and opportunities. Read: The Essential Drucker: In One Volume the Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Post-Capitalist Society, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Esther Dyson. Esther has made her home on the frontiers of technology innovation for a long time now. Leveraging an awesome network of personal relationships, she can be counted upon to spot interesting new technologies before most of the rest of us and, more importantly, to grasp the profound implications of these new technologies. Read: Release 2.1: A Design for Living in the Digital Age
Philip Evans. If you follow only one business strategist on the impact of electronic networks on business strategy, Philip is the one (other than me, of course). Philip and I started out at BCG together many years ago. Read: Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy
George Gilder. George is cantankerous and provocative, but his provocations are usually dead on target. Ranging from the microcosm to the telecosm, George has always focused on the role of technology in reducing scarcity in one dimension and increasing it in other dimensions. Since scarcity creates economic value, you need to understand George’s insights. Read: Telecosm: The World After Bandwidth Abundance and Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Technology.
Michael Goldhaber. Michael was the first person to develop the economic implications of scarce attention (the fact that each of us only has 24 hours in the day while the range of options competing for our attention is rapidly expanding – how we choose to allocate our attention will increasingly determine who creates wealth and who destroys wealth). Anyone seeking to understand the evolving role of marketing and competitive dynamics needs to understand Goldhaber’s insights.
Peter Huber. Peter has been an articulate critic of the impact of government regulation on the evolution of telecommunications networks and a champion of market dynamics as the best way to shape technology innovation. Read: Law and Disorder in Cyberspace: Abolish the FCC and Let Common Law Rule the Telecosm
Michael Jensen. Michael is an economist who focuses on the tension between shareholders and corporate management. Anyone interested in the relationship between organizational design and corporate financial performance needs to be familiar with Jensen’s work. Read: A Theory of the Firm: Governance, Residual Claims, and Organizational Forms and Foundations of Organizational Strategy.
Stuart Kauffman. One of the pioneers in the rich field of complexity theory, Stuart is both eloquent in his writing and insightful in his thinking. More than that, he has enthusiastically taken on the challenge of translating some of his more conceptual insights into practical tools that can help businesses create value. He is one of the early pioneers in thinking about economic webs. Read: Investigations, The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, and At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity.
Christopher Locke. Christopher is an in your face kind of guy. He rants. He raves. He sometimes whines. But underneath all that, he understands better than most the profound role of electronic networks in reshaping relationships, both personal and business. The metaphor of moving from broadcast to conversations is critical to understand how to succeed on networks. Read: The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual and Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices.
Tom Malone. Earlier than most of us, Tom was focused on the impact of electronic networks in reshaping business organizations. He provides deep insight into the new organizational options and requirements enabled by network technology.
Jakob Nielsen. Jakob is a tireless crusader for the notion that users of websites generally don’t want pretty (and slow) graphics – they want convenience and simplicity. Few of us are yet skilled in understanding the capabilities and constraints of this new medium – Jakob is way ahead of the rest of the pack. He is an essential resource for anyone who wants to use websites to connect more effectively with other people. Don’t venture into cyberspace without him. Read: Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity and Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed.
Tim O’Reilly. Tim is one of the leading publishers and conference organizers in the technology world today. Developer of the first Internet portal back in 1995, Tim was one of the first people to see the economic potential of the Internet. Today, he is one of the leading champions of peer-to-peer and open source technology.
John Padgett. A historian by profession and affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute, John’s work is critical for anyone who wants to mobilize and exploit the potential of economic webs. Concentrating on Renaissance Italy, Padgett provides compelling evidence of the role of networks of relationships in creating shaping opportunities during times of fundamental change and uncertainty. Read: “Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400 – 1434”
Eric Raymond. Eric is one of the most active champions of the open source software movement. He is also a strong advocate of personal freedom on electronic networks. Eric is always a provocative and challenging thinker. Read: The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary
Howard Rheingold. Howard was the first person to draw attention to the social phenomenon of virtual communities on electronic networks. He understands the complex social dynamics that emerge and evolve in these virtual communities. Read: The Virtual Community : Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier and Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
Klaus Schwab. Klaus does not write a lot, but he is one of the most entrepreneurial and visionary men that I know. Starting with a small gathering of European executives more than 25 years ago, Klaus built the World Economic Forum into an extraordinary gathering place for business and government leaders. He has a broad range of interests, he has been a constructive force for the peaceful settlement of disputes around the world and he is currently focused on helping to promote social entrepreneurship to address some of the most pressing social issues around the world.
Clay Shirky. Clay is an articulate evangelist for peer-to-peer technology and Web services. Clay summarizes his interests as “systems where vested interests lose out to innovation” and “systems where having good participants produces better results than having good planners”. He is always a thoughtful commentator on current technology trends. Read: Planning for Web Services: Obstacles and Opportunities
Sherry Turkle. Sherry explores the complex interaction between electronic networks and personal identity. She offers a very nuanced view of the complex ways we present ourselves and construct relationships online. Read: Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet and The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit
Hal Varian. Hal is an economist who resolutely applies the rigor of his discipline to the world of technology and electronic networks. Refusing to get carried away by hype, he asks basic questions to generate deep insight into the dynamics of competition in markets shaped by new technology.