The 5 Smartest People On Teh Internets}
If there is one thing that I pride myself on, it is my digging and scratching around the interwebs, looking for the absolute smartest people I can find. The one’s who see where everything is heading and who change it all. These five, who are all over the place in terms of interests and proclivities, are worth knowing everything about. Life story, views, life’s work, the whole shebang. Without further ado, I present to you:
Fred, who writes over at avc.com is one of the most successful venture capitalists of the modern web, funding everything from twitter to tumblr, etsy to foursquare, meetup to kickstarter. He is on the front lines of defining and funding what the future looks like. Fred is so damn good it hurts. He writes with his left brain but it is clear that his heart is in the right place. He fights for openness and truly sees that the world is heading to an increasingly frictionless, increasingly open way of communicating and existing through technology, and is helping to make that transition happen.
He is almost always significantly ahead of the curve and has shown an ability time and time again to predict how people will be interacting two to three years into the future. What I like most about Fred is that he is in the trenches. He is a philosopher with skin in the game. This is the biggest inspiration for me. He has put his money where his mouth is and his track record speaks for itself. I recommend devouring avc.com from start to finish, from archives to recents, and to really pick the brain of Fred Wilson because it is a brain with much to offer.
Though this list is in no particular order, if it did have an order, I think Mr. Kelly would come out on top. From editing the Whole Earth Review to founding Wired Magazine to writing the definitive book on the phenomenon of emergence and how it will ultimately change everything (so good it was required reading for the cast and crew of The Matrix btw), Kevin Kelly is a good 10 years ahead of his time, time and time again.
He writes at The Technium in addition to his books and the scope and scale of his thinking is truly something to behold. The thing I value most about his writing is that after reading what he has to say, I usually need to pause and stare into space for a while and just take in what I have read and how the obviousness and the vastness of what has been written changes everything I know about a subject. It inspires me. It gives me new ideas. It helps me decide what direction to take my life and my enterprise. The dude’s a national treasure. On the real.
Gone but not forgotten, ol’ Terrence is our only deceased member of this list. I almost disqualified him for that reason but the reality is that his musings become increasingly relevant each passing day, as we begin more and more to live in the world that Terrence told us we were going to be living in 15 years ago. While he is known most for his work on psychedelia and 2012, if you take the time to go through Youtube and just listen to random McKenna lectures you will see that this is a man who combines the most out there with the most scientific and pulls the veils off of the inanity of culture and champions the individual and the “felt presence of the moment” which is likely the most important and timeless thing there is to champion.
He upturns dogma for sport and makes me realize, again and again and again and again, that this is all made up. All of it. From chairs to houses, from laws to clothing, it all started somewhere and it’s all based on assumptions, many of which are no longer relevant. He forces me to question things I didn’t even know were possible to question and I am always left with the feeling that the only thing I can ever do is follow my heart, listen to my own guidance and voice, honor my own creativity, and just go for it in every possible way there is to just go for it. He is someone we will still be listening to in 100 years. His is the perennial philosophy. I recommend knowing him inside and out.
A new entry to our list, replacing that of Seth Godin, I think Charles Eisenstein is the closest thing we have in this modern world to Terrence McKenna. Charles explains the world we are living in better than anyone else, he–like Terrence–pulls back the veils on culture and shows us that there is another way, the “better world that our heart tells us is possible.” He is one of the best prose writers that I have ever read and I think what I value most about him of everyone on this list is his exceeding gentleness. He is not boisterous or loud, doesn’t overpower you with his personality, and I think most importantly is practicing what he preaches. He is an embodiment of his own philosophy.
Charles writes about money a lot these days and shows us how the world we live in is ultimately existing at an octave of experience that does not work for all and that the only solution is to re-imagine our constructs and institutions at an entirely new octave. So there is nothing wrong with banking, the sacred practice of matching capital with talent, or with military, the sacred oath of the warrior to defend the rights and liberty of the people. The quagmire we find ourselves in is that the sacredness of these institutions is pretty much nonexistent at this point. They have all been co-opted and put to the use of predatory interests. But the world our hearts tell us is possible is real and it is a world worth making the efforts to birth. And Charles is the best elucidator of this world that I have the benefit of experiencing.
The inventor of VRML and now (primarily) an educational consultant, Mark shows us what the world will look like when the Internet revolution is locked into place: once Wikipedia is entrenched as the new Britannica, once broadband is a given for 80+% of the world’s population, once the democratization of distribution and production permanently changes every industry–what then? This is what Mark shows us.
In this way, he’s like the futurist Malcolm Gladwell. He writes at his blog about all of these things what I like most about his work is that he is the person I most often feel the need to re-read. His writing is packed with so many ideas that it is hard for me to take them all in in one go. I value his perspective because he never seems to miss the forest for the trees. He sees that yes, this is where the world is NOW, but that THIS is where the world will be THEN. And he always seems to be right. Which is a valuable person to know, wouldn’t you say?
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