Who shapes IT?

Who shapes IT?

Summary: What do Adobe's chief software architect, the man behind MySpace, a 19th-century mathematician and a 21st century futurologist, plus the most hated man in cyberspace all have in common? They are regarded, by ZDNet bloggers, as individuals who exert an especially noteworthy influence on the broad field of information technology.

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Who Shapes IT?What do Adobe's chief software architect, the man behind MySpace, a 19th-century mathematician and a 21st century futurologist, plus the most hated man in cyberspace all have in common? They are regarded, by ZDNet bloggers, as individuals who exert an especially noteworthy influence on the broad field of information technology.

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  • If historical figures are included...

    ...there are others that are perhaps more influential than George Boole, as influential as he was:

    Charles Babbage: Creator of the first programmable adding machine.

    Alan Turing: Arguably the founder of modern computer science.

    Thomas Watson: Longtime IBM CEO, whose company pioneered lock-in techniques used to this day.

    Steve Jobs: Probably did more than anyone else to popularize the personal computer. He goes on this list because his contemporary influence is much less than his historical influence.

    The list could go on, but that gives some idea. My suggestion is that a list of "who shapes IT" be limited to those who are shaping it now; one could have a different list of those whose past achievements have impacts that persist to the present, but it's really a different group of people.
    John L. Ries
  • Tom Anderson? MySpace a *model* for IT?

    I have to 100% disagree with the includison of MySpace on this list. MySpace is the perfect example of how NOT to do IT. Their servers are slower than any other Web servers I have ever used. They have inadequete recovery plans (they were down for half the weekend, I guess they don't have generators!). Their site throws out errors at random, with no explanation (often fixed by hitting "Refresh" a bunch). Anyone who emulates them or strives to hit their levels of quality should be fired. The only thing they "get" is how to grow the business. In terms of actually running the IT itself, they should be laughed out of existence.

    If MySpace is a leader in IT, I guess I should be seeing Pol Pot in a list of "Great Humanitarians of the 20th Century."

    J.Ja
    Justin James
    • Well said.

      Myspace is an abomination.
      jsaltz
    • Not about models, but influence

      This collection of posts wasn't designed to be about role models in the IT world or people who do IT "well," whatever that means. Rather, it was about the movers and shakers, the people who are shaping the way we think about IT. How many companies are currently wooing MySpace for exclusive search or advertising rights? MySpace may have a miserable interface and mediocre reliability, but apparently you and several million other Gen X-ers and Y-ers spent the weekend checking to see if their servers were back up. Like it or not, Tom Anderson and the MySpace model of social networking are very much shaping IT today. MySpace also represents the way a huge and powerful demographic uses the Web. Web 2.0 is here and social networking is a mighty big part of it, like it or not.

      ...Chris Dawson
      mrdatahs
      • Myspace has NOTHING to do with IT

        MySpace is marketing, pure and simple. Its success has nothing to do with IT. It is not a new model, it is a Web site that derives its income from advertising. MySpace does not shape IT in the slightest. In fact, if MySpace wasn't such a disgusting walled garden, not nearly as many people would have been checking it over the weekend. All of those messages that people were trying to check, for example (I was one of them) would have been available if they had been sent via standard email as opposed to being trapped on MySpace's servers.

        The fact that advertisers want to get their ads on MySpace has nothing to do with IT. Is the Super Bowl also an IT mover and shaker? Absolutely not. It is a marketing item. There is a world of difference. In fact, MySpace is not new or unique on the Web. Social networking is not new or unique to the Internet, period. MySpace is just the Internet version of something that has been happening for eons. Just because MySpace is popular, does not mean that it is influential. Mark Cuban is influential. Bill Gates is influential. Mark Andreseeen used to be influential. Bob Metcalfe used to be influential. Linus Torvalds is influential. Myspace is not. MySpace's impact is limited to the marketing and advertising world, and has zero spillover onto the IT industry itself.

        J.Ja
        Justin James
      • Is delivering spyware via ads part of their "influence" too?

        http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1992926,00.asp

        J.Ja
        Justin James
    • Hey! the sexual preds, perps and stalkers love it!

      and they are usually a pretty tech-savy bunch
      Reverend MacFellow
      • Knee-jerks, anyone?

        I have to say that I see a lot of people missing the point on this, and an awful lot of knee-jerk reactions. Do any IT professionals really like MySpace? Of course not. Do I spend time in my computing and web classes talking about MySpace (the good, the bad, and the ugly)? Do I spend too much time killing access to various proxies to keep my students off MySpace at school? Do my students literally flock to the computer labs when the content filter chokes for a day? Yes, Yes, and Yes! The phenomenon of social networking, embodied by MySpace and Tom Anderson's vision, however poorly implemented and badly abused, is most certainly shaping the way millions of people view the Internet. In the era of Web 2.0, the Internet <i>is</i> IT - There is no getting around this. Love it or hate it, use it or spend your days blocking it, MySpace is very much shaping IT today. Let's take a step back, folks, and consider the influence this site has on a lot of people. I'm the last person who would ever endorse MySpace, but regardless of the spyware, spam, perverts, and bad cell phone pictures, MySpace users are growing by orders of magnitude. This can't help but influence how we practice IT; more importantly, it shapes a generation's understanding of the Web, the Net, communication, and certainly, Information Technology.
        mrdatahs
        • Message has been deleted.

          myfevertoy
  • A geek's list

    It's a nice list, but it focuses too much on academic theorists and technicians.

    I'd prefer to see a list which recognizes that IT means nothing in a vacuum: it's only interesting in its applications. As such - where are Hammer & Champy? They're responsible for several massive waves of corporate reengineering activity that have supported industry behemoths like SAP, Oracle and IBM for 20+ years.

    Also - where are the VCs? Without them, or their not-so-smart-mob mentality, we wouldn't have had the Web he have now - dot.com bust and all.

    And what about representatives from Accenture etc?

    As I said - nice list. But in practice, all these people are doing is shaping the *potential* of IT - not IT in practice.
    neilwd
  • If you want to go Historical

    What about Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace. If you are going to include 19th Century figures, can you leave out Babbage and Ada?

    On a another issue; why should Stallman be "most hated?" Just because he annoys people, doesn't mean they hate him. It just means that they avoid him at meetings and parties.

    Now Gates, and Ballmer, there is a pair that manage to generate hate.
    jmusto@...
  • What a crappy list.

    And, having clicked through the links, I see why. It's not a consensus of bloggers; it's one name contributed by each of several bloggers. You each contributed one part of your ideal horse... and came up with a camel.

    I think if you folks had talked amongst yourselves first we'd have seen a very different list.
    dave.leigh@...
    • Not a bad idea...

      Actually, not a bad idea, Dave. Maybe we need "Who Shapes IT 2.0" - I'm still going to include Tom Anderson, though :)

      ...Chris Dawson
      mrdatahs