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The digerati (or digiterati) are the elite of the 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 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, and referred to an article by George Gilder in Upside magazine. Some sources say that the term was coined by New York Times editor Tim Race in a 1992 New York Times article. In Race's words:
- Actually the first use of "digerati" was in a Jan. 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:
Free/Open software visionaries
- 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
- Cory Doctorow European Outreach Coordinator, EFF, science fiction author, blogger
- Jon Lebkowsky President, EFF-Austin, author, blogger, WELL host
- 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 embellishing 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 Technology columnist, editor of MP3 Newswire
- Doc Searls Technology columnist, Senior Editor Linux Journal, co-author, The Cluetrain Manifesto
- George Dyson --Computing / Science historian.
- Charles Simonyi, oversaw the development of Word and Excel at Microsoft
- 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." See her personal Web site for current biographical information.
- Nicholas Negroponte, computer scientist, founder of MIT's Media Lab
- 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
- Jonathan Zittrain, professor
- Lawrence Lessig, professor.
- Tim Wu, professor.
- Yochai Benkler, professor.
- danah boyd, fellow at Berkman Center for Internet and Society
- David Weinberger, fellow at Berkman Center for Internet and Society, co-author, The Cluetrain Manifesto
- 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
- Stewart McBride (The Maestro) Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of United Digital Artists
- 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
- George Gilder
- Kevin Mitnick – the first publicly documented "cracker" (criminal hacker), widely a person of interest among the computer "underground" for being held without bail for nearly 2 years before being prosecuted in court.
- Terry Storch (The Pastor) writer, and technology leader in the global church today. Called grandfather of Fellowship Technologies, and is the leader behind YouVersion.com, and other digerati team efforts at LifeChurch.tv.
- 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
- Digerati talk on costs and benefits of the Internet Coinage attributed to Tim Race
- Who are the Digerati?
- Wiktionary definition of digeratide:Digerati