67. Clay Shirky
for encouraging the world to use its "cognitive surplus" for good.
Web guru | New York
Imagine how our world would be different if Americans put the time they spent watching television -- an estimated 158 hours per person per month -- to productive use. This is no fantasy: Thanks to the collaborative magic of the web, it's already happening, says Clay Shirky, perhaps the Internet's most ardent cheerleader and a New York University faculty member. And, for everyone from the amateur encyclopedists of Wikipedia to citizen journalists to open-source software programmers, it's revolutionary. According to Shirky's new book, Cognitive Surplus, those millions of newly productive hours are advancing any number of noble causes. To what end? It's anyone's guess: "The bigger the opportunity offered by new tools," he writes, "the less completely anyone can extrapolate the future from the previous shape of society." But the many fans of Shirky's last, bestselling book, Here Comes Everybody, will be looking to him for answers.
68. Malcolm Gladwell
for making ideas stick.
Staff writer, New Yorker | New York
Malcolm Gladwell has built a genius for intellectual tastemaking into one of the most potent personal brands in journalism, poring over psychology journals and sociology conference papers for nuggets that support his business-bestseller-ready notion that success, however daunting it might seem, is ultimately explicable, and replicable.
The same breezy idea-hopping that has made Gladwell a bestseller has drawn fire from other quarters: In a withering New York Times book review, Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker (No. 69) wrote that Gladwell's book Outliers "consists of cherry-picked anecdotes, post-hoc sophistry and false dichotomies [that] had me gnawing on my Kindle." Indeed, Gladwell is at his best when he is deflating intellectual fads rather than creating them. In September, for example, Gladwell compellingly threw cold water on the notion that social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook can be agents of social change. Social media "makes it easier for activists to express themselves," he wrote, "and harder for that expression to have any impact." The ideas weren't all Gladwell's -- among others, he cited FP contributing editor Evgeny Morozov -- but the buzz he generated around them was uniquely his.
Gladwell's top thinker
"Roger Martin is the dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto -- and an incredibly gifted and prolific thinker. His work inspired a number of my New Yorker stories this year. His work is impossible to categorize, but fundamentally he has an amazing gift for reframing the way we think about things like creativity, management excellence, or power relations. I'd especially recommend The Design of Business, The Responsibility Virus, and The Opposable Mind."
69. Steven Pinker
for seeing that we're getting smarter.
Psychologist, Harvard University | Cambridge, Mass.
Cognitive researcher Steven Pinker's ambitious project is to explain to the rest of us "how the mind works," to borrow the title of one of his bestselling books. But recently, he has also become known as a fierce proponent of the power of technology to improve human life, wading into the debate over whether Google is making us stupid with a defiant "no." Internet tools like Google, Wikipedia, and Twitter are "helping us manage, search and retrieve our collective intellectual output at different scales," he wrote in the New York Times this summer. "Far from making us stupid, these technologies are the only things that will keep us smart."
An advocate of evolutionary psychology who controversially argues that language is hard-wired into the human brain by biological evolution, Pinker is also one of the foremost scientific challengers to rising global religiosity. As an atheist, he describes himself as a proud member of the "most reviled minority in the United States."
70. John Arquilla
for envisioning the future of warfare.
Military theorist, Naval Postgraduate School | Monterey, Calif.
It's easy enough to invoke the old cliché about armies preparing for the last war instead of the next one, but what exactly is the next war? Ask John Arquilla: Years before 9/11, the military theorist and a Rand Corp. colleague coined the term "netwar" to describe the new paradigm of global conflict, in which decentralized networks would replace hierarchical armies as the basic unit of combat -- more Facebook than 1st Cavalry.
Now at the Naval Postgraduate School, Arquilla argues that the future of warfare will look like the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which 10 terrorists killed nearly 200 people and paralyzed one of the world's largest cities for three days by "swarming" -- attacking in small, agile units. It's an insight that Gen. David Petraeus and other U.S. military leaders have begun to heed in Afghanistan. "We need to get smaller, closer and quicker," Arquilla wrote in the New York Times. "The sooner the better."