Last month Newsweek released a double issue with the cover story, “The 100 Most Powerful Digital Disruptors” (7/2/12–7/9/12, pp. 22–33).  The 100 individuals were grouped among 10 categories such as opinionists, revolutionaries, visionaries, and virologists.  One category was innovators, defined as, “the game changers who are remapping the digital landscape” (p. 31).  Newsweek did a good job coming up with its list.

First place among innovators went to none other than Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google.  Is anyone surprised?  Not me.  This is especially true because Google has made that rare and telling transformation from being a noun to being a noun or a verb (as did Xerox decades ago).

Salman Khan came in at number six as the founder of Khan Academy.  Originally begun in 2006 as an online video tutorial service on YouTube for a close family member, many other students discovered the extremely helpful flicks.  Khan Academy now boasts over 3,300 tutorials.  The service is completely free although donations are welcome.  People from all walks of life–not just students–regularly access and watch tutorials on various academic subjects.  Topics include economics, differential equations, calculus, history, medicine, astronomy, academic-test preparation, and art history.

Number seven on the roster was Drew Houston, the founder of Dropbox.  Dropbox is one of the neatest productivity and file management tools I have ever seen.  The service is completely free for up to two gigabytes of file space.  Once installed on any number of your personal computers, the utility keeps a copy of your files in the cloud and on your hard drive.  It instantly updates any file changes across all computers.  Therefore, you can work on any file from any PC anytime.  This is a great timesaving convenience when you are working across various computers or from multiple locations.

In this top ten innovators section, Newsweek included a sidebar awarding “Lifetime” status instead of rank to Tim Berners-Lee as the inventor of the Web.  I don’t think I have any argument with that decision.  As Newsweek explains:

“In 1990, this British computer scientist made the first successful communication between a client and a server: the World Wide Web was born.  In the whirlwind since, Berners-Lee has joined the faculty of MIT and been knighted.  His passion remains a free and open Internet.” (p. 30)

Just so you’re not left in any suspense, here are the other names and their ranks:  Jack Dorsey, founder of Square (2); David Karp, founder of Tumblr (3); Kevin Systrom, cofounder of Instagram (4); Tim Cook, CEO of Apple (5); Niklas Zenstrom, cofounder of Skype (8); Daniel Elk, founder of Spotify (9); Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu (10).

Throughout our history, while innovation has been disruptive, it has always been a tremendous opportunity for some marvelous things to happen.  Our modern online era is proving to be no different.  In fact, the pace is only increasing.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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