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 within 10 categories such as opinionists, revolutionaries, innovators, and visionaries.  One category was builders, described as, “the software creators and designers who put the soul in the machines” (p. 33).  Newsweek did an excellent identifying these top software pioneers.

First place among builders went to Linus Torvalds, fellow at the Linux Foundation.  Torvalds developed the “kernel” of the Linux operating system in 1991.  Linux is an “open source” OS, meaning the software is not proprietary.  Although the OS is still issued under license, the coding is free and open for anyone to explore.  Any programmer is free to access the code and make changes to try to improve it.

Bram Cohen was given third place as the cofounder of BitTorrent.  Cohen’s innovation enabled a file-sharing system that upset the applecart in the video world.  As Newsweek describes:

“He may be persona non grata in Hollywood, but you can’t deny that the creator of a peer-to-peer file-sharing system used by millions has revolutionized how a generation watches video.” (p. 33)

Number six on the roster was Matt Mullenweg, the cofounder of WordPress.  WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for blogging today.  Over 54 million blogs are driven by WordPress (including this one!), and that number continues to grow.

In this top ten builders section, Newsweek included a sidebar awarding “Lifetime” status instead of rank to Gordon E. Moore as cofounder of Intel.  Ah, yes, the chips that power everything it seems!  Moore is of course well known for his “Moore’s Law” which states that microchips continue to shrink even as they become more potent.  Someone once calculated if automobile technology had progressed at the same pace as microchips, our cars would travel a million miles per hour, we would get 500,000 miles per gallon, and the replacement cost would run about two bucks.

Just so you’re not left in any suspense, here are the other names and their ranks:  Brendan Eich, CTO of Mozilla (2); John Resig, dean of computer science at the Khan Academy (4); Tom Preston-Warner, cofounder of GitHub (5); David Heinemeier Hansson, cofounder of 37Signals (7); Yukihiro Matsumoto, chief architect of Ruby (8); Edward Tufte, professor at Yale (9); Jeff Atwood, cofounder of Stack Overflow (10).

I am grateful for the builders.  All the science in the world does us no good unless we can harness it and apply it.  That is exactly what these individuals did.  And the good news is—I hear more builders are coming up!

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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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