Thought leader or science fiction writer – which is it

We are having some remodeling done and I had to move my bookcase. I must admit I seldom read a book with actual pages anymore and removing and then reshelving the books provided a walk down memory lane. So many of the books had shaped ideas I found very stimulating.

Here is a sampling from the top shelf:

  • Convergence culture
  • Smart mobs
  • The virtual community
  • Weaving the web
  • The wealth of networks
  • Got game
  • Free: The future of a radical price

Here is the thing about this collection. Pretty much all promised a future that has not been realized and now seems a type of idealism that for one reason or another has been lost.

These books were written by great writers with a view of the possible that seemed very probable. They were great thought leaders. When applied in education, the label of thought leader has started to rub me the wrong way. Too often, it seems these folks make their way by telling the rest of us what we have missed and what we should be doing to get us from here to there. These folks have the innovators mindset, hack this or that, or act like pirates. I must admit the pirate thing still kind of baffles me.

I suppose I am old fashioned or cautious, but I prefer a mix of data with my innovation. The thoughts pretty much are the equivalent of hypotheses and as a researcher, I can tell you with certainty that not every creative idea gets published, nor should it.

On the second shelf, I found another book – The big switch. (Who controls the Internet would work as an alternative.) This book by a different thought leader explains why the other thought leaders were wrong. The idealism of learning from each other, learning through sharing, and combining our capabilities (blogs and wikis) has been subverted by the big players (the media companies, ISPs) and our own lack of willingness to make personal contributions. Remember the promise of the Read/Write web? Probably not. Bloggers and free content creators no more, there is also the opportunity for the innovators to make a buck by writing or talking about innovation. Interesting ideas are fun and science fiction writers have been offering such ideas for nearly as long as books have been printed. Sometimes their ideas resemble what becomes the future but no one holds them to their visions.

Just a free thought to consider

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