rockstar-neededEvery industry has its own “favorite son”, but for many areas of new technology there are no real household names associated with them. There are no people like Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, or Chuck Norris rising to the forefront of these technologies. Put another way, these technologies represent industries without their own rock stars.


Following the trend of other emerging technologies in history, this means two things – there is an opening, and someone will aspire to fill it. The media requires it. Financial markets require it. And the industry itself will grow and respond better when there is a person to lead the charge.

Some of the characteristics required for a person to become the “face of technology are:

  • Credible – well-respected among their peers.
  • Accomplished – notable and credentialed, either having written a best-selling book, won a Nobel Prize, made a major breakthrough, has their own blog, or finds some other way to distinguish themselves.
  • Good Translator – able to take the complexities of the science and turn it into analogies that everyone can understand.
  • Good Storyteller – a person with a gift for taking the boring details of tech accomplishments and turning them into exciting, memorable stories.
  • Loves the Limelight – someone who not only enjoys being on television and talking to reporters, and looks good while they are doing it

It should also be noted that this is a leadership position that comes with responsibilities. This person will become the hero that young students will want to emulate. They become a symbol for what’s right or what’s wrong with virtually every aspect of the technology. At times, they will be forced to take sides in politically charged issues and must be able to handle criticism. For this reason it is imperative that they have very thick skin.

The news media will “try out” many people, but the right person will have their own way of rising to the top. As a whole, virtually any industry will fare much better once their rock star is in place.

By Thomas Frey

One Response to “Rockstar Needed – Apply Now”

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  1. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Alvis</a>

    Like your thoughts. I'd argue that Ray Kurzweil is becoming the face of acceleration, Larry and Sergei are the search giants, Gordon Moore is the transistor guy, Aubrey de Grey the longevity beard, Dean Kamen the gadgetry guru, Nick Bostrom the simulation speculist, Craig Ventner the father of artificial life, etc. But I do agree that the general level of nerdoriety will be taken up a few notches in the very near future. Helping this along will be acceleration (which will allow more radical breakthroughs faster), the web (which will identify value and drama at a faster rate), perhaps new hybrid gaming/research/work structures that make complex tasks more relatable and readily dramatic, etc. At the same time, there will be an increase in rising stars developing pertinent expertise and moving their fields forward, particularly the young who will be hooked in in new ways. Great point about media trying people out. I expect the more diffusable stories about technical innovation get, the more churn there will be.

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