Web 2.0 Heroes

Today I came across a book at the library entitled “Web 2.0 Heroes: Interviews with 20 Web 2.0 Influencers”. Eagerly I picked it up, and scanned the names on the cover.

Hmm… not many there I actually recognize..

So I flipped open to the table of contents, and saw the products/services they represented. Stumble Upon, eBay, Ning, Technorati, DotNetNuke, Skype, LinkedIn… ah, there were some names I knew!

There is plenty of talk right now about personal branding and internet celebrity. Increasingly the line between a brand and a representative thereof appears blurred. Some may believe this is due to the fact that web 2.0 is commonly believed to be necessarily associated with individuals-

Web 2.0 is ultimately about harnessing network effects and the collective intelligence of user to build applications that literally get better the more people use them.
– the Web 2.0 Strategy Guide

So in an arena that facilitates the promotion of an individual’s personal brand, how are we (or how am I) not familiar with these names? Particularly in light of the fact they are being presented as ‘heroes’?

I will admit, I haven’t read the book, so perhaps what makes these individuals ‘heroic’ is explained. Yet I find it hard to believe that one can be heroic behind the scenes. Yes, heroic deeds involve effecting positive change, but I also believe that a hero is considered a role model, and I’m not sure this can be achieved without some level of recognition.

I suppose this is semantics, and I’m sure there are some insights to be gained through reading these interviews. I know I genuinely enjoyed the few chapters I read in Accidental Branding. Yet in accidental branding, the entrepreneurs were presented as ordinary people who did some great things. By setting the stage for this book to be talking about heroes, I can’t help but think they have plenty to live up to..

Who are your Web 2.0 heroes? I will admit, I didn’t stop to think about who I expected to see on the list before I picked up the book, but there are certainly different people I associate with Web 2.0. Leave me a comment with your picks!

8 thoughts on “Web 2.0 Heroes

  • Great post! I had the same reaction to the image as it sounds like you did — who are these people?

    I’ll second Gary and put Chris Brogan on my list. And, I’d add to that with Geoff Livingston, Jeremiah Owyang, Jim Long, Connie Bensen, and Gary Vaynerchuck — they’re all people who, although I don’t read/watch everything they do, I’m generally struck with the depth and insights they provide when I do.

    If I used technology better, I would include Brian Solis and Robert Scoble on the list…but I just haven’t managed to get hooked in as well as I should there.

    And, on the niche-ish front, Avinash Kaushik — Occam’s Razor is the best web analytics blog on the planet, in my book — and Eric T. Peterson — not only as a recognized web analytics guru, but as the creator of the webanalytics Yahoo! group long before “social media” was a term…and then the creator of Web Analytics Wednesdays (and technology to facilitate them) lonnnnnnngggggg before Twitter was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, much less the possibility of tweetups.

    • I believe Scoble made the blogging heroes book.. I would be interested to know how they determined who fit into which category..

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  • A hero is not necessarily a famous, well known person. There are heroes every day. Rather a hero is someone that has done something special and generally above the ordinary. As you stated, you recognized the sites and companies. Chances are you would recognize what a majority of the listed people had done. It is what they have done that makes them – and their companies often times – heroes in the Web 2.0 community.

    Some of them, such as Gina Bianchini don’t even agree with the term “Web 2.0”, yet she has helped redefine the potential of social networking with Ning. Others have similar stories.

    The people in this book were choosen based on the sites and companies they are involved in running. There were several other people that simply didn’t make it into the book. Read the book and you’ll learn what they’ve done and what they learned. You’ll also learn about more than just Web 2.0. You’ll learn what many of these people see as the next big thing in the industry.

    You make a good point though – maybe the companies should have been listed on the cover instead of the people!

  • one of the last things you said stuck in my mind, I hadn’t heard of many of those names, but then again I’m not sure who I would expect to find on there. Tom maybe?

  • Why read about heroes profiles and how they got there then to make yourself a hero? At least that’s what I feel.

    My heroes are Steve Krugg, Robert Hoekman Jr., Jacob Nielsen and 37signals. These are the people who influence my work by sharing their knowledge, giving me inspiration and keeps my beliefs up to improve the web. 🙂

  • “Why read about heroes profiles and how they got there then to make yourself a hero?”

    To learn from them.
    To avoid making mistakes they made.
    To do better than what they did.
    To have the next site that is recognized when people see it listed.
    And yes, to cut the amount of time it might take to make yourself or your site/company a hero as well….

    Read the book. If you don’t find at least one tip or tidbit worth the cost, I’d be surprised.

  • Stumbled on your post via research on who to trust online on Amazon, then found the “Heroes” book listed and googled the title for reviews…

    I’m considering putting together my own free guide on the subject to spare people the pitfalls I encountered, we’ve all been newbies and frankly I’m always learning.

    Anyway, my authority figures online would be;

    Kevin Knebl for Human Relations (most personal recommendations of anyone I’ve encountered on LinkedIn, now that’s the Web 2.0 concept working)

    Seth Godin for Marketing consistency and great interractivity (witness Squidoo)

    Glen Allsop of Viperchill for innovation and effort

    Tim Ferris for measuring everything

    Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, for same reasons as above.

    These are fairly niche choices, as you can tell I’m focused on creating time via passive income.

    Thanks for writing this post, saved me buying the book to be honest, because it isn’t sufficiently niche to my interests.

    All my best,


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