Every year, the mainline magazines across the world release their own ’50 most powerful’ list. Everyone from the global elite to the local state honchos. And every year, this list keeps getting revised with some of the powerful losing their status, the others sliding down and several new ‘powers’ who are first timers. I did a quick Google search for the ‘50 most powerful‘ and it was a joke. Apart from the global list, there were these gems – 50 most powerful people in networking; 50 most powerful people in open source; 50 most powerful physician executives; 50 most powerful minority CEOs; 50 most powerful Gay Men and Women in America – see what I mean?
It’s another device to sell more magazines. And puff up the self-importance of a few who would be miles away from a ‘global influence’ list. A businessman looking to manage growth expectations from shareholders and the public will do all he can to be featured on the ‘most powerful’ list since it would improve his chances of growing the business. A college looking for students will be desperate to be featured on the top 50 list of a well-circulated magazine. Companies making a beeline for the stock market listing will want to be in the ‘Fastest Rising 50’. Or in the list that says ’50 technologies to watch out for in 2011′ Want to know what the technologies in 2005 were the ones to watch out for? We’re still watching out for most of them in 2011.
To get back to the Most Powerful 50 – Have the most powerful in open source made any difference to software adoption and usage? The 50 most powerful people in entertainment a decade ago are no longer on the list. The most influential businessmen, diplomats, actors, lawyers, real estate tycoons are no longer influential. What happened? Like Voltaire famously remarked ‘ The future is hidden, even from those who make it’.