There are those that get paid to think and create regardless of their outcomes and those that think and create and don't get paid unless the outcomes produce value that turns into a relationship, a transaction and new market opportunities.
Then there are those that don't necessarily think or create but use the thoughts and creations of others for their own purposes.
Who Are These People?
We will categorize the people into five groups.
1) Research, consulting, technology and media firms seem to be some of the dominant voices conversing about the social web, its future and implications. The brands within these firms are the individuals whose post appear everywhere and reach everyone who follows the fringes of the social web. These individuals have become brands within themselves i.e. Robert Scoble,Jeremiah Owyang, Charlene Li - Josh Bernoff, and the list is too long to add to this post but if your following the fringes you know who these people are and the companies that employ them. These people are self made and supported by large organizations.
2) Then there are those self made independent brands supported by their own thinking and creations, people like Guy Kawasaki, Doc Searls, Chris Brogan, Dave Winer , Kevin Kelly and the list is again too long to add to this post but again if your following the fringes you know who they are and what they are thinking and creating.
3) Then there are names of people self employed, self made and looking for ways to create economic traction from their thinking and or their creations. This list is way way to long to try and even begin to point out a few but most know who these people are because their participation, conversations, commentary, profile and activity are well known and seen everywhere and anywhere everyone lands. These include community organizers, aggressive bloggers, mega connectors, forum moderators etc.
4) Then there are brands who hire full time people to develop, organize and execute the brands participation within the social web. Most of these people are not as highly profiled as those in groups 1 -3 because most of their activities, conversations and presence is centric to their brands profile rather than fringe or innovation specific web communities.
5) Last and certainly not least are the millions employed in full or part time jobs and those not employed put following and participating in the conversations, thought processes and supporting the creations and thinking of the first three categories of people described above or engaged in specific conversations with those in category 4. These are the crowds whom will use the thoughts and creations of people in groups 1 -4 for their own purposes and it is the use which creates new relations, new transactions and fuels the formation of new markets.
If your a prominent name but not listed please take no offense but everyone already knows who you are. Whether independent or employed there are a lot of well known people on the fringes with their thoughts and their creations and even more people following.
If you haven't noticed we've left out the big names of the operators such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Linked etc. The reason is because for the most part these are the enablers of conversations and not necessarily directly engaged in the conversations of the social web. However, these firms. and their leaders. are indeed watching the conversations, the thinking and the creations all in the form of data used and analyzed for them to introduce, create or buy the next "thing" that further enables the conversational rivers to swell and create relationships, transactions and new markets.
What Do These People Have in Common?
The common thread of people is motivation, purpose and and self satisfaction. The motivations are different by each group illustrated above.
The common threads of motivation are tied to some form of self satisfaction. Whether it is being profiled as a thought leader, an author, a creator or a self sacrificing contributor to a higher purpose underlying in each of these motivations is some form of economic or self gain. Group 1 gains the attraction and profile while the economic gain is set by their employers. Group 2 gains value from their thinking and creations, both economic and purpose satisfaction. Group 3 gains from profile of their contributions, associations and finding ways to create economic gain from their participation. Group 4 gains satisfaction from accomplishing a specific task for their employer and gets paid for doing so. Group 5 finds satisfaction in use in different ways and forms, some economically and some from the relations and productivity gains.
Whatever the motivation, purpose or means of satisfaction the "social web" creates the attraction and the methods for accomplishment by anyone and everyone.
What is your motivation? What say you?