As it’s Good Friday we spent the morning discussing sages — as you do. The topic arose from the death of Arthur C. Clarke (pictured), the science fiction author and inventor of synchronous-orbiting satellites.
I once partly collaborated with him on a book project I was writing for BT. He kindly gave me full access to his library and archives in Taunton, the family home town. He always struck me as a sagelike character interested in shaping a better future from a troublesome present and even worse past. Maybe that’s a good definition of a sage.
But are there any other sages left, especially in the online world which most of our readers inhabit?
A number of living sages sprang to mind. For example, Warren Buffett, the Sage of Omaha, whose advice on investment must be worth a bob or two.
Bill Gates? I think so. He’s veered far from his specialism during his long career and always has views on the shape of things to come. As indeed has Steve Jobs of Apple.
But are they too self-interested to be real sages? Shouldn’t sagacity float free of any self-partiality? That doesn’t leave many to choose from, does it?
I think we should accept the above three figures as sages, with minor reservations. Although they are never going to be Mahatma Gandhis — money just gets in the way somehow.
So who then is The Sage of the Blogosphere?
Dave Winer pops up from beneath the parapet. He writes long and often at Scripting News. If you eliminate the endless links — none has ever come Syntagma’s way, incidentally, but we’re above all that — his longer pieces tend to have a careful, sagelike quality about them.
His problem is that he’s a bit too liberal (in the UK read “left-wing”). A sage should surely not support a political party. Their manifestos are written for idiots by half-baked zealots.
Does zealotry crush sagacity? I think so.
Who else? There are lots of authors in the tech blogosphere who write long articles of a philosophical and speculative nature — Jeff Jarvis, anyone? And I can think of a dozen more. John Battelle, Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis …
And how about Tim Berners-Lee who “invented” the Worldwide Web, the internet as we know it. He also writes persuasively about its future as the Semantic Web — Web 3.0 — and was recently given the Order of Merit by the Queen, one of the highest honours in the land.
However, sages should stand out more than just being brilliant at what they do — shouldn’t they?
In the political blogosphere Andrew Sullivan writes deeply and never uninterestingly about matters of the day. Last week was a departure when he covered the future of video blogging. But is he a sage? Would he want to be?
Maybe the internet is not the right medium for sages of the old school. Are there sages of the new school?
Perhaps we don’t recognize them yet. Only hindsight will make them stand out from the pack. After all, Arthur C. Clarke was not regarded as a sage when he wrote wildly about satellites in the 1940′s magazine Wireless World. It was only later when small bits of technology were dumped at 22,000 miles above the planet that his foresight was spotted.
I think I’d better leave the question open : who is The Sage of the Blogosphere?
To paraphrase that undoubted sage, Albert Einstein, “Not everyone that counts can be counted, and not everyone that can be counted counts”.
Update : After much thought on this question, I’ve decided that my candidate for The Sage of the Blogosphere is Robert X. Cringely.