George Saunders is a New York Times bestselling American writer of short stories, essays, novellas and children’s books. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeney’s and GQ. He also contributed a weekly column, American Psyche, to the weekend magazine of The Guardian until October 2008. A professor at Syracuse University, Saunders won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and second prize in the O. Henry Awards in 1997. His first story collection, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, was a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award. In 2006 Saunders received a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2006 he won the World Fantasy Award for his short story “CommComm”. His story collection In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007. In 2013, he won the PEN/Malamud Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Saunders’s fiction often focuses on the absurdity of consumerism and corporate culture and the role of mass media. While many reviewers mention the satirical tone in Saunders’s writing, his work also raises moral questions. The tragicomic element in his writing has earned Saunders comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut, whose work inspired Saunders.
Jonathan Coulton is an American singer-songwriter, known for his songs about geek culture and his use of the Internet to draw fans. Among his most popular songs are “Code Monkey”, “Re: Your Brains” and “Still Alive”. A former computer programmer employed at Cluen, a New York City software company, and self-described geek, Coulton tends to write quirky, witty lyrics about science fiction and technology: a man who thinks in simian terms, a mad scientist who falls in love with one of his captives, and the dangers of bacteria. Rare topical songs include 2005’s “W’s Duty”, which sampled President George W. Bush, and 2006’s “Tom Cruise Crazy”. Most of Coulton’s recordings feature his singing over guitar, bass, and drums; some also feature the various other instruments Coulton plays, including accordion, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and glockenspiel. Coulton graduated in 1993 from Yale, where he was a member of the Yale Whiffenpoofs and the Yale Spizzwinks. He is now the Contributing Troubadour at Popular Science magazine, whose September 2005 issue was accompanied by a five-song set by him called Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms. He was also the Musical Director for The Little Gray Book Lectures.
Sir Ridley Scott is an English film director and producer. Following his commercial breakthrough with Alien (1979), his best-known works are sci-fi classic Blade Runner (1982), Thelma & Louise (1991), best picture Oscar-winner Gladiator (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001), Matchstick Men (2003), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), American Gangster (2007), Robin Hood (2010) and Prometheus (2012). Scott is known for his atmospheric, highly concentrated visual style, which has influenced many directors. Though his films range widely in setting and period, they frequently showcase memorable imagery of urban environments, whether 2nd century Rome (Gladiator), 12th century Jerusalem (Kingdom of Heaven), contemporary Osaka (Black Rain) or Mogadishu (Black Hawk Down), or the future cityscapes of Blade Runner. Scott has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Directing (for Thelma and Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down), plus two Golden Globe and two BAFTA Awards. In 2003, Scott was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace for his “services to the British film industry”. He is the elder brother of the late Tony Scott.
Leo Gordon Laporte is an American technology broadcaster, author, and entrepreneur. Laporte studied Chinese history at Yale University before dropping out in his junior year to pursue his career in radio broadcasting, where his early radio names were Dave Allen and Dan Hayes. He began his association with computers with his first home PC, an Atari 400. Laporte said he purchased his first Macintosh in 1984. He operated one of the first Macintosh-only bulletin board systems, MacQueue, from 1985 to 1988. Laporte owns and operates a podcast network, TWiT.tv. It is available on iTunes and other podcast subscription services. Before the expansion to new facilities in 2011, Laporte said TWiT earns $1.5 million annually on a production cost of only $350,000. In a 2012 Reddit posting, he commented that revenue is approaching $4 million. Laporte calls his audio and video shows “netcasts,” saying “I’ve never liked the word podcast. It causes confusion … people have told me that they can’t listen to my shows because they ‘don’t own an iPod’ … I propose the word ‘netcast.’ It’s a little clearer that these are broadcasts over the Internet. It’s catchy and even kind of a pun.”
Jason McCabe Calacanis is an American Internet entrepreneur and blogger. His first company was part of the dot-com era in New York, and his second venture, Weblogs, Inc., a publishing company that he co-founded together with Brian Alvey, capitalized on the growth of blogs before being sold to AOL. As well as being an angel investor in various technology startups, Calacanis also keynotes industry conferences worldwide. Calacanis’s biggest success to date is Weblogs, Inc. which got sold to AOL in 2005. Before forming Weblogs, Inc., Calacanis was founder,CEO of Rising Tide Studios, a media company that published print and online publications. Amongst them was the Silicon Alley Reporter, a monthly paper that featured New York’s Internet, Web and new media industries. During the dot-com boom, Calacanis was active in New York’s Silicon Alley community and in 1996 began producing a publication known as the Silicon Alley Reporter. Originally a 16-page photocopied newsletter, as its popularity grew it expanded into a 300-page magazine, with a sister publication called the Digital Coast Reporter for the West Coast. Calacanis’s tireless socializing earned him a nickname as the “yearbook editor” of the Silicon Alley community. The company organized as well conferences in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco on the same focus on the Internet/web/New Media. With the end of the Dot-com bubble, Silicon Alley Reporter failed. The company’s flagship publication was folded and the company was sold out of bankruptcy to a private equity firm.
William Sanford “Bill” Nye, popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is an American science educator, comedian, television host, actor, writer, and scientist who began his career as a mechanical engineer at Boeing. He is best known as the host of the Disney/PBS children’s science show Bill Nye the Science Guy (1993–98) and for his many subsequent appearances in popular media as a science educator. Nye began his professional entertainment career as an actor on a local sketch comedy television show in Seattle, Washington, called Almost Live!; he attempted to correct the show host’s pronunciation of “gigawatt” as “jigowatt.” The host responded, “Who do you think you are—Bill Nye the Science Guy?” and Nye was thereafter known as such on the program. His other main recurring role on Almost Live! was as Speedwalker, a speedwalking Seattle superhero. From 1991 to 1993, he appeared in the live-action educational segments of Back to the Future: The Animated Series in the nonspeaking role of assistant to Dr. Emmett Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd), in which he would demonstrate science while Lloyd explained. The segments’ national popularity led to Nye hosting an educational television program, Bill Nye the Science Guy, from 1993 to 1998. Each of the 100 episodes aimed to teach a specific topic in science to a preteen audience, yet it garnered a wide adult audience as well. With its comedic overtones, the show became popular as a teaching aid in schools.
Merlin Dean Mann III is a writer and blogger best known as the founder of and writer behind 43 Folders, a blog about “ﬁnding the time and attention to do your best creative work.” On August 18, 2009, Mann announced that he was writing a book titled Inbox Zero, which will be “about how to reclaim your email, your attention, and your life.” As of November 2011, the book has an Amazon.com launch date of February 21, 2012. He has since spoken about the book on MacBreak Weekly 154 and launched the Inbox Zero Tumblr, where he documents the book’s progress. April 22, 2011 Mr. Mann announced that he had quit his book project. Mann also writes for his personal blog, Kung Fu Grippe. In the past, Mann has written articles for the magazines Macworld, Make, and Popular Science.