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Canada’s Top 10 Digital Thinkers?

Who do you think are the top ten digital thinkers in Canada? The people who are writing, or doing, the most innovative digital stuff in the country? You can name as many or as few as you like.


  1. Hugh Hugh 2009-02-12

    Suggestions from Jon Husband:

    *Michael Geist
    *Mitch Joel
    *Austin Hill
    *Don Tapscott
    *Mark Kuznicki
    *Jevon MacDonald
    *Boris Anthony
    *Michel Dumais
    *Michel Cartier
    *Karl Dubost (I don’t know if he qualifies as Canadian any longer, believe he’s still in Tokyo) [NOTE FROM HUGH: he is back in Mtl]
    *Michael Tippett
    *Michael Sikorsky

  2. Atle Brunvoll Atle Brunvoll 2009-02-13

    How about David George-Cosh? He is the only tech writer from Canada with any kind of international name recognition !

  3. Sylvain Carle Sylvain Carle 2009-02-13

    Reading this list of Canadians and the recent list of top influencers in Quebec and I can’t avoid the feeling that there is really two solitudes in Canada, if you don’t blog in english you are not part of Canadian lists… and if you blog in english you are potentially only marginal for some Quebecers.

    Anyhow, might still try to contribute some names, but that was my first reaction, à froid.

  4. Hugh Hugh 2009-02-13

    *Michel Dumais
    *Michel Cartier
    *Karl Dubost

    are all francophone, though yes, there most definitely will be 2 solitudes, no doubt.

  5. Gillian Brouse Gillian Brouse 2009-02-13

    Mathew Ingram should be on the list. Especially as it relates to the evolution of pay for content in all kinds of industries (including journalism) and the rise of social media.

  6. Kneale Mann Kneale Mann 2009-02-13

    Mitch Joel
    Hugh McGuire
    Julien Smith
    Sebastien Provencher

  7. Martine Martine 2009-02-13

    If I liked lists and if I believed in them (heh heh), I would suggest Martin Lessard, Miriam Verburg, Nora from Spark (CBC), Clément Laberge and Mario Asselin.

  8. Sylvain Carle Sylvain Carle 2009-02-13

    @hugh : you are right. Anyway I should not complaint and just propose grat thinkers I can think of… I would add (some of these are good friends too):

    * John Husband (we would not name himself)
    * Bruno Boutot (mediamachina – soon)
    * Sébastien Provencher (my praized colleague)
    * Cory Doctorow (needs no intro)
    * Mark Evans (always covers the canadian perspective of tech news)
    * René Barsalo (awesome stuff happening at SAT)
    * Evan Prodromou (I think he’s Canadian now)
    * Hugh McGuire (yep)
    * Sébastien Paquet (back to blogging!)
    * Aaron Straup Cope (papergeek and flickrite)
    * Michael Lenczner (of ISF fame, entre autre)
    * Patrick Tanguay (meta connector of people and ideas)
    * Yannick Gélinas (but I’m really biased)
    * Martine Gingras (altought she’s less into thinking out loud about big ideas these days)
    * Sharon Hackett
    * Stéphane Couture

    That’s a short list from the top of my head, might come back to add some. My criteria was “did they made me think or re-think more/better/differently about digital media / the internet.

  9. Hugh Hugh 2009-02-13

    @gillian, thanks.

    @martine: someone’s gotta represent the gurrrl geeks! more please.

    @sylvain: “did they made me think or re-think more/better/differently about digital media / the internet.” is a good criterion for inclusion!

  10. Michel Dumais Michel Dumais 2009-02-13

    Guys, thank you for everything, but I’m a journalist, that’s it, that’s all. Please, take me off those lists.

    But I’ll vote for René Barsalo, Jon Husband, Michel Cartier, Seb Paquet, Evan, Carole Guévin (NetDiver), Boris Anthony, Karl Dubost, and Philippe “motor mouth” Le Roux. ;-)

  11. Michel Dumais Michel Dumais 2009-02-13

    And Clément Laberge…

  12. Sylvain Carle Sylvain Carle 2009-02-13

    @Michel journalist can’t be thinkers?

  13. Mario Asselin Mario Asselin 2009-02-13

    Mine would be (I choose outside the Sylvain’s list and outside Qc as francophone):
    – George Siemens Sask. ( )
    – Jacques Cool N.B. ( )
    – Roberto Gauvin N.B. ( )
    – Alec Couros Sask. ( )
    – Dave Pollard Ont. ( )
    – Konrad Glogowski Ont. ( )
    – Stephen Downes N.B. ( )

  14. Seb Paquet Seb Paquet 2009-02-13

    I’ll assume we’re talking about people who live in Canada… my unordered list:

    Hugh McGuire, Jevon MacDonald, Hassan Masum, Michael Nielsen, Evan Prodromou, Karl Dubost, Michael Geist, Clément Laberge, Sylvain Carle, Roberto Gauvin, Mario Asselin, Michael Lenczner, Mitch Joel, Martin Lessard, Stephen Downes.

    Hence, Paquet’s Law: of If you first or last name starts with M, in you have a great future ahead of you as a digital thinker.

  15. Brett Gaylor Brett Gaylor 2009-02-13

    seems like one solitude, with a penis.

  16. Hugh Hugh 2009-02-13

    @brett: do you mean: “how come more women don’t post on this thread?”

  17. Roland Tanglao Roland Tanglao 2009-02-13

    I don’t like lists like this but :-)…
    There seems to be no representation of West Coast people here (other than Jon Husband, who I vote for as well)

    Off the top of my head and in no order since I have no idea what you mean by “digital thinker”, here are some West Coast digital thinkers:
    Rebecca Bollwitt
    Karen Fung
    Yule Heibel
    Alexandra Samuel
    Megan Cole
    Boris Mann
    Kris Krug
    Roland Tanglao
    Tris Hussey

  18. Seb Paquet Seb Paquet 2009-02-13

    West coast too: Chris Corrigan

  19. Roland Tanglao Roland Tanglao 2009-02-13

    I second Chris Corrigan!
    Another Bowen Islander: Peter Rawsthorne

  20. Great folks in this list. Do all digital thinkers have to be bloggers? I went with Mike (Ile Sans Fil +) and Jen (Visible Government) to Darin Barney’s talk at the CCA last night ( He’s amazing and has some important critiques and insights re technology. Along the lines of Ursula Franklin. (Who I learned about via Mark Surman — who should for sure for sure be added to this list too.)

    I was going to list those from above who I would nominate. But looks too much like a list of my friends ;)

    I would like to add Brett Gaylor though and Jennifer Bell and Kate Raynes-Goldie.

  21. Hugh Hugh 2009-02-13

    keep em coming.

  22. Jon Husband Jon Husband 2009-02-13

    I forgot to add Sylvain Carle, Mario Asselin, Chris Corrigan, George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Seb Pacquet, Cory Doctorow, Bruno Boutot, Martin Lessard, Michelle Blanc … there’s so many awesome thinkers !

  23. Jon Husband Jon Husband 2009-02-13

    Darrin Barney, Mark Federman, Kate Tyrgovac, Sue Gardner (in the USA with Wikipedia), Susie Gardner, Yule Heibel, Jim Harris, Kris Krug, Boris Mann, Roland Tanglao, Daniel Levitin, Darren Barefoot, Alexandra Samuel, Richhard Worzel, Len Brody … there’s so many, there’s no “top”, really … everyone has elements and aspects of the overall picture, and we’re all learning as we go.

  24. Marc Canter Marc Canter 2009-02-14

    Jon Husband
    Evan Prodromou
    Dick Hardt
    Boris Mann
    Stephen Downes
    Seb Paquet
    Kris Krug
    Leonard Brody
    Don Tapscott

  25. Greg J. Smith Greg J. Smith 2009-02-15

    I don’t know who 75% of the people on these lists are – I guess I have some homework to do.

    A scholar who is quite a bit ahead of the curve is William J. Turkel.

  26. Boris Anthony Boris Anthony 2009-02-19

    respect your forefathers.

    Marshall McLuhan
    Derrick DeKerkhove

    (Jon, thank you for your vote. ;)

  27. Boris Anthony Boris Anthony 2009-02-19

    woops, and:

    Steve Mann
    (privacy, copyright, journalism, awareness, information acquisition and storage and retrieval. He not only has thought about it all, taught about it all, published about it all, but has built close-to-the-body hardware and software implementations of it all. nec plus ultra++)

  28. Michael Nielsen Michael Nielsen 2009-02-20

    In no particular order, Michael Geist, Marshall McLuhan, Cory Doctorow, Tara Hunt, Seb Paquet, Steve Mann all leap to mind.

  29. Stephen Downes Stephen Downes 2009-02-23

    What are digital thinkers? Why do we have to stop at ten? In addition to those above, here are names of people forging Canada’s lead role in online thought: Jutta Teveranus, Dave Cormier, Dean Shareski, Brian Lamb, D’Arcy Norman, Scott Leslie, Paul Stacey, Murray Goldbeg, Terry Anderson, Rory McGreal, Tony Bates, Harold Jarche, Tim Bray, Wayne Hodgins, and many many more

  30. Seb Paquet Seb Paquet 2009-02-23

    Dick Hardt++, Tim Bray++, Brian Lamb++, D’Arcy Norman++

  31. Alec Couros Alec Couros 2009-02-23

    Would love if someone converted this into an OPML file. :-)

  32. John Schinker John Schinker 2009-02-23

    Good idea, Alec. See? That’s the kind of thinking we need. Are you going to post it on your site when you’re done with it? A trackback would be nice so we can all find it. :-)

  33. karl karl 2009-02-24

    Please if you create such a list and distribute it as OPML, remove me from the list. (Categories and lists create expectations from people. It focuses the attention on a few when the richness is in the voice of every individuals. Fame creates walls.)

    Thanks for the understanding.

  34. Boris Anthony Boris Anthony 2009-02-24


  35. Martin Lessard Martin Lessard 2009-02-25

    As a matter of fact, such list of names will represent a subset of people we read (or know of). Bilinguale people will surely have a wider pool to choose from (as I think was what Sylvain meant –and as Jon showed quite clearly in his choice).

    Seems to me always as hazardous task to narrow it down to a short list of ten (I admire ones who deal with such challenge) whithout falling into some “representation issue” (hey you forgot Nunavut! Hey where are the albinos?).

    For sure spanish and innu speaking thinkers in Canada won’t show up in my list, not because there aren’t good, but I can read them. I apologize in advance.

    Seb Paquet
    Houssein Ben-Ameur (Hou-Hou blog)
    Mario Asselin (Mario Tout de Go)
    Jean-Michel Salaün (UdeM)
    Gaël Laliberte (
    Clément Laberge (Remolino)
    François Guité (relief)
    Mitch Joel
    Jon Husban
    Michael Giest
    Sébastien Provencher
    Sylvain Carle
    Dave Pollard
    Stephen Downes
    et j’en oublie sûrement…

    Let’s list the first top 100 000 and we’ll have a more representative list to start with ;-)

  36. Seb Paquet Seb Paquet 2009-02-26

    +Alain Désilets

    Robin Millette (who knows even more than he shows :)

  37. Hugh Hugh 2009-02-26

    wow this post keeps on giving…

    as for the 2 questions that kept popping up:

    “what are digital thinkers?” …
    I think I tried to give some guidelines in the post, but I should have been more clear: “who do you think are some of the people who are writing, or doing, the most innovative digital stuff in the country?” so: I think it’s up to writers to decide, and they seem to have.

    the second question: “why a list?” …
    I am just curious about the people all of you think are doing, writing, thinking interesting things. And by posting with “Top 10” in the title, well… you see what happens.

  38. Martin Lessard Martin Lessard 2009-02-27

    Hugh, about your “digital thinkers?” def, I guess we’ll all realize pretty soon this would sounds ackward: is “digital stuff” means publishing online? being not on dead tree or old airwaves? Seams to me those hard core trad birds would be harder and harder to find as all goes digital.

  39. Jon Husband Jon Husband 2009-02-27

    respect your forefathers.

    Marshall McLuhan
    Derrick DeKerkhove

    What Boris said !

  40. Jon Husband Jon Husband 2009-02-27

    How can I have overlooked Harold Jarche ? One of the clearest, most avant-garde-while-pragmatic thinkers and doers I know.

  41. Shawn Adamsson Shawn Adamsson 2010-05-30

    I’d like to nominate David A. Eaves to the list for his tireless efforts to advance the cause of OpenData and Open Government across Canada.

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