Our rock stars, the commercial explains, aren't like your rock stars.
Let me tell you a story: In my day job, I work with media scholar Henry Jenkins. Last year, I was sent to the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, where Henry and Steven Johnson were scheduled to hold a discussion at the front of an enormous room, which filled up fast. As Henry and I were chatting before the event, a woman walked up to Henry and girlishly asked, "would you mind if I got a picture of me standing next to you?"
"Sure," said Henry, as if this sort of thing happened all the time. (I later found out that it does.)
Here's Henry Jenkins:
What I like about the Intel commercial is that it points to an interesting characteristic of our culture: that when people are as immersed in a field as the Intel employees of the commercial clearly are, they have their own set of rock stars who aren't like "real" rock stars. Well, at least they don't look like rock stars. But they do share certain common features with pop icons: They are generally very, very talented; they have achieved something we fantasize about; and they are famous among people who care about their field.
I'm going to come clean and admit that I have my own rock stars, and I suspect that many of my readers do too. Here's the deal: After I list my rock stars, you have to list yours. But make sure to identify your field, so we can all know how and why these people are superstars to you. I chose to stick with 3 because I didn't want to look like some sort of crazy groupie, though of course I could go on.
field: education / new media / participatory culture / technology / creativity
1. Educational researcher, games expert, and social justice theorist Jim Gee
2. Technology writer Clay Shirky
3. Insane genius philosopher Bruno Latour