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The 50 Most Important People on the Web

Here's who's shaping what you read, watch, hear, write, buy, sell, befriend, flame, and otherwise do online.

By Christopher Null, PCWorld

Important People #26 through #30

John BattellePhotograph: Michelle Battelle26. John Battelle
Entrepreneur and chairman, Federated Media Publishing

Entrepreneur and journalist John Battelle has had a ringside seat for the unfolding of Webs 1.0, 2.0 (he cohosts the Web 2.0 Summit conference with Tim O'Reilly--see #36), and (in its preliminary stages) 3.0. In addition, he founded what some would call the Vanity Fair and the People Magazine of the Internet era: Wired Magazine and The Industry Standard. His most recent venture, Federated Media Publishing, represents the A-list of online content. Its slate of more than 50 sites includes 43 Folders, Ars Technica, BoingBoing, and TechCrunch. Battelle's 2005 book The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture and his blog Searchblog are required reading for anyone who wants to understand the constantly evolving landscape of the tech industry.

Lawrence LessigPhotograph: Courtesy of Lawrence Lessig27. Lawrence Lessig
CEO, Creative Commons

Acknowledging his kinglike status in the field, Wired once called him the "Elvis of Cyberlaw"--and the name stuck. Lawrence Lessig is a professor at Stanford University Law School and founder and chair of Creative Commons (CC), a nonprofit initiative that promotes a free but nonrevocable licensing system for online works. Designed to enable copyright holders to share content and yet still control it, a CC license spells out whether the holder wants to require attribution, restrict commercial use, or allow derivative works under specified circumstances. Musical acts such as DangerMouse and David Byrne have made songs available under the CC's Sampling Plus license for noncommercial sharing and commercial sampling, while restricting advertising uses of it. A wealth of Creative Commons-licensed media is stored in searchable form at the Creative Commons Search page.

Meg WhitmanPhotograph: Corbis28. Meg Whitman
CEO, eBay

If there's an industry that eBay doesn't touch, we haven't found it yet. Whether trying to score a PlayStation 3 on opening week or laboring to complete your set of Thundercats action figures, you have probably visited the venerable king of all auctions. But Meg Whitman, whose tenure as CEO of eBay is now approaching nine years (an era by dot-com standards), has more on her mind than just vintage GI Joe dolls and state quarters. She's also boss of the Web's largest online payment system, PayPal, and proud new owner of the most popular VoIP system, Skype (see #15).

Senator Ron WydenPhotograph: Courtesy of Ron Wyden29. Ron Wyden
U.S. Senator, Oregon

Oregon's senior U.S. Senator, a Democrat, has long ranked as one of Capitol Hill most influential voices on technology issues. During his tenure, Wyden has authored or co-authored the Science and Technology Emergency Mobilization Act, the Cyber Security Research and Development Act, and the controversial CAN-SPAM Act. (Hey, they can't all be winners.) More recently, Wyden has introduced a bill called the Internet Nondiscrimination Act, which would prevent telecom companies from charging more for delivering content faster.

30. Michael Arrington
Blogger/publisher, TechCrunch

An entrepreneur and former attorney who cofounded Canada's answer to Netflix (Zip.ca), Michael Arrington turned his attention in 2005 to blogging about Web startups. Almost overnight he became a sensation, eliciting the kind of fawning attention from dot-com wannabes that is normally reserved for the likes of men with surnames like Gates and Jobs. With TechCrunch properties now sprawling across six domains, the often-irascible Arrington is indisputably the most powerful technology blogger working today.

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