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Conventional wisdom teaches us that just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should. And it's true—and wise. But it's also conventional.
When E-consultancy recently came up with the following list of top user experience professionals as ranked by general awareness and reputation, I thought it was odd to see someone like Seth Godin on that list:
1) Jakob Nielsen
2) Steve Krug
3) Jared Spool
4) Donald Norman
5) Jeffrey Veen
6) Jesse James Garrett
7) Louis Rosenfeld
8) Jenifer Tidwell
9) Seth Godin
10) Eisenberg brothers
So I wondered what it would look like if I created my own poll? Just because I could do it, I guess. And what if I put some less recognizable names on the list? What does the next generation look like? The results were pretty interesting. Jesse James Garret , Jared Spool and Donald Norman came in at the top 3 on "my" list. vs. Jakob Nielsen, Steve Krug and Jared again (nice to see Jared on both lists in the top 3). And as for the "up-and-coming" list, Luke Wroblewski, Dan Saffer and Dan Brown came in at the top 3 spots.
A big miss on my part was not including a heavyweight such as Alan Cooper in the "established" list, but it was too late to modify the lists (though it should be noted that his name came up several times in the "other" category). I don't think this exercise proves much other than that we now have alternative choices for this type of thing as delivered via social media. For every e-consultancy type listing, we get to present another viewpoint—a different perspective. It's worth noting that the Poll was limited to 138 participants, but you should not underestimate what this means. I'm fortunate enough to have a very "plugged in" audience here—practitioners in the field who know what they are talking about. So while the poll isn't exceptionally quantitative, you have to think about the qualitative aspect.
Lastly, I thought it would be interesting to see the "established" and "up and coming" names in contrast. Though folks like Leisa and Stephen P. Anderson didn't make it in the "top 3"—I am convinced that folks like these are rising stars and we will see/hear more from them in the future.
So don't take any of this too seriously—if your name isn't on either list, it doesn't really mean a heck of a lot. There are plenty of practitioners quietly innovating in the field, doing the day-to-day heavy lifting. Many of the names here represent individuals who are sharing knowledge in addition to practicing—or in some cases, they are just plain visible. If nothing else, the "extended" lists are a bit more interesting in comparison to the e-consultancy version. At least I think they are.