O’Reilly’s day job is heading O’Reilly Media, created in 1978, which began as a purveyor of distinctively friendly computer manuals and later stretched to include conferences, epublishing, and a spin-off venture capital firm. (It has done seed rounds with the likes of Foursquare, Bitly, and Chumby.) But the 58-year-old CEO is better known as a free-range proselytizer of the tech revolution. His ability to quickly identify nascent trends is unparalleled. It was O’Reilly who first figured out that programming was becoming a mass skill. O’Reilly who realized in 1993 that the Internet browser would broadly transform civilization, spurring him to form what was arguably the first web portal, the Global Network Navigator. O’Reilly who recognized that open source would be a liberating engine of innovation and so created books and conferences around that theme. O’Reilly who saw the rebirth of the web as a participatory medium and launched the influential Web 2.0 conference dedicated to promoting and plumbing that notion. O’Reilly who identified hackers as canaries in the coal mine of emerging technology, and O’Reilly who made a point of tapping the minds of such people—allowing his company to grasp and share the import of advances like Wi-Fi, big data, and the maker movement earlier than almost anyone else.
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