Via MLQ3. The Top 100 Public Intellectuals.
The site asks us to vote for 5 but I'm having trouble limiting my choices.
Of course, Umberto Eco has to be there. Semiotics is my first exposure to real intellectual-type stuff and his novels are amazing.
Malcolm Gladwell and Jared Diamond, are important too. Their books have influenced a lot of people (who hasn't read "The Tipping Point?") although if I have to choose, Diamond has the edge. Gladwell wins out in the cool department, though, for singing with Stephen Colbert (who was my write-in vote)
Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are up there; the public faces of atheism. Dawkins's "The Selfish Gene" and "The Blind Watchmaker" are must-reads.
Thomas Friedman's "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" helped shape my thinking, so he should be on my list, while Mohammad Yunus (who will be speaking here next year, daw) and Amaryta Sen are there to balance my thoughts on global economics.
Lawrence Lessig of Creative Commons is addressing an issue important to me, while Rem Koolhas is the only one up there talking about design.
Meanwhile, Al Gore needs to be off the list. He is a politician and a popularizer of a cause but it isn't his ideas being discussed. Being a public intellectual means having thoughts that are original enough to influence lesser people's thoughts. If agreeing with experts and promoting their ideas is public intellectualism, half the people with blogs can qualify.