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Introducing the SAY 100: Online Voices That Shape Opinion

by Michael Sippey, VP Artist Development, SAY Media

Quick: how many different LCD screens did you glance at yesterday? I bet you couldn't even begin to count.

They're in our walls, on our desks, in our pockets, in our elevators, in our cars, in our building lobbies and at the checkout line at the grocery store. These screens are delivering messages through streaming newsfeeds, real-time alerts and even life-sized advertising experiences (been in a mall lately?). Like Madge used to say in the old Palmolive ads, we're soaking in it, where the "it" is media. And if we're constantly soaking in it, how can we separate signal from noise?

Here's the secret: we do it with people. As the quantity of messages we receive goes up, we're turning to voices we trust to find the signal in all the noise. This can mean friends, of course, of both the Facebook and non-Facebook variety. But thanks to the explosion of blogs and passionate creators, we're also turning to authentic, knowlegeable voices online that create engaging content, drive conversation and shape opinion.

The SAY 100 is a collection of those voices. We want to highlight the fact that media is changing, and the power to shape opinion is shifting from the faceless editorial voice of "The Magazine" or "The Newspaper" to individuals, many of whom are taking advantage of simple technology to create their own properties and build their own media brands. And the best way to highlight that change is to show who we're talking about.

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When we were brainstorming how to create the SAY 100, we had a couple of differnet options. On the one hand, we could have gone the algorithmic approach and used tools like Klout or Twinfluence, or scraped Quora to find people with a bunch of upvoted answers. But we didn't like reducing the power, skill and art of creating great content and engaging communities to a simple number.

On the other hand, we could have just picked the list ourselves. After all, we're smart, attractive and interesting people...or at least we like to think we are. And we all have great lists of sites we read and people we follow.

But instead, we went back to the core question and asked ourselves: "Who are the people that shape our opinions? And wouldn't they be best to pick the list of people that shape *their* opinions?" So instead of plucking 100 creators out of our own bookmarks, Twitter lists and RSS readers, we worked with 10 experts in 10 categories, asked them to pick the sites and voices they love and listen to.

We couldn't be happier with the results. There are some here that you probably know and love, like Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void, one of Seth Godin's picks in Business. Or Tavi Gevinson of Style Rookie, one of Jane Pratt's picks in Style. But there are probably others that will be new to you, like Irshad Manji, who Clay Shirky picked in Thought Leaders. Or Will Hudson of It's Nice That, who Tina Roth Eisenberg picked in Design.

We built the site to let you explore and discover the voices that are shaping opinion online. Our channel curators have written brief notes about why these voices matter, and where possible we've brought in headlines of their latest posts and their latest Tweets, so that you can click over to their site and engage with their content directly.

And because media is always changing, we'll be updating the SAY 100 over the course of the year -- new voices in each channel, new curators helping us pick the channel, and even brand new channels. If you have suggestions for people, channels or curators -- or if you think we've slighted you by not including you on the list -- get in touch.

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