Rob Malda, 25
Internet and Web
While Rob—don’t call him Robert—Malda may fit the irreverent hacker stereotype, his finest hack does not. Malda is founder of Holland, MI-based Slashdot, a Web site cum online community cum Internet Zeitgeistmeter visited by more than 250,000 surfers daily. What started in 1997 as an online hang-out for Malda’s cronies to trade banter on geek subjects is now “the number one site for tech news and geek ranting, ”according to the Washington Post.Contributors recommend news items to Slashdot, where Malda and his small staff create links to the stories and write introductory paragraphs. Readers post comments, which are then graded by other readers. Many times, Web sites whose addresses are cited experience the “Slashdot effect”—an increase in traffic so sharp that their operations sometimes halt. The open-source program that runs Slashdot, which Malda created and regularly works on, is intuitive enough to have attracted 500,000 registered users. Countless others have downloaded it to run their own online discussion groups. As Malda continues to refine the Slashdot experience, he will refine the way the world experiences the Internet.