17. Noah Brier

Head of strategy of Barbarian Group

"If a programmer saw my code, they'd probably vomit," says Noah Brier, 27. A self-described tinkerer, he feeds his online-strategy work for clients including GE and Dove by creating, on his own time, compelling projects at the intersection of social media, digital advertising, and anthropology. One is Brand Tags, a Web site that flashes a logo and asks consumers to submit the first word that comes to mind. The answers go into a tag cloud that so far has 1.6 million words related to 900 brands. Some findings are unexpected: Consumers associate Audi with the Olympics (it's that linked-circle logo) and BMW with "asshole." Less surprising: Mac users tie Apple to "innovation" while PC users say "pretentious." Another project, My First Tweet, looks at how people engage with new mediums by compiling their initial Twitter posts. "I discovered that people use it the same way they'd approach a microphone," he says. "They tap it once or twice and ask if it's on." — by Danielle Sacks

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