Hard to believe it’s been 15 years since “Men in Black” appeared in theaters. The movie is one of my favorites, and a wonderful scene is when an Army officer observes that in its recruiting efforts, the Men in Black is looking for “the best of the best of the best.”

The editors of SD Times aren’t charged with monitoring extraterrestrial activity on Earth. Sure, our reporters always wear cool sunglasses, but they aren’t issued neuralyzers. Bummer. Rather, our current mission is to choose the best of the best of the best in the software development industry—the top leaders and innovators.

It’s time again for reader nominations for the SD Times 100, when we recognize the companies, organizations and open-source projects that truly make a difference in our industry. Reader nominations will be open through March 30. You can fill in the nomination form here.

Who are the leaders and innovators? They lead, and the industry follows. They create new technologies. They solve problems in interesting and novel ways. They write great software, they develop methodologies, they create platforms, they release tools.

Leaders and innovators matter. People talk about them. People want to try their tools, technologies and services. People try to emulate them. People want to partner with them, or become compatible with them. People worry about competing against them.

If the only people using an open-source project are the contributors to that project, it’s not a leader… yet. If the only people talking about a company are its employees, it’s not a leader. If nobody is following the organization’s work, it’s not a leader.

About Alan Zeichick

Alan Zeichick, founding editor of SD Times, is principal analyst of Camden Associates.