Wacker: It starts with what we call the devox, the voice or spirit of deviant ideas, people, products. It's the innovation virus. That devox starts way out on the Fringe. It then moves to the Edge, then to the Realm of the Cool, and then becomes the Next Big Thing. Then it turns into Social Convention. From there it can go to Cliché, Icon, Archetype, or Oblivion.

American Way: How about some examples of that migration?
Look at Las Vegas, which started out on the Fringe with Bugsy Siegel and mob money. Then the idea got tamer as Vegas moved into the Realm of the Cool and eventually became Social Convention. Now you've got state governments that are in the gambling business, and people take their kids to Vegas. It's become a Cliché.

Or look at tattoos. They went from being the mark of hell-raising sailors to something any stylish high school kid can have.

American Way: How can businesses profit from tracking the devox's voyage?
The trick is to see which deviant ideas are going to move through the whole cycle and create new markets as they go. Think about Elvis, who's now either Icon or Cliché, depending on your taste. There are about 17,000 transactional Web sites that pay no money to the Presley estate. So the people who brought Elvis to the Social Convention stage are not making that money. Someone else is.

American Way: It's surprising to see Bill Gates on your list of famous "technodeviants."
He's a wonderful case study. He and Microsoft both were deviant at the beginning. Now he's moved through the devox to become the icon of the 21st-century monopolist. If he was still deviant, and the Justice Department sued Microsoft, he would have just said, "I'm moving my company out of the U.S."

American Way: You say the devox has always been with us, but it moves much faster now. Why?