I agree Keith - who's the arbiter of authority in terms of credentialing influence? There's some of this going on with Twitter tools focused on retweeting - e.g., the more retweeted a person is, the more influential... however, that doesn't necessarily mean they're "authoritative" on a subject, right?
Is there some form of academic peer review that can look at credentialing in real-time? That's always been the problem with peer review - it takes so long... if the barriers could be lowered then argument can be made more accessible to expert and layman alike. I suppose that's what Digg does.
MOREOVER, I think Keith has nailed why "futures studies" and other forecasting doesn't often get traction in the organization: Unless you're really experienced evaluating forecasts, how can you put a seal of quality on what information you are using?
And as he also points out - if the whole universe is now "knowledge" instead of barrels of crude oil, how can we evaluate quality in a way that cuts across multiple organizations and cultures.
Like I said, we have room for incredible amounts of original work.
A very interesting and related set of "thought provoker" talks can be found at www.ted.com. (TED is series of national, global and more recently, local conferences dedicated to "ideas worth sharing", the thought being that looking outside one's own mental backyard has generated many of our most significant leaps forward.) I recently attended a local TED event in Naperville, IL, and felt that there was much to learn from their dynamic, thoughtful approach to presenting on everything from the "Long Now" foundation, which seeks a cultural shift towards longer term thinking, to discussions of how local reality TV is influencing politics and culture in the Middle East.
And a thought on "influence" - the TED model seems to be that authorities/speakers are people who have DONE something of particular interest - whether it is writing a best seller or researching the latest in neuroanatomy - and who are then passionate and articulate in sharing their ideas.