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I seek a word for one who is up-to-date, enlightened, and extremely well informed about the latest developments or research in a particular field.

An example is a person who complains about a recent encyclopedic book publication, criticising it for being out-of-date despite its recent publication date. I want to be somewhat ironic and say something about his or her obsession with "up-to-date-ness" and his failure to appreciate this truly magnificent book. Any suggestions?

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Do you want the word to only apply to science ir can it apply to anything? Restricted to science, it sounds too localized. –  Mitch Jan 27 '12 at 13:26
    
The word could be applied to anything, not just science. The guy who I want to assign the word is so up-to-date with everything in his field of expertise, rendering him ovely critical "'cause it´s already outdated when it´s in print". Thus it´s almost impossible to publish a book on a given subject according to his view. –  Carl Jonas Jan 27 '12 at 14:15
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I love this question! :) –  Pitarou Feb 3 '12 at 6:07
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10 Answers

How about a little French (which I think is a great language for irony), call him au courant?

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That´s a very suitable expression. Thanks! –  Carl Jonas Jan 27 '12 at 14:16
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Au courant was the first thing that occurred to me when I read the question just now! Using a borrowed word, or phrase, particularly French, and especially with italic typeface, is good for a bit of irony. But it is subtle, gentle enough not to be mean-spirited. –  Feral Oink Feb 4 '12 at 12:33
    
Feral Oink has convinced me: au courant wins the prize! :) –  Pitarou Feb 5 '12 at 3:00
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This person is not just leading edge, but bleeding edge.

Edit: If you want a term that is less colloquial, you can say that this person is at the forefront of technology. (You did say you wanted a word with an ironic edge; but irony is often in the delivery...)

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I'd probably say "leading light", but maybe that doesn't carry the irony that the OP requires. –  Urbycoz Jan 27 '12 at 14:07
    
'Bleeding edge' is a great expression! –  Carl Jonas Jan 27 '12 at 14:15
    
Bleeding edge is good for irony. @Urbycoz I think "leading edge" rather than "leading light" is the more common usage. Of course, there is also "shining light". That always makes me think of that Jackson Brown(e?) song, and "...Ridgemont High" though. –  Feral Oink Feb 4 '12 at 12:38
    
+1: for forefront –  Umber Ferrule Dec 4 '12 at 16:12
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Someone who is on the bleeding edge deals with unreliable, untested, and (with regard to tools) largely unused tools, products and information. With that in mind, there are a few words and phrases you can use that focus on particular aspects of his up-to-date-ness.

Prophetically Informed adjective

Prophetically: predictive; presageful or portentous; ominous

This is a phrase you could use ironically. More of the information in the encyclopedia will be relevant in 6 months than of the information that he has, due to the fact that only a portion of bleeding edge information, tools, and products withstand the rigors of time. Some of the things he is focused on will make it, though - making him feel like a prophet simply because he knew that "Product X was so much better than the current industry standard, Product Y." You could also call him a "<Field> Prophet."

Consultant noun

a person who gives professional or expert advice

Whether he is or is not a consultant is irrelevant. Consultants in a given field stay up-to-date on the tools, products, and information in their field.

Scientist of <Field> noun

This phrase is on the fact that he is relying on early experimental data. It does not necessarily convey the idea of unreliability, though.

Bleeding Edge Professional or Bleeding Edge <Field> Professional noun

This phrase conveys the idea of bleeding edge in a noun. It insinuates that he is not focused on established technologies, but just those that are bleeding edge.

Early Adopter noun

This phrase could be used dismissively, to focus on the fact that he has adopted a tool or product before the industry or many others have. It also conveys the idea of unreliability. The use of the word "early" explicitly makes it clear that it may be too soon for someone to be concerned about these technologies.

Alpha (or Beta) Tester noun

This phrase, used as hyperbole, indicates that he is using information, products, or tools that are barely tested at all, and also strongly conveys the idea of unreliability.

Ultramodern adjective

very advanced in ideas, design, or techniques.

Vogue noun

something in fashion, as at a particular time

This word describes what he is familiar with, rather than what he is.

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Early adopter is a fine choice! –  Feral Oink Feb 4 '12 at 12:41
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A neutral term could be avant-garde.

Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm (wikipedia)

If you want irony and a little wordplay is fine, you could say someone is upper-to-date.

I think the comparative works even better than the superlative, because it conveys an attitude of always opposing against something/someone else. Like saying that someone always knows better can be ironic, because it means that that he really is just cocky and annoying. But if you say "mother always knows best" it means you trust her, without any irony.

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Wonk (noun) a person who studies a subject or issue in an excessively assiduous and thorough manner: a policy wonk.

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You could say that he is a cognoscente or one of the cognoscenti in the field.

Someone possessing superior or specialized knowledge in a particular field;

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I quote from the question itself, 'word for one who is up-to-date, enlightened, and extremely well informed'.

I think the question itself somewhat answers the question i.e. it gives you three words right there that you can use to describe such a person.

  • Annie is up-to-date with the news;

  • Annie is enlightened about the plight of refugees and her compassion shines through.

  • Annie is extremely well-informed because she regularly reads about international events and she subscribes to online academic journals.

  • Annie works with high level politicians and senior public servants and she's really in the know so she would probably be the best person to ask about that problem. (We can deduce from this example that Annie has a current working knowledge in a particular area and would probably thus be up-to-date/informed/current.)

Depending on the context and the individuals involved, there may be subtle differences in what words will best fit the description outlined in the question. Since there are shades of gray in everything, why not take advantage of some adjectives to help you describe such a person in a nutshell since none of us yet have come up with a hard and fast single word answer for you. (I think the specific word - if there is one - might come to me randomly someday - like in my sleep - so I will post again if it does.)

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I apologise for this answer I was unwell when I wrote it and I realise it doesn't quite answer the question. I was trying to point out that the words in the question are the right words to use so it's difficult to offer another word because these words are the most suitable (in my mind). –  Rachel Feb 4 '12 at 17:16
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You may make use of omniscient. I think, omniscient - mostly used to refer to God's knowledge of "everything" - could also be ironic when used for human. Or you may create irony by punctuation.

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This is colloquial also, but I've been using the term "real-time" as an adjective in these situations. I've adopted it from the advertisements for research and news products.

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Probably not as up-to-date as other proposals like bleeding-edge, but he may be a technocrat (this can have meaning of technical export or technologist, word mostly used in managerial context ans usually with a strong negative connotation), or he could also be part of intelligentsia (nowaday I believe this word also took a negative and ironic connotation).

The original description also made me thought of another french one: blasé. you can use this one to describe someone who already tried everything, and now feel it sooo boring. But this one does not implies he is actually well informed on any subject.

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