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Chief Philosophical Officer

It had to be back in 1993 that I had dual cards at Interleaf. But it was only a couple of days ago that I came across them.

Interleaf business cards

Yes, for a couple of years I was both VP of Strategic Marketing and Chief Philosophical Officer at Interleaf.

The duties of the former were more rigorously defined than those of the latter. It was mainly just a goofy card, but it did reflect a bit of my role there. I got to think about the nature of documents, knowledge, etc., and then write and speak about it.

Goofy for sure. But I think in some small ways it helped the company. Interleaf had amazingly innovative software, decades ahead of its time, in large part because the developers had stripped documents down to their elements, and were thinking in new ways about how they could go back together. Awesome engineers, awesome software.

And I got to try to explain why this was important even beyond what the software enabled you to do.

Should every company have a CPO? I remember writing about that at the end of my time there. If I find it, I’ll post it. But I won’t and so I won’t.

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5 Responses to “Chief Philosophical Officer”

  1. Apple used to allow people to create non-traditional job titles. A friend of mine who was a very solid QA engineer came up with “Sr. Software Sadist” and got it approved.

    Always good to get in good with group administrative assistants ASAP at a new job.

  2. 2414 years ago the citizen of Athens forced Socrates to drink the Hemlock, yet you, “Chief Philosophical Officer”, are allowed to walk the streets of the U. S. A. a free man. Obviously there is no justice in this world.

  3. Present tech companies allow this, still. NPR had a piece on it in the fall.

    One of the people who spoke was Parisa Tabriz, the chief of Google’s Chrome Security. She adopted the title “Security Princess” and has it on her card.

    I had forgotten about that title and card you had. Once again, in the forefront!

  4. Finally pursuing full time the “reputational democracy” idea we discussed in Beijing one evening many years ago, I told my CEO that I wanted to be promoted to Chief Philosophy Officer one day. I thought I’d better go and check if anyone else already had the idea and, of course, they had and, of course, it was you.. Good to know I’m only running 22 years behind in my thinking.

  5. Dammit! I _knew_ I should have trademarked it!

    I’m sure you’ll do a better job of it than I did. Good to hear from you, Simon.

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