I'm David Weinberger, a writer. I was born in 1950, in NY. I have lived in Boston since 1986. I have an academic background (Ph.D. in philosophy from U. of Toronto, taught at Stockton State College for 5 years in a non-tenure track position), but have worked in high tech for decades now, and write about the effect of the Internet on how we think about ourselves, our world, and business. I have written a number of books on the topic, which are listed at the top of my blog.
I am currently a Senior Researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center and am co-director of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab.
No one pays me to write this blog or to say particular things in it. That includes all forms of compensation, including offering to shovel my walk or tell me that I look like I've lost some weight. I don't run ads, no one pays me under the table, and I don't sell JOHO t-shirts or coffee mugs. I don't invest in companies and the couple I did once invest in went broke a long time ago, so I've got nothing to tout except the companies and people I'm enthusiastic about. So, what the hell am spending so much damn time blogging for? Now you've got me all depressed.
I am currently employed by Harvard Law School as co-director of the Library Innovation Lab, a position that pays me somewhat more than half time. I also make money by giving talks, writing, and consulting.
I am co-director of Harvard Law School' Library Innovation Lab , established in 2009 by John Palfrey. The Lab creates prototypes and tools that demonstrate possibilities for libraries in the networked age.
I'm a Senior Researcher at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society . You can learn more about the Berkman Center here . (I started out there as a Fellow; my title changed. I'm now also on the Center's Fellows Advisory Board.) This is a non-paying position.
In 2013, I am a fellow at the University of Stuttgart's Internationales Zentrum für Kultur- und TechnikForschung
In 2009-2011, I was a Franklin Fellow at the U.S. State Department. Franklin Fellows typically are businesspeople who spend a sabbatical year at the State Dept. Since I didn't have an employer, I couldn't take a sabbatical, so I was at State more intermittently than typical Fellows. I was attached to the eDiplomacy group within State, advising on an internal professional networking system the group is building, as well as on a few more outward-facing projects, all about using networks to collaborate and learn. (This was a non-paying position. Craig Newmark made a contribution to the Berkman Center to cover my travel expenses. Thanks, Craig!)
When I have clients who I think affect my judgment or credibility about the topics I talk or write about, I disclose them on my blog. (None of them has ever asked me to mention them, btw.) I currently am occupied full time by Harvard, writing and speaking, and have no clients.
I'm on a few advisory boards, including:
Typically, advisory board members get a few stock options if it's a for-profit organization. I once made some money this way, but money is not my primary motivation. If I'm on an advisory board, it's because I like what the organization is doing. Sometimes I like it because it's cool and useful technology. More often, I serve as an adviser because I think what the organization is doing could make a difference.
Authors sometimes send me free copies of their books. Often, explicitly or implicitly, they are looking for a mention. If I like the book, I may indeed mention it. If the author is a friend of mine, I'm pretty likely to mention it — because that's what friends do — and I'm also much more likely to like it than a book that arrives from a PR agent. I'm probably not going to tell you that I got a free copy. Why? Because it doesn't matter and because it makes me feel like I'm boasting. Also, it reads funny.
I go to a few conferences - far fewer than I used to. I rarely pay the conference fee because either I'm speaking or I wheedle a media pass. I usually pay my travel and hotel expenses, unless I'm getting paid to do a keynote.
I am a straightforward liberal, of the aging hippie variety.
My positions are totally predictable, including on the need to keep the Internet open, accessible and uncontrolled.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of President Obama.
I had a terrific title with the Howard Dean presidential campaign in 2004, thanks to Joe Trippi: I was "Senior Internet Advisor." I did not design Governor Dean's amazing Internet campaign. That was well in place before I got there. I did a little kibbitzing about Net tactics, and got to hang out with the incredible group of people who actually were responsible for designing and implementing it. I worked on Internet policy issues for the campaign, and put together the Net Advisory Net of net policy advisors. I also stood in the snow holding a Dean sign. My august title was not reflective of my actual role or effect, but I was awfully glad to be allowed to participate in the campaign. (I believe I was also the first person to be invited to ride on a presidential campaign plane as a blogger.)
No, I am not Canadian. I got my doctorate in philosophy from the University of Toronto and lived there for seven years in the 1970s, and wrote for a bunch of Canadian magazines. I loved the time I spent there, and admire our sisters and brothers to the north. But I was born in NY and am a US citizen.
Yes, I did write gags for Woody Allen from about 1976-1984, but it was for his comic strip. The strip ran for many years in many papers, and I think I wrote about 40% of the gags that ran. Every week I'd send in about 50 (I tried to write 7 a night). Woody Allen edited the strip, so it was a great learning experience. I only met him twice. He would not remember me. (The late Stu Hample, the strip's originator, artist, and writer, published a memoir about it.)
No, I am not a professor at Harvard. I am employed by the Harvard Law School Library, not in a faculty position. I do not teach there, although John Palfrey and I co-taught a course at the Law School called "The Web Difference" a couple of years ago. (I was an assistant professor of philosophy at Stockton state College from about 1980-1986. It was a non-tenure track position.)
I use WordPress for my blogs. I intermittently pay Brad Sucks to help with some of the techie stuff. I also really like Brad's music and plug it whenever I can. I use mediatemple as my host, and Hover and Dotster as my domain registrars. (Dotster is cheaper. Hover has better customer service, and actively supports an open Internet.)
I will disclose anything that I think affects my judgment, or should affect your judgment about the reliability or partiality of what I'm saying. Inevitably, I use my judgment. For example, there are times when the mention is so slight or innocuous that the disclaimer would be out of place. E.g., if I post something about Microsoft's policies on preserving an open Internet, I probably wouldn't bother explaining that over ten years ago I was on an uncompensated advisory board for Microsoft OneNote. I also wouldn't mention that from about 1991-3, when I worked for Interleaf, I managed that company's marketing relationship with Microsoft, unless it seemed relevant. Life's too intertwingly. That's why we make judgment calls.
Ultimately, all I can promise is that I will never write something I don't believe in because someone is paying me as part of a relationship you don't know about. Put differently: All I'll hide are the irrelevancies.
If you don't like this or disagree, let me know .
- David Weinberger
Most recent update: May 29, 2013
First posted: Aug. 15, 2004