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 invest in 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.
How I make money
I make a living by writing, being a marketing consultant, and giving talks. The percentage each contributes varies wildly over time. I also am paid a small amount for my fellowship at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
I am a paying customer of Movable Type. I get a great deal on hosting from a friend of mine, and I'd be happy to say nice things about him in my blog if he wanted me to because those things would be true. So far, he hasn't asked.
I'm not going to list the companies I'm currently working for because that's between them and me. There aren't many of them. I will disclose them (and have disclosed them in the past) if I talk about them on my blog. (None of them has ever asked me to mention them, btw.)
I do have a continuing relationship - a retainer, to be exact - with Edelman PR. I work with them as they try to figure out how to do PR in a webbed world.
I'm on a bunch of advisory boards, including:
Typically, advisory board members get a few stock options if it's a for-profit organization. If one of these companies hits it big, I expect to make something like a semester's college tuition. 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 advisor 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 some 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'm a Fellow at Harvard Law's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. I'm sure that colors my judgment on some issues. You can learn more about the Berkman Center here.
I go to more conferences than I should. 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 angry hippie variety.
My positions are totally predictable, including on the need to keep the Internet open, accessible and uncontrolled.
I really really really don't like Bush. Can we please impeach him now?
Inevitably, I use my judgment. For example, there are times when the mention is so slight or inocuous that the disclaimer would be out of place. E.g., I was on the Microsoft OneNote advisory board, which meant that I filled out a product survey for them occasionally. If I wrote something about, say, why Microsoft's MediaPlayer's digital rights management policy sucks, I probably wouldn't bother explaining that I'm on an uncompensated advisory board for a different Microsoft product. 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.
All I can promise is that I will be honest with you and 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