2014 Honorary Doctor of Letters from Simmons College
1979 Ph.D. (philosophy), University of Toronto
1972 BA (philosophy and religion), Bucknell University. Magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa
Writing and Business Career Highlights
2021 July-Dec. Writer-in-residence, Google, Responsible Innovation group. Writing provocations in various formats about less obvious moral issues with machine learning models, especially foundational ones.
2018 - 2020 Writer-in-residence, Google People + AI Research. Editor and co-creator of a Google AI public-facing site exploring the human and social effects of AI
2019- Ghost writing tech thought leadership articles, via Gotham Ghostwriters .
2017 - Editor of the "Strong Ideas" book series , MIT Press, and member of Press’ open access publishing advisory board
2004- Fellow, senior researcher, Fellows Advisory Board member, and affiliate at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society
2017- Harvard Business School Digital Initiative advisory board
2015 Fellow, Harvard Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics, and Public
2010-14 Co-Director, Harvard Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School
2010-12 Franklin Fellow, United States Department of State
2008 Visiting Lecturer at Harvard Law
2001-2002 Mancala, Inc. (Boulder, CO), Co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing (wordofmouth.com) – early social networking startup
1994-2009 Founder and sole employee of Evident Marketing, Inc., a marketing consulting company.
1995-1996 Open Text, Inc. (Waterloo, Canada), Vice President of Strategic Marketing – early Web search & "intranet" sw company
1986-1994 Interleaf, Inc. (Cambridge, then Waltham, MA). Entered as Marketing Associate; left as Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Chief Philosophical Officer
1980-1986 Stockton State College (NJ), Assistant Professor, Philosophy Dept.
1979-1980 Portland State University (OR), one-year appointment as Ass’t Prof. (I think), Philosophy Department.
1976-1984 Gag writer for Woody Allen’s comic strip, Inside Woody Allen. Contributed about half the material.
1978- Freelance journalist: features, humor
Writing and Business Highlights
Small Pieces Loosely Joined
Everything Is Miscellaneous
Too Big to Know
Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility. AI and the Internet are changing our fundamental strategies and ideas about how the world works and the future happens. Lean into the chaos! (Harvard Business Review, May 2019.) Book page: Talks, podcasts, interviews, etc.:
Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room. Knowledge is taking on the properties of its new medium, the Net. (New York: Basic Books, 2012)
The Cluetrain Manifesto: Tenth Anniversary Edition. A reconsideration of the Web ten years later. With Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, and Doc Searls. (NY: Basic Books, 2011)
Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. Our understanding of how things and ideas can and should be organized is being transformed by the digital age. (New York: Times Books, 2007)
Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web. The Web is revealing truths about ourselves we long suspected but that our old media obscured. (Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2003)
The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual. Despite what the media and businesses of the time were saying, the Web is fundamentally a social space. With Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, and Doc Searls. (Reading: Perseus Books, 2001
Adventurer's Guide to Interleaf Lisp. How to program Interleaf documents in LISP. (Boulder: Onword Press, 1994)
Nuclear Dialogues. The ethics of the global nuclear policy of deterrence. (NYC: Peter Lang Pub Inc, 1987)
My Hundred Million Dollar Secret. Free Young Adult novel about a good kid who wins the lottery. 2006.
“Introduction”, The Year in Tech, 2021: The Insights You Need from Harvard Business Review, (HBR, 2020)
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Introduction to 15th anniversary edition of The Social Life of Information, John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. Harvard Business School Publishing, 2016.
"After Overload", After Shock:: The World’s Foremost Futurists Reflect on 50 Years of Future Shock―and Look Ahead to the Next 50, ed. John Schroeter (John August Media, 2020), pp. 306-310.
"Links as the New Punctuation", The Future of Text, Frode Hegland, ed. (2020)
"Rethinking Knowledge in the Age of the Internet," in Los Angeles Review of Books volume on the "digital revolution," Jan. 2017.
“Why Heidegger?” Joseph P. Fell Festschrift. Bucknell University Press. 2016.
"How Information Got Smart." Making Connections 4. Ed. Jessica Williams, Pamela Vittorio. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2016. Pp. 59-65.
“Heidegger’s Communication Theory.” Exploring the Roots of Digital and Media Literacy Through Personal Narrative. Ed. Renee Hobbs. Temple U. Press, 2016.
"Shakespeare as a Network.” Shakespeare and Textual Studies. Ed. Sonie Massai and Margaret Jane Kidnie. Cambridge Univ. Press. 2014.
“The rules of the game: key points of the study” [ Translated comments and exchange.] Investir la culture: Actes du Forum d’Avignon, Culture, économie, medias, 2011. (Gallimard, 2012), p.p. 403-415
“David Weinberger im Interview: ‘Im Allgemeinen ist Kundenservice enttäuschend’” [“David Weinberger interview: ‘In general, customer service is disappointing’”], pp. 38-40 Kundenservice im Social Web. Andreas H. Bock. O’Reilly Basics. Köln, 2012.
“The Morality of Links.” The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning in the Digital Age. Ed. Turow, Joseph and Tusi, Lokman: Madison: U. of Michigan, 2008
“Knotrolle als Risiko” [translated from “Control as Risk”]. Enterprise 2.0: Die Kunst, loszulassen [the Art of Letting Go]. Ed. Bushe, Willms, and Stamer, Sören Rhombos-Verlag, 2008.
“Why Open Spectrum Matters.” Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace. Ed. Mark Tovey. Oakton, Va.: EIN, 2008.
Interview in Christopher, Roy, ed. Follow for Now. Seattle: Well-Red Bear, 2007
“Broadcasting and the Voter's Paradox.” Extreme Democracy Ed. Ratcliffe, Mitch, and Lebkowsky, Jon. 2007
“The Human Utopia and the Web.” Viable Utopian Ideas: Shaping a Better World. Ed. Arthur Shostak. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2003. 65-68.
"Disliking Libraries", The Fruitful Branch (Brookline Library Association, 2003)
Article on e-Business in Business: The Ultimate Resource. Boston: Perseus, 2002.6
"Trains, Car Wrecks, and the Ontology of Machine Learning" , Aeon.co, Nov. 15, 2021 [The tile listed is mine. Aeon's published title was "Learning from Machine Learning."]
While at Google, I was the content editor of a Medium site for Google PAIR where diverse voices think in public about AI issues of justice and culture. The main features are Q&As I conducted and edited.
"Alien Knowledge," Wired, April 18, 2017
"Can AI Explain Inexplicable Beauty?", Psychology Today Oct, 28, 2020
AI posts as writer-in-residence at Google
“How machine learning pushes us to define fairness,” Harvard Business Review, Nov. 06, 2019.
“The Uncanny Stepford Valley”, Psychology Today, Feb. 28, 2021
“A Radically Unpredictable World Needs Agility, Not Strategy”, Brink News, Feb. 10, 2020
“Playing with AI Fairness”, Dec. 2018
"Don't make AI artificially stupid in the name of transparency," Wired.com, Jan 28, 2018
“Should your self-driving car kill you to save a school bus full of kids?”, Digital Trends, Oct. 27, 2015
"Optimization over Explanation: Maximizing the benefits of machine learning without sacrificing its intelligence," Berkman Klein Collection, Jan 28, 2018
"Do humans make computers smarter?," Digital Trends, Nov. 9, 2016
Selected other publications
250+ columns for KMWorld
Introduction to 15th anniversary edition of The Social Life of Information, John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. Harvard Business School Publishing, 2016
“Introduction”, Technology anthology (HBR, 2020)
“The Machine that Would Predict the Future”, Scientific American cover story, Dec. 2011
"The Internet that was and still could be, "The Atlantic", June 22, 2015
"Pointing at the Wrong Villain: Cass Sunstein and Echo Chambers," Los Angeles Review of Books, July 20, 2015
Early articles and book reviews (1976-1979) for Maclean's magazine.
"I’m a Democrat. Here’s why I helped raise money for North Carolina Republicans." Washington Post, Oct. 17, 2016.
"Rethinking Knowledge in the Internet Age," LA Review of Books, May 2, 2016
"There's a library-shaped hole in the Internet," The Boston Globe, July 26, 2015
"So Sayeth Google: The search engine should not be the arbiter of truth." With Dan Gillmor. Slate. March 13, 2015
“What Is the Future of Knowledge in the Internet Age?”, Nov. 29, 2011, Scientific American (interviewed by Michael Moyer)
“Transparency is the new objectivity,” July 19, 2009
AI Outside In: Making data meaningless so AI can learn its meaning,” Feb 2019
“AI Outside In: Machine learning’s triangle of error”, Nov. 2018
“Playing with AI Fairness”, Dec. 2018
Transcription of Ranganathan's memories of Melvil Dewey, Informatics Studies, Jan. 2018.
"Public Learning," Ed-Tech (MindCET), 2017
“The Power of Crowdsourcing Knowledge in Online Communities,” Harvard Extension School, interviewed by Christina Nagler, July 11, 2017
"Do humans make computers smarter?," Digital Trends, Nov. 9, 2016 http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/do-humans-make-computers-smarter/
"The Library as Center of Meaning," Public Library Quarterly, Dec. 12, 2016,
"Pop culture's fixation on zombies is really the Internet's fault," Digital Trends, Mar. 29, 2016
"What Facebook should learn from this 'colonialism' debacle, DigitalTrends, Feb. 15, 2016
“The future no longer works the way we thought it did,” Slate, Dec. 30, 2015
"Lessons from Reddit for educators," EdTech Mindset, Dec. 2015, p. 22.
“Spoiler Alert: Why the Internet knows the ending before airtime,” Boston Globe, Dec. 6, 2015
"Are smartphone making us stupid?" ("Con" side), New York Times Upfront, Sept. 7, 2015, p. 22.
“YouTube is copying the RIAA’s tactics, except this time you win,” Digital Trends, Nov. 24, 2015
“Should your self-driving car kill you to save a school bus full of kids?”, Digital Trends, Oct. 27, 2015.
“The End of Story-telling,” Technologist, Oct. 28, 2014 http://www.technologist.eu/the-end-of-storytelling/
“A Good, Dumb Way to Learn from Libraries.” Chronicle of Higher Education. Oct. 7, 2014.
“Let the Future Go.” Library Journal Sept. 22, 20214v
“Library as Platform.” Library Journal. Sept. 13, 2013.
"Netzwerke wissen es besser." [“Networks know things better”]. Interview in Die Tageszeitung, August 7, 2012
“The lasting effect of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” invited by The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 2012)
“The Knowledge Network,” by Steffan Heuer, Best Practice, Issue 1, 2012, pp. 38-9.
“To Know, but Not Understand: David Weinberger on Science and Big Data.” The Atlantic Online. Jan 3, 2012
“The Machine that Would Predict the Future.” Scientific American cover story. Dec. 2011
“The Internet shows the messy truth about science.” New Scientist. Issue 2851. 15 February 2012
“13 ways the Internet is making us smarter.” Huffington Post. Jan 23, 2011. [Link]
“Taxonomy Out of the Box.” Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology 33.3 (2007). 28.
Publications before 2005 include articles in Release 1.0, The Guardian, Salon, MIT Technology Review, Miam Herald, WomenFuture, Jewish World Review, Cutter IT Journal, CIO, Journal of Brand Management, Information Week, Upside, Journal of Management in Engineeering, Advanced Imaging, Seybold Report on Publishing Systems, USA Today Magazine, Futurist, Byte, PC World, Smithsonian, New York Times, The Globe and Mail, and many more.
“Have It Your Way.” . June 1999. 190.
“The Scenic Route.” . Dec. 1998. 216-217.
“When Your Computer Goes Down.” . Nov. 1998. 202.
“Immerse Yourself.” . Oct. 1998. 182.
“Review of Trellix 2.0.” . May 1998.
“Maximize the Medium.” . May 1998. 154.
“Idées Fortes: Cyberspace Is Not (Yet) a Tree.” . Nov. 1997.
“Idées Fortes: Upending the Org Chart.” . Apr. 1997.
“What’s a Document?” . Aug. 1996.
“One-on-One with One-to-One’s Martha Rogers.” . Mar. 1996.
“The Balm of Reading.” . Jan. 1996.
“In Your Interface.” . Sep. 1995.
“The Daily Me? No, the Daily Us.” . Apr. 1995.
“The Ecstatic Document.” . Mar. 1995.
“When your computer gets a brain” . Nov. 1998.[Link]
Writing awards and honors (selected)
2020 Best Business Commentary, Axiom Business Book Awards
2019 Top 11 “Must Read” books for entrepreneurs, Inc. Magazine (Everyday Chaos)
2019 Top 5 “Big Ideas” Business Books, BookPal (Everyday Chaos)
2018 President’s Medal from the Chartered Institute for Public Relations awarded to the Cluetrain authors.
2012 World Technology Award in the field of Media & Journalism
2012 Too Big to Know chosen as International Book of the Year by getAbstract.com
2007 Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council “Mover and Shaker” of the year
Harvard Business Review articles and posts
“How Machine Learning Pushes Us to Define Fairness”, Nov. 6, 2019
“Can We Trust Machines that Sound Too Much Like Us?” May 22, 2019
“The Gettysburg Principles for Keeping Your Customers.” March 28, 2012
“Shared Value vs. Don’t Be Evil.” Blog. April 26, 2010
"Stripes and Hierarchies." November 8, 2010. Part of HBR "Leadership Lessons from the Military (HBR Spotlight Article Collection)
"How Reddit the Business Lost Touch with Reddit the Culture," with Adrienne Debigare, July 14, 2015
"Powering Down Leadership in the U.S. Army." November 2, 2010.
"The American Business Leader's Love Affair with Integrity." Blog. October 29, 2010.
"The Problem with the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom Hierarchy." Blog. February 2, 2010
"Authenticity: Is It Real or Is It Marketing? (HBR Case Study)." March, 2008
"The Year of Scale." Blog. December 26, 2007
"Memo to Amazon.com: Open the Kindle." Blog. November 26, 2007.
"If you love your information, set it free." June 1, 2007.
"HBR Breakthrough Ideas of 2007." February 1, 2007.
"HBR Breakthrough Ideas of 2006." February 1, 2006.
"Sorting Data to Suit Yourself." March, 2005.
"Blogger in Their Midst." (Commenter on case study.) September 1, 2003.
“When is Facebook NOT messing with your head?” July 1, 2014 [Link]
“What Mayer misses about the work-life balance” March 2, 2013 [Link]
“Boston Marathon: What we should remember,” Apr. 14, 2014 [Link
“Why the bogus AP tweet tricked us” April 25, 2013 [Link]
“What the Boston suspects taught you” April 19, 2013 [Link]
“Rolling Stone Cover: Why We Must Look,” July 19, 2013 [Link
“Texter killer teaches us only one thing,” Jan 15, 2014 [Link]
“Don’t treat snow as an emergency” Feb. 12, 2013 [Link]
All Things Considered NPR commentaries
Here is an ancient list of approximately 30 commentaries aired 1997-2003. (Be sure to bring your RealAudio plugin :)
TicTacToe the Hard Way — A Google AI 9-part series with Yannick Assogway, a developer at Google AI, exploring the many human decisions involved in creating a machine learning app. For non-techies.
Approximately twenty library-related podcasts sponsored by the Harvard Library Lab in 2011
Eight podcasts sponsored by the Berkman Center and Wired in 2007
Host of the Radio Berkman podcast series with visiting thinkers and scholars.
In 2009, the FCC asked me to do a series of video podcasts with members of the Broadband Strategy team.
For recent podcasts I've been on, check here:
2020 “The Idea of Technology,” Harvard Extension School – Letter of commendation for excellence in teaching.
2017 -19 "The Idea of the Internet," Harvard Extension School – Letter of commendation for excellence in teaching).
2015, Spring “The Internet Transformation,” Emerson College.
2013 Intensive 2-day course on Web topics, University of Stuttgart, as a Fellow.
2010 Weekly seminar for Berkman Fellows on Web exceptionalism.
2009-2020 Fellows Advisory Board, Berkman Klein Center, Harvard.
2008 “The Web Difference,” Harvard Law School; co-taught with John Palfrey.
2005-9 Series of open discussions on topics within Internet Studies at the Berkman Center
I have led seminars at business meetings on marketing, Web 2.0, etc. For example in 2019 I led five seminars in Copenhagen on machine learning ethics.
1981-1986 Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Stockton State College. Courses included: Logic (formal and informal), Philosophy of Science, History of Philosophy (ancient, modern, contemporary), Existentialism and Phenomenology, Peace and Conflict, Ethics, Introduction to Computing
1980-1986 Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Portland. (One-year replacement.)
2020 International Scientific Committee, AIB Studi, open access library science journal
2020 Advisory board of MIT Press open access initiative
2014- Harvard Business School Digital Initiative Adviser
2009-2020 Harvard Berkman Klein Fellows Advisory Board
2018- Technology adviser to Open Chain, anti-slavery campaign
2017- Adviser to The Islamic Monthly
2015- Open Syllabus Project adviser
2012 Member of a select committee of advisors on social media to the Obama campaign.
2015- Hillary Clinton campaign technology policy advisory committees
2015 United Nations Museum design workshop
2016- Knowledge Futures Institute at University of Management and Technology, Lahore. Honorary Patron (adviser).
2014 Knight News Challenge (“Library as Platforms”) reader
2014 Co-coordinated Harvard Global Health Initiative’s “unconference” on using social media to improve health initiatives
2014 Crowdsourcing for Libraries project member (IMLS)
2014 Startup Weekend: Library Edition competition judge (University of Toronto Library)
2014 EdTech Startups competition judge (Center for Educational Technology + international consortium)
2014 International Conference on Knowledge Management 2014 (Antayla, Turkey), Program Committee.
2013-14 Suffolk Law School Center for Intellectual Property in Action founding advisory board.
2014 Consultant to Israeli National Library Digital Board
2012-13 Board member of the American Society for Cybernetics conference on Acting, Learning, Understanding
2011-14 Harvard Library IT Steering Committee and leader of the Library Interoperability Initiative.
Ongoing I have served as a reviewer of book proposals for MIT Press and the Harvard Business School Press. I have reviewed paper submissions for conferences I cannot remember.
2006-9 Initiated and led the Berkman Web of Ideas series.
2010-12 Franklin Fellow at the State Department for two years, and have consulted pro bono with many federal agencies and bodies, including intelligence services, USAID, and CPBA.
2011- Center for Educational Technology, Israel, advisory board
2011-13 Convener for the Digital Public Library of America’s technical workstream
2009 At the request of the FCC, conducted a series of podcast interviews with their broadband project leaders
2009 Peer reviewer of proposals for federal broadband stimulus funds.
2008 Advisor on Internet policy to the presidential campaign of John Edwards (pre-yech)
2008-10 One Web Day board of directors
2008 Judge of proposals to the Macarthur Foundation.
2004 Senior Internet Advisor (uncompensated) to the Howard Dean presidential campaign
1993 (approx.) One of the five founders of SGML Open, now known as OASIS, a non-profit group supporting open data standards. I was its first executive director.
1979 Co-founder of Concerned Philosophers for Peace. It continues to publish a newsletter and to hold meetings.
1995- I have spent a significant portion of my time as a volunteer advocate for an open Internet.
AIB Studi – Italian library science group
AIIM Emerging Technology Advisory Group
American Society for Cybernetics conference on Acting, Learning, Understanding, 2012-13
Antarcti.ca (board of directors)
Center for Educational technology (Israel)
Christopher Reeve Foundation (marketing council)
The Communications Network (board of directors)
Global Voices board
Information Architecture Institute
MIT Press open access strategy advisory board
OneWebDay (board of directors)
Open Resource Group
Seybold Conference Advisory Board
Suffolk Law School Center for Intellectual Property in Action
World Congress of Philosophy Advisory Board
I have lost track of some of my early academic publications.
Doctoral dissertation: Heidegger's Ontology of Das Ding
“Three Types of Vorhandenheit.” Research in Phenomenology, 10 (1980) p. 235-250.
“Austin’s Flying Arrow: A Missing Metaphysics of Language and World.” Man and World (17, pp. 175-195) in 1984
Earth, World, and Fourfold: World as “reality principles” for Heidegger.
Two or three on topics in teaching.
“A Phenomenology of Nuclear Weapons.” Philosophy and Social Criticism. 10 (1984). 95-105.
Kilbourne, Lawrence and David Weinberger. “On Nuclear Weapons.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 10.3-4 (1984).
“Heidegger’s Communication Theory.” Exploring the Roots of Digital and Media Literacy Through Personal Narrative. Ed. Renee Hobbs. Temple U. Press, 2016.
"Why Heidegger?", Joseph Fell Festschrift: Commonplace Commitments (Bucknell U. Press, 2016)