Clay Shirky

Symposium Theme: Community Engagement and the Culture of Teaching and Learning

Our keynote speaker for 2011 was Clay Shirky, distinguished writer in Residence, Arthur L. Carter Journalism School, New York University and Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Clay is a provocative new voice on all things Internet: social networks and media, economics and culture, connected communities, and the open-source movement. He divides his time among consulting, teaching, and writing on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. His consulting practice is focused on the way network technologies provide new ways for groups to get things done, including collaboration tools, social networks, peer-to-peer sharing, collaborative filtering, and open-source development.

In addition to his consulting work, Clay is an adjunct professor in NYU’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where he teaches courses on the interrelated effects of social and technological network topology–how our networks shape culture and vice-versa. Prior to his appointment at NYU, Clay was a partner at The Accelerator Group, an investment firm focused on early-stage companies.

Formerly, he was the chief technology officer of the NYC-based web media and design firm Site Specific, where he created the company’s media tracking database and server log analysis software. Site Specific was later acquired by CKS Group, where Clay was promoted to VP Technology, Eastern Region.

Clay has written extensively about the Internet since 1996. His recent book Cognitive Surplus explores how social technologies and media are changing us, from consumers to collaborators, unleashing a torrent of creative production that will transform our world. Over the years, he has had regular columns in Business 2.0, FEED, and ACM Net_Worker, and his writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business ReviewWiredRelease 1.0Computerworld, and IEEE Computer. He has been interviewed by SlashdotRed HerringMedia Life, and The Economist‘s Ebusiness Forum. Timemagazine featured him with other futurists in a fall 2005 story entitled “What’s Next.”

Clay frequently speaks on emerging technologies at a variety of forums and organizations, including TED Global, PC Forum, the Internet Society, the Department of Defense, the BBC, the American Museum of the Moving Image, the Highlands Forum, the Economist Group, Storewidth, the World Technology Network, and several O’Reilly conferences on peer-to-peer, open-source, and emerging technology. He has also presented at many company events, including Microsoft, Apple, and Deutsche Telecom.

Clay’s writings are archived at

Keynote by Clay Shirky

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