The Social Life of Information John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

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John Seely Brown

John Seely Brown ‹write to jsb at› For John's new book, The Only Sustainable Edge: Why Business Strategy Depends on Productive Friction and Dynamic Specialization (Harvard Business School Press, 2005) written with John Hagel, go to

John Seely Brown was the Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation until April 2002 and was also the director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) until June 2000—a position he held for twelve years. While head of PARC, Brown expanded the role of corporate research to include such topics as organizational learning, complex adaptive systems, micro electrical mechanical system (MEMS) and NANO technology. His personal research interests include digital culture, ubiquitous computing, web service architectures and organizational and individual learning.

John, or as he is often called "JSB," is a member of the National Academy of Education and a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and of AAAS and a Trustee of Brown University and the MacArthur Foundation. He serves on numerous boards of directors (Corning, Polycom, Varian Medical Systems) and advisory boards. He has published over 100 papers in scientific journals and was awarded the Harvard Business Review's 1991 McKinsey Award for his article, "Research that Reinvents the Corporation" and again in 2002 for his article (with John Hagel) "Your Next IT Strategy." In 1997 he published the book Seeing Differently: Insights on Innovation (Harvard Business Review Books). He was an executive producer for the award winning film "Art ‹ Lunch ‹ Internet ‹ Dinner," which won a bronze medal at Worldfest 1994, the Charleston International Film Festival. He received the 1998 Industrial Research Institute Medal for outstanding accomplishments in technological innovation and the 1999 Holland Award in recognition of the best paper published in Research Technology Management in 1998. More recently, he was presented with a 2002 Visionary Award by the Software Development Forum.

JSB received a BA from Brown University in 1962 in mathematics and physics and a PhD from University of Michigan in 1970 in computer and communication sciences. In May of 2000 Brown University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science Degree. It was followed by an Honorary Doctor of Science in Economics conferred by the London Business School in July 2001. He is an avid reader, traveler and motorcyclist. Part scientist, part artist and part strategist, JSB's views are unique and distinguished by a broad view of the human contexts in which technologies operate and a healthy skepticism about whether or not change always represents genuine progress.
John's CV [pdf version]

Paul Duguid

Paul Duguid ‹write to paul at› is adjunct professor at the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) at the University of California, Berkeley, professorial research fellow at Queen Mary, University of London and senior research fellow at the Center for Science, Technology, Society at Santa Clara University. He is also an honorary fellow of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development at Lancaster University School of Management.

From 2002 to 2005, he was part-time visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School, Department of Organisational and Industrial Sociology. In Spring, 2003, he was maitre de recherche at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. From 1989 to 2001 he was a consultant at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Prior to that he was a member of the Institute for Research on Learning.

In fall 2005, he will be co-teaching a course on the "Quality of Information" in the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) at the University of California, Berkeley. The course in part explores his interests in questions of the authority, authenticity, and warranting of information. He is also working in the not unrelated field of brand and trademark history.

His interest in multidisciplinary, collaborative work has led him to work with social scientists, computer scientists, economists, linguists, management theorists, and social psychologists. His writing has appeared in a broad array of scholarly fields and journals including anthropology, business and business history, cognitive science, computer science, design, education, economic history, human-computer interaction, information science, management, organization theory, and wine history. Duguid has also written for a variety of less specialized publications, including the Times Literary Supplement, the Nation, and the Threepenny Review.

Forthcoming and recent publications and presentations:

Commercial & diplomatic history
"The Methuen Treaty and the English Imagination," História: Revista da Faculdade de Letras (Universidade do Porto) [Portugal], 2003 3(4): 9-36

Business history
"Networks and Knowledge: The Beginning and End of the Port Commodity Chain, 1703-1860," Business History Review, forthcoming.

Supply chains
"Brands and Supply Chains: Governance before and after Chandler. In H. Dumez, ed., Gouverner les Organizations. L'Harmattan: Paris, 2004

Knowledge and economics
"'The Art of Knowing': Social and Tacit Dimensions of Knowledge and the Limits of the Community of Practice," Information Society, 2005 21(2): 109-118.

Innovation and clusters
"Local Knowledge: Innovation in the Networked Age," with J.S. Brown, Management Learning (Special issue on knowledge-based perspectives of organization, H. Tsoukas, ed.), 2002 33(4): 427-438

Digital libraries
"PG Tips" [a critique of Project Gutenberg], Times Literary Supplement, June 11, 2004, p. 13

"Links and Lugares da Memoria: The Douro's Historic Distributed Commercial Archive. In F. de Sousa, ed., Os Arquivos da Vinha e do Vinho no Douro. CEPESE: Porto, 2003, pp. 113-123.

Communities of practice
"Communities of Practice." In Karen Christensen & David Levinson, eds., Encyclopaedia of Community: From the Village to the Virtual World. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003

"Bodoni Bold." Review of Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. TLS[Times Literary Supplement], June, 2005.

Brands in Chains. Wharton Economic History Seminar. November 11, 2005

The Quality of Information. Digital Libraries a la Cart: Choices for the Future, Tilburg, Netherlands, August 22, 2005

The Quality of Information is under Strain? New York Public Library, July 28, 2005

Innovation as Social Practice, Audencia Business School, Nantes, June 2, 2005

The Art of Knowing. Inaugural AEGIS Seminar, École Polytechnique, May 21, 2005

Innovation as Social Practice. Lancaster University Management School, May 9, 2005

Questions of Quality: Wisdom in the Age of Digital Information, Academic Assembly, Cornell University Library, May 5, 2005

Limits to Community: CoPs after Fifteen Years on the Beat. Closing keynote. Organisational Knowledge and Learning Conference (OKLC), Boston, March 19, 2005

Community of Practice: The Life of a Concept. IKON/EBK Seminar, Warwick Business School, Warwick, UK, March 7, 2005

Information Commons, Opening of Prescott College Libary and Information Commons, Prescott College, AZ, Feb 17, 2005

Hi-Tech Supply, Low Tech Command: Brand in the PC Supply Chain. Learning Alliance, Center for Science, Technology, & Society, Santa Clara University, January 20, 2005

Innovation, Knowledge, and Dimensions, response to Richard Lester, Seinaire Condor, Ecole Polytechnique, January 10, 2005

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