I’m posting this disclosure to set forth the things that I think readers of this site, and my work overall, ought to know about some of my biases and about things that I will and won’t do on this site with respect to these biases.
No one pays me to write this blog, nor will I agree to blog anything here for payment. That said, I may include links to other sites, and may use affiliate programs (including but not limited to Amazon Smile or for other purposes; I think some links still are set up to benefit the Berkman Center from when I first started out blogging but I can’t be sure; buyer beware!).
Most of my time and focus is geared toward my work as president of the MacArthur Foundation. To the extent that you are interested in my academic biases, I would point you to the elements of the Berkman Center’s mission. (I was previously executive director of the Berkman Center and a faculty director.) I strive to be an objective researcher and teacher, but of course I adopt certain normative viewpoints on the issues that I write about here.
I also have “outside activities” beyond my MacArthur Foundation-related obligations. For instance, from time to time, a book or article that I write may generate royalties. I also participate, and have participated, in various companies and non-profit organization as a board member, adviser, and/or investor. For instance, I have chaired the board of the Knight Foundation and was involved in setting up the Digital Public Library of America. I also have a modest number of not-very-valuable stock holdings in other private and public technology companies — sadly, nowhere near the “5% beneficial owners of a publicly traded security” threshold that the SEC sets forth — mostly through ordinary index funds held in retirement accounts and the like. I can’t imagine any of that would affect what I write here, but I suppose you never know.
A special note on patents, a/k/a my Personal Patent Profits Pledge: this disclosure doesn’t have to do with this blog exactly, but about the activities of some of the companies in which I have an equity interest which may end up holding patents related to information and communications technologies. I support the reform of the patent system. To the extent that I personally profit from the straight exploitation of patent claims that issue to any of these companies in a manner not consonant with my own beliefs (I get to be the judge of that!), I intend to contribute those profits to the Berkman Center or a similarly suitable institution to support the study of patent reform. I also intend to advocate, to the extent appropriate and as consistent with fiduciary duties, for the use of creative, low- or no-cost licensing regimes, especially to support use in the .edu and .org domains.
I promise not (knowingly) to promote any given product or service on this site, whether or not I have any interest in such products or services. If ever I think that I ought to disclose a specific conflict, I will do so inline within a given blog entry, article, or other writing, in the standard academic disclosures convention. As David W puts it in his fine disclosure, (which is admittedly a model for this one): “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.” I also think that Lawrence Lessig has gotten it right with his “NC principle” on his disclosure page. If I ever have anything of a close call, I’ll look to his principle as a guiding light. And when in doubt, I’ll err on the side of disclosing more, not less.
If you have any questions about my disclosures, which I will update from time to time, please feel free to write to me at the MacArthur Foundation. (Up-to-date as of Fall 2020.)