Subjects

John Seely Brown

Visiting Scholar, University of Southern California
Co-chairman, Deloitte Center for Edge Innovation
Bestselling Author

Scientist, visionary, theoretician of the information age.

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Biography

John Seely Brown is one of the most famous and honored scientists of his generation.

As director of the cutting edge research organization formerly known as Xerox PARC, he led a group of scientists and researchers who made stunning, lasting contributions to information technology and the world of computing.

While head of PARC, he led corporate research in such areas as organizational learning, knowledge management, complex adaptive systems, micro electrical mechanical system (MEMS), and NANO technology.

His personal research interests and expertise include digital culture and rich media, new forms of communication and learning, and the management of radical innovation.

Along with John Hagel III and Lang Davison, he is a founder of the Deliotte Center for Edge Innovation.

From their website: "The Silicon Valley-based Center helps senior executives make sense of and profit from emerging opportunities on the edge of business and technology. The Center focuses on the boundary, or edge, of the global business environment where strategic opportunity is the highest."

John Seely Brown is a prolific writer whose books, articles, and lectures explore the scope, impact, and meaning of evolving forms of information technology and our increasingly networked world. His newest book, co-written with Douglas Thomas, is A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. By exploring play, innovation, and the cultivation of the imagination as cornerstones of learning, the authors create a vision of learning for the future that is achievable.

Other Books

The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion
Co-authors, John Hagel III and Lang Davison

"The Power of Pull examines the "how question"—how can we effectively address our most pressing challenges in a rapidly changing and increasingly interdependent world? In The Power of Pull, John Hagel, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison highlight fascinating new ways in which passionate thinking, creative solutions, and committed action can—and will—make it possible for us to seize opportunities and remain in step with change."
— Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America

"Hagel, Brown, and Davison have given us a provocative and insightful look at the power of today's knowledge flow."
— Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google

The Social Life of Information
Co-author, Paul Duguid

"...casts a critical eye at all the hype surrounding the boom of the information age. The authors' central complaint is that narrowly focusing on new ways to provide information will not create the cyber-revolution so many technology designers have visualized. The problem (or joy) is that information acquires meaning only through social context. Brown and Duguid add a humanist spin to this idea by arguing, for example, that "trust" is a deep social relation among people and cannot be reduced to logic, and that a satisfying "conversation" cannot be held in an Internet chat room because too much social context is stripped away and cannot be replaced by just adding more information, such as pictures and biographies of the participants...The result is an intellectual gem..."
Publishers Weekly

Credentials

  • Co-chairman, Deloitte Center for Edge Innovation
  • Honorary Doctorate of Information Systems, Singapore Management University
  • Retired Chief Scientist, Xerox Corporation
  • Formerly, Director, Palo Alto Research Center, formerly Xerox PARC
  • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Cofounder, Institute for Research on Leaning
  • Member, National Academy of Education
  • Fellow, American Association for Artificial Intelligence
  • Trustee, MacArthur Foundation
  • Board of Directors, Corning, Amazon, Varian Medical Systems
  • PhD, computer and communication sciences, University of Michigan
  • BA, math and physics, Brown University

Books

A New Culture of Learning

Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Change

John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas

The 21st century is a world in constant change. In A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown pursue an understanding of how the forces of change, and emerging waves of interest associated with these forces, inspire and invite us to imagine a future of learning that is as powerful as it is optimistic.

Typically, when we think of culture, we think of an existing, stable entity that changes and evolves over long periods of time. In A New Culture of Learning, Thomas and Brown explore a second sense of culture, one that responds to its surroundings organically. It not only adapts, it integrates change into its process as one of its environmental variables. By exploring play, innovation, and the cultivation of the imagination as cornerstones of learning, the authors create a vision of learning for the future that is achievable, scalable and one that grows along with the technology that fosters it and the people who engage with it. The result is a new form of culture in which knowledge is seen as fluid and evolving, the personal is both enhanced and refined in relation to the collective, and the ability to manage, negotiate and participate in the world is governed by the play of the imagination.

Replete with stories, this is a book that looks at the challenges that our education and learning environments face in a fresh way.

CreateSpace (January 4, 2011)

Review

ReviewEdge Perspectives

Praise

“A provocative and extremely important new paradigm of a ‘culture of learning’, appropriate for a world characterized by continual change. This is a must read for anyone interested in the future of education.”
— James J. Duderstadt, President Emeritus, University of Michigan

“Thomas and Brown are the John Dewey of the digital age.”
— Cathy Davidson, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Duke University

A New Culture of Learning may provide for the digital media and learning movement what Thomas Paine’s Common Sense did for the colonists during the American Revolution — a straightforward, direct explanation of what we are fighting for and what we are fighting against.”
— Henry Jenkins, Provost’s Professor, USC

A New Culture of Learning is at once persuasive and optimistic — a combination that is all too rare, but that flows directly from its authors’ insights about learning in the digital age. Pearls of wisdom leap from almost every page.”
— Paul Courant, Dean of Libraries, University of Michigan

“Brilliant. Insightful. Revolutionary.”
— Marcia Conner, author of The New Social Learning

“Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown portray the new world of learning gracefully, vividly, and convincingly.”
— Howard Gardner, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Thomas and Brown make it clear that education is too often a mechanistic, solo activity delivered to the young. It doesn’t have to be that way — learning can be a messy, social, playful, embedded, constant activity. We would do well to listen to their message.”
— Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus

“Anyone who fears, as I do, that today’s public schools are dangerously close to being irrelevant must read this book. The authors provide a road map — and a lifeline — showing how schools can prosper under the most difficult conditions. It is a welcome departure from all the school bashing."
— John Merrow, Education Correspondent, PBS NewsHour

“American education is at a crossroads. By illuminating how play helps to transform both information networks and experimentation, and how collective inquiry unleashes the power of imagination, A New Culture of Learning provides an irresistible path to the future.”
— Joel Myerson, Director, Forum for the Future of Higher Education

The Power of Pull

How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion

John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison

In a radical break with the past, information now flows like water, and we must learn how to tap into its stream. Individuals and companies can no longer rely on the stocks of knowledge that they’ve carefully built up and stored away. Information now flows like water, and we must learn how to tap into the stream. But many of us remain stuck in old practices — practices that could undermine us as we search for success and meaning.

In this revolutionary book, three doyens of the Internet age, whose path-breaking work has made headlines around the world, reveal the adjustments we must make if we take these changes seriously. In a world of increasing risk and opportunity, we must understand the importance of pull. Understood and used properly, the power of pull can draw out the best in people and institutions by connecting them in ways that increase understanding and effectiveness. Pull can turn uncertainty into opportunity, and enable small moves to achieve outsized impact.

Drawing on pioneering research, The Power of Pull shows how to apply its principles to unlock the hidden potential of individuals and organizations, and how to use it as a force for social change and the development of creative talent.

The authors explore how to use the power of pull to: - Access new sources of information - Attract likeminded individuals from around the world - Shape serendipity to increase the likelihood of positive chance encounters - Form creation spaces to drive you and your colleagues to new heights - Transform your organization to adapt to the flow of knowledge

The Power of Pull is essential reading for entrepreneurs, managers, and anybody interested in understanding and harnessing the shifting forces of our networked world.

Basic Books (April 13, 2010)

Praise

The Power of Pull examines the “how question” — how can we effectively address our most pressing challenges in a rapidly changing and increasingly interdependent world? In The Power of Pull, John Hagel, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison highlight fascinating new ways in which passionate thinking, creative solutions, and committed action can — and will — make it possible for us to seize opportunities and remain in step with change.”
— William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America

The Power of Pull will do for our 21st-century information-age institutional leadership what Peter Drucker’s The Concept of the Corporation did for industrial-era management. This book begins to create a body of learnable principles that will revolutionize our ability to access and work with knowledge flows.”
— Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

“Hagel, Brown, and Davison have given us a provocative and insightful look at the power of today's knowledge flow. If you want to meet the challenges of working and living in the 21st century, this book should be your guide.”
— Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google

The Only Sustainable Edge

Why Business Strategy Depends on Productive Friction and Dynamic Specialization

John Hagel III and John Seely Brown

Many firms have used outsourcing and offshoring to shave costs and reduce operating expenses. But as opportunities for innovation and growth migrate to the peripheries of companies, industries, and the global economy, efficiency will no longer be enough to sustain competitive advantage.

In Your Next Business Strategy, renowned business thinkers John Hagel and John Seely Brown argue that the only sustainable advantage in the future will come from an institutional capacity to work closely with other highly specialized firms to get better faster. Enabled by the emergence of global process networks, firms will undergo a three-stage transformation: deepening specialization within firms; mobilizing best-in-class capabilities across enterprises; and, ultimately, accelerating learning across broad networks of enterprises.

Hagel and Seely Brown discuss the strategic levers that will accelerate this migration, and they outline a new approach to strategy development that will help companies capture this shifting source of strategic advantage.

Calling for a forceful reinvention of business strategy and the very nature of the firm itself, this bold and forward-looking book reveals what every company must do today to become tomorrow’s market leader.

Harvard Business Press; First Edition edition (May 2, 2005)

The Social Life of Information

John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

For years pundits have predicted that information technology will obliterate everything-from supermarkets to business organizations to social life itself. But beaten down by info-glut, exasperated by computer crashes, and daunted by the dot com crash, individual users find it hard to get a fix on the true potential of the digital revolution. John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid argue that the gap between digerati hype and end-user gloom is largely due to the "tunnel vision" that information-driven technologies breed. We've become so focused on where we think we ought to be — a place where technology empowers individuals and obliterates social organizations — that we often fail to see where we're really going. The Social Life of Information shows us how to look beyond our obsession with information and individuals to include the critical social networks of which these are always a part.

Harvard Business Press; 1st edition (February 15, 2002)

Topics

John tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Technological innovation