Doc's Bio


Doc Searls is:

In a more detail...

The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012) reports on the expected market changes caused by increased independence and empowerment of customers in the marketplace. Those changes are ones Doc began work toward in 2006, when he created ProjectVRM. VRM stands for Vendor Relationship Management, a customer-side counterpart for CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, which is a $20 billion business. Today there are dozens of VRM development projects and companies. For his work on VRM, Doc was named a ”2010 Influential Leader” by CRM Magazine., which devoted most of its May 2010 issue (and its cover story, below on the right) to VRM.

Doc has been a fellow with CITS at UCSB since 2006. In that capacity he studies the Internet as a form of infrastructure, and infrastructure itself (a term that has only come into popular use in the last three decades and still suffers a lack of clear definition). These together are the subjects of his next book, titled The Giant Zero.

In October 2012 Doc began a year as a visiting scholar at Studio20, under professor Jay Rosen in the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. In this capacity Doc takes part in classes, helping guide students in their real-world projects.

Doc's career as a journalist began when he worked as a reporter and photographer for a series of small papers in suburban and rural New Jersey in the early 1970s, followed by work as a writer and editor for newspapers and magazines in North Carolina. In the same decade he also worked in radio (as a news reporter, disc jockey, engineer and advertising salesman), where he acquired his nickname (shortened from "Doctor Dave," his on-air persona). He continued to write free-lance while working full-time at the advertising agency he co-founded in 1978 (more about that below), and returned to full-time journalism in 1996, when he began writing for Linux Journal. His title for most of the time since has been Senior Editor. As an observer of free software, open source and related development methods he has contributed to a number of books, including Open Sources 2.0 from O'Reilly. In The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman calls Doc "one of the most respected technology writers in America." In 2005, Doc won the Google O'Reilly Open Source Award for Best Communicator. Doc's byline has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, OMNI, Wired, PC Magazine, The Standard, The Sun, Upside, Release 1.0, The Globe & Mail and many other publications.

In 1999 Doc and three collaborators put up an iconoclastic website called The Cluetrain Manifesto, which Tom Petzinger of The Wall Street Journal called "the future ofCRM Magazine cover business." The site was enlarged into a book, which became a business bestseller in 2000. More than a decade later, Cluetrain still sells well (a 10th Anniversary edition came out in 2009). According to Google Books, Cluetrain is cited by more than five thousand other books. Doc is perhaps best known as the source of Cluetrain's first thesis and most-quoted line, "Markets are conversations"—which has since become something of a mantra in the social networking movement.

Doc is also one of the Web's longest-serving and widely-sourced bloggers. Doc Searls Weblog, which moved to a Harvard address in 2007, started (with guidance from Cluetrain coverDoc's friend and mentor Dave Winer) in 1999. J.D. Lasica, author of Darknet and proprietor of OurMedia, calls Doc "one of the deep thinkers in the blog movement." Doc also tweets as @dsearls and has over 18,000 followers on Twitter.

As a speaker, Doc has keynoted, served as a panelist or been interviewed at countless events and trade shows: Digital ID World, SXSW, Personal Democracy Forum, Defrag, O'Reilly's OSCON and Etech conferences, eCom eXpo, Les Blogs, Le Web, Reboot, Supernova, LinuxWorld Expo, National Chamber of Commerce, CES, Comdex, Desktop Linux Summit, Linux Lunacy Geek Cruises, Gnomedex, BloggerCon, First Tuesday/Zurich, JabberCon, PC Forum, Seybold, Syndicate, Kynetx Impact, Demo and many others. He is also a figure in the "unconference" movement, and helps organize the twice-yearly Internet Identity Workshops, which have contributed to the development of many standards, technologies, companies and organizations, including ProjectVRM, which has spawned or contributed to more than a dozen new development efforts around the world.

Doc's consulting practice, The Searls Group, has worked with Hitachi, Sun, Apple, Nortel, Borland, BT, Symbian Foundation, Motorola, Acxiom and other leading companies, in addition to many start-ups. The Searls Group grew out of Doc's work with Hodskins Simone & Searls, which he co-founded in North Carolina and which later became one of Silicon Valley's top advertising agencies. (HS&S was acquired by Publicis in 1998.)

Doc's earliest training in journalism was as a newspaper photographer. These days he leverages that craft mostly in service to the fields of geology and geography, which he observes from the sky while piling up frequent-flyer miles. Thanks to permissive licensing of Doc's 45,000+ photos posted on Flickr, hundreds of those photos have found their way onto Wikimedia Commons, and into countless Wikipedia articles as well. All of them were put there by people other than Doc. Many books, magazines and other media also contain Doc's photos. And billions of people saw his work during NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. There Doc's ice crystal photos served as key elements for the network's coverage. (Doc ran in the credits as a member of the design team.)

Doc and his family split time between their home in Santa Barbara and his work at Harvard, NYU and elsewhere.


Downloadable pictures of Doc live in this folder here. The photo above is by Carsten Ingemann and was shot in Paris in July 2010.

Copyright ©2013 Searls, Inc.