Who's This Guy?
Hi, I'm Anil Dash. I'm an entrepreneur, writer and geek living in New York City, obsessed with the way technology shapes and transforms culture, media, government and society. My work applies the techniques and innovations of tech startups to reinventing institutions and communities, and my writing tells the story of how this happens. A brief bio:
Anil Dash is the cofounder and CEO of ThinkUp, a new service that helps people get more meaning out of the time they spend on social networks. Dash is also cofounder of Activate, the consultancy which helps define stategy for the most important companies at the intersection of technology and media. He is recognized as one of the earliest and most influential technologists in social media. Described as a "blogging pioneer" by the New Yorker, he has been publishing his site Dashes.com continuously since 1999, earning recognition as a Webby honoree and acting as a platform for his perspective and activism on technology, policy, pop culture and media. In 2013, Time named his feed one of the best on Twitter. Prior to his current work, Dash has been a columnist for Wired magazine, founded the non-profit Expert Labs with backing from the MacArthur Foundation to encourage online public engagement with lawmakers and the White House, and serves on the board of Stack Exchange and the New York Tech Meetup, where he was the first person elected by the members to serve on the board of the largest organized technology community in the United States. Dash is based in New York City, where he also advises a number of startups and non-profits, and is advised by his wife Alaina Browne and their son Malcolm.(A more full bio is below.)
The highest use of new technologies is to empower and connect people who aren't born with the privilege of access to the institutions that define our culture, so I am trying to make that my life's work. Best of all, I get to have a lot of fun doing things I love, focused around a few key areas:
Media and the Arts
ThinkUp: I'm the co-founder (with Gina Trapani) and CEO of ThinkUp, which shows you how to get more meaning from your social networks. Our mission is to make sure all the time we spend online and on our phones isn't wasted, and we're building a company, a community and a culture to support that mission.
Activate: I am Co-Founder and Managing Director at Activate, a new kind of strategy consultancy that advises companies about the opportunities at the intersection of technology and media.
We help many of the biggest media companies and consumer brands in the world evolve and grow their businesses and I lead the areas of our practice that focus on applying emerging technologies and startup-style techniques to help reinvent their businesses.
Dashes.com: I'm the publisher, editor and owner of Dashes.com, my personal blog where I've been publishing continuously since 1999. This site was a Webby honoree in 2010 in the Personal Blog category, and in combination with my presence on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook gives me a way to share my unfiltered (and, often, completely ridiculous) thoughts directly with hundreds of thousands of people, including my friends and family.
Stack Exchange: I'm a member of the board of directors of Stack Exchange, a profoundly useful and deeply engaging collection of question-and-answer communities that provide insights on topics ranging from computer programming to gardening.
NY Tech Meetup: In 2011 I became the first member of the board of the NY Tech Meetup to be elected by its members. NYTM is the largest trade group advocating on behalf of the Internet startup industry, helping make New York City the most vibrant and innovative technology community in the world.
Readability: I advise Readability in their mission to offer a fundamental improvement to the experience of reading, across all modern platforms from the web to mobile devices, while rewarding readers, writers and publishers.
Vox Media: I'm a technical advisor to Vox Media (formerly SB Nation), assisting in their development of a media company where passionate writers are given a platform to reach communities in an innovative new way through sites like SB Nation and The Verge.
DonorsChoose: I'm a member of the National Advisory Council of respected educational nonprofit DonorsChoose, which is pioneering a fundamentally new way of engaging people in supporting classroom education to directly help students in need.
Greedhead Music: I advise Greedhead's thoughtful work in creating a new kind of record label, including launching the career of their flagship hip hop act, Das Racist.
MLKSHK: I advise MLKSHK as this brilliant mom-and-pop team works to build a warm, thoughtful community of creative people sharing images and media in a fun and delightful way.
Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet: I'm a member of this Task Force focused on the future of education and how new technologies will have an impact on the way we learn.
United Nations: I'm a United Nations Social Media Envoy, helping get the word out in the battle against malaria.
Project Completed, 2012
In 2009, I founded Expert Labs under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and with the backing of the MacArthur Foundation.During the 3 years of our experiment, we worked closely with lawmakers from the municipal and state level all the way to the White House and members of Congress to drive direct public feedback on laws through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Merged with Say Media, 2010
Six Apart: I was the first employee of Six Apart, helping launch the company and its Movable Type and TypePad platforms, which took blogging from an experiment to the dominant medium online, and were used to build sites from Gawker to the Huffington Post. I led business development, oversaw the enterprise division and created the company's developer network as the it grew to over 200 employees worldwide. In 2010, Six Apart became Say Media, a network which now reaches over 400 million people worldwide.
Acquired by Etsy, 2013
Mixel: I advised Lascaux, the company behind the collage app Mixel, from its inception through a pivot that moved it from the iPad to the iPhone and to its team eventually joining Etsy. The Mixel app continues to be maintained by Etsy, and the team is now involved in leading Etsy's embrace of mobile platforms.
Acquired by Causes, 2013
Votizen: I advised Votizen as they worked to help passionate people campaign together to fight for the issues and candidates they care about. Votizen was acquired by Causes.com and the team continues its work on public engagement with governance as part of that company.
Acquired by Google, 2012
Oink: I advised Milk, Inc. on their effort to create Oink, an app for recording and sharing all the experiences and products you enjoy in a day. The Milk team was acquired by Google in 2012.
None of the organizations mentioned here are responsible for anything you see on this site. You might get a better understanding of what I do by looking at these videos and press articles about me and my work. Or you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to this site to keep up with me online.
Biography and Personal Info
I am a proud and passionate resident of New York City, where I live in Manhattan with my wife Alaina and our son Malcolm. As is sometimes evident from my writing on this site or on social networks, I'm an avid and unabashed student of pop culture, extremely versed in the minutia of funk music and hip hop history, and obsessive about the details of how the modern technology industry came to be. I'm also always up for a good meal (largely thanks to having been educated by my wife on the topic) and am an enthusiastic amateur on the topics of urban studies and of New York City's history in particular.
These topics tend to filter in to the way that I do my work for the organizations listed above, as you may be able to tell if you watch this video from early 2013 where I describe how we could use technology to improve society. (It's about 40 minutes.)
If you're looking for a formal bio, you can use this:
Anil Dash is an entrepreneur, technologist and writer acknolwedged as a "blogging pioneer" by the New Yorker for having started his site Dashes.com in 1999 as one of the earliest and most influential blogs on the Internet. Today his work focuses on applying the techniques and technologies of the startup world to the transformation the major institutions of society and culture.
Dash is cofounder and CEO of ThinkUp, a new app which helps people get more meaning out of the time they spend on social networking, and cofounder of Activate, the strategy consulting firm which helps the world's major media and technology companies reinvent their businesses. In addition, Dash is an active advisor to several of the most prominent and innovative technology startups and non-profit organizations and has been a columnist for Wired magazine.
Dash is a member of the board of the popular question-and-answer site Stack Exchange and sits on the board of the New York Tech Meetup which serves as the political and social hub for the New York technology community. Dash also advises the reading network startup Readability, conversation platform Branch, respected new publisher Vox Media, the popular upstart hip hop label Greedhead Records, the noted education non-profit DonorsChoose and is part of the Aspen Institute's Task Force on Learning and the Internet.
Dash has been recognized for his role in popularizing web culture and advocating for social and civic responsibility within the technology industry, earning showcases in museums including the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and honors including a Webby citation for Dashes.com in 2010 in the Personal Blog category; The New York Observer named him one of its 2012 Tech Insurgents.
Dash's earlier career involved a seminal role as Chief Evangelist at pioneering blogging technology company Six Apart (now SAY Media), where he joined as the first employee and helped guide the company into being the world's leading blogging company. His earlier career featured roles in the newspaper and music industries.
Dash lives in New York City with his wife Alaina Browne, an entrepreneur who helped launch and build Serious Eats, a James Beard Award winner for Best Food Blog; They have a young son, Malcolm. Dash can be found online at dashes.com and on nearly every social network as "anildash".
Out and About
Over the past decade, my work's been acknowledged on TV and radio, in newspapers and magazines, and even put on display in a few museums, as you can see in my full bio. I've popped up in serious books like Chris Anderson's The Long Tail, Don Tapscott's Wikinomics, Lawrence Lessig's Remix and Scott Rosenberg's Say Everything. And it's just as important to me that I've participated in the more fun aspects of web culture, earning acknowledgments in silly books like I Can Has Cheezburger? and Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle. Perhaps most appropriately, I've also been fortunate enough to be linked to by thousands of blogs all across the web, leading to being named one of the top ten most influential people in NYC, according to NowPublic, and the second most media-connected person in technology, according to Forbes. I've tried to use that influence to draw attention to some of my independent efforts like Last Year's Model, which advocates getting the most out of the gadgets and technologies that we consume, and to support the effort to control malaria as a United Nations Social Media Envoy.
You can see a list of recent press mentions and quotes on Google News, see published mentions of me on this Amazon.com Search, and see academic citations of my work via Google Scholar. Some highlights:
- The New York Observer named me one of its Tech Insurgents in November 2012.
- A detailed interview from March 2011 offers a colophon of sorts for this site and my work overall.
- A featured quote in this Wired story from December 2010
- A detailed profile in .net from October 2010
- A few quotes in the New Yorker profile of Nick Denton from October 2010
- A quote in this New Yorker story about Facebook from September 2010
- A profile in Fast Company's "Who's Next" from February 2010
- A New York Times One-on-One interview from January 2010
- A featured set of video interviews by Big Think from August 2009
- A quote in the New York Times Sunday Magazine's "On Language" column from August 2009
- A New York magazine roundtable from June 2009
- A video feature in Rocketboom's coverage of "Battledecks" in 2008
- Featured articles in the September 2006 and March 2007 issues of Wired
- This New York Times piece from June 2005
- A Wired News story from July 2004
- A profile in New York magazine from November 2003
- An extensive video segment on PBS from January 2003