Doc Searls

Doc Searls
Born (1947-07-29) July 29, 1947
Jersey City, New Jersey
Occupation Author, Journalist, Photographer

David "Doc" Searls (born July 29, 1947), is an American journalist, columnist, and a widely read blogger. He is a co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, author of The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge, Editor-in-Chief of Linux Journal, a fellow at the Center for Information Technology & Society (CITS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an alumnus fellow (2006–2010) of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.


A longtime advocate for open-source software, Searls has been involved with the Linux Journal since it began publishing in 1994. He became a Contributing Editor in 1996, Senior Editor since 1999, and Editor-in-Chief in 2018. His column "Linux for Suits" ran until 2007, and was followed by "EOF" inside each issue's back cover. His work with Linux Journal, and as an advocate of free software and open source, earned him a Google-O'Reilly Open Source Award for Best Communicator in 2005. His byline has also appeared in many other publications, including OMNI, Wired, PC Magazine, The Standard, The Sun Magazine, Upside, Release 1.0 and The Globe & Mail.

In early 1999 Searls joined Christopher Locke, David Weinberger and Rick Levine in writing The Cluetrain Manifesto, an iconoclastic website that was followed in January 2000 by the book with the same title. The book became a business bestseller and was published in nine languages. A 10th Anniversary edition came out in June 2009. Among Searls' contributions to the Manifesto was its first thesis, "Markets are conversations" – which is also the title of the Cluetrain chapter he co-wrote with David Weinberger. Weinberger and Searls co-wrote "World of Ends: What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else".

Searls has also been a well-known blogger since October 1999, when he started blogging with help from his friend Dave Winer. In an Online Journalism Review article, J.D. Lasica calls Searls "one of the deep thinkers in the blog movement."[1]

In The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman calls Searls "one of the most respected technology writers in America."[2]

Searls' two academic fellowships both began in 2006. At the Berkman Center for Internet & Society he leads ProjectVRM, which guides independent software development communities working on Vendor Relationship Management (VRM). The purpose of VRM is to equip individuals with tools that provide both independence from vendor "lock-in" and better means for engaging with vendors. VRM tools and methods also help individuals engage with government and other non-commercial organizations. At the Center for Information Technology and Society (CITS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Searls is studying both the nature of infrastructure and of the Internet as a form of infrastructure.

In April 2012, his book The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge was published. Searls coined the term in an article for Linux Journal. He wrote: "The Intention Economy grows around buyers, not sellers. It leverages the simple fact that buyers are the first source of money, and that they come ready-made. You don't need advertising to make them."[3]


The nickname "Doc" is what Searls calls a "fossil remnant" of "Doctor Dave," his humorous persona at WDBS (now WXDU) radio at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in the late 1970s.[4] Following his work in radio, Searls co-founded Hodskins Simone & Searls (HS&S), which grew to become one of the top high-tech advertising agencies in North Carolina, and then in Silicon Valley. Searls' consultancy, The Searls Group, was spun out of HS&S in the early 1990s. He is a frequent speaker at business and industry events, under the auspices of The Searls Group.

Searls is a 1969 graduate of Guilford College. While Searls' permanent home is in Santa Barbara, he and his family currently live most of the year near his work at Harvard.


Searls' journalism career began in 1971, when he worked as an editor and photographer for Wayne Today in New Jersey. In recent years his photographic work consists of pushing as many shots as possible into the public domain, through permissive Creative Commons licensing for a batch of photos on Flickr that now total more than 41,000 on his own site alone.[5] (He also posts on three other sites: two for the Berkman Center and one for Linux Journal.) A large percentage of those are shot out the windows of commercial aircraft. There are about 300 of his photos that now appear in Wikimedia Commons (none of which he put there).[6] Many of these also illustrate articles in Wikipedia as well.

His photos have also appeared in many books, magazines and other media, including NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. There Searls' ice crystal photos served as key elements for the network's coverage.[7] (Searls ran in the credits as a member of the design team.)[8]

See also


  1. Weblogs: A New Source of News, by J.D. Lasica, 2002-04-18, Online Journalism Review
  2. The World is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman
  3. Searls, Doc (March 8, 2006). "The Intention Economy". Linux Journal. Retrieved September 28, 2007.
  4. Getting rained out in a brainstorm, February 4, 2009, Doc Searls Weblog
  5. Doc Searls Flickr photos, Flickr
  6. "Wikimedia Commons". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  7. Doc Searls Ice Crystal Photos, Flickr
  8. Doc Searls Photos used by NBC, Flickr
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