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John Henry Clippinger, Jr

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Name  John Clippinger,

Role  Jr.
John Henry Clippinger, Jr.
Books  A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity

Early life

John Henry Clippinger, Jr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. to John and Jane Clippinger. His father was a former prosecutor of Prohibition Era gangsters, and a senior partner at Taft Stettinius and Hollister, where he was active in civic affairs, Republican politics, competitive timber racing and show jumping, Master of the Camargo Hunt, and a close associate of Sen. Robert A. Taft. John attended Walnut Hills High School and Taft School, Watertown, Connecticut. He had two sisters Sarah and Jane Judith, both now deceased. His great grand father, Rev. John Henry Clippinger, was a circuit minister and Abolitionist, and his grandfather, a lawyer, oil man in Texas, and real estate developer.


He was married to Emily Lloyd (m:1968:d;1972,) and Marni Zea, (m. 1983; d:1992). Daughter Emma (b.1985)

He graduated from Yale University, where he was active in the early civil rights, social activism and anti-war groups After his freshman year, he worked for a Dr. James Turpin with Project Concern in clinics in the “Walled City” of Hong Kong and with refugee Chinese boat people. On March 9, 1965 he was among a small group of white students to participate in the Selma, Alabama “Turnaround Tuesday” March over the Edmund Petus Bridge. In the same year he became president of ARFEP (Americans for Reappraisal of Far Eastern Policy) founded with William Sloan Coffin as the first university opposition to the Vietnam War. He worked with John Fairbanks of Harvard and Congressman Allard Lowenstein to sponsor the first full page New York Times petition against the United States China and Vietnam war policy. He was also active in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and a marshal for the 1967 Vietnam Protest march. He was Social Chairman of St. Anthony Hall, Aurelian Honor Society and completed his Anthropology honors thesis, “Steersman and the Stars: A Cybernetic Analysis of Myth.”

Graduate school and early career

Clippinger received a fellowship to the University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School, where he studied cybernetics and information theory, completing his master’s thesis on a computer simulation and statistical analysis of adaptation strategies for “self-organizing symbolic system”. While in graduate school in Philadelphia, he worked with the Black Panther Breakfast program and Hispanic Young Lords and North Philadelphia gangs to mitigate youth violence. He entered the University of Pennsylvania doctoral program to study content analysis, computational linguistics and Artificial Intelligence. While in graduate school he worked as a Research Associate at the Brandeis University Florence Heller School, where he applied cybernetics, systems theory and simulation models to the design and delivery of integrated and accountable human services. From 1972- 1975, he undertook his thesis research at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab working with Terry Winograd, and with the support of Stephen Kosslyn, he published it as a book, Meaning and Discourse: A Computational Model of Psychoanalytic Cognition and Discourse, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979. It was the first computer model of distributed, multi-agent cognition and discourse composition derived from transcribed discourse. In 1976–1979, Clippinger became a Research Fellow at Harvard’s Information Resources Policy Program working with Professor Anthony Oettinger, where he conducted research on cross border data flow, telecommunications and development and information privacy. In 1978-80, he became an Expert Advisor for the formation of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and with Art Bushnell, helped formulate some of the United States first information policy.

In 1980 Clippinger founded one of the first artificial NLP (natural language processing) software companies, Brattle Research Corp. The company was an early innovator in natural language processing, content categorization, object oriented databases, financial trading compliance and oversight, LIBOR interest rate swaps, and “information refining” strategies. The company was funded by competing LISP machine vendors, Texas Instruments and Symbolics, and partnered with Dow Jones online services to prototype a bitmap graphic, semantically indexed and linked version of the Wall Street Journal. When the company was sold, Clippinger joined for seven years Coopers & Lybrand, where he became Director, Intellectual Capital and developed one of the first fully automated semantic classification intranet services, called CLIPS (Coopers & Lybrand Intellectual Property Service). Clippinger founded three other companies (Context Media, Lexeme/LingoMotors/ EcoCap/Azigo) and he then consulted on networked organizations to the Command and Control Research Program (CCRP) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks, Information and Integration)before becoming a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Law School Berkman Center for Internet and Society. During this time, he was also active as an Aspen Institute Fellow and member of the Santa Fe Business Network, and authored and edited the book, The Biology of Business: Decoding the Natural Laws of Enterprises (Jossey Bass, 1998). At the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, he founded the Social Physics project and co-founded Project Higgins ( for user control over personal data and the Law Lab ( with a grant from the Kauffman Foundation.

He is the author of a book and many articles on topics related to identity, trust frameworks and governance: A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity (Perseus, Public Affairs, 2007); with David Bollier, A Renaissance of the Commons: How the New Sciences and Internet are Framing a New Global Identity and Order, chapter in Code: Collaboration, Ownership and the Digital Economy Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.2009; Social Physics, Designing New Social Institutions, The Center for Natural and Social Science, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing China, September; 2007 ; On Protecting One’s Good Name: An Inquiry into Effective Reputation and Rating Systems, in Hassan Massum, Mark Tovey, editors, Reputation Society, MIT Press: 2012; Digital Innovation in Governance: New Rules for Sharing and Protecting Private Information, in Kauffman Task Force on Law, Innovation, and Growth, Rules for Growth; Promoting Innovation and Growth Through Legal Reform, p. 381-407, 2011, Marion Kauffman Foundation.

He is currently co-founder and Executive Director of ID3 (Institute for Innovation & Data Driven Design), a 501 C(3) non profit organization ( formed to develop and field test legal and software trust frameworks for distributed, self-signing digital assets, currencies, and data-driven services, infrastructures, and enterprises. He is also a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab’s Human Dynamics Group.


He was a delegate of the eG8 Forum, and a member of The Global Leadership Telco Council and the Risk Analysis Network for the World Economic Forum, The Highlands Forum, The Aspen Institute, Creative Leadership Summit, Aspen Institute Italy, Fortune Brainstorm, Mobile Territorial Labs, Arab Thought Leadership Conference, Kauffman Summer Institute, Monaco Media Forum, Ashoka, TII Vanguard, People for Global Transformation, and The Santa Fe Institute Business Network.


John Henry Clippinger, Jr. Wikipedia