… My heart’s in Accra Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003

February 8, 2006


Filed under: — Ethan @ 6:37 pm

My disclosure statement, modelled on David Weinberger’s comprehensive disclosure page on his blog. These disclosures came about when there was widespread concern that bloggers were being hired to promote products – while that concern may be less pressing in 2013, when I updated this than in 2004, when I first posted a disclosure, it seems like a useful document to keep on file.

No one pays me to say – or not say – certain things on my blog, in print, or in radio, TV or newspaper interviews. That said, I accept the idea that one’s professional affiliations and business relationships may influence one’s judgement and therefore I offer the following information about my affiliations so you can better make up your mind whether I’m being fair in my opinions and representations.

I’m employed by the MIT Media Lab as director of Center for Civic Media. The work of Center for Civic Media is supported by the Knight Foundation, which provided initial funding for the Center, and by other foundations and donors, including the Open Society Foundation.

My other major source of income comes from investing money I made from the sale of Tripod.com in 1998. I stopped buying individual stocks around the same time I started blogging – my holdings are in large, managed funds, which would make it difficult for me to shill for a particular stock even if I were inclined to do so.

I also make a modest amount of money from consulting, public speaking and writing articles and books.

I chair the board of directors for Ushahidi, a Kenyan nonprofit. I’m not compensated for that work. I sit on the boards of PenPlusBytes, a Ghanaian nonprofit; Stichting Global Voices, the Netherlands foundation that governs the work of Global Voices; and Friends of Global Voices, the US partner organization to Global Voices. I receive no compensation for work on those boards.

I sit on the Global Board of the Open Society Foundation, and chair the sub-board for the a HREF=”http://www.soros.org/initiatives/information”>Information Program of the Open Society Foundation, a multi-national foundation funded by George Soros. I am compensated for the time I spend on OSF issues and for my travel for OSF, though it does not represent a major fraction of my income. Through OSF, I work with – and inevitably end up advising – nonprofit technology projects and human rights organizations throughout the world.

I am a registered Democrat in the state of Massachusetts, though I tend to break with the party on some economic issues, especially those surrounding free trade. While opinionated about African politics, I have no particular party affiliations.

When I’m writing about issues where I have a distinct financial interest, I will do my level best to disclose my fiscal involvement in the situation. If you feel I haven’t done so clearly enough, or have other issues with this disclosure policy, please let me know.


  1. […] David’s concern is a valid one – if it’s not clear whether someone’s supporting something out of enthusiasm or out of fiscal interest, blogs become a much less useful – and more fraught – medium of discussion. With that in mind, I’ve added a formal disclosure policy to my blog – it’s accessible from each page of the blog as well. (I modeled my policy on the exemplary policy David Weinberger has had on his site for the past 18 months.) If there’s insufficient information in there, let me know and we can talk about whether I’m willing to add the information you’re interested in. There are limits to what I can disclose, in some cases – I’m under confidentiality agreements regarding some of my work – but I’ll work to disclose potential conflicts of interest as well as I can. I want to mention, though, that I’ve disclosed my relationship with FON in my prior two posts on the topic. […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » FON, disclosure, ethics, controversy — February 8, 2006 @ 7:24 pm

  2. […] The last paragraph of the otherwise paranoid story is good news, I think, for FON, the for-profit wireless company I help advise. (Please see my disclosures page for full information on my relationship with FON.) The Brodeurs, who were inadvertently sharing their Wifi connection in Los Angeles, pissed off some of their neighbors, who offered to pay for continued access to the network. That’s precisely what FON lets you do – open your access point to a limited number of users for a fee, letting them pay to help subsidize your connection. Does the fact that the Brodeurs decided not to do this imply that we’ve got a broken business model? Or that it’s an idea that’s been waiting for someone to make the technology dead simple so that people can share their connections with fewer security worries and a way to make some money in the process? […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » Boo! Scary open wireless networks! Run! Hide! — March 6, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

  3. […] Alexander Kazulin, a leader of the opposition to Belarus’s strongman Aleksander Lukashenka, was recently arrested and beaten when he attempted to register to attend a meeting of delegates with the president. He’s been charged with “malicious hooliganism” for allegedly defacing a portrait of Lukashenka while in detention. “Malicious Hooliganism” is evidently a big deal in Belarus – it carries a possible jail sentence of six years. Reporters Sans Frontieres reports that at least nine journalists were beaten while covering Kazulin’s arrest. […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » Watching Invisible Belarus — March 7, 2006 @ 8:47 pm

  4. […] But Snyder’s solution of weighing blogger behavior against journalistic codes of conduct seems like a mistake. It’s not reasonable to ask that academics who blog turn down travel spnsorship, as it’s pretty hard for us to attend conferences. It may be reasonable that we disclose when we’re attending a conference and our travel expenses have been paid – I have a disclosure policy on my blog which makes this general point, but perhaps I need to be more specific event by event. (And perhaps you guys will let me know what you think I should be saying regarding expenses when I attend events like the Al Jazeera forum.) But I think Snyder’s “ethical dilemma” around my attendance at the Forum is less a dilemma and more an objection to the organization who hosted the forum. Perhaps Snyder has some biases or agendas behind his essay that he should be disclosing? […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » Blogging Al Jazeera - A dilemma? Or a critic’s agenda? — March 15, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

  5. […] The network ID on my laptop quite often reads “Free Wifi” or “Open Wifi”. That’s because I frequently go to conferences where wifi is expensive, or nonexistent, and I connect my Mac to ethernet and use it as an open wifi node. This is pretty common practice, as are communitarian open wireless networks like CuWin and commercial semi-open wireless networks like Fon (a company I’m on the advisory board of.) In other words, there’s a lot of open wireless networks out there run by folks who are neither unscrupulous or pranksters. […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » Be afraid. Be very afraid. — February 15, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

  6. Hey Ethan, I just wanted to say hello, and tell you that what you’re writing about is really vital. I am a filmmaker from Portland, Oregon, and am working on a documentary right now about Africa, and all of the stereotypes/misconceptions that go along with it.

    I especially love your phrase “Africa is a continent, not a crisis”, and I reference it often when talking about my film. Do you mind me using this phrase on our film website? I would be happy to link to your blog. My filming team and I really want to start a global conversation about Africa, and I thank you for taking the initiative in such a great way.

    -Ben VanderVeen

    Comment by Ben VanderVeen — July 6, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

  7. […] of the Kenyan parliament. This project grabbed attention around the Internet, from the BBC to Ethan Zuckerman’s widely read blog. In fact Mzalendo received enough media attention both in Kenya and around the […]

    Pingback by SIG-III Blog » Blog Archive » The African blogosphere part II – Kenya — August 16, 2007 @ 4:05 am

  8. Hey Ethan,

    Thought you might want to know- we have a fantastic first year student from Accra- I talked to him about your Ghana stuff. Here is Kwame’s contact info :




    Comment by Ron Gallagher — September 10, 2007 @ 11:08 am

  9. Hey Ethan
    Inspired by your blog and writings by other experts and academics (and my own experience living in Tanzania), I am writing a paper about the transformational impact of mobile phones in Africa. While the impact is great, I do not see it as a silver bullet for African economies given their other governance, infrastructure, etc problems. I have also read that there is an “interoperability” problem in some countries where, it is said that “…In most
    sub-Saharan countries, rival telecom companies do not allow customers to place calls to competitors’
    networks, with the result that many people find it necessary to carry multiple phones on separate networks…” While I realize in many parts of the world there are restrictions on using other network to “roam” not being able to place a call to someone who uses another operator is a serious impediment to communication. Do you know if this regulation still applies in many African countries? I have searched, and researched, and searched again, but only came up with one claim about this restriction.

    Thank you in advance. I love your blog…read it every day. It’s my little trip back to happier times when I was doing more doing than thinking. Hopefully one day I will get back there.

    Comment by Karen Monaghan — October 31, 2007 @ 9:46 am

  10. Ethan, please excuse my placing this here, I don’t see another way to contact you.
    I read and carefully followed your excellent step-by-step suggestions at V
    Between that and this
    you answered just about every question and concern I had.
    I thank you most sincerely.

    My problem is that after carefully downloading and restarting I cqnnot find any Tor buttons, Privoxy or Vidalia icons, nuttin. And the torcheck shows that Tor is not active.
    I know you’re busy and I’ll try to be understanding if you don’t reply, but my gadfly activities have already caused me much grief and I’d sure like to prevenr further hassles.

    Firefox 3.01, Mac OSX 10.4.11, MacBook 2.1, Intel Core 2 Dou

    Thanks for listening


    Comment by Shas Cho — July 30, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  11. […] led me to craft a disclosure statement that I should have published (ala Dave Weinberger and Ethan Zuckerman and Dana Boyd) long ago. I will post that statement tomorrow. This entry was posted in bad code […]

    Pingback by for the record | lessig.org — September 13, 2011 @ 8:50 am

  12. […] […]

    Pingback by Digital-Identitet — October 28, 2013 @ 10:07 am

  13. Some thoughts from a psychiatrist/psychotherapist’s POV re why the recent abundance/inundation of information has led to individuals narrowly choosing “echo chamber” sources, instead of widening our worlds. It’s more than just “tribalism” and “the tendency to opt for the familiar” although that’s a beginning. Whether a Facebook post or an Ebola story, every information cluster/unit has emotional evocative potential- the intensity, complexity, valence and other qualities of which are determined at the point of impact- particular to each individual who opts to receive. As with music, an individual’s reponse to other forms of information is influenced by multiple factors and dimensions- such as temperament, culture, aesthetic sensitivity, context and history. There is a reflexive tropism- so rapid it must be unconscious and associational- that determines whether the information is chosen or blocked. It goes far beyond just the quantity of information and the individual’s tolerance for stimulation and “overwhelm threshold”.
    One of the Buddhist “5 precepts” has to do with not ingesting substances that cloud the mind, and modern teachers include all forms of information and sensory input as potentially being in that category.
    In my psychotherapy practice we explicitly discuss what clients are watching and reading and otherwise choosing as admissible sources of input. The choice can mitigate or reinforce suffering. For trauma victims, watching slasher films might seem an obvious thing to avoid- but the well-known phenomenom of “traumatic repetition” speaks to how such victims may be powerfully drawn to do exactly that.
    So why (and how) we narrow the bandwidth of what we allow into consciousness is a very important question, which warrants exploration in depth.

    Comment by David Friar. M.D. — December 30, 2014 @ 5:13 pm

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