Tiffany Shlain

Last updated
Tiffany Shlain
Tiffany Shlain, 2022
Born (1970-04-08) April 8, 1970 (age 53)
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Occupation(s) Filmmaker, author
Spouse Ken Goldberg
Relatives Leonard Shlain

Tiffany Shlain (born April 8, 1970) [1] is an American filmmaker, artist, and author. Described by the public radio program On Being as "an internet pioneer", [2] Shlain is the co-founder of the Webby Awards and the founder of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. [3]


Early life and education

In high school, Shlain co-wrote a proposal called Uniting Nations in Telecommunications & Software (UNITAS), which envisioned students all over the world communicating over personal computers and via modems before the advent of the web. From this proposal, she was invited to be a student ambassador through the People to People program, and traveled to the Soviet Union in 1988. [4] [5]

While a student at UC Berkeley, Shlain produced and directed Hunter & Pandora, an experimental film which won the university's Eisner Award, the highest award in art. In 1992, she earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, and was selected as a valedictory speaker for her graduating class. [6]

Shlain studied organizational change at the Harvard Business School Executive Education program and film production at New York University's Sight & Sound program. She is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute(Class of 2007). [7] [8]


In 1996, Shlain co-founded the Webby Awards, [9] an annual event which the New York Times described as the "Oscars of the Web." [10] In 1998, she founded The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. [11] The Webbys had hosts that included Alan Cumming, and appearances by Al Gore, Prince, and Thomas Friedman. [12] [13] Shlain appeared on Good Morning America as the program's on-air internet expert from 2000 – 2003. [14]

In 2002, Shlain directed, produced and co-wrote Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, a documentary about reproductive rights in America. The film premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival [15] and was used nationally by Planned Parenthood to mark the 30-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade . [16]

In 2005, Shlain sold the Webby Awards and founded the San Francisco film studio, the Moxie Institute. [17] Shlain's next documentary, The Tribe, [18] co-written with her husband, Ken Goldberg, explored American Jewish identity through the history of the Barbie doll. The Tribe, which also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, won 18 awards [19] and was the first documentary short to become #1 on iTunes. [20]

In 2011, her first feature documentary, Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. [21] The film ran in theaters and on television, and was subsequently released on digital platforms. [6] [22] It won 17 awards, [19] including the Tribeca Film Festival's Disruptive Innovation Award. [23]

In 2011, she introduced the concept of "Cloud Filmmaking" with a series of shorts produced through cloud-based collaborative filmmaking. The first film in the series, A Declaration of Interdependence, was released Sept 2011; the second film, Engage, debuted in early 2012. [24] Later that year, both a 10-minute film and a TED Book, called Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks were released. [25] Brain Power premiered in November 2012 at The California Academy of Sciences. [26] It was selected by the US State Department as a part of the 2013 American Film Showcase and was screened at embassies in the Middle East in November 2013. [27] Shlain discussed cloud filmmaking as the keynote speaker at the Tribeca Film Festival's 2013 Interactive Day where she delivered her "Cloud Filmmaking Manifesto." [28]

In 2013, Shlain co-founded the nonprofit Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change, and continued making cloud films. The next film in the series was The Science of Character. To premiere the film, Shlain and her co-workers founded Character Day, where schools and organizations around the world would premiere the film and discuss ideas around character development on the same day in a simultaneous online video conversation. For the second annual Character Day, they premiered The Adaptable Mind, which explores skills needed in the 21st century, and The Making of a Mensch, about the science of character through the Jewish Teachings of Mussar, interpreted through a modern-day lens. In 2019, the sixth and final Character Day included over 200,000 groups in 125 countries and all 50 states, drawing over 4 million participants. [29]

Shlain created two seasons of the AOL series The Future Starts Here, [30] which includes episodes entitled Technology Shabbats, Motherhood Remix, 10 Stages of The Creative Process, [31] The Future of Our Species, Why We Love Robots, co-directed with her husband Ken Goldberg, and A Case for Optimism. [32] The series, which began airing on AOL in 2013 was nominated for an Emmy Award in the News & Documentary for New Approaches: Arts, Lifestyle & Culture in 2014, and has since been viewed more than 40 million times. [33]

Shlain "is often asked to comment about Web culture on television and lectures to groups in the U.S. and internationally", according to the Los Angeles Times , [34] and has spoken at TEDWomen and TEDMED. [35] She delivered the keynote address for UC Berkeley's commencement ceremony in May 2010; [35] the speech was included on NPR's list of "The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever." [36]

Shlain directed a film on women and power that was released through Refinery29's "Shatterbox Anthology". [37] Released on October 27, 2016, it is called 50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present, and Future of Women + Power , and explores the 10,000-year history of women. In addition, on May 10, 2017, in support of 50/50 Day: Gender Equality, 11,000 events took place around the world, all linked by the internet. [38] These gatherings of people screened the film, [39] listened to noteworthy activists and celebrities. [38] [40]

In 2017, Shlain was chosen to contribute one of 100 essays about the future, included in the world’s first 3D printed book, Genius: 100 Visions of the Future, which was printed in the International space station in zero gravity and debuted at the “Genius 100: Innovation Summit” event, attended by the participants. [41]

In 2019, Shlain's book, 24/6: Giving Up Screens One Day a Week to Get More Time, Creativity, and Connection was published by Simon & Schuster. [42] [43] In 2020, the book was awarded the Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology. [44] In 2020, Shlain performed her spoken cinema show “Dear Human” at the Museum of Modern Art. [45] [46] [47] [48]

In 2022, she exhibited her solo art show Human Nature, including her feminist history dendrochronology (tree ring) piece, Dendrofemonology. [49] [47] The National Women's History Museum repeated the show in January 2023. [50] [47] [51]

Personal life

Shlain lives in Marin County, Northern California, with husband, artist and Professor of Robotics at U.C. Berkeley, Ken Goldberg, with whom she frequently collaborates on art installations and other projects. They have two daughters. [52] [53]

Shlain has a brother, Dr. Jordan Shlain; a sister, artist Kimberly Brooks; and brother-in-law, Albert Brooks. Her sister-in-law is Adele Goldberg. Following her father's death, Shlain and her siblings worked together to edit the manuscript of his final book, Leonardo's Brain: Understanding Da Vinci's Creative Genius.[2] [3] [15]


2021Pause [54] Producer, host
2021Dear Student [55] Director
2020Dear Voter [56] Director
2019Dear Parent [57] Director
2018Unstoppable [58] Director
2018Why I Pledge 5050Director, co-writer, editor
201730,000 Days [59] Director, co-writer, editor
2016 50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present, and Future of Women + Power Director, co-writer, editor
2015The Adaptable MindDirector, co-writer, editor
2015The Making of a Mensch [60] Director, co-writer, editor
2014The Future of Our SpeciesDirector, co-writer
2014Creative BondageDirector, co-writer
2014ParentechnologyDirector, co-writer
2014TransboomDirector, co-writer
2014The Photosynthesis of Social MediaDirector, co-writer
2014Robots, Botox & Google GlassDirector, co-writer
2014Punk Rock DiplomacyDirector, co-writer
2014A Case for DreamingDirector, co-writer
2014The Science of CharacterDirector, co-writer
2013Technology ShabbatsDirector, co-writer
2013Motherhood RemixedDirector, co-writer
2013Tech EtiquetteDirector, co-writer
2013Why We Love RobotsDirector, co-writer
2013Participatory RevolutionDirector, co-writer
2013The Creative Process in 10 ActsDirector, co-writer
2013Idea PornDirector, co-writer
2013A Case for OptimismDirector, co-writer
2013The Future Starts Here' (series)Director, co-writer
2013Facing the FutureDirector, co-writer
2012Brain Power: From Neurons to NetworksDirector, co-writer
2012 EngageDirector, co-writer
2011 Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology [61] Director, producer, co-writer
2011Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"Director, co-writer
2011A Declaration of InterdependenceDirector, co-writer
2006The TribeDirector, producer, co-writer
2003Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of HappinessDirector, co-writer
1992Hunter & Pandora [62] Director, Writer

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