Tiffany Shlain

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Tiffany Shlain
Tiffany Shlain 20200118-8956 (cropped).jpg
Shlain speaking at the 2020 Women's March in San Francisco
Born (1970-04-08) April 8, 1970 (age 50)
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Occupation Filmmaker, Author, Public Speaker
Spouse(s) Ken Goldberg
Relatives Leonard Shlain

Tiffany Shlain (born April 8, 1970) [1] is an American filmmaker, author, and public speaker. Regarded as an internet pioneer, Shlain is the founder of the Webby Awards and the co-founder of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. [2]


Early life and education

Shlain was raised in Mill Valley, California, the daughter of Leonard Shlain, a surgeon, author, and inventor, and Carol Lewis Jaffe, a psychologist. In high school, intrigued by technology and communications, Shlain wrote a proposal called Uniting Nations in Telecommunications & Software (UNITAS), which envisioned students in enemy countries communicating over personal computers and via modems. 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. [3] [4]

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. [5]

Shlain additionally studied organizational change at the Harvard Business School Executive Education program and film production at New York University's Sight & Sound program. She was a 2006-2007 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. [6] [7]


In 1996, Shlain founded the Webby Awards, an annual event which the New York Times described as the "Oscars of the Web." In 1998, she co-founded The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. [8] The Webbys had hosts that included Alan Cumming, and appearances by Al Gore, Prince, and Thomas Friedman. [9] [10] Shlain appeared on Good Morning America as the program's on-air internet expert from 2000 – 2003. [11]

In 2002, Shlain combined her background in technology and the web with her earlier work as a filmmaker, and 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 [12] and was used nationally by Planned Parenthood to mark the 30-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade . [13]

In 2005, Shlain decided to pursue filmmaking full-time; she subsequently sold the Webby Awards and founded the San Francisco film studio, the Moxie Institute. [14] Shlain's next documentary, The Tribe, [15] 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, was the first documentary short to become #1 on iTunes. [16]

In 2011, her first feature documentary, Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. [17] Examining personal connections in relation to global conditions - and the potential of what can happen with so many people online — the film ran in theaters and on television, and was subsequently released on digital platforms. [5] [18] The winner of a Tribeca Film Festival's Disruptive Innovation Award, [19] in addition to other significant awards, Connected was selected by the United States Department of State and the University of Southern California for the 2012 American Filmmaker Showcase. In 2013, the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acquired the film's script for their permanent collection. [20]

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. [21] Later that same year, both a 10-minute film and a best-selling TED Book, called Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks were released. [22] Exploring new research on how to best grow children's brains and the global brain of the internet, Brain Power premiered in November 2012 at The California Academy of Sciences. [23] 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. [24] Shlain discussed cloud filmmaking as the keynote speaker at the Tribeca Film Festival's 2013 Interactive Day where she delivered her "Cloud Filmmaking Manifesto." [25]

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 all premiere the film and discuss ideas around character development on the same day in a simultaneous online video conversation. There were over 1500 events in 31 countries. 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. This second annual Character Day had over 6700 events in 41 countries. [26]

Shlain created two seasons of the AOL original series The Future Starts Here, [27] which includes episodes entitled Technology Shabbats, Motherhood Remix, 10 Stages of The Creative Process, [28] The Future of Our Species, Why We Love Robots, co-directed with her husband Ken Goldberg, and A Case for Optimism. [29] 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. [30]

Shlain lectures globally on filmmaking, the Internet's influence on society, and the future, and has spoken at TEDWomen and TEDMED. [31] She delivered the keynote address for UC Berkeley's commencement ceremony in May 2010; [31] the speech was included on NPR's list of "The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever." [32]

Shlain directed a film on women and power that was released through Refinery29's "Shatterbox Anthology". [33] 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. [34] These gatherings of people of all ages at organizations, companies, schools, museums, libraries, and homes screened this film, [35] listened to speakers such as the former presidents of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadóttir, and Malawi, Joyce Banda, as well as Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay, comedian and activist Margaret Cho, activist Dolores Huerta, actor and activist Eva Longoria, among others [34] and included a live global Q&A that promoted the sharing of ideas about how to initiate gender-balance in the world. [36]

In 2019, Shlain's book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week was published by Simon & Schuster. In 2020, the book was awarded the Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology.

Philanthropy and activism

Shlain has served on the boards of the Commonwealth Club of California, the Institute for the Future, the Berkeley Center for New Media, among others. In 2017, she joined the Leadership Board of The Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard's Boston Children's Hospital. In 2018, she joined the advisory board of the Wait Until 8th pledge for children's use of smartphones. Through "cloud filmmaking" via her non-profit Let It Ripple, Shlain has made and donated over 3,000 free customized films for schools and nonprofits. [37] [38] [39]

Personal life

Shlain lives in Marin County, Northern California, with husband Ken Goldberg, with whom she frequently collaborates on art installations and other projects. They have two daughters, Odessa and Blooma, and have received media attention for what they call their Technology Shabbat, which they have observed since 2010. [40] [41]

Shlain has a brother, 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]


2018Why I Pledge 5050Director, co-writer, editor
201730,000 DaysDirector, co-writer, editor
201650/50: Rethinking the Past, Present, and Future of Women + PowerDirector, co-writer, editor
2015The Adaptable MindDirector, co-writer, editor
2015The Making of a MenschDirector, 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
2011Connected: An Autobiogography about Love, Death & TechnologyDirector, 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 Happiness Director, co-writer
1992Hunter & PandoraDirector, Writer

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