Clay Shirky, a professor with joint appointments in NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and Tisch’s ITP program, has been writing extensively, even obsessively, about the online world—and how it’s changing our society—since 1996. He’s published two recent books on social media and given TED talks on everything from how the Internet will transform government to how informal collaborative networks will replace closed companies that compete with each other.

But NYU Stories wondered: How does this Internet guru interact with the Web on a daily basis? What’s in his newsfeed? Where does he go for music? For gossip?

Peruse Shiky's spirited answers to some of those prying questions (including one about lolcats, the junk food of any media diet) below. Then hear him and other thinkers and entrepreneurs discuss collaborative, peer-to-peer, and sharing economies at a daylong conference presented by NYU Stern and the Partnership for New York City on Friday, May 30. 

Clay Shirky

Which websites or blogs do you keep an eye on throughout the day?
Several dozen, via Netvibes. One panel is general news (e.g. Reuters, Al Jazeera), a second is internet culture (BoingBoing, Slashdot), and a third is specific to China (Shanghaist, ChinaSmack), as we're moving this summer.

Which publications do you read in print, as opposed to online?
We get the New York Times, the Atlantic, The New Yorker, and New York at home, but The New Yorker is the only one I regularly read on paper.

Where do you get your breaking news?

How many times a day are you on Twitter? Other social networks?
Twitter I check a couple times a day, but these days the most interesting stuff is in my email queue, either from newsletters (, Today in Tabs) or conversations with friends and colleagues.

Which publications do you think NYU students should be reading regularly?
The world is too niche for there to be one answer—students should pick one or two subjects to follow deeply, and then a couple of general interest publications for serendipity's sake, but which publications should be determined by their interests.

What book are you reading now?
For work, I'm reading American Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century, and for fun, Capital in the 21st Century (which is every bit the important work it's been advertised to be).

E-reader or paper?
I've switched over to all Kindle, because of the highlighting. I just bought a book on Amazon that didn't have a Kindle edition, and instead of sending it to my house, I sent it straight to a book-scanning firm, who then emailed me the digital version.

Do you have an iPod? Or another preferred device for listening to music?
I'm switching pretty much everything to the cloud, so I use Google Play.

Internet radio, tracks you own, or both?
I'm switching back to the radio model. Right now I'm playing blues, reggae, and world.

Do you have go-to music for cleaning or doing chores?
For that, I mostly listen to NPR.

What music makes you feel nostalgic?
Not much, really. Occasionally Led Zeppelin, but I'm not much of a nostalgist, about anything.

Any guilty pleasures?
Mostly what people mean by that is "Things you like but want to hide, because they don't present you as a srs bzness person." As I've never been a srs bzness person, I don't worry about the guilty part, but my biggest source of lowbrow entertainment is the memosphere—lolcats, doge, advice animals, YLYL threads on 4chan ... I love all that stuff.

What's the last concert you went to?
Pilobolus' open rehearsals. They are reviving a terrific piece, Megawatt, that I love.