Greenfield attended New York University, graduating with a degree in Cultural studies in 1989. Between 1995 and 2000, he served as a psychological operations specialist (later sergeant) in the United States Army’s Special Operations Command.
After leaving the Army, Greenfield took up work in the then-nascent field of information architecture for the World Wide Web, holding a succession of positions culminating in employment at the Tokyo office of Razorfish, where he was head of information architecture.
In the 2006 and 2007 academic years, with Kevin Slavin, he co-taught a class at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program called Urban Computing. In the following academic year the class was renamed Urban Experience in the Network Age, and Greenfield taught it alone. From 2008 to 2010 he was Nokia's head of design direction for user interface and services, residing in Helsinki throughout the assignment. In 2010 he returned to New York City and founded an urban-systems design practice called Urbanscale, which describes their work as "design for networked cities and citizens."
In September 2013, Greenfield was awarded the inaugural Senior Urban Fellowship at the LSE Cities centre of the London School of Economics, relocated to London, and taught in the MArch Urban Design programme at the Bartlett School of Architecture of University College London.
- 2006: Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing (ISBN 0-321-38401-6), which has been called "groundbreaking" by Bruce Sterling: "One puts it down with a strange conviction that web-designers have transcended geekdom and achieved Zen soulfulness."
- 2007: Urban Computing and Its Discontents (ISBN 978-0-9800994-0-9), (co-author) an overview of informatics for urban environments
- 2013: Against the Smart City (ISBN 978-0-9824383-1-2).
- 2017: Radical Technologies (ISBN 9781784780432, Verso), about the relationship between new technologies and social forces leading to their adoption or rejection. Writing for The Guardian, Stephen Poole called the book "tremendously intelligent and stylish", and comparing Greenfield's view of the future with The Culture novels from Iain M. Banks.
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- "Verso Author Bio: Adam Greenfield". www.versobooks.com. Archived from the original on 2017-12-02. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
- ""Radical Technologies" with Adam Greenfield - News/Research - Berkeley Center for New Media". bcnm.berkeley.edu. Archived from the original on 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
- "Urbanscale - Design for networked cities and citizens". urbanscale.org.
- "Adam Greenfield joins LSE Cities as Senior Urban Fellow". January 10, 2014.
- Poole, Stephen (July 13, 2017). "Radical Technologies by Adam Greenfield Review – Luxury Communism, Anyone?". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group.