Clifford Nass

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Clifford Nass
Clifford Nass at Stanford.jpg
Clifford Nass at Stanford in 2013
Born(1958-04-03)April 3, 1958
DiedNovember 2, 2013(2013-11-02) (aged 55)
ResidenceStanford, California, USA
Alma materPrinceton University
B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
OccupationProfessor, Stanford University

Clifford Ivar Nass (April 3, 1958 – November 2, 2013) was a professor of communication at Stanford University, co-creator of The Media Equation theory, and a renowned authority on human-computer interaction.[1][2] He was also known for his work on individual differences associated with multitasking.[3] Nass was the Thomas M. Storke Professor at Stanford and held courtesy appointments in Computer Science, Education, Law, and Sociology. He was also affiliated with the programs in Symbolic Systems and Science, Technology, and Society.

Nass was the director of the Communication between Humans and Interactive Media (CHIMe) Lab, co-director of Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory (KGC) and its Real-time Venture Design Laboratory (ReVeL),[4] and a co-founder of TeachAIDS.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Nass was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and raised in Teaneck, the son of Florence and Jules Nass. His parents formed New Jersey's first Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter after Nass's older brother was killed by a drunk driver in 1981.[6]

Nass earned a B.A. cum laude in mathematics from Princeton University in 1981.[7] He then conducted research in the areas of computer graphics, data structures and database design for IBM and Intel before returning to Princeton for graduate school. He got his M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton in 1986, and joined the faculty at Stanford University.[8]

Nass died, age 55, of a heart attack in November 2013.[9]

Research and Books[edit]

He was the author of three books: The Media Equation, Wired for Speech, and The Man Who Lied to His Laptop. He has also published over 150 papers in the areas of human-computer interaction, statistical methodology, and organizational theory. He was credited with the founding of the Computers are Social Actors paradigm.[10] Nass consulted on the design of over 250 media products and services for companies including Microsoft, Toyota, Philips, BMW, Hewlett-Packard, AOL, Sony, and Dell.[11]


  • The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships. Penguin Group, 2010. ISBN 1-61723-001-4. Co-written with Corina Yen.
  • Wired for Speech: How Voice Activates and Advances the Human-Computer Relationship. MIT Press, 2005. ISBN 0-262-14092-6. Co-written with Scott Brave.
  • The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television, and New Media Like Real People and Places. Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 978-1-57586-053-4. Co-written with Byron Reeves.


  1. ^ NBC Plugs into YouTube's Viral Growth (NPR)
  2. ^ Machines' way with words (BBC)
  3. ^ Interview: Cliff Nass (Frontline)
  4. ^ Philanthropist George Kozmetsky makes $6 million gift to Stanford (Stanford News, April 21, 2003)
  5. ^ TeachAIDS: About
  6. ^ Chawkins, Steve. "Clifford Nass dies at 55; sociologist warned against multitasking; He was one of the first academics to study the dangers of chronic multitasking and the decline of face-to-face interaction.", Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2013. Accessed November 8, 2013. "Born in Jersey City, N.J., on April 3, 1958, Nass grew up in Teaneck, N.J., and graduated from Princeton University in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He stayed at Princeton and, in 1986, received his doctorate in sociology."
  7. ^ New York Times: Clifford Nass, Who Warned of a Data Deluge, Dies at 55.
  8. ^ Clifford Nass: Stanford University Home Page Archived 2006-10-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Sullivan, Kathleen J. (November 4, 2013). "Professor Clifford I. Nass, expert on human/computer interactions, dead at 55". The Stanford Report. Stanford University. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  10. ^ Computer are Social Actors Archived 2012-10-05 at the Wayback Machine. (Microsoft Research)
  11. ^ Stanford Admit Weekend 2011: Clifford Nass

External links[edit]