Craig Warren Smith

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Craig Warren Smith
Born (1946-04-20) April 20, 1946 (age 75)
Seattle, Washington
Alma materStanford University (cum laude); University of California Berkeley; Brandeis University
OccupationProfessor & Social entrepreneur

Craig Warren Smith (born June 20, 1946 near Seattle) is an expert on business/government relations in the global high-tech sector who has worked with prime ministers, corporate CEOs, United Nations and The World Bank. He is chairman of a nonprofit organization, Digital Divide Institute, which is currently active in Indonesia,[1] China,[2] and Thailand.[3]

He is a former lecturer on Science and Technology at Harvard University (Kennedy School of Government). He holds concurrent academic advisory positions in China (Peking University) and Thailand (Chulalongkorn University) as well as the University of Washington (Human Interface Technology Laboratory) in Seattle.[4]

He has influenced three fields: corporate social responsibility, "closing the Digital Divide," and "mindful technologies," [5] in which technologies are designed to further mindfulness and achieve ethical impacts on citizens.

Early life and education[edit]

Raised in a family of weekly newspaper publishers in idyllic Whidbey Island, Washington, Craig Smith was inculcated by his parents with the values of “civic journalism," by which communications becomes the basis for grassroots civic harmony – a constant principle through his life. Graduating cum laude from Stanford University, he became exposed to mentors and intellectual innovators, such as Kenneth E. Boulding (2010-2013), for whom Smith served as a research assistant. Boulding is famous for introducing a concept called "general systems theory," in which single ideas could have a transformational impact on whole organizational systems. One such transformational idea was that economic instruments, e.g. the field of philanthropy, could be used to systematically produce "betterment" in society.[6] To Boulding the most significant of these instruments was "philanthropy." Under Boulding's influence, Smith dedicated his career to the challenge of using economic tools to generate reforms within the field of philanthropy.


Boulding encouraged Smith to take on his first professional job, in the Washington DC-based trade association, called Council on Foundations, where he became a frequent writer for the trade journal, Foundation News. He co-authored Private Foreign Aid: The Private Role in International Development[7] and Getting Grants, published by Harper and Row. Dissatisfied with the quality of current practice regarding the philanthropic role of corporations, Smith founded his own publishing company called Corporate Philanthropy Report. With this publication as his platform, Smith's views on the corporate role in society were frequently quoted in Wall Street Journal and became the basis for opinion/editorial articles in New York Times. Smith's most impactful publication, was an article in Harvard Business Review, called "The New Corporate Philanthropy," published in 2004. The article, which for the first time explained the optimal role that could be played by philanthropy in the management structures of Fortune 500 companies. The article influenced Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, to formulate the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Meanwhile, Japanese corporations turned to Smith to introduce philanthropy to Japanese corporations which had a Japanese version published by Dentsu Inc. Smith authored of several books on Japanese corporate philanthropy,[8] and traveled frequently travelled to Japan as a consultant where he helped companies such as Hitachi and Toyota create their own foundations.

As a Seattle-based expert in corporate philanthropy, Smith advised many of Seattle’s civic leaders including the father and mother of Bill Gates III (co-founder of Microsoft), who were both influential civic leaders and advocates of philanthropy, who introduced Smith to their son. After reading his article in Harvard Business Review, the Microsoft CEO invited Smith to serve as an in house consultant to help to transform the company's "community relations" activity. Smith's work at Microsoft, lasting two years, led Microsoft to create the world's largest and arguably the most respected corporate philanthropy program, and led to the framework adopted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It led Smith to identify the specific management innovations needed for technology companies to bring the internet into remote corners of the planet. Noting Smith's leadership role on this issue, a business trade group, the Conference Board, asked Smith to head a new program in CSR Strategy offered to all major US corporations.[9]

Digital Divide[edit]

His experience at Microsoft, which established Microsoft’s posture on the theme of “closing the Digital Divide,” established Smith as an intellectual leader on the digital-divide theme. He advised many other companies on this topic as well, and wrote a book Digital Corporate Citizenship (University of Indiana Press), which described efforts by 54 high tech companies – from IBM to Google—to alter their management structured with the aim of “closing Digital Divide.” In 1999 Smith joined with Bill Gates Sr, to lead a Seattle conference held on the day prior to World Trade Organization’s conference. That event, which linked Silicon Valley billionaires with leaders of the United Nations and World Bank, established the digital-divide theme as an enduring international movement. Among participants at his 1999 conference were two influential academics, Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Harvard and Nicholas Negroponte, of MIT Media Lab. After the conference, Smith moved from Seattle to Cambridge Mass to lead an interdisciplinary coalition focused on closing digital divide. In Cambridge, his framework was incorporated into After serving as a fellow of Harvard's Fairbank Center for China Studies, Smith was also invited many times to China to advise the Chinese government on its plan to extend broadband technology to its impoverished Western provinces. Smith lectured at several China-funded government forums, which resulting in his being invited to establish a three-year program on digital divide at the Department of Information Management of Peking University, China's top ranked university.

As the focus of the Digital Divide movement shifted to Asia, Prof Smith was invited to teach science and technology policy in Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore.[10] That role created a platform that led him to advise government ministers in India, Indonesia, China, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Thailand on the framework for closing Digital Divide. In Asia, Smith developed a decade-long partnership with Ilham A Habibie[11] the son of a former President of Republic of Indonesia, whose father was the science and technology minister for 15 years. With Habibie's support, Smith gained political traction and funding needed to formulate the model of "Meaningful Broadband." Incorporating a technical team from The World Bank, Smith wrote a number of reports that produced a road map for the implementation of Meaningful Broadband [12] as a "bottom up" approach to socio-economic, cultural and environmental development in Indonesian regions.

Mindful Technologies[edit]

Behind the macroeconomic and political factors of the Digital Divide issue, was a fundamental human factor: the role of digital technology for human development. Inspired by the legacy of the Xerox PARC laboratory near Stanford, Smith understood that the fundamental purpose of digital technology was not to expand markets but to elicit human potential.[13]"Xerox PARC's chief technologist, Mark Weiser, before his death in 1983, led a design movement that claimed that the real purpose of Digital Technology is to create new human/computer interfaces that distribute the users’ attention throughout their whole bodies (not just become concentrated in cognitive faculties) while at the same time establishing total ubiquitous interaction between humans and their natural environments.[14]

Smith understood that, since his death, Weiser's vision had been compromised by the materialistic forces of Silicon Valley. Nonetheless, Smith asserted that conditions have emerged that could enable next-generation technologies – artificial intelligence, wearable devices, biosensors and virtual/augmented reality platforms – to be altered in a way that could finally realize Weiser's vision. Thus, Smith began to see his role as helping to align technology design with mindfulness.

Since 1996, when he was a founding faculty member of Naropa University, Smith had maintained a parallel voluntary career as a mindfulness instructor in affiliates of Shambhala International, founded by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Noting that applications of mindfulness could have a transformational effect on fields of education and health care, Prof Smith introduced the theme of "spiritual computing" at University of Washington, Microsoft, IBM Labs and Google in 2006,[15] when he became Senior Adviser to the Human Interface Technology Laboratory [16] led by Thomas A. Furness III, a noted innovator in the field of virtual reality.[16]

Books and major reports[edit]

  • The Second Wireless Revolution: Bringing Broadband to the "Next Two Billion" in Asia's Emerging Markets, by Craig W Smith, published by University of Washington (Oct 11, 2011)
  • Meaningful broadband for Indonesia: A strategic tool for national development published on Indonesian Strategic Review, 2012.
  • "Harvard Business Review on Corporate Responsibility", edited series with Craig Warren Smith, 2003. ISBN 978-1591392743
  • "The New Corporate Philanthropy", Harvard Business Review, by Craig Smith, 2004.
  • Digital Corporate Citizenship, by Craig Warren Smith, Indiana University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-1884354205
  • Giving by Industry: An Industry-by-Industry Guide to Corporate Philanthropy, by Craig Warren Smith, Corporate Philanthropy Report, 1996. ISBN 978-1569250549
  • "The New Corporate Philanthropy", by Craig Warren Smith, Harvard Business Review, June 1994.
  • Japanese Corporate Philanthropy, by Craig Warren Smith, Corporate Philanthropy Report, 1993.
  • Private Foreign Aid: United States Philanthropy in Relief and Development, by R. Bolling & Smith, Craig. W. (May 30, 1982) ISBN 978-0865313934
  • Getting Grants, by Craig Smith and Erik Skjei, Harper and Row, 1980. ISBN 978-0060140137


External links[edit]