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A personal update

The author with a portion of The 19th's team

I’ve loved every moment of working with The 19th. I was a supporter before I joined, and I’ll continue to be one afterwards. As well as well-executed journalism at the intersection of gender, politics, and policy, The 19th is a masterclass in building an equitable remote organizational culture that should serve as a model to other newsrooms and startups. (Hopefully, in part thanks to the documentary about it that will be released at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, it will be.) The CTO role is now open, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

So what’s next?

The internet is at a new crossroads. Mainstay services that have been constants for over a decade are ceding space to newcomers that challenge prevailing venture capital business models and offer equitable alternatives. The over-financialization of the web is giving way to co-operatives, collectives, and true decentralization.

This is a movement at the heart of the open web that I care very deeply about. We’re in a very unique moment in time where that movement could succeed, empowering communities everywhere - or it could topple back and be replaced by the same old extractive gatekeepers.

I began my career by building the first website for a local paper in my hometown. I co-founded Elgg, an open source social networking platform that was used by Oxfam to train aid workers as well as universities like Harvard and Stanford. I was a part of the indieweb community, helping people to own their own web presence apart from silos like Facebook - and co-founder of the indieweb platform Known, which powered KQED Teach, a site that won an award from the National Association for Media Literacy. I helped train newsrooms in human-centered design at Matter (where I also invested in mission-driven startups) and taught equitable product design workshops at the Newmark J-School.

I want to use these ideas - human-centered design, open software development, and radical collaboration - in service of the next phase of media and the open web. I want to work with organizations that are similarly motivated, and who have empathetic, inclusive remote work cultures.

What does that look like, exactly? I’m not quite sure yet. It could involve joining an organization or it could involve starting one. It could involve advising many projects or concentrating on one. It will certainly involve lots of experiments.

If this mission resonates with you and you have a Ben-shaped hole in your organization - or if you want to help support these kinds of projects and communities - let’s talk. You can always email me at

Thanks for sticking with me. Let’s find out what happens next together.

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