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Jay Adelson, '88, Gives Sirchio Lecture

Families, faculty, and members of the community gathered in the Kingswood Auditorium last week for the Sirchio lecture by Jay Adelson, CK ’88, entrepreneur and ex-CEO of Digg.


Upper School English Instructor Jeffrey Welch began with some opening remarks, and then Caroline Shinkle, CK ’11, introduced Adelson to the audience.


In his lecture, Adelson demonstrated how internet systems store and retain information which users think has been deleted and erased, and he discussed the future of the internet as it moves to the new code language HTML5.


He discussed the effects of the “lifestream,” the stream of information that we post online, reminding the audience that this information stays on the internet for all to see. For example, posts that Adelson had written in 1990 could still be found on Google. Adelson also spoke about the picture of his daughter’s ultrasound that he had posted on his website. A couple of years later, while looking at his security log, he found that people all around the world were downloading this picture.


After showing the audience these examples, Adelson maintained that our lifestreams are beneficial and that they enrich our lives. Everyone simply needs to be aware that this information remains on the internet.


Adelson stated: “Every single text message that you send, IM, every email and every photo, and everything... it’s all there and you know it’s there and so you’re going in with eyes wide open and you start to take responsibility and accountability for what you share. 20 years from now when I do a Google search on one of you, it’s not going to be just a ghost. It’s probably going to be a little more relevant. It’s going to be you, so make absolutely sure that that’s okay.”


During his time at Cranbrook, Adelson was very involved with the radio station—the beginnings of his interest in communications. He went on to earn computer science, film, and broadcasting degrees at Boston University. An internet entrepreneur and a pioneer in social media and website design, Adelson is also known for being the ex-CEO of the website Digg. In 2008, he was named one of TIME Magazine’s TIME 100 Most Influential People.


Inaugurated in 1993 by Kris Sirchio, C'83, the Sirchio lecture series brings a speaker to the campus each fall for an evening lecture open to the public and on the following day a schedule of interactions with students in all three divisions of the Schools. Past speakers have included Michael Barone C'62, Daniel Ellsberg C'48, Sven Birkets C'69, Ward Just C'53, Natalie Zemon Davis K'45, Tod Williams C'61 and Billie Tsien, Rob Edwards C'81, Professor Ralph G. Williams, Edmund White C'58, Trooper Sanders CK'91, and Dr. Thomas Sugrue.


(Videographer: Andy Modell, CK '11)

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    • Jay Adelson, CK '88, speaks to the audience

    • Upper School English Instructor Jeffrey Welch addresses the audience

    • Caroline Shinkle, CK '11, introduces Jay Adelson