Research Professor Director of the Center for the Digital Future
Jeffrey Cole has been at the forefront of media and communication technology issues both in the United States and internationally for the past three decades. An expert in the field of technology and emerging media, Cole serves as an adviser to governments and leading companies around the world as they craft digital strategies. In July 2004 Dr. Cole joined the USC Annenberg School for Communication as director of the newly formed Center for the Digital Future and as a research professor.
Prior to joining USC, Dr. Cole was a longtime member of the UCLA faculty and served as Director of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy, based in the Anderson Graduate School of Management. Cole founded and directs the World Internet Project, a long-term longitudinal look at the effects of computer and Internet technology, which is conducted in over 35 countries. At the announcement of the project in June 1999, Vice President Al Gore praised Cole as a “true visionary providing the public with information on how to understand the impact of media.” Nineteen years into the project, the World Internet Project, through its unique data on Internet users around the world, is the leading, unrivaled international project examining the ways in which technology changes our lives.
In 2016 Cole was one of the founders of the Global Disruption Fund (GDF), a technology investment fund based in Australia (globaldisruptionfund.com.au). Cole is one of the members of the Investment Committee identifying innovative companies and those about to be disrupted, making investments based on his work. The Fund is now worth close to $1 billion and growing; it achieved a 40% return in its first year. Since 2017 he has written a popular and widely circulated column on disruption, media, technology, and entertainment (digitalcenter.org/cole).
In the 1990s, Cole worked closely with the four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) dealing with television programming issues under an anti-trust waiver that allowed the networks to work together for the first time. He issued annual reports to the television industry, Congress, and the nation. Upon the release of the 1996 report, Cole held a joint press conference with President Bill Clinton, who referred to the Center for Communication Policy as “the premier educational institution setting trends in entertainment.” Nationwide there was unanimous praise for the quality of the reports and their contribution to the television content debate. Cole was a member of the Executive Committee of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) from 1997 to 2001 and was the founding governor of the ATAS Interactive Media Peer Group. At UCLA, Cole taught more than 35,000 students. In 1987 he received UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Disruptors at the Gate: Industries facing structural disruption over the next 3-5 years.