Caroline McCarthy

Cues and Views

Media futurist Caroline McCarthy, in brief.

November 15, 2021
2 minutes
Caroline McCarthy

Home: Nomadic, but there’s a good chance I’m in New York.  Age: Orwell made my birth year famous.  Profession: Digital advertising.  Title: VP marketing by day, writer and commentator after hours.  Alma mater: Princeton.

Current project: Helping our company take a leadership role in ad industry ethics and transparency.  Latest accomplishment: In spite of an absolutely insane 2021, I managed to finish two mountain climbing challenges on opposite coasts — one in New England and one in southern California.  Recent travel or adventure: Driving cross-country from NYC to LA.  Stuck around for six months, then drove back.  Last book read: Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”  Recent unique acquisition: Two cartoon octopus NFTs through a cryptocurrency project called Curious Addy’s Trading Club.

Personality profile: INTJ with ADHD.  What is your greatest joy? Introducing people to one another and watching them create something amazing together.  What is your greatest fear? That I’ve passed up too many opportunities and have missed out on reaching my full potential.

What three emojis best describe you? 🐈🥂🌎.

What is the best advice you received in your career? You’re not being selfish by speaking up for what you need.  What modern technology innovation do you most appreciate? GPS.  Definitely GPS.  What is your favorite app? Pocket Universe, an augmented reality app for looking at the night sky.  What is your go-to source of news and information? I hate to say it, but Twitter is where I get all my news.  It’s not ideal, but I have yet to find a better alternative.

What is your big idea? Digital advertising is full of bad practices, fraud, and a pretty stark exploitation of audiences.  At the same time, without ad-based business  models, news and media won’t survive, or they’ll only be available to the people with the means to pay for them.  Access to high-quality, trustworthy  news and information shouldn’t be a privilege, and the ad industry needs to step up and address its own problems before it can be part of the solution.  What mega-trend most excites you? The reshaping of how we work and live — remote work, “co-living,” and the idea that you can shape your lifestyle based on your values rather than needing to conform it to a 9-to-5 schedule and proximity to an office.  I think people will ultimately work harder and be more productive when they can also live a life that they love.  What mega-trend most concerns you? Political polarization.

What actor would you choose to play you in the movie about your life? I get enough comparisons to Maisie Williams that I don’t really think I have much choice in this one.  What object would you save first from your burning home? I actually had to do this once, and it definitely helped that I  grabbed my contact lens case before running out.  What day in your life would you like to re-live? The day I ran my first marathon.  But let’s be clear: I don't actually want to run it again, just relive the post-race euphoria.  What period in your life would you do differently if you could? I was a pretty unquestioning tech optimist in my 20s, and had a big and potentially influential voice as a journalist.  I’m still optimistic about the advancements we’ve made, though I regret not taking a more nuanced approach to the warning signs that were out there about digital media’s growing negative influences on culture and society.

Personal motto: Keep moving and never settle.  Desired epitaph: She lived.


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