I write about the intersection of science, technology, and culture.
I started my career over 15 years ago at the free weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian. Later I worked as a contributing editor at Wired, and then founded the science and science fiction blog io9 at Gawker Media. I was editor-in-chief of io9 for 7 years, then became the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo. Since 2016, I've been an editor at Ars Technica. I have also published in The New Yorker, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Popular Science, 2600, and many other fine publications.
Currently, my journalistic obsessions include archaeology, urban studies, environmental science, human evolution, artificial intelligence, bots, social behavior in non-human animals, and online communities. I also write about movies, TV, and books in the scifi/fantasy genres. I like it when speculation is pragmatic and reality is fungible.
Recent cool stuff
- 04.2017 / The Secret Lives of Google Raters / And, a week later: Google rater fired after speaking to Ars Technica about work conditions
- 12.2016 / Finding North America's lost Medieval city
- 08.2016 / Meet the worst ants in the world / Related: My science/scifi art project for Gray Area Center for the Arts, called Ant City
- 04.2016 / Inside Meow Wolf, the amusement park for people who want a weirder Disneyland
- 03.2016 / What Slack is doing to our offices—and our minds
new york times
- Facebook democratized the news, but new changes do the opposite, Op-Ed, 2016.
- "I want people to be able to have cultural debates without having a war," Interview, 2015.
a selection of classics
The Ashley Madison Fembots Series
In late 2015, I did a realtime data analysis of the leaked Ashley Madison “data dump,” which included company emails, part of their membership database, credit card transactions, and source code. It was particularly interesting because in my first article I misunderstood an odd data anomaly in the membership database — and when readers pointed out the misunderstanding, it led to an even more bizarre discovery, which you can read about in Part III and Part IV. You can read my whole Ashley Madison data dump series in these articles on Gizmodo:
- Part I: Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site
- Part II: The Fembots of Ashley Madison
- Part III: Ashley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More Bots
- Part IV: How Ashley Madison Hid Its Fembot Con from Users and Investigators
During the seven years I ran io9, I wrote hundreds of articles. Read them here. I've included a few highlights.
- 01.2015 / The future of women on Earth may be darker than you thought
- 08.2014 / What gentrification really is (Part 1) and Here's what happens when white people move into your neighborhood (Part 2)
- 04.2014 / Why does it matter if Homo sapiens had sex with Neanderthals?
- 02.2014 / The truth about geeks and cats
- 11.2014 / How farming almost destroyed civilization
- 06.2014 / 10 scientific ideas that scientists wish you would stop misusing
- 01.2014 / 10 failed Utopian cities that influenced the future
- 10.2013 / The Great Library at Alexandria was destroyed by budget cuts, not fire
- 12.2012 / Corvids: The birds who think like humans
- 08.2012 / How to write about hermaphrodite sex
- 05.2012 / Why I am always late, or the neuroscience of time
- 07.2011 / Pompeii: Pictures of an alien world, frozen in time
- 12.2009 / When will white people stop making movies like Avatar?
- 01.2008 / io9's 2008 manifesto
The New Yorker
09.19.2013 / Liquid Fuel, From the Sun
- 04.2012 / How Neal Stephenson created the Hieroglyph Project to convince scifi writers to stop worrying and love the future
- 08.2011 / Three Spacecraft that Refuse to Quit
- 03.2007 / Herding the Mob — Online Reputation Hacking Can Be Big Business
Companion article on Wired News called How I Bought Votes on Digg.
Hear me talk about these articles on NPR’s Future Tense.
- 07.2006 / Code of the Caveman — New DNA Mapping Techniques Reveal the Secrets of Extinct Neanderthals
- 05.2006 / The RFID Hacking Underground
See me talk about this story on CBC’s “The Hour.”
- 07.2005 / The Coming Boom — Reverse Engineering the Female Orgasm
- 07.07.2006 / Love Unlimited: The polyamorists
You can hear me talk about this story on the New Scientist podcast.
- 11.2004 / Sorry, Your Vote Has Been Lost, Hacked, Miscast, Recorded Twice — The Trouble with E-voting
You can hear me talk about this story on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”
The San Francisco Bay Guardian
- 12.10.2003 / The High-Tech Black Market: Copyright infringement is a criminal offense. Meet the new generation of geek outlaws and heroes.
- 06.05.2002 / Broadband to the People! Wireless community groups in San Francisco challenge corporate control of the Internet
- 05.08.2002 / Feminists for Porn: Why women are leading the fight against censorship
- 05.23.2001 / Is Fucking Still Romantic? An exegesis on dating and falling in love
- 01.13.1999 / In search of Adolph Sutro: The eerie ruins of Sutro’s Baths lead to an historical odyssey
From 1999 to 2008, I wrote a weekly column about technology and culture that was syndicated in a number of free weekly papers. It started in the Silicon Valley Metro, and later its home base was the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Many are now only available via the Wayback Machine, so thanks to the Internet Archive for keeping the deep history of web journalism alive.