Technically, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle applies only to objects in the quantum realm. But sometimes it feels like a pretty good description of real life. I often don't know which direction I'll be going or which hat I'll be wearing until the moment arrives. I can be fairly described as:
The host and producer of Soonish, a podcast about technology, culture, curiosity, and the future.
A co-founder of Hub & Spoke, a Boston-centric collective of smart, independent, story-driven podcasts.
A consultant for startups and venture capital firms, leading in-depth storytelling projects aimed at key audiences.
A freelance audio editor and producer.
The editor of the 2018 edition of Twelve Tomorrows, a hard science fiction anthology series created by MIT Technology Review. It's the fifth volume in the series and the first to be published in coooperation with the MIT Press. Release date: May 25, 2018. Pre-order now!
A co-organizer of the Sonic Soirée, a Boston-area listening group for audio producers and audiophiles.
A performer at Story Collider, purveyors of fine on-stage stories about science and medicine.
The chair of the alumni board of The Harvard Independent, the non-profit college newspaper where I first contracted the journalism bug.
A curious enthusiast excited by art, architecture, food systems, graphic design, history, photography, space, science fiction, startups, typography, travel, urban planning, old stereoscopes...
Proud owner of an Australian Shepherd named Gryphon.
Enough bullet points, let's switch to narrative. I spend a lot of time thinking about how technology and science are advancing; how people find out about these advances; and how they use that knowledge in their decisions as consumers, citizens, and voters.
As a journalist with graduate training in the history of technology, I find that those questions contain a lifetime's worth of stories. I've spent more than 20 years exploring them as a reporter and editor at news organizations in the non-profit, government, academic, and startup sectors. Now I'm working independently.
Until recently I identified as a text-only journalist—mostly longform. But now I claim dual citizenship in the land of radio and audio production.
I launched Soonish in January 2017. The show's guiding belief is that the future is shaped by technology, but technology is shaped by us. I'm now making Season 2 of the show, and you can hear the season premiere and the whole first season at soonishpodcast.org or on any podcasting app. I also invite you to join the Soonish email list, follow the show on Twitter and Facebook, and consider supporting the show on Patreon.
In October 2017 I teamed up with the hosts and producers of two other podcasts, Tamar Avishai of The Lonely Palette and Zachary Davis and Nick Andersen of Ministry of Ideas, to form a new network of high-quality, longform, narrative shows called Hub & Spoke. Our mission is to provide one another with mutual support, share insights about the podcasting business, and grow the listenership for each member show through co-promotion. We started from a Boston-centric "hub" and we're recruiting more shows (the "spokes") from inside and outside Boston; the newest addition to the collective is Hi-Phi Nation from producer Barry Lam. You can read more about the thinking behind Hub & Spoke here.
In early 2017 I was invited by Jason Pontin, the former editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review, to edit the 2018 edition of Twelve Tomorrows, an anthology of hard science fiction stories. That volume, published by The MIT Press, features terrific stories by Elizabeth Bear, SL Huang, Clifford V. Johnson, J. M. Ledgard, Liu Cixin, Ken Liu, Paul McAuley, Nnedi Okorafor, Malka Older, Sarah Pinsker, Alastair Reynolds, as well as an interview with renowned science fiction author Samuel R. Delany by Jason Pontin and Mark Pontin. It will be released on May 25, 2018, but is available for pre-order now. (Between now and June 30, 2018, you can receive a special 30% discount on the book's list price when ordering it directly through the MIT Press. Call 800-405-1619 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org and mention the code MROUSH30.)
In June 2017 I worked with my friends and former co-workers at Xconomy to introduce Xconomy Voices, a limited-run podcast featuring easily digestible (15-minute) conversations with startup founders, inventors, investors, and other innovators. I interviewed the guests and produced the episodes. The goal of the show was to tap into Xconomy's large network of sources in innovation hubs across the country and ask key innovators to explain what they're passionate about and how their ideas or companies might change the world.
In 2014-15, I was Acting Director of the Knight Science Journalism at MIT, the world's leading mid-career fellowship program for journalists covering science, technology, health, and the environment. Founded by veteran science journalist Victor McElheny and endowed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the fellowship brings about a dozen distinguished science and technology journalists to MIT each year. I managed the program's budget, staff, and curriculum and arranged a year of rewarding experiences for the 2014-15 Knight Fellows. It was a fantastic experience that gave me a lot of time to think about the state of science journalism. The journalists I worked with will be friends for life.
As part of the KSJ job, I was the producer and chief fundraiser for ScienceWriters2015, held at MIT October 9-13, 2015. I spent the rest of the 2015-16 academic year as a research associate in MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, working with a group of colleagues to study ways to encourage deeper engagement between scientists, engineers, and the public. I have a continuing appointment at MIT as a research affiliate in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
I've been writing about science and technology professionally since 1994. Before my two-year MIT gig, I was Editor at Large at Xconomy, a national news publication about the startup culture and innovation, and managing editor of Xperience, Xconomy's consumer section. Before that I was the editor of Xconomy San Francisco and Xconomy Boston. In addition to my regular news stories, I wrote an opinion/review column every Friday called VOX: The Voice of Xperience. (The column was formerly known as World Wide Wade.) I'm still affiliated with Xconomy as a contributing editor.
Before joining Xconomy in 2007, I was a staff member at MIT’s Technology Review from 2001 to 2006, serving as senior editor, San Francisco bureau chief, and executive editor of TechnologyReview.com. Before that, I was the Boston bureau reporter for Science, managing editor of supercomputing publications at NASA Ames Research Center, and Web editor at e-book pioneer NuvoMedia, creator of the Rocket eBook (a precursor to the Amazon Kindle).
I have a B.A. in the history of science from Harvard College, and I was the first person to complete the PhD program in the history and social study of science and technology at MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, to which I returned for the aforementioned two-year stint in 2014-16. I've published articles in Science, Technology Review, IEEE Spectrum, Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Technology and Culture, Alaska Airlines Magazine, World Business, Xconomy, Nieman Storyboard, and WBUR's Cognoscenti, and my radio pieces have been broadcast on WBUR and WHYY. In the talking-head department, I've been a guest of NPR, CNN, CNBC, NECN, WGBH, the PBS NewsHour, PRI's To the Best of Our Knowledge, and Climate Desk's Inquiring Minds podcast. In 2014-16 I was the host of the MIT Alumni Association's Faculty Forum Online: Alumni Edition webcast series.
In May 2013 I delivered a talk at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) called Stories About Storytelling: A Personal Journey in Technology. It was an autobiographical walk through my awakening as a science and technology journalist, and also touched on the revolution in digital self-publishing and some of the media tools I was excited about at that time.
I got my start in journalism at the Harvard Independent, the weekly alternative student newspaper at Harvard College, where I was news editor, executive news editor, and eventually editor-in-chief. I'm currently chair of the Indy's graduate board, which handles fundraising and oversees the newspaper's endowment. We also try to ensure cultural continuity and provide current Independent staffers with advice on journalism and business.
Journalist, editor, storyteller, audio producer, startup entrepreneur, educator, and consultant helping media consumers understand the changes wrought by rapid advances in science and technology.
Producer and Host, Soonish, Cambridge, MA — September, 2016-present
I'm the reporter, editor, producer, and host of this story-driven podcast about technology, culture, curiosity, and the future.
Producer and Host, Xconomy Voices, Boston, MA — June, 2017-present
I make this show about innovators and their ideas on contract for Xconomy, the leading online source for news and commentary about the innovation economy.
Independent Multimedia Journalist and Editorial Consultant, Cambridge, MA — July 1, 2016-present
I'm working on a range of freelance stories, independent productions, and client projects.
Research Affiliate, MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Cambridge, MA — July 2, 2016-present.
Outreach Officer, MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS); Cambridge, MA — July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016
STS is the home of the Knight Science Journalism program and part of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS). I worked with colleagues in STS and SHASS to study new ways to promote public engagement in technology and science.
Acting Director, Knight Science Journalism at MIT; Cambridge, MA — July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015
My job at MIT for the 2014-15 academic year was threefold: Lead the Knight Science Journalism program and make sure the Knight Fellows had the most productive and educational year possible; plan and launch a new lab or center promoting greater understanding of public engagement in technology and science; and help organize ScienceWriters2015, the annual joint conference of the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, to be held at MIT in October 2015.
Chief Correspondent, Boston Editor, San Francisco Editor, and Editor at Large, Xconomy; Boston, MA, and San Francisco, CA — 2007-2014
As the third employee and the first writer hired at Xconomy, I helped establish the startup in its home city of Boston as a fresh source of online news, analysis, and events focused on the mechanics of high-tech innovation in information technology, the life sciences, energy, healthcare, and education. In the San Francisco Editor position I managed Xconomy's expansion into its fifth hyperlocal market and became the face of the company in Silicon Valley. For our business readers, I aimed to show how technology ideas emerge at high-growth startups and how they succeed or fail in the market. For general consumers, I created a sister publication, Xperience, that explores technology's impact on work and home life and guides readers to the best technologies and tools for their lifestyles. For in-person audiences, I conceived and hosted numerous live events. I have an ongoing affiliation with Xconomy as a contributing editor.
Senior Editor, MIT Technology Review; San Francisco, CA — 2001-2006
As the magazine's eyes and ears in the San Francisco Bay Area, I recruited and edited numerous feature stories and commentaries, and wrote scores of news and feature articles on trends in information technology, including cover stories on search, AI, robotics, digital mapping, and social computing.
Managing Editor, NuvoMedia; Mountain View, CA — 1999-2001
NuvoMedia created the Rocket eBook, a precursor to Amazon's Kindle and other successful e-book reading devices. I edited and wrote for a NuvoMedia-owned website, eBookNet, that served as a news and community hub for the nascent community of e-book buyers and e-publishing enthusiasts.
Managing Editor, NASA Ames Research Center; Mountain View, CA — 1998-1999
NASA contractor Sterling Software ran most R&D and support operations at the Numerical Aerospace Simulation (NAS) Facility, one of NASA's main supercomputing centers. Sterling hired me to write and edit a monthly print newsletter that chronicled the center's scientific activities. While at NAS I killed the newsletter and developed a new quarterly magazine called Gridpoints.
Reporter/Writer, Science (AAAS); Boston, MA — 1994-1997
For Science, I covered the Boston-area research community, and wrote weekly articles on topics such as population, ecology, scientific ethics, drug research, mind-body medicine, and alternatives to animal testing. I also became Science's beat reporter covering developmental biology.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA — PhD, History and Social Study of Science and Technology (Program in Science, Technology, and Society), 1994
Harvard College, Cambridge, MA — BA, magna cum laude, History and Science, 1989
Reporting, interviewing, writing, and editing for text, audio, and video production. Audio, video, and photo capture and editing (Audition, Audacity, Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, After Effects). Editorial and organizational consulting for non-profit and for-profit organizations. Event planning, marketing, and execution. Public speaking. Editorial, management, and budget oversight of staff writers and freelance contributors. Basic Web design (HTML) and content management systems (WordPress, Squarespace).
Member: Association of Independents in Radio; National Association of Science Writers; New England Science Writers.
My most recent writings and audio works are compiled below. General links:
Many of the Technology Review and Science articles listed below are behind paywalls. Contact me if you need a copy of a specific article below.
Twelve Tomorrows, The MIT Press, May 2018; contributors include Elizabeth Bear, SL Huang, Clifford V. Johnson, J. M. Ledgard, Liu Cixin, Ken Liu, Paul McAuley, Nnedi Okorafor, Malka Older, Sarah Pinsker, Jason Pontin, Mark Pontin, Alastair Reynolds
The Future Is Clear, Soonish Episode 2.05, February 17, 2018
Chet Kanojia Paints Vision of a New Kind of ISP at Starry Internet, Xconomy, January 8, 2018
Looking Virtual Reality in the Eye, Soonish Episode 2.04, January 5, 2018
Six Useful Things You Can Do with Your New Smart Speaker, Xconomy, January 2, 2018
A Space Shuttle Isn't Cool. You Know What's Cool? A Space Elevator (Soonish on Soonish), Soonish Episode 2.03, December 14, 2017
This VR Exhibit Lets You Connect With the Human Side of War, MIT Technology Review, December 6, 2017
Cord Cutting: How to Get High-Speed Internet Without Cable, 2017 Edition, Xconomy, October 25, 2017
Back to the Futurists with Tamar Avishai, Soonish Episode 2.025, November 8, 2017
Mapping the Future with Tim O'Reilly, Soonish Episode 2.02, October 24, 2o17
Introducing Hub & Spoke, Soonish Episode 2.015, October 13, 2017
Xconomy Voices, Episode 3: Nathan Myhrvold and TerraPower, Xconomy, September 21, 2017
Shadows of August: The Eclipse Road Trip Edition, Soonish Episode 2.01, September 14, 2017
'2001' Came and Went, But the Movie's Ideas Still Resonate, WHYY The Pulse, July 20, 2017
Xconomy Voices, Episode 2: Christopher Ahlberg of Recorded Future, Xconomy, July 19, 2017
Washington, We Have a Problem, Soonish Episode 1.10, July 3, 2017
Xconomy Voices, Episode 1: Mary Lou Jepsen, Xconomy, June 22, 2017
A Tale of Two Bridges, Soonish Episode 1.09, June 8, 2017
Hacking Time, Soonish Episode 1.08, May 11, 2017
Audio Startup 60dB Upgrades Streaming App for Short Radio Stories, Xconomy, May 8, 2017
Astropreneurs, Soonish Episode 1.07, April 20, 2017
Origin Story, Soonish Episode 1.06, March 29, 2017
Meat Without the Moo, Soonish Episode 1.05, March 8, 2017
Future Factories, With Workers Built In, Soonish Episode 1.04, February 22, 2017
Can Technology Save Museums?, Soonish Episode 1.03, February 8, 2017
Monorails: Trains of Tomorrow?, Soonish Episode 1.02, January 25, 2017
How "2001" Got the Future So Wrong, Soonish Episode 1.01, January 11, 2017
50 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To—And 5 New Ways to Find Them, Xconomy, December 14, 2016
The MFA Plays An Artful Mind Game With Its Visitors—And They Love The 'Epiphany', WBUR's The ARTery, November 7, 2016
Why It's Taking So Long to Fix the Longfellow Bridge, 90.9 WBUR, September 15, 2016
How a War on Climate Change Could Restore Economic Growth in America, Xconomy, August 23, 2016
How Will Apple Innovate Beyond the iPhone 7? With Next-Gen Siri, Xconomy, August 9, 2016
This Election Isn't About Love Or Hate. It's About Competence, Medium, August 1, 2016
Clinton Versus Trump: Who's Stronger on Innovation?, Xconomy, July 26, 2016
Can Innovation Save Us?, Xconomy, July 13, 2016
Beyond the Science Wars: Stories of a Shared Future, WBUR Cognoscenti, April 27, 2016
Trading Quality for Ease: Confessions of an Earbud Junkie, Xconomy, April 1, 2016
One Writer's Strategy for Avoiding Information Overload, Xconomy, February 5, 2016
Annotation Tuesday!: Jenna Pirog on Virtual Reality in "The Displaced," Nieman Storyboard, January 19, 2016
The Best Podcasts of 2015: A Guide for New Listeners, Xconomy, December 21, 2015
Looking Back at ScienceWriters2015 Via Twitter, KSJ Dispatches, October 21, 2015
Guardians of the Flame: Parting Thoughts on Science, Journalism, and Progress, KSJ Dispatches, June 30, 2015
Apple Watch: The First Wearable Device Worth Wearing, Xconomy, June 5, 2015
Dispelling the Gloom: An Open Letter to Science & Technology Journalists, KSJ Blog, November 14, 2014
Carless in Cambridge: Bike & Car Sharing and the Future of Traffic, Xconomy, August 15, 2014
Linda Stone's Antidote to the Quantified Self: The Essential Self, Xconomy, August 8, 2014.
Global Warming and the Power of Fear to Drive Innovation, Xconomy, August 1, 2014.
Boston vs. San Francisco: Two Cultures of Innovation, Xconomy, July 11, 2014.
Five Annoying Tech Problems for the Next Hot Startup to Solve, Xconomy, June 27, 2014.
The Future of Work, Plus or Minus E-mail, Xconomy, June 16, 2014.
How I Conquered My Reading List Using Pocket, Xconomy, June 13, 2014.
If Tesla Made Bike Lights, They'd Look Like This; The Story of Sparse. Xconomy, June 6, 2014.
Startups and "The Future of Informing": Q&A with Matter's Corey Ford. Xconomy, May 30, 2014.
Cord Cutting: How to Get High-Speed Internet Service Without Cable. Xconomy, May 23, 2014.
Welcome to the Seven-Year Technology Pause. Xconomy, May 16, 2014.
The Davis Dilemma: New Energy for Innovation, But Where to Grow? Xconomy, May 15, 2014.
Can Sacramento End Its Innovation Drought? Xconomy, May 14, 2014.
Soft Spots: Five Places Where Silicon Valley's Bubble Could Pop. Xconomy, May 2, 2014.
Minerva's Plan to Disrupt Universities: A Talk with Ben Nelson. Xconomy, April 20, 2014.
A Letter to the Year 2061 (If We Make It That Far). Xconomy, April 4, 2014.
Conversations on Passion: Wade Roush of Xconomy. Ryan Bonaparte, Crazy Enough to Try, March 20, 2014.
The Missing Middle Class: Jobs in the Second Machine Age. Xconomy, March 21, 2014.
From Cosimo to Cosmos: The Medici Effect in Culture and Technology. Xconomy, March 14, 2014.
WhatsApp, $19 Billion, and the Unreal Economy of Silicon Valley. Xconomy, February 21, 2014.
Aaron Marcus, Bard of User-Centered Design, Battles "High-Order Crap". Xconomy, February 18, 2014.
15 Places to Turn for Technology News That Really Matters. Xconomy, February 14, 2014.
Hockney's iPad: How Technology Illuminates the Way We See. Xconomy, January 24, 2014.
How I Learned to Stay Organized with Evernote, Post-Its, and Foamcore. Xconomy, January 10, 2014.
Please, Keep Paying $80 a Month for Cable So I Can Enjoy Cheap TV. Xconomy, October 18, 2013.
What Is Quora? Seven Answers from Adam D'Angelo and Marc Bodnick. Xconomy, October 3, 2013.
Altius Education Changes Course After Accreditation Battles. Xconomy, September 10, 2013.
Sea Level Rise: Time for a Barrage of New Ideas. Xconomy, August 30, 2013.
The Geek Doesn't Always Get the Girl: A Novelist on Hacking Romance, Xconomy, August 9, 2013.
Santa Cruz, The City Over the Hill, Works to Build Its Own Startup Culture. (Part 1 of 3.) Xconomy, July 30, 2013.
Don't Panic, But We've Passed Peak Apple. And Google. And Facebook. Xconomy, June 14, 2013.
Do You Have A Story To Tell? Here Are the Digital Tools You'll Need. Xconomy, May 24, 2013.
To Do Or Not To Do: That Is the Question. Xconomy, March 29, 2013.
Facebook Doesn't Have Big Data. It Has Ginormous Data. Xconomy, February 14, 2013.
How Lytro Is Shifting Our Perspective on Photography. Xconomy, February 1, 2013.
Google Gets a Second Brain, Changing Everything About Search. Xconomy, December 12, 2012.
Intuit Goes All Out to Solve the Innovator's Dilemma. Is It Working? Xconomy, November 6, 2012.
ICANN's Boondoggle. Technology Review, August 21, 2012.
The Case of the Tilted Clubhouse: A Geographical Detective Story. Xconomy, August 17, 2012.
Can Anyone Catch Khan Academy? The Fate of the U in the YouTube Era. Xconomy, July 20, 2012.
In Google's Moon Race, Teams Face a Reckoning. Xconomy, April 18, 2012.
Can Willow Garage's "Linux for Robots" Spur Internet-Scale Growth? Xconomy, March 29, 2012.
Google's Rules of Acquisition: How to Be an Android, Not an Aardvark. Xconomy, March 5, 2012.
Google Transit: How (and Why) the Search Giant is Remapping Public Transportation. Xconomy, February 21, 2012.
Saint Steve? Not Exactly. Apple and the Power of the Dark Side. Xconomy, October 7, 2011.
Pinnacle Looks Beyond Detroit as the Market for its Opposed-Piston Engine. Xconomy, October 4, 2011.
There Is an Incubator Bubble, and It Will Pop. Xconomy, August 12, 2011.
Inside Google's Age of Augmented Humanity. (Part 1 of 3.) Xconomy, January 3, 2011.
Going Out of Print. Technology Review, April 20, 2010.
Second Earth. Technology Review, July 1, 2007.
Inside the Spyware Scandal. Technology Review, May 1, 2006.
Genetics Savings and Clone: No Pet Project. Technology Review, May 1, 2006.
Killer Maps. Technology Review, October 1, 2005.
Social Machines. Technology Review, August 1, 2005.
Antisense Aims for a Renaissance. Science, May 23, 1997.
Herbert Benson: Mind-Body Maverick Pushes the Envelope. Science, April 18, 1997.
Hunting for Animal Alternatives. Science, October 11, 1996.
Population: The View from Cairo. Science, August 26, 1994