I'm a technology journalist currently splitting my time between
- Podcasting—I'm the producer and host of a new show called Soonish
- Freelance print, online, and radio reporting for outlets such as Xconomy and WBUR
- Editorial consulting for a variety of clients.
I'm interested in three big questions. 1) How do people know things? 2) How do people make things? 3) Once people get really good at knowing things and making things, what else does that enable them to do? How does it change the way we all live? What does it mean for the future of our species, and our planet?
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 these days I'm working to claim dual citizenship in the land of radio and audio production.
I launched Soonish in January 2017. It's a show about the future: how we think and talk about it, what we can do together to shape it, and why our best forecasts—and our worst fears—are usually wrong. You can hear the first few episodes and learn more about the show at soonishpodcast.org. I also invite you to sign up for the Soonish newsletter and follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.
Also in January 2017, I was invited by MIT Technology Review publisher and editor-in-chief Jason Pontin to edit the 2018 edition of Twelve Tomorrows, the magazine's anthology of hard science fiction stories. I'm still in the process of recruiting authors for the volume, so if you have ideas for established or up-and-coming sci-fi writers who ought to be featured, get in touch!
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. The event, a three-way partnership between National Association of Science Writers, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and KSJ, was the largest meeting in the history of NASW, attracting more than 800 science communicators to Cambridge for five days of workshops, lectures, lunches, field trips, and networking parties. (Read a summary of the conference as captured on Twitter here.)
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. We documented the need for new institutional structures to support innovation in digital storytelling, live events, and other forms of outreach and engagement. 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. 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 student news magazine at Harvard College, where I was news editor, executive news editor, and eventually editor-in-chief. Recently I became chair of the Harvard Independent's Graduate Board, which oversees the newspaper's endowment, ensures cultural continuity, and aims to provide current Independent staffers with journalism and business advice and career connections.
Journalist, storyteller, startup entrepreneur, educator, and consultant compelled to help media consumers understand the changes wrought by rapid advances in science and technology and engage in solutions to the world's most pressing problems.
Producer and Host, Soonish, Cambridge, MA — September, 2016-present
I'm the reporter, editor, producer, and host of a new story-driven podcast about the future, set to debut in January 2017.
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, with an emphasis on audio features and podcasting.
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, through a combination of hands-on practice, research, training, and dissemination.
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.