After bookstrapping my way into journalism in 1975, I began writing about technology, the people who make it, and its effects on all of us in 1981, and have been pursuing this fascinating story ever since. After years of freelancing and writing books, I joined Newsweek in 1995, where I worked as senior editor, chief technology correspondent, and writer of a column called the Technologist. In late June 2008, I joined Wired Magazine as a full time writer. (Sort of a homecoming; I’ve been on the masthead as a contributor since the first issue.)
I’ve written six books (more on these on the site), beginning with “Hackers,” which PC Magazine named the best Sci-Tech book written in the last twenty years. My book on the revolution in public key cryptography, “Crypto,” won the grand eBook prize at the 2001 Frankfurt Book festival. In January 2001 It tells the fascinating –and important — story of the revolution in cryptography. David Kahn, who is the master historian in the field, called it “Cryptography’s Soul of a New Machine.” Ben Hammersley of the Times of London wrote, “Crypto is a triumph. I urge you to read it… To combine science and political intrigue and make it a compulsive page-turner is a good trick but to make it essential reading for the age as well is a mark of brilliance.”
My penultimate book (so far) was The Perfect Thing,”about the iPod and its reverberations in the business and cultural world, as well as in your ear. (I’ve been on the story since day one, and did a well-circulated Newsweek story on it in July 2004 entitled “iPod Nation”; the cover shot was Steve Jobs holding a new ‘pod with the legend “iPod Therefore I Am.”) I will spare you my playlists. I’d been interviewing Jobs since 1983 and my obituary of him on wired.com was one of the most accessed story in the website’s history.
My most recent book, In the Plex, is a deep dive into Google. It has been widely praised as the definitive book on that company, and was chosen by Amazon as the best book of 2011 in the Business and Investing category.
My stuff has appeared in a wide range of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s and Premiere. I’ve been a contributor to Wired since its inception. Before focusing on technology, I wrote about a variety of subjects: I was a rock critic at weekly papers (I interviewed Bob Marley and Bruce Springsteen, though not together), covered sports, and tackled other subjects ranging from a shot-by-shot analysis of a scene from “Millers Crossing” to the New York Times wedding announcements.
In 2006, my Wired profile of publisher and Internet guru Tim O’Reilly was included in “Best of Technology Writing 2006,” an anthology of tech writing. I accepted the assignment to edit the next collection and in Fall 2007, the digitalculture imprint of the University of Michigan published “The Best of Technology Writing 2007.”
I grew up in Philadelphia, where my heart was broken by the Phillies (now I’m kind of stunned at their recent success, which borders on dynastic and is surely a sign of the apocalypse), and went to Central High School and Temple University there. Then I got an M.A. in literature at Penn State. (I was chosen to receive the first Distinguished Alumni Award from the English Department there, something no one in Happy Valley would have predicted during my time there.) Now I live in New York City and western Massachusetts with my wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Teresa Carpenter–whose recent book is New York Diaries 1609-2009– and our college-age son.