Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly


Biography

Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor from its inception until 1999. He is also editor and publisher of the popular Cool Tools website, which has been running for 11 years. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers' Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. He authored the best-selling New Rules for the New Economy, the classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control, as well as a new theory of technology, What Technology Wants. His most recent book is the self-published best-seller Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities.

Longer Bio

Kevin Kelly helped launch Wired magazine in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor until January 1999. He is now Editor-At-Large for Wired. In 1994 and 1997, during Kelly's tenure, Wired won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence (the industry's equivalent of two Oscars).

From 1984 to 1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. The non-profit Whole Earth Review (formerly called Co-Evolution Quarterly) is a small, yet influential, journal that consistently published trend-making topics years before other publications noticed them. Under Kelly's direction and editorship, Whole Earth was the first consumer magazine to report on virtual reality, ecological restoration, the global teenager, Internet culture and artificial life (to name just a few early trends).

In the late 80s, Kelly conceived and oversaw the publication of four versions of the Whole Earth Catalogs. Whole Earth Catalogs are award-winning compendiums evaluating all the best "tools" available for self-education. (Over a million Whole Earth Catalogs have been sold.) The kind of tools reviewed include hardware, power tools, books, and software -- anything that leverages power to individuals. In 1988 Kelly edited, published, and wrote much of Signal, a Whole Earth Catalog of personal communication tools, which evaluated the technologies of faxes, satellite TV, cellular, digital retouching, online systems and the whole emerging world of digital technology.

Kelly was a founding board member of the WELL, a Sausalito-based teleconferencing system. The WELL is a pioneering online service started in 1985 by the Point Foundation (Kelly was director of Point from 1985-1990). The WELL is considered by the growing Internet population to be a model of online culture, and a pioneer in developing online communities. It currently has 10,000 members.

As director of the Point Foundation, Kelly was involved in initiating several techno-culture experiments. He launched Cyberthon in 1990, the first round-the-clock virtual reality jamboree. This brought together for the first time, all existing virtual reality prototypes and allowed 400 invited guests to try them out. It was the first chance the lay public had to try VR. Kelly was also co-founder of the annual Hackers' Conference, a weekend rendezvous which in 1984 brought together three generations of legendary computer programmers for the first time.

Kelly is the author of Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Economic and Social Systems, published by Addison Wesley (1994). This wide-ranging book is about how machines, the economy, and all large human-made inventions are becoming biological. Fortune magazine called it "essential reading for all executives." His second book, New Rules for the New Economy, was published in 1998 by Viking/Penguin in the US and by 4th Estate in the UK. New Rules was a bestseller in the US and has been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese and Estonian. He authored a new theory of technology, What Technology Wants, in 2010 by Viking/Penguin, and his most recent book is the self-published best-seller Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities.

Kevin Kelly's writing has appeared in many national and international publications such as the New York Times, The Economist, Time, Harpers, Science, GQ, Wall Street Journal and Esquire. His photographs have appeared in LIFE and other national magazines.

Kelly is a member of the Global Business Network, a consulting group based in Emeryville, California that specializes in creating scenarios of the future for global businesses. He was a Fellow at the Center for Business Innovation, run by Ernst & Young. For speeches he is represented by Stern Speakers.

Kelly is a member of the board of The Long Now Foundation (www.longnow.org), which is a group of concerned individuals building a clock and library that will last 10,000 years. A working prototype of the unique mechanical-digital clock has been built and demonstrated, and a mountain top in eastern Nevada purchased as a site to build the monumental clock. The purpose of the project is to foster long term responsibility.

Before taking up the consequences of technology, Kelly was a nomadic photojournalist. One summer he rode a bicycle 5,000 miles across America. For most of the 1970s he was a photographer in remote parts of Asia, publishing his photographs in national magazines. He wrote a monthly travel column for New Age Journal. In the early 1980s he published and edited the first magazine devoted to walking, and ran a mail order catalog specializing in budget travel around the world.

Kelly lives in Pacifica, California, a small coastal town just south of San Francisco. He is married and has three wonderful children. He was born in 1952. He has no college or university degrees.

Portraits of Kevin are available here.


Chronology

1952

   

Born, in Pennsylvania, USA

1970

   

Graduated from Westfield High School, Westfield NJ.

1971

   

Dropped out of University of Rhode Island after one year.

1971

   

Resident photographer at Apeiron Photography Workshop in Millerton, NY.

1972- 1979

   

Independent photographer in remote parts of Asia. Roamed Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Burma, Thailand, Bengladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.

1979

   

Editor for Bell Helicopter employee newsletter in Tehran, Iran.

1979

   

Became a Christian after conversion experience in Jerusalem. Rode bicycle 5,000 miles across continental US. During the crossing completed Bicycle Haiku, a collection of haikus and ink sketches in book form.

1980

   

Hiked the Appalachian Trail from NJ to South Carolina with two brothers, Brian and Michael.

1980

   

Initiated microphotography of the digestive system at the University of Georgia, Microbiology Department. Completed film with Dr. John Patton, entitled A Microscopic Look at Digestion, from Bandera Enterprises.

1981

   

Launched Walking Journal, first American magazine dedicated to recreational walking. Sold in 1984.

1982

   

Started and ran Nomadic Books, a mail order company specializing in hard-to-find budget travel information for world travelers. Sold in 1984.

1983- 1984

   

Wrote monthly column on travel for New Age Journal.

1984

   

Researched and wrote cover story for New Age Journal on the "Network Nation," a very early report on online culture.

1984- 1990

   

Edited last issue of Co-Evolution Quarterly and first issue of Whole Earth Review. Edited the Review for 6 years. Was acting-publisher of Whole Earth Catalogs after founder Stewart Brand left. Director of Point Foundation.

1985

   

Co-initiator of the Hackers' Conference, launched with Stewart Brand and organized by Ryan Phelan, and inspired by Steven Levy's book. This seminal gathering brought together three generations of programming hackers for the first time.

1985- 1998

   

Served on Board of Directors of the WELL from its inception until its sale to Salon. The WELL was an early, influential, and pioneering outpost in what later came to be called cyberspace.

1986

   

Designed and published the Essential Whole Earth Catalog, a distillation of the best tools and books for self education.

1987

   

Married Gia-Miin Fuh, a biochemist.

1988

   

Conceived and edited Signal: Communication Tools for the Information Age, a compendium of digital resources and culture.

1988

   

Daughter, Kaileen, born.

1989

   

Created, together with Cheryl Nash, a 24-hour immersive jamboree in virtual reality, entitled Cyberthon -- the first public access to all then-existing virtual reality experiments.

1990

   

Daughter, Ting, born.

1990- 1994

   

Researched and wrote Out of Control, the Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization. Reviewed in Fortune magazine as "A book that should be required reading for all executives....As entertaining as it is insightful."

1992- 1999

   

Founding executive editor of Wired magazine, which was conceived by Louis Rosetto and Jane Metcalf. First issue is launched January 1993.

1994

   

Wired magazine wins National Magazine Award for General Excellence, the first time the award is granted to a start-up.

1995

   

Charter board member of the Long Now Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging long-term views and generational thinking.

1996

   

Son, Tywen, born.

1998

   

Completed New Rules for the New Economy, a best selling book on the dynamics of the network economy.

1999

   

As a client of the Leigh Bureau, made many presentations at high-tech conferences and corporate meetings world-wide.

2000

   

Conceived and launched, with Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan, the All Species Inventory, an effort to discover and catalog all living organisms in one generation.

2001

   

Together with Stewart Brand, started up Long Bets, a mechanism to make predictions socially responsible.

2002

   

Published Asia Grace, a book of about 600 photographs (and no words) of life in Asia. Launched asiagrace.com, a supplemental web site with stories and text for the book.

Earned a "Special Thanks To" screen credit for the film Minority Report, as part of a group of futurists hired by director Steven Spielberg to imagine Washington DC in the year 2050.

2003

   

Created the weekly email list and website Cool Tools. Wrote, designed and published a limited edition of reviews in book form, Cool Tools 2003.

2004

   

Wrote, designed and published the book True Films: 100 Great Documentaries & Factuals. Appeared in "The Roots of the Matrix" portion of the Ultimate Matrix Collection DVD set, along with recommendation for Out of Control.

2005

   

Co-host (with Stewart Brand) the monthly Seminar About Long-term Thinking, a public series based in San Francisco and broadcast on the web. Launched The Technium, a blog about the nature of technology.

2006

   

Published True Films 2.0. Launched Street Use, a blog for vernacular technology.

2007

   

All Species Foundation closes and hands off mission to the Encyclopedia of Life.

2008

2009

   

Redesign Cool Tools website. Published True Films 3.0 as ebook.

Launched The Quantified Self (with Gary Wolf). Homeschooled my son Tywen.

2010

   

Completed and published What Technology Wants.

2012

   

Published The Silver Cord, a graphic novel.

 
 

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