Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly


Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor for its first seven years. His newest book is The Inevitable, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. He is founder of the popular Cool Tools website, which has been reviewing tools daily for 20 years. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a subscriber-supported journal of unorthodox conceptual news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers’ Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. Other books by Kelly include 1) Out of Control, the 1994 classic book on decentralized emergent systems, 2) The Silver Cord, a graphic novel about robots and angels, 3) What Technology Wants, a robust theory of technology, and 4) Vanishing Asia, his 50-year project to photograph the disappearing cultures of Asia. He is currently co-chair of The Long Now Foundation, which is building a clock in a mountain that will tick for 10,000 years.

Longer Bio

Kevin Kelly helped launch Wired magazine in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor for its first seven years. He is now Senior Maverick 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) was 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 1980s).

In the late 80s, Kelly conceived and oversaw the publication of four versions of the Whole Earth Catalogs. These were 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. Signal was a precursor to Wired magazine. In 2003 Kelly launched the Cool Tools website to review one tool daily. In 2014  he published the best from 11 years of reviews as a large, oversized, 500-page Whole Earth Catalog inspired book in paper. The Cool Tools book was a #15 bestseller on Amazon.

Kelly was a founding board member of the WELL, a very early online service started in 1985 by the Point Foundation (Kelly was director of Point from 1985-1990). The WELL is considered to be the pioneer in developing online communities and social networks, and it influenced other early online companies such as AOL.

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 in 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. It outlines the new economics based in the digital world, introducing the importance of “free” prices. 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.  What Technology Wants, published in 2010, offers the first theory for technology, defining the nature of this force in the universe. His most recent book is The Inevitable (2016), about the unavoidable trends in the next 20 years.

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. For speeches he is represented by Stern Speakers.

Kelly is a founding member of the board of The Long Now Foundation, which is a group of individuals encouraging long-term thinking. The Long Now is building a clock and library that will last 10,000 years. The first 10,000-year clock is now being built inside a mountain in western Texas. 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. The German art publisher Taschen published Asia Grace, Kelly’s book of photographs of a disappearing Asia. Kelly 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.




Born, in Pennsylvania, USA


Graduated from Westfield High School, Westfield NJ.


Dropped out of University of Rhode Island after one year.


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.


Editor for Bell Helicopter employee newsletter in Tehran, Iran.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


Married Gia-Miin Fuh, a biochemist.


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


Daughter, Kaileen, born.


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.


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.


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


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


Son, Tywen, born.


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


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


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.


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


Published Asia Grace, a book of about 600 photographs (and no words) of life in Asia. Launched, 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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


Completed and published What Technology Wants, a book that offers a theory of technology.


Published The Silver CordVolume 1, a graphic novel started in 2003. The fictional story entails robots, drones, hacker spaces and angels, other kin, and astral travel.


Self-published the nearly 500-page book Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities, the best of the Cool Tools website, which became a bestseller (#15) on Amazon.


Completed the Kickstarter-funded second volume of The Silver Cord. Published both volumes as a single large graphic novel art book.


Published The Inevitable, about the next 30 years of technology.


Started the newsletter Recomendo with Mark Frauenfelder and Claudia Dawson; 6 brief recommendations every Sunday.


Published the compendium Recomendo book, containing 500 plus recommendations.


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