Where Technology Intersects with Everything

Today the technology beat focuses less on the technology itself and more on how technology intersects with and transforms everything people care about—from politics to personal relationships. Many of the writers I spoke with acknowledged that covering technology has matured beyond just writing about tech as a subject—the “tech beat.” Meyer explains his tweetstorm 36 on the subject further: “There’s just this understanding now that technology is necessarily intersectional . . .It got boring just writing about technology all the time, and it stopped being new, so it was like, ‘Where do people go now?’ The answer is understanding what [tech] crosses over with, what [tech] intersects with.”37

Many other interviewees concurred there has been a shift in the nature of coverage in the last few years. Any publication that once concerned itself with technology is now more focused on the intersection of technology and something else (e.g., culture, politics, labor, etc.) Tech is no longer the story. It’s a core part of what’s happening, but it’s not the subject. This can also make for a confusing definition of what, exactly, constitutes technology coverage. John Herrman, a David Carr Fellow at The New York Times, shares, “You’re not really writing a tech story [anymore]. You’re writing a set of stories about labor and about business, maybe about law . . . It’s hard to say what makes it a tech story.”38

Buchanan recalls his path from Gizmodo to The Awl, where he and Herrman thought they were “finally done with tech” but found they gravitated toward it in other ways. Buchanan observes: “[We’re] mostly interested in structures. That’s how we’ve come to articulate it. We’ve been mostly writing about labor and capital and technology and real estate and urbanism and different subsets within that. [We’re now talking about] cultural forces.”39

Sociologist and New York Times op-ed contributor Zeynep Tufekci agrees, and demands more of this approach: “Technology is no longer ‘just’ a technology story—many things, from social to economic, are intertwined with technological developments . . . What we need is more people covering the intersection.”40 In other words, technology coverage has reached a point where it is no longer possible to separate social questions from technological ones.

Clive Thompson has long held the position that technology is a lens toward everything else: “Politics, business, literature, art, culture. It’s a fantastic conduit. Journalists often hate being stuck in a box. They get bored by their beat. This beat is going to go everywhere. I’ll never get bored. Sure enough, twenty-five years later, I’m not even slightly running out of things that I’m fascinated by.”41

New Yorker staff writer Nathan Heller similarly describes his approach: “I am usually trying to write about tech at points where it intersects with something else: municipal politics, cultural history, art, business practice, or thought. In other words, I’m trying to write about tech in the world. Approaches tend to interest me if I feel as if they open up onto, and help illuminate, some broader arc of cultural change.”42

results matching ""

    No results matching ""