Published! Tow Center Report on Constructive Technology Criticism

I’ve landed back in Singapore after a whirlwind trip filled with family [BABY!], friends [WEDDING!], and some serious business [CONFERENCES AND TALKS!]. Most significantly last week, I released the report on Constructive Technology Criticism with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, which I’ve been a remote research fellow with for the last year or so.

Complete report online at CJR, or downloadable in ebook formats at gitbook.
Style Guide for Writing About Technology and Annotated Syllabus are also available on Medium.
 I welcome your comments, additions, and further suggestions.

Being Stateside meant I got to pull together some of the people who inspired and motivated the research for a panel discussion in New York. It was a great chance to highlight some of their contributions and insights about how tech coverage and criticism are changing. Here’s the video, featuring all stars Virginia Heffernan, John Herrman, and Rose Eveleth.

It’s just barely been a week since we published and I’m eagerly watching the response to what turned out to be a pretty lengthy project (30K words, including appendices!). Working largely on my own from Singapore, it was easy to lose touch with the energy that motivated the project. There's nothing like the thrill of pressing 'publish' and getting feedback to motivate further work. On Twitter people are screenshotting a surprising range of quotes and insights from the report and even posting links to it alongside commentary in other languages. I love seeing what resonates, and I’m pleased to see folks are actually reading that deep into the report.

I’m especially excited because friends and colleagues have shared with me how this thing connects to their own work. I did not expect, for example, it would speak to my friends’ recent thinking on middle school English literature canon and pedagogy! I intended to corral a bunch of different threads and ideas together in one place so we could start having a conversation around them. It’s gratifying to see hints that it is already delivering on that potential.

It's all the more personally gratifying when the seeds of this project began as an exercise in soul searching: “What should I call myself? ‘Tech Writer’ doesn’t cut it.” Surrounded by lawyers, academics, documentary film makers, and journalists, I struggled to pin down how to introduce myself in those heady September introductory days starting as a fellow at Berkman in 2013. The soul searching continued the following year as a writing collaboration fell apart, for reasons that seemed to highlight the differences in our approach. Where there are struggles and uncertainty, there's usually something interesting worth digging into, and my personal struggle led me to exploring bigger tensions in the way we write and talk about technology and society at large.

I’m using the next couple days for jetlag-fueled musings and lining up my next steps to figure out how this work continues and evolves, in practice or in theory. Absentee ballots have been sent. Back in steamy Singapore I'm already missing fall, but I'm grateful for the crisp taste and burst of energy I got on this trip.