Dear Backchannel readers,
I’m Jessi Hempel, the new chief editor Channel back. I wrote my first story about digital media 11 years ago. At the time, I was a daring trainee, and as a reward for keeping a checklist and checking the facts, my editors let me do a little side project – a story about social media. On nights and weekends, I call the people who run these sites. Mark Zuckerberg spoke to me from a house in Palo Alto, where he was locked up with friends for the summer.
Rupert Murdoch then paid 580 million dollars to buy MySpace and I got my first cover. (Literally. You’ll notice someone who thinks it’s a good idea to put my face on the cover.)
In the years since then, I’ve been writing about technology for BusinessWeek, Luck and WIRED as industry has moved from the sidelines to business, becoming the central force that powers it. At that time, the founders and architects of technology have emerged as leading figures in culture and politics. As Channel backSteven Levy wrote last week, This is the story of our time.
There’s a small group of people creating tools to change things. If we want to know something about where the world is going, we must understand their values and perspectives. That’s why I joined Steven and our third partner, executive editor Sandra Upson, at Channel back. I think Steven’s ambition is to provide insightful reporting, unique insight that can make sense, and a sense of what’s truly important in an acoustic chamber filled with distracting press noises. Now more urgent than that.
I have my own view of the future. I believe that the social conversation around technology has to be broad. This sector has become mainstream, but it is still largely controlled by a small group of people who, compared to the rest of the world, are making choices about how we compute – and live, eat, cure cancer and drive – Tomorrow. Here’s the thing for that – we need a full variety, not just age, color or gender, but experience and expression, to drive the development of these tools to ensure say they reflect all of us. By recording stories about the advent and development of technology, Channel back will unravel the main characters of the industry, and in doing so, invite others to enter the arena.
Readers, you have an important role to play here. If you’re reading this letter, you’ve invested in how technology evolved. Please, speak up. Unlike WIRED or Luck, Channel back was never created to be a magazine, publishing authoritative articles for a mass audience. Channel back was born to hold a conversation, one where we all work together to move technology forward in the right direction. We – you and I – are part of a small group of people, a community of tech enthusiasts, whose shared understanding will influence our future path. We have the most elegant commenting software in the business (thanks to Medium!), And we read, respond, and publish your opinion. Try it. As you read Sandra’s work above Mattress firm Casper’s social media efforts or Steven’s story above how Google trains its engineers to embrace machine technology, highlight a sentence and write a note.