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Senior writer on computing
Computers are the tool that define contemporary humanity, and they’re undergoing a gigantic shift.
Moore’s Law is petering out. New chip architectures and computing techniques are emerging. 5G has begun its march across the world. AI is revolutionizing the processing of data. Voice and gesture interfaces are displacing controllers and keyboards. IoT devices and wearables are proliferating. VR and AR are finding their niches. And quantum computers are taking their first baby steps. All this is causing computing to become at once more powerful, more ubiquitous, more interconnected, and more invisible.
If you can see that shift happening too, if you can feel it reshaping the fabric of your reality, we’ve got a job for you. We want a journalist who can explore and chronicle this transformation of computing through stories of the hardware, software, companies, and people making it happen, for an audience that loves to read about the future but has no time for jargon.
Keep reading for more details on what we’re looking for, what we’re offering, and how to apply. First, we should probably say what we’re not looking for:
- This isn’t an IT beat. We don’t care about whether Infosys or Wipro is winning the outsourcing wars, who provides the fastest fiber-optic broadband, or which AI cloud platform has the best developer tools.
- It’s not a consumer tech beat. No laptop reviews, iPhone unboxings, or PS5 vs Xbox X face-offs, thank you.
- It’s not an AI beat, nor a cybersecurity beat; we have a strong team on those topics already (more on them in a bit). But of course, both issues are central to what’s happening in computing, so you will touch on them sometimes.
Instead, we’re interested in computing as a phenomenon—a technological one, but also a social, cultural, economic, and political one. We want you to find the cutting-edge technologies that are going to transform the world a few years from now, and examine how those that were cutting-edge a few years ago are transforming it today.
MIT Technology Review is a world-renowned name in technology news. We cover tech at the cutting edge, where it’s just emerging into the world. Our mission: to make technology more of a force for good through authoritative, influential, and trusted coverage that leads to better decision-making by those who build, use, and regulate technology. We are “of MIT but not about MIT”; we benefit from our ties to one of the world’s top research institutions, but we write about technology in general and enjoy strict editorial independence. And unlike many publications these days, we’re expanding.
About the job
This is for someone who’s excited by the chance to flex their reporting and writing muscles across a wide range of journalistic styles, from timely news analyses to more in-depth features, profiles, and essays, as well as the occasional scoop. As a very loose guide, we expect our writers to produce 2-3 short pieces a week, plus a couple of medium-sized stories and one longer piece every month or so (which could include stories for our bimonthly print magazine). You may work in other formats—we do several newsletters and a couple of podcasts. You’ll speak and moderate at MIT Technology Review conferences and represent us at other events. And we’d love it if you pushed us to consider new ways of producing journalism and reaching audiences that we haven’t yet thought of.
As we said, we’ve got AI and cybersecurity writers already. But this isn’t a turf-war kind of place; nobody can cover everything, and there’s frequent collaboration. And outside those areas you can range broadly—from supercomputers to drone swarms, from computational biology to the nanoscience behind today’s chips, from VR conferencing to brain-computer interfaces, from quantum cryptography to blockchain-based distributed computing, and from the geopolitics of lithium supplies and rare earths to the economics and climate impacts of server farms. We don’t expect comprehensive coverage; that would spread you too thin. Instead, we look to you to be led by your passions and your sense of what’s important, and carve out a handful of niches where you can do really original reporting.
Not every story will be a blockbuster feature, but when they are, here are the kinds of reporting, analyses, essays, and profiles—from us and other places—we’d be excited to see you produce.
- The race to build the best quantum computer on Earth (MIT TR)—the battle between Google and IBM over quantum supremacy
- Inside Europe’s quest to build an unhackable quantum internet (MIT TR)—the promise of ultra-secure quantum communications
- We’re not prepared for the end of Moore’s Law (MIT TR)—and it’s (almost) time to panic
- Ethereum thinks it can change the world. It’s running out of time to prove it (MIT TR)—can the cryptocurrency achieve its much larger goal of building a “world computer”?
- The US military is trying to read minds (MIT TR)—so that troops can control “swarms of drones, operating at the speed of thought.” Not worrying at all.
- The Coming Software Apocalypse (The Atlantic)—why code is getting too complex, and how to stop it before catastrophe strikes
- AR Will Spark the Next Big Tech Platform—Call It Mirrorworld (Wired)—a far-out vision of the implications of a technology most people still don’t take seriously
- Inside Samsung’s $116 billion plan to overtake chip rivals (FT)—a jockeying for position that will shape the map of techno-geopolitical power
- Virtual Reality Is Still Failing Half of the World’s Population (OneZero)—why entrenched bias in the industry has made VR worse for women
- The Friendship That Made Google Huge (New Yorker)—a profile of two of Google’s top coders, which brings to life the world of software engineering and the practice of pair programming
- The Devastating Decline of a Brilliant Young Coder (Wired)—a heart-wrenching profile of a Cloudfare cofounder stricken with a debilitating illness
- Why Her Will Dominate UI Design Even More Than Minority Report (Wired)—a prescient argument that the AI love story was the least interesting thing about the movie
- The new Macbook keyboard is ruining my life—OK, we said no consumer tech, but if you can write this well about a keyboard, we’ll take it
If you don’t see any of your dream stories in that list, let us know when you apply. We’re curious to hear what you think is the best writing on computing out there.
We don’t have a strong preconception about what kind of person would fill this role. Maybe you’re a veteran business or technology journalist who wants more scope to explore how advances in computing are changing the foundations of our economy and society. Maybe you’re a computer science researcher or someone in the industry who is questioning their life choices and just happens to be a terrific writer. Or you’re a tech reporter with a few years’ experience, insatiable curiosity, far-out ideas, and big dreams. Regardless, you:
- have a passion for good storytelling
- can convey complex matters to a broad audience in plain, colloquial English without talking down to them
- care about the people in your stories as much as about the issues
- care about the impacts of technology as much as about the technology itself
- love figuring out the bigger picture and where trends are leading in the long term
- are relentlessly curious, always ready to own up to what you don’t know and then dive in and learn it.
We’ve been making concerted efforts to make our newsroom more diverse (ask us about them!) and we’re always trying to do better. We think technology coverage benefits from a critical outsider’s perspective, and so we especially welcome applications from women, people of color, and other groups underrepresented in the world of tech.
If this sounds exciting but you’re not sure you fit the bill, reach out anyway: email firstname.lastname@example.org with “computing” in the subject line, a few words about yourself (what skills would you bring that we just haven’t thought of?) and a couple of questions to get a sense of whether this might be for you. At worst we’ll say no, and we promise to say it with kindness.
Who you’ll be working with
We’re about 20 reporters and editors with expertise in many fields of technology, spread across the US and in Europe. Even before the pandemic half of us worked remotely, and we think we’ve gotten pretty good at doing our jobs while supporting each other via Zoom. While many of your stories will be solo efforts, here are some of the people you’re likely to be collaborating with on the regular:
David Rotman, your editor and mentor, a living encyclopedia of technology, who will help you figure out angles to explore, people to talk to, questions to ask, pitfalls to avoid, and how to tell your story better.
Will Douglas Heaven, our senior AI editor, a computer-science PhD who questioned his life choices and became a journalist instead (see, it can be done!) and wears his incredible depth of knowledge incredibly lightly.
Karen Hao, author of one of the best AI newsletters out there, one of Om Malik’s top 25 tech reporters, a data scientist, MIT graduate, frequent speaker on AI bias and diversity in tech, and much less intimidating than she sounds.
Patrick Howell O’Neill, cybersecurity editor, someone who looks daily into the dark belly of the internet and still manages to come out smiling, and would love a partner in crime—figuratively speaking.
Brian Bryson, the director of content for our conferences and a 17-year veteran of IBM, who will immediately pump you for ideas and turn you into a stage impresario, whether it’s on a virtual stage or, after covid, a real one.
What we’ll give you
We pay a wage that’s commensurate with your experience and competitive with other national magazines and digital publications; MIT takes pay equity very seriously. In addition, you get MIT employee benefits, which are some of the best in the US and include tuition discounts if you want to take MIT courses on the side.
You can work remotely; US time zones are preferable, European ones are also doable. If you don’t live in the Boston area you’ll miss out on the summer barbecue, the office Christmas party, the Hallowe’en movie week, and the editor-in-chief’s Friday cocktail hours—but for now we’re holding them all via Zoom anyway.
You’ll work closely with one editor (David) who’ll collaborate with you to create clear goals and expectations and then help you fulfill them. Some people stay here for decades, others do a spell and move on. In the last couple of years we’ve lost people to CNN, Forbes, and Wired, and taken them from New Scientist, the Verge, and the Washington Post. We see it as our job to enable you to do your best work, wherever that leads you.
How to apply
With your application, please submit a short cover letter with your resume, saying which areas you’d be most interested in focusing on, and a few links to your best published work (or some writing samples if you’re not from a journalism background). Keep it brief; if you pique our interest, we’ll ask you for a more detailed memo.