Annalee Newitz — Knowing your Audience when Writing about the Future


Who are you talking to, and what are you trying to tell them? Main points will be the differences between the mass audience vs. the scientist/policy maker audience; and the intended effects of writing realistic futurism, aspirational futurism or dystopian futurism.

Talk at Borderlands Bookstore pre-H+ Conference event in San Francisco:

Annalee Newitz is an American journalist who covers the cultural impact of science and technology. She received a PhD in English and American Studies from UC Berkeley, and in 1997 published the widely cited book, White Trash: Race and Class in America. From 2004–2005 she was a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She writes for many periodicals from Popular Science to Wired, and from 1999 to 2008 wrote a syndicated weekly column called Techsploitation. She co-founded other magazine in 2002, which was published triannually until 2007. Since 2008, she is editor-in-chief of io9, a Gawker-owned science fiction blog, which was named in 2010 by The Times as one of the top science blogs on the internet.

Newitz was born in 1969, the daughter of two English teachers — her mother, Cynthia, teaching high school, and her father, Marty, at community college — and grew up in Irvine, California. She once called herself “biethnic”, as her father was born Jewish and her mother is a white Southerner and former Methodist who converted to Reform Judaism.

She graduated from Irvine High School, and in 1987 moved to Berkeley, California. In 1996, Newitz started doing some of her own freelance writing, and in 1998, she received a PhD in English and American Studies from UC Berkeley, with a dissertation on images of monsters, psychopaths, and capitalism in twentieth century American popular culture (later published as a book). She worked briefly as an adjunct professor, and in 1999 became a fulltime writer and journalist.
In 2002, she was awarded a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship, and was a research fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 2004–2005 she was a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and from 2007–2009 she was on the board of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.
She is partners with author Charlie Anders. The couple co-founded other magazine, a tri-annual periodical which ran from 2002 to 2007, and was described as “pop culture and politics for the new outcast”. In 2008, Gawker media asked Newitz to start a blog about science and science fiction, which was dubbed io9. Newitz has remained editor-in-chief since its founding, and in 2010, io9 was named one of the top 30 science blogs by The Times.

Newitz’s work has been published in Popular Science, Wired,, New Scientist, Metro Silicon Valley, the San Francisco Bay Guardian (as the culture editor), and AlterNet. She is the editor-in-chief at io9, a science-fiction themed blog launched in 2008 by Gawker Media. She has discussed her work on CNN, The New York Times, NPR, G4, the BBC, and the CBC,a written for the San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post, and she is a regular lecturer at various colleges and conferences.

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