IDEA Week has ended
avatar for Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly

Wired Magazine
Senior Maverick
Kevin Kelly helped launch Wired magazine in 1993, and served as its executive editor for its first seven years. He is now senior maverick for Wired. In 1994 and 1997, during Kelly’s tenure, Wired won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence (the industry’s equivalent of two Oscars).

From 1984 to 1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. The non-profit Whole Earth Review was a small, yet influential, journal that consistently published trend-making topics years before other publications noticed them. Under Kelly’s direction and editorship, Whole Earth was the first consumer magazine to report on virtual reality, ecological restoration, the global teenager, Internet culture, and artificial life (to name just a few early trends in the 1980s).

In the late 80s, Kelly conceived and oversaw the publication of four versions of the Whole Earth Catalogs. These were award-winning compendiums evaluating all the best “tools” available for self-education. In 2014 he published the best from 11 years of reviews as a large, oversized, 500-page Whole Earth Catalog inspired book in paper. The Cool Tools book was a #15 bestseller on Amazon.

Kelly was a founding board member of the WELL, a very early online service started in 1985 by the Point Foundation (Kelly was director of Point from 1985-1990). The WELL is considered to be the pioneer in developing online communities and social networks, and it influenced other early online companies such as AOL. As director of the Point Foundation, Kelly was involved in initiating several techno-culture experiments. He launched Cyberthon in 1990, the first round-the-clock virtual reality jamboree. This brought together for the first time, all existing virtual reality prototypes and allowed 400 invited guests to try them out. It was the first chance the lay public had to try VR. Kelly was also co-founder of the annual Hackers’ Conference, a weekend rendezvous which in 1984 brought together three generations of legendary computer programmers for the first time.

Kelly is the author of Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Economic and Social Systems, published in 1994. This wide-ranging book is about how machines, the economy, and all large human-made inventions are becoming biological. Fortune magazine called it “essential reading for all executives.” His second book, New Rules for the New Economy, was published in 1998. It outlines the new economics based in the digital world, introducing the importance of “free” prices. New Rules was a bestseller in the US and has been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese and Estonian. What Technology Wants, published in 2010, offers the first theory for technology, defining the nature of this force in the universe. His most recent book is The Inevitable (2016), about the unavoidable trends in the next 20 years.

Kelly is a founding member of the board of The Long Now Foundation, which is a group of individuals encouraging long-term thinking. The Long Now is building a clock and library that will last 10,000 years. The first 10,000-year clock is now being built inside a mountain in western Texas. The purpose of the project is to foster long-term responsibility.