Welcome. If I Didn't Hate the Connotations of "Manifesto..."


I've been called a self-loathing technology journalist. After fuming, I realized my critic was right: I hate promoting technology that doesn't improve our lives.

Writing about technology, especially consumer electronics, is one of the cushiest jobs in the world. I'm afforded the liberty to spout off about technologies about which I often have only a cursory understanding, am sent the latest gadgets to play with for free, and am able to do it all from the sanctuary of my apartment, the Fortress of Lassitude. It's an opportunity for which I am often not thankful enough.

It's easy to be lulled into complacency, losing sight of the impact my beloved electronics have on my time, the peacefulness of my mind, and the environment of the planet on which I rely. It often feels like I am perpetuating an endless cycle of gluttony, encouraging others to ignore the consequence of their purchases.

Failings are few, but fundamental: Lying corporate propagandists; lazy designers; irresponsible manufacturers; our addiction to novelty. We'll never completely rid ourselves of these things, but we can address them as we can. We can point them out and suggest alternatives, at least.

There are parts of our electronics industry that have metastasized, as will any when powered by unchecked capitalism executed by people with no concern for others. Electronics are a small thing when held up against other endeavors our species has undertaken, but it's our thing, nerds, and we should do what we can to make them better and better.

Before I sound too insufferable, I want to make one thing clear: I rarely write because I want to change your opinion; I blog because I want you to change mine. I'll try my best to be fair and rational. I hope you'll call me out when I've made a mistake. If my way of thinking remains unchanged over the next months and years, something is probably wrong.

Ideally, we can create an electronics industry that wastes less to create better things. It's not such a daunting goal. If our industry weren't capable of progress, we wouldn't have the good things we have today, even if we're a long way from perfection. Perhaps my optimism is irrational, but I hope it's the last vice I give up. If the electronics industry only exists to trade our time, peace, and money for quickly-cooling baubles, I'm not the only only one who should be filled with self-loathing.

About Me and Boing Boing

I've bounced around a lot over the least few years, because I'm both a recovering idealist and an occasional asshole. During that time, the folks known as Boing Boing have always made time to offer me advice, a dissenting opinion, or encouragement, while doing consistently admirable work both here and in their individual careers. When they offered to make a place in their nest for me, I was honored and touched and all sorts of other gooshy things, but I am not too proud to publicly say that I'm thankful for the opportunity. We may not always agree, but I can't think of a finer group of people to argue with.

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7 Responses to Welcome. If I Didn't Hate the Connotations of "Manifesto..."

  1. Awemaker says:


    I am so tickled- I read several blogs, but only 2 religiously: Gizmodo with you, Joel, was the first of them, and almost immediately thereafter, BoingBoing!

    It’s very cool to see you land here. I respect your integrity and your voice, as I do everyone else’s here at BB. It’s a great fit.

    It’s also good to see the comments right here as of today. I, too, feel the need to steer this great gadget industry wide of the rocks & pitfalls that they collide with so often. May the “commentards” never come.

    Again, a heartfelt welcome, Joel.

  2. Mr. Gunn says:

    “I’ve bounced around a lot over the least few years, because I’m both a recovering idealist and an occasional asshole.”

    Don’t worry about it. We’re all assholes to somebody, as I found out several months ago.

    Welcome to your new place. I hope you give engadget and gizmodo a hell of a run for their money.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Johnson,

    Glad you found yourself a fine new online wall.

    Over at Wired News’s THREAT LEVEL (nee 27bstroke6) (you remember us, don’t you?), we miss your daily missives telling us to do this and don’t do that. Will now fill that need over here by reading deeply into your gadget musings to find wisdom for how to publish.

    Congrats –

    Ryan Singel

  4. Anonymous says:

    You were the best thing about Gizmodo, so I stopped reading it when you left. It’ll be nice to have gadget news again. 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    Good luck with the new gig, Joel. I enjoyed your writing at Gizmodo and look forward to reading you again.

  6. Karlos says:


    A shout of happiness all the way from EnZed.

    My fave bloggers all coming together into one all encompassing critical mass of bloggy goodness!

    …and what Awemaker said x2…

    Still keeping Dethroner on my blogroll 🙂

  7. Bala says:

    I loved ur writing on Gizmodo and glad to see you back on the thick of things and that too, in BoingBoing. Congrats and keep up your good writing.

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