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Silicon Valley’s Geek Chorus

A user’s guide.

Clockwise from top left: Alexis Madrigal Photo: Courtesy of Madrigal, Kevin Roose Photo: Christopher Michel, Nick Bilton Photo: Melissa Hom, John Herrman Photo: Macey Foronda, Sam Biddle Photo: JR Delia, Matt Buchanan Photo: Jon Snyder

 

 

Among the many things this boom has given rise to—thousands of new companies, stratospheric
growth, cars with facial hair—is a new tech-journalism cottage industry, one that’s positioned
itself as a more accessible, more analysis-driven analog to insider-oriented, gadget-obsessed,
scoops-and-specs publications like TechCrunch and AllThingsD. It’s populated by a coterie of
young men (yes, much like the industry they cover, they’re almost entirely men) who’ve become
the Valley’s hall monitor, peanut gallery, and, often, conscience.

Matt Buchanan@mattbuchanan
Age: 28 Snark rating: 3
Platform: The New Yorker
In a nutshell: The go-to source for nuanced explanations of tech trends
Sample headlines: “Reading the Web Alone, Together”; “The Problem with Instagram Everywhere”; “How Smart Can a Watch Really Be?”
Objects of disdain: Sexism, Nespresso, tech-fostered alienation, Internet.org (“less-than-charitable”)

John Herrman@jwherrman
Age: 26
Snark rating: 5
Platform: Buzzfeed
In a nutshell: Trend spotter, utility reporter, and excavator of bizarre Internet culture
Sample headlines: “Watch This Guy Control a Rat’s Body with His Brain”; “Why Robots Are Stealing Your Dinner Reservations”
Objects of disdain: BlackBerry (“a failed state”), “the wireless industry’s crimes against the English language”

Sam Biddle@samfbiddle
Age: 26
Snark rating: 10
Platform: Gawker’s Valleywag
In a nutshell: Silicon Valley’s self-appointed BS caller and stone thrower
Sample headlines: “Brit Morin Buys Bigger Office to Continue Doing Nothing”; “TechCrunch Now Writing Imaginary Press Releases”
Objects of disdain: Sarah Lacy, Dave and Brit Morin— basically every CEO in the Valley

Nick Bilton@nickbilton
Age: 37
Snark rating: 2
Platform: The New York Times
In a nutshell: Star Times tech-business reporter who’s up to date on which way the money is flowing in the Valley
Sample headlines: “Texting Your Feelings, Symbol by Symbol”; “The End of an Era in Mobile”
Objects of disdain: None (Times reporters are too civilized for that)

Kevin Roose@kevinroose
Age: 27
Snark rating: 7
Platform: New York magazine
In a nutshell: New York’s gimlet-eyed, sharp-tongued Wall Street and tech reporter
Sample headlines: “Tech Entrepreneur Offers Coding Lesson to Homeless Guy, Solves Poverty”; “Transit Strike Shows the Dark Side of Silicon Valley’s Privatization Fetish”
Objects of disdain: Burning Man, Uber, Peter Shih

Alexis Madrigal@alexismadrigal
Age: 31
Snark rating: 3
Platform: The Atlantic
In a nutshell: The tech media’s essayist and philosopher, with a penchant for historical errata and extended word counts
Sample headlines: “What Is Medium?”; “Astronauts in Bathrobes”; “A Map of American Electricity Use in 1921”
Objects of disdain: Misinformation, “the melancholy of Tumblr’s infinite scroll”

 

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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