Past Conference Speaker

Clive Thompson

Author and Columnist


Clive is a computer geek from way back. He got interested in them as a child in the early 80s in Toronto, when machines like the Commodore 64 arrived. His parents wouldn’t get their family a computer (his mother worried he’d just “sit around playing games all the time”), but he devoured every book of BASIC programming he could find at the library, and whenever he could cadge some time on a computer at school or a friend’s house, he’d try to do some programming. He created little games, databases, primitive chatbots, digital music, and gradually realized that computers were going to change everything.

In high school, though, Clive decided he wanted to be a journalist. He studied English and political science at the University of Toronto, and after graduating in 1992 he worked as a street musician, a receptionist for a driving school, a bookkeeper, and an administrative cog for the League of Canadian Poets (the country’s most awesomely-named literary organization) — before deciding to become a freelance magazine writer.

This was around the time the Internet hit the mainstream, so he began writing long pieces about how it was changing politics, shopping, art, culture, and everything in between. In the late 90s Clive moved to New York and began writing for magazines he like New York Times Magazine, Wired, Fast Company, New York, Mother Jones and Smithsonian.

His work has won several awards, including an Overseas Press Council Award, a Mirror Award, and in 2002/2003 he was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT.

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