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Friday Fun for the IT Crowd: 5 tech writers you can't afford to miss

May 08, 2015
By Lisa Dare

Joshua Bearman: Longform storytelling at its finest

Joshua Bearman, cofounder of Epic Magazine and a noted freelance writer for publications liked Wired, isn’t reporting hot gossip about the latest tech venture every day. In fact, he rarely publishes. But when he does, the world—and Hollywood—take notice.

Bearman wrote the definitive story about underground online drug bazaar Silk Road and its take-down by federal agents; the dramatic tale is slated to become a movie. Bearman also penned an older—but absolutely fascinating—piece on the indie video game movement that is a must-read for anyone who cares about gaming, or even just pop culture.

Oh, yeah. Bearman also wrote the Wired story that turned into the movie Argo.

Kieran Snyder: Shaking up the tech industry

Kieran Snyder hasn’t been a big player in tech news for long. In fact, she started her personal Tumbler only last year. But the former Microsoft and Amazon manager burst into the technology writing scene with a topic unlikely to go viral: how resume styles contribute to tech’s gender gap. The insightful Fortune article was widely shared and sparked a conversation about the roots of technology’s gender gap.

Snyder followed that up with another story that shook the technology world. Snyder, a linguistics Ph.D., studied performance reviews for high-achieving tech men and women and found some shocking differences.

Snyder’s work has largely sparked the long overdue conversation about the lack of gender diversity in technical companies and teams. Her theory that tech’s gender gap is partly about women voluntarily leaving the industry—rather than a lack of female STEM grads—forced the industry to look inward instead of simply blaming the talent pipeline.

While Snyder has made waves with several viral tech stories this year, the truly amazing thing is that writing isn't her day job. She’s the CEO and cofounder of a new company making an app that analyzes job descriptions for unintentional bias, off-putting corporate clichés and other less-than-ideal language.

Kara Swisher: Tech’s scooper-in-chief

Kara Swisher, in marked contract to Kieran Snyder, has been a tech reporter since … well, just about when the World Wide Web was born. The Re/code editor and former Wall Street Journal tech reporter is such deeply embedded fixture in the Silicon Valley scene that she regularly plays herself in TV cameos.

Swisher’s famously outsized personality is matched by her witty, aggressive writing. But the reason people read her work—and tech titans fear her—is the regularity with which she scores the biggest industry scoops.   

As for her penchant for scoring hot stories, Swisher was quoted as saying, “It's because I build relationships. I do it the old-fashioned way, and I build sourcing relationships, and then I take advantage of those relationships over time. … People make a bigger deal of it, but I think I just work harder than other people.”

Josh Constine: Coiner of an instant tech meme

“’Go disr*pt yourself’ is what I have to say to founders of startups like ReservationHop and Parking Monkey.” 

So starts Constine’s Wired post that sparked a tinderlike meme about #JerkTech, or ethically challenged apps that exploit public infrastructure or other businesses. Monkey Parking, for example, lets drivers sell their public parking spot to other drivers with the app.

The term probably took off because it taps into a deep fear people have that technology may monetize every aspect of our lives—and even widen the gulf between the highly advantaged and everyone else.

Another Constine meme that cannot be ignored: his famously absurd hairdo.

Farhad Manjoo: The people’s tech writer

The old media New York Times may seem an unlikely place to find technology’s most famous author. But Farhad Manjoo has the gift of finding great tech stories and writing about them in a way that people who have never heard of Dark Reading or Ars Technica can understand.

Manjoo’s recent story describing how a software maker is spending millions lobbying the government to keep tax preparation complicated is a great example of finding the human angle to tech news. And if you’re interested in killer applications reviews, Manjoo does that, too. His recent story on the Apple Watch changed my mind about the whole category of wearables. 

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Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in tech. She frequently blogs about IT career advice and the lighter side of technology, and on her off days loves to kayak and play with her toddler son.

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