We are thrilled to be relaunching White Noise as a vertical within Gizmodo, giving our community a platform all its own. We want you to join us in our ongoing mission to write, record, debate, and review our fast-evolving world. We know how plugged in you are, and we need your help to figure out the future.
At Gizmodo, we look for stories about how technology intersects our lives, and what's arriving to shake things up. Our new tagline is "Everything is technology," because the truth is we're all already hardwired into the Matrix.
You carry a phone that contains all your memories and secrets and tracks your movements. The car you drive speaks to you and tells you where to go. Daily life is parceled out in picture-sharing apps, group hivemind texts, insta-updates via the swipe of a finger. Social media check-ins are as routine as breathing.
The internet, once a hobby, now propels the sociocultural march of the planet. You live within this web. You likely live in a place where mass electronic surveillance by the state is absolutely confirmed, no longer the stuff of speculative fiction. Some days we play out George Orwell's worst nightmares.
But we are also living in fantastic times. Connectivity keeps us all more accountable. Mars can be viewed via a Twitter account from the roving robot that makes the Red Planet its home. Virtual reality as an actual thing is approaching at top speed. Astronauts are using 3D printers on the International Space Station. Right now, several of our robotic spacecraft are on their way to visit distant worlds.
We live in a constant stream of media, and that makes everyone a reporter. We can all become cultural critics, chiming in on trending events. By the force of our interest in one thing or another, we are creating a new history. Everything you witness or share has the potential to become part of a much larger narrative. For me, that's the best check on our tilting-towards-dystopia era.
Hunter S. Thompson made me want to be a journalist, but Spider Jerusalem made me want to be a journalist in the future. Spider Jerusalem is the star of Warren Ellis' 1990s graphic novel opus Transmetropolitan, and he's a dogged, brilliant, foul-mouthed, truth-telling gonzo reporter in a vastly corrupt, technology-gone-wild future that no longer seems so distant. Spider speaks truth to power, but he is well-assisted. It is only with the help of others that he is able to tell the stories no one else will.
When his work can't get out on the big network streams, Spider turns to underground distribution, to people-driven and self-broadcast news. In the late 90s, Ellis had already predicted a time where everyone was connected down to their teeth. As a result, there's always a renegade "feed" somewhere, populated by those unwilling to be censored by the mass media.
This is what I have in mind for White Noise. I envision an always-on feed where we discuss how technology is screwing with our lives and share the ways it shaped us. From posting the breaking news you can't look away from, to the essay you have to get off your chest about that dumb thing you did online when you were a kid, White Noise shall be our home.
We aren't yet at Transmet levels of disruptive tech, but our world increasingly echoes its themes of political, corporate and police corruption, advertising super-saturation, and transformative bodily norms. All of us have a lot to say.
I refuse to pay attention to articles that proclaim the death of comments, and I shake my head when sites close the comment sections down. Lately there's been a lot of chatter about toxicity in comments on social media, and a lot of hand-wringing about what to do about it. I've spent my life both moderating and participating in commenting communities, and I know what awesomely talented people are to be found therein.
Online communities need innovation, though. Comments on stories are great, but I know people often have more to contribute. Everyone wants to be heard and read, and I think that's not only an excellent instinct, but an important one. Everyone is a reporter. Everyone can be Spider Jerusalem.
Anyone can contribute to White Noise, and I'll be calling attention to the stuff we make over on the Gizmodo front page. If you prefer to take pictures, or draw them, or make videos or gifs, I adore all forms of production equally.
Want to become an author on White Noise? Just post in comments on this post and tell us what you want to write about and why — and remember, use this chance to show us what you know! If there's a beat you feel like covering, show us why you should own it. I can't wait to see what you come up with.
You can also create a post on your own kinja blog and tag it #whitenoise, and we'll see it. In the future we'll be having weekly hangouts where we let people in to join us — but today we're starting here, on this post, in these here comments.
As for rules, everything is technology, but use your common sense. We're focused on tech, science and internet culture around here. So don't tell us random things about your bad breakup (unless you broke up with a robot). Attention to spelling and grammar helps. Source and attribute your material. Everyone loves references. I'm a fan of feisty conversations, but of course standard rules of human or smart AI internet decorum apply. We're all in this together, and everyone's experience deserves to be equally heard.
This is an expansion of the original White Noise. The same open threads will stay in place, as we'll have a lot to talk about. In my weeks at Gizmodo I've already witnessed an incredible range of thoughtful responses to our posts. I'm excited to get to promote your contributions and to hang out with you in the never-ending stream.
I hope you'll join us on this continuing adventure to seek out bold new people-sourced reporting, commentary and ideas. Take some time to consider the crucial questions above in the comments below, then come hang out in the feed at White Noise. We've got good things coming.
Images: Warren Ellis / Darick Robertson, Transmetropolitan