Kevin Kelly (editor)

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This article is about the founding executive editor of Wired magazine. For other people with the same name, see Kevin Kelly.
Kevin Kelly speaking at the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco, CA, 2011

Kevin Kelly (born August 14, 1952) is the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Review. He has also been a writer, photographer, conservationist, and student of Asian and digital culture.


Kelly was born in Pennsylvania on August 14, 1952, and graduated from Westfield High School, Westfield, New Jersey, in 1970.[1] He attended the University of Rhode Island for one year.

Kelly lives in Pacifica, California, a small coastal town just south of San Francisco. He is a devout Christian.[2] He is married and has three children; Tywen, Ting and Kaileen.


Among Kelly's personal involvements is a campaign to make a full inventory of all living species on earth, an effort also known as the Linnaean enterprise. The goal is to make an attempt at an "all species" web-based catalog in one generation (25 years).

He is also sequencing his genome and co-organizes the Bay Area Quantified Self Meetup Group.[3]

In an interview with artist Olafur Eliasson Kelly said, "I'm very optimistic in general, as you know. I think there is moral progress. We are expanding our circle of empathy over time – from our immediate family, to the clan, to the nation. We've also increased it across races, slowly but not completely. The next step, which is starting to happen, is perceiving that we have some empathy with other species. Regarding animal rights, some people think it is wrong to even own a pet. I think there is a general expansion now, and it wouldn't surprise me if in a thousand years people start talking about robot rights and having empathy for things that we've built, and that we can't unplug them."[4]

Literary career[edit]

Kelly's writings have appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, The Economist and other periodicals —in addition to the books he has authored and the magazines he either edited, founded, or helped to found.

When he was 27 Kevin Kelly was a freelance photo journalist, and got locked out of his hostel in Jerusalem due to being late for a curfew. He slept on the supposed spot where Jesus was crucified, and in the morning had a religious experience. He decided to live as if he only had six months left to live. He went and lived peacefully with his parents, anonymously gave away his money, visited his friends, and came back home to "die" on the night of Halloween.[5]

In 1981, Kelly founded Walking Journal. He is a former editor of Whole Earth Review (see also CoEvolution Quarterly), Signal, and some of the later editions of the Whole Earth Catalog. With Whole Earth's founder, Stewart Brand, Kelly helped found the WELL, a highly regarded online community. He has been a director of the Point Foundation, which sponsored the first Hackers Conference in 1984 (before the word "hacker" had its current common, negative connotation).[citation needed]

In 1994, Wired Magazine, for which Kelly was executive director, won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. Kelly is now editor at large for the magazine. Partially due to his reputation as Wired's editor, he is noted as a participant and observer of "cyberculture".

Kelly's writing has appeared in many other national and international publications such as The New York Times, The Economist, Time, Harper's Magazine, Science, Veneer Magazine, GQ, and Esquire. His photographs have appeared in Life and other American national magazines.

Kelly's most notable book-length publication, Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World (1994), presents a view on the mechanisms of complex organization. The central theme of the book is that several fields of contemporary science and philosophy point in the same direction: intelligence is not organized in a centralized structure but much more like a bee-hive of small simple components. Kelly applies this view to bureaucratic organisations, intelligent computers, and to the human brain.

Partial works[edit]


Photography and Art:

  • Asia Grace (2002)
  • Bad Dreams (2003)


  • Bicycle Haiku (1995)


Influenced by Pattie Maes at MIT and Joel Garreau author of Radical Evolution, Kelly created the Maes–Garreau law which states "Most favorable predictions about future technology will fall within the Maes–Garreau point". As Kelly writes "The latest possible date a prediction can come true and still remain in the lifetime of the person making it is defined as The Maes–Garreau Point. The period equals to n − 1 of the person's life expectancy".[6]


Kevin Kelly giving a speech in Peking University



External links[edit]