Andrew Orlowski

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Andrew Orlowski
Orlowski in 2014
Born1966 (age 56–57)
Occupation(s)Former executive editor for IT news and opinion website The Register

Andrew Orlowski (born 1966) is a British columnist, investigative journalist[1] and former executive editor of the IT news and opinion website The Register.[2] In 2021, Orlowski became a business columnist for The Daily Telegraph.

Journalism career[edit]

In his youth, Orlowski had been involved in a school magazine called Within These Walls, and a fanzine named Paradise Demise.[3][4] Moving from Northallerton, Yorkshire, to Manchester in 1984, he studied at University of Manchester and worked as a receptionist in the IT department at GM Buses, before taking a course in computer programming.[3][4] He worked as a programmer in Altrincham in the early 1990s, and later said that he "found that a lot less creative than I'd expected, and this being my first proper job I soon got disillusioned."[3][4]

Orlowski wrote reviews for Manchester's City Life magazine from 1988, and with the encouragement of Sarah Champion started an alternative newspaper called Badpress in Manchester in 1992 that published investigative news stories.[3][4] In 1994, having moved to London, he became computer correspondent for Private Eye magazine.[3][4] In the mid to late 1990s, he wrote for PC Pro,[5] The New Statesman and The Independent[3] and was news editor at IT Week.[6] Orlowski subsequently worked as a columnist and executive editor at IT news and opinion website The Register for 19 years, leaving in May 2019;[7] he was based in San Francisco for seven years in the early 2000s.[8][9]

Orlowski began writing for The Daily Telegraph in September 2019, becoming a regular columnist on business matters in March 2021.[10][11]


In 2003, Orlowski coined the term googlewashing to describe the potential for accidental or intentional censorship of concepts through the way search engines like Google Search operate.[12] An article in The New York Times[13] commenting on worldwide anti-war demonstrations had stated that "there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion", and suddenly the term "the Second Superpower" acquired widespread currency.[12] However, within a few weeks, most of the top search engine results for the term had come to be about something else, because a prominent blogger had used the same term in what Orlowski described as a "plea for net users to organize themselves as a 'superpower'."[12][14] The blogger's piece was so well linked and so widely commented upon online that the first few pages of Google hits in a search for "the second superpower" all were about his new meaning, with the original anti-war meaning relegated to "other links not shown because they are deemed to be irrelevant."[12] Even the term googlewashing itself almost came to be "googlewashed" in a similar manner, with Orlowski's original definition temporarily disappearing from the top Google search results for the term.[12][15][16]

Writings on techno-utopianism[edit]

Orlowski is a frequent writer on techno-utopianism.[17] Concerning the political influence of Google, Orlowski has said: "The web is a secular religion at the moment and politicians go to pray at events like the Google Zeitgeist conference. Any politician who wants to brand himself as a forward-looking person will get himself photographed with the Google boys. [...] It's the big regulatory issue of the next 10 years: how politicians deal with Google. If the web is as important as the politicians say, it seems odd that one company sets the price and defines the terms of business."[18]

Commenting on the vision of the technological singularity, a future time when people and machines would combine to form a new superintelligence, and at least a part of humanity might overcome biological limitations like death and disease, he has stated that "The Singularity is not the great vision for society that Lenin had or Milton Friedman might have. It is rich people building a lifeboat and getting off the ship."[17]

In December 2004, Orlowski was invited to a discussion panel on techno-utopianism at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.[19] He was Assistant Producer of Adam Curtis' 2011 BBC TV series on techno-utopianism, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace.[8]

Criticism of English Wikipedia[edit]

Since the 2000s, Orlowski has criticized the English Wikipedia. In 2004, he approvingly quoted a Register reader who had called Wikipedia enthusiasts "the Khmer Rouge in diapers".[20][21] Writing about Wikipedia in 2005, he observed: "Readability, which wasn't great to begin with, has plummeted. Formerly coherent and reasonably accurate articles in the technical section have gotten worse as they've gotten longer."[22][23] In a 2005 BBC article, Bill Thompson said Orlowski was "scathing in his dismissal of the site as a cult-like organisation where faith triumphs rationality, and even suggests we look at English Wikipedia as 'a massively scalable, online role-playing game' where 'players can assume fictional online identities and many "editors" do just that'."[24][25] As a columnist for The Daily Telegraph, Orlowski has criticised Wikimedia Foundation fundraising, arguing that the organisation has far more money than its desperate-sounding appeals make people believe.[26][27]


  1. ^ Bob Dickinson (1997). Imprinting the sticks: the alternative press beyond London. Arena. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-85742-234-4.
  2. ^ Lowe, Janet (4 May 2009). Google Speaks: Secrets of the World's Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. John Wiley & Sons. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-470-39854-8.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bob Dickinson (1997). Imprinting the sticks: the alternative press beyond London. Arena. pp. 221–229. ISBN 978-1-85742-234-4.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bob Dickinson, A Retch in the Rain, Badpress
  5. ^ "Sci/Tech | The key debate on encryption". BBC News. 30 January 1998. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  6. ^ "IT Week: Tim O'Reilly talks Open Source". Linux Today. 31 March 1999. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  7. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (9 May 2019). "Veteran vulture Andrew Orlowski is offski after 19 years at The Register". The Register. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Are the creative industries losing the PR battle on legislative reform? | M magazine: PRS for Music online magazine". M magazine. 5 February 2013. Archived from the original on 3 June 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  9. ^ McIntosh, Neil (10 November 2003). "The blog clog myth". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  10. ^ "Andrew Orlowski". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  11. ^ "Should we own our personal data?". Institute of Economic Affairs. 18 July 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  12. ^ a b c d e Adams, Andrew A.; McCrindle, Rachel (2008). Pandora's Box: Social and Professional Issues of the Information Age. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-0-470-06553-2.
  13. ^ Tyler, Patrick E. (17 February 2003). "A New Power in the Streets". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  14. ^ Andrew Orlowski, Anti-war slogan coined, repurposed and Googlewashed... in 42 days, The Register, 3 April 2003
  15. ^ "Google washes whiter". The Register.
  16. ^ Kevin Heisler. ""Googlewash" Is Googlewashed by Online Reputation Defenders". Search Engine Watch. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015.
  17. ^ a b Vance, Ashlee (12 June 2010). "In the Singularity Movement, Humans Are So Yesterday". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Smith, David (17 August 2008). "Google, 10 years in: big, friendly giant or a greedy Goliath?". The Observer. London. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Session Descriptions - Internet + Society 2004". 9 May 2017. Archived from the original on 9 May 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  20. ^ "Trust me, this is the last word. No, this is". Times Higher Education (THE). 13 May 2005. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  21. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (7 September 2004). "Wikipedia 'to make universities obsolete'". The Register. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  22. ^ Salas, Randy (7 November 2005). "web search; What's wrong with Wikipedia?". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  23. ^ "Wikipedia: magic, monkeys and typewriters". The Register.
  24. ^ Thompson, Bill (16 December 2005). "What is it with Wikipedia?". Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  25. ^ Andrew Orlowski. "Who owns your Wikipedia bio?". Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  26. ^ Clarí (19 June 2021). "La cara oculta de Wikipedia: denuncian que sigue pidiendo donaciones aunque no las necesita". Clarín (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  27. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (27 May 2021). "You think the BBC is biased? Check out Wokepedia". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 May 2021. Retrieved 31 May 2021.

External links[edit]