Maciej Cegłowski is a Polish-American web developer, entrepreneur, speaker, and social critic, based in San Francisco, California. He is the owner of the bookmarking service Pinboard, which he calls a social bookmarking site for introverts.
Cegłowski was born in Poland and "accidentally immigrated" to the United States with his mother at age six, in 1981, but calls himself "as American as gooseberry pie." He attended Middlebury College, where he studied Russian, French, and studio art, graduating with a BA in 1997. He then became a backend software developer and community manager at Yahoo!'s Brickhouse in San Francisco. While there, he created a visual search engine for airfares called FareMaps. As an independent contractor, he designed and built an internal data warehouse for Twitter and an online book reader for Otworz Ksiazke at the University of Warsaw. With Joshua Schachter, founder of Delicious, and Peter Gadjokov, Cegłowski created LOAF (List of All Friends) as a way to share social network information through email without exposing private information.
He established Pinboard in 2009 after leaving Yahoo. With Joshua Schachter and Beniamin Mincu he had been impressed by initial versions of the bookmarking service Delicious, which Yahoo had bought. However, he felt that it had been mismanaged by Yahoo! management and that it would be possible to produce a more successful website with the same concept. As of 2016, he remains Pinboard's only full-time employee. The business is a model of a small ad-free pay-for-service that emphasizes privacy.
In December 2012, Cegłowski announced a project called the Pinboard Investment Co-Prosperity Cloud, offering $37 and promotion for six startup companies, to encourage bootstrapping technology companies with low costs. He awarded winners in January 2013.
In 2016, Cegłowski entered a competition on Hacker News that would have allowed Pinboard to become a Y Combinator Fellow. In light of his frequent criticism of Y Combinator, he humorously described his entry as "a tremendous, huge opportunity to fund the Bay Area's slowest-growing unicorn." Pinboard was not chosen for the fellowship, despite receiving the largest number of votes.
Speaking and writing
Cegłowski is particularly known for his conference talks on the impacts of technology, and for posting on Twitter, which he uses to joke about the failings and inflated claims of Silicon Valley companies. He has written and spoken extensively on the problems of advertising-funded services with dubious business models. He has described programmatically generated advertising and data mining as a business model that encourages the growth of surveillance. In particular, Cegłowski has compared large stocks of data on Internet users to the archives of Communist secret police services in his native Central Europe, as a threat to user privacy that may increase as archives remain in existence. He has also argued in favour of simplified, more minimal web design, arguing that immersive web design can be bloated and unsuitable for consumers with a poor internet connection. Cory Doctorow has described him as a "characteristically provocative" writer of "barn-burning speeches about the Internet's problems".
Tech companies are run by a feckless leadership accountable to no one, creating a toolkit for authoritarianism while hypnotized by science-fiction fantasy.
Maciej Ceglowski, in a public appearance
Cegłowski has spoken at conferences including dConstruct, Webstock, XOXO Festival, O'Reilly Media's Strata+Hadoop and Emerging Technology Conferences, the Canadian University Software Engineering Conference, and beyond tellerrand. He has spoken about his experience of running his own company, including listening to users from the fandom community and "failing really, really slowly", working on a project for a long time instead of looking for immediate success. Cegłowski has discussed prioritising simplicity and stability over using cutting-edge technologies for building Pinboard in order to reduce cost and allow his company to remain simple and practical for a single person to run. He also gave a talk about the negative effects of advertising, being the economic foundation of the web, as a model that encourages the growth of surveillance.
Cegłowski writes a Pinboard blog on topics including new features, site growth, the benefits of paying for services in general, technical aspects of running Pinboard, and critical commentary about social websites like Facebook. Cegłowski has discussed prioritizing speed and stability over using cutting-edge technologies for building Pinboard.
His personal blog, Idlewords, includes blog posts and short essays Cegłowski has written since 2002, mostly about travel and food, including his 36-day voyage to Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf in 2016 which he financed through Kickstarter.
He has written occasional features for Wired. and opinion pieces for The New York Times. His ideas have been quoted in Time, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Economist, TechCrunch, Wired News, Bloomberg View, Mashable and Gigaom.
- Klint Finley (February 10, 2011). "Hacker Chat: Pinboard Creator Maciej Ceglowski Talks About Why Boring Architecture is Good, and More". ReadWriteHack. ReadWriteWeb. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- G.F. (April 4, 2011). "Price of fame: Stick a pin in it". Babbage. The Economist. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Zuckerman, Ethan. "The Internet's Original Sin". The Atlantic. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
The fiasco I want to talk about is the World Wide Web, specifically, the advertising-supported, "free as in beer" constellation of social networks, services, and content that represents so much of the present day web industry. I've been thinking of this world, one I've worked in for over 20 years, as a fiasco since reading a lecture by Maciej Cegłowski, delivered at the Beyond Tellerrand web design conference. Cegłowski is an important and influential programmer and an enviably talented writer. His talk is a patient explanation of how we've ended up with surveillance as the default, if not sole, internet business model.
- "Idle Words - Maciej Cegłowski". idlewords.com. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
- Cegłowski, Maciej. "Web Design: The First 100 Years". Idle Words. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- "Middlebury College Students Receive Watson Fellowships". Middlebury College. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- "Maciej Ceglowski". crunchbase.com. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
- Livingston, Jessica (2008). Founders at work : stories of startups' early days (Pbk. ed.). Berkeley, Calif.: Apress. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-4302-1078-8. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Dell, Kristina. "Entrepreneurs Who Go It Alone — By Choice". Time. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Adrian McEwen; Hakim Cassimally (7 November 2013). Designing the Internet of Things. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 153–4. ISBN 978-1-118-43065-1.
- Perrine, Tom. "An interview with Maciej Ceglowski of Pinboard". Thuktun (blog). Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Haughey, Matt. "Quick thoughts on Pinboard (review)". Whole Lotta Nothing. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- Steven Ovadia (30 September 2013). The Librarian's Guide to Academic Research in the Cloud. Elsevier Science. pp. 124, 172. ISBN 978-1-78063-381-7.
- "Maciej Ceglowski". Webstock 14. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Seth Fiegerman (December 18, 2012). "Why Entrepreneurs Are Competing for $37 From This Startup Incubator". Business. Mashable. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Ryan Tate (December 14, 2012). "Meet the World's Cheapest Venture Capitalist". Business. Wired. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Ryan Tate (January 21, 2013). "How to Spend a $37 Venture-Capital Infusion". Business. Wired. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
- "Apply HN: Pinboard – Make Y Combinator Great Again". Hacker News. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
- "Tell HN: Winners of Apply HN for YC Fellowship 3". Hacker News. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
- "Maciej Ceglowski". IMDb. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- Jon Evans (2016-04-09). "Dear Facebook, why are Facebook Comments so unremittingly terrible?". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Jon Evans (2015-11-21). "Money For Nothing For Everyone". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Richard Chirgwin (2016-03-30). "Love our open API? Talk to our lawyers, says If This Then That". The Register. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Fister, Barbara. "Maciej Ceglowski's Internet Repair Kit". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- Cegłowski, Maciej. "The Advertising Bubble". Idle Words (blog). Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- Doctorow, Cory (2015-10-07). "Big Data's religious faith denies the reality of failed promises, privacy Chernobyls". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Zak Pollack (2016-01-15). "Digital Advertising at the Crossroads: Will Angry Consumers Block Brands?". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Doctorow, Cory (2015-11-03). "Big Data refusal: the nuclear disarmament movement of the 21st century". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Ethan Zuckerman (August 14, 2014). "The Internet's Original Sin". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
- Cegłowski, Maciej. "What Happens Next Will Amaze You". Idle Words (blog). Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Gruber, John. "Persuading David Simon". Daring Fireball. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Cegłowski, Maciej. "The Internet With a Human Face". Idle Words (blog). Beyond Tellerrand Conference. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- Woodie, Alex. "Big Data Really Freaks This Guy Out". Datanami. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- Cegłowski, Maciej. "The Website Obesity Crisis". Idle Words (blog). Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- Dale, Brady. "Is Google's Fight With Facebook Undermining a Web That's Fair to Everyone?". Observer. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Gruber, John. "Maciej Ceglowski on why the modern web is so bloated and slow, and why it matters". Daring Fireball. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Doctorow, Cory (2016-01-01). "Tools, ads, and bad defaults: Web bloat continues unabated". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Doctorow, Cory (2015-10-05). "Botwars vs ad-tech: the origin story of universal surveillance on the Internet". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Jon Evans (2015-09-26). "I Like To Block It Block It". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Doctorow, Cory (2014-05-27). "The Internet With a Human Face: Maciej Cegłowski on the things we need to fix". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
- Doctorow, Cory. "Botwars vs ad-tech: the origin story of universal surveillance on the Internet". Boing Boing. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- Doctorow, Cory. "After a rush, aviation stopped "progressing" -- the Web might be next". Boing Boing. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- Matthew Gering (2017-06-08). "Prankster tricks tech incubator into supporting homeless people". Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- "Speakers - O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2003". Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Matt Sheret (September 10, 2013). "Notes from dConstruct 2013". Government Digital Service. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Ryan Tate (November 19, 2013). "Why the Most Ambitious of Tech Startups Should Fail Slowly". The Next Big Thing You Missed. Wired. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Koziara, Chip. "Why The Most Important Step In Creating A Startup Is Selling Your Idea". Elite Daily. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- "Pinboard explains why you should care about fandom". Ada Initiative. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- Charles Arthur (December 16, 2011). "Goodbye Delicious, hello Pinboard: why we'll pay for internet plumbing". Technology Blog. The Guardian. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Audrey Watters (November 10, 2011). "Strata Week: The social graph that isn't". O'Reilly Radar. O'Reilly Media. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Cegłowski, Maciej. "An Antarctic Appeal". Idlewords. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
- Cegłowski, Maciej. "I'm Going to Antarctica for the Penguins and to Hide From the Internet". Wired. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Tate, Ryan. "Meet the World's Cheapest Venture Capitalist". Wired. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Ceglowski, Maciej (2012-12-11). "We Need a More Forgetful Internet". New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Zuckerman, Ethan (August 2014). "The Internet's Original Sin". The Atlantic. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Arthur, Charles (16 December 2011). "Goodbye Delicious, hello Pinboard: why we'll pay for internet plumbing". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
- Thompson, Clive. "Clive Thompson on the Problem With Online Ads". Wired News. Retrieved 25 August 2016.