Bio

Hi, I’m Clive Thompson and I write about technology — and how it affects everyday life.

I got interested in computers as a child in the early 80s in Toronto, when machines like the Commodore 64 arrived. My parents wouldn’t get our family a computer (my mother worried I’d just “sit around playing games all the time”), but I devoured every book of BASIC programming I could find at the library, and whenever I could cadge some time on a computer at school or a friend’s house, I’d try to do some programming. I created little games, databases, primitive chatbots, digital music, and gradually realized that computers were going to change everything.

In high school I decided I wanted to be a journalist, and figured I’d need a liberal-arts education, so I studied English (and a bit of political science) at the University of Toronto. I was completely terrible at Political Science so I wound up taking almost nothing but literature courses, becoming obsessed with a) pre-19th-century poetry and b) Canadian poetry, two particularly benighted subcategories. These days, when I read to unwind, it’s still mostly poetry. Go figure!

I graduated in 1992, and kicked around a bunch of odd jobs — I was a street musician, a receptionist for a driving school, a bookkeeper, and an administrative cog for the League of Canadian Poets (the country’s most awesomely-named literary organization) — before deciding to become a freelance magazine writer. This was around the time the Internet hit the mainstream, so I began writing long pieces about how it was changing politics, shopping, art, culture, and everything in between. In the late 90s I moved to New York and began writing for magazines like New York Times Magazine, Wired, Fast Company, Mother Jones and Smithsonian.

I’ve been doing this for over twenty years now, and it’s never stopped being incredibly interesting.

If you need a photo of me to use for any reason, here are a couple below. Click on them to link to the full image; for photo credits, the photographer’s name is in the file-name of each.