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One of the pioneers of technology journalism, Steven Levy has been a writer for WIRED since the magazine’s review and is the founder and Editor-in-chief of Backchannel. He covers the latest developments in computers, technology, cryptography, the Internet, cybersecurity, and privacy.
After accepting a Rolling Stone assignment on hackers in 1981, Levy built a career as one of the country’s foremost technological writers and journalists.
His early entry into the technology industry enabled him to build close relationships with many key Silicon Valley figures before they came to mainstream fame – an accomplishment that has given him rare and early access to groundbreaking products and technologies. He started interviewing Steve Jobs in 1983 and also holds a good rapport with Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and the Google guys.
Levy is the author of several books, including the non-fiction bestselling Hackers and In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives. He is currently working on an in-depth book on Facebook with an estimated publication date of 2019.
Levy served as senior editor and chief technology writer for Newsweek for more than a decade. His work has been published in Harper’s, Macworld, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Premiere, and Rolling Stone. Prior to writing about technology, he covered music and while on an assignment for a New Jersey regional magazine rediscovered Albert Einstein’s brain, the whereabouts of which had been a mystery for 22 years.
As former senior editor of Newsweek and columnist for Wired Magazine, Steven Levy has been at the forefront of technology, the people who make it, and its effects on all of us since 1975.
Levy joined Newsweek in 1995 as senior editor, chief technology correspondent, and writer of a column called “The Technologist.” In 2008, Levy joined Wired Magazine as a full time writer after being a regular contributor to the publication since its inception.
An accomplished author, Levy is the author of six books, including Hackers, named the best Sci-Tech book written in the last twenty years by PC Magazine, The Unicorn’s Secret, which investigated the 1979 murder of Holly Maddux and detailed how suspect Ira Einhorn successfully eluded justice for a decade, and his penultimate book, Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government-Saving Privacy in the Digital Age, which won the grand eBook prize at the Frankfurt Book festival. Crypto tells the fascinating –and important — story of the revolution in cryptography.
Released to rave reviews, Crypto was called “a triumph. To combine science and political intrigue and make it a compulsive page-turner is a good trick but to make it essential reading for the age as well, is a mark of brilliance” by the London Times. Another of his books, The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness, examines the iPod and its reverberations in the business and cultural world.
Levy is an authority on technology and innovation and his articles, opinion pieces and reviews have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Harper’s, Premiere, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In addition, he has been editor for the Whole Earth Software Catalog, and a regular columnist forRolling Stone and Macworld. Before focusing on technology, Levy wrote on a variety of subjects including music, sports, and film.
Levy’s close relationship with the key figures in technology—including Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and the Google guys—has helped him consistently deliver unique, inside coverage that breaks news and provides precious insight on the amazing products and personalities of the fascinating the vital world of technology.
Steven Levy reflects on his time with hackers, clarifying in good humor that there is no relationship between his bestselling book Hackers and the 1995 film starring Angelina Jolie. Having researched hackers since the early 1980s, he claims that most major advances in computing and technology never would have occurred if it weren’t for the deviance of rogue techies.
While on assignment for a piece on computer hackers by Rolling Stone in 1981, he quickly forgot about the depressed young recluse stereotype painted by previous publications. In fact he found himself doing an interview with one of his subjects in a Silicon Valley hot tub. “These were people who were by in large adventurers. They were thrilled about exploring with computers and sharing what they knew about it…By pushing the envelope on computers…they were onto something that was going to change all of us,” Levy recalls. “They were ahead of the game.”
Esteemed technological writer, Steven Levy has had unprecedented access to companies like Google, Apple, and more recently, Facebook. The humble and upbeat journalist shares his insider insights on the people and companies who steer our culture’s technology and how their decisions and actions affect our lives.
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In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
Few companies in history have ever been as successful and as admired as Google, the company that has transformed the Internet and become an indispensable part of our lives. How has Google done it? Veteran technology reporter Steven Levy was granted unprecedented access to the company, and in this revelatory book he takes readers inside Google headquarters—the Googleplex—to show how Google works.
While they were still students at Stanford, Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized Internet search. They followed this brilliant innovation with another, as two of Google’s earliest employees found a way to do what no one else had: make billions of dollars from Internet advertising. With this cash cow (until Google’s IPO nobody other than Google management had any idea how lucrative the company’s ad business was), Google was able to expand dramatically and take on other transformative projects: more efficient data centers, open-source cell phones, free Internet video (YouTube), cloud computing, digitizing books, and much more.
The key to Google’s success in all these businesses, Levy reveals, is its engineering mind-set and adoption of such Internet values as speed, openness, experimentation, and risk taking. After its unapologetically elitist approach to hiring, Google pampers its engineers—free food and dry cleaning, on-site doctors and masseuses—and gives them all the resources they need to succeed. Even today, with a workforce of more than 23,000, Larry Page signs off on every hire.
But has Google lost its innovative edge? It stumbled badly in China—Levy discloses what went wrong and how Brin disagreed with his peers on the China strategy—and now with its newest initiative, social networking, Google is chasing a successful competitor for the first time. Some employees are leaving the company for smaller, nimbler start-ups. Can the company that famously decided not to be evil still compete?
No other book has ever turned Google inside out as Levy does with In the Plex.
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution – 25th Anniversary Edition
This 25th anniversary edition of Steven Levy′s classic book traces the exploits of the computer revolution′s original hackers — those brilliant and eccentric nerds from the late 1950s through the early ′80s who took risks, bent the rules, and pushed the world in a radical new direction. With updated material from noteworthy hackers such as Bill Gates, Mark Zukerberg, Richard Stallman, and Steve Wozniak, Hackers is a fascinating story that begins in early computer research labs and leads to the first home computers.
Levy profiles the imaginative brainiacs who found clever and unorthodox solutions to computer engineering problems. They had a shared sense of values, known as “the hacker ethic,” that still thrives today. Hackers captures a seminal period in recent history when underground activities blazed a trail for today′s digital world, from MIT students finagling access to clunky computer-card machines to the DIY culture that spawned the Altair and the Apple II.
The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness
On October 23, 2001, Apple Computer, a company known for its chic, cutting-edge technology — if not necessarily for its dominant market share — launched a product with an enticing promise: You can carry an entire music collection in your pocket. It was called the iPod. What happened next exceeded the company′s wildest dreams. Over 50 million people have inserted the device′s distinctive white buds into their ears, and the iPod has become a global obsession. The Perfect Thing is the definitive account, from design and marketing to startling impact, of Apple′s iPod, the signature device of our young century.
Besides being one of the most successful consumer products in decades, the iPod has changed our behavior and even our society. It has transformed Apple from a computer company into a consumer electronics giant. It has remolded the music business, altering not only the means of distribution but even the ways in which people enjoy and think about music. Its ubiquity and its universally acknowledged coolness have made it a symbol for the digital age itself, with commentators remarking on “the iPod generation.” Now the iPod is beginning to transform the broadcast industry, too, as podcasting becomes a way to access radio and television programming. Meanwhile millions of Podheads obsess about their gizmo, reveling in the personal soundtrack it offers them, basking in the social cachet it lends them, even wondering whether the device itself has its own musical preferences.
Steven Levy, the chief technology correspondent for Newsweek magazine and a longtime Apple watcher, is the ideal writer to tell the iPod′s tale. He has had access to all the key players in the iPod story, including Steve Jobs, Apple′s charismatic cofounder and CEO, whom Levy has known for over twenty years. Detailing for the first time the complete story of the creation of the iPod, Levy explains why Apple succeeded brilliantly with its version of the MP3 player when other companies didn′t get it right, and how Jobs was able to convince the bosses at the big record labels to license their music for Apple′s groundbreaking iTunes Store. (We even learn why the iPod is white.) Besides his inside view of Apple, Levy draws on his experiences covering Napster and attending Supreme Court arguments on copyright (as well as his own travels on the iPod′s click wheel) to address all of the fascinating issues — technical, legal, social, and musical — that the iPod raises.
Borrowing one of the definitive qualities of the iPod itself, The Perfect Thing shuffles the book format. Each chapter of this book was written to stand on its own, a deeply researched, wittily observed take on a different aspect of the iPod. The sequence of the chapters in the book has been shuffled in different copies, with only the opening and concluding sections excepted. “Shuffle” is a hallmark of the digital age — and The Perfect Thing, via sharp, insightful reporting, is the perfect guide to the deceptively diminutive gadget embodying our era.
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