Kevin Kelly (The founder of WIRED Magazine) | How WIRED Magazine Started & Why Unlearning Is Important

Show Notes

The founder of WIRED Magazine, Kevin Kelly shares about why his only regret is attending one year of college, why he decided to travel across Asia working as an amateur photographer, why he traveled across the country on a bicycle, why he and Steve Jobs both loved The Whole Earth Catalog, and much, much, more…

On today’s show we are interviewing, Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired Magazine and a multiple-time New York Times best-selling author whose writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Kevin is a New York Time best-selling author and throughout Kevin’s career his writing has appeared in countless publications including the 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.

Learn more about Kevin Kelly today at:

On today’s show Kevin discusses:

  • Why his only regret is attending one year of college
  • His friendship with Elon Musk
  • Why be believes that the advice to follow your passion is wrong
  • Why he decided to travel across Asia working as an amateur photographer
  • Why he traveled across the country on a bicycle
  • How, why and when did he, Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe and he decided to started WIRED magazine in 1993
  • How he and the Wired Magazine team combatted nearly running out of cash countless times with guerilla marketing
  • How he used his 5 year old daughter to help market his struggling venture
  • Why he believes technology is divine
  • Why he and Steve Jobs both loved The Whole Earth Catalog
  • The truth behind Steve Jobs’ first and illegal business venture
  • The importance of unlearning
  • His thoughts on the probability of The New Kids on the Block becoming top 40 hit music artists again
  • Why he believes in aliens
  • His thoughts on the movie: Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
  • Why he loves learning from Youtube
  • His favorite book recommendations
  • And his newest book, and New York Times best-seller, The Inevitable.
  1. Today’s guest is the legendary futurist, the co-founder of Wired Magazine and a multiple-time New York Times best-selling author whose writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Ladies and gentlemen, today’s guest actually dropped out of college to spend nearly a decade of his life photographing the forgotten portions of Asia. Kevin Kelly, welcome onto The Thrivetime Show, how are you sir!?
  2. Kevin, I’ve heard you say that your only regret was having gone to college for a year. I would love for you to break down what you mean by this?
    1. I dropped out after my first year of college
    2. It was 1970, things were happening! There was no such thing as a “Gap year” or internships so I left because I just needed to do something.
    3. So I did a gap year that never ended, gave myself a degree and got started.
  3. What motivated you to dropout of college and to travel around the world photographing people and places all around Asia?
    1. I was really a science nerd kid. I build projects in my house, took all of the science classes and also loved art. In the last year of highschool I discovered photography. Back then it was chemistry. There was a dark room and chemicals. It was a perfect blend of art and science.
    2. I decided that I would be a National Geographic Photographer at 19 or 20. I called up National Geographic and asked if I could take pictures for them on my trip to Taiwan with my missionary friend.
    3. It was so different than everything I had every experience and it became my college.
  4. Kevin, I’ve heard you say that instead of preparing for your finals you were reading, “Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged…and you were susceptible to the Whole Earth Catalog.” My friend, what kind of an impact did Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the Whole Earth Catalog make on your life?
    1. It was this idea of creating your future and yourself. It was an ode to individualism. For me it was this triumph of the doing over the thinking. It was the “Do it yourself Bible”
    2. It was incredibly precious information considering it was written before the information age of the internet. If it didn’t have the information i needed, it pointed me to the book that did have the information.
  5. Kevin, what most impacted you about Ayn Rand’s writing?
  6. Kevin, the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs once famously talked about the Whole Earth Catalog during his Stanford Graduation Speech. I would love for you to share about the Whole Earth Catalog and what a typical edition of it looked like for you as a reader?
  7. Kevin, I’ve heard you say that “un-learning is important.” What do you mean by this?
  8. NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” – Albert Einstein (The legendary Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics)
    1. The millennial generation call themselves “Digital Natives” but the news to the millenials is that in 10 years, technology will advance to where you no longer understand it.
  9. Kevin, people today, now refer to you as a “futurist.” I would love for you to share with our listeners what it means to be a “futurist?”
    1. A futurist is someone who predicts the present.
    2. Science-Fiction is really a prediction of “what if” things kept happening as they are today but years in the future.
    3. I am of the opinion that the sequence of the technology that we have now is a sequence. We don’t have a choice of what we are (human) but we have a choice of what kind of human we are.
    4. We can not predict New Kids On The Block will come back but we can predict that music like it will.
    5. I spent my 20’s in areas where there was little technology. Almost like the medieval ages. So, when we come to technology in history, we see millions of people lifting themselves out of the middle class.
    6. Technology brings choices with it. That is why people move out of the wealth bringing rural areas and moving into the option filled cities.
  10. Kevin, for the entrepreneurs out there that are always curious about businesses and how they start. I would love to hear the story about how you started Wired Magazine?
    1. From the beginning, Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe sent me a catalog which I called “the least boring computer magazine in the world.”
    2. Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe teamed up with Kevin Kelly to start WIRED Magazine.
    3. They showed me a prototype and asked me “who can edit this?” and I told them I would.
    4. Currently I was publishing a magazine about the future.
    5. This Magazine was going to be about the present. About people and tech.
    6. The idea was: “I want to make a magazine that feels like it is being mailed back from the future.”
  11. Kevin, I would love for you to share about the process of how you went about making Wired Magazine profitable?
    1. That was tough. There was near death experiences all of the way. We started off quartly then bimonthly and then monthly so we had to ease into it.
    2. Louis was a good guerilla marketer.
    3. We snuck copies into other people’s booths at the Macintosh conference
    4. We would hand out copies to people at the Macintosh event and people thought “What is this?!”
    5. There was no money. We were guerillas.
    6. You can’t solve a problem with money when you don’t have it so you have to find other ways to solve it.
  12. What are things that you believe about the future that most other people don’t?
    1. I think that technology is Divine. It is very similar to life and intelligence. “There is more of a reflection of God in a cell phone than in a frog.”
  13. Do you believe in aliens?
    1. I do. With the amount of galaxies, stars and planets there has to be. If there is not, then that is pathetic. They have to be here.
    2. I have respect for Elon but I think he is wrong about A.I. There is a less than 1% chance that A.I. would take over. There is a chance but you don’t need to incorporate into your schedule or even worry about it.
    3. Technology doesn’t happen just all of the sudden. We have plenty of time to think about it. We have over a century to think about it.
    4. The real future is going to be really boring actually.
  14. Kevin, if you can remember, what were the toughest aspects of starting Wired Magazine?
  15. Kevin, when you were growing Wired Magazine, you had to have made a few mistakes along the way and I’ve heard you say, “You can’t be a scientist that is 100% efficient. If you are scientist that is 100% efficient that means that you are discovering nothing new, you are not making any experiments that fail. It’s through that failure that we learn. It’s the trial and error. The error part is hugely important.”
  16. What do the first few hours of your day look like?
  17. Kevin, you come across as a very well-read person, what are 1 or 2 books that you would recommend that all of our listeners should read?
    1. So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
    2. New York Times Paper
    3. The Atlantic
    4. Most of my learning comes from
  18. What advice would you give yourself if you could talk to yourself 20 years ago?
    1. “You don’t have to do it yourself. Hire people that are smarter than you. You can get more done that way.”
  19. Kevin, I would love for you to share with the listeners out there about your vision for the next 12 months of your life and what projects you are currently working on?
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Audio Transcription

I cannot believe it, but on today’s show we are interviewing the founder of wired magazine, Mr Kevin Kelly, Kelly Kelly, Kevin Kelly is most known for being the founder of wired magazine, but a lot of people don’t know is that he decided to attend one year of college and he now says that that one year of college was his biggest regret. On today’s show, he explains why he decided to travel all across Asia as an amateur photographer and why he traveled across the country on a bicycle and why both he and Steve Jobs loved the whole earth catalog. On today’s show, he discusses his friendship with Elon Musk, why he believes that the advice to follow your passion is wrong. He also explains why he Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalf decided to start wired magazine in 1993. He explains how he and wired magazine combated nearly running out of cash countless times with their guerrilla marketing.

He explains why he used his five year old daughter to help him with his marketing for is struggling. New magazine venture. He explains why he believes technology is divine. He explains why he thinks Elan Musk is wrong about artificial intelligence, the importance of unlearning why he believes in aliens. His thoughts on the movie, the he walks the pedal for indoor, why he loves learning from Youtube. His favorite book recommendations. Today’s interview blew my mind and I know will have an impact on your life as well. Thrive nation. Without any further ado, back to the conversation with Mr Kevin Kelly.

I am excited about today’s show, my friend Lucy

viewing, the legendary futurist, the Co founder of wired magazine and the Multiple Time New York Times best selling author whose writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Economist. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce to you our new show friend, Mr Kevin Kelly. How are you, sir?

I’m doing great. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate being here.

Kevin Kelly, for the listeners out there that aren’t super familiar with your background, I’ve heard you actually say that the two or I heard it been said that you’ve actually went to college for a only one years. Is that correct?

That is correct. I dropped out after my first year in college and my only regret is having done that one year.

Can you explain why that is your only regret? I heard you say that during an interview and I thought, oh, that’s good. That’s good.

Yeah. I, um, it was just, it was the sixties. It was, you know, well it was a 1970 and um, things were happening, uh, if there was no such thing as a gap year or um, you know, an internship and had maybe those things has been available. I’d still be, I mean, I’d be in school today, it’s still probably a, I just needed to go out and do something after 12 years of sitting in a, in a classroom. I just couldn’t do grade 13. And so, um, education didn’t allow that. So I kind of made my own internship, gave myself my own degree. And, uh, you know, did a gap year that it kept going for, for decades. So, uh, it was a different time. It was, you know, it was, things were pretty rigid, boring. I had no desire to kind of work for IBM corporation. And so I adhered to the advice of my hero, David Thoreau and the whole earth catalog which said, march to your own beat inventure life, um, make up what you going to do. Um, and that’s what I did.

I am endlessly fascinated to know the answer to these next couple of questions because when you dropped out of college, again, my understanding is you’d traveled around the world photographing people in places around Asia, am I correct? And why did you decide to do that?

Yeah. So, um, I was really kind of a science nerd kid. I built a chemistry lab in my basement. I had a nature museum that I built. I was, I took every single math and science course that my college trip high school offered and um, but also interested in art. I was painting and doing sculpture and stuff like that. And I couldn’t decide whether to go to an art school or Mit, like a science school. And the last year of high school I discovered photography, which was this sort of magical blend of science and technology. It was like I could do rfp had when you did photography back then it was chemistry. I mean, you were doing chemistry in the dark room, you were mixing chemicals and it was very, very technical. So for me, photography was this sort of perfect thing that kind of hit the right bells and what I wanted to do.

And um, I got, I never seen anywhere outside of um, no new England basically. Uh, and I can’t emphasize how parochial our lives. We’re back in the fifties and sixties. I, you know, I, I was within my, my dad worked in New York City, but I had never eaten Chinese food in my life. I just, there was no Chinese around, there was no opportunity. I only ate in the restaurant, I think three or four times before I graduated from high school. It was just a very different world. And um, I had the opportunity because a friend of mine from high school was studying Chinese in Taiwan to be a missionary. He said, when you come visit me and do your photography here, and I thought, oh, I’m going to be an extra geographic photographer. And so that’s what I decided I would do instead of going to school is I wanted to be a photographer and I was going to be an extra geographic photographer because they needed something to photograph.

And so I, I don’t know, maybe I was 20, maybe it was 19. I called up national geographic. I said, you know, I’m, I want to be, I’m, I’m, I like to take pictures, I’m going to go to Taiwan, can I take pictures for you? And I just looked at the mass, didn’t call it this person random. And he said, you know, that’s not how it works here. Um, but, but here’s the thing, when you come back, show me your pictures. And so, um, that’s how I wound up in Asia because of a friend who was studying there. And when I landed in Taiwan and the early seventies, it was like a whack on the side of the head. It was, it was, it was just like a revelation. It was like an epiphany. It was like opening up the, you know, like the veil falling from my eyes. It was so different from anything that I experienced that it was now my university,

I can’t say that you would have the same feelings, see if even if Kevin Kelly, if you came to Tulsa, Oklahoma ended a sod farm tour. But I’ve been told they are, they’re very busy this time of the year west with the weather. How it is a nice Brown Brian Brown. Look, I’m thinking about expanding your cultural, you know, so. So I spent a lot

that was in very, very remote places. And again this was a different error when they really was still unchanged from centuries ago. I was in come and early seventies and there was a city of, I don’t know, maybe a million people that had not, no cars at all, no cars, no bicycles. It was totally a pedestrian city without cars. And that’s hard to even imagine now, but I did come back eventually after having spent a decade traveling around the hinterlands of Asia and I realized I had never seen the US. So I rode my bike from San Francisco across to New York and went down and went up to Idaho and down to Arkansas. And um, I did get, I got, you know, uh, I got a good dose of Americana in that was in 1979. And um, you know, and I, and I was staying with whoever, you know, I was basically a little spiel I’d rather roll day and then I would buy a uh, yard, um, because I tried staying at churches and I never got church to let me ever stay in the yard. Um, so then I switched to like people’s yard by yard and I would knock on the door and say, I’m Kevin Kelly. I’m riding my bicycle across the country. I have just eaten. But I elect to find a place to stay tonight where I have permission and put my tent up in your backyard. I’ll be gone in the morning, can I stay here? I was never turned down

ever really, ever. Not one time did you write any route 66, by the way, just out of curiosity.

I’m very, very briefly. But it was, it was like, you know, for an hour. So it was just kind of crossing it sir. And um, uh, of course you can’t have someone like that in your backyard without coming out and least offering dessert. So, uh, I got to come in for dessert and I got to tell them my story and my job at that point was to convey to them how amazing this trip was because everybody wants to ride the bike across the us, but very few are going to do it. So here I was like carelessly doing what they wanted to do and I got to hear their story about their lives. And um, that was a great, great experience. And I think one of the best ways to see this country,

your backyard, backyard. So what? You’ve got to have a couple of light this backyard stand out for this particular reason. I mean, you had to have a couple of homes that were like, oh, you got to share a couple of those with this. You’re in someone’s backyard somewhere.

Oh yeah, yeah. Well, there was, you know, uh, there’s a guy who, um, uh, you know, I was a little concerned about whether it was even safe.

Okay. Come on, comeon. He had this wall of sound. He had like scrambling around the dump and he had like every possible speaker which he had put up in a wall in his house. So his room that was surrounded by this various junk speakers and it was just like sonic. It was, it was just the weirdest, wonderful thing. Um, that, uh, you know, it’s sort of like you take all these really bad speakers on average and hook them together. It sounds pretty amazing. Um, so that was his thing. There was another family in Texas that I had parked my bike out in front of a grocery store to get something to eat. That’s how I was living. And I had, I had a map inside the triangle, my bike, a mile or map that I had with nail Polish, drew the route that I was taking and how much I’ve written so far, saw solid. They waited for me to come out and they basically got, I wouldn’t say academic, but they insisted that I come back to the ranch and this was in the text somewhere like this massive thing. They were just fantastic. They, you know, I went to, it was Friday night, so they took me to the football game. Of course, those are thing that I had no knowledge out.

Kevin, you, you are a very, uh, curious individuals when I pick up on. And uh, one of the things that you have said is that when other people were taking their finals in college, you know, you’re, you’re traveling around Asia photographing things and you’re reading this Ian Rand Book called Atlas Shrugged, which atlas shrugged, which I’ve read, which is a massive, massive book. And you’re going through the whole earth catalog, which I’ve heard Steve jobs talk about at great length. Can you talk to us about what, what drew your attention to atlas shrugged and the whole Earth catalog and how did that kind of shape your views?

Well, so I don’t know, you know, how does a coach could ever encountered Iran? I have no idea, you know, somebody probably passed it onto me and I’m there. I, I’m reading it and I think it was actually the fountainhead Howard work and um, it was sort of, um, it was just, it was this idea of, you know, kind of creating your future, creating yourself that, you know, it was, it was, it was an ode to individualism, which I think when you’re 18 or 19 you kind of want to hear. And um, it was, it was just this message for me was, it was this triumph of the doing over the thinking. So, so it was just not, not thinking about things they versus the big door who was, who was building and getting his hands dirty using, coming from the stone quarry as an architect rather than from his head.

And so that was, that just propelled me further to like, I have to do something, I can’t just sit in this classroom anymore. And the Horse Kallah was very similar. It was a do it yourself Bible, it was about building your own house. It was about growing your own food and having bees and making your own clothes. And it was, that just said something to me. Um, and so I obeyed it’s instructions which was to start doing things that don’t ask for permission, just go and do it. And here were some tools that can help you do it. And this is pre internet, pre everything were finding this kind of information was incredibly precious because you couldn’t find it if you, if you wanted to learn how to melt some aluminum down and cast aluminum today, you just type in that and you’ll have 25 videos. They will tell you exactly how to do it.

Back then there was no way. I mean you could ask around who knew? You might have to drive into New York City and you meet someone who had a business and they’re not going to tell you as like as a kid how to do this. It was dangerous, so that kind of information was in the whole earth catalog or would point you to the book. The one book of the world that did have it with your local library didn’t have which no bookstore had, but you could order by mail and so this was this revelation that the possibility space, the number of possible things I could do or learn was so much bigger than my life in New Jersey in the suburbia was telling me. It was like, you can do this. Yes, you can do this. You can. You can become a, a, a, a demolition expert.

You could, you can, you can dive under water and take pictures. You can. You can go to Asia and studies. Then, yes you can do you. You can do this without very much money. And so that was this thing that decidable who needs university. I’m just going to go and do this. Kevin, you know, Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. I realize we attributed basically any quote now to Abraham Lincoln or Albert Einstein, so maybe he did not say, but you have one said that unlearning is important. What do you mean? Yeah, well, I, I put this in the context of um, you know, uh, the, you’ve heard the millennial generation, they, they, this is my kids by the way. They call themselves digital natives, meaning that they kind of grew up with all this digital technology and they kind of rub their hands together. So yeah, we’re, we’re natives. We knew how to do. We were born to do this. This is, this is something we don’t need to think about. We know how to do this. Well, the thing, the news to you guys, the millennial digital natives is that in 10 years or less, you’re not going to be native anymore. It’s going to be a whole new set of technologies and you’re just going to be like another old geezer and have to learn everything.

Right? And so what we’re looking forward to is this never ending sequence of new stuff where we were all going to be perpetual newbies. Where are we going to have to learn the stuff again? And again, ar and ai are coming and they’re going to require a whole new set of things to reset your defaults to have to learn new gestures and, and new protocols. And so the young are going to be no advantage whatsoever. And they basically have to unlearn what they’ve learned because there’s going to be new ways to do things and usually in learning new things, a lot of the hump to get over is getting rid of the old patterns that are actually interfering with you being able to learn the new ones. And that’s what I call unlearning.

Kevin, are you now refer to yourself or at least people refer to you as a, as a futurist. Um, I’d love for you to explain to the listeners out there what it means to be a futurist. And I would also like for you to explain whether you think new kids on the block will make a successful come back in the future.

So a futurist is someone who predicts the present. All right. I mean basically all the stories about science fiction and stuff are really attempts to kind of explain what’s happening right now. And you do that by doing a what if, what if things continue where they are. That means that this will be a way of illuminating where things are right today. I mean, it’s really funny because the world is so complicated, so big, you know, 7 billion individuals that it’s actually hard to even come to consensus about what’s happening right town today in terms of not just the facts but kind of what it means. And science fiction is a way of kind of thinking about what it means today, bike, bike, sharp pooling, and saying, well, what if things continue in this direction? And so, um, what I spent a lot of time trying to do is detect what’s going on right now and the thought experiment of extrapolating into the future is this a device to really illuminates the patterns right now.

And so, um, I, I practice something called listening to the technology. So they’re a, I’m of the opinion, which is not a majority opinion, is a minority opinion that the sequence of technology that we have on this world is predetermined. It’s, there’s like a developmental, like you, like you have a, a biological organism that will develop through, you know, it’s, it’s an embryo, it’s a fetus, it’s an, a newborn. It goes through this whole thing and there’s a, there’s a sequence of developmental things that every organization does and that sort of predetermined. And as a human, we don’t have any choice about being a teenager, but we have a choice about what kind of teenager were you want to be. And so, um, the same thing with technology is, is that, you know, once we’ve discovered electrical signals and wires and stuff, we’re going to, we’re going to make a radio.

So that’s inevitable. But you know, the character of the radio, who owns it, who owns the spectrum, how’s it regulated as a commercial in the commercial? Those are all choices that we have and they make a huge difference. So the Internet was inevitable, but facebook wasn’t. The specifics are never, never predetermined. They’re always stochastic, always unpredictable, always surprising. So, um, once you have phones, like phones are inevitable in any planet that discovers electricity, but the iphone is not apples, not so the specific things like the band is not predictable, but the fact that there will be music made in ar or that ais will write music, those, that’s all inevitable. And that’s because we went to listen to the technology, see where it’s going, and then we can talk about what’s happening right now.

Hey Kevin Kelly, this is wes. I’m just curious. I’m a proud geek myself even though I’m an attorney. And so I know a lot of techies that live in their own little bubble. And so thinking about you from a, as a futurist, that window you had into humanity earlier in your life and then you’re kind of segue into technology. Do you think that gives you a different view of someone who’s just been kind of, you know, the people who just live in this native digital land you talked about that don’t get out and expand their horizons. Do you think that had a big play in your futurist? Stability?

I do. And part of what it was was I spent a lot of my formative early adults, basically my twenties living in areas where there was very, very little technology, you know, like in the hills of the Himalayas where, um, I, I would judge kind of the, the, the level of development in that place. I was by how much metal there was present, like if they had metal for the hinges, because that was one level if they had pots and pans, that there was metal in the structures that was way, way advanced. So I was in places where there was almost no metal and there was only natural fibers, stone wood cloth. And so, so I had the experience of, of being in areas where they were basically living in the medieval ages. Parts of northern Afghanistan were absolutely 100 percent medieval in every way you would want to measure both fund the way people thought to the way that they lived, you know, having no electricity geologist, street lamps with so little kerosene lamps and stuff.

And so, um, when we come to technology I, that kind of historical view and reading history is what makes me an optimist because I could see with my own eyes what technology did and the benefits that brought in Taiwan, you know, coming back to Taiwan over the years, I saw with my own eyes, millions people lift themselves out of poverty into the middle class. And that’s not abstract. That is just, that’s as concrete as could be. And that’s because of the advantages that technology has brought. And I throughout the world, I would see these hundreds of million people moving into cities becoming urban and all the things that they are getting from that and all that they left behind. And there’s no argument that, you know, some of these self, China villages there are just absolutely gorgeous. They’re beautiful. They have organic food, they have beautiful settings. They have very strong families, they know who they are, they are very, very much in a community support, um, but they’re leaving with one way tickets to the city.

And so why are they leaving? What are they getting in the city that they don’t have in these villages? Well, well, they don’t have choices, but they don’t have our possibilities. The, those villages are great. If you want to be a farmer, if you don’t want to be a farmer, if you want to be a mathematician or a ballerina or a life coach or a web designer, you’re going to go to the factory of possibilities, which is what the cities are. And so I saw a saw. I lived that experience. I saw those differences. I could feel what it was. And so I had a different idea of technology. It’s not just about little Gizmos that we might throw away. It’s really about something bigger. It’s even the tiniest little throwaway Gizmo is really about increasing our choices and possibilities about what could be. And that’s the big story.

So I got a view of the big story from Asia and of course I got, there’s a thousand little stories of different ways of doing things. I mean, I continue to go back to Asia because every time I go I have to change my mind. There’s something else that I didn’t think of doing or that could be done or some other different way of doing it that I am learning. So I go back to learn because it’s a different way of seeing things in addition to the fact that they’re also an example of what technology is really giving us. Kevin, I want to ask you here, why and when and how did you start wired magazine? You know what, why did you start it? How did you start it? When did you start wired magazine? So to be very clear from the beginning, the genesis of the, of the magazine and the main creators of it, or a couple Louis Rossetto Jayman calf who were putting out a weird little magazine in Amsterdam, um, that they sent to me when I was publishing the whole earth catalog because I eventually went to work for the whole earth catalog and ran it for, for, for many years.

And they sent it to me and I, I reviewed it, calling it the least boring computer magazine in the world. Um, and they, uh, and, and there they were editing it, but someone else owned it and the person owned it felt that they were diverging too far from the original mandate of the magazine and basically it wasn’t working. So they were looking for, they want to do a real computer magazine. And so I said, well, you know, if you do that, you, you have to come to San Francisco. There’s no other place to do, you can’t do this from Amsterdam. Um, and so they came to San Francisco and we met. In the end they told me their ideas and I was like, good luck because you starting a magazine, it’s like starting a restaurant, you know, the failure rate’s like 99 percent and um, so I thought, you know, them, the lessons come onto the well, which is something that helps start, which was the first online access to the Internet.

So they started a conference on the well and it was like, okay, good, this is a good place to do it. Well, um, they, couple of years later they came back and they said they’d gotten some startup money from Nicholas thinker planning at the Mit lab and they showed me a demo. So they had done a dummy, a prototype and as soon as I saw the prototype, it was like amazing. He loves to come to me to, to, to ask me to who could edit this because I was already. Anyway, I had a job already and I saw the prototype and I said, you know, I’m going to edit this. This is gonna work. And what it was was I, I was publishing a magazine but conceptual news and the future. But Louis wrapped it around a person, people, he said that on our coverage is always going to be a person.

There is not going to be, it’s not going to be. Tech is going to be people. We’re going to make stars, we’re going to go, we’re going to. We’re going to talk about the lives and the dreams of the people making the technology. And so. So I became editor of the magazine and the second thing that Lewis said and the thing that sold me was it says, I want to make a magazine. The feels like it’s being mailed back from the future. And, and instantly it’s like, yes, I want to make that magazine. We’re going to make a magazine that we’re going to mail back from the future, which means that we’re not going to explain everything. You know, if you were reading a magazine from 20 years from now, we’ll be talking about stuff that you wouldn’t understand. And that’s what we did. We just, we just kinda talked high.

We aimed, we didn’t explain everything that we knew. We just assumed that you knew. And if you didn’t, you’d have to catch up to us. And so there was a sensibility and a, and an adult attitude about, I’m an intelligent friend that we were making a magazine that we want it to read. And so, um, I came on to continue to do that kind of stuff that I was interested in, but now I was doing it in four color or five color and we had a huge audience. And um, so that’s how it began. It was, it was, um, an idea to do a magazine. The felt like it was actually being mailed from a post office in the future.

How did you market the wired magazine and how, how did you make it a profitable? I think a lot of people have a big idea like, hey, let’s make a magazine from the teacher, but how’d you make that thing sustainably profitable?

Yeah. So that was a tough. It’s a. and, and, and like almost every story you’ll hear of a startup that really succeeds is there was near death experiences all along the way, right? I mean, we almost ran out, you know, you have a week’s worth of payroll and then you’re done. That was a common occurrence. Um, we actually didn’t start out monthly. We started off just like, um, I think we were quarterly and then we were bimonthly and then monthly, so we kind of had to ease into it. The, um, Louis was a pretty good guerrilla marketer. Um, we had a few wellspan dollars. He, he, he did a bus campaign in San Francisco in New York who recovered buses with this get wired. The other thing we did is we went to the Mac world convention, which is happening in San Francisco and we, we did two things when we, we snuck copies in and we at other people’s booze and we ended up copying other people’s.

And then we stood on the corner. I remember standing quarter with my daughter, my daughter who is, I don’t know, maybe five, and we handed out magazines to people going to a macintosh convention. They would get this thing and they will look at and they say, what is this? It really felt like it was coming from another planet because it was so different and weird, like nothing to ever seen before. And so we were kind of like 10 times weeder than anything else. You know, that Peter drucker adage about you have to be 10 x to be successful, 10 x 10 x weirder than anything in the, in the, in a tech world. And so, um, it was guerrilla marketing. There was, there was very, there was no money really. We were, we were, we were gorillas.

You snuck in to these, you snuck in magazines in Steve Jobs. I don’t think he got a permit from, uh, you know, his local municipality before opening up a apple and the pin, the pin, his parent’s garage

job was, uh, was a freaker hacker. He and was. We’re making illegal phone call via blue boxes. These boxes, so you can make calls for free illegally. That’s his first thing. And there’s a job. So it was a phone freaker. He was, we’re making blue boxes, which allowed you to basically cheat the phone company by making free calls.

I encourage everybody out there to unlearn. You’ve heard is sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Dr Z. You have a hot question for Mr. Kevin Kelly, and then I want to try to one up you with my favorite question of today’s show. Oh really? Yeah. Your favorite. This is my favorite. This is probably my favorite question I’ve ever asked in the history. 1,500 shows. We’ve done a. This will be my favorite question. Oh my goodness. I almost go quick. I want to do a quick recap because you know, that is incredible though. The guerrilla marketing doing what you have to do. I love that. Every success story seems to have this, you know, chemistry to it. Uh, we did what we needed to do, we had to do to be successful. We’ve got no money because I’ve got my five year old daughter out here, had these weird magazines out to weird people want to project your daughter could reject it years.

Right? So the reason why that works is because you have to be innovative because you’ll have money [inaudible] like a big company that will solve a problem by spending money. Right? But when you’re a startup, you don’t have money, so you can’t, you can’t solve the problem with money. You have to use innovation, creativity, ideas, and your five year old daughter and your favorite daughter. And that’s where the genius comes from is because you don’t have any money to solve their problems. So you have to find it in other ways.

Absolutely. And that’s, that’s what the show’s all about, is helping people. Hopefully somebody out there listening right now. It goes, I’ve got a five year old daughter. Couldn’t use her to handle whatever byproducts. That’s okay. I’ve got a few other questions, but I’m, I got to play your most important question. 1,500 shows. I mean, I’m already at. Yeah, because it’s. The thing is, Kevin Kelly, can I be just really candid with you can. You can hang up if you want. Yeah. I think I, I’ve always considered myself to be just a weird cat and I feel like you and I share that same weird cat mindset. I want to just unleash the beast here. What are things that you believe about the future that nobody else believes or things that you believe he’ll go, that’s crazy. Yeah, well, he had a glass of wine and they still go. Everyone in the tables had a glass of wine and you share it and they go, are you serious? And well, you bet. When you sleep in our backyard, we sleep in our backyard suit. Right? You want me to use.

That’s a great question. I, I, another framing of that, which is what do you believe that the people that you most admire don’t believe? But I’ll take your version of it. Um, what do I be about the future that nobody else has? I think that technology is divine. I think that technology is a reflection of the divine is not neutral. It’s actually a divine force, very similar to life and intelligence. It is actually much, I think just more of a reflection of God and a cell phone then in a, in an a frog.

You know, what this means is, you know what this means.

There’s more of a reflection of God in a self in, in a smartphone than there is in like a tree frog or her starfish.

Okay, pop pylon question now. Now, now, now that we’ve lost 90 percent of our listeners, they’re like, I don’t get it. I want to kill the last nine percent. We’d get down to our final one percent here. Do you believe in aliens? And if so, why or why not?

I do believe in aliens. I think it’s absolutely a logically and plausible that if you look, you know, at the, I don’t know how there’s like a trillion galaxies and each galaxy has a billion stars and every star has at least one planet. So it’s like if we are, if we are alone, that is so pathetic.


What’s all that for? Yeah. And so, you know, the question were where are they? Well, I think they’re, they’re here. That they just don’t, you know, the, the, the, the, the, the mandate is not to be visible, but obviously they’re here. We just don’t, we’re just not made to see them. But they’re here.

Final theoretical question. This is this Z, this is a, a pontification your thought and observation from the Musky one, Elon Musk, z, share our potential opportunity to meet Mr. boss real quick, Mr Kevin Kelly,

what am I, what am I? Very good friends that my brother and myself, my brother and I were instrumental instrumental in getting him elected to Congress. Has now as the head of NASA and as you’re well aware that a NASA is one of the only few buyers of rockets that’s allowed in the United States of America. And so I was talking to Jim Bryanston and said, Hey Jim, Jj, you know, all these years you’ve said, hey, we need a favor. You need something, you know,

just call me tomorrow and egg make. I can make you do. You can’t camp in my backyard. Call me. You need a rocket, you a horse’s head and someone’s bed. You just come up. And so I’ve never really, I’ve never cashed, had chip to the other day. I caught him,

I guess what chip caching, touching, touching, engaged. Um, so I, um, am looking forward to having dinner with a NASA director, Jim Brian Epstein. And Elon Musk and I told clay that if I get that call or when I get that call and we’re bringing him up and he, he wept. He cried. Did you, did,

I don’t know. I don’t know about you. Oh, I didn’t know if jim cried the. You asked. No, no, no, never fight. It’s like, Hey, you can be here. And I said, can I bring. So here’s my. Here’s my must question. Elon Musk has said he is on the record as stating this, that he believes that the artificial intelligence, the ai that’s been created is ultimately going to probably eradicate the human race if we don’t stop it. In fact, let me just queue up the audio clip of Elon Musk explaining his about artificial intelligence. I really quite close to very close to the, to the cutting edge in ai. And it scares the hell out of me as capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows. And the rate of improvement is exponential. I think dangerous ai is much greater than the, the danger of nuclear warheads by a lot. Um, and nobody would suggest that we allow anyone to just build nuclear warheads if they weren’t, that would be insane. And Mark my words, Ai is far more dangerous than nukes. Do you agree with that?

No. So, so first of all, I’m, a friend of mine gave me a ride in his prototype tesla, which was

at that time we get a new, how can we get new, innovative, got a new guy

and a guy by the guy. We’ve corresponded over other things before he did, while he was still kind of in the pal mode. Um, and um, so I have, I have, I have, I have respect for freelance, but I think he is wrong about the AI. I think there is a greater than zero chance that this could happen, that the ai can take over or there somebody I could take over and kill humans or whatever, this existential threat, but it’s so small and so improbable that it’s really not worth worrying about. It’s kind of like, you know, the asteroid hit the earth and it would be devastating. It would really wipe out an awful lot of civilization. But the probability of that happening, particularly as a surprise, is so small that there is a group of people worrying about it and it’s good that they’re there.

There was 100 people kind of working on this problem with tracking every asteroid and they know where they are when they’re gonna come and what they’re going to do. That good. They’re there. They can worry about it, but we don’t have to have. You don’t have to incorporate this into your schedule. If you’re making it a business, you don’t have to worry about this, worry about it. We don’t have to worry about because it’s really so in probably ever going to happen. Same thing with the AI. Yeah. Could. There’s 100 people thinking about it. Let them think about it. It’s not going to be of consequence for anybody else.

Kevin, have you watched terminator

come on. Has to be able to stay is 1100 hours. All primary military systems was cure. They were only the civilian sector was affected. Internet, air traffic, power plants, that sort of thing. But then a few minutes ago we got word that guidance. Computers at Vandenberg crashed, we thought it was a communications error, but now it looks like the virus early warning and Alaska’s down. What signals from half our satellites are scrambled beyond recognition. What about the missile silos? The subs, we’ve lost contact,

right? So the thing about it is is that it’s, as you know, things just don’t happen. Technology, it doesn’t happen. All of a sudden there’s what we’re forgetting about is all the intermediate steps, all the, all the attempts to try to make it happen and think about vr. How long has it been happening? It’s like 30 years already trying to happen. There’s all these different versions of it. We have plenty of time to think about it. Ai is going to be another, it’s going to be another century incoming. It’s just not gonna happen as fast is. It’s not gonna happen overnight. Even though there’s a marvelous thing, self driving cars are still probably 10 years away. It’s just we tend to overestimate how technology is going to work in the near term and we underestimate the effect it will have over the longterm.

June, first 2019.

And here’s the other thing is, is that Tommy one single movie science fiction movie where there is a future on this planet that you want to live in? Say Zero. None. No one is a dystopian because they dystopians make much better stories. The, the, the, the, the future. The real future is going to be really boring.

No. What, what it about the one when I was a kid where they made that really hot chick, that title. I don’t know that movie, but I can’t say Kevin one move. I kind of liked about the future of science. In fact. Yes. Weird Science. I feel like the one movie I kind of liked about the future that I feel like was the movie, you know the one that was just a straight to video movie. Kevin, you ever see that? Gosh, don’t you want to be. You wanted to be in walk. I thought I’d just be cool to hang out with those guys. They seem like good guys. Just not a good core.

The whole star wars universe was in the past with words. Yeah. But I didn’t see yet again. Kevin Kelly’s right. That’s why he created wired on it. That’s why I didn’t. This is my final question West as a final question here. We got our final three. Okay. Kevin, for the listeners out there, mostly entrepreneurs. We have a lot of entrepreneurs and they’re going, Kevin, you’ve started a successful company. You are a futurist. You’re a deep thinker, but they’re looking for kind of a shallow book recommendation. No one that’s not super deep when it’s not going to make them question their relationship with space and time and metaphysics. They’re going, what’s a book that’s going to help me figure out. All right. Yeah. Yeah. What’s a book you’d recommend?

So on an individual level, I recommend a book called. Let’s see if it get the title right. Um, uh, so good. The Ken ignore you. It’s no good. They can’t ignore you by a guy named. Um.

Oh so good. They can’t ignore you. I think that’s entitled and Cal Newport. Yeah. Um, I’ll, I’ll tell you that the correct title in a minute, but the, the, the, the, the point of this book is that the idea, the advice to your passion is wrong. And that’s been my experience in counseling. Young, younger people who are looking for something is that they say, I don’t know my passion. I came. They get paralyzed because they don’t know what they’re passionate about. They don’t know what their passion is and they can’t do anything until they have their passion and his advice, which I is now my advice is that you want to just master something

and when you’ve mastered that, something that mastery will bring you towards your passion and so you become master of something. You put in 2000, 10,000 hours and you really, really become a world expert on something. It doesn’t almost matter what it is, just something you don’t have to have a passionate about. It could be something you just are good at doing or not. Or did you learn to do just something that you become masters of and then through that mastery, then you can actually drift towards your passion and you discover your passion through mastery.

That is so true. So true. West quarter one out me with a better question. Well, we always talk about books a lot on our show and for those people that are listening that are probably just I, I love this podcast. Um, what other periodicals do you like running with all the big words, the circles you run in outside of the book world. Are there periodicals that you just eat up or that you read regularly?

That’s a great question. So periodicals has, has shifted. Um, they used to be magazines or on paper then they were kind of digital for awhile. So the last couple of, of magazines that I actually subscribe to and paypal is, um, I still read the New York Times in paper every morning. That’s my one luxury, my one decadent, um, Sri killing assignment. Exactly. You’re right. It’s, it’s the, it’s the um, um, it’s just advice. So I just enjoy that, um, daily dose on spread out on the table. Um, I, I still liked the Atlantic, um, is still giving me, it keeps, keeps me surprised. But I have to tell you that most of my discretionary reading time or informational time is now on youtube.

Oh really?

I think, I think, I think youtube is this holy under appreciated in terms of the way that it’s accelerating our culture. There is nothing you can’t learn on Youtube and, and I’m, you know, it’s like even digital things are intangible things like coders, like you’ve talked to a worldclass coder programmer and they get stuck. They Google, I’ll just google it. They youtube it, they, they see on youtube and the person goes through the little menu items and when it shows it and if people want to learning how to play a piece of music, they go to a youtube to see, to see the fingering, to see does he ask, played. If you want to learn how to weld, it’s youtube. If you want to learn anything about anything even conceptual about physics. Um, if you want to. The best way to learn about a new subject in science is to Google and find a journal club and then watched the Youtube of the Journal Club and journal clubs or places where people who are in an industry take turns reading a technical paper and then explaining that technical paper to their peers.

So rather than you just try to read a technical paper on your own, you’re not gonna get very far, but here’s a person who’s read it and he was trying to explain it to his or her peers and that’s how you get a technical paper is with youtube. So if it’s, it’s the, it’s this incredible catalyst that’s just accelerating learning and once somebody learns something on Youtube, they put up their own youtube about how they did it better, quicker, more improved, and it just goes faster and faster. So that is, for me, the platform of learning is youtube.

By the way, if you want to see the bearded wonder, Mr Kevin Kelly himself. Youtube is a great place to launch it alive than ever. I’ve been enjoying the KK dot Org on today’s interview, the weirdest one he’s ever done. That way. It would stand out from the clutter of. I’m not sure you were close. I mean, I know you could bring some weirdness, but I don’t.

We could make this 10 x weirder by giving me the last weird question.

Okay. Z last weird question. Okay. So since we’re talking about traveling in time, here we go, because that seems to be the theme of wired magazine. If you could be yourself from 20 years in the future. In other words, you go back 20 years and you’re talking to yourself. What advice would you give yourself?

Oh yeah, that’s a great question. I grew up and that was formed as I just explained by kind of a do it yourself [inaudible] of the whole earth catalog. I x. We followed instructions and I built a house. I cut down the trees and made lumber from the trees and we built this house and made the Cedar Shakes by nailing it in by hand. And it was like I did everything yourself mode and I came of age believing in the dewar itself. And the thing that I would have told myself when I was 20 was, you don’t have to do it yourself.


Smarter than you and have them do the work. You’ll get a lot more done. And I wish I’d known that earlier and particularly as the tech world came around because I wasn’t a programmer and I was like, you can hire a programmers, so hire the best, hire people better than yourself.

That’s great. That’s great advice. Yeah. Kevin, I appreciate you being on the show more than you know. Uh, I, I appreciate you for sharing with us your stories and I appreciate you consistently putting up content on the Internet and in, in doing podcasts like this because I have so much wisdom to share. And uh, hopefully when we meet with Elon Musk you’ll be there too. And that way it can be a unicorn event and my friend that, that is my hope. That’s how I want to end the show. I hope that happens. I hope meeting Kevin happens to be there with, with Peter Lusk and it gets Musky. It gets super much.

Let’s hope he’s not crying or smoking pot, but

right. I mean, you know. Well those are his choices.

Well, uh, I really appreciate you guys. Great questions. You know, one of the things I tell people about the future is in the future, if you want a good answer, you’re asking machine. If you want a good question, you have to hire a human as he asked. I know you’re human because you’re asking good questions. Thanks for the ride. I really appreciate it and I wish you the best.

Take care of Kevin. Wait, are we really human of Nice. I know Kevin, you take care of my friends already rolled out. We are starting to book some really huge guests on the thrive time show and a lot of the guests that were inviting on the show, um, have come about or the idea to have them on the show has come about as a result of you the listening audience, emailing us to [email protected] saying, Hey, I know this guy. You should interview him. So if you’re listening today and you know of somebody that is, you know, has done very well, maybe they’re the founder of a fitness business or the founder of a magazine or the, the founder of maybe they’re a movie producer. Maybe they’re, maybe they are the richest man in their town, they number one dentist in their state, the top attorney in the world.

Anybody that you know, if you would like for us to interview them on the show or maybe you have somebody that you don’t know, but you feel like, Gosh, I would love to hear them on the show. Go ahead and just, if you could just take a like 20 seconds and email me to info at thrive time. That’s email it. Email me to info at thrive time. info at thrive time. Email me the name of the guest and how you know them and why you’d like to have them on the show. Again, email the name of the guest, how you know them and why you would like to have them on the show. And I will reach out to them. Um, just, just as an example of this, we have Nick Simmons, the division three athletes who became a US Olympic athlete and who won a silver medal.

We have him booked on the show. We have Dan millman. I didn’t even know Dan Millman was, but Dan Millman was the best gymnast during his time. His life was made into a movie. We have him on the show. We have the official NBA photographer, the official photographer for the National Basketball Association, the official photographer for the United States Dream Team, Andy Bernstein on the show. We have John Maxwell coming up. Jeff Bethke key. We have so many huge guests in pipeline to be on the thrive time show, and if you’re out there listening today and you say, Gosh, I, you know clay, I know this person, or I went to school with this guy. I know this lady. I know this person and you want to have him on the show. Just email us today to info at thrive time,, and we will have them on the show. We looked at every show with a boom, but before we do that, if you learn something today, if you laughed, I laughed and learned. Share today’s podcast with a friend cinema text. Share it with them on twitter. Share it with them on facebook. Share it with them on instagram. Let’s keep this momentum going and now without any further edge break, what.


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