An Ode to Kevin Kelly

And the founding story of Wired by Louis Rossetto

Danielle Newnham

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Kevin Kelly by christopher michel

“Kevin (Kelly) is the very definition of contrarian,” Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto tells me, ahead of my interview with the great man himself.

I had reached out to Louis to ask what I should talk to Kevin about — what was something that I couldn’t possibly know but should definitely ask him about. Louis was wonderfully forthcoming with a rich set of stories, anecdotes and photographs, so I thought I would share them here with you.

The first response that I got from Louis sent me down a rabbit hole — it was how Kevin had spent six months living as though he was to die (which he believed at the time).

Louis had presumed I knew about Kevin’s incredible interview with This American Life that he had done two decades earlier. I had not.

But it proved to be one of the most insightful pieces of research I was to do on Kevin and led to a wonderful opener to our conversation when we did talk here.

“The man is a saint. In the 19th century, he would be the parish priest in a rural Irish village, always challenging his farmer flock with his provocative takes on the latest ideas he picked up from the London periodicals he read.”

Louis continued…

“He was one of the first people Jane (Metcalfe — Louis’ partner and Wired co-founder — listen to my interview with Jane here) and I contacted him after we had scraped together the first monies to start publication (but not enough to actually print the first issue; another story). I invited him to visit us in the corner of the ad sales office on South Park that we were squatting. I was looking for his advice on who we might hire to be our Managing Editor. I knew he couldn’t be a possibility a candidate — he was in the midst of writing his breakthrough book Out of Control. Besides, he already had a job, he was on sabbatical from being Editor-in-Chief of CoEvolution Quarterly.

After he listened to our dreams, I asked him who he might recommend. And he acted offended. “What about me?”

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Danielle Newnham

Host of Danielle Newnham Podcast — interviews with tech founders and innovators. Writer. Author. Recovering Founder.