The Hawk and the Dove
Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War
The story of how science and tech will change our lives is one of the most important in the world. And no one’s more equipped to tell it than Nicholas Thompson. A veteran editor, he revolutionized The New Yorker’s online platform and transformed the magazine. Now, as the editor-in-chief of Wired, he’s working at the forefront of digital innovation—championing tech’s role in making the world a better place.
Nicholas Thompson is the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, where he served previously as senior editor from 2005–2010. There, he edited both National Magazine Award-nominated writing and “The Great Escape,” the story that became the feature film Argo. Thompson has also played a pivotal role with The New Yorker—first as senior editor, then as editor of the magazine’s digital platform, where he helped re-design the website, launch the New Yorker app, spark an eight-fold increase in monthly readers, and quadruple the number of new digital subscribers each month (based on his editorial focus on offering loyalty to writers, diversifying the magazine’s social media presence, and publishing “more, better stories”). He is also the author of the critically acclaimed biography The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War.
“Nick is an accomplished editor, and his leadership at The New Yorker speaks for itself. Nick’s return to Wired, combined with his impeccable journalistic skills, will give the Wired team a tremendous advantage in covering the world of technology.”— Anna Wintour
Earlier in his career, Thompson worked as a Senior Editor at Legal Affairs, as an editor at the Washington Monthly, and co-founded The Atavist, the National Magazine Award-winning publishing company. He has written on technology and politics for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The New York Observer, and other publications. He has appeared on Bloomberg TV, NBC, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, NPR, and CNN, where he is a contributing editor, and CBS, where he is a news contributor. Thompson earned the 21st Century Leader Award from The National Committee on American Foreign Policy, is a Future Tense Fellow at the New America Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He graduated from Stanford University, where he was a United States Truman Scholar.
As Wired’s new editor-in-chief, Nicholas Thompson is committed to pushing the magazine to the forefront of technology. And as a veteran public speaker—a great explainer, comfortable with hosting, interviewing, or delivering keynotes himself—he’s uniquely situated to offer informed commentary on everything new and vital in this inexhaustible field. How will artificial intelligence and robotics change our devices, the way we work, earn a living, fight wars, solve problems—our very selves? How will privacy, security, and cyber-espionage evolve in the coming years of interconnectivity (and how much should the average person or company care)? How will the world’s dominant tech corporations—Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft—interact with citizens, help write policy, and exert power over governments and citizens? And how can the media continue upholding the truth throughout, especially under an administration that’s declared war on journalists? No matter the subject—design, culture, media, tech, ethics, or our digital future—Nicholas Thompson is more than ready to break the news with big ideas and fearless takes.
Modernizing one of the oldest and most pedigreed publications in the nation might seem like a tall order, but Nicholas Thompson was more than ready. Prior to taking the helm at Wired magazine, Thompson spearheaded a radical digital makeover at NewYorker.com, expanding the magazine’s online readership and ultimately increasing circulation in the print edition as well. How did Thompson successfully draw 25% more visitors to the storied magazine’s digital platform? While diversified social media and cutting-edge SEO strategies are all part of the plan, Thompson’s counterintuitive approach was to resist the trend of fast, disposable online media. “The main strategy for growing audience is to publish more, better stories,” he says. “The stories we’re prouder of, the stories we put more effort into, attract more readers” (Poynter). In an age when listicles and clickbait seem to hold court, Thomson’s illuminating keynote explores the “wonderful value in aligning your business model with your editorial model” (CJR)—and how consistently excellent content is the first action item in transforming digital platforms.
When Wired was founded, it heralded—even celebrated—a coming revolution in technology. To new editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson, that revolution has arrived—just not in the way he’d hoped. Today, despite its abundance, tech is still unevenly distributed across society, with disruptions already having a massive impact on previously dependable employments; our journalists face a new era of alternative facts and ‘fake’ news; Facebook users often sit in an algorithmic echo chamber of ideas; and a cynical suspicion of science means even expert consensus is cast into doubt. But, as Thompson argues, today also marks a critical time to protect Wired’s early vision: to “make sure science keeps going forward, that we can all agree on facts, and make sure all that information makes our lives richer” (CNN). In this keynote, Thompson discusses the ever-changing frontier of business and technology, science and design, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street—and how good design and the highest values can help ensure the digital revolution remains at the service of human beings. “Technology and science continue to make the world a better place,” Thompson tells CJR—and we can’t lose sight of that truth.