Adventures With Technology: A Call for Pitches

A new guide to publishing your work with The Atlantic Technology Channel—and a theme for the month
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Alexis Madrigal

We live in a technologized world where humans do new things with tools every day. Yet most of the stories we read (and, let's be honest, write) are about what companies or researchers are doing. We don't look at the technologies in use so much as the business or development of new things. 

Historians of technology like David Edgerton warn that we shouldn't think about tech as a progressive wave of ever-better inventions, but a patchwork of things from different times strung together into systems by people. The culture shapes the systems as they, in turn, shape the culture. We want to tell more of these stories about people, and we want your help. 

Here's what we're looking for: Adventures with technology. We want exciting stories—the kind that warrant telling your friends—about what it's like living with technology these days. We want you to be able to execute quickly, on a scale measured in days. You don't have to be at the center of the story, but someone should be.

To help guide people, we're gonna try out a Rookie-like theme this month, too. It is: Erased and Recovered, stories of losing and finding.

A hard drive in a trash can. A dead drop in a wall. A brain that can't quite access what it used to know. An old flame's account springing back to life. A genealogical odyssey. A lost email of great import. An image that just won't go away. We are promised that the cloud will never lose anything. That there is always a way to get the bits back. Can we still lose things? Do we still have the energy to go to the effort of searching for things not easily found online?

Feel free to stretch the meaning of the theme in unexpected ways. We've read a lot of tech stories: we desperately want you to surprise us! And these should be fun stories (the kind you've been meaning to write).

Here are some great examples you can use as guideposts:

A few logistical notes:

1) Yes, of course we are paying, and pretty well. The exact amount will depend on the story.

2) We anticipate having to say no to a lot of stories, but we promise to do so quickly.

3) We want a diversity of voices. The story of tech in our time does not reside solely in the lives of young white men, though you guys can pitch, too.

4) Send your (short) pitches to Adrienne LaFrance: alafrance at theatlantic.com.

We have never had an official freelance mission or editorial calendar on The Atlantic's tech channel. We've mostly been opportunistic about pitches, and we've never really given guidance on how to work with us. We hope this makes our enterprise a little more transparent.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

Adrienne LaFrance

Adrienne LaFrance is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Technology Channel. Previously she worked as an investigative reporter for Honolulu Civil Beat, Nieman Journalism Lab, and WBURMore

Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gawker, The Awl, and several other publications. 

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

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