Last summer, we made our first official call for story pitches at The Atlantic technology channel. We asked for your Adventures With Technology around themes like Erased and Recovered, and Hide and Track, and Home.
The response was extraordinary.
In the past six months, we've visited urban ruins of the Internet and explored the secret pot-growing operations in America's cornfields. We learned about a quest to find the origins of lost Sonic the Hedgehog levels, saw the color you get when you blend every photo on the Internet (orange), and revisited what it meant to be cool online in the 1990s.
We discovered a network of Internet-connected microphones in the ocean, joined one man on a search for the grandmother he never knew—and another on a journey to save a trove of antique newspapers from Craigslist. We pored over dozens more tales about new life, grief, voyeurism, resurrection, erasable books, calligraphy text messages, and space junk.
Obviously, we want more. This month's theme: Time Travel.
We don't just mean time travel in the traditional sense. (But, hey, we're up for that, too!) We want your stories about how technology affects the way humans move through and perceive time, the way technology stretches and condenses the experience of minutes and years passing.
Time is, in many ways, the resource around which technology has always been built. The very concept of timezones was a response to the locomotive. Humans have built machines to make us go faster, and medical devices so we may live longer. There are apps for speed reading and slow cooking. Technology has helped us reconceptualize what it means to wait in line or to be put on hold. (Being put on hold, of course, was a concept borne of technology in the first place.) Different devices let us relive the past and skip to the future. People speak of measuring time in Internet years. We hit refresh, which is a form of going backward and forward simultaneously. Clocks and timestamps are everywhere, but timekeeping rarely stands alone anymore. These days, we call a computer a watch as long as you wear it on your wrist. And for computer systems worldwide, a single second could mean catastrophic failure.
* * *
As a refresher: We're looking for surprising, original stories—the kind you'd tell your friends—that make us rethink our everyday interactions with technology. The story doesn't have to be about you, but it should be about somebody—we're interested in humans first, things second.
For this month's theme in particular, it helps to revisit the theoretical framework that prompted contributing editor Alexis Madrigal to launch Adventures With Technology in the first place. He wrote:
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.
1) Yes, we will pay you for your work. The amount will depend on the story.
2) We anticipate having to say no to most stories, but we promise to have an answer to you quickly—in a matter of days.
3) We want a diversity of voices and experiences.
4) Please send your (short) pitches to me: adrienne at theatlantic.com.