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A cyber hero called Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is no stranger to cyberspace. In fact, in more ways than one, he not only saw the future much before the others, but also wrote about it and is now living it, writes Sanjay Trehan.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2003 12:37 IST

Kevin Kelly is no stranger to cyberspace. In fact, in more ways than one, he not only saw the future much before the others, but also wrote about it and is now living it. His more than 15-minutes-of-fame came recently, thanks to a short clip from The Matrix Revisited video (the making of The Matrix) in which Keanu Reeves recounts how each actor had to read Out of Control before they could open the original script.

Kelly wrote Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Economic and Social Systems, in 1994. The book is about how machines, the economy, and all large man-made inventions are becoming biological. Over the years, it has acquired a cult following. In 1998, he published New Rules for the New Economy, which set the agenda for the new economy. From 1984 to 1990, Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. Under Kelly's mentorship, it became the first consumer magazine to report on virtual reality, ecological restoration, the global teenager, Internet culture and artificial life et al. Interestingly, Kevin has no college or university degrees.

It doesn’t stop here. Kelly was a founding member of the WELL (www.well.com), a model of online culture, and a pioneer in developing online communities. Kelly also helped launch Wired magazine in 1993, and served as its executive editor until January 1999. He is now editor-at-large for Wired.

His current passion is a campaign to make a full inventory of all living species on earth.

This project, called the All Species Inventory (www.all-species.org), received its first mega bucks in funding and is currently endorsed by most taxonomic groups as an idea whose time has come. It hopes to make a web-based catalogue of all species on earth in one generation. He is also in the throes of researching his next book that seeks to answer the question: what does technology want?

But these are not the reasons why I am writing about Kevin Kelly. I’m writing about him because he is much in news in cyberspace because of his new website, Cool Tools, which makes a virtue of gadget and gizmo recommendations and reviews—an enduring fetish with Kevin.

Wired calls Kelly's site “a refreshing antidote to the hype that surrounds the latest hot gadgets. Unimpressed by newness for newness' sake, Kelly is attracted to objects that have withstood the test of time—and is passing those ideas on to others.”

I logged on to Kevin’s site at www.kk.org and discovered a world of subliminal knowledge, practical wisdom and minimal design. Click on the Cool Tools section to see his recommendations viz. books, gadgets, software, videos, maps, hardware, materials, websites or gear. He depends on friends and readers to suggest things they actually use. Particularly welcomed are old items that you still dote on after years of use. If you'd like to be on Kevin’s list, send him one cool tool review and he may add you to it.

Carry on surfing!

(strehan@hindustantimes.com)

First Published: Dec 20, 2003 00:24 IST