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Andrew Orlowski

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Andrew Orlowski
Orlowski in 2006
Born 1966
Occupation journalist
URL andreworlowski.com
Twitter @AndrewOrlowski

Andrew Orlowski (born 1966) is a British columnist, investigative journalist and the executive editor of the IT news and opinion website The Register[wp].[1][2]

Journalism career

In his youth, Orlowski had been involved in a "subversive school magazine", Within These Walls, and a fanzine named Paradise Demise.[3] Moving from Northallerton, Yorkshire, to Manchester in 1984, he studied at Manchester University[wp] and then took a course in computer programming[wp].[3] He worked as a programmer in Altrincham in the early 1990s, and "found that a lot less creative than I'd expected, and this being my first proper job I soon got disillusioned."[3]

Orlowski wrote reviews for Manchester's City Life[wp] magazine from 1988, and in 1992 started an alternative newspaper called Badpress in [Manchester.[3] In 1994 he became computer correspondent at Private Eye magazine.[3][4] In the late 1990s, he wrote for PC Pro[5] and was news editor at IT Week.[6] Today, Orlowski is a columnist and the executive editor of IT news and opinion website The Register[wp]; he was based in San Francisco for five years in the early 2000s, reporting for The Register, but returned to England in 2006.[1][7]


In 2003, Orlowski coined the term googlewashing[wp] to describe the potential for accidental or intentional censorship of concepts through the way search engines like Google Search operate.[8] An article in The New York Times[9] commenting on worldwide anti-war demonstrations had stated that "there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion", and the term "the Second Superpower[wp]" suddenly acquired widespread currency.[8] However, within the space of a few weeks, most of the top search engine results for the term had come to be about something else, because a prominent blogger had used the same term in what Orlowski described as a "plea for net users to organize themselves as a 'superpower'."[8][10] The blogger's piece was so well linked and so widely commented upon online that the first few pages of Google hits in a search for "the second superpower" all were about his new meaning, with the original anti-war meaning relegated to "other links not shown because they are deemed to be irrelevant."[8] Even the term googlewashing itself almost came to be "googlewashed" in a similar manner, with Orlowski's original definition temporarily disappearing from the top Google search results for the term.[8][11]

Writings on techno-utopianism

Orlowski is a frequent writer on techno-utopianism[wp].[12] Concerning the political influence of Google, Orlowski has said, "The web is a secular religion at the moment and politicians go to pray at events like the Google Zeitgeist conference. Any politician who wants to brand himself as a forward-looking person will get himself photographed with the Google boys. [...] It's the big regulatory issue of the next 10 years: how politicians deal with Google. If the web is as important as the politicians say, it seems odd that one company sets the price and defines the terms of business."[13]

Commenting on the vision of the technological singularity[wp], a future time when people and machines would combine to form a new superintelligence, and at least a part of humanity might overcome biological limitations like death and disease, he has stated that "The Singularity is not the great vision for society that Lenin[wp] had or Milton Friedman[wp] might have. It is rich people building a lifeboat and getting off the ship."[12]

In December 2004, Orlowski was invited to a discussion panel on techno-utopianism at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.[14] He was Assistant Producer of Adam Curtis' 2011 BBC TV series on techno-utopianism, All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace[wp].[15]

Wikipedia criticism

Orlowski takes a critical view of Wikipedia, noting in 2005, "Readability, which wasn't great to begin with, has plummeted. Formerly coherent and reasonably accurate articles in the technical section have gotten worse as they've gotten longer."[16][17] In a 2005 BBC article, Bill Thompson[wp] said Orlowski was "scathing in his dismissal of the site as a cult-like organisation where faith triumphs rationality, and even suggests we look at Wikipedia as 'a massively scalable, online role-playing game'[wp] where 'players can assume fictional online identities and many "editors" do just that'."[18]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Contact the Register, The Register, accessdate on January 19, 2012
  2. Bob Dickinson: Imprinting the sticks: the alternative press beyond London, Arena 1997, ISBN 978-1-85742-234-4, p. 229
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Bob Dickson: A Retch in the Rain[webarchiv], Badpress
  4. Internet Porn: "Government report suppressed", PR Newswire, 6 September 1996
  5. Sci/Tech | The key debate on encryption, BBC News on January 1, 1998
  6. IT Week: Tim O'Reilly talks Open Source, Linux Today on March 31, 1999
  7. Geek out: We'll miss you, Orlowski, Gawker on May 26, 2006
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Andrew A. Adams; Rachel McCrindle: Pandora's Box: Social and Professional Issues of the Information Age, 15 February 2008, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-06553-2, p. 122-123
  9. By PATRICK E. TYLER, THREATS AND RESPONSES: NEWS ANALYSIS; A New Power In the Streets, New York Times on February 17, 2003
  10. Andrew Orlowski: Anti-war slogan coined, repurposed and Googlewashed… in 42 days, The Register, 3 April 2003
  11. Andrew Orlowski: Google washes whiter: Where did that story go?, The Register on 10th April 2003
  12. 12.0 12.1 Ashlee Vance: Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday, New York Times on June 12, 2010
  13. David Smith: Google, 10 years in: big, friendly giant or a greedy Goliath?, The Observer on 17 August 2008
  14. Mistakes Techno Utopians Make: Fantasy Politics and the Disappearing Social, December 2004
  15. Pavilion Theatre, Brighton Dome: Are the creative industries losing the PR battle on legislative reform?, M magazine: PRS for Music online magazine on 10th May 2012
  16. Salas, Randy: What's wrong with Wikipedia?, Star Tribune on November 7, 2005
  17. Wikipedia letter, The Register on 24 October 2005
  18. Thompson, Bill: What is it with Wikipedia?, BBC.co.uk on 16 December 2005

External links

This article based on an article Andrew Orlowski (October 4, 2013) from the free Encyklopedia Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article is published under the dual license GNU-License for free Documentation and Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). In Wikipedia is a List of Authors available those who worked on the text before being incorporated in WikiMANNia.