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Andrew Orlowski

john orlowski, andrew orlowski
Andrew Orlowski born 1966 is a British columnist, an investigative journalist and the executive editor of the IT news and opinion website The Register


  • 1 Journalism career
    • 11 "Googlewashing"
    • 12 Writings on techno-utopianism
    • 13 English Wikipedia criticism
  • 2 References
  • 3 External links

Journalism career

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

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


Main article: Googlewashing

In 2003, Orlowski coined the term googlewashing to describe the potential for accidental or intentional censorship of concepts through the way search engines like Google Search operate An article in The New York Times 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" suddenly acquired widespread currency However, within 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'" 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" 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

Writings on techno-utopianism

Orlowski is a frequent writer on techno-utopianism 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"

Commenting on the vision of the technological singularity, 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 had or Milton Friedman might have It is rich people building a lifeboat and getting off the ship"

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

English Wikipedia criticism

Orlowski takes a critical view of English 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" In a 2005 BBC article, Bill Thompson 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 English Wikipedia as 'a massively scalable, online role-playing game' where 'players can assume fictional online identities and many "editors" do just that'"


  1. ^ a b "Contact the Register" The Register Retrieved 19 January 2012 
  2. ^ Bob Dickinson 27 November 1997 Imprinting the sticks: the alternative press beyond London Arena p 229 ISBN 978-1-85742-234-4 Retrieved 1 October 2012 
  3. ^ a b c d e Bob Dickson, A Retch in the Rain, Badpress
  4. ^ Internet Porn: "Government report suppressed", PR Newswire, 6 September 1996
  5. ^ "Sci/Tech | The key debate on encryption" BBC News 30 January 1998 Retrieved 30 April 2013 
  6. ^ "IT Week: Tim O'Reilly talks Open Source" Linux Today 31 March 1999 Retrieved 30 April 2013 
  7. ^ Archived 25 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b c d e Andrew A Adams; Rachel McCrindle 15 February 2008 Pandora's Box: Social and Professional Issues of the Information Age John Wiley & Sons pp 122–123 ISBN 978-0-470-06553-2 Retrieved 30 September 2012 
  9. ^ PATRICK E TYLERPublished: 17 February 2003 17 February 2003 "THREATS AND RESPONSES: NEWS ANALYSIS; A New Power In the Streets – New York Times" Nytimescom Retrieved 30 April 2013 
  10. ^ Andrew Orlowski, Anti-war slogan coined, repurposed and Googlewashed… in 42 days, The Register, 3 April 2003
  11. ^ "Google washes whiter" 
  12. ^ Kevin Heisler ""Googlewash" Is Googlewashed by Online Reputation Defenders" Search Engine Watch 
  13. ^ a b Vance, Ashlee 12 June 2010 "In the Singularity Movement, Humans Are So Yesterday" The New York Times 
  14. ^ David Smith 17 August 2008 "Google, 10 years in: big, friendly giant or a greedy Goliath | Media | The Observer" London: Guardian Retrieved 30 April 2013 
  15. ^ Mistakes Techno Utopians Make: Fantasy Politics and the Disappearing Social December 2004
  16. ^ "Are the creative industries losing the PR battle on legislative reform | M magazine: PRS for Music online magazine M magazine: PRS for Music online magazine – PRS for Music Online Magazine" M magazine 5 February 2013 Retrieved 30 April 2013 
  17. ^ Salas, Randy 7 November 2005 "web search; What's wrong with WikipediaSOURCE" Star Tribune Retrieved 2 October 2012  – via HighBeam Research subscription required
  18. ^ "Wikipedia: magic, monkeys and typewriters" 
  19. ^ Thompson, Bill 16 December 2005 "What is it with Wikipedia" BBCcouk Retrieved 23 December 2011 

External links

  • andreworlowskicom
  • The Register
  • badpressnet in the Internet archive

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