Physics major turns to tech at Wired magazine

Chris Anderson was at the perfect vantage point to witness the unfolding force of the Internet in 2001.

Being editor in chief of Wired magazine taught him the Web would not be a short-lived fad, and Anderson said it was then that he figured out it was a sound move to drop physics at the end of his GW career to instead focus on writing.

“I was lucky enough to be at the core of this emerging information network. I just didn’t realize how big it was,” he said.

Anderson enrolled at the University at the age of 25, after failing out of the University of Maryland and moving into a group home in downtown D.C. – the start of his unusual GW career.

He did not join student organizations or even try to make friends on campus, enrolling in only night classes while working as a court messenger for a law firm during the day.

“It was a pretty monastic experience for me,” Anderson said.

A few years after he graduated in 1981, he realized following a track in physics would lead him to become a “cog in a machine,” most likely working as a lab technician doing research for a large company.

He spent time at Science and Nature, two leading scientific journals, before landing a position at The Economist, which gave him the chance to travel to London and China to write about science and technology.

During this time, he read Wired, which at that time was just beginning to cover the Internet.

Anderson said the magazine’s early coverage was what made him realize how the world was at a tipping point in terms of technological advancement, and that the Web would serve as the necessary catalyst.

He jumped at the chance when offered the magazine’s highest position.

“[Wired] changed my life. I felt that this was the biggest story of our time and this was the best way to cover it,” Anderson said.

Looking back, with three National Magazine Awards under his belt, Anderson said he first thought he was a “longshot” for the job position, lacking managerial or design experience.

But what got him the job was his passion for technology reporting, a trait he said was invaluable for students to begin fostering in college.

“You have only one job in college, and your job is to figure out what you love,” he said, “Not what you could be employed to do, not what your parents want you to do, but your job is to find out who you are and your passion.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.