Today, we are officially publishing Kernel Magazine’s second issue!
It comes in a total of 164 pages, a 1.4-pound piece of intellectual work. Inside, you’ll find deeply researched nonfiction essays on the nation-state and governance, tree planting, the influencer economy and consumerism, cryptocurrency and cash remittances; interviews with folks such as Ifeoma Ozoma (the co-sponsor of the Silenced No More Act and creator of the Tech Worker Handbook) and Coraline Ada Ehmke (an open source activist who authored the Contributor Covenant); and creative works including short stories, poetry, visual art, and comics; and so much more.
Starting today, you can purchase a copy of the magazine at kernelmag.io.
As we mentioned in our last newsletter, you’ll receive an email from us every morning this week with a newly published essay in its entirety. This project would not be possible without your support, and after six months of planning, we’re so excited to finally share the magazine with you.
P.S. The first 200 orders will also receive a free bookmark with their order!
✍️ Editor’s Note
by Emily Liu
We are at the beginning of history.
In the 4.5 billion years of Earth’s existence, humans have been here for 200,000 years, far under one percent of the history of the planet. Further shaving down that fraction of a percent, modern civilization only formed 6,000 years ago, and the Industrial Revolution began under 300 years ago. The internet, in its initial form as ARPANET, is 53 years old, and the World Wide Web is 33. By every standard possible, we are only in the nascent stages of history.
Yet, when the past is all we’ve ever known and the future only lies in our imagination, we often forget the expansiveness of this timeline — our memories are short. Counter to our intuition, our bedrock institutions are contestable, and the processes that seem so deeply entrenched now can be reconceived in a myriad of ways. The future may look nothing like the world as we know it.
The news of yet another computer vision application built for state surveillance or developments in robotics technology militarized for autonomous weapons may lead us to cynicism. But every technological development, both in existence and yet to come, has the potential to be co-opted: nuclear power, social networks, genetic engineering. We cannot let this render us helpless.
As technologists, we have a responsibility to own our role in the technological transformation of our generation. We can chip away at structural problems through the tools we build or the policy that we implement, all without throwing our hands in the air in a rejection of technology or claiming that any of these strategies are panaceas. Kernel Magazine is a project in world-making.
Kernel Magazine situates itself between two ends of a spectrum: on one end, a fatalistic vision of the irredeemability of technology; on the other, optimism weaponized as hype where venture-backed bandages are presented as all-encompassing solutions. In opposition to these two extremes, Kernel analyzes technological progress and regress, while earnestly charting a path forward. Cultural change cannot occur without political change; social change cannot exist without infrastructural change. Change requires an orchestra of players, instruments, and movements. We cannot achieve this alone.
To that end, this issue of Kernel Magazine is filled with precisely that — the people, tools, and ideas that together create movements that drive material change. Last year, our inaugural issue asked, Where do we go from here? We know the future we want: a society of abundance where we are not just dividing a pie equitably but also the entire size of the pie has increased, where the market is not the sole determiner of value. Accordingly, in this issue we ask, How do we get there?
Our authors suggest answers: platforms can prioritize and protect their content creators with preemptive moderation policies; the open source community can hold its dependents accountable through equitable and representative governance; we can resituate tree planting as not a silver bullet but rather one vector of a climate response. Perhaps consumer culture can be appropriated for civic engagement, we can create new layers of governance that can lead us to a healthier political environment, and we can organize for legislation that protects workers from harassment and discrimination. Let the current moment not drive us to despair, but rather to action.
In our second issue, we place our authors in discourse and debate through deeply researched essays, personal narratives, poetry, fiction, and art. Our virtual expansion pack includes podcasts and audio recordings of our authors, published community responses, and more. As a publication by and for tech workers, our analysis is informed not just by theory, but also by our own experiences building, working with, and being affected by tech. But we do not profess to know all the answers, so we invite you to join this conversation — Kernel is not just a magazine, but also a community of people seeking answers.
Kernel Magazine is an honest articulation of how to maintain hope in our future and how to increase our agency in achieving it. I am truly beyond excited to share this with you.
Reboot publishes free essays on tech, humanity, and power every week. If you want to keep up with the community, subscribe below ⚡️
Come to our launch parties
Tickets for our in-person launch parties in San Francisco and New York cost $10 each. This cost can be put towards the purchase of a copy of Kernel Magazine, so the party ticket is free with purchase. Find more details in the event descriptions linked below.
We’re almost sold out of tickets to the San Francisco launch — tickets are going fast, so be sure to reserve your spot soon.
🌉 San Francisco — Thursday, Sep 15 at 7:30 p.m. PT
🏙 New York — Saturday, Sep 17 at 5:00 p.m. ET
💻 Online (free) — Sunday, Sep 18 at 5:00 p.m. PT. Join us virtually to meet members of the Reboot community and for a Q&A with one of Kernel’s authors!
Thank you to Michelle Bao, Justin Carder, Archana Ahlawat, Lily Lou, and Jake Gaughan for planning these launch events! If you have questions, please reach out to them directly via their contact information in the above RSVP forms.
🌽💛 Dream team
Six months ago, Jessica, Jasmine, Matthew, and I (the Kernel core team) temporarily took off our “realistic” thinking caps and drafted a list of our dream authors and topics. Flash forward — we realized that the contents of Kernel’s second issue are essentially identical to that initial dream list, and I’m so excited that you’ll finally be able to share in this project with us.
But so much of the work and care that I’ve seen the team put into this project will never be seen by the public, so I can only do my best to describe a fraction of it. Jessica, our managing editor, solicited nonfiction pitches and creative submissions; led the review of over 150 submissions; and oversaw a team of five editors and shepherded 15 nonfiction essays and 15 creative works to completion. Matthew, our digital director, managed a team of three web designers and developers to create an entirely new digital presence for Kernel, which included building a custom CMS for all of our pieces. Jasmine, the director of Reboot, did a ton of outreach to find the best writers for this issue and secured the funding for this project that allowed us to compensate all of our writers, editors, designers, and developers.
The Kernel team additionally consists of 10 incredible editors, designers, and developers and 31 talented writers and artists, and I encourage you to browse the team page on our website to meet them all.
It’s one thing to be creating something extremely meaningful, it’s another to work with friends you trust and inspire you. Kernel Issue 2 is both.
Towards a better future,
Emily & the Reboot team