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🍀 Kernel 4 Pitches Now Open!
What are the odds?
Jacob here! I’m one of the eight members of the Reboot Editorial Board and, more relevantly, the Editor-In Chief of Kernel Magazine Issue 4. I’m very excited to announce that we’re opening pitches and submissions for the new issue of Kernel, themed around LUCK.
TLDR: submit your pitches here (nonfiction), submissions here (creative), or indicate your interest in editing, design, and other development roles here. Non-fiction pitches and expressions of interest for being part of the Kernel Magazine Team are due 11/15. Creative pieces due 12/08.
What is happening with Kernel 4?
Kernel Issue 4 will be our second issue in our ~new era~ that Jessica Dai (now serving as Kernel Managing Editor) ushered us into last month with Kernel Issue 3: SUSTAIN.
With Issue 4, we ask a slightly more esoteric question than the first three issues: What are the odds? We also continue our series of named, topical themes with LUCK. (If there’s a theme you’d like us to cover in the future, or that you might feel strongly about editing for, please also reach out! This theme came together out of Jessica and I having convergent brainworms around a host of ideas centered around randomness, luck, and unpredictability—I’m sure all of you have equally good, equally weird ideas floating around in your heads).
What do we mean by LUCK?
Call it chance, call it luck, call it ~stochasticity~: in the past few years it seems as if all that tech touches has become consumed with a certain obsession with the probabilistic. Everything can be quantified, assigned a probability, and even bet on, from sports stat lines to stock prices to box office returns to elections to the climate to the next word in any given sentence. Yet so much of the story of tech is about randomness beyond the quantifiable—the randomness of success and failure at every level, from individual workers and aspiring founders to whole firms and even sub-industries, brought into glory or doom by spooky stochastic motions.
Yet so many of these dynamics of luck and chance are taken for granted, made to be something beyond analysis. To say that someone was “born lucky” is a point where discussions end rather than begin, but if we—and our technological systems—live in a probabilistic world, isn’t it about time we take luck seriously?
A few vibes I’d love to integrate: All day long I am drowning in percentage chances—chances of rain, chances of success, chances of existential catastrophe. Prediction markets now let people bet on everything from elections to technological discoveries to themselves. Cloudflare uses a wall of lava lamps in their office to determine secure encryption keys. All of my friends are the result of chance encounters and coincidences. We derive algorithmic folklores, words to use or abstain from to gain favor within incomprehensibly complex systems of probability. What appears to be luck or chance may have causes that we can reverse-engineer; what appears to have been determined may just be random.
Examples of some topics I’m curious about (not even close to exhaustive): How do we think about success and failure in the face of random chance? What are the limits of our probabilistic models—whether aimed at climate, language, or elections? Who wins and loses as a result of the seemingly random fluctuations of algorithmic platforms? How does it feel to be a founder in the face of the probability games VCs are playing with your future? What’s up with all of those sports gambling ads? Are you a coin boy?
Some styles of inquiry I like (stolen from Jessica’s list from last issue, because I agree with her): How do interpersonal relations (who’s friends? who’s enemies? who’s a “weirdo” and who’s “cool”?) shape macro-level politics, and what ultimately happens in the world materially? Where do values as stated conflict with values as practiced? I’m a sucker for intellectual history, as long as it’s grounded. Can theory be not just descriptive, but prescriptive in the real world? Give me some concrete case studies. Give me your hottest takes and your most ambitious manifestos—just do the work to back it up.
I won’t be excited by (see previous note about stealing from Jessica): “X won’t save us” or “capitalism is the root cause” or “technosolutionism is doomed to fail” style arguments (We know. We live in a society. Nothing will save us. Now what?) If a topic (AI, yes, but not just AI) is over-saturated in the discourse, I’ve got a higher bar for what would be a compelling pitch.
What formats are we looking for?
As in previous issues, we have a few separate content tracks with separate submission forms. All contributions will be compensated.
Essay: short (1000-2000 words, $250) or long (3000+ words, $350)
Software criticism: up to 2000 words, $250
Creative: visual art, poetry, or fiction. Submit here!
For fiction and poetry, please specify if you are interested in your piece being workshopped/edited or if it is a final/completed piece.
Compensation will be $50-300 depending on the scale of the piece.
Other Contributions: Submit here!
We’re looking for:
Editors to work closely with writers to take the piece from pitch to a full, polished essay;
artists and illustrators;
graphic designers for print layout (indesign experience preferred);
web developers and designers;
someone who'd like to help with growth, promotion, and distribution (get us to your favorite bookstore!);
or, if you'd like to do something else not listed, let us know!
All roles will be stipended.
💝 closing note
In my time as an editor and writer for Reboot and Kernel, the best pieces I’ve seen are those that have spoken to some weird, deep need within the writers—stories that they had been wanting to tell for ages that they could never find the right words for or the right place to publish them in. Ultimately, I want Kernel to be a home for that kind of writing—a publication that takes strange and compelling ideas and, through intense collaboration, makes them into something beautiful.
Like any magazine, this edition of Kernel will be a group effort. We need not just writers but editors, designers, developers, and more. If you’re interested in these roles, let us know! As a prior Kernel editor, I can confirm that it is a blast—you get to be a personal stylist for ideas!
The Editor-in-Chief of Issue 4 is Jacob Kuppermann; reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Managing Editor of Issue 4 is Jessica Dai; reach her at email@example.com.
The director of Reboot is Jasmine Sun; reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reboot publishes free essays on tech, humanity, and power every week. If you want to keep up with the community, subscribe below ⚡️