Guy Kewney, Editor of, Speaks to!

October 4, 2006

Guy Kewney welcomes GUY KEWNEY. Guy is the editor of His work in the technology industry spans four decades and has the distinction of writing for major technology publications like PC Magazine.

Hi Guy! Thanks for fitting this interview in with your busy schedule.

You have a pretty impressive career behind you! In a nutshell, tell me a little about where you have come from.

I was a programmer in 1965, and I quickly realized that I was no bloody good at it. I always wanted to be a writer so I went into journalism. I started in issue no.1 of Personal Computer World and I am still writing for it. Probably the highest profile journalism I have done was for Thames Television, called “Database”. I was series consultant and co-presenter. I did a year with channel 4 with a programme called “4 Computer Buffs”. At the moment I am doing and writing a lot for the Register I am also doing regular columns for publications like IT Week and PCW.

What are you doing at the moment, aside from being editor on these websites?

I am launching and getting going with “As Far as I Can See” ( We are the world’s best central repository for e-publishing and e-book technology. I am also a sailor, I love sailing. Have a look at my sailing blog on the register. (Links to Guy’s sailing blog below)

Would you [willingly] call yourself a Geek?

Yeah. Why not? I wouldn’t be the best person to talk about myself. I am probably the archetypal dilettante. I am interested in everything. I’m definitely not a jock. So, Geek, Works.

Everyone who is going to be reading this interview is waiting for me to ask you about the incident with the BBC in May of this year.

Tell me a little about what happened?

Guy Kewney 2They asked me if I would like to do a piece for BBC News 24. I said sure. I did some research that weekend and they sent a car for me in the morning. It was pouring with rain and it was probably because everyone was rushing and panicking because we were all late. And the small error occurred. (For those who don’t know, Guy Goma appeared instead of Guy Kewney for the discussion) I started to get a little concerned while waiting in the green room, and I went to reception and asked. They thought that I had already been in and out.

Finally the producer came down and apologized profusely. I simply rolled on the floor laughing. I genuinely had tears in my eyes. It was helarious.

I am going to ask you the questions that the BBC was to have asked you, so that we can hear it from you.

Were you surprised by the verdict (Apple Vs. Beatles)

Well Karen, I think you have that question back to front in fact it was Apple Computer Corp.that got the verdict and won, not the Beatles. But yes I was very surprised. This was the third decision in the long standing battle between the two of them and was the most clear cut. Frankly the previous two should have gone to Apple Computer Corp. and not the Beatles. This one should have gone to the Beatles and not to Apple. I would expect this to go to appeal and to be very possibly overturned in the near future.

—With regards to the cost that is involved, do you think that more people will be downloading music online?

There’s a good question Karen, and it relates to who makes the money online. The crucial thing here is not what happens to the Beatles but what happens to Apple and Microsoft. There is a battle going on between Apple and Microsoft to control the download channel. Right now Apple is way ahead of Microsoft with the iPod and Itunes. If Apple can sign up a big label like the Beatles they are going to pull even further ahead. The battle in my mind is with digital rights management.

—This does really seem to be the way that the music industry’s progressing now, that people want to go online and download music…?

It is one of the ways the industry is going. It is all about copyright, the internet and control. And the internet has basically destroyed copyright. For the large music companies to try and regain control of the music. For a while the music industry owned copyright and they still think that is the natural order of things. They think they need to find the magic tool to get that control back again. They are living in a dream world.

You mentioned to me in one of our pre-interview discussions that you have spent time trying not to become famous, what do you mean by that?

I meant that being really famous destroys your life. Being respected by your peers is one thing. Being known by your market is one thing. Being famous the way George Clooney, Cocaine Kate, destroys your life. You want to be able to walk down the street and be a private person. When I was buying a ticket at the tube, the ticket seller used to say “Saw you on television last night” – that was just a little too close to being famous for my taste.

We spoke before about our dependency on the internet and how it feels when we are “disconnected” – In your opinion why have we become so dependant?

I would point you at Vernor Vinge. He wrote a novella called true names. It was so far ahead of the future at the time, he predicted, pretty much exactly how a totally connected world would enhance and enlarge out minds.

You are not dependant on the internet. It makes your mind so great, then you suddenly become truncated.

“Why would you not feel trivialised by the loss of such great extra abilities?”

I see that you maintain a technology blog, do you find blogging a useful medium. Why did you start blogging?

I don’t actually think of myself as a blogger, I just write things that need writing, because I want to write them and sometimes the blog format seems to be the only way of doing it. I started blogging because somebody paid me to do it. Rupert Goodwins and I did the first online “blog” called the “Online Diary”

I understand that you have just returned from a sailing trip that you blogged on the Register. Tell me a little about that.

Read Guy’s Sailing and other writings on The Register.

Are you a gadget man yourself? What’s in your pocket (mobile, PDA, pager…etc)

No. I have given up. I use a mobile phone and I use a pen. I suspect that an e-page toy will suit me very well. It will be access to the text without the problems that a computer brings.

You mentioned you don’t listen to podcasts. Is that a conscious decision or just lack of time?

Podcasting will interest me when there’s a serious way of indexing them. I don’t want to sit through 45 minutes to hear the segment I want to hear. I am prepared to listen to an audio stream of the “Today Programme”. I listen to it with the knowledge I will hear things I find mostly interesting. They have good sources and do a pretty good job of getting inside the story. I do find podcasting potentially very valuable. Life is too short to listen to a 45 minute podcast for three minutes of information.

Last but not least, the Random Tech Question.

Where do you see WiFi taking us in the next ten years?

The main problem with Wifi is it’s main advantage. Its license free which means there is nothing to keep the channels clear and it is the only reason that I take WiMax seriously as Intel’s vision of WiMax is of a licensed spectrum. I don’t think there is enough spectrum for everyone to have a wireless internet connection. Wifi needs a social innovation before it can progress to a social benefit. It needs us to work out a way of delegating the channels people use who are in close proximity. I think that meshing a whole bunch of wireless networks together in the neighborhood is a way of giving everyone a stake in making it work.

Well thank you Guy, it has been a pleasure having you on and you’re welcome back anytime! ********************************

If you would like to find out more about Guy Kewney and his work, point your browsers to his website at

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me – Email Me.


3 Responses to “Guy Kewney, Editor of, Speaks to!”

  1. […] Guy Kewney (The Wrong Guy from the BBC, Editor of NewsWireless) […]

  2. […] computers that were being developed in America. And most of these articles were being written by Guy Kewney (and he was also writing for New Scientist). And it was his writing that inspired me to open a […]

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