Peter Rojas is the cofounder and editor-in-chief of Engadget, which is a daily weblog covering gadgets, consumer electronics and personal technology. He is also the cofounder of Joystiq, a weblog which covers video games. Rojas has worked as a contributing editor at Cargo, an editor-at-large at Sync, a technology editor of VMan, and a columnist for The Guardian, writing on emerging technology. He is a frequent contributor to a variety of publications both on- and off-line and appears on radio and television regularly as a technology commenter. Rojas was educated at Harvard University and the University of Sussex. He lives in New York City.
Question: Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic about the way the world is headed?
Peter Rojas: Actually I’m generally pretty optimistic. You know it’s when I think about stuff like global warming, and I think about how screwed up the political system in this country is . . . You know, a lot of the poor decisions we’re making about . . . about the economy. The government _________ developing policy and things like that, you know it . . . it makes me . . . you know it makes you very pessimistic. It makes me very pessimistic. You know it makes you like really frustrated. But then you look at like a lot of the great things that have happened in spite . . . I mean despite George Bush being a pretty lousy president, you know this . . . there’s been this flourishing online. It’s almost been despite everything. It’s almost you know . . . If you look at everything that has been going on with . . . with the Internet and Web 2.0 – I hate to say “Web 2.0”, but you know it’s good shorthand – it seems like there . . . there . . . there’s been this . . . There’s this . . . this flowering of . . . of new ideas, and new platforms and, you know, more people getting involved, more people creating, and it being broadening and reaching more people at a time than it ever did. And you know we still have a vast majority of humanity to get online and to reach. But like we’re getting there, and it’s moving forward. And you know I kind of . . . I guess I ultimately feel like things do work themselves out and . . . and I feel like in my own life I’ve been very, very fortunate where, you know, even when things . . . like in, you know, when things seem like they’re falling apart or not going the way I want them to, like things don’t tend to . . . to work themselves out. And so I try to be . . . I tend to . . . I guess I am fundamentally optimistic, but I think we will find solutions for our problems, and then we’ll have all sorts of new problems to deal with. Like you know that my hope is that . . . with global warming that we’ll find, you know, new technologies. And that is, you know, maybe one of the most pressing issues, you know, facing us as a . . . as a species is how do we deal with global warming? And I’m sort of optimistic that . . . and maybe overly optimistic that technologies will emerge that will help us solve those problems. That it’s not just about getting off oil, but it’s about finding new ways to . . . to remove carbon from the atmosphere and to . . . to help, you know, bring things back into balance. And that someone will create something. And there’s definitely got to be the financial incentive to do it, right? And that we’ll be able to solve those problems. So I guess I’m optimistic – fundamentally optimistic that . . . you know that we’ll figure it out if for no other reason than I see so many . . . I mean there’s so much creativity and so much intelligence, and you know the Internet has made it possible for people who are intelligent, or who have . . . who are creative to . . . to actually interact with the rest of the world now in ways that they couldn’t before; that we’re tapping into so much more, like, human talent. The human . . . human capability than we . . . than we would have been able to 10 or 15 years ago. And so I think when I look around the world . . . when I look at like the world . . . the little mini world I live in and like on my . . . Web . . . online media or whatever, that it’s so competitive, and so much innovation, and so many ideas coming out, and so many people trying to . . . to outdo each other that it’s hard to imagine, you know, a species that is constantly trying to outdo itself with innovation isn’t going to be able to solve these problems. It’s really just a matter of . . . of us always innovating and always working hard. And you know innovation’s a word that gets tossed around a lot, but you know it . . . it . . . you know you do see it . . . You know it is happening, and it’s happening a lot faster than it used to, and people are evolving, and trying to outdo each other, and trying to build better things. And I think that’s great.
Recorded on: 10/2/07