Every Tuesday morning, the SF Weekly news blog The Snitch profiles one of the bay's many cool blogs in a segment we call -- BetterKnowanSFBlog. This week: Gadgets gone wild.
By Tyler Callister
Photo courtesy of 37˚C on Flickr
In the middle of my phone interview with Brian Lam (the editor of Steve Jobs’ favorite blog Gizmodo and an all around blog guru who has appeared everywhere from Wired to The Daily Show) his fucking iPhone dropped the call. He called me back and said that happens a lot.
While Lam loves gadgets, he’s not afraid to bluntly point out their flaws. That’s probably why he got the job as editor of the second most popular gadget blog on the internet (right below Engadget and right above Boing Boing, as ranked by Technorati). After growing up in New Jersey and moving to San Francisco “for the weather,” Lam worked as an assistant editor for Wired magazine before finally becoming editor of Gizmodo a year and half ago. He now runs the blog from his home in the Twin Peaks neighborhood.
The 30-year-old Lam has become somewhat of a blogebrity. He’s been featured on Time Magazine’s web site and, more interestingly, on The Daily Show where he was “interviewed” by comedian Rob Riggle who began by asking bout the iPhone and ended up jokingly offering him sex.
Needless to say, Lam’s approach is far more irreverent and free-form than publications like Wired. Lam often includes home video of himself opening prerelease copies of the majorly hyped gadgets, including the time Nintendo delivered a new Wii to him in an ice cream truck. But Lam doesn’t just suck up to tech companies and their “fan boys.” In a jab at overzealous Halo 3 fans, Lam also posted a video of himself chucking a bag full of expensive Halo 3 promotional material off of his second-story balcony.
Gizmodo’s not-too-serious approach is in fact what Lam spoke most seriously about during the interview, saying, “I really cherish that about it, that’s what makes it special to me, is that it’s really uncensored," he says. "I could make Gizmodo a little more serious tomorrow, but what’s the point? There’s 99 other publications that are like that. This is the only publication where you can say ‘fuck’ in a review.”
Lam also said that the blogosphere is not yet equipped for the level of seriousness seen in the mainstream press, pointing out that blogging works at an unprecedented speed and very few blogs have fact checkers. “If you had a blog about something really critical, where the facts needed to be right or people would die, you couldn’t disseminate information that way,” he said. “There’s not enough of a safety net. It’s like a daily paper except a hundred times faster.”
Lam’s personal relationship to gadgetry was always guided by destiny. As a kid, Lam would spend his summers with family in Hong Kong where he would wander the stores buying gadgets — Sony Walkmen, CD players, Sega Genesis games — that were usually sold far earlier and cheaper than in the U.S. A couple decades later, when blog empire and Gizmodo owner Gawker Media announced they were looking for a new Gizmodo editor, Lam put his name in the hat and came out on top.
But why do Lam and his legion of fans get so excited about gadgets? Lam says there’s an art to gadget making. “Most appreciate it for its beauty the way you appreciate a nice looking car,” he said. “It’s not much different than that. There are companies out there who get it right, and there companies out there who don’t get it right.”