The latest issue of the MIT Technology Review is the first design issue in the publication’s 120-year history. For this, we have 2018 Scratching the Surface guest Allison Arieff to thank. Allison joined TR in February 2022 as the editorial director of print, after writing a design column for the New York Times since 2007; noticing that column’s increased focus on technology. I recently spoke with Allison about what attracted her to this new role and how she and her team put together this issue that is truly packed with great design stories. Our interview has been edited slightly for clarity.
In February 2022, you joined the MIT Technology Review as the editorial director of print. Tell me about your role and what attracted you to the Technology Review.
I’d been writing a column on design for the New York Times since 2007. Maybe because the world has changed, maybe because I live in the Bay Area, that column started to focus a lot more on technology over the years. Pieces I wrote about technological solutionism, say, or the false notion that driverless cars were going to save cities, really seemed to strike a cord. I was realizing that really everything and anything can be a tech story. Which is just a little back story for you. Just over a year ago, I saw on Twitter that Technology Review was looking for someone just to focus on their print magazine. I reached out to the EIC Mat Honan, who is just the smartest and loveliest person, and we got to talking and here I am. I never thought I’d have an opportunity to do a print magazine again. My experience as a founding editor of Dwell was one of the most rewarding work experiences I’ve ever had and given the state of publishing these days, it seemed impossible I’d ever get to do something like that again. MIT is of course very different — TR will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2024 — but this job allows me to do all the things I love: learn something new every day, read a ton, work with fantastic collaborators. I love it.