geeksugar Interview with Engadget Editor-in-Chief Josh Topolsky

Geeks We Love: Joshua Topolsky of Engadget

You'd think that Engadget's editor in chief, NYC-based Joshua Topolsky, would be too busy doing things like manhandling the new Kindle to have time to talk to geeksugar for this year's installment of Geeks We Love. But this is a man who says if he could, he'd be called "super king" rather than simply "editor-in-chief." Do not underestimate him.


Since taking over Engadget's top spot last year, the mass of responsibility that's been heaped on Josh is matched only by his irreverent sense of humor (just listen to an Engadget podcast). And from music-industry beginnings (he was a music producer with a studio in Brooklyn) to excellent taste in eyewear, Josh is nebbishly cool — the definition of one of my favorite cliches: geek-chic.

GS: As a fan of your podcast, I know you're a funny guy — does not taking things so seriously make it easier to process all the information overload of tech news?

JT: I think our industry has a history of taking itself a little seriously. I'm not sure that having a sense of humor makes it easier to process the information overload, but it definitely helps to keep things in perspective. Ultimately, I know that if one day our technology becomes self-aware and turns against us, chases us down with a Green Goblin 18-wheeler, and forces us to sail to an island where there's no electricity — at least I'll have my sense of humor. And this iPhone I whittled from driftwood, and these apps I made from leaves.

To read more of my interview with Josh Topolsky, which includes his love for books and zombie-infused video games, read more.

GS: Favorite gadget right now that you cannot live without?

JT: It's safe to say that I would be useless without my laptop. I wish I could tell you that all I need is a notebook and a pen, but that would be a blatant, cool lie.

GS: Gadget rundown! Cell phone?

JT: I'm currently juggling three phones — the G1, iPhone 3G, and BlackBerry Bold. I'm really frustrated because each one does at least one thing that I really love, but none of them do exactly what I want. For instance, the G1 is great for Gmail (perfect, really), the iPhone has its killer app ecosystem and is really good for getting around/doing "fun" stuff, and the Bold is the ultimate serious-phone, for when I need to impress bankers and stockbrokers. Which is often.

Mac, PC, or Linux?

JT: I use all three. I write for Engadget!

Home tech setup?

JT: My TV is a really depressing Olevia 37-inch, I really need to upgrade. I've got Time Warner's DVR, which is made by Scientific Atlanta (if you must know). We've got a huge pile of consoles here, and my favorite game is anything with zombies, and preferably so terrifying that people actually die while playing it.

GS: What do you do when you're not Engadgeting (that's my clever way of asking about spare time)?

JT: We actually don't get a lot of spare time, but I'm really a big book nerd — we have a large collection here, though I don't read nearly enough (hardly at all lately). I also enjoy video games, as previously stated, and I try to watch complete television series in a single sitting. I collect old calculators, Dune toys, and I love comic books. Oh, and I'm usually trying to get new distros of Linux and/or BeOS working on my many, many computers.

GS: You're married; is your wife also a geek?

Well, my wife and I work together (she's an editor at Engadget), so there is a lot of crossover, but she's really much more of a book person than I am. In fact, her collection of books is far more impressive, and she read something like 500 new books last year. It's staggering. Essentially, she makes me feel bad that I haven't read anything in ages.

GS: Lastly, what's your absolute favorite thing you've done with Engadget (like that open letter to Palm)?

I really loved the letter to Palm, and doing the first iPhone unboxing for the site was pretty wild — but the thing I love best about the job is all the nuts and bolts stuff that a lot of people don't see. Hunting down stories, working with the brilliant team we have, actually scooping something — it's thrilling. It's kind of impossible to pick one thing, but a friend of mine told me the other day that I have the dream job my 13-year-old-self would have wanted, and that's pretty much true. It doesn't really get better than that.

Image Courtesy of Morini & Montanari

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