Jack Schofield is The Guardian’s computer editor. I’ve been reading his articles and columns in The Guardian since before I went to University. In fact can remember chatting to the porter at my Hall of Residence about this new thing called ‘the Internet’ way back in… I think it was ’97.
‘Ah hah!’ he exclaimed, ‘You want to be reading Jack Schofield!’ He then leaned back and retrieved the well thumbed copy of that day’s Guardian from behind the front desk.
‘Ah, er, right,’ I said, getting ready to put on a possible fake smile. At that point in my life, like a few young people, I read newspapers, I didn’t follow particular journalists. Rarely did I ever look at the byline. It just wasn’t something I did. So I found it a bit ‘old’ to have an actual journalist recommended to me. The other problem was that the Internet was one of those things people had heard about but rarely knew anything about — so I was hoping I wasn’t going to be encouraged to have a look at some boring piece of know-nothing-copy by a a professional-know-nothing journalist.
I was shocked. I’d actually already been reading (and rating) Jack’s work already — but hadn’t known. Colleagues would cut out things and pass them to me or I’d come across them online or be forwarded transcripts. At that point I was heavily involved in online communities for Virgin and AOL, so any mention in the UK press and I was on it. I found Jack’s work reasoned, smart and ever present, head and shoulders above anything in the other national papers. If you’re reading from the States, think Walt-Mossberg-of-the-Journal level of awareness, respect and recognition.
So I started reading The Guardian properly — and more specifically, I started reading Jack regularly. You might imagine the trouble it caused walking around cosmopolitan University College London with a copy of The Guardian. All of a sudden I had people calling me ‘Comrade’ and drew smiles from some of the good looking dressed-like-a-hippy-but-dad’s-a-high-court-judge girls in the Union. I found it strange to be judged on the newspaper brand I was carrying.
Mind you I turned up to University on the first day with a copy of the Wall Street Journal — I only discovered 2 years later that, as a result of this, half my colleagues thought I was homosexual, the other half thought I was a total arse. I managed to eventually recover from this stereotyping by the end of the degree. I’d bought the WSJ because I found it in the local newsagent outside Uni — it was exciting — you never got the WSJ in Shitsville, Essex.
Back in the Union, I made a point of explaining to some of the landed gentry that I was ‘buying it for Jack Schofield and the Technology section’. That went down perfectly fine as a reason. Heh. Still, today, people look at me if I’m sat flicking through MediaGuardian on a Monday wearing a shocking pinstripe suit.
One of the best things to come out of one of the recent Guardian shake-ups were the blogs introduced late last year — Jack regularly posts across the day about all manner of technology related matters on the Guardian’s Technology Blog. He also writes the popular Ask Jack blog too. The ability to get Jack updates daily was a wickedly good update to the site.
Today Jack mentioned my post about Dave Winer’s News Rivers activities. I wrote him a quick mail to thank him and took the opportunity to ask him if he could answer 3 ‘quick mobile bio’ questions for the site.
Whaddya know? I got a response within minutes! Kudos! Here we go:
1. What was your first mobile handset and what network?
Philips, I think, on O2. (I was a late adopter.)
2. What’s your current handset and network?
Nokia 6630, still on O2. I side-graded from a Treo because I wanted to use Lifeblog.
3. What are the most used functions on your handset?
(1) Voice phone/contacts list;
(2) SMS text messaging;
Thank you for taking the time Jack!