ben tarnoff

I'm a writer who works in the tech industry.
My email address is ben AT
My Twitter is @bentarnoff.
I'm also on Bluesky and Mastodon.
And I have a very irregular newsletter.
You can find a complete list of my pieces below.
My most recent book is called Internet for the People.
It's about how the modern internet came to be, why it's so broken, and what might make it less broken.
You can order it from Verso or Bookshop.


  • Ultra Hardcore, a review of Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson, The New York Review of Books, January 18, 2024.
  • 2023

  • How Everything Became Data, a review of How Data Happened by Chris Wiggins and Matthew L. Jones, The Nation, October 16, 2023.
  • Better, Faster, Stronger, a review of Palo Alto by Malcolm Harris, The New York Review of Books, September 21, 2023.
  • Weizenbaum’s nightmares: how the inventor of the first chatbot turned against AI, The Guardian, July 25, 2023.
  • The technologies of all dead generations, a talk at Penn's Annenberg School, April 7, 2023.
  • The Engineer's Predicament, The Drift, February 22, 2023.
  • 2022

  • In the Hothouse, The New York Review of Books, November 11, 2022.
  • ‘Wallets and eyeballs’: how eBay turned the internet into a marketplace, The Guardian, June 16, 2022.
  • The Internet is Broken. How Do We Fix It?, The New York Times, May 27, 2022.
  • 2021

  • Tech Workers at Every Level Can Organize to Build Power, Jacobin, February 6, 2021.
  • Silicon Valley Workers Have Had Enough, The New York Times, January 26, 2021.
  • The Making of the Tech Worker Movement: A 2021 Update, an exchange with Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya, Collective Action in Tech, January 7, 2021.
  • 2020

  • Covid-19 and the Cloud, Progressive International Blueprint, May 21, 2020.
  • The Making of the Tech Worker Movement, Logic pamphlet, May 4, 2020.
  • These Are Conditions In Which Revolution Becomes Thinkable, Commune, April 7, 2020.
  • 2017

  • The new cold war: how our focus on Russia obscures social media's real threat, The Guardian, December 14, 2017.
  • Time to release the internet from the free market – and make it a basic right, The Guardian, November 29, 2017.
  • Empathy – the latest gadget Silicon Valley wants to sell you, The Guardian, October 25, 2017.
  • World Without Mind by Franklin Foer review – the turn against Big Tech, The Guardian, October 25, 2017.
  • Tech's push to teach coding isn't about kids' success – it's about cutting wages, The Guardian, September 21, 2017.
  • Silicon Valley siphons our data like oil. But the deepest drilling has just begun, The Guardian, August 23, 2017.
  • Bill Gates Won’t Save Us, Jacobin, August 15, 2017.
  • Home Invasion, Logic, Summer 2017.
  • How social media saved socialism, The Guardian, July 21, 2017.
  • How privatization could spell the end of democracy, The Guardian, June 21, 2017.
  • The Dark Web's Dark Prince, a review of American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton, The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2017.
  • America has become so anti-innovation – it's economic suicide, The Guardian, May 11, 2017.
  • Trump's Tech Opposition, with Matt Schaefer and Kristen Sheets, Jacobin, May 2, 2017.
  • The new status symbol: it’s not what you spend – it’s how hard you work, The Guardian, April 24, 2017.
  • The Role of the Working Class, a response to Wolfgang Streeck, Inference, April 7, 2017.
  • Socialize the Internet, Jacobin, April 4, 2017.
  • Robots won't just take our jobs – they'll make the rich even richer, The Guardian, March 2, 2017.
  • Trump needs tech to achieve his vision. But Silicon Valley isn't having it, The Guardian, January 24, 2017.
  • 2011-2014

  • Mark Twain, Writing Coach and Role Model, The Daily Beast, April 19, 2014.
  • #CancelColbert, Meet "The Heathen Chinee", Politico, April 8, 2014.
  • How Mark Twain Became Mark Twain, Salon, March 22, 2014.
  • "As for Me, I Sell Abuse", Lapham's Quarterly, Feb. 15, 2014.
  • Once Upon a Time in the West, Lapham's Quarterly, Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Mark Twain's Eternal Chatter, The New Yorker, Nov. 13, 2013.
  • A Counterfeiting Conspiracy?, The New York Times, March 27, 2012.
  • The Worst Business in the World, Lapham's Quarterly, Oct. 20, 2011.
  • Magical Thinking, Lapham's Quarterly, Oct. 1, 2011.
  • The Man Who Financed the Civil War, The New York Times, July 16, 2011.
  • Money for Nothing, The New York Times, March 14, 2011.