The magazine that Stan Parish edits has an ambitious title. His publication, a twice-yearly supplement put out by the Wall Street Journal, is called “The Future of Everything” and it covers jet packs, tech startups, 3d printing, winemaking, electronic currency, vacations, and everything in between.
“Wall Street Journal reporters, who are some of the best reporters in the world, are often sitting on these really great stories that don’t have a place in the paper because there is no immediate news value, or it is a little bit far-fetched or theoretical at this point,” Parish says. “We have become a home for those types of stories that never really find a place in the paper, but that these reporters are really passionate about and really interested in.”
Parish will talk about the future, and how his magazine works on Thursday, November 17, at 6:30 p.m. at a Startup Grind event at Tigerlabs in Princeton. Tickets are $10. For information, visit www.startupgrind.com.
The Future of Everything’s mandate is just that, to cover the future of everything, and it does. And as Parish soon realized, the future is not just technology (though tech stories make up a hefty portion of each issue.) “I get a little bit of techno-utopian fatigue reading through other future-focused publications,” he says. “The future is also in the near term, and we wanted to have a mix of things that felt both accessible and immediate, and things that are mostly theoretical and forward looking. I try to mix it up.”
For example, in the latest issue, there is a feature story about how Microsoft is working on a system that uses synthetic DNA to store data. At first Parish thought this technology was a mild curiosity, until he found out exactly how efficient it could theoretically become one day. “Everything on the Internet could fit inside a shoebox,” Parish says. “You could eliminate thousands of server farms around the world.” Like many cutting edge technologies, DNA data storage is currently too expensive to be practical, and at least 10 to 15 years away from hitting the market. It’s interesting, but inaccessible, which is why he likes to mix in more immediate lifestyle type stories.
For example, a recent issue has an article about how Norway is becoming a prime travel destination. In another, Parish dispatched a writer to France to see how winemakers are working to protect Champagne from the ravages of climate change. “The answer was multifaceted and really interesting,” Parish says.
The mix of tech and lifestyle articles reflects Parish’s background as a writer and editor. Born in Houston, Parish moved around a lot with his father, Herman Parish, who was in the advertising industry. He lived in Princeton for a time, and his parents still live there. Since 1988, His father has been the author of the Amelia Bedelia series of children’s books, which his aunt, Peggy Parish, started writing in 1963. Parish grew up with the idea that he could be a writer someday.
“Reading was obviously encouraged and storytelling was something that my parents and extended family put a lot of effort into. I’m not sure if it was nature or nurture, but I’m sure that being raised in that environment had something to do with it.”
Parish attended the Lawrencevile School and St. Andrews University in Scotland and Wesleyan, graduating in 2006. He was deputy editor of Bloomberg Pursuits, and has written stories for GQ, Esquire, Departures, New Jersey Monthly, and the New York Times. His first novel, “Down the Shore,” is about a young man who goes to the Lawrenceville School and St. Andrews and engages in wild debauchery with other over-privileged teens. He says it’s not autobiographical. “The narrator is not me,” he says. “Though he certainly experiences certain things that I experienced.”
Parish, who currently lives in New York and New Jersey, is currently working on another novel, a crime thriller set in Princeton, while he edits the next edition of The Future of Everything. He says the biannual schedule allows the focus to be on quality stories, rather than producing a large quantity of copy. In fact, he believes publications like his can serve as a model for journalism in the future.
“I do find that people are seeking quality,” he says. “Hopefully there will be a reaction against all the fake news generated by this election cycle. People are always going to pay for quality journalism versus unvetted, unfact-checked, unreported hearsay that gains traction just because of the volume.”
Parish said the technology company incubator Tigerlabs, where the talk is being hosted, and its cofounder Bert Navarrette, were doing good work. “They are building a community of people who are interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, and I think that in a small town like Princeton, it’s important to have these kinds of places where people can come together and discuss this stuff.”