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First Mover: Shoshana Berger

The 'ReadyMade' founder marries her crafty side with the tech world of 'Wired'

Photo: Chris Gaede

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Specs
Age 42
New gig Director of editorial development, Wired
Old gig Editor in chief, ReadyMade

What do you do as the director of editorial development at Wired?
Basically, my job is to create new editorial projects for the brand. My first project has been to launch Wired Design, a new channel for the site. It’s really exciting for me because I have deep roots in design, having launched and edited ReadyMade, a DIY design magazine, for nearly a decade.

What else do you have in store?
I’m working to craft the site in different ways. I’m launching a new business channel that’s going to be much more robust. I’m particularly excited about Wired getting more active in the e-book space—we produced an e-book after the death of Steve Jobs, and it was a really elegantly done, beautiful elegy. It’s a natural domain for us. And I’ve discovered this new world of manufacturing and fabrication—3-D printing, CNC machines, digital embroidery—so I have a whole list of projects I want to do at home.

What was it like launching ReadyMade?
Starting a magazine is like trying to nail a jellyfish to the wall; it’s virtually impossible. With an independent magazine, your odds are even worse. We launched ReadyMade three months after 9/11, so it was probably the worst time. We had very little luck in getting funding. But Wired wasn’t launched that differently. They launched under slightly better funding circumstances, and Condé Nast came in pretty early, but when I was at Wired, it was very much a startup.

How did you go from a DIY-centric magazine to a tech-oriented one?
It was pretty easy. I was very involved with the maker community at ReadyMade, and Wired already had a very strong presence in the maker movement and interest in design. If you look at a Venn diagram of people in the design world and people in the tech world, they often meet when they’re working on projects.

Was there any culture shock coming to the male-dominated environment at Wired?
The DIY community is pretty egalitarian. It appeals to both guys and girls. Wired has always seen technology as an open playing field, but our readers tend to be largely male. My personal mission has been to open up avenues for women at Wired, to bring in more female writers and to appeal to women readers.

What are you doing content-wise to appeal to women? 
I think design is a friendly subject for women. I’ve heard anecdotally from a lot of women that they don’t typically turn to Wired as their first source for design, but once they’ve seen the Wired Design blog, they get really excited about reading the magazine—some of them for the first time.

You actually worked as a research assistant at Wired in 1995. How did you end up there?
I had just gotten out of graduate school for English and was searching for an entrée into journalism. My father is a professor at Berkeley, and he found Wired and said, “You’ve got to get an internship at this place.” I was here for about six months and began writing for Wired after that. It’s amazing how many Wired interns have gone on to launch their own magazines and be in the top ranks of others. It’s a great place to get your chops.

What did you do after leaving ReadyMade and before returning to Wired?
I took two years off and wrote a book of fiction, which I’m just revising now. I also have two small nippers at home, a 4- and a 5-year-old.

What’s the book about?
I’m not going to talk about that yet!