Scott Dadich was named editor-in-chief of WIRED in November 2012. Before that he served as Vice President, Editorial Platforms & Design for Conde Nast and oversaw the creative efforts to bring the company’s storied brand portfolio to emerging digital channels.
From 2006-2010, Dadich was the award-winning creative director of WIRED, where he initiated and led the development of WIRED's groundbreaking iPad app. Building upon that success, Dadich and his team have led all of Conde Nast’s brands into monthly tablet publication across multiple digital platforms.
How did you get into the publishing industry?
I put myself through school working as a designer at an advertising agency in Lubbock, Texas. During my senior year at Texas Tech, I was recruited by a photographer friend named Artie Limmer to work in the chancellor's office, producing development and communications materials for the university. One of our main responsibilities was to design a scientific research publication called Vistas. While working there, I became friends with another Texas Tech alumnus, DJ Stout—the longtime art director at Texas Monthly. Then in early 2000, DJ left Texas Monthly and recommended me for a job in the magazine's storied art department. I spent six years there before leaving to become the creative director at WIRED in 2006.
What editorial strategies have you implemented at WIRED that you are most proud of?
I'm really happy with the ongoing integration of our print and digital teams. When I took over as editor in chief, the folks who work on WIRED.com sat on a different side of the building from those who work on the print magazine— different offices, different happy hours, even different key cards at one point. So one of the first things I did was move everyone into the same workspace and commission a complete remodel of the entire floor. That was a year and a half ago, and even though it's been logistically tough to work inside of a construction zone, I think we all have a much better understanding of what each other does and why.
Now print designers sit with front-end devs, researchers are next to tech producers, and web writers share the same spaces as the magazine editors. Those proximities have allowed us to institute new backstopping and editing processes on our web stories and be a lot more nimble and news-oriented with our long-lead print pieces. We've still got a long way to go until we can say we're completely integrated, but the progress has been remarkable to witness. And we have a lot more fun!
How do you differentiate WIRED from other magazines and stay so successful?
The future portrayed in the media sometimes looks like it's going to be worse than the past, but humankind needs hope to be successful. There's this great Noam Chomsky quote I keep on my desktop: "Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so." I think a large part of WIRED's success has been due to its optimism. We're a group of people curious about tomorrow, but inherently we believe that human progress enabled by advances in technology and design is remaking our world for the better. WIRED's storytelling centers on this idea, and I think that's an appealing proposition for the audience we've cultivated over the past two decades.
What traits make a great Editor-in-Chief?
I've been fortunate enough to work with several great editors in chief, but there is no magic formula, no single correct way of working in the top job. The most successful of my peers surround themselves with superlative talent, and they learn to listen to those people, to trust them implicitly.
What are the greatest trends you are noticing in technology now and future trends that may evolve?
We're talking a lot about artificial intelligence (AI) around the office and in our editorial meetings. Google just plunked down a reported $500 million for the deep-learning company DeepMind, and Apple and Microsoft are pouring tens of millions of dollars into upgrading their consumer-facing AI products. We're on the verge of entering an era of AI-as-service, a utility that can be ported into a wide range of devices and situations. The progress I think we'll see in the next two years will be fascinating to report on and even more exciting from a user perspective. We just profiled one such startup, Viv Labs. Most services we're familiar with today can only perform tasks that human engineers implement, but the engineers at Viv claim they've invented a new kind of software that can teach itself. Amazing.
Most visited websites on your browser?
If there were one food and one drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Nachos compuestos and a margarita rocks (with salt) at Maudie's in Austin, Texas.
"Let's blow some shit up."
Role model—business and personal?
Professionally, I think the world of J.J. Abrams. He's a genius on wheels, but he's also a wonderfully kind and warmhearted man. He's committed himself to making the art he believes in, and he does it in a way that enriches the lives of millions of people around the world. And he's a generous collaborator who challenges the people who work with him to elevate their game. Personally, I married the person I look up to the most. My wife inspires me every single day. She is thoughtful and giving in ways I can only aspire to.
What literature is on your nightstand?
I read all day long, so I tend not to read in bed. My wife usually has something on her Kindle, but I always look forward to The Colbert Report.
What's next for WIRED and Scott Dadich?
I'm most excited about a new event we're putting on at the end of September called WIRED by Design (WxD)*. For years, we’ve been chronicling the advances in prototyping, manufacturing, and production that have enabled a modern renaissance in all forms of design, from industrial to culinary to graphic. This premise is the centerpiece of our October "Design" issue, and to coincide we're hosting a live magazine retreat at George Lucas' legendary Skywalker Sound facilities in Marin County, California. Over the course of three days, we're all going to talk about how the brightest minds use design thinking to approach their work—from inventing new kinds of software (Gentry Underwood) to telling imaginative stories (Carlton Cuse) to engineering new flavors (David Chang and Christina Tosi) to educating our next generation of design geniuses (Sarah Stein Greenberg). Our other guest speakers are: Marissa Mayer, Aaron Koblin, Yves Béhar, Adam Savage, Dava Newman, Cindy Holland, Dan Deacon, Jeff Nichols, Natasha Jen, Stephanie Schriock, Bjarke Ingels, Platon, Doug Aitken, Wyatt Mitchell, Jennifer Colliau, and the founder of WIRED, Louis Rossetto. I’ve been focused on making sure this is a phenomenal event, but I'm also putting the finishing touches on a piece I've written for the same issue—an essay that posits the next great advancements in design might come from people who are making the wrong choices. It's an intentionally provocative idea, so I'm anxious to see how people respond.
*More information at http://live.wired.com/
Collectively, Dadich's work has been recognized with 8 National Magazine Awards, including three for General Excellence (Texas Monthly, 2003; Wired, 2007 & 2009). He is the only creative director to win both the National Magazine Award for Design and the Society of Publication Designers Magazine of the Year award for three consecutive years: 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Additionally, he has received more than 100 national design and editorial awards from organizations such as the Art Directors Club, American Photography, American Illustration, The Society of Illustrators, and the Type Directors Club. In 2011, Fast Company named Dadich one of the 50 Most Influential Designers in America. He currently serves on the board of directors for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) and The People's Portfolio, a nonprofit organization dedicated to respecting and upholding human rights, through portrait photography by renowned photographer Platon.
Prior to joining Conde Nast, Scott was creative director of Texas Monthly, which was nominated for 14 National Magazine Awards during his tenure and won for General Excellence in 2003.
Dadich graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He lives in San Francisco.