J.M. Porup

to hold a quill is to be at war.


J.M. Porup

I'm an American journalist covering the intersection of technology and politics.

I worked for many years as a Perl hacker in Melbourne, Australia. A backpacking trip to South America turned into a five-guidebook gig with Lonely Planet. I've spent most of the last decade living in and reporting from Latin America, including four years based in Cali, Colombia. Claro que hablo castellano.


I freelance mostly for Vice Motherboard. (Read my most recent articles here.) I've also written for The Economist. My first editor, way back in the mid-90s, called me a loose cannon. He meant it as a compliment. I think.

As an ex-hacker, I specialize in covering technical subjects other journalists don't grok. Technology disrupts the social-political order and redistributes power. Surveillance, hacking, privacy/security tech--this is my beat.


What is a hacker? Probably not what you think. Mostly I built bespoke software for Australasian clients. (This was before the whole startup scene went global.) I've been a Linux user since 2002 and a PGP user since 2005. I'm but a stranger here, Debian is my home.


Punk is an attitude. Resistance to coercion. From the state, from society. Cypherpunks resist by using encryption. I do not ask for my privacy. I will take it, with or without your permission. "IRL" is dead. We now live on the Internet. New game, new rules.

Travel Writer

I wrote five guidebooks for Lonely Planet: Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic & Haiti, Caribbean Islands, and South America on a Shoestring. I was the Co-ordinating Author of Lonely Planet Colombia (5th ed.), widely considered the best guidebook to Colombia at the time.

I've chilled in jungle bivouacs with Colombian marines with their fingers on their triggers. I researched the Venezuela guidebook during a Chavez re-election. Travel writing ain't all beaches and umbrella cocktails.


Mostly science fiction. Some noir. I'm especially proud of The United States of Air, my 2012 political satire that mocks NSA surveillance.


So a couple of years ago the Lifeboat Foundation asked me to join their Advisory Board. Lifeboat is a distributed think tank dedicated to preventing a negative singularity. Scientists, engineers, journalists, and science fiction writers wrangle over the latest existential threats to humanity. It's a blast.



PGP fingerprint:

4594 C17E D68E 3F32 EE3A
26CE E18A 2E51 F848 D601

OTR fingerprint:

84f9f879 74809e9f b7041a88 7325895a 37ef0656

Signal fingerprint:

05 8f df 4d b6 71 4f ce df fa 95 a1 4a ac 34 bb bd 3f a5 76 d1 62 99 27 f4 84 ff 23 80 37 ae f5 51