Teaser Image

Audrey Watters


I am a writer, a scholar, and a serial dropout. Once upon a time, I was known as “ed-tech's Cassandra." Now, my coach says I'm a "multi-sport athlete."

Way back in junior high school, I took an aptitude test that gave me a single career option: freelance writer. I remember feeling rather panicky at the time, wondering how the hell I’d manage to pull it off. For a long time I did.

Until I couldn’t.

My son Isaiah died of an opioid overdose in May 2020, just a month or so into the COVID pandemic. It broke me. Although everyone wanted to talk about the move to “Zoom School” and what an exciting moment this would be for education technology, I couldn’t face repeating the critiques I’d leveled at the industry for years and years and years. There’s no joy in being a Cassandra.

If my junior high school self would have balked at my becoming a writer, she’d have never ever believed I'd become an athlete. I never participated in any sports growing up; I have terrible eyesight, and I couldn’t catch a ball if it was tossed right into my hand. Indeed, I do not have a high school diploma because I did not have the requisite PE credits to graduate. But since Isaiah’s passing, I have found great solace in sport. I started powerlifting — it makes for a nice metaphor, if nothing else: “lifting heavy things.” I started running. I love running, and damn if I'm not pretty good at it.

So now I'm back...

My new writing project, Second Breakfast, explores health technologies, new and old, with a particular eye to the ways in which Silicon Valley seeks to engineer our bodies and brains. (Like me, a lot of high profile entrepreneurs and investors are aging Gen-Xers. It's going to get ugly as they (we) get old.) The newsletter includes essays on the history of health technologies and "wellness" ideologies; analysis of various food and fitness trends; and a weekly round-up of the latest news about “innovation” in the industry. I also write about my experiences as a new athlete -- a new, old, post-menopausal athlete who runs and lifts and swims and cycles and tries to laugh in the face of "optimization culture." If nothing else, this is a larger project of how I am trying, very hard, to get through the mo(u)rning.

I have been a freelance writer for well over a decade, and my writing has appeared in multiple publications. I am arguably best known for my blog Hack Education. I've published four collections of my public talks, The Monsters of Education Technology (2014), The Revenge of the Monsters of Education Technology (2015), The Curse of the Monsters of Education Technology (2016), and The Monsters of Education Technology 4, as well as a book arguing that students should control their digital identities and digital work, Claim Your Domain. My book Teaching Machines (MIT Press, 2020) examines the pre-history of personalized learning.

I was a recipient of a Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship at Columbia University School of Journalism for the 2017-2018 academic year.

I currently live in New York City with my husband Kin and my dog Poppy.

Image credits: Alan Levine, Bryan Mathers; Updated December 2023