Whether photographing drug smugglers or suburban swingers, paintball players or the eco-paranoid, Peter Rad approaches his subjects as a storyteller. "I often script dialogue for the actors in my images," he says, in the hopes that a storyboard will yield more authentic spontaneity. That blend of purpose and play was echoed in front of the camera, when Rad shot the creative production company (and viral-hit machine) Mekanism.
An adventure traveler and science journalist, Jeff Wise trekked to Belize to profile the antivirus guru John McAfee for Fast Company. It was his third trip reporting in Central America. "So far, every time I go there, the story turns out to have layers like an onion," he says. "The gringos down there never turn out to be what they seem." Wise is also author of the book Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger.
Story dedication? Try hitting the streets at dawn, as Stephanie Schomer did one chilly spring morning to scour New York's flower district in search of wow-worthy blooms for Wanted. "The city is like a different world at that hour," she says. In this issue, Schomer also examines the world of gesture technology, where our body movement controls the environment around us. Good-bye, remote control. Hello, waggling fingers.
Articles editor David Lidsky eats and sleeps fast — literally — because he spends the rest of his time thinking of ideas for the magazine. That love of "fast" explains his interest in interviewing Minnie Ingersoll, the woman behind the Google Fiber ultra-high-speed broadband initiative, for Who's Next, and writing this month's Numerology on roller coasters. "I had a season pass to Six Flags Over Georgia when I was 15 years old," he says. "But I have to admit that I spent more time in the arcade than riding the Great American Scream Machine."
Kansas City, Missouri — based writer Ben Paynter explores two new ways to track the effectiveness of ad campaigns: recognition grading (which ad placements stand out amid the clutter) and "social currency" (how we respond to the barrage of online and offline messages). "The best buzz isn't just catchy," Paynter says. "It still has to somehow generate action among consumers. Otherwise, it's just really expensive static."
A version of this article appeared in the May 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.