Mark Hurst (born December 13, 1972) is a journalist, author, broadcaster, game designer, and Internet entrepreneur. He founded the GEL ("Good Experience Live") tech conference, and hosts a weekly technology-focused radio program, Techtonic, on WFMU. He is the author of two books about technology — one focused on information overload, the other on building customer-friendly products.
Hurst founded the annual Gel conference in 2003, and hosted the event annually in New York through 2016. Gel served to premiere a number of high-profile online projects, including Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, first presented the platform at Gel 2005. Marissa Mayer, then a Google product manager and later CEO of Yahoo!, presented at Gel in 2003 and 2008.
Stewart Butterfield also spoke at Gel 2003, soon after which he co-founded Flickr with Caterina Fake. (Butterfield went on to co-found Slack a few years later.) Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, first presented his educational platform at Gel 2010. Khan Academy has since become a highly popular online education organization.
Gabriel Weinberg, founder of privacy-based search engine DuckDuckGo, debuted his platform at Gel 2013. Presenters at Gel have included radio host Ira Glass, Improv Everywhere comedian Charlie Todd, health and nutrition academic Marion Nestle, Australian roboticist Rodney Brooks, science writer/futurist David Bodanis, music comedians the Gregory Brothers, NASA deputy administrator Dava Newman, author Marc Abrahams, technologist Anil Dash, composer/conductor Robert Kapilow, artist/photographer Rachel Sussman, artist/writer/animator Zina Saunders, game designer/author Jane McGonigal, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, and countless others.
In 2006, Hurst presented a European version of Gel, euroGel 2006, in Copenhagen, Denmark. At this conference, Jimmy Wales gave one of the first public talks in Europe about Wikipedia. In 2009 Hurst established a spinoff conference, Gel Health 2009, devoted to issues of health care, in New York. Although no Gel conferences have been held since 2016, Hurst hosted two Skeptech forums at WFMU in 2017, and a third Skeptech hosted over Zoom during pandemic lockdown in October 2020.
The Aspen Institute blog noted that "Mark Hurst launched the platform Skeptech to address what he sees as the tech industry’s growing systemic problems and 'creepiness. Hurst is the author of Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload (2007). Besides the original English edition, the book was translated and published in Russia and China.
His second book was Customers Included: How to Transform Products, Companies, and the World - With a Single Step (2013, 2nd edition 2015). In 2015, Business Insider quoted Hurst's writing in an article about major retailers acknowledging the advantages of online customer reviews to better market their products.