A self-professed life-long geek, Ryan Kawailani Ozawa has immersed himself in new technologies and online communities since the days before the web. From running a dial-up BBS in high school, to publishing on the Internet before the web, to “Web 2.0” and social media, and now on to “Web3,” he has long embraced and evangelized the ways in which technology can bring people together.
He regularly speaks and consults with professional and academic groups on technology, new media, and the social web. From leading workshops on online marketing and reputation management to media interviews exploring the latest tech innovations and their implications, he is passionate about educating and encouraging others.
Ryan is an independent journalist who covers Hawaii science, technology, startups, entrepreneurship and the arts. He publishes Hawaii Bulletin for Meta (formerly Facebook), as well as serves as a contributor to a variety of media outlets, including Hawaii News Now, KITV, KHON, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii Public Radio, and Civil Beat.
He has co-founded two startups: Smart Yields, an ag-tech firm focused on bringing technology to independent farms to support sustainable communities, and Kahanu, which designed, manufactured, and donated emergency bridge ventilators to hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ryan was also a co-founder of Hawaii Open Data, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering government transparency, civic engagement, and entrepreneurial opportunities through open data policies and practices. His work in support of open data is documented on this blog.
He is also the organizer of the annual Hawaii Geek Meet, first held in 2008.
Ryan previously served as the Communications Director for Hawaii Information Service and as the Information Security Officer for Hawaii National Bank.
Ryan manages a number of websites devoted to the islands, including his blog, HawaiiWeblog.com, which one of the top five blogs in the state. Other sites include HawaiiCalendar.com, HawaiiGrinds.com (a food blog) HawaiiSocialMedia.com, HawaiiStar.com (a news site), HawaiiStories.com (a literary journal), HawaiiTech.com, and HawaiiThreads.com (an online forum that has seen as many as 1 million pageviews a month).
Ryan earned his ham radio license (KH6WEB) in 2012 and his Hawaii real estate license (RS-76142) in 2014.
Ryan is a longtime advocate and fan of personal publishing on the web, and has been an eager participant in online communities since their earliest incarnations. Moving from local dial-up BBSes to Compuserve forums, from “gopherspace” to USENET groups, he posted his first web page in 1994. Since then, he has continued to post both poignant and pointless thoughts on the Internet since then… long before technologists coined the term “blog.”
He founded Diarist.Net in 1998, one of the first resources devoted to “escribitionism” or online journaling, and convened the inaugural JournalCon in 2000, a first-of-its-kind “real world” gathering of a then fledgling online community.
In addition to his obsession with the written word, Ryan is also passionate about “new media.” He started podcasting in March 2005, producing HawaiiUp (a Hawaii-focused show) and “The Transmission” (a fan podcast for ABC’s filmed-in-Hawaii series “LOST”), which reached over 30,000 listeners around the world. He later launched “Popspotting,” in which he and his wife covered all things pop culture, including movies, television, music, books, and more. Ryan was also an early “lifecaster,” streaming live video over the internet while out and about in Honolulu.
He regularly posts articles, photo galleries and videos that document community events and the ongoing evolution of the local technology industry.
His numerous online initiatives have merited profiles and mentions in dozens of media outlets, local and national, including the New York Times, L.A. Times, Seattle Times, National Public Radio, and Nightline.
A 1992 graduate of Mililani High School, Ryan earned a journalism degree from UH-Manoa with an emphasis on Hawaiian Language. During his studies, he was awarded first place for investigative reporting by the Carol Burnett Fund for Responsible Journalism.
Outside the classroom, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Ka Leo O Hawaii, the daily student newspaper at UH-Manoa, for two years (1995-1997), after holding the same post at Ke Kalahea, the weekly student newspaper at UH-Hilo (1994-’95). Ryan also edited the UH Manoa Student Handbook, and co-founded a short-lived independent student newspaper — the distribution of which sparked a First Amendment debate on campus.
Ryan met his wife Jennifer, a Florida native, at UH-Hilo in 1994. They lived in Hilo, Waikiki, and Makiki, and were married in 1997. They have three children: Katherine, Zachary, and Alexander. Jennifer passed away in 2021 after a decade-long cancer battle. He now lives in Mililani.