From: Steve Cisler <s...@apple.com>
Subject: Review of the new magazine Wired
Sender: n...@news.media.mit.edu (USENET News System)
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1993 16:09:28 GMT
Approved: w...@media.mit.edu (Alan Wexelblat)
[Editor's note: This review was originally sent to me via an email list, but
sine Cisler included the okay to reprint I have added bib info and put it
here for r.a.sf.r readers. --Alan]
Wired: magazine review
copyright Steve Cisler 1993
Okay to reprint in any electronic form or in non-profit journals,
'zines, newsletters, etc. which are in paper format.
January 7, 1913. A small farm near Bardstown, Kentucky. Badgett Dillard has
just met the mailman on horseback at the point where the dirt road
intersects with the entrance to the farm. He's looking through the mail
which includes a Sears Catalog, a letter from his sister in Tulsa, Oklahoma,
and a brochure for a new automobile. He shakes his head and leafs through
the Sears catalog: more new gear, new tools, new temptations. As he heads
back to the house a neighbor catches up with him and tells him about the
group of farmers who are planning to string up their own telephone system
using barbed wire and other common fencing materials. Dillard shakes his
head again and declines to participate.
January 7, 1993. A tall office building in San Franciso. The libarian
emerges from the elevator into a nearly empty ballroom. Musicians are tuning
up; caterers are arranging trays and tables of snacks, and young people
dressed in black are rushing around, stashing cartons behind curtains,
adjusting a purple satin spread that is covering a large table near the
front of the room. Time passes, the room fills, and the publisher of Wired,
Lou Rossetto, and the president, Jane Metcalfe, interrupt the high tech
chatter to begin the evening events. First a short welcome and warning by
Nicholas Negroponte. He predicts the magazine (he has money in this venture
and is a/the columnist on the back page) will be a big success but if it's
not the careers of Jane and Lou are in question. Just a bit of nervous
Having been a big fan and evangelist for the now defunct Electric Word, I
think Wired is going to make it, unless it is eclipsed by another one such
as ASAP, the trial balloon that Forbes and Upside magazines did recently.
Forbes just doesn't get things right in high tech (see the goofy article on
computer intrusion in a recent cover story) and Upside is so focused on
Silicon Valley's Backside (and pocket book) that it lacks a broad enough
vision. Wired's vision is not 360 degrees, but it's pretty broad if you look
at the premiere issue which I have been reading over the past couple of
weeks. That, in itself, says a lot, that I'd find enough to read in a
magazine to make it last that long. Most don't last a flight from Chicago
to Denver, but there is a lot to read in Wired.
But what about that farmer in Kentucky? He depended on horses, and the
delivery mechanism for information about the machines that would replace
many horses was paper and a horse. Wired is delivering information about
the digital present and future using print medium. The authors and the
staff keep in contact via the Net. Nobody has figured out how to make Big
Money by publishing electronically, so Wired will stay in print form for
awhile. It maintains lively discussions about its electronic future on The
So what's in the magazine besides a few ads?
A distorted piece of Bruce Sterling's face is on the cover of the first
issue which reached the streets on January 23. His article on the virtual
battlefield is excellent: not too much gonzo journalism (what would we be
like if Hunter Thompson had followed in his mom's footsteps and become a
children's librarian and Tom Wolfe had become an American Studies
professor?) but good reporting on the SIMNET tank simulators (built, in
part, by Jacuzzi), and some chilling extrapolations about the future of war.
Steward Brand interviews Camille Paglia who gets to blue pencil in
corrections, and then the collaborative document is printed as such.
John Markoff has a short piece about those rude boys who are picking apart
cellular phones to reprogram the guts to pick up your conversations.
Tantalizing hints at more loss of privacy.
John Browning used to write for the Economist, and librarians will find his
article on electronic libraries a good start on this complex subject. He
focuses on the French Tres Grande Biblioteque, The British Library, and
Library of Congress, copyright issues, and the whole idea of electronic
books. Although he implies that "the Library of Congress is there" (on the
Net), just a subset of the LC holdings can be reached by telnet. And they
are on dra.com not loc.gov. However, about 20 state libraries pay $3000 per
year to have access to Scorpio and other rich sources of information
gathered by LC. Hints lead me to believe that LC may open up their
collection even more to Internet users. This would go beyond what they have
done with the Russian and Vatican documents.
Karl Greenfield tells us about Otaku: Japanese computer nerds.
Unfortunately, the designer's penchant for typographic experimentation makes
this article very hard to read: 4 columns, sideways, with ALL CAPS shouting
at you for three pages.
I had been intending to review SCHOOL'S OUT by Lewis Perelman, who is very
down on public education, teachers, the education establishment, Congress,
and most forms of intellectual activity that cannot be commercialized. He
has a short selection about how public education obstructs the future where
'hyperlearning' extends a rich supply of material, expertise, and
entertainment to millions of learners attached to their workstations.
Richard Fricker has a long, byzantine exploration of the amazing Inslaw case
involving the Dept. of Justice, a software company, a cluster of spooks,
security personnel, and a dead journalist. For the House of Reps. report
on this you can ftp it from ftp.apple.com /alug/rights/inslaw1 (421 kb).
There are also articles on morphing techniques used by Michael Jackson, ad
agencies, and most prominently in Terminator 2 (liquid metal man) as well as
several pages of info-nuggets: trends, products, events, and other
on-the-edge magazines. Paul Saffo has called Wired "Vanity Fair for
propellor heads"; it has some of the busy, lurid graphics of Mondo 2000, but
I am pretty conservative when it comes to graphics and typography. However,
don't let this turn you off. If you have gotten this far in the review, I'd
say order it on the spot. One year (six issues) is $19.95 U.S. or $45
overseas. Write Wired, 544 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94107.
Librarians can request a free sample copy by sending a self-addressed
mailing label on your letterhead, and they have agreed to accept requests
from libraries via email. Write to and let them know which listserv, mailing
list, or news group or BBS had the review. Write i...@wired.com.
%E Louis Rossetto
%G ISSN 1059-1028
%I Wired USA
%T Wired (Premier Issue)