Organization: Design, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1993 02:51:04 -0500
From: John Trivelli <jt...@andrew.cmu.edu>
Subject: Wired, review
I picked up a copy of Wired the other day. It seems to have nice intentions,
and the magazine looks cute and hip with its matte finish color graphics.
I have mixed feelings about this rag. It is better that the magazine exists,
but at the same time, I don't think it has much to say.
To be specific:
--- EDITOR'S NOTE
Takes up five pages for 15 sentences of vague, cliche-ridden excuses for
existence. Behind the text are some slick graphic collages of information
age icons. I have seen this type of layout so much I want to puke.
--- DEPARTMENTS: ELECTRIC WORD, FETISH
Gossip and product news about computer companies, software,
telecommunication widgets and Sharper-Image-Type-Doodads. This was
somewhat interesting only because no one can resist reading about
new toys, but other magazines do this kind of stuff just as well,
especially "men's" magazines.
--- DEPARTMENT: ELECTROSPHERE: ELECTRONS OR PHOTONS
about the theoretical limits of computer technology, in terms of
microprocessor circuit density and hypothetical future-technology. The
article would be very interesting for somebody who has not heard of
the stuff before, but it is too brief (two pages).
--- DEPARTMENT: ELECTROSPHERE: IS STALLMAN STALLED
A nice short article about the Free software foundation, GNU, and
--- DEPARTMENT:ELECTROSPHERE: IF YOUR TOASTER HAD A BRAIN
about the concept of "smart buildings," the people who are pioneering the
technology and the possible ethical problems. Again, the two page length
seems a bit short-- it would have been great to read in more depth about
the ethical issues involved.
--- DEPARTMENT: IDEES FORTES: CREATING CREATING
Fairly cool keynote address from 1992 Cyberarts Conference.
--- FEATURE: WAR IS VIRTUAL HELL (by Bruce Sterling)
This was fun to read, but Mr. Sterling seems to
get off slightly on the intimate description of military tank
simulators-- he got to ride around in one. He seems to have a very
fatalistic and even accepting attitude about the horrible uses of
military computer technology.
--- FEATURE: INTERVIEW WITH CAMILLE PAGLIA
A nice interview with a very hip academic that broke through to the
--- FEATURE: BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE MORPHS
about a silicon valley software firm that is capitalizing on the video
morphing/computer animation craze, by opening a Hollywood office. so?
--- FEATURE: CELLULAR FREAKS AND CODE DUDES
"Hackers" are now breaking into the workings of cellular phone
systems. I think that glorifying this type of incredibly cool behavior
is ultimately detrimental to the technological slack that future
generations of "hackers" will have to work with.
--- FEATURE: [ about japanese otaku]
Great, just what we need, more sterotypes and overgeneralization about
--- FEATURE: SCHOOLÕS OUT, PUBLIC EDUCATION OBSTRUCTS THE FUTURE
I can't believe I found this in a supposedly progressive magazine.
The article advocates privatizing the American Education system. WHY??
"...[because] schooling has become an obstacle to the kind of
learning the modern workforce needs."
"...[because] the shut-down and and replacement of education is the
greatest business opportunity since Rockefeller found oil..."
It goes on to suggest that the future of American education is in
"Hyperlearning." "Hyperlearning," whatever the hell that is supposed
to mean, is vaguely described as somekind of
computer-intelligent-interactive-hypermedia. The goal is to replace
schooling and degrees with an impersonal system of self-paced achievement
and automated assessment (already too much of a reality).
The whole fucking article assumes that the purpose of education is to
supply a person with the necessary skills for employment in a large
corporation. No mention is made of critical thinking, culture, or the
arts. The point, as the beginning of the article says, is to rack up
the opportunities for information industries in the field of education.
Here are the first few sentences:
"Dear Information Industry Executive:
Could your business benefit from a few hundred billion dollars
in new sales?
Good. Let's talk."
I found the article extremely offensive. There are enough problems in
education already. What is needed, more than anything else, are schools
that treat students like decent human beings
--- FEATURE: THE INSLAW OCTOPUS
Ed Meese, the CIA, the Police, VAX minicomputers, Oliver North, Mossad,
Software, Lawyers, Reagan, money, organized crime. Hyper-complex web
of meta-crimes perpetrated by assholes who we know are guilty anyway.
I swear, there are some people out there that make a religion out of
this detail stuff.
To sum up, Wired, like Mondo 2000, suffers from a fairly high fluff factor.
I do not blame the editors or the staff. I just think it is impossible to
have a truly meaningful mainstream magazine devoted to radical technological
Furthermore, I think the magazine is aimed at upper-middle-class computer
professional-types. On the reader survey, they ask for the salary range of
the participant (the scale is stratified from 30,000 to 100,000 $).
There were not any really new or provocative ideas presented, anywhere in the
magazine. Even article on school reform is old hat-- BTW the Bush
administration loved the idea of "Whittle" schools, which are in the same
vein as those presented in the School's Out article.
Wired does excel at presenting fun, lifestyle tidbits, however.
In my opinion, if you really want relevant and useful information read the
ZONE 6: Incorporations (Edited by Jonathan Crary and Sanford Kwinter)
A thick collection of excellent essays about the history of the
body and its relation to postmodernism, social and technological systems.
The essays are hard to read, and it takes forever to finish the damm thing.
Essential for a non-fiction understanding of what cyberpunk can be about.
The last 3 or so issues contain some interesting articles about Post-fordism
(new structures and societal roles for corporations). An excellent interview
with Donna Harraway (who wrote "A manifesto for Cyborgs" in '85) and articles
about the Human Genome project.
This is a journal by and about artists who work at the interface between
science, art and technology. Leonardo Electronic News is a monthly email
thing that describes various events and projects (Subscribe to
f...@garnet.berkeley.edu). Also, there is another email mag called PMC
that has some nice articles in it (PMC%NCSUVM.BIT...@PSUVM.PSU.EDU).