inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #76 of 189: froom J.M. BRENNER (tnf) Sat 23 Aug 03 09:19
    


J.M. Brenner writes:


I was just wondering if you'd discussed Wired
magazine's origins as a "Mondo 2000" clone.
If not, it wouldn't seem like much of a history...
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #77 of 189: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Sat 23 Aug 03 09:37
    
Puhlease!  The elements of Wired and Mondo 2000 and other publications
were very much in the air.

One could easily say "I wonder if you discussed Wired Magazine's
origins as a Neuromancer clone..."

And I seem to recall that Louis had a magazine before Wired that
prefigured a lot of what became Wired.

I have my issues with Louis as do we all, but to say that he had to
take a whole or even a partial concept from RU is absurd. They're not
in the same league.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #78 of 189: Gary Wolf (garyisaacwolf) Sat 23 Aug 03 12:27
    <scribbled>
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #79 of 189: Gary Wolf (garyisaacwolf) Sat 23 Aug 03 12:29
    
Sorry for the scribble! Here's the answer, properly posted.
_____

OK - things heat up. This is getting fun. A digression - some of the
things said about Wired and its importance/survival could also be said
of the Well. There was a time when participating in the Well
guaranteed
that you would be well informed about techno-cultural trends. The
scene was smaller, and so many early participants had Well accounts,
that anything important was reflected here. Over time, as the world
covered by Wired exploded in size, that changed. It has no center
anymore. And that has affected the Well, too. This relates to Kevin's
question about whether the book worked for the uninitiated. If the
question is about the completely uninitiated - as you say, the person
who never read Wired (even once?), my answer would have to be "no."

In publicizing the book, I've had confirmation about what I suspected
when I was writing it. There is still a cultural divide between people
who think the topic of technology's affect on society is deeply
interesting and people who don't. The "wired" side of this divide is
much bigger and more diverse, so big and diverse that it includes
many,
many people who had only a slight interest in the magazine. But I
think a very large percentage of them, in America, at least, got their
hands on at least one issue. And quite a few read it intermittently,
and had an opinion about it, even if they were not subscribers. This
was my audience. Not the true insiders, the editors and employees and
freelancers who made the magazine, but the much wider world of fans
and
non-fans, to whom it had meaning.

Thank you for the question about Mondo. The idea that Wired was a
Mondo clone is bogus (as Boswell points out, Louis was publishing a
magazine in Amsterdam called Electric Word for years before Mondo hit
its stride in the Bay Area), but Mondo made an interesting
contribution
to the scene. My take on Mondo is that for such a futuristic magazine
it was weirdly retrograde. One detail says it all: its guru was
Timothy Leary. Hallucinogenic drugs were not going to be the key
element of a social movement in America in the 1990's, however fun it
may have been to think so.
 
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #80 of 189: Seahorses of the Liver (mnemonic) Sat 23 Aug 03 13:13
    

The hallucinogenic drug was HTML.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #81 of 189: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Sat 23 Aug 03 15:15
    
Nope. NSCP.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #82 of 189: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Sat 23 Aug 03 18:55
    
"Hallucinogenic drugs were not going to be the key
element of a social movement in America in the 1990's, however fun it
may have been to think so."

Half true only. While LSD was not in itself a key element, the people
who took significant quantities of LSD or had experiences with aligned
drugs or spin-off movements in earlier decades were indeed a key
element in the social movement, vis a vis technology, in the 90s --
Jobs and company, Kapor and company, Louis and company, and a host of
others were key figures in what happened. At times it was almost as if
a lot of people from those days were ripping their masks off and
saying, 'WE'RE BACK!"  

And making some money this time.

The drugs weren't key, but the visions from the drugs were.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #83 of 189: Steve Silberman (digaman) Sat 23 Aug 03 19:09
    
Nice answers, Gary, and true, Gerard.  
I was blown away when I saw those issues of Electric Word -- they
really were on the Wired frequency years before there was a Wired.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #84 of 189: Seahorses of the Liver (mnemonic) Sat 23 Aug 03 19:34
    

You know, Gary, one piece that is missing from your account is the MS/NBC
side of the whole Wired TV debacle.   Here comes Andy Lack across
the country, trying to figure out what's happening with the money that
NBC has been pouring into their side of the contract, and not only does he
get to see no tape, but he's also barred from enterting the premises.

If the idea was, the suits from NBC will never get what we're doing here,
so we're not going to justify ourselves to them, that's one thing (it means
the end of the contract, but Wired TV was already late in delivering Netizen
TV and other content).  But there's no way, it seems to me, that Lack and
other NBC honchos could come away from this interaction without the
impression that Wired Ventures was having them on, that there was something
rotten in the state of California.  Why do you suppose Louis and others
mishandled this relationship so badly, especially since a successful TV
component might have made Wired Ventures a stock worth owning?

Did you interview the NBC guys?
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #85 of 189: Kevin Kelly (kk) Sun 24 Aug 03 23:20
    
I was always fond of Mondo, probably more than Louis was. In fact,
when I was doing SIGNAL, I tried to hire Ken (RU). He had just
published his Reality Hackers zine, which I thought very cool. It was
proto-Mondo, proto-Wired, very underground. SIGNAL, the special issue
of Whole Earth, and later a WE Catalog, was deliberately tool oriented,
while Ken was deep into technology's socio-political potential for
culture jamming. I wanted to extend SIGNAL into something ongoing, and
even comtemplated doing it bi-annually, but I would only do this if it
had some of the terroritory that Ken loved.

Ken politely turned down the offer, saying he had a new grand
world-changing magazine in mind. That was Mondo. Compared to the
technical black and white on newsprint of SIGNAL it was like the Merry
Pranksters in suburbia. I still have the early issues of Mondo. They
seem even more alien now that early issues of Wired.

About the same time of my overture to Ken, this unknown guy in
Amsterdam sent me his first issues of Langauage Technology, a "trade"
magazine which lacked RU's alternative sensibilitites, but was bold and
brave and edgy nonetheless. All the more so considering it was only
suppose to be about langauge translating technology. I wrote a rave
review about it in SIGNAL and that was the beginning of my connection
with Louis.

For me the greatest influence of Mondo was its use of color. Cheap
color and the fusion of text and graphics. While Plunkett and Khur came
up with their own distinctive style for Wired that didn't have much
similarity with Bart Nagle's art direction for Mondo,  we all took from
Mondo the proof that desktop color was the way to go, and the melding
of words and images, which desktop allowed but regular magazines
weren't doing.

I wasn't that interested in the fandom aspect of Mondo -- interviews
with members of the cool-at-the moment band, and as Gary said, the
hallucenagenic ethos (but we did have that very 70s design with the
Camille Paglia interview in issue #1! What was THAT about?).  Instead,
we aimed for the Whole Earth sensibility -- smart people saying amazing
things. So we had Markoff, Sterling and yes, Gerard Van der Leun.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #86 of 189: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Mon 25 Aug 03 03:15
    
"Cheap
color and the fusion of text and graphics."

Didn't we see that in the Haight around 1966-1967?

And, oh God, yes... Wired number 1.... that woman actually tracked me
down and pretended to be a lawyer who was going to sue me.

I always think it was not because I wrote about her, but because I
didn't use her real name and the title of her actual book.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #87 of 189: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Mon 25 Aug 03 03:27
    
But.... it is nice to know she is still in the business of hustling
dates on line. Her last hit that comes up in this regard is hustling a
date with Larry Ellison. The rest of the time she just writes about
storage media. Still has the old baited email address too. Ah, in the
game since 1982! And still not married!
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #88 of 189: Gary Wolf (garyisaacwolf) Mon 25 Aug 03 12:03
    
Mike Godwin <mnemonic> asks: where is NBC's point of view? There is
hardly anything in the book of Wired TV, and perhaps this is one of
those places  where my decision to go lightly on the wacky anecdote in
the service of the overall narrative really exacts its cost. If it had
been a novel, Wired TV might have been at the center of the story,
because for kooky misbehavior, eccentric characters, and very
small-scale personal melodrama, that was the epicenter. (I do mention
Andrew Lack's ill-fated trip across the country, but only in passing.)
I am convinced Wired TV was a sideshow, but it was an interesting
sideshow, as Mike knows better than anybody. For those here who have
not read the book, Mike's experience at Wired TV led him to conclude
that the Wired IPO was a fraud, and when Louis distributed his famous
company memo outlining why employees should have faith in the IPO, Mike
passed it on to Gerard Van der Leun <boswell>, who cleverly posted it
on The Well with the ambiguous intro: "this just in from Louis." Then
Boswell went silent for a few days. On the Well, there was much
speculation about Louis's intention. If he had leaked the memo himself,
this was a violation of SEC rules. The snafu made all the papers, and
the SEC opened an investigation. This was the last bad news before the
IPO failed, which failure ultimately led to the breakup and sale of the
company and to Louis's ouster. Was it Mike's fault? I doubt it. The
leaked memo, in the end, did not kill the IPO. But it made for a
dramatic final week.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #89 of 189: Andrew Alden (alden) Mon 25 Aug 03 12:17
    
I remember boswell leaking the memo, but I don't think the backstory ever
came out here.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #90 of 189: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Mon 25 Aug 03 17:48
    
And it is too late now..... even for more of the backstory.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #91 of 189: William Anderson (neuro) Mon 25 Aug 03 19:14
    
Gary Wolf wrote on Thu 21 Aug 2003 (07:55 PM):
> Who thought of Wired as "their" magazine?

I know for a long time I certainly did, appealing to both my geek and
netizen attitudes.  

Nice to see a mention of Wired UK - am I right in saying there were
some editorial/staff links to The Guardian?

Also nice to see the link, however tenuous, to Mondo 2000 - I was
about to subscribe to Mondo when it became tres scarce here in the UK,
and I ended up finding Wired (2.10, I think).
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #92 of 189: Gary Wolf (garyisaacwolf) Mon 25 Aug 03 21:46
    
The Guardian was Wired's original partner for Wired UK. The
partnership quickly fell apart, leading Wired to publish the UK edition
idependently until the failed IPO caused the cash crisis that killed
it. One of my favorite Wired covers came out of Wired UK - the Thomas
Paine cover with the slogan: we have it in our power to begin the world
all over again.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #93 of 189: William Anderson (neuro) Tue 26 Aug 03 02:44
    
Gary Wolf wrote on Thu 21 Aug 2003 (09:46 PM):
> The Guardian was Wired's original partner for Wired UK.

Yeah, I remember a friend telling me rather excitedly that *he* had a
friend working at the Grauniad (deliberate typo for those
non-UKers/Private-Eye'ers) who was moving over to Wired UK :) 
Interesting idea, but all it did was piss me off that I couldn't get
any copies of Wired US anymore, as COMAG - the local distributor -
decided to drop the imported edition while shipping the domestic
edition.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #94 of 189: Gary Wolf (garyisaacwolf) Tue 26 Aug 03 10:48
    
Now that the magazine industry is in the dumps, there's been another
Gulf War, and the technology business is weak, we've reached the same
phase in the cycle that allowed Wired to take people by surprise...
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #95 of 189: Steve Silberman (digaman) Tue 26 Aug 03 18:07
    
Since I was the host of the wired conference on the WELL at the time that
memo was leaked, I had a considerable case of agita from it, particularly
when the Wall Street Journal or whoever it was declared that Louis had
"posted" the memo "on the Internet."  I have to say, <boswell> going
silent in the wired conference for days after posting it was the most
aikido-ish use of silence that I have ever seen online.  No one could
discover the true nature of that purported leak with <boswell> not saying
anything about it, and Louis reaped a whirlwind.  It was a virtuoso
fuck-you, I have to say.

Kevin, thanks for putting on the record that fascinating info about SIGNAL 
and Mondo.  Really clears up a lot of confusion.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #96 of 189: Gary Wolf (garyisaacwolf) Tue 26 Aug 03 18:11
    
Yes, the line "this just in from Louis" is one of the cruelest uses of
factual understatement I've seen.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #97 of 189: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Wed 27 Aug 03 05:52
    
If he'd just invited me to the party all this could have been avoided.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #98 of 189: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Wed 27 Aug 03 07:36
    
     -- Holden Caulfield
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #99 of 189: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Wed 27 Aug 03 08:02
    
Nah, Holden was probably the guy who fowarded the memo to the SEC's
anonymous tip-off site. Now, that was *very* naughty.
  
inkwell.vue.192 : Gary Wolf, "Wired -- a Romance"
permalink #100 of 189: Steve Silberman (digaman) Wed 27 Aug 03 08:58
    
Ah.
  

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