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From Chapter four,
"WIRED": GUIDING THE PERPLEXED

The libertarian politics of "Wired" during its pace-setting first five years of under the direction of its founders was as integral to its presentation as its whack use of color and its insistence that what was geek, was chic. Whatever "Wired" turns into under its new ownership by Advance Publications, it will be remembered for what it was in this earlier epoch --- good and bad but never ugly.

Most readers don't pay much conscious attention to the politics of a magazine, unless they are reading it explicitly for its politics, as with "The Nation" or "The Washington Times." But think of how "The Playboy Philosophy" was both implicit and explicit: while never fully fleshed out all in one place, it was enumerated all the time and all over the place in "Playboy". The tone and content of the magazine made its political philosophy apparent. The message of (1) enjoy the sybaritic cosmopolitan cultivated good life, particularly as expressed in suave things to buy (2) be sex-positive and pro civil-liberties (3) be daring but not mean or intolerant, rippled through the magazine both directly (in the advice of the Playboy Advisor) and indirectly (in the choice of articles printed, people profiled, writers published). Because "Playboy" was such a saucy good read, while still being fun to look at, and was slightly more culturally avant-garde than its readers, but not so much as to be inaccessible, its readers went along for the ride with its philosophy, whether consciously or not. So it was with "Wired," with its downtown/global aesthetic, it's I'm-so- cool-I-can't-stand-myself appeal, perfuming the air and seducing its readers with its philosophy of libertarianism.

"Wired"'s packaging of its libertarian mix (so compelling, so maddening) consisted of fine old-school I.F. Stone-ish government muckraking, classic ACLU-type outrage, reports of infringements abroad on what would be Bill of Rights issues if those countries has such a thing, and, more insidious, general-purpose free-market/privatize-it-all rantings. As an old hippie with artistic pretensions, I too was seduced by the magazine (yes the government is capable of supremely bad things; yes wonderfully artful and original combos of text and image are only to be wallowed in). It took me awhile to realize how tunneled the vision of all digital culture "Wired" was selling.

paulina b.

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