S U C K

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 20 October 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 

 
Screaming Trees Revisited
 

[Hack(er)s]

There will always be at least as

many Internet-related print

magazines as there are

commercial online services. As

long as the mags are willing to

ship in poly-bags with

accompanying demo disks, that

is. Which may be fortuitous,

considering the general vapidity

of content to be found in the

current crop of Internet culture

rags - at least the disks provide

an escape hatch. We hear those AOL

chat rooms can be...rewarding.

 

[CDs]

A few years back,

ultra-low-creativity CD-ROM

developers were releasing

horridly vacuous discs

supposedly aimed at the

children's market. Today's

digital opportunists are

jumping on the newbie gravy

train, offering their

poorly-informed takes on the

"Information Superhighway." (We

predict the hot trend of '96 to

be CD-ROM-based net-focused

digizines aimed at kids. It's

just too backwards an idea to be

left alone.)

 

[Subscription Cards]

The modus operandi of these print

publications is to offer the

same entry-level facts and

definitions month after month,

counting on a constant supply of

starry-eyed net freshmen who

just need to know some of the

basics, like Yahoo's URL or, um,

Yahoo's URL - undoubtedly

related to the "churn" rate at

some of our favorite online

ventures. This target audience's

understanding of the net starts

and finishes with Sandra

Bullock, and these magazines are

not apt to disabuse them of this

illusion.

 

For your amusement and

edification, Suck has rounded up

the most conspicuous offenders

from the newsstand, dutifully

perused each from cover-to-

cover, and now offers you a

convenient guide to

understanding the philosophy and

methodology of the new breed of

digerati-wannabes. Granted, ours

is by-no-means comprehensive

sample, but we missed the

industry freebie subscription

deals and happen to be working

on a vacuum-tight budget, so

give us a break.

 

[VirtualCity logo]

VirtualCity, Fall 95              
Price: $2.95, no freebie          
Radical Concept: "We decry the    
belief of some fringe geek       
groups that the interactive      
world is for radicals and        
nerds." (p. 4)                   
<10-Word Lowdown: Entertainment   
Weekly for the AOL Set.          
Web Site:                         
http://www.virtcitnow.com/       

[VirtualCity]

It's a safe bet that many

contemporary Internet

overachievers will find

themselves rewarded with a

fleeting taste of fame, if only

because there'll always be a

market for manufacturing and

exploiting celebrity.

VirtualCity's cover, with its

collage of megastars united only

by the fact that none of them

would be caught dead wasting

time on the net (except for

Courtney Love, perhaps, but she

don't know better), beckoned to

us from the most appropriate of

outlets: an airport newsstand.

And like most airplane-suitable

publications, we were finished

"reading" it before the plane

left the ground...

 

[The Net logo]

    
The Net, October 95                
Price: $6.95 with free copy of     
Spry Mosaic sw                    
Radical Concept: "22               
Words/Phrases We HATE* ...(*Even  
if we use some of them            
sometimes)" (p.22)                
<10-Word Lowdown: Bought Emigre's  
Library and They're Not Afraid    
to Abuse It.                      
Web Site:                          
http://www.thenet-usa.com/        

[The Net]

.net's sister publication, The

Net, is desperate for hip cred

the way Suck is for original

similes. Regrettably, the

hackneyed cyber-by-numbers

design doesn't do much to mask

the fact that the think pieces

need a but more thunk, and the

how-to guides might want to make

a stab at actually explaining

something instead of digressing

into perplexing diary entries.

 

[Internet World logo]

Internet World, October 95         
Price: $4.95 with free copy of     
Compuserve sw                     
Radical Concept: "The burgeoning   
Internet market has made the      
Internet itself a subject worth   
pursuing." (p.4)                  
<10-Word Lowdown: Someday They'll  
Be Bigger Than TV Guide.          
Web Site: http://www.iw.com/iw/    

[Internet World]

The people behind Internet World

may not be obsessed with avowing

a unique viewpoint, but they're

thorough as hell. Which is not

to say that they don't have a

few competent writers - Eric

Berlin and Senior Editor Andrew

Kantor are experienced surfers

and they let it show. But if

articles with an average of

three URLs per paragraph gives

you a cyberwoody, why wouldn't

you just opt for their page on

the undeniably useful, though

equally rote, MecklerWeb site?

 

[NetGuide logo]

NetGuide, October 95               
Price: $2.95 with free copy of     
AOL sw                            
Radical Concept: "Road Map To      
Win95 Internet Connectivity: A    
Step-by-Step..." (p. 97)          
<10-Word Lowdown: Catering to the  
PC Market is not Narrowcasting.   
Web Site:                          
http://techweb.cmp.com/techweb/ng/

[NetGuide]

So what if the bulk of NetGuide's

reviews read suspiciously like

regurgitated press releases? At

least they've got the keen

business acumen to realize that

an Internet magazine aimed at

Windows enthusiasts will not

only open them up to a huge

potential subscription base, but

suggests a pragmatic formula as

well: a litany of features aimed

at offering detailed

instructions on setting up apps

that were supposed to be, but

(surprise!) never were, the very

definition of no-brainers. How

they failed to edit Larry "HTML

Manual Of Style" Aronson's piece

on the "evolution" (read:

Balkanization) of HTML

"programming" into a pitchpiece

for MSN is beyond us... maybe

they're not a Microsoft front,

after all.

 

[Online Access logo]

Online Access, October 95          
Price: $4.95 with free copy of     
Prodigy sw                        
Radical Concept: "World Wide Web.  
E-mail. Internet. Information     
Superhighway. Everyone seems to   
be using these words lately."     
(p.37)                            
<10-Word Lowdown: Tax Write-Off.   
Web Site:                          
http://www.oamag.com/online/      

[Online Access]

This magazine is so thoroughly

directed towards, and created

by, the clueless that any degree

of criticism would be missing

the point. Which is ironic,

considering that makes them

precisely the ones least likely

to ever have a chance of putting

the screws to us for the slam we

could so effortlessly scrawl.

However, we can't resist

reprinting the following

inopportune quote (which,

incidentally, comes only a few

sentences after a review of Word

entitled, without a hint of

sarcasm, "Highbrow Reading"):

 

"By the time you read this, the

Utne Reader will be up and

running on the Web at

http://www.utne.com. Dubbing

itself, 'a quality filter for

the infoweary,' the online

version is likely to be a hit

with its current cybersavvy

print readership."

 

Whoops.

 

Needless to say, the moment any

of the above magazines dedicates

attention and a healthy helping

of column inches to Suck, they

become peerlessly savvy in our

book. Sadly, we may never blip

the radar of most of the these

rags, and the others will have

gone bankrupt by the time word

would've gotten around. Maybe by

the time the next round of

cyber-lifestyle guides gets

start-up capital, we'll have

become jaded enough to grab a

Dvorak-style column in one or

two. If it weren't for our knack

for burning bridges...

 

Still, even if we're ostracized

from the net publishing

community, there's nothing

stopping you from putting to use

the insights you may have

gleaned from our study. Used

wisely, the information provided

here may help guide you towards

a lucrative contract with AOL,

Compuserve, or Prodigy to

provide glorified packaging for

their next software release, in

the form of an Internet culture

mag of your very own!


courtesy of the Duke of URL