"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 7 November 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.



21C, a new Australian digiculture

zine, clearly hopes to be in the

right place at the right time

(or, at least, not hopelessly

behind the times). Given that

country's booming DTP scene and

the probability that import copies

of US rags like bOING bOING and

Fringe Ware are as scarce there

as their efforts are here, the

executive summary of a

regionally-published cybermag

(drawing heavily from the US

writer pool) must seem

unequivocally sound. Yet,

neither the magazine nor its

still-primitive Web counterpart

would stand out for us as

particularly noteworthy if not

for the inclusion of an essay

penned by R.U. Sirius,

media-addled progenitor of the


tech-revolutionary press.


[SF Weekly]

Considering the contents of

"Unplugged," his take on

Wired's usurping of Mondo 2000's

"cyber-hipeoisie" mouthpiece

privileges, the publication

couldn't have been timed more

perfectly. Few outside the San

Francisco Bay Area may have had

the chance to scan Jack

Boulware's sordid exploration

into the decline (and fall?) of

the once-mighty Mondo, an SF

Weekly cover feature last month.

Boulware's Xanadu-like chronicle

of whimsy leading to internal

dissent and paranoia painted an

unflattering picture both of

Mondo 2000 and its successor,

Wired. Sirius, though given a

generously fair shake vis-a-vis

the article, apparently sensed a

collusive autopsy report in the

making and reached halfway

around the globe to hack his

version onto the record.


[The Monkees]

What's most fascinating of the

unmediated thoughts of Sirius is

his choice to largely eschew

finger-pointing in favor of a

more general investigation into

the mechanism of cultural

obsolescence, aka "backlash."

Not that he doesn't indulge in a

bit of flamebaiting, reminiscing

on Mondo tagging the then-new

Wired as the Monkees to,

presumably, Mondo's Beatles. He

even revives the oft-alluded to

theory of Timothy Leary that

Wired was the product of a CIA

plot (which, we admit, we're

extremely predisposed to wanting

to hear more about...) But in

his final analysis, Sirius

concedes that Mondo, with its

loose, DMT-bent approach to

something that couldn't quite be

called "journalism," was quickly

losing its buzz even before the

"corporate, populist" Wired

engaged the scene.


[Mondo 2000]

While Sirius seems to handle

rejection well enough (related,

perhaps, to his having jumped on

to the Wired bandwagon, as a

contributing writer, at its

onset), he rightly points out

that the backlash curse doesn't

discriminate, and we're quick to

agree in essence with his

forecast of a similar fate for

Mondo's competitors.

Unfortunately, he doesn't piece

together his thoughts on

negative word-of-mouth with

those on the next generation of

"smart, independent,

technoculture magazines." While,

in very Clarkesian terms,

Sirius claims "a million

technozines will bloom" because

"digital technology tends

towards democratizing

communications", this is the

same "sense of historic destiny"

which Sirius uses Arthur Kroker

to decry. Besides, we read about

it in Wired.


[Boing Boing]

The way we see it, all of the

future digizines will be forced

to abide by the same "live by

the cool, die by the cool"

maxim. We're not surprised that

magazines that celebrate

faddishly outré cultural

icon-wannabes and tie in

genuinely relevant cultural

babysteps to fabulously stupid

club and drug trends suffer

lifespans shorter than mayflies

- only a fool would rely on the

whims of fickle space cadets to

keep their enterprise afloat.


[Siriusly Unplugged]

Ironically, 21C knows this and

has followed the model of

traditional journalism clad

with a hip veneer of

counterculturalism - the very

approach that R.U. dismisses as

"corporate and staid." Doubly

ironically, Sirius, in

"Unpluggged," either writes in

or has been edited to the

concise, comprehensible style

whose absence in Mondo 2000

provided an opening for Wired in

the first place.

courtesy of Duke U.R. L'Mu-Xandorkski