S U C K

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 21 November 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 

 
The Suck New Media Autopsy



Some things we thought you might  
like to know:                     

1. Suck is now a subsidiary of    
   HotWired.                      

2. Suck is hiring.                

3. Suck has some tips for would-be
   media jackrobbers.             



[Suck]

It just ain't fair.

 

You sit on the digital sidelines,

shaking your head in resigned

horror as the Web derails with

the momentum of an Arizona train

wreck, from promising social

experiment to bleak corporate

welfare state. As you rub your

eyes and pinch yourself to

verify the irreality you see,

the thought dawns on you: with

all that luscious lucre

slithering across palms and

winding its way into Swiss bank

accounts, what if there were

opportunities for someone like

you to play in the same economic

sandbox as the new media

Snuffleupagi?

 

The trick is to put down your

crusty bong for ten minutes and

draw up some sort of plan. The

good news is that once your

outline's been hashed out, you

may actually be able to sell

that - no further work required.

Look at the AOL Greenhouse Project -

they'll shell out big bucks for

a few cocktail napkin

sketches. But if schmoozing

vulturous creeps isn't your

preferred modus operandi - and

you have some time and a modicum

of ability on your hands - your

best bet might be to take the

initiative and develop your idea

yourself.

 

Think of the Suck New Media

Autopsy as a means to avoid

sitting through long-winded

panel discussions and

misinformed presentations at the

next Internet World conference.

Everyone knows the wannabe media

conglomerate chiefs are going

nonlinear in their corporate

offices, tearing new assholes

into hired gun content producers

whose efforts are going largely

ignored by the net. Soon every

last magazine will have had its

stab as a ten-minute shovelware

miracle - and most will fail.

The method of the moment is

content acquisition, wherein

talent scouts, in the classic

A&R tradition, scour the

landscape for "hot properties"

that can be absorbed into the

fold, delivering hits, cred, ad

banner pages and, well, content.

You, too, can be signed.

 

Like many of yuppiedom's classic

games (Operation is a good

example) this kind of thing is

far more easily played than

pondered. Consider those years

of media surfing and blissed-out

consumer spending as earned

credits towards a degree in

cultural anthropology. It's the

business of today's crop of

media entities to put a spin on

reality and sell you a palatable

vision of yourself and the world

you live in - there's nothing

stopping you from absorbing the

maelstrom of coercion and

tweaking it into whatever sordid

vision you see fit. Does a life

of concocting far-fetched ideas

and seeing them through to quick

completion sound appealing to

you? Here are a few thoughts on

key ingredients for your own

recipe for new media world

domination...

 

[Suck]

Mission

 

When we speak of the mission of

your project, we don't refer to

some vague idea like "building

community" or "creating tools

for net users." Posthumous

myth-making is not only

acceptable, it's de rigeur for

any budding media savant -

you'll have ample opportunity to

spin your efforts into a noble

gift to society while you do Ad

Age interviews on your way to

the bank. For now, consider the

basics: how long do you want to

commit for? What's your exit

strategy? If your motives are

purely financial, how many

figures? Who are the ultimate

victims of your swindle, besides

yourself? Microsoft? Pathfinder?

Suck? If your goal is to build

something of lasting value, how

corruptible is your vision?

 

[Suck]

Brand

 

Your brand name will be the

item in your arsenal with the

most perceived value to your

targets. Of course, in a sense,

they're correct in assigning

importance to this aspect of

your production - you can think

of all your efforts as an

ongoing exercise in providing

meaning to your brand name. But

if you've got something to say

or some valuable service to

provide, your brand name will

be, at best, slick window

dressing. Never confuse your

efforts on the Web with becoming

the next Green Day or I Love

Lucy. No matter how great your

new media mishaps may seem, the

potential for back catalog sales

is fairly weak - how many silent

films do you own in your video

library?

 

In developing the Suck brand, for

example, we took a decidedly

austere approach - a dubious

Buttheadism of a name matched by

a resolutely undesigned,

Courier-based design. We predict

you'll get far more satisfaction

building, and possibly peddling,

a brand with a name like "crap,"

"swindle," or even better,

"brand" than something named

after your favorite cat. And

remember to never (but never!)

use your personal name as your

brand name - once you cash that

in you'll have sold the golden

egg and the goose...

 

[Suck]

Rip It Off

 

Your mission's clear and your

brand's in the bag - take care

to apply the same 5-minute

intuitive approach to design and

content. Grab it. Look around,

see someone who's doing something

cool, mix it around with a

couple of other ideas, and tie a

red ribbon around it. People

will eat and enjoy shit if

they're conditioned to think of

it as a truffle. Work some magic

on your newly-acquired booty and

P.T. Barnum himself will rise

from the grave to write a Wired

blurb on you. Just as Flux begat

Suck which, in turn, begat The

Netly News, the digital trough

is chock full o' successful web

sites begging to be

appropriated. Memorize one of

these lines: "I've got this

great concept:

 

 

it'll be a big hit!"

 

[Suck]

POV

 

The magic formula for cheap

content? It's called

point-of-view, baby. Opinions

are like assholes, sure: just

make sure yours smells sweeter.

Why save your ire for those

times when your beau jilts you

or your boss humiliates you in

front of the copy boy? Leverage

your attitude to the fullest -

now. Remember - the same

nonsensical rants that alienate

your friends can be parlayed

into lucrative programming! Of

course, it goes both ways - cop

an attitude, and some folks will

recognize you for the blowhard

crotchcrud you truly are. But

hey - as long as they get the

fucking URL right.

 

[Suck]

Implementation

 

With net technology evolving at

breakneck speeds, now is always

the perfect time to build your

site. As a matter of fact,

newcomers to the Web have the

distinct advantage of being able

to grow their sites around

whatever tech solutions seem

most promising at any given

moment - remember the little

story of the server push that

could. Your job isn't to work

out all the issues; whether or

not your infostructure will

scale will be somebody else's

problem. If it has flash, flair,

and doesn't blink, you're ahead

of the game. If your front end's

slick enough, nobody'll be able

to tell the difference between

your site and Pathfinder,

especially Time-Warner...

 

[Suck]

Promotion

 

If you wanna build your hit

count, you're going to have to

resort to the same shady tactics

as the pros. They call 'em press

releases - you call 'em spam.

And if you want the hits that'll

make marketing execs get

googly-eyed, you'll need as many

cool-site-of-the-day awards as

you can stomach bargaining for.

If all else fails, send small,

unmarked bills to the stewards

of these archetypically

formulaic sites -that's a

promotional spam that'll bring a

smile to even the most callow

net pundit.

 

[Suck]

Cash Out

 

Never lose sight of your ultimate

goal: cash. There's two sides to

this coin: when you originally

apply the hammer to your piggy

bank, you'll want to think as

large as you hope to be living.

Unless your aspirations go no

further than a bit of weekend

dabbling in page design, it'll

take time and money to feed your

site. Plan on it. The flip side

is that unless you've inherited

a bundle, there will come a time

of reckoning, when you need to

struggle or sell. Friends, you

can't bank on net cred. Sell.

Sell early and often.

 

[Suck]

Rinse. Repeat.

 

Now that you feel all dirty,

you'll undoubtedly want to do it

again. It felt good, didn't

it? Once you've entered the new

media fray, you'll want to try

your hand at hitching a ride on

the freight elevator to the top

floor. In big media

multinationals all over the

globe, overpaid executives hatch

hilarious plots for building

global programming. Despite what

they may brag to their

secretaries, they've got no more

claim to a clue than you. Call

them on their bluff - they

probably go to bed each night

wondering how they've got away

with so much for so long.

 

Good luck on your Interactive WEB

Site, and wish us luck on ours.

Send us coffee and booze:

 

[Suck]

Suck

c/o the HotWired puppeteers

510 3rd Street, 4th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94107

 



- Sucksters