"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 26 November 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Digital Evolution


[Wired News]

What if you threw a Digital

Revolution and nobody came?


Last week, the online division of

Wired Ventures turned its pages

black, mourning its own passing.

Not only were we saddened to see

such a dear friend go, we felt

compelled to observe a quiet

period in remembrance.


In the fall of '94, HotWired

invented the ad banner and

launched the first

content-driven commercial

website. Self-congratulations

were obviously in order.



Proclaiming itself "new thinking

for a new medium," HotWired

vaunted that they would "define

the future of our new medium

before it ends up like

television." In a way, that's

just what happened: HotWired was

the web, before it became



[How Tired]

Its debut screen was a

lady-or-tiger scenario ("Login

or Join") that seems prophetic

now. But the significance of

their Addled text (was it

supposed to somehow make our

sensibilities less so?) was

clear even then - HotWired

caused a lot of head-scratching,

on the part of insiders and

outsiders alike.


Only one thing was certain:

HotWired was not Wired. Wired

simply reported on the Digital

Revolution; HotWired was the

Digital Revolution.


[Jobs ahoy]

Of course, Wired wasn't hotwiring

a content vehicle, but a runaway

train. And the runaway trainees

have been plentiful: they've

made tracks for Organic

Online, CNET, Netscape,

JavaSoft, and The Site, to name

a few popular destinations.

Whether or not the others

will put on the brakes before

following HotWired over the

bleeding edge (and into the

bloodbath) is unclear.


[Ned Files]

Looking at the broader landscape,

it's easy to see that times have

changed. We paid our last

respects to AOL's GNN and

Compuserve's WOW! recently. And

the S-Class has suffered more

losses than ValuJet: Turner's

Spiv is gone, while Prodigy's

Stim waits for the ax - and, in

a sure sign of rigor mortis,

still writes about HotWired. The

CAA-funded American Cybercast

underwent its first round of

layoffs; the resignation of Time

Warner's editor of interactive

media bodes ill for Pathfinder.



Wired's response to this

turbulence is at once

predictable and radical. The

launch of Wired News finally

means that Wired will deliver on

people's expectations; but

Wired's willingness to conform

to what people expect takes the

company in a completely new

direction. Whether or not one

sees this as a sign that Wired

has finally learned to swim with

the sharks, or as a drowning

man's last futile wave, depends

on your perspective. And whose

stock you own.



So much for the mythical

cyberstation - a "suite of

vertical content streams" or

"Rational Geographic" - that

HotWired was to have been.

Logically, intuitively, if not

exactly brilliantly, Wired News

reports on "how technology

affects business, culture, and

politics in the emerging digital



Wired News is, simply enough,

Wired Online - and that's what

should come to anyone's mind

when he or she first hears that

Wired, the cargo cult of the

new, has a website. Wired News

is the online presence that

Wired - too concerned about

being Wired, not Tired, too

preoccupied with making the

future, rather than simply

reporting it - was, until now,

afraid to make.


[The Pitch]

Those hungry for Wired news,

rather than Wired News, will

hatch their own HotPlots as to

why Wired is only now delivering

on its core competency - and

their own takes on whether or

not that delivery might be

marred by a stillbirth. Whatever

the behind-the-scenes goings-on,

however, two things are certain:

News is cheap, and easily

ported. There's nothing

particular to the web which

makes it especially conducive to

the delivery of the news; Wired

News could just as well be

delivered via television or

radio. It probably will be.


The web was a costly experiment -

but one that had to happen, to

move us one step closer to the

mass market. At least, unlike

the ITV trials, we were all able

to see the results. As Wired

makes its play for eyeball pull

with push media, who might have

guessed that Death of the Net,

Film at 11, only meant we were

waiting for live video?

courtesy of The Artist
Formerly Known As Dunderhead