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New post, on what the #wiredarchive can teach us about #QAnon. “QAnon, immersive gaming, and the impending nihilistic collapse of civic life”…
Here’s a TL;DR tweetstorm version:

QAnon isn’t just a mind-boggling conspiracy theory.

It’s also, basically, an Alternate Reality Game.

Here’s a 2007 @WIRED piece on ARGs, “Secret Websites, Coded Messages.”… (2/x)
ARGs reward intense fan bases by letting them dig deeper into their favorite stories. Think Lost, or Mr Robot, or Westworld.

They reward passionate fans, giving them a sense of camaraderie and superiority as they piece together What’s Really Going On.
Read 8 tweets
For today's #wiredarchive segment, I'd like to discuss a topic that'a bit more speculative in nature: is the pace of the "digital revolution" slowing down?

Let's take a trip through some of the recent revolutions that weren't.
First, to set the stage, take a look at "10 Years that Changed the World"…

It's a 2005 retrospective, on the anniversary of the Netscape IPO (which lit the fuse of the dotcom boom). (2/x)
The striking thing in reading this piece is *just how much change* was packed into that decade. The Internet of 2005 is so different than the Internet of 1995. And it wasn't just one key change. (3/x)
Read 22 tweets
Today I just want to discuss a mini-throughline in the #WiredArchive.

Let's look at the rise and fall of Second Life, as narrated by @WIRED. (2006-2007).

We can learn a LOT from it.(1/x)
The first piece about @SecondLife appears in October 2006 -- "Wired Travel Guide: Second Life."…
Second Life, at this point, is "the coolest destination on the web." It's growing at 36% per month. It's reminiscent of "The Metaverse" in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.

It's basically The Future. (3/x)
Read 19 tweets
Gather 'round, everyone. It's time to discuss the politics throughline in the #Wiredarchive project.
There are three pretty distinct eras of @WIRED political coverage. (1) early WIRED, which runs from 93-03, (2) Web 2.0 WIRED, which runs from 03-15, and (3) what I started calling #WokeWIRED in my archival notes, which runs from '15 through today.
Speaking as a digital politics scholar who started reading the magazine in the mid-00s, there were some surprising gaps in political coverage in early WIRED.

In my discipline, the anti-globalization movement/"Battle of Seattle" is an iconic reference point. Not in WIRED at all.
Read 38 tweets
Confession: I have read the March 1997 @WIRED cover story/manifesto, "Push!"three times.…

...I *still* don't understand what the editors were talking about.
I *think* the historical takeaway from the essay is that the web had gotten big enough to be a complete, unworkable mess. (This is a couple years pre-Google, when you couldn't really find anything.)
The full editorial team was trying to suss out what comes next. they knew it wasn't just more hyperlinked web pages stacked on top of web pages. And they got excited about the potential of convergence between the web and other media.
Read 5 tweets
It's time for another throughline in the #wiredarchive. Today's topic: advertising and the economics of the web.

(Buckle up. This is a big one.)
The first big @WIRED story on the future of advertising appears in February 1994, with Michael Schrage's "Is Advertising Dead?"…

It's... REALLY good.
Schrage writes, "The economics of advertising, promotion, and sponsorship - more than the technologies of teraflops, bandwidth, and GUI - will shape the virtual realities we may soon inhabit. Wherever there are audiences, there will be advertisers."
Read 28 tweets
Next up in our guided tour of throughlines in the #twitterarchive: The future of music.

ICYMI, previous throughlines on bitcoin


and Journalism
The February 2003 @WIRED cover story was Charles Mann's "The Year the Music Died."

Napster was gone at that point, but a dozen Napster-like filesharing systems had risen in its place. (2/x)
Timothy White, the editor of Billboard, had asked Mann "How much you want to bet that the entire music industry collapses? And I mean soon - like five, ten years. Kaboom!"

Mann's article argued that it could be even sooner. 2003 could spell the end of the music business. (3/x)
Read 26 tweets
Next up in the #wiredarchive throughlines: journalism!

The tricky piece here is that the journalism story is also a digital advertising/economics of the web story. For brevity's sake, I've put them on separate throughlines.
Early @WIRED was not shy about declaring that technology was going to kill mass media. April 93, Michael Crichton wrote "Mediasaurus."…

"it is likely that what we now understand as the mass media will be gone within ten years. Vanished, without a trace."
It's worth pausing to note just *how* early this is. The World Wide Web barely exists at this point. The Mosaic browser won't be covered in the magazine until 1994. The Net is still BBS message boards.

So Crichton isn't talking about how "everyone is a journalist now."
Read 27 tweets
Okay, now let's talk about the history of futurism in @WIRED. There is a ton here, but I think I've settle on a handful of articles that illustrate the broader trend.
90s Wired had futurism baked into its bones. The founding Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor were devoted futurists.

The first volume of WIRED was published before the Web as we know it even existed. The Internet in mass society was still a thing to be imagined/created.
In volume 6, issue 1, the magazine described the "Seven Wired Wonders" of the world.…
They included: (1) The Net, (2) Micromanufacturing, (3) Digital Astronomy, (4) Senior Citizens, (5) The Human Genome Project, (6) Neuromantic Drugs, and (7) Immersive tech
Read 35 tweets
I've reached stage 2 of the #wiredarchive project. I've now read the entire back catalogue, and am circling back to read individual topical throughlines.

The throughlines get pretty long, but I'll post highlight-real versions to the hashtag so ppl can follow along.
First up: the bitcoin throughline!

Here's a reading list:
(1) Early 90s precursor: @StevenLevy on e-money in 1994
(2) Bitcoin origin story, 2011:…
(3) Development of supporting infrastructure, 2014:…
(4) Dark Web/Silk Road, 2015:…
(5) Blockchain, a love story/a horror story, 2018:…

Those five articles do a nice job of telling the bitcoin story as it has looked over the years.
Read 10 tweets
April 2010, @StevenLevy hails the iPad as a radical breakthrough, the future of computing.

I’m curious whether/how much he thinks this holds up. Eight years later, tablets have pretty wide adoption. But they’re still mostly just iPhones with bigger screens. (...) #wiredarchive
There are exceptions in specific businesses, just as wearable computers (Apple Watch, Google Glass) can play a major role when narrowly adopted in specialized professions.

But one thing that I've found striking in late 00's/early 10's WIRED is how innovation is slowing down.
It's been incredible witnessing the monthly drumbeat of technological and social transformation from 1993-2008. So many big things were introduced, took hold, and then became foundational to our daily lives.

By comparison, how much has really changed from 2008 to 2018?
Read 8 tweets
February 2010, Gary Wolf interviews Peter Thiel, who predicts the Us economy will tank unless we make radical technological advances.

This prediction was wrong, but he still made plenty.

...Is it possible that folks like Thiel are less “brilliant” than just “rich and lucky?”
The thing about Thiel being the first investor in Facebook is that he was one of, what, a few dozen people offered the opportunity?

The future-forecasting of billionaire investors can only ever really be compared to other billionaire investors.
(Didn’t have room for the hashtag in that first tweet.) #wiredarchive
Read 3 tweets
June 09. @kevin2kelly sees an “emerging collectivism” in Wikipedia, Flickr, & Twitter. He describes them as a new “cultural vanguard,” a “steady move toward a sort of socialism uniquely tuned for a networked world.”

Vintage Kelly optimism, at a key juncture. (1/x) #wiredarchive
This issue is three months after @WIRED's cover story grappling with the financial collapse. It's also six months into Obama's first term in office, and four months after the magazine devoted a full feature section to the "GPS revolution" (aka impacts of the iPhone/mobile web)
So we've got the optimism of the Obama yes-we-can moment, the doom-and-gloom of the economic crash, and the technological possibility of the dissolving barriers between offline and online.
Read 11 tweets
Sept 17. In a profile of Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, @nxthompson matter-of-factly invokes Kranzberg’s First Law.

It’s an indication of how much @WIRED has changed in the intervening decades. This statement wouldn’t fit mid-90s WIRED.
It’s also, I think, an indication of how our relationship to digital technology has matured.

In 1993, the Web was something on the horizon. If you squinted, you could make out its form. Early WIRED squinted hard.

Today, the Web is all around us. It’s the air we breathe. Today’s WIRED provides a sort-of environmental report.

What is the stuff we’re breathing made of, who is producing it, and what is it doing to us?

Remarkable change in orientation, evidence of how far we’ve traveled.
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August 2007. First advertisement for the iPhone. #wiredarchive
One thing I've been pondering recently: the early marketing campaign for the iPhone -- tv ads in particular -- did something that I *still* haven't seen for VR (the supposed next revolution in digital technology)
One of the early tv ads showed how you could use an iPhone to search for a restaurant, find it on a map, then call it to make a reservation. That was incredible! It was a direct appeal to the ways you could actually use it in your actual life.
Read 5 tweets
July 07, @pomeranian99’s first monthly column, provides a nice window into Twitter’s early niche.

“The true value of Twitter—and the similarly mundane Dodgeball, a tool for reporting your real-time location to friends—is cumulative. The power is in (...)” (1/x)
“(...)the surprising effects that come from receiving thousands of pings from your posse. And this, as it runs out, suggests where the Web is heading.”

A few things stand out for me in this column:
(1) reminder that Twitter was launched and gained early traction pre-iPhone. 2/x
We had plenty of web-enabled cell phones before the iPhone. By the app-based interface that has become second nature to us did not exist in the internet of ‘07.
Read 8 tweets
Oof. This was NOT good week to get to the November 2016 issue of @WIRED (guest edited by @BarackObama).

Obama writes: “we are far better equipped to take on the challenges we face than ever before. I know that might sound at odds with what we see and hear (...)”
“...these days in the cacophony of cable news and social media. Bet the next time you’re bombarded with over-the-top claims about how our country is doomed or the world is coming apart at the seams, brush off the cynics and fearmongers. Because the truth is, if (...)”
“(...) you had to choose any time in the course of human history to be alive, you’d choose this one. Right here in America, right now.”

Eighteen months after his words hit newsstands, we’re putting migrant children in cages.

Everything is worse now. Everything.
Read 3 tweets
May 2004, @wired asks “what will the retirement age be in 20 years?” Answers range from 67 to 75. Futurist Peter Schwartz argues “Our children will look forward to a life measured in centuries, and current notions of retirement will have to change drastically.” #wiredarchive
Today, 14 years later, I think there’s a chance that the retirement age will be raised to 75, and/or social security will be abolished.

But we’re done pretending that we are on the verge of a major breakthrough in life extension, right?

I’m intensely curious to see how the tone of futurist predictions, both in @Wired and elsewhere, have changed post-2016.

My hunch is that it has become more difficult to pretend that politics and power aren’t central determinants.

Read 5 tweets
May 04, Gary Wolf revisits one of @WIRED’s most famous missed predictions, 1997’s “Push,” which argues the web would soon be replaced by new push technologies.

(@chr1sa will revisit this once again in 2010’s “the Web is dead.”)

Let’s ponder for a moment. (1/x)
Wolf is focused on 04 on RSS feeds.

Anderson in 2010 on the rise of streaming video and other non-web services.

Anderson’s prediction holds up better than Wolf’s, but that’s the topic of a separate tweetstorm, I think.

I want to think a bit about non-adoption of tech.
RSS solves a real problem — too much interesting content on the web! — but it solves it in a way that requires ongoing attention and tending. It let’s you control your information diet, if you will.

Read 9 tweets
Even though it’s just a one-page column, this @lessig Nov ‘03 piece marks a turning point in @WIRED politics coverage. It’s indicative, I think, of a much bigger shift in digital politics. (1/x)
Prior to this piece, traditional politics has been absent from the magazine’s coverage, sometimes surprisingly so.

No mention of Clinton/Lewinsky, except a brief mention in an article about Matt Drudge.

No mention of the anti-globalization movement. (2/x)
Mid-90s @WIRED covered internet-related legislation, and had a regular column from the @EFF. And there was a “Netizen” column in ‘96 by John Heilemann. And there were occasional libertarian-tinged “here comes the Internet public” essays over the years. (3/x)
Read 10 tweets
May 2002. Blogging has appeared on the map. #wiredarchive
@sullydish, May 2002,

“this is democratic journalism at its purest. Eventually you can envision a world in which most successful writers will use the medium as a form of self-declared independence.”
The rise and fall of the blogosphere holds some vital lessons about tech and society. (I’ll be writing a long piece on this topic in late summer/early fall.)

You can read this initial piece alongside his ‘08 “why I blog” and his ‘15 departure from blogging to see the arc.
Read 5 tweets
October 2001, first @WIRED feature article about @Google, “I’m feeling lucky.” The article focuses on AdWords, which was a pretty massive innovation in its time. Made it the only search engine to turn a profit. (1/2) #wiredarchive
What’s particularly striking in retrospect is the timing here.

The mid-90s Internet was an “infobahn.”

The late-90s Internet was “portals.”

The early 2000s Internet is going to be search. That’s the dominant model and the prevailing metaphor. (2/3)
And the Search Internet era takes off in the *immediate aftermath* of the dotcom crash.

Google had been gaining popularity for years, but attention to Google’s business model takes off immediately after the smoke clears.
Read 3 tweets
By Spring 2001, @WIRED coverage was thinking through the aftermath of the Dotcom boom. Articles by @chipbayers on lessons from failed startups, and from Charles Platt on pricy broadband.

The Platt piece is framed as a rejection of 90s tech visionaries... (1/2) #wiredarchive
Platt is arguing that George Gilder, Stewart Brand, and John Perry Barlow were all wrong about the new economics of digital information. (All three made these arguments in the pages of 90s WIRED.)

“broadband will destroy (...) the egalitarian vision of the Internet.” (2/3)
Part of what’s so fascinating here is thinking about what comes next.

Platt is right that we’re about to start paying for broadband.

But just out of view are the webloggers. And a new website called Wikipedia has just been launched a few months earlier. (3/4)
Read 4 tweets
August 2000 profile of @pmarca does something that almost no tech journalism ever does. It dwells on failures and lessons from his Netscape experience.… (1/2) #wiredarchive
This runs counter to a pattern I’ve seen in the magazine. They cover the buildup of new tech. They cover the peak of new tech. But they rarely cover the fall or the aftermath.

(That’s not a critique of @WIRED, btw. It’s true for all tech journalism and academic case studies)
...I noticed this point last night, reading volume 21 (2013). After a couple years covering Groupon and Zynga as those companies set records, in 2013 there are a pair of comedic references in the “statgeist” Venn diagrams section, noting how each has shed revenue.
Read 6 tweets

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