Welcome, Wired. We call this land “Internet”

wiredmystery.jpg

Here’s the problem with Wired: They think print matters.

Background: Stephanie Clifford warns that Wired may be about to die. Ad sales are down 50%, putting it just above Power and Motoryacht at the bottom of Condé Nast’s portfolio of magazines.

I’ve got some relatively ancient history to share, but I think it’s germane.

After I left Gawker Media, I was contracted by Condé to help the newly reacquired Wired.com develop a blogging strategy. I spent a few weeks with the Wired.com chiefs developing a battle plan and presented it to the magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson. He gave it the nod—he got what I was trying to do instantly—and away we went.

Three months later the traffic to the Wired.com blogs had doubled. I cleared out writers that weren’t working. That didn’t always mean they were bad writers, but usually just bad bloggers—there is a difference. Even the best magazine writer may not be able to write and report in front of an audience.

Our most successful blog was Table of Malcontents, run by our friend John Brownlee (with Lisa, too!), who ran with the opportunity, creating a “net culture” blog that was the archetypal model for what we were trying to create: Smart, fast, full of personality, two steps ahead of mainstream tastes. It had a superstar team, and with hard work they were soon the most popular blog on the network behind Rob’s Gadget Lab. (They also did much to make my not-so-secret motto come true: “Make Wired weird again.”)

Then the magazine folks stepped in. As soon as it became clear that Wired.com’s blogs might actually get some traction, the magazine started to dabble. I had structured the blogs so that each had a lead editor, something that that worked very well at Gawker. No one had a problem with that—until it meant that my lead bloggers might be telling magazine staffers what to do.

It’s not unusual for print journalists to look down at online writers, and often rightly so. There are some amazing reporters and writers whose work appears in Wired, people who do the sort of storytelling that bloggers rarely have the time or skill to do.

But reporters treating their online peers like that at Wired? It was accepted without much question that the magazine side of the business—literally across the “Berlin Hall”—always trumped the online side.

I made it about six months before I felt too constrained by both the magazine and its publishers and moved on. Since then, Wired.com’s grown to 11 million monthly visitors: its blogs are among the best in their fields and its tech news reportage is among the finest, online or off—successes I don’t take credit for. The sheer size of that readership speaks volumes: the Times says the magazine has only 700k or so subscribers. (It’s a damn shame that online advertising is devalued compared to print advertising, but that’s the media world for you.)

Wired makes a fantastic magazine. The “puzzle” edition last month was just brilliant, and I skimmed it from cover to cover. But for technology and pop science reporting, the market has moved on. Tech magazines, now matter how well executed, are nothing more than a cute anachronism, with the same sort of boutique market as hand-made stationery.

Which isn’t to say that we or anyone else who writes for money isn’t doomed; we just don’t have to buy paper by the ton roll, nor keep a support staff around nearly as large as our editorial staff.

Wired is great print, but if the magazine can’t make money and is shuttered, taking the website down with it, I’m going to be livid. Not that making money online is easy—it’s not, especially without sacrificing your ethics and your voice—but if any mainstream outlet should be able to make the transition, it should be Wired.

I fear that may be impossible, not just for Wired but for all these old brands, because they can’t accept that the work at which they have excelled for years will be just as important when it’s online—and online only.

P.S. No one actually ever called it the “Berlin Hall” except me.
P.P.S. The fact that it was the Times that published this piece, one of my other dear media orgs also choking and sputtering on the future, was not lost on me.

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138 Responses to Welcome, Wired. We call this land “Internet”

  1. Viktor says:

    I actually love the print version. It is my #1 subscription and I love having a physical thing to read when I am away from screens. As a matter of fact, even when a screen is available (TV, ipod, iphone, laptop) I like to take a break and read about tech in print form. The best!

  2. Jason Berg says:

    In the good old days, Wired would have convened a round table of experts to figure out how to reinvent the business model of both the print media and the online media in order to prophesize the next Big THING.
    As readers, we ate it up. We thought it was all possible because it was backed by great infopron charts and amazing insights.
    Reality has set in and the car guys aren’t coming back for any more ads and the web competition is like nothing the magazine ever faced.
    The answer isn’t moving the booze across the hall or doing bare chested hugs between long-forms and bloggers.
    The answer, as Wired might have proclaimed in the late 90′s, “The problem is the solution!”
    Now, go co-write both a 200 word blog and a 1200 word article convincing me that I’m correct.

  3. Hi there,
    This is one of the best discussions I’ve ever read online, at least about something that really matters. I would like to ask something that apparently wasn’t covered here: why did Wired.com have so many changes in its editorial staff after Conde Nast arrival? Many good editors and writers left all from a sudden and I remember they calling some people that apparentely had nothing to do with the good old Wired.com. I used to be one of them, by the way, freelacing as a correspondent in Brazil during the internet boom down here. It was great, but all from a sudden they just thought Latin America was not important at all, everything started to came from agencies- just like newspapers and print magazines always do, by the way. My impression of Conde Nast is definitely not a good one, I’ve always thought they tried to run an online business as it was a print magazine.
    Best regards.

  4. Jeff Block says:

    I read wired mag for the long articles and interesting layout. I read blogs for today’s news. In general I’ve read about or heard about 1/2 of the stuff in their gear section and sections like that, so I still get some news. But I NEVER, EVER see long-form articles like I get from wired mag online. And even if I could find them, it’s unlikely i’d have the time or patience to read them online, the ergonomics are just not conducive for that activity. What can I say, I still like to curl up in my comfy chair and read a good book or mag (though admittedly there aren’t many good mags anymore). I just don’t see the schism between online and print, two animals that serve different purposes.

  5. Wired Blogger 2 says:

    “the printed word will return just like our beloved vinyl is making a big comeback…”

    I think that’s a very telling statement about the future of print, although slightly depressing.

    Gary’s point about mobile is just. If you can’t get the online part right, how are you going to bridge to a mobile future or whatever is next after that?

  6. Former Wired Blogger 2 says:

    I’m not sure public discourse is fair, but on the other hand, I never had the chance to talk to Chris Anderson while I worked there.

    The Berlin Hall is apropos. The online side is strangely isolated from its magazine namesake despite being on the same floor.

    Many mag writers would score unlimited access to new technology months before launch. Bloggers wouldn’t get access to the Wired exclusive or a gadget until after the embargo. A coherent editorial voice and shared stance between print and online was not an option. Adding insult to injury, the print article typically wouldn’t make it to the website while it was newsworthy by online standards. Despite being ready, the article had to wait for print publication first. There were many missed opportunities every day.

    When economic crisis symptoms appeared, a couple of magazine staffers were chatting in the bathroom unaware or unconcerned of my presence. One staffer was worried about possible consequences; that nobody’s job was safe. The other mag staffer responded “At least we have some fat to trim first,” nodding in the direction of online.

    Like Joel, when I signed up, I thought for sure Wired would “get it” and adapt to new technology and media. I was wrong.

  7. Wired Writer3 says:

    As someone from the editorial side who–God forbid–believes in separation of church and state–could someone please answer this question: 1)If Wired print’s readership is up but ad sales are down, why should that be a problem for Chris Anderson? So if the situation were reversed, and ad sales were up due to selling editorial coverage to advertisers ad nauseum and other sleazy practices perpetuated by sleazy ad people, but readership fell as an obvious result, then he wouldn’t be in the hot seat?

    I am paraphrasing something some said in Boing-Boing in the early 1990s: then, the Microsofts, the HPs, the IBMs wanted to buy ads to say “hey, we’re part of the digital revolution, too.” Now they and others are pulling out while some strong features and other content are pulling readers back in. I say good riddance.

  8. To echo Felix, Conde could be making exponentially more money than they currently do off of their web properties. They just don’t view it as a real revenue driver. DirtyAdSales guy mentions that online ad sales are short term, etc., but they don’t have to be. There are plenty of media buyers in the space who understand how to use the web for long-term branding and other forms of added value beyond direct-response. There are also higher-dollar ad buys that go beyond traditional, boring IAB-compliant spots and Conde has not been particularly aggressive about taking advantage of them.

    On the tech side, part of the problem is the clunky legacy CMS that everyone’s forced to use, which isn’t exactly amenable to on-the-fly creative campaigns that require significant changes to layout, custom dynamic media, etc.

    On the business side, the Conde sites are traditionally viewed as a marketing outlet for print subscriptions and little else. This is typical old media condescension toward toward the web, and isn’t going away anytime soon, but as a result, no one thinks of the sites as standalone media properties, even though they could be. (Sorry DirtyAdSales guy: I’ve run smaller web properties with double-digit CPMs and managed to pay people rates competitive with print and still be profitable. It can be done. Conde just doesn’t do it.)

    The biz side also fails to use research as effectively on the web side as they do on the print side. Despite having more (and more immediate) user data, there’s not enough effort made to package that data as an add-on for advertisers, to use analytics as a tool for shaping editorial, to segment users into specific sub-demographics that can be sold at higher rates, or to view aggregating these specific demographics as platform opportunities for new revenue streams–the latter of which is particularly important in an environments where CPMs for mass properties are sinking, print advertising is tanking even faster, and banner blindness has devalued the display ad spots that everyone uses. Sure, CN has online reader panels, but they use them primarily test ad recall and effectiveness for the *print products*.

    Media buyers will pay significantly for non-traditional online campaigns–even the 24 year olds. But they’re not gonna pay Conde because what you’re putting on the table is not very original. And original creative is at a much higher premium online than it is in print.

    It’s not that there’s no money in online media; it’s that Conde doesn’t know where to look for most of it, doesn’t consider monetization of web assets a major priority and doesn’t actually *have* to be a web company. It’s essentially a vanity business run by a guy who loves print and can continue to be as long as print exists. But they are leaving serious money on the table, and for those of us who are accustomed to operating with far fewer resources, it’s frustrating to see them wasted.

  9. Brainspore says:

    That puzzle issue was the first time in a while I’ve read WIRED (or any magazine) cover to cover. I enjoyed working out some of the brainteasers in the margins while taking the train to work, which is something I couldn’t have done with the online version even if I had an iPhone.

    The Wired blogs are great but I’ll sorely miss the print edition if it ever goes away. The magazine remains one of the best examples of publication design on the market today.

  10. odograph says:

    When the first Wired Magazines showed up, I was cross-reading with Cruising World (a sailing mag). I thought, why isn’t Wired more like Cruising?

    I even wrote Wired a letter, about the Cruising split between: tools, techniques, and destinations.

    But … Wired became what they wanted to be, an implied style guide for a certain sort of culture-clone fan-boy. Not that I’m bitter.

  11. Kanomi says:

    If the Christian Science Monitor can do it, why can’t Wired?

  12. Steve Silberman says:

    > I don’t understand why a blogger can’t write a magazine article or vice versa

    It’s not that simple. Writing a good long-form article requires deep-reporting skills and patiently cultivating networks of contacts. There are people who tell me things — and leak me things — that they wouldn’t tell or leak to someone who cold-called them and said, “I’m writing a blog and I really need to know the skinny on XYZ.”

    I wouldn’t have been able to expose lies about the Internet told in court by a federal agent during that porn investigation if I hadn’t researched it for weeks, interviewing everyone from court reporters to fellow agents. I wouldn’t have been able to reveal an epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among vets returning from Iraq if I didn’t research precisely the right people to ask about what was going on in a US Army hospital in Germany by digging up phone lists, nurses’ reports, and documents that the Defense Department had mightily suppressed.

    Exciting blogging requires a whole other set of skills — like knowing what’s hot in “the Stream” right now, at this moment; or knowing what *could be* hot tomorrow. Communicating the story succinctly in a way that engages interest in both the links provided and the overall mission of the blog itself. It’s more like jazz, while long-form journalism is more like composition. Both have their place; but they are distinct sets of skills. Some people, like young Wired writer Jonah Lehrer, have both.

  13. Gary Wolf says:

    The problem of length in online or print journalism is minor. Of course long stories can be read in print form or online. I get the most response to my Wired magazine stories after they are posted to the web. The harder question is one of how to measure success, and, closely associated with this, how to make money from the value readers’ find in the type of stories the magazine publishes.

    Perhaps the question should be: “how can Wired take what its writers learn though their reporting and maximize its impact and influence through all the media we have at hand?” Some writers already do this – they post widely, spread their stories, answer criticism, publish books, get speaking gigs, and even movie deals. We do it out of a mixture of curiosity and egotism and fascination with the topics we write about; and also to make money. But the magazine rarely gets involved. It’s as if the impact and value of what’s published ends, for the magazine, the moment the story hits the newsstand. (Dave’s last comment, which showed up as I was posting this, seems to me to be right on the money.)

    (I got a funny email after my comment about paying bloggers by the page view, asking whether, as a (mainly) print-side writer, I really want to be paid by the page view. I’m not against it, but my comment was inflected by a tiny amount of sarcasm – perhaps too tiny to be discerned – because I don’t think this model exhausts all the possibilities.)

  14. jitrobug says:

    I feel like such an insider reading this.

    I clicked over to that Cougar Ace article, and it looks really good and I want to read it – but it’s also intimidating to try and read it in the little blocks I have while I’m waiting for things to compile…

    Does it work for long form work like that to be serialized? I guess the problem is that if you come in late, it ends up being ordered incorrectly.

    publishing is hard.

  15. symptomatic says:

    @AnonymousAnonymous: It’s about the Web as a delivery mechanism—a publishing medium—and not about the Web as content.

    The discussion is about how Wired needs to “get” the Web in the same way that every other print publication must. They need to understand how their audience is consuming the processed information they produce and hope to sell.

  16. dave says:

    My 5cents:

    Wired as a brand is very powerful, and all this talk of blogs replacing the brandspace Wired has is misjudged. Remember in the space Wired inhabits financially it is the leader – on magazine stands. There ain’t no blogs on newsstands.

    Wired’s ‘strategy’ primarily depends on whether they perceive themselves as a magazine and pin their mast to that product come hell or high water. And there is nothing wrong with that aim, yes it is tough, yes magazines are struggling, but in a market where you are a leader this should be considered very carefully before moving away from it.

    IMO there is lots they could do to improve the print magazine but that is huge topic in itself. My ideal Wired would probably be more long form pieces, perhaps a sacrifice in production and gloss expense, for less ad content. So yes, a New Yorker, Harper’s, Atlantic, Monocle, New Scientist strategy, rather than a GQ strategy. Just my opinion. I’d also like to see long form pieces collected into Wired books, and even a publishing side to Wired that reprinted or commissioned Wired non-fiction and became the market leader in those books, either as publisher or shop, reviews, hub etc.,

    Meanwhile with the internet they should be creating multi brandspace blogs for all kinds of tech interests and filling out that space. But you know they could also sit back and watch blogs and pick the top content to publish in the real world. Publishing is where they’ve built their knowledgebase after all and they should exploit it to its max. Video should also be pushed to the fore on their websites. Just look at how games websites use their content and publish – from screencast reviews to discussions. Or how TED conferences draw viewers.

  17. John A Arkansawyer says:

    Aurich @ 56 says:

    It hasn’t been mentioned yet, but IMHO one of the gaping holes over at Wired, and something Ars figured out a long time ago is how to really build and hold a community.

    A notable fact about wired.com is that the comments are a cesspool.

  18. tmccartney says:

    You know what I like about the print edition? It doesn’t pop up a Xerox ad that I can’t get rid of while I’m trying to read it. I too will be sorry if it goes away. I’ve been reading it since it started back in about 1993 – I don’t think I’ve missed an issue. It’s one of the most beautiful and interesting magazines going. It will be a sad irony if it becomes a victim of the movement it’s covered for more than 15 years.

  19. pork musket says:

    @Anon Y. Mouse – I won’t disagree that there’s no good model for it yet. But that old model is on the way out. Online revenue might be harder to get than print revenue… for now. Yet ad sales for Wired are down, and more and more newspapers are starting their death march. Would you rather jump into the unknown and try to come up with a business model, or start making it your business to prop up a model that can no longer support itself?

  20. @jalbinag says:

    maybe i have not given wired.com a real chance but the site is a bit ho-hum for me; the problem – i feel – lies in the fact that I read pretty much everything online; so i reckon that probably I’ve been de-sensitised to online awesomness (if it’s ever present on a website). The screen is an everyday affair.

    Instead, the mag is a “new” experience when it comes out, and a very stimulating one; from smelling the ink once it’s out of the bag, through to the actual story telling; from the jj abram’s number via the manga stories, etc.

    Ad revenues down.. so what? I will be happy to pay a higher cover price to make up for that; just give me stories, editorial content, thought leadership; i know where else to go to read/hear about the latest goss,gadget or fad

  21. James says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments so I don’t know whether or not this has been addressed. From what I have read though is that the web staff feels under appreciated. I work for a publication with a large print operation and a much smaller online operation and I can without hesitation that the online side is held in much lower regard than the print side. From what I understand this is pretty common in organizations that have legacy print.

    Here’s I think:

    • Print is dead it just doesn’t know it yet. The Kindle and the IPhone are not the saviors of print – they’re just online on something other than a computer.
    • Given the frequency with which I read about the divisiveness between print and online I find it hard to believe that management is unaware that staff that should be helping and supporting one another actually hate each other. I understand that bills need to be paid but ensuring that all staff feel appreciated does not require cannibalizing one team to feed another; a functioning team is good business. If you can’t manage that then perhaps you should consider another career.
    • Web ads sell for pennies per click because ad sales people are dumb as rocks and couldn’t spin online demo reports into gold if they had Rumpelstiltskin himself. Tech can build, online can fill it, but only ad sales can pimp it out and sometimes I think they feel more at home with the (relative) simplicity that is print.

    No offense to the Ad Sales folks out there!

  22. Ken Denmead says:

    First off, I’m not a journalist, I just play one on the internet.

    I’m in an odd position, as the editor of the GeekDad blog at Wired.com: I work (freelance) for Evan, but Chris is my patron – he created the blog and is still in many ways our fearless leader.

    What’s frustrating (besides the silly flaming) is that all these doom-and-gloom missives assume that everyone’s asleep at the wheel or some kind of brutish Dickensian overseer, which is far from the truth.

    As Leander mentions, there was a choice made to keep the editorial operations separate, and it was a good choice. That doesn’t mean that Chris and Evan avoid each others’ eyes when they pass in the “Berlin hall.” Quite the opposite, both of them continue to work hard at making both their sides of the operation creative and financial successes, and at doing everything they can to keep up with where the market is going.

    I know they’re thinking every day about how the business models have to evolve. Reading between the lines, I think it’s easy to see that part of the trouble is getting that discussion heard and responded to up the corporate ladder. The print mag people at Conde still look at the traditional metric that print ads are worth 5x as much as online ads (even tho there’s a bit of apples vs. oranges there), and so there’s that sense of differing value to the content. That will change, and really it’s quite likely that Wired – Chris and Evan both – will be the ones to foster that awakening in the wider print industry.

    It would also be nice to see some context for all these numbers being bandied about to predict Wired’s doom. How do Wired’s ad sales numbers compare to the rest of the industry? Is Wired still turning a profit (I’ll bet you it is)? What are the trendlines for advertisers moving to online media, and how is that affecting ad-rates?

    In the middle of both an industry-shift and a recession/depression, it’s foolish to use one metric as the sign of impending doom for an otherwise healthy, thriving enterprise. Wired (both sides of the hall) may be facing a challenge, but I’m betting they ride it out and come through in a better position for what happens next.

  23. pork musket says:

    @Steve Silberman – Is there a rule that people can’t post long-form, well-researched articles on a blog somewhere? Are bloggers somehow incapable of forming complex networks of contacts? I hear what you’re saying. I’m saying: take the media part of it out of the equation. Treat them equally. I listen to Vivaldi and Monk on the same stereo.

  24. brianlam says:

    Hello Steve S! RE people doing both print and web work, how about you take all your (awesome) feature ideas, the pitches, and just blog them away?

    Makes no sense! The only way print people are going to be able to blog anything is if people are required to blog a certain number of pieces of content, just as they are on the hook for content for the mag.

    The editors were asked to blog when conde got the site; people did, but that tapered off within months. There’s a very good reason for that, and its the system. Maybe its changed in the last few years since I’ve been there, but I don’t see a lot of content from the magazine people on the blogs or on the news pieces, so I’m going to guess no. They were busy enough with their print jobs, anyhow.

    And what’s the point of having them put their remainders online when they’re having a greater effect on the world with their print work?

    Leander: More credit goes to Evan for keeping the ship running. He’s like Kirk’s dad in the new Trek opener, hopefully without the explosion at the end.

  25. brianlam says:

    Oh right, steve, you just made the distinction between the timeframes on the types of work right there. I don’t know why I was responding to you specifically, I think I saw your quote of someone else’s words.

    I’m only pointing out the organizational differences. A system that accommodated both would help.

  26. Scott Kilmartin says:

    I actually feel out-of-my-depth reading this thread in terms of the depth it delves inside the WIRED beast.
    It has gone a long way in answering my questions about why mags don’t do the seemingly obvious things with their content.
    WIRED does seem like a business that is being pulled in many directions because of it’s structure. Will it survive ? I suggest yes because the minds pulling the reins are strong enough to stop it being sucked down the gurgler. But other great business have disappeared despite seemingly having the right roadmap.

    https://twitter.com/ScottKilmartin

  27. I have the impression that close to all comments here are from ex-wired staff or professional bloggers.

    I’m none of them, I’m just a loyal Wired reader. I work in the online business, I read blogs, blog myself, bla bla. But every time I read someone stating that print is close to dead, guys, come out of your bubble. Online people tend to hang out with online people, read only what other online people write on their online blogs. Narcissism is navel staring is no doubt the biggest failure of online media.

    There’s a whole world out there, of people who don’t spend a whole day behind their twitter and read every ping in their 100+ RSS feed. People who read magazines, who appreciate the 3-month-turn, well-researched non-real time articles, who look forward to getting the new issue in the mail and who like to read it on the subway or on the toilet.

    Print is not dead people. Not yet. It would be great if Wired mag & online could work together more efficiently, but I think both are doing a great job in their own field. It sounds mainly like an internal problem.

    At Chris Anderson & team, good stuff. Please don’t go under, you would be terribly missed.

  28. symptomatic says:

    It’s nice to see this being hashed out in public, so that readers both online and in print can get a sense (should they care) of how dysfunctional the relationship between magazines and their Web properties typically are. (It would be equally instructive for writers, editors, and owners to pay close attention.)

    I’ve spent a long time as an editor both in print and online, and as a staffer or freelancer at most of the big media shops in NYC. And I have to say that everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve seen the same kind of us-vs.-them situation. I’ve seen it at CNP and CondéNet, at Ziff Davis (which after the arrival of Jim Dunning and the Chicago VCs found itself in the awkward position of having Web rights to its content sold off to Cnet), at Hearst, and at Time Inc., where I enjoyed (in both senses) steady employment at one of the Web sites because no one on the magazine staff would deign to consider a position online (and this at a time when Ann Moore was waving the digital flag while cutting magazine staffs).

    It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s admirable that Chris Anderson is willing to participate in a discussion like this, but sad that he and other editors have taken so long to regard their Web sites as something other than necessary irritants and budget drains—marketing and merchandising sideshows staffed by people who are somehow less than real journalists.

  29. Did you mean to be ironic by writing that “skimmed” the puzzle issue from “cover to cover?” I found that amusing and, as a mag writer, just a little worrisome.

  30. Robert Gaal says:

    I enjoy Wired, but I’ve never read any online article of theirs with as much joy and frequency as I have the magazine articles. I still think there’s a place for long in-depth articles online if the presentation is right (Kindle anyone?). There’s a huge opportunity there.

    Also: if Wired can’t pull this transition of, then why the hell have I been reading the Wired for so long? Are you telling me that the people who’s vision on technology I enjoy can’t act on that? That would be hilarious, if not impossible.

  31. symptomatic says:

    That would be relationships, of course.

  32. Mr. T says:

    I’m sure they’re still waiting for Conde Nast’s tech team to get their heads out of their asses.

    Having worked with Conde Nast Tech, I can tell you that all of the developers were well aware of how awful the CMS is. The CMS is TeamSite, a product of Interwoven. In many ways TeamSite is the major reason why Conde Nast is unable to innovative with their content. It’s very, very sad.

    Most bloggers have never even heard of TeamSite, and most developers at Conde Nast despise working on it. The UI is atrocious and editors can’t stand using it. Which begs the question: So why does Conde Nast still use TeamSite for their CMS?

    It’s the money and the structure of the company. The company has developed an enormous infrastructure and invested millions upon millions of dollars to support TeamSite. For TeamSite to be replaced with a more modern and agile CMS, the following things would need to happen:

    First they’d have to choose a new CMS. Easier said than done. As 90% of Conde Nast Tech are (very talented) JavaServer experts, and nearly everything at Conde Nast has to be done at the Enterprise level. Considering that most of Conde Nast tech would lose their jobs if they migrated to a CMS that didn’t run on JavaServer, it should be no surprise that Rails or LAMP alternatives aren’t exactly welcome at Conde Nast. Conde Nast Tech is too nervous about the security issues that come with the more agile server environments (they deal with decades of magazine content, worth billions of dollars — it’s not just blogs), and let’s not overlook that they’ve already invested millions upon millions of dollars on a JavaServer hardware and infrastructure and hired dozens of engineers to run all the JavaServer hardware and maintain all of the databases. There are Information Architects who are expected to create shared working XML schemas to support all of the content needs of the 25 or so magazines — each of which want different things from a CMS that was originally designed back in the 90s. Each new request for improved functionality from any of the Conde Nast magazines has implications that effect the shared libraries and schemas to run the entire CMS. Add in a subscription and registration layer to keep track of all of the subscribers and website users and it will make your head spin.

    There are preview servers, staging servers, development servers, an integrated legacy ticketing system (also awful), and a large Enterprise versioning systems to keep track of everything. Each and every magazine has their own set of server environments, and each developer has their own set of server environments that can run versions of all of these servers. It’s an extraordinarily complex system. The sheer complexity of the system makes it nearly impossible to innovate anything beyond what most popular blogging software can do out of the box. It’s part of the challenges of developing Enterprise-level technology. Nothing moves quickly.

    Add to the mix indecisive (and often clueless) editors from all the beauty and style magazines, and you can see why development crawls at a snails pace. 90% of the delays in the development process come from editors who spend weeks agonizing over the font choices and color schemes.

    Conde Nast can’t, and won’t, change their server environments because it would require rebuilding their entire tech team from the ground up. The people who run that side of the business will never allow that to happen. All of their jobs depend on things staying the way they are. They can’t change their CMS. They are stuck.

    Since they can’t change their CMS, every little bit of new functionality requested from any magazine needs to be coded from scratch. While other blogs and websites simply upload an open-source plugin and activate it with a click of the mouse, at Conde Nast they have dozens of meetings, development scope estimates, IA wireframe mockups, lots of designers and editors meetings, etc. Servers need to be configured and environments need to be set up and tested. It can take months to create dynamic element that takes seconds on any other CMS.

    I can’t say I envy the position that Conde Nast is in. It’s easy to say that Conde Nast Tech has their heads in their asses. But managing the websites of 25 magazines using their massive Enterprise framework to manage decades and decades of content worth billions of dollars is no easy task. You can be sure that Conde Nast Tech is open to solutions if anyone has them. In the meantime, they’ll be waiting for the next version of TeamSite to come out so everybody can keep developing the way they have been for the past decade. The only question is, how many more years can they keep that up? It will be interesting to watch.

  33. vanderleun says:

    I worked in magazines for 30 years… small and gigantic titles… I loved them.

    These days I can hardly look at or see the magazine section in stores, small or gigantic. There’s just no connection there. No connection at all.

    I’m not feeling it no more.

  34. Felix Salmon says:

    There’s a debate going on here between magazine writers saying “bloggers don’t have the skills needed to write for the magazine” and webby types saying “oh yes we do”. Which is fascinating to me, since Chris Anderson knew me only through my blog when he phoned me up in December and asked me to write a cover story for the March issue of the magazine. Which I think (and he’s said that he thinks) turned out great.

    I think the most insightful comment came from Leander, who mentioned that 50% of Wired’s ads were for cars. Remember that magazines aren’t about selling content to readers, they’re about selling readers to advertisers. A lot of this debate is about getting and engaging readers, which Wired is very good at, both in print and online, but readers alone will get you nowhere if there aren’t any advertisers willing to pay for them.

    When the car industry was imploding, the various different marques all increased their adspend in a desperate attempt to get market share and survive the inevitable shakeout. Now the inevitable shakeout is happening, and it’s too late for all that: the die has been cast, many marques won’t survive, and the rest will be ad-constrained for the foreseeable future.

    What Wired needs (and this is clear from the NYT piece) isn’t readers, it’s advertisers. No one has a clue where it’s going to find them, and frankly that’s not the job of anybody on the editorial side, whichever side of the Berlin Hall they might sit on. But Brian Lam is definitely right that the Conde ad-sales team just can’t compete with the likes of Gawker Media when it comes to online. Even on the print side, Conde ad sales people often acted as glorified order-takers: it’s not rocket science to sell 8 pages of September Vogue to Prada. But online properties really need to be actively sold: no one’s going to come to Conde with a desperate need to advertise on Wired.com. And if you think that .com feels inferior to print on the editorial side, just take a look at the ad-sales side of things.

  35. Steve Silberman says:

    > Is there a rule that people can’t post long-form, well-researched articles on a blog somewhere?

    Just the rule of what’s pleasing to the reader in a particular form. My features always go up on wired.com too — but if I were writing on the same subjects specifically for a blog, I wouldn’t write thousands of words! It’s not an insurmountable divide, just two different approaches. That’s why I mentioned the New Yorker encouraging some of its most articulately verbose prose stylists to also blog. James Wolcott at Vanity Fair is another example of someone who does both features and blogging well.

    > Are bloggers somehow incapable of forming complex networks of contacts?

    Not at all! Wired’s Danger Room is a fabulous example of a blogging team that has extensive networks of contacts. They rock! And Wired.com’s Ryan Singel totally pwned the secret Internet wiretapping beat. Bloggers with deep contacts is the future that is already half-here.

    > The only way print people are going to be able to blog anything is if people are required to blog a certain number of pieces of content, just as they are on the hook for content for the mag.

    Worthy point.

  36. Wow!

    The comments are more interesting than the article.

  37. vanderleun says:

    And by the way, that goes double for Wired and I even wrote an article in Wired #1.

  38. praxis22 says:

    Before I read the NYT article, I was going to mount a defense of what Wired used to be, but having read that Chris Anderson was responsible for the destruction of the magazine I loved. I figure somebody should put the magazine out of it’s misery.

    Sorry for polluting an otherwise excellent thread but this is something I have strong feelings about.

  39. Anonymous says:

    “Stationery.” Not “stationary.” One is a noun for writing implements, the other is an adjective for something immovable.

  40. Steve Silberman says:

    > all these doom-and-gloom missives assume that everyone’s asleep at the wheel or some kind of brutish Dickensian overseer, which is far from the truth.

    Another very worthy point.

  41. Jitrobug: “I clicked over to that Cougar Ace article, and it looks really good and I want to read it – but … ”

    there’s always the option of printing it out, which also would ironically complete the circle — from dead tree to online to dead tree!
    :)

  42. Josh | STR says:

    I remember picking up a copy of Men’s Health a few weeks back. It would be about 5 pages long without adverts and I don’t understand that. With free websites, advertising subsidises them, but paying for a magazine then having to deal with mediocre content and dozens of full page adverts (which can only inflate the printing costs) is terrible.

    At least when I log in at home I can block gratuitous advertising at no loss to anyone. Online content is easier to deal with, I find a few sites I like, subscribe to the feed and keep visiting. It doesn’t cost me a penny and if I click the ads and buy through them, the owner is paid for their good work.

    Remind me why printed media is better?

  43. For a business person in another industry and another continent where buying Wired Mag at my local newsagent is nigh impossible, I can only say that Wired.Com has been a welcome, inexpensive and easily accessed source of fascinating stuff and its one of my favourite regular RSS reads.

    Observing this debate and insider bickering about a media business that struggles to work out how to produce products that consumers value AND that make money in both the physical and online worlds, has its parallels in other industries.

    In my own organisation, which has traditionally distributed financial products through commission-incentivised human intermediaries, there is this same scorn for online business models and perceived lack of profitability. But I see folks approaching online with poor understanding and a mindset rooted in the belief systems that can only fathom the old way, and the decisions made in ignorance inevitably sets up the online business for failure. Which is what seems to be the Conde Nast decision-making paradigm.

    Good luck to Chris and Evan and the courageous people who contributed above and are boldly naming the elephant in the room. One can only hope the Conde Nast accountants realise their own bias!

  44. mr.skeleton says:

    I don’t know what to say; the articles in the beloved mag are distinctly different from posts on an ever-active blog. Print media can’t compete with a website to convey news, obviously, but as a monthly collection of journalistic cultural reports or commentaries or whatever, I don’t know of any online outlet that posts long, researched, interesting, engaging articles like Wired.

    And even if long pieces appeared online here or there, I wouldn’t be able focus and read them because the internet has so many fucking shiny buttons to click. I need paper and I’ll pay the premium.

  45. radiatorn8 says:

    I am such a big fan of Wired that I actually created an account to post my objections to losing the print. I do understand, intellectually, the need to drop the paper version if the economic conditions require it. However, I wonder if the print side could not have learned something from the internet side. The .com version of anything varies from its US Post version mostly in that it is more information and, more importantly, more opinion than its printed counterpart. Im a big car freak. One thing we can learn from automotive engineers is that being recognized is far better than being loved. Engineers consistently produce cars with polarizing designs fearing the dreaded fade into the background. If there is a staff of writers who, regardless of education or prowess, is capable of retaining interest, find more like them! I love short, sweet, and to-the-point articles and would welcome more in print. Or just hire me and Ill do that work. :-)

  46. It’s great that this thread exists — it’s a shame something like it didn’t happen in the fall of 2006 when Conde bought Wired.com back from Lycos. Yes, Lycos — I didn’t know they were still in business until I got my first freelancer’s check from Wired News, either.

    What no one has said is that this situation might never have happened if Conde had realized that it was silly not to acquire the Wired web properties along with the magazine back in the late 1990s. Wired News was and is an amazing site, but it’s also been starved for resources for longer than almost anyone can imagine. Seriously: Lycos.

    If there’s anyone or -thing to blame beyond that initial boneheaded business decision, I personally look at the slowness of advertisers and sales reps to adapt. They know to how sell and buy banner ads, and that’s about it. I recall being told more than once that Cult of Mac was sold out for advertising — but it still wasn’t generating enough money. Which I would have to blame on the poor business model of the ads in place.

    From the outside looking in, things are a lot better these days, but lean times challenge the best of us. Very interested to see what’s next.

  47. Chris Anderson says:

    Chris Anderson here with three things:

    First, I miss Joel! I wish he were still with us–his strategy was indeed brilliant. Come back!

    Second, as anyone who clicks on the NYT link will learn, Stephanie doesn’t say that we’re about to die, she says our business equation is not working as well as our editorial equation. We had a record year last year in ad revenues, which is no friend to year-on-year comparisons when a recession hits. All our other metrics–subs, renewals, even newsstand sales are at or near record levels.

    Third, I’ve read this twice and I still can’t find the part where Joel actually explains what the problem was. What, exactly, did magazine people do to stifle the blog people? I’m sure we did something, but to be honest this is news to me. I’m all ears! Better to have the conversation late than never, and doing it in public seems totally apt ;-)

  48. kaka says:

    financial products through commission-incentivised human intermediaries, there is this same scorn for online business models and perceived lack of profitability. But I see folks approaching online with poor understanding and a mindset rooted in the belief systems that can only fathom the old way, and the decisions made in ignorance inevitably sets up the online business for failure. Which is what seems to be the Conde Nast decision-making paradigm. online Master Degree

  49. kaka says:

    figure out how to engage readers on the internet home loans. We are looking for information or entertainment, but for the most part web ads do neither. ME degree

  50. Brad_King says:

    @Elizabeth: Absolutely. I’ve had discussions with sales folks + publishers who have said similar things as DirtyAdSalesman – and your response is spot on.

    With the right underlying technologies + the data, making money online is much, much easier. The long that companies just “get by” with what they use, the harder it will be to make money.

    When I got to TR, I dumped the old CMS (it’s third) and we went through 10 years of articles and such in the database, recategorizing them, tagging, ect. It was *awful* but it laid the foundation for running a cleaner site today (from the backend).

    And you’re also right that just because *one* place can’t make money doesn’t mean that it *can’t* be made. Funny how that excuse gets used.

    Love seeing you around these parts. :)

  51. kaka says:

    there is this same scorn for online business models and perceived lack of profitability project management diploma

  52. graphicsman says:

    I keep a stack of OMNI magazines by my bed for when I’m jonesing for some science articles. It helps just knowing they’re there. BBG is still my home page though, and I am addicted.

  53. kaka says:

    need to figure out how to engage readers on the internet home loans. We are looking for information or entertainment, but for the most part web ads do neither. business degree

  54. strider_mt2k says:

    Wow.
    I was simply going to say that Wired mag comes in a month late with the stuff I get fresh from the blogs on a daily basis, but of course you’ve covered that and moved on to industry talk, which I find fascinating, so please go on.

  55. kaka says:

    approaching online with poor understanding and a mindset rooted in the belief systems that can only fathom Law schools

  56. jmontano says:

    Actually I’d love to see Wired turn into digital form.
    The county I’m living Wired cost $11,12 per issue.That’s totally non-sense.

    I love the feeling of the paper and the beautiful design of Wired (and some ads), but that’s something I’m willing to trade in order to enjoy reading it again.

    Oh and BTW, I love getting my magz on PDF format, feeding them to Devon-think and becoming part of my “digital brain”

  57. In the article, Chris Anderson is quoted as saying “We banned Burning Man and drug culture and the letters TCP/IP”.

    Did he ever think that your readers were interested in those things as well as articles about DNA sequencing, robotics, and eco-friendly cars?

    It doesn’t help when at least 55% of the magazine is full page ads for high-end products like Rolex or BMW, and “supplements” like the “Fashion Rocks” garbage take up space in my trash can. I subscribed to Wired, not Cosmo or GQ.

  58. Pork: Totally agree with what you say in #52 comment … except the implication that it’s either-or. Don’t “jump into the unknown” without at least a soundly reasoned strategy for making money to pay for the journalism. At the same time, don’t slavishly stick with the outgoing biz model (print).

    You said in an earlier comment “Take the media out of the equation.” I’m simply arguing: You can’t do that. The media is at the HEART of the question because (for the moment at least) the different forms of media have such different revenue-generating potential.

  59. Steve Silberman says:

    Great post, Gary.

  60. kingspill says:

    Whew! I just finished the comments (after enjoying the article, thanks Joel) and realized I’ve now happily lost an hour from my life. Had this been a magazine article I would have put it down 30 minutes ago, even with the pretty pictures and über-compelling design. It occurs to me folks that we might be comparing apples to oranges.

  61. Pork, you ask: “Is there a rule that people can’t post long-form, well-researched articles on a blog somewhere? ”

    There’s no rule against it… except for, the rule of the greenback: Where does the money come from to support that work, when online revenue is even harder to come by than print revenue. what’s the biz model.

  62. Mark Glaser says:

    Great discussion here. I’ve also had the pleasure of freelance writing for both HotWired (doing movie reviews back in Pop days) and for Wired mag doing gadget mini-reviews. And most of all, I’ve been watching Wired mag and Wired.com as a new media writer/critic all the other years.

    I can understand the argument about Wired.com doing better, trying more things, experimenting by being separated from the print mag. It has worked pretty well at washingtonpost.com separated from the print Post, and Wired.com has done some award-winning work including the WikiScanner and experiments like Assignment Zero (even though it might not have been successful).

    But why exactly do the print magazine and online have to be separated forever? I think there would be much more opportunity for the sides to work together on projects like:

    > Bloggers cover topics incrementally, while print goes deep on the same subjects. (Probably already happening.)

    > Mag writers become “beat bloggers” and develop more sources through regular blogging.

    > Mag writers tap into databases of possible sources/readers culled from online, a la Public Insight Journalism project.

    > Magazine runs stories with more tie-ins, videos, audio and online content extras.

    I’m sure there are a ton of other ways they could work together, and not just editorially but in advertising and making money as well. Just saying…Seems a shame to waste such a long-lasting brand.

  63. johnbrowning says:

    I’m an oldish guy, who was involved with, and wrote a fair amount for, Wired in the early days. I haven’t written a lot for the web. So maybe I just don’t get it. But I’ve got to say that it seems to me that much of this debate — like the NYT article that spawned it — is based on a false premise.

    I don’t see how falling advertising rates at Wired are Chris Anderson’s problem. Readership is, but that’s going up — and for my two cents Chris has done a fantastic job of reinventing the magazine for a post-Web-n.0 existence. Advertising sales are an issue for the publisher and ad sales director. Chris has delivered a bunch of eyeballs. It’s up to them to package them into an attractive deal for advertisers. That won’t be an easy problem to solve. Wired invented a demographic that every publisher in existence in the early 1990s told Louis didn’t exist. So reinventing it may also require creating another new demographic. But that is still doable; and it’s theirs to do. The magazine — though not necessarily the web brands — will succeed or fail on their solution. But jumping on Chris, however much fun it may be, is irrelevant and possibly counter-productive.

    As to the more interesting issue of how best to leverage print and online, there are certainly Bengali-typhoon-sized opportunities. But the fundamental problem, I reckon, is that they remain different worlds, and individual journalists can’t really bridge them in a way that coheres to individual articles or threads of discussion of the sort that advertisers can sell (though, yes, people can and do write successfully for both, and hats off to Felix Salmon among others for doing so). It’s tempting, but they require different sorts of storytelling, and imply different concerns and conversations.

    When I was with The Economist in the mid 1980s, I interviewed a wonderful man at the Wall Street Journal called Bill Dunn. He had a vision. Dow Jones published for a variety of markets, from high-priced newsletters for commodities markets to the journal itself. One of the wonders of information, Dunn reckoned, was that less and narrower (eg, today in oil futures) sold for more than more and broader (eg, the Journal). So his idea was to create economies of scale in information production, and then maximize revenue from it by slicing and dicing to hit every possible single point under the demand curve. It didn’t work, because the sort of people and articles that can fascinate oil traders are not the same as those who can compel readers of the Journal. In Wired terms, their contexts are different.

    Many of the same issues apply to writing for print and the web, although differently. So the key trick seems to me to be to get get different sets of editorial people, with different agendas, goals and concerns, to work in harmony to a common goal. Parts of this thread show how many ways this is like getting cats in a sack to sing in harmony. Other parts show how many really cool possibilities there are. But the basic point remains. Most of this discussion is just talking about how to get more *readers*. Chris has done that. Possibly could do better, but nonetheless the real issue for the magazine is how to get more *advertisers*.

  64. Gary Wolf says:

    I did not know the details of the Conde Nast CMS and Mr. T.’s exposé was fascinating. As somebody who contributed from the editorial side to building a screwed up CMS for Wired Digital the first time around -

    “okay, guys, what we need is a system to simultaneously publish a story to the Web and Pointcast…”

    - I sympathize with the deep trouble you can get into when you have to make a commitment to the publishing demands of the moment as everything is evolving around you. I could almost see an argument for moving some pieces of the editorial off wired.com altogether, licensing or partnering for small, stand-alone projects meant to at least support themselves, using some of the energy of the web community to explore what’s possible without having to re-engineer the system all at once. (Not fragmenting the brand, but diversifying the production and ad-sales environment.) By the way, newspapers that are keeping their classifieds business tucked into their master domain are floundering, but a few have built stand-alone sites that do much better, for obvious reasons.

    The dialog between dirtyadsalesguy and Elizabeth Spiers may point in a similar direction. To properly take advantage of the web right now requires flexibility and willingness to experiment with commercial models as well as publishing tools. That means that a “blogging by numbers” approach may be counter-productive. Instead, we could ask: what pieces of Wired editorial (both online and print) could be used in new ways, and what commercial/production experiments could this content support?

  65. automaton_be says:

    I think every print magazine is going through these troubles, but it is indeed more embarassing for a mag like Wired.

    When I read all of this, I am actually quite amazed that the site is as good as it is. It’s an afterthought and an add-on to the print magazine for the most part, but a pretty good add-on. It’s a very average site on its own, though.

    I think one of the main reasons for the complex relationship between many print magazines and their online counterparts is the relationship they have with their viewers/readers and advertisers.

    On the web, you can measure (almost) everything. That’s not always a good thing, because people start to get obsessed with view counts and clickthroughs and time-on-page and see those as marks of quality. Anyone who has worked in the media knows that this can kill creativity and innovation like nothing else.

    It’s also impossible to compare site visitors with magazine subscribers. How many of those subscriptions are actually read? (you’d be surprised) By how many people? Do they pay any attention to the ads? Which ads? Do they go out shopping for the products in the ads? Nobody knows, all you have is the magical statistical powers of people trying to sell advertising.

    The delay between writing and reading in print, and the added distance between the reader and the writer, allows for daring and truly independent journalism. The kind of stuff you didn’t know you wanted to read, the sort of thing that gets your attention in a way that an RSS feed or Tweet never could, because it’s put in front of you in an appealing layout. A magazine article can be art-directed, a blog article is rarely more than a title, an image and a few paragraphs. The art-direction makes a huge difference.
    There are sites/blogs that can pull off longer and more complex articles, but Wired.com isn’t one of them.

  66. reallyanonymous says:

    Having spent a short period of time on the dot-com side, I really never understood the mission there. As far as I could tell, there was no editorial direction whatsoever, and the MO seemed to be to write whatever sensationalist crap you could to attract as much ill-gotten traffic as possible. There have to be better ways . . .

  67. Anonymous says:

    Unless a fact is printed on dead trees, it isn’t true. Everybody knows that.

  68. CraziestGadgetsdotcom says:

    good insight joel… to note from an advertising standpoint is that a key difference between print and web is that a print mag sub presumably reads all 80 pages of the magazine, whereas a web visitor might only see 1. you get a different metric if you multiply # of print subs by # of pages in the mag.

    also that print subscriber has to pass by every ad in the magazine to read it (i know there’s a table of contents in a magazine but i’m pretty sure that nobody reads articles selectively like that; skim and stop is usually how it’s done).

  69. Former Wired Blogger 2 says:

    With much respect to Leander, I simply don’t see why the editorial organizations should be separate when they are working on the same material, albeit in different formats.

    It seems the separation between print and online had far more to do with egos on both sides than with practicality.

    Stories and source material should be shared and discussed, and editorial decisions should be made over who does what to avoid replication. It’s not only for Wired’s sake, it’s for the sake of the story and those involved.

    When I would contact a publicist over an upcoming launch, I would often learn that they have already been talking to Wired (magazine) and therefore effectively stonewall my access. It makes sense. Why spend valuable time dealing with the same organization twice?

    Magazine writers (even the “composers”) are perfectly capable of writing 100-500 words on something they are already researching in the ample amount of time it takes to write the long form story. If they really do live and breath the web, they know it’s not only good for Wired’s brand, it’s good for their own.

    Meanwhile, bloggers have also culled contacts, attended press events, interviewed and built professional relationships with movers and shakers, explored ledes, researched and followed beats… They are perfect candidates to write or at least impact long form pieces in exchange.

    Wired has an established voice and brand. Readers know what to expect with a Wired article. Think of the content that could be produced with collaboration between the editorial staff within the same organization. Think of the many interactive puzzles that could have tied in with the last issue, the forums or Twitter feeds that could have provided readers a place to share and discuss riddles.

    I’m surprised by those commenting about how layout and paper influence their decision to read Wired. Personally, unless you manage a waiting room or don’t understand what Kindles and iPhones have to offer, I think that is an aging concept at best. Layouts and images are perfectly capable on other media. I don’t buy the “feeling of paper” argument, especially for the Wired audience. If anything brings readers to Wired, it is the content, not the medium.

    What I do see in the comments is a general consensus that Wired has great potential on the web, and irony that it doesn’t know it.

  70. jitrobug says:

    I read nearly half of the last Harry Potter book displayed sideways on my thinkpad, so I could hold it like a book*. Reading on a screen is ok for me.

    Has the iphone made any kind of real dent in publishing? I could see reading long form articles on my phone, oddly enough.

    (* my wife had a copy, a friend had a copy, and that’s how they were spending friday night.. I downloaded a pdf cuz I felt left out! .. bonus points to their copies in that they didn’t have to be plugged in to a wall)

  71. Jon Stokes says:

    More credit needs to go to Evan Hansen, Wired.com’s editor in chief, who’s been the architect and driving force behind the site’s amazing growth and success (the site has also won a clutch of prestigious awards).

    ++

    Any discussion of Wired that centers on what Chris Anderson has done wrong (and it’s not clear to me that he has done anything wrong), instead of on what Evan is doing right is backwards and unproductive.

  72. mappo says:

    I keep my Wired subscription active pretty much just due to a sense of fealty to its earlier self. But I honestly can’t remember the last time an issue seemed relevant to me. Print isn’t dead, as The New Yorker proves to me week in and week out, but Wired magazine is.

  73. Some Dude says:

    I know people on both sides of this equation and here’s the problem. If you ask the .com people about print they’ll say “fuck those guys,” and if you ask the print people about the dot commers they will probably say the same thing. They need to unite for the greater good or else both sides are going to fail. It’s literally a house divided at this point.

  74. Steve Silberman says:

    Hey Brad! Nice to see you here.

    Since I’m one of the few people in this thread who might remember, I want to point out that the divide in Wired office culture between the print and online sides began long before the current regime, and even long before the Lycos debacle.

    As one of the “bums and hoboes” who worked on HotWired, I remember feeling frustrated as far back as 1995 that the print and online tribes of Wiredlings weren’t more closely integrated. Looking back, I think part of that was Wired founder Louis Rossetto’s hope that the website would evolve into something marvelous that the print world couldn’t imagine. At the same time, he might have been protecting Wired’s flagship from the inevitable and fertile mess of helping to invent a new global medium. (I’m speculating, and I’m sure Louis could say it better.)

    In any case, the fact that the print and online teams were located on different floors of the building when I got there in August ’95 – and then in two different buildings – gave rise to two distinct (but usually very friendly) microcultures. In other words, the virtual “Berlin Hall” existed long before Chris Anderson, Conde Nast, and even Lycos got there.

    The Lycos deal was a black comedy, as everyone gamely tried to ignore the fact that splitting Wired’s print and online incarnations was obviously a terrible idea. I remember the first Lycos conference call we were invited to join, uncannily interrupted by squalls of feedback, as if the phone system itself was rebelling. A top Lycos exec crowed over the fact that Lycos now owned Wired’s search engine, HotBot; prompted, he recalled that oh yeah HotBot came along with some kind of website too, HotWired or whatever.

    I know that Wired’s current regime has put a lot of thought and action into trying to integrate the two products as successfully as possible. Just sayin’ — anyone who believes that the subtle online/print tensions began with Conde Nast wasn’t there when it all started. Office-culture dynamics like this often turn out to be oddly persistent. There’s a lot of goodwill on both sides trying to work it all out, under increasingly difficult economic conditions.

  75. Brad King says:

    God I feel like we’re having a Wired reunion. *waves at Leander, Steve, Evan et al*

    I had the opportunity to work at Wired magazine in 1998 (back under Katrina and Alex) before moving to Wired.com (when we were owned by, shit, who weren’t we owned by) until late 2002.

    This was before Conde Nast, but even back then we had these problems. I’ve sat in the editorial meetings in both places – at least before the reconnection. There was little connection between the editorial even back then.

    After I left Wired, I went to MIT to launch the TechnologyReview.com daily news site (within Technology Review the magazine). I saw the same types of attitudes. I was adamant (and I think Jason Pontin was too) that we NOT have 2 editorial voices for exactly the reasons we’re seeing here. It took 18 LONG months of integration to reach a point where there was one editorial voice. Nothing looks more hokey than a magazine piece praising Google and a series of web stories trashing it.

    We had one editorial meeting so that everyone was involved every day. It wasn’t pretty all the time, but it did — I think — make the editorial team understand each other. I think it helped the magazine people understand how to write online (they began asking the Web team for tips) and it made the daily writers understand the nuances of long-form reporting.

    As with much in life, most of these issues are solved just by bringing everyone to the table.

    Oh, and one more thing: I did go to J-School at Berkeley and I do live and breathe the Web, and even the Internet before that. J-School has nothing to do with anything in this debate, methinks.

    So nice to see everyone around these parts :)

  76. Ken Denmead says:

    “What I do see in the comments is a general consensus that Wired has great potential on the web, and irony that it doesn’t know it.”

    I think Wired understands it just fine. But it’s Conde Net/Nast and the advertisers who haven’t figured it out yet. Until they do, any change can only come gradually, and within the budgets allowed by the current state of things.

  77. Brad_King says:

    The one thing we’ve gotten caught up with is “blogging” which I think is the least interesting thing that’s happening online.

    The models we built at TR weren’t around blogging, although that was certainly a small lever.

    The interactive Web is a lot more interesting than that. And being a “celebrity” blogger certainly doesn’t give you a foundation in building business models online.

    The Read-Write + Semantic web are far more interesting in terms of the business; blogging is a footbridge.

  78. Former Wired Writer1 says:

    >What, exactly, did magazine people do to stifle the blog people?

    Chris-

    I worked under you (indirectly) and under Joel (ever so briefly) and I’d like to offer you an answer to that question. As you say, let’s do it in public because, as Joel says, you’ve always been on the other side of the Berlin Hall, so when else could we talk?. Oh hey, there’s a great place to start–why is the magazine in a different office than the website staff? Why is there any separation at all? (and why is the liquor cabinet on the mag side?) But forget that for a moment, I left Wired.com some time ago, but here’s a few ideas on how and why Wired mag is killing Wired.com based on my time there:

    2) the people writing for wired.com understand the web; many of us helped build its earliest incarnations. The magazine is staffed by people that went to journalism school. I’m not saying they don’t understand the web, it’s just that they don’t understand the web. Case in point: until recently the menu link on Wired.com that said “subscribe” led to some crappy ad-filled page that asked me to subscribe to the magazine. Here’s a reality check, on the web, when you say “subscribe”, even my mom thinks you’re offering an RSS feed. Sure, you fixed that eventually, but I can only imagine the effort it must have taken to to bring you around to something that’s been obvious to everyone else since day one.

    3) Make the website work in a sane way. Wired.com, for all its reporting on what’s happening on the web today, works with a publishing system that sucked in 1998. That’s partly Conde Nast’s fault, they’re locked into a publishing system, but for christsakes, when I left it took 2+ hours to promote a blog post to the front door. That’s pathetic for a crafting newsletter, let alone a website dedicated to the future of technology and the web.

    3) The magazine has some talented writers, Joshua Davis in particular, but for the most part they’re magazine writers who happen to write about the web, not web fanatics that eat sleep and breath the web; and that shows. Table of Malcontents was amazing; it understood web culture in a way that very few, if any, other websites have, and yet it was the first to go. Then there’s the subsidiary properties like Webmonkey.com, once the go-to site for learning how to build the web, now a forgotten relic. Wired used to be a leader in web technology, now it’s an also-run constantly playing catch up to sites like ReadWriteWeb, O’Reilly Radar and even Techcrunch. It’s embarrassing for those of us that love Wired and the web, but no one looks to Wired.com as a barometer of what’s happening to the web. That’s exactly what Joel is trying to say, it’s not too late to make Wired matter again. Make it matter by being too nerdy for the general audience, make it matter by letting the people who know what’s going on write about the stories that are too technical, too weird, or too esoteric, you know, the stories that get rejected only to have the same writers play catch up three days later when the same story hits boing boing and suddenly it matters.

    4) Magazine writers have total access to the Wired blogs, Wired bloggers have no access to the magazine. You know what the mag writers post on when they decide to try out this new-fangled blog thing? Pieces about how their Wired mag stories were so damn prescient. You know what, no one gives a fuck. The stories in the mag work on a three month turn-around, you know who cares about what happened three months ago on the web? The 700K people that still subscribe to the mag. The other 2 million uniques a month want to know what’s happening today. Let the people who know (the Wired.com staff) tell them what they know.

    I wish I could say I missed my days at Wired.com, but I don’t. I do everything I did at Wired, and so much more, working for web-only properties that get it in way I fear Wired never will. Which is to bad, you coulda been a contender…

  79. Steve Silberman says:

    I had dinner with Wired.com’s photo editor tonight, who is one of my best friends. Amazingly, we refrained from gang war over the garlic fries.

  80. dculberson says:

    I’ve always loved Wired magazine, although at times that hasn’t made sense. What the magazine does for Wired is gives a sense of legitimacy to some of the crazy ass shit they write about. It used to be that some of the articles would get a person diagnosed if they were spoken aloud. And that’s a good thing, baby.

    I don’t see as much of that any more, though.

  81. Anil says:

    Is it too late for a shout-out to all my friends in this here thread? Good to see everybody having a dialogue. Do image tags work here?

  82. clvrmnky says:

    “and why is the liquor cabinet on the mag side?”

    Oh, dear. If you have to ask that, you must have been on the other side.

  83. Jack London says:

    Hi all,

    interesting discussion and thank you for sharing.

    I have worked the last years as an online expert/manager for a big publishing houses in spain, italy and germany with strong publications offline and stepsisters and stepbrothers online.

    The last two years – feared by the overall media trends and decline of print – they integrated print and online.

    People are now sitting in the same room, stories are discussed with both staffs. But, it is still common that only print journalists sometimes are writing for online and online journalists still dont write for print.

    It is a challenge of bringing together the different cultures and i think if both (in a journalistic way) want to be more relevant, with more ideas and reach, they have to work together.

    I have seen a beautiful case in the last project. Strong ideas from print journalists, combined with the online know-how have influenced in quality both publications. Its the only way it should go.

    With both cultures it is also easy to create an outstanding product online.

    I am reading wired print and online. I like a lot the print issue and i think online is also good. But it has not this relevance what i would expect from wired. Actually it is not in my relevant set of english online news/info sites.

    I would appreciate if wired would go further with the online website. Its all about experimenting. e.g. ny times with new apps.

  84. The problem is, Wired (the magazine) became a magazine, while Wired (the website) was spun off and spent years in the wilderness. Neither preserved what originally worked at Wired.

    I tried to explain this to Paul Boutin and others in 1998. Instead, they killed Threads and sold to Conde Nast. http://www.downes.ca/wired

    And if Wired wants to become relevant again, it should re-examine the reasons why it was founded and actually succeeded in the early years, before it got large enough to survive on its own momentum.

    Right now, though I still read Wired, I see it more as a marketing tool for various tech and media companies. The purpose isn’t to cover the wired world but to market gadgets and stuff to a certain demographic (which the editors have tried to ratchet to increasingly wealthy sectors).

  85. Rob Beschizza says:

    “Magazine writers have total access to the Wired blogs, Wired bloggers have no access to the magazine.”

    But, did you ever pitch? One of the frustrating things about being a blogger is that you never have time to!

  86. Aurich says:

    As a former Condé Nast employee (I was the creative director for wired.com sister site Ars Technica and still contract with them part time) nothing in this post or comments is exactly a shocking revelation. That said, I can’t help but think that it’s a healthy public dialogue, and it’s great to see people like Chris and Leander and Brian being so candid. Condé has a bit of a black hole reputation, where people are afraid to say anything even after they leave.

    For all of its faults, the Wired site was always held up as a bar worth recognizing at Ars, even long before the Condé acquisition. I think a lot of things are done right there, even with the odd behind the scenes issues. BTW Joel, I still know people who refer to the two sides of the office and East and West Berlin.

    It hasn’t been mentioned yet, but IMHO one of the gaping holes over at Wired, and something Ars figured out a long time ago is how to really build and hold a community. Leander, I recall you picking Ken’s brain on the subject for a good hour once at the Wired office. ;) The comments over at Wired have always seemed so cold in comparison.

    Really though, it seems to me that the fact that Condé didn’t bother to buy the site until a good 8 years after acquiring the print side pretty much says it all to me. The romance of print is king.

  87. petemortensen says:

    I love the feedback squall trying to interrupt the deal of the damned. Too perfect.

    Even more amazing? That Wired Blogs were powered by Tripod’s blogging platform until getting swapped out for TypePad a few weeks before the Conde re-acquisition was finalized. Again, who knew that Tripod survived long enough to build a blogging platform?

  88. Steve Silberman says:

    I should point out that Dan’s post more addresses straight news organizations than magazines, but it’s relevant and there’s a lot there to think about for anyone in media.

  89. Kevin Kelly says:

    Steve is correct that the division between web and print at Wired goes way back. Long before Chris, long before Conde, long before Hotwire. In fact it was very deliberate from day one. One reason was simple growth. As the number of people working on the mag and on the embryonic online part in 1993 grew, we needed space, so somebody had to work in the other room. We didn’t know what the web needed, but we did know what roles the mag needed, so the unknown was given their own room (later half of building, later own building) to play and figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up.

    The one thing we were sure about Wired’s web then was that the worst possible thing would be to just shovel or even mirror the content of the mag. That was the shovelware that most magazines wanted to do. We felt strongly that this new media demanded a different approach, a fresh start not stained by ingrained habits, so we very consciously set Wired Digital apart. Let them invent what a publication on the web should be without the mag looking over its shoulder. Back in 1993 we all firmly believed that the digital part of Wired would outpace the paper part soon. Digital publishing was the main event.

    That was the pitch for the IPO. Wired was valued as an internet company, as a digital publisher, even though the only revenue it had came from paper magazines. So when the IPO failed and the investors forced a sale of the company, they divided the print side from the digital side because — and this is the moronic irony — the magazine side brought down the value of the internet company! Conde could not have afforded buying both (at that price), so the digital side went to Lycos – who were not, shall we say, publishers at heart.

    The deal with Lycos was that Conde/Wired mag was prohibited from using wired.com or even having a digital property beyond doing what we originally swore we would not do — just publish the text online.

    So what Chris inherited was so broken beyond belief, that it is a wonder there is any Wired.com going at all. Add to this that all paper magazines are sweating the transition. I for one, do not envy any editor or publisher at Wired; I am not sure what I would do myself. Especially given the paralysis of Conde’s tech department.

    Joel’s point that Wired.com is overlooked is true. They get less resources because they generate less money. Of course, it is obvious that they could generate more money, if they got more resources. However I think the idea that mag folks don’t “get” the web side and vice versa is simply wrong. Most of the writers are crossover types (like Gary and Steve and the cowardly anonymous writers) and many editors, too. I mean there are few blog celebrities with a profile as high as Chris’. As Clay Shirky says, the problems and brokeness is very visible right now, but the solutions are not.

    My own maxim runs like this: Whereever attention flows, money will follow. Attention is flowing away from paper and onto the web (and maybe e-ink). The money will follow. Dirtyadsalesman points out that it has not flowed yet. And that is true. Which is why Wired and other print magazines are in a pickle. It is clear as a whistle the tide has turned and will run out. But it has not gone yet. You can bet it will, but the only money you have to bet is old media money.

    If I had the horrible job of running the Wired ship right now, I don’t think I would mash the two sides together yet. I think the digital side is under-resourced and under utilized, but it is not Chris or Wired editors that need convincing of this. You may want to send a note to Sy.

    I expect that Wired magazine will be among the last print magazines to go because they exploit the merits of paper more than most magazines. I don’t expect the digital side to get better support until the industry as a whole does — in other words until a lot of other sites begin to make real money. Then Conde will follow fast. The years in between as the tide shifts will be hairy and dicey — and maybe even memorable.

  90. You say Wired’s problem is that “they think print matters.” Well, one reason to think it is … because print does still matter! I’m surprised you don’t understand that, because you explain it clearly in your very own post when you write:

    “It’s a damn shame that online advertising is devalued compared to print advertising.”

    Journalism’s business-model troubles aren’t rooted in anti-online snobbery, as you seem to conclude. It’s about finding the revenue to support the journalism.

  91. JR says:

    I would miss the print version of wired terribly. I seriously hope that blogging doesn’t go overboard, and all the cool print magazines don’t go away. What would you do in an airport? Personally, there is nothing I like better than to grab the a handful of trade rags while traveling and kill time with interesting quick reading. Wired is a monthly staple along with Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, and Inc. Magazine. To lose one of the last remaining classic tech magazines that actually made it out of the 90′s and still remains cool, would truly be a travesty.

  92. Just a data point for the record: I’m one of the longest-running writers for the magazine. I didn’t go to journalism school. My first feature appeared in Wired in 1994. I’ve been “sleeping and breathing” the Web since becoming the senior editor of HotWired (remember that?) in 1995. I went to the print side because the subjects I wanted to cover (like autism, a corrupt FBI porn investigation, and antibiotic resistance) required more in-depth coverage than an 800-word news item.

    Just sayin’. Stereotyping the Wired crew on either side of the liquor cabinet won’t help Wired figure out how to better integrate print and online. The entire media industry is trying to figure that out now, as well as figuring out how to tell in-depth stories in this new world we helped create.

  93. yuridebura says:

    It discusses the tension between wired.com and Wired magazine, with a good dose of head in the sand from Conde Nast charlotte mortgage loans. The comments are particularly good including Chris Anderson and several Wired writers. One theme running through is Wired is well written but not timely, wired.com is timely but not particularly well written. This is a microcosm of the whole print media collapse, but with people who ought to know what to do.

    I think beyond what was discussed, advertisers and agencies need to figure out how to engage readers on the internet home loans. We are looking for information or entertainment, but for the most part web ads do neither.

  94. Chris Anderson says:

    Former Wired Writer1,

    I wish you’d introduced yourself while you were here so I could explain things better. All of the things you rightly complain about are either Conde Nast HQ decision (the sub process) or CondeNet decision (the CMS)–none of them came from the mag. Even the different offices thing is a bug that Evan and I worked hard with the facilities department to undo (by trying to rip down walls) but were stymed by fire code.

    What saddens me is that I’m sure many others suffered from the same misunderstandings about where decisions are made and what influence, if any, we editors (either Evan or me) have over them. The notion that all bad things must be the fault of the other side of the hall is understandable, but just misinformed.

    I’ll take this as a reminder to redouble my efforts to help people understand our admittedly complex corporate structure. I know “us and them” is easier to comprehend, but it’s rarely that simple.

  95. nobs says:

    i personally think that the online mag is excellent while the quality of their online blog just sucks. I can name you so many instances that just shows a huge disconnect… sloppy non reporting…
    I think online should go and offline should stay.. or fire the online dudes and take the offline editors online… quality in a blog wouldn’t that be a new thing… none of that foot in your mouth reporting…

  96. todd basche says:

    Wired is a fantastic print magazine.
    And it is sad that if Wired is dying they are taking innocent people down with them.
    Having full page advertisements for Cigarettes, promoting smoking , is an atrocity.
    I submit that Smoking is Tired and so is Wired if they have to stoop so low as to support Big Tobacco.
    Lets all get on Facebook and Twitter and get Wired to stop taking money from Big Tobacco.

  97. symptomatic says:

    > The “us vs. them” thing was meant as more a reflection of priorities than high school dynamics.

    @FWB2: That’s how I meant it as well: not high school or Jets vs. Sharks so much as partisan defense of turf and resources in the corporate sense (budgets, upper-editorial attention, C-level backing and ownership, etc.). And I meant it ruefully, because I think it does neither side any good.

    Also, I have seen the CNP/CondéNet tech team up close, and all I can say is: Amen to that.

    @RICK JAMES: Amen to that, too (you Superfreak).

    @ANIL: Assuming (hoping) that you are Anil Dash: Does Six Apart, as a company that makes software that falls into the Venn oval between the tech and edit circles, do any kind of education of both sides about what the other side needs/wants? For corporate customers, say, do you sit both departments down at the same table and talk to them about what’s possible online—and what’s needed to achieve that? (This is probably beyond the scope of what SA does and can do, but I can dream, can’t I? Oh, and if you’re looking for a likely product extension, most CMS options these days 5uXXor2. Majorly.)

    @GARY WOLF: To your point about life after dead trees, the magazine needs to read Henry Jenkins: “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”

    @JOHNBROWNING: Back in those same mid-80s, I worked as a consultant for Dow Jones on an early Bill Dunn-inspired project that hit the market as the Wall Street Journal Disk Companion. There were a couple of them, primitive interactive efforts distributed on 1.44M floppy disks. Dorky in retrospect, but at the time (and, I’d argue, still) a bit of out-of-the-box thinking.

    Bottom line: This is a failure not just of an industry’s economics but also of an industry’s habits of (non)communication.

  98. Smitty says:

    Jeff (#39), you should try The Atlantic. My wife reads the dead tree edition, and I read the online version, usually in small doses on my iPhone, but occasionally on my laptop.

    Many of the people who complain about screen or brightness or other frustrations with online are usually just tactile folks who want the experience of paper. They will sit and stare at a computer or video screen for hours, reading pages of research as they call it up, but steadfastly maintain that they prefer to read long-form works on paper because it “hurts their eyes” or some other silliness. It’s just a preference, and one that, like riding your horse to work, letting the dogs out without a leash, and other standard practices of a bygone era, will not fit into the modern era, unless you’re willing to pay quite a bit more to be pampered. There are still people who ride horses to work. There are still places you can just let your dogs roam free without problems from the neighborhood association. Both of those, however, require a serious investment (owning a business that you can locate near a horse trail, or buying enough land that you don’t have to worry about where the boundaries are). Magazines – glossy, deep, national periodicals – will go that way soon as well, as will newspapers. The cost to produce, print, transport, deliver, store, and recycle the pulp cannot be covered by advertising alone. Wired, in my opinion, needs to lead, not follow, in helping advertisers learn the truth of web economics.

    We, as a family, make very few, if any, buying decisions based on the ads my wife sees in Atlantic, Smithsonian, and National Geographic. I make many, many more based on what I see online, from hulu.com, wired, boingboing, nytimes.com on down the line. (The irritating banner ads in my yahoo.com email box are nothing but noise, however. They really should find someone other than weight loss products, dating services, and lenders to advertise there. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

    If I am truly engaged in the story of a product, I will watch a lot of ad-time about it. But flashing, popping, blinking, repetitive ads are the online equivalent of shouting TV car salesmen. Neither one gets my money. Ever. But talk to me one-to-one about a product that, because of what I’m reading or watching, and there’s a high likelihood that I’ll be interested in, and I’ll go along with you for quite a while. The old “flash an ad, get a sale” days are gone. Today’s consumer is more wary of hucksters, and the quicker online advertisers learn to stop looking and sounding like hucksters, the better their ad responses will be. (Check out the creativity of the new Apple ads on NYTimes.com. They are funny and engaging because they entertain and do unexpected things. This makes people click them. Enough of these clicks, and people start to think “Their ads are so clever. I think I’d like a product from someone with that mindset.” ::SNAG!::)

  99. pork musket says:

    @Anon Y. Mouse – That’s fair. I don’t want to be the gloom-and-doom prophet here. Pretending print media will still be as relevant in 10 years as it is now is just crazy, and I think that’s something most of us agree on. Journalism, good writing, in depth analyses, and quality content will always be marketable, but instead of a magazine I hope I’ll be picking up a color e-book reader. I certainly wouldn’t suggest reckless abandon, but maintaining a dying model and chalking it up to corporate policy… if I worked for Wired, that would make me a bit nervous looking a few years out.

  100. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s too late for the print edition. It’s too bad but not unexpected. If you actually subscribed you would know it’s over. I saw this when BYTE forced us to take Business2.0 as the substitute subscription. And then that too died. Poor Byte. :(

  101. Ian Welsh above says: “you can do long form online (I’ve done up to 5K words).”

    Absolutely agree that it’s possible to successfully present long-form journalism online. Just look at the WSJ — its 2,000-3,000-word front-page stories are routinely at the top of its most-emailed. The trick (sorry to be a broken record) is making enough money to do it exclusively online.

    Which raises the point made by Kanomi: “if the Christian Science Monitor can do it, why not Wired?”

    I don’t know the details, but the CSM is subsidized by the church to the tune of millions of $$ a year — a large portion, and perhaps even majority proportion (hard to tell) of its operating budget. Needless to say, experimenting with online-only is easier for a publication if its subsidized.

    Notably, the CSM also plans to make a “modest” reduction in its 95-person news staff due to the online shift. (To my knowledge, it hasn’t defined “modest.”) Also, a fact that sometimes gets lost is that CSM will continue printing and selling a weekly product.

    I admire the CSM very much for what it’s trying. But its unique financial situation (heavy subsidies) give it flexibility. So it’s actions aren’t a perfect model for other news businesses.

  102. Steve Silberman says:

    A blast from the past that I like to think about when people ask me if Wired “is about the Internet” — from our July/August 1993 issue, and written by John Browning, who posted above!

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1.03/eword.html?pg=5

    World Wide Web

    CERN, a European center for particle physics near Geneva, Switzerland, has developed an intriguing new tool for managing the cornucopia of information linked to the Internet. The World-Wide Web (W3), a global hypertext system, provides links between a phrase in one document and related information elsewhere. Unlike some hypertext, however, the links in W3 connect across the Net. Click on a phrase highlighted in a document called up from, say, a W3 server in Cambridge, Massachusetts and – zzzip – you get related information from another document in Tokyo.

    W3 evolved from tools created to help CERN physicists track the huge quantities of data generated by their experiments. By putting a link into a report on an experiment, a researcher could give his colleagues a quick and easy way of peeking at the underlying data, should they wish to do so. A link can also query an online database to generate a completely new document, containing the latest information.

    Today, W3 provides an eclectic collection of information, including a database of poetry, documents from Project Gutenberg (which is making classics of literature available in electronic form), computer algorithms from MIT, weather information, library catalogs, and a biochemical database. Usage has grown tenfold in the past year, and Tim Berners-Lee, who has been responsible for developing the system, expects that the pace of growth will accelerate as more and better software for accessing W3 becomes available.

    So far, pretty point-and-click interfaces for accessing W3 have only been available for Unix workstations, but Macintosh and Windows versions will soon be released. As more and more client software becomes available, Berners-Lee expects more and more information to be woven into the web. Those on the Internet can try out W3 for themselves. Telnet to: info.cern.ch.

  103. awesomerobot says:

    Wired.com is just a news site.

    As it stands now in my opinion, if the magazine tanks it should take the site with it – because honestly the site isn’t really doing anything that hundreds of other sites aren’t.

    Wired magazine in the past has been groundbreaking in many ways. But the site has always felt like an afterthought. Even now as the site numbers reach higher than the print edition – it still manages to feel like an afterthought.

    There’s some major irony going on here, and I really think Wired needs to take a step back an seriously rethink things beyond the typical “how do we make this better.” Sometimes you just need to cut off the leg and replace it with a shiny new bionic one and start kicking the competition in their fleshy human parts.

  104. JB says:

    I’m a freelancer. When I started out, I was 90-10 print and online. I’m now the exact opposite eight years later. The short answer to the problem, I think, is that magazines should be all about long-form features. Forget the trends. The newsy front material in a magazine just looks amateur when we’ve been writing about it for months online; the blogs look even more lame when there’s a magazine feature that has been fact checked.

  105. brianlam says:

    Hey, Brian Lam here. I worked at Wired, and work on the web now at Gizmodo and Gawker Media.

    Editorial:
    I think part of the problem stems from the conflict of interest between print staff’s duties (very full time; make the mag) and whatever extra duties were asked of them when it came to working on the blogs. No 3-month lead time print editor is going to use their print content on a blog post. It’s suicidal. And no one really gives a damn from the top (Chris) to the bottom (writers) because its not really their job. Everyone is responsible for the mag, as the majority of their job, at wired and other mags.

    Because of this, having the two organizations behave separately, even competitively, has been ideal. But that takes money, and conde is unwilling to spend it, for whatever reason. The wired website has always occupied a unique niche, and yet, for all that value and traffic, they’ve been strangled for resources. I think everyone who is within a few degrees of the staff can see and sense that. And maybe some readers can see that, too.

    Conde could encourage the editors by making their success a measure of their website’s online influence and growth, just as they are in terms of their print work.

    Do I think Chris should run the website? Yes, I do. If only so he can get conde to invest, go nuts with the site. Right now, its a news site. Why not make it more, as they have with the magazine? Bold, differentiated editorial stands out online even more than it does in print, because it spreads and shares via links and emails. And the same type of thinking that leads to the design and edit awards in print would have a profound effect on the web side.

    On the business side of things:
    I think Conde should hire some ad people who know what the fuck they’re doing online, and are creative enough to go beyond the banner. People who understand most of the brands that are so strong offline are pitifully overcapitalized online, and getting destroyed by everyone from BBoing to CNN and can walk the line between teaching clients about the web and making concessions given their relative weakness, yet, do everything they can to sell at a premium. Who knows if it’s possible for the website to support itself in these ways, given the cloud-like accounting in such a mega publishing corp. But I know which way the trend lines are going in terms of spend and traffic. Why not be ready for that?

    The spirit of what makes a magazine a magazine doesn’t have to die because it moves to the internet. In fact, it just needs to be treated more like a magazine and given the support the magazines have received so far.

    Same thing, man. Different channel.

  106. Sue says:

    Food for thought: Why is there such dissention between web and print? Obviously, Wired and wired.com share a parent company, a topic, and a voracious audience. And that’s where the separation should begin.

    The web is of-the-moment, it’s chatty, it’s subjective, it’s a cacophony.

    Print is slower, more deliberate, hopefully more investigative and finally, something that will linger and live with the reader for more than a few moments.

    Realize and embrace the distinction! Make print lasting, important, memorable. Create something that an owner wants to have in his/her possession for a long period of time–preferably living on a coffee table as a signal that this is an important document. This magazine matters. Much thought around art has been given. We have made a masterpiece and it lives longer in its state.

    Web: seize the moment. Grab everything that is happening or about to happen. Share, compare, contrast, argue, agree.

    Let’s all get along. There’s room for both. Realizing the differences is a place to start.

  107. Ian Welsh says:

    As a long time blogger, and ex-managing editor of a couple decent sized blogs, I’ll just note that:

    a) you can do long form online (I’ve done up to 5K words);

    and

    b) it’s a lot harder than doing long form in print, because it’s a lot harder to keep people’s attention.

    Most bloggers can’t do it. When they try, their traffic plummets. But some can.

    As for Wired, love it. Hope it doesn’t die.

  108. Ladyfingers says:

    You know what Wired needs?

    More articles about Steve Jobs and Apple.

  109. Joel Johnson says:

    I think the point that I didn’t do a good job underlining is this: Long-form journalism is useful and Wired practices it well, but it would be nice if they made Wired.com the center of the organization instead of a value-add.

    Also, thanks for the job offer, Mr. Anderson. Let me run this website into the ground first and then we can talk.

  110. Brad_King says:

    @Steve: Weir’s piece was good, although maybe I’m missed something. Are there “harsh resentments” playing out the by the younger generation here? This seemed like a good, old-fashioned discussion. Apparently, I’m not sensitive enough :)

    Such a great group of minds here, it would be fun to do this in person + with a stated purpose (not to be all mission-statementy).

    But I think Gary has it right in this comment: the publications need to meld into one voice + figure out how they can learn from the community (unless I am mis-stating this, then I apologize).

  111. Sean Bonner says:

    Having never written for Wired or Wired.com I can’t speak to the specifics of this but while reading this article I couldn’t help but agree every step of the way from my own experiences working for Playboy.com.. back in 1999.

    It was the same situation – very well known and established magazine brand that had fantastic articles written by amazing authors trying to find balance with it’s newly created web counterpart. In someways Wired.com is still new since it’s only recently been brought into the fold.

    At Playboy.com, the people who made the major decisions about what would and wouldn’t happen on the site sometimes didn’t even have browsers on their computers and for a while the magazine wing charged the web wing anytime they printed the URL in the mag as if it was an advertising.

    I’m sure there are differences but the feelings of Joel and the other writers who have chimed in here were the same – the web authors always felt like they were considered less important by the print folks. Joel may have been trying to make a point implying that print doesn’t matter, but the real issue is that print people in situations like this need to understand that the web is equally if not more important than print has been for a very long time. As Brian says it’s the same thing but a different channel. Unfortunately most print organizations look it as an afterthought.

    It’s expected that this problem would come up in non technology related publications, but embarrassing that WIRED is having them too. They should be leading the pack on this.

  112. Brad_King says:

    @DirtyAdSalesman: I can’t speak for the other folks here, but I actually *do* have experience on both sides, having built TechnologyReview.com in its present incarnation. That included working with the sales team, the CFO et all on the business (and actually going on sales calls).

    There is an absolute merit to what you say about the print side still driving sales; however, the disconnect that I’ve seen is that the business side — at least in my experience — believes that selling ads is the future online. Which is obviously is not. It’s an old world model templated on an interactive environment.

    The issue is that while we are in this transitional phase, media buyers (and we weren’t meeting with 24-year olds) are trying to figure out what works for them. It’s a new ballgame and convincing all sides that investing in long-term, interactive communities will yield more returns than ads splashed across networks is quite hard + takes time.

    I think it’s a misnomer to believe that the new media folks don’t get business.

    The disconnect is that print folks are trying to develop interactive products. When we launched new sections on the site, they each had business plans with hard numbers and dollar figures attached to them so we could monitor what worked and what didn’t — and then adjust as we went, just as every other business unit does.

    It’s not magic. It’s not even new. But it manifests itself in quite a new way and few companies are willing to put the time and resources into developing those properly to pull the money out of them.

    IMHO.

  113. Former Wired Blogger 2 says:

    The “us vs. them” thing was meant as more a reflection of priorities than high school dynamics.

    As a product, I think Wired and other publications would benefit from combining forces and moving their editorial direction online. Referring back to Joel’s original point, it would be advisable if Wired’s online presence was central to its future.

    All would benefit to hear its talented voices outside of print as well as in. People look for authoritative voices. Wired has them. As readers start to choose from a menu of news and blogs scattered across the web, these “stars” will be an influencing part of their decision right alongside brand.

    I firmly believe an stronger online strategy would make for a stronger product — exactly what Chris Anderson is looking for in the NYTimes article. It might even be cheaper in the long-run.

    I haven’t mentioned what I think of the business side much. I’ve been primarily focused on content. But since I’m drunk on commenting here (for some reason) and like to hear the sound of my own typing, I’ll start by saying I think Wired’s online ad future is bright.

    Thanks to relative online inexperience among ad execs, Google and Yahoo’s online auctions and general confusion between brand and search advertising, online ads are unrealistically cheap compared to its value right now.

    With a dearth of newspapers, I expect that to change. Key ad spaces will get more crowded over time as the economy gets better and brand advertisers start looking for more space. This will be good news for television and high-traffic websites like Wired.com.

    I agree with other commenters that in today’s ad space, the ad sellers have to go out and convince advertisers their ad budget belongs online. With dwindling print ad space and the unique technological advantages of advertising online (such as tracking impressions and click-throughs), it shouldn’t be too hard for a knowledgeable ad rep, just different.

    As an aside, I was often concerned about the amount of Conde Nast properties being hocked on Wired empty ad space (aka, self promotion). If you want my advice, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and/or Federated Media giant ad networks should replace it as default ad placement. With 11 million uniques, I’m guessing that small change probably would’ve paid my salary and more. I’m willing to bet the Gadget Lab pages could convert content-generated ads pretty well.

    I also agree that many Wired staffers understand the internet quite well (thank you ;-) , but they were resigned to wait until someone could convince Conde Nast to do what was necessary. I’m sure they’re still waiting for Conde Nast’s tech team to get their heads out of their asses. In fact, I know this is true. I joined in their wait while I was there. I think a lot of them are reading this. Hopefully this discussion will provide some ammunition.

    P.S. If I were to play a futurist, I predict the day I see the first woman President elected, I’ll read about it on the e-ink device I got for free when I subscribed to the NY Times and order a paper copy for posterity via a link online.

  114. Steve Silberman says:

    I hear ya, Brad. I think the resentment factor in this discussion is easy to overestimate in part because of the hed and the lede sentence above:

    “Welcome, Wired. We call this land ‘Internet’

    Here’s the problem with Wired: They think print matters.”

    That framing front-loads the smackdown value. But it’s been a fine discussion.

  115. > it would be nice if they made Wired.com the center of the organization instead of a value-add.

    Agree with this mostly, though I’d argue for two “centers” coexisting side by side, with better integration between them. (Note: I am not empowered to speak for the organization *at all.* I’m talking out of school here. This is all personal observation.)

    At the New Yorker, David Remnick is obviously encouraging the biggest names on his non-existent masthead to blog more often. I think that’s a promising approach; even an inevitable one. Not every good long-form writer also makes an engaging blogger, as Joel pointed out above, and doing that more at Wired will eventually require telling some great writers that they just don’t get blogging. But more encouragement along these lines could help Wired, in part because the long-form writers who *do* live and breathe the Web would then be adding value to the brand, rather than just posting and tweeting to their own communities.

    Andrew Sullivan is a great example of someone who is capable of doing both fine long-form writing and thrilling blogging. Part of what will enable the media industry to successfully remake itself is offering opportunities to hidden talent in the ranks. One thing Wired has always had: a tremendous amount of hidden talent, as well as visible talent.

  116. aTanguay says:

    I for one would really miss the print edition.

    I still read a small handful of magazines while sitting down and giving them my full attention. It’s a completely different experience than clicking through a blinking, blooping website. I read well-written, expertly researched articles that blogs just don’t have the time or resources to devote to a subject.

    I agree that Wired has always been an odd bird…a magazine about the digital…sigh…revolution, but I guess it would be poetry if online kills it in the end.

  117. Wired Writer3 says:

    Staffers were let go from wildly-successful Wired News/Wired.com with editors remaining on board the dying print side. This is after some staffers from print tried to man-handle their way into the blog fold–with ensuing inaccuracies and corrections that were never run (the comments sections tell the story). The blogs lost credibility as a result. Who was thinking what?

  118. symptomatic says:

    Oh, you’ll be needing this:

  119. DirtyAdSalesman says:

    this entire thread is incredibly amusing. as a long time employee from the business side at conde nast and elsewhere, i can say (without hesitation) that bloggers and editors have no clue what the hell happens on the other side of the wall. you know, the side that actually makes money and pays your salaries! just a couple thoughts to enlighten all of you on what really happens on the ad sales side and let you know that its so blatantly obvious that most of you have no clue what the hell you are talking about.

    felix salmons assertion that print reps are order takers is about as ridiculous as the thought that bloggers cant write in long form. in truth, and any smart business side wonk will agree with this, anyone with an e mail address and an instant messenger account can sell online ads in 2009. the orders come in over the wire and come in last minute. some deals are hard fought, but at magzine based websites much of it is driven by the magazine side and is sold in conjunction with print or propped up by ideas and programs built and funded by the print side.

    everyone likes to talk about how much they love the digital medium, but the truth is that if you follow the trail of money (always the quickest way to get to the truth) you’ll see that clients put their money in what they believe in. for now, thats still print. sorry bloggers, but while your posts help to prop up traffic number for magazine based sites like wired – you still barely earn your keep. you may have street cred on sites like boing boing and on twitter, but that wont keep the lights on. yet another case of “the old economy propping up the new.”

    and here’s a thought for you, maybe theres a reason that online salespeople make less money and have a lot less experience? hmm, what could it be? maybe its because they arent as good at there jobs and they dont need to be. now, before you go off and say that im a disgruntled print guy…i will say that i do currently sell both mediums and have done so for a very long time (in and out of conde). its just the fact. online salespeople sell to and buy from 24 year old media planners. print teams sell to clients and senior level contacts. why? because online ad sales is a transactional, short term relationship…its a very different world. basically, they are order takers and have very little opportunity or need to be as strategic or creative as their print counterparts. im painting with a very broad brush, but this is much more true than it is not.

    and here’s another reason that the magic and intrigue of print looms so large at conde nast and everywhere else…magazines make more money than websites. a lot more, actually. so for all the hard work that the online team puts forth (and wired has some smart talented people on the online business side), they simply could not exist on their own. sorry, but they can’t. trust me.

    so while you attack chris anderson and the entire print wolrd (business and edit) you guys should realize that anyone with even a small amount of experience can see the reason you dont have the answers is that you dont really know what you are talking about. why dont you guys stick to writing and leave the strategy and monetization of the world you play in to people who understand it a lot better than you pretend to.

    wired may succeed or not, but magazines as a medium wont go away. they’ll evolve and grow and many of them will die, but many more will live on and integrate and grow in lock step with their web siblings. and when that happens, you can bet that most of the people at the top of the integrated landscape will have come from the traditional mediums: print, tv, radio, outdoor. sorry boing boingers, but its true.

  120. symptomatic says:

    That is: left angle bracket, slash, em, right angle bracket. I rest my case, such as it is.

  121. passerby says:

    I fully expect to see this comment thread show up on the syllabus of some “history of new media” course in 20 years.

  122. Qathryn says:

    the printed word will return just like our beloved vinyl is making a big comeback…

  123. Anonymous says:

    It’s interesting to me with all the discussion about whether Wired “gets” the web, no one has mentioned that Wired is not really a magazine about the Internet. It’s about people, the cool/crazy things they create and their impact on society. I don’t understand how a blogger would be better at writing about that subject.

  124. DIRTYADSALESGUY says:

    Brad King / elizabeth – i dont mean to imply that money cant be made on the web – that couldnt be further from the truth. however, for right now its not as profitable as the magazines (for traditional publishers, anyway). places like conde, time inc, hearst, etc. are increasingly putting more money and time into developing online properties. this is a great investment in to the future.

    there’s no excuse about online or even a thought that it wont someday be the lead driver in revenue for the current print-driven media model. im just making the point that developing online sales models that work for the long term (and are profitable) are a lot more time consuming and difficult than most of the responders here seem to realize. and that the most effect revenue and strategy development that we’ve seen is, for now, coming from the efforts of the magazine side. most publishers were late to the game, but not as late as everyone here seems to think.

    what sites like wired have proven is that magazines can integrate and can translate online. many of them suck and wont get it – ever – but when you look at the majority of mag based websites that are over 7 or 8 million uniques…you will see a stark contrast in the way those sites are managed and populated with ads and content. those sites, wired among them, are the very model that other sites should be using. they are a hell of a lot more than just circulation drivers – unless you think that the 25-25 million that wired.com will probably generate this year is all just circ??? (insert sarcasm here). yet back to my original point…this can, should and will be lead by the print side of things. the staffs are better and more experienced.

    finally, im not sure why wired magazine or wired.com are being so unfairly target here (probably because so may folks here are disgruntled ex employees). however, if you’ll leave the blogosphere for a mere moment and see the extreme success that this brand has had over the last 3 years, perhaps, you will see why wired has probably never been stronger. maybe its not what you want it to be. maybe its not what it was in 1995, but its a better brand. a more profitable brand. a better edited brand and a better run brand.

    read it, dont read it. log on, log off, but you should at least be smart enough to recognize the success its had and see that wired is a model for the industry (forbes is right along side them – just without the magazine success that wired has had recently). the lack of objectivity and overall understanding of wired and media on this site makes me wonder if anyone here is even familiar with what wired (or any other mag sites) are even doing with their properties. seems like there are a lot of generalizations and little fact.

    again, most bloggers and editors dont really have a clue about the business side of things. you guys should stick to buzzing around the hive and making the honey….let the beekeepers figure out how to market and sell your work.

  125. Tom says:

    I stopped reading Wired when they published “The Long, Long Boom”, where they predicted that the DOW would go to 20,000 and higher, and we would have a 50 year reign of prosperity. I got so tired of their ridiculously hyped self-importance, and complete disconnect from reality. It was nothing more than a bunch of clueless journalists giving freelance handjobs to geeks or pseudo-geeks. Seriously, who needs that crap? And, more to the point, who needs a print magazine to tell us about the digital future? Talk about an ironic contradiction in terms. If I want to know about what’s happening, I go directly to the source: the Internet, itself. Wired needs to die. It’s so 1997.

  126. Steve Silberman says:

    Former Wired News editor David Weir weighs in:
    http://bit.ly/N215s

  127. symptomatic says:

    @DIRTYADSALESGUY and/or @DirtyAdSalesman, whether you’re two different people or simply one person ashamed of even his/her own self-hating alias.

    Your lessons on the business side of things, which boil down to “We are bringing the money in, editor types, so STFU” are, shall we say, less than persuasive.

    As far as I can tell, your argument is that ad-sales departments constitute a priesthood whose goals and methods are inscrutable to outsiders, especially to those on the other side of the wall. (Having been on many sales calls with ad folk and potential ad clients, I’d say that your presentation stances and methods are actually all too obvious.)

    Please, then, do educate us, since it seems that educating us wasn’t so important to you back when you had the chance to do it in person.

    Tell us, for example, why it’s so much harder to sell against compelling Web content (where the traffic is quantifiable) than it is against print content (where the sales and readership numbers don’t come back for months).

    Tell us why print subs and circ are the future, rather than overlooking the fact that new delivery mechanisms might have some potential.

    And tell us why you seem so dismissive of the people who, from my perspective, make it possible for you to keep selling.

  128. Leander here, who until a few weeks ago used to the day-to-day editor of the site. I’m a Wired.com veteran, so I’ve seen it all.

    More credit needs to go to Evan Hansen, Wired.com’s editor in chief, who’s been the architect and driving force behind the site’s amazing growth and success (the site has also won a clutch of prestigious awards).

    The best thing that happened to the site when it was bought by Conde Nast nearly three years ago was that it WASN’T turned over to Chris Anderson and the magazine. Contrary to what Joel says, Anderson had basically zero input (And Table of Malcontents was killed because it was underperfoming).

    The great strength of the Wired brand is the separation of its editorial operations. One staff for print, another for digital. The print editors turn out an amazing magazine, but I can say with certainty that the they would not have achieved the same success if they had been running the site for the last three years. It’s a totally different beast.

    And that’s the challenge. As Brian notes above, it’s all about money and resources. The site has far, far fewer resources than the magazine. It’s basically run by bums and hobos. It makes money, but it’s a fraction of what advertisers will pay for a glossy spread in print. Yes, the site attracts 11 million uniques a month — a very big audience — but ironically, the more people the site attracts, the less its pageviews are worth.

    But the tables will likely be turned in a few years, as marketers pour more money into online advertising. Then the all the site has to do is get out from under the crushing technophobic bureaucracy of Conde Nast — but that’s a different story.

    PS: Although the NYT didn’t mention it, the mag’s ad troubles stem from the collapsed car industry. More than 50 percent of Wired’s ads were automotive — the old economy propping up the new.

  129. Gary Wolf says:

    It’s interesting to watch this conversation occur in public. It closely follows the pattern of dozens of conversations I’ve heard, overheard, or been part of both inside and outside Wired, except for the fact that it involves all the factions at once: writers and editors both print and online, as well as enthusiastic readers, disappointed readers, ex-readers, and even non-readers. Perhaps this will yield a new idea.

    One thing that strikes me as obvious is that neither print nor online editorial sites have yet found a way to remain tied into the true social value of the material they publish. As a writer, I measure my own success by the quantity, quality, and longevity of the discussion it inspires. All of this discussion occurs on other web sites. I participate in this as much as seems respectable, tracking it in the normal fashion with a news reader. Many writers do this. It is basic human nature/egotism/curiosity. But though this discussion is my personal metric of success, it is not measurable by conventional business metrics in either the online or print magazine world. Nor does Wired attempt to make money from it.

    There are a few simple techniques that could be used to try to maintain this conversation at a high level. For instance, as a story gets praised and criticized new questions emerge that can foster another round of conversation. But here’s the rub, from both a commercial and an intellectual perspective. There is a steep curve of diminishing returns to the contributions one person can make. The value of the web hinges on this. Once a writers’ work appears online it gets quoted, chopped up, mixed with comments, and slowly dissolved into the larger “work” of the web. The standard solution is to blog intensively within a defined range of subjects: internet security, or productivity hacks, or news and gossip about the executives of tech companies. Leverage the interest in each post to build audience (links, page rank, social media lubrication) for the next post, pay the writer per page view, revise payment per thousand every quarter to track a defined editorial budget, and let the business model more or less take care of itself. Still, it is interesting to wonder if there aren’t more possibilities than this. Wired has done very little so far with the temporary communities that form around topics of interest.

  130. Joel, you say in comment #30, “Long-form journalism is useful and Wired practices it well, but it would be nice if they made Wired.com the center of the organization instead of a value-add.”

    This very interesting conversation seems to be sidestepping the 800-pound money gorilla in the room. How would Wired (or the NYTimes, or boingboing for that matter) bring in enough revenue to pay for producing long-form journalism?

    Example: Here’s a nearly 10,000-word piece Wired cranked out last year. This is a terrific piece — insightful, educational, surprising, emotional, and dramatically told. It probably took a lot of time to report and assemble the parts. It’s just one long-form piece of many the mag produces a year.

    The Race to Save the Cougar Ace

    How does an online-only pub bring in enough $$ to continue producing work like this, given the constraints of online ads vs print ads? How does a mag transition to this idealized, futuretastic online-centered business model without first laying off most/all the relatively expensive reporters, photogs, designers etc who produce great pieces like thes, but might only do a few pieces per year?

    This is the heart of the question, not “shouln’t we all just be more online-centric?”

    Disclosure: I have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Wired, aside from occasionally reading it.

  131. I think part of the problem was that the magazine and blog were like estranged siblings who didn’t really get along and weren’t sure whether they were happy or sad that they were related to each other. I always felt like the .com people were like The Others in Lost. (Don’t know if they’re trustworthy, but they’re not as good looking and they’re definitely not the main characters!)

    I can go on and on and on about my theories on why Wired and Wired.com can’t play nice,* but I will leave it at that for now.

    Btw, Berlin Hall, lol!

    *I was both a magazine person & a blog person at Wired before coming to Boing Boing, and I wrote for Table of Malcontents and briefly for its successor, The Underwire, right around the time when Joel quit. I’m also just a girl who likes to analyze relationships. Also, for the record, I love Wired and Wired.com and Boing Boing and print publications and the Internet and I hope everything survives.

  132. Rick James says:

    Hey, not to break in here but how much does Wired’s site actually generate in revenue vs. the print mag? I don’t see that any where.

    Also, online and print staffs never work together. That’s like wishing you could get the Crips and Bloods together for a block party.

  133. Luke says:

    Its funny that an early poster found wired.com’s pop-up advertising reason to turn to the printed edition. I did not renew my subscription to Wired this year based in part on the increasingly annoying advertising inserts I was subjected to month after month.

    I also really hated how blatantly certain mag writers would twist the truth in order to get their point across, but that’s another discussion, I guess.

  134. pork musket says:

    This has been a great thread to read.

    My 2 cents: why the need to treat the two types of media so differently, when they are really the same? It’s words on a page. Sure, some stuff is better suited to the web or to print, but not enough to really matter (see: dying newspapers) but I don’t understand why a blogger can’t write a magazine article or vice versa.

  135. Matt McKnight says:

    The Wired magazine had a nice look to it, but it turned me off because it seemed overstuffed with advertising, as do most magazines. However, Wired articles looked a little like advertising, so it was more annoying than other mags. I had a $10/yr subscription for a few years, but ultimately dropped it last year, along with every other magazine subscription I had. Recently I started enjoying the Danger Room blog over there. I read about the Daimler investment in Tesla today first on Wired, from a link in Twitter. There’s definitely a sensibility about Wired that makes for a good content selection.

    Ultimately, web analytics makes it a lot easier for people to discover what drives traffic than a paper magazine does. Maybe that’s a big part of the problem, adjusting to what people actually want to see/read.

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