Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hot Hype over Wired Magazine: Well, It's Virtually Hip

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hot Hype over Wired Magazine: Well, It's Virtually Hip

Article excerpt

YOU'VE probably heard something about the incredible future that's almost here. The one where everything is connected, interactive, fiber-optic and virtually real.

The one in which your computer is attached to your CD player and your VCR and your vibrator and your toaster. So all you have to do is wake up and pop a bagel in the computer and in 10 seconds you can have warm virtual sex with someone in Japan.

If you don't want to be left out of this electronic nirvana, if you're what's known in the marketeers' lingo as "an early adopter," possibly a premature collaborator, you're probably a Wired reader. Wired is the wildly successful San Francisco bimonthly that after only four issues has announced it will go monthly.

Positioned somewhere between the far-out Mondo 2000 and the relatively dated Vanity Fair, Wired is a feature magazine come to tell us what's hot and what's not (they say: wired/tired) as computing, telecommunications and the media converge. Special thanks go to unofficial promotions director and communications highway rider Al Gore.

How successful is it? CNN and Newsweek interviewed editor Louis Rossetto and president Jane Metcalfe even before the first issue appeared last spring. That issue sold out 100,000 newsstand copies in only five cities.

Writers such as William Gibson and Michael Crichton sent pieces for fees in the low four figures. Hot young writers like Gen X prince Doug Coupland and "Snow Crash" author Neal Stephenson are working on stories.

Advertisers call THEM. E-mail is pouring in. John Sculley and Jann Wenner sent howdy-do's and Wenner even offered spare change.

It wasn't necessary. The way to success was assured when Metcalfe and Rossetto got MIT professor and Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte on board as columnist and investor. What did they say to him?

"We told him that technology is a lifestyle," says Metcalfe.

The office, an open loft space on the edge of San Francisco's on-trend, anti-chic South Park, would be the perfect set for twentysomething, version 1.4. Every work station has some thrilled-to-be-here pierced, tattooed or clunkily shod person with a "Shampoo Planet" haircut.

At 44, Rossetto is the old man with his long gray hair. Sleek and shining with youthful confidence, 31-year-old Metcalfe in jeans and black oxfords is more typical.

Nineteen-year-old network wiz Jason Combs is the youngest in the 24-person office. These are the kids who don't need to go to college because they already know more about the emerging technology than the dotty professors in the retro, unwired university.

Metcalfe notes that she had heard a discussion on NPR that day about T.S. Eliot's poems. "I wished I could have downloaded them. I hate going to the bookstore or looking for it in a LIBRARY - that archaic system."

Metcalfe and Rossetto have been a couple since 1988, when they met while working on a cult magazine in Amsterdam called Electric Word. …

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