As you may know, I am very interested in the quality of industrially made products. Certainly magazines qualify. I do not set myself up as an arbiter of taste, and do not usually question other people’s likes and dislikes, but sometimes I am amazed at the direction some products take,I guess in order to make more money. Wired, which used to be both fun to read and informative, had the good judgment to jump early into things digital. It featured articles on new and exciting technological developments, explained the way things worked and had interesting statistics about applications. But then Conde Naste bought it, and the result might be an improvement if you are looking for luxury goods such as ten thousand dollar watches and three thousand dollar bicycles, graphics that make the text much more difficult to read, and yet more news and interviews about and with movie actors and other wealthy glitterati.
I let my prescription lapse at that time, but I seem to continue to receive it with various inducements to re-join the subscriber list. This seems to be an ear mark of many magazines, especially those who carry a large amount of advertising. They seem to want to continue to be able to add you to their subscriber list, probably to boost “readership” and demographics to maintain and increase advertising income. Conde Naste seems to excel at this. Perhaps I will turn them in for putting trash in my mail box. But just to make sure I am not making a mistake I opened the last edition (rather than just throwing it into the trash) and did not change my mind. It has little left for me.
The cover article has to do with General Motor’s re-entry into the electric car business. Not exactly new news, and I wish them luck, but I plan to wait and see (yes, one of my sons was an early Tesla employee). Ads for Kit and Ace (luxury athletic clothing ), and TAGHeuer (luxury watches) follow, On the back cover is the Lincoln Black Label MKX (a Detroit Luxury car) and inside is an ad for Morgan Stanley. None of these are widely sought after by the people I know involved in digital devices or applications. In between are lots of full page ads (including the kind that fold out), articles such as one about the 20 most politically influential “Tech Insiders”, an article on the GM electric car (the Chevrolet Bolt) and one on trends in transportation (bold face statements taken from text turned sideways and put in the middle of the page on both). And of course, suggestions for the well-appointed techie, including a $2000 table and a $870 office chair. The articles end with one treating a bizarre brain operation that I guess was intended to make the person owning the brain (who paid for the operation) more susceptible to being hooked up to a computer?????
I perhaps am not being fair to Wired, but I miss the old emphases, and don't seem to get much from the new. I admit I have a bias against Conde Naste magazines, except for the New Yorker, which has done a good job of holding onto tradition , and one expects luxury ads in it. It is difficult to escape these magazines, as they tend to end up in doctors offices, dentist offices, and other places where one encounters waiting rooms—they are especially worrisome in doctor’s offices because they feature models who clearly have eating disorders. And they even appear in my house. As an example, my wife subscribes to Architectural Digest (she refers to it as a “guilty pleasure”), and I hate it. First of all, there is little in it about architecture. It occasionally contains impressive houses (usually owned by celebrities) , but the emphasis is on the furnishings and decorations in the rooms. The items are all identified by source, and can be bought from dealers often listed in the magazine if one has a large amount of money to spend on such things. But the three reasons it annoys me the most is the staggering amount of advertising in the magazine (they should pay me to read it), the fact that very few of the spaces in the magazine show any signs of human habitation (no toys on the floor, magazines on the table, glasses on the drainboard, bicycles on the porch, or butt-dents on the couches), and third, the letters seldom of ever fall short of raving about the magazine and its contents. I admit that I have never written a letter to the magazine, and maybe I will to see what happens. I will have no trouble at all in finding something that I consider awful, and I suspect they will not print my letter. If they do, I will write an apology to them and a retraction to this post (maybe).