Attached is a letter I (Jesse Drew) wrote to Wired criticizing an article that glorified a particularly offensive robber-baron communications conglomerate. Ordinarily I would ignore these types of articles, but their cover page glamorizing the heads of Viacom Cable really got to me. As a founding board member of San Francisco Community Television and as a long-time activist for community access television, I have seen first hand the avaricious greed and arrogance of this particular band of thieves. Viacom has consistently cheated communities of their community access requirements, has denied cable wiring to poor neighborhoods while upgrading wiring in rich neighborhoods, has been found guilty of illegally censoring programming, and has had court orders to roll back rates after willfully overcharging customers. This is the kind of corporation Wired thinks is really "cool." So, I wrote Wired a letter, which I assumed would certainly not be published. Wired e-mailed me a few weeks later, saying they were planning to publish the letter. Several days before Wired (June issue) went to print, a friend of mine was at the Wired office and saw the letter on the galleys, laid out and going to press. Then an inside source at Wired told me that John Batelle, managing editor and author of the Viacom article, pulled the letter at the last minute. The following is the letter that Wired didn't want you to see. While I don't have money from software corporations and vodka companies to publish my words, I'm hoping that you all will forward this message to as many interested readers as possible-
to all present or former readers of Wired Magazine
Thanks a lot- Jesse Drew
I have been disappointed to see your once fine magazine evolve into an uncritical fan-zine for the communications/software industry. While I have been able to ignore most of your laughable attempts to portray corporate CEOs as cyberpunk heroes, your Viacom fluff piece made me want to throw up. I have dealt with Viacom Corp. as a representative of the public interest for more than six years, usually regarding their hostility towards public access commitments, their technological red-lining of the poorer parts of town, and their propensity to rip-off their customers as often as possible. So, hate to disagree with you, but Viacom REALLY DOES SUCK. What disturbs me though, is I'm beginning to think that Wired does too.
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to:email@example.com (Jesse Drew)
from:firstname.lastname@example.org (John Douglas)
thought you might be interested in seeing another letter (below) to the editor that never made it to print...... and speaking of covers. when negroponte made it to the cover...id looked around in folders and found this old note written early on..... but that issue made it all the more clear.......nick@MIT put up the money for the mag.....or contributed.....
got to you by way of the paper tiger homepage .....
had the luck to see dee dee this past period....both out at the pacific film archives when screening the latin america work....and at ExitArt in nyc for the newsreel glimpse
anyway, great finding you out there..... i can currently be found in the context of http://www.together.com/~artvt
take care J>
friends had been talking about WIRED. rushing to the newstand before their subscription had come. so i subscribed. finally my issue arrived. excited to get a taste of what WIRED is all about.
i notice a communique from "nicholas@MIT_medialab/ETC". and i think, cool. sometime since i'd read Brand on the subject. wondering what's up out there. and then slam! what's this double think? cyberthink? or WHAT. has this guy been reading his own AI selected "news" too long? is he really the guru for our future? do people out there just swallow it down whole?
europe unwired? he seemed to be quite intimately familiar with France. what about MiniTel years ago. using your Visa card to pay tolls on the highway? the earlier response to the possibilities of computer animation? their position on encryption? but i am certainly not out to trumpet France's vision or other continental achievements. i am interested in what in the world he was doing developing something for the Shah of Iran (sadly). 'colored' words. we really have only vague ideas as to where all that money comes from. perhaps that was just a favor for the CIA or State Department. what was his relationship to the Iran-Contra buildup in Honduras as a base of operations for the North-Reagan deconstruction/destruction of the Sandanistas. and now is his brother currently in Mexico trying to figure out how to squash Chiapas consciousness?
the technology is hardly youth driven. Hillis is out of work cause there's no more $tarWar$. perhaps the MediaLab would know that as well as any such advanced research group. DARPA and down the line i am sure. as i recall at one time it seemed that Komatsu? was about to own the place. put up more than half?
and then there was for me the staggeringly peculiar passage about how once again in Paris, in 1968, he noticed that the students were in the streets demonstrating (about what he failed to mention) and he reflected on how docile and i donŐt recall what else he thought of the American youth. but i must say, what was/is nicholas thinking about. where was he. where had he been. some of the most turbulent of times. the youth were in the streets in Ameria too. in fact, for many of the same reasons as the French. for all the good reasons. now seemingly dismissed as PC.
abolish the Ministry of what? it seems he had taken off his double-brested wiseman's suit just long enough for the snapshot of himself. and entrenched? my impression is that he has never left the Cambridge area. but for his islands in Greece.
and am i now to believe somehow the rest of this magazine is anymore together than this flash from technotemple. the seemingly profoundly off,wrong, distorted sense of the past/present. on that count, i don't even want to imagine what he might think the future looks like. but perhaps this is your idea. trying to keep the youth on their toes. see through the carefully conceived deceptions. or perhaps this is some sort of equal time thing. but it seems more serious than that, because my impression is that he is still heading what is perhaps the most 'prestigious' technotanks around. why keep acting as a BB for this sort of stuff. they've all got their own extravagant media reps.
let's get wired and clear. at least clearer for the time being.