20 May 2008 10:04 am   //   Filed under: Media

Nineties are the new 2.0

I ended up at a rooftop bar in midtown last night at the Wired magazine 15th anniversary party. Why they held it in New York rather than San Francisco was left unexplained, but probably has something to do with advertising.

Fifteen years! The editor, Chris Anderson, gave a pep talk reminiscing about the old days of the ‘net… Telneting into Gopher and such.

As part of this nostalgia trip, Wired just announced that it will revive Hotwired and Webmonkey, two defunct sites that were part of the pre-Condé Nast Wired empire. (Wired has also acquired the tech site Ars Technica.)

Part of the fun of Wired is that it’s often wrong. The magazine has always looked a few steps beyond reality, cheering on the next big thing with enthusiasm, even if the next big thing is destined to die on the drawing board. If you’re paying attention, you can usually sort Wired’s stories into two baskets: ideas that are actually solid reporting, and science fiction.

But a 15th anniversary celebration? These are computers we’re talking about. If there’s a problem with the current tech-retro craze (see: Steampunk), it’s that it romanticizes the technologies of the past. To me, that’s like waxing poetic about the old days of dentistry. By any standard, things are better now than they were then. Wired is still a pretty good read, and a good agitator for innovation. It should do the 15th anniversary thing fast – for the advertisers – and move on. We don’t want Wired ending up as one of those semi-relevant magazines that puts out a self-congratulatory retrospective every couple of issues (see: Rolling Stone).