One of my dot-com era relics is issue #2 of the short-lived magazine In Formation. Here's
what the New York Times said about it in 1998: - the hypertext annotations are mine.
It's not exactly Howard Beale, the mad anchor in Network,'' deciding he's opposed to corporate news operations, but a group of Silicon Valley wonks has taken the daring step of going public with an equally heretical notion. The cyber-future can wait.
The medium is a new quarterly magazine -- a print magazine -- called In Formation. Pitched as a hype buster for these high-tech times, the premiere issue, just out, announces its intentions with the acutely paranoid tag line, ''Every day, computers are making people easier to use.'' Whether that spirit takes the form of an article on the draconian implications of a nationwide student database or on the loss of privacy in a cashless society, the subtext remains the same: ''Be afraid. Be very afraid.'' Which is not to say the magazine is humorless. In a parody, ''The Internet Watch,'' the first issue cleverly skewers the hagiographic new-media profile, tracking the rise of the edgy, youthful genius behind a portable Internet device that can, on command, tell you what time it is.
The magazine's editors and contributors have worked at places like the @Home Network, Apple and Starwave, so they know the territory. In Formation's editor and publisher, David Temkin, sees the magazine taking on digital fetishism in much the same way Spy magazine riffed on the go-go 80's. ''Spy was outsiders looking for an in,'' he says, in a line that will probably be repeated often during the magazine's formative months. ''In Formation is insiders looking for an out.''
Issue #2 is a keeper, with stories on "The Internet Wants To KIll Me", the Million Manager March, and a photo essay on the strip malls of Silicon Valley. Plus this ad, from the California Print Association:
Let's be honest: the Internet is a cold, impersonal, cheerless place. No amount of technology will ever make it more human. All those clicks and URLs are confusing and hard to remember. And did you know that 60% of the people who use search engines never find what they want?
So, if you want a medium that can really make an impression, why not rely on the one that was "sticky" long before stickiness was good? With no arcane plug-ins and no long download times, print has warmth, life, and a physical presence that the Internet can't beat.
PRINT: It just smells better!
Party like it's 94115, 1999.