Letter from the Editors: The Next 25 Years of WIRED Begin Today


First issue of WIRED, published 25 years ago this year, founding editor-in-chief Louis Rossetto said that “in the age of information overload, ULTIMATE LUXURY IS MEANING AND CONTEXT.” (All caps.) If anything, that simple observation rings even more true today. That’s why WIRED has always valued depth. We dig deep into our subjects, reveling in wobbly engineering details that other publications ignore. We think deeply about the future. And we form deep relationships with our audience, connecting them to a community of ideas and encouraging them to think more about the future they want to inhabit.

For most of our history, our business model, primarily based on advertising, has rewarded this depth. Advertisers are eager to connect with our sophisticated audience, and WIRED remains the best way to reach them. But in recent years, this industry has proven to be fickle and tumultuous, and too thin a reed to hang our entire business on.

That’s why we’re launching a paywall today, a business that rewards our connection with our audiences and will help us keep WIRED a home for unique, surprising, stimulating and sophisticated journalism for the next quarter century and beyond.

Attentive readers may note here that as the voice of the digital revolution, we have followed Stewart Brand’s famous notion that “information wants to be free,” a statement some have interpreted to mean that no one should ever. pay for digital content. But read the rest of Brand’s statement: “On the one hand, information wants to be expensive because it’s so valuable,” he told Steve Wozniak in 1984. “The right information in the right place just change your life. On the other hand, information is intended to be free, because the cost of its dissemination is lower and lower. So you have these two fighting against each other. This tension persists today. Even though information has become cheap or free to distribute, we believe that quality information, based on quality reports, crisp writing and insightful information, remains valuable.

By WIRED subscription, you can help us continue our legacy of new ideas, in-depth reporting, stunning design, and beautiful writing. The details are here, but in a nutshell: if you read four articles in a month, you’ll be prompted to subscribe to find out more. If you subscribe, you not only get unlimited access to WIRED.com and a printed subscription, you will also receive a Free YubiKey—An essential tool to protect yourself online. You will have access to a digital edition of our magazine, delivered fresh to your tablet each month. And when you visit us online, we’ll remove the ads.

But the real benefit of your membership is that you make sure that we can continue to produce great stories and content. To this end, we would like to announce three new programs that we are launching with the paywall. First and foremost, we’re excited to introduce the all-new Backchannel, a home for our most ambitious long-running digital journalism. Our feature films are consistently the most popular on our site, which is why we are building a special house for them and doubling our investment in their production.

Next, we would like to unveil our new Ideas section. WIRED has always prided itself on what we call mind grenades, vast and surprising ideas that change the way the world thinks. We are now dedicating a section of our website to posting the biggest ideas from the world’s most exciting thinkers, including Joi Ito, Director of MIT MediaLab, Magic and loss author Virginia Heffernan, Big chicken author Maryn McKenna, and Jason Pontin, former editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review.

Finally, we’re launching a whole new kind of story: WIRED Guides. They are definitive, authoritative guides to the most important topics in the WIRED world. Need an update on the state of drone technology? Don’t know the difference between supervised and unsupervised artificial intelligence? Want to finally understand how blockchain works? WIRED Guides have you covered, with insightful essays and links to great stories from WIRED’s unprecedented archives.

For a quarter of a century, WIRED has watched the Internet rewrite everything about journalism and media: who creates it, what we expect from it, and how we support it. And yet, deep down, Louis’ central observation in our launch issue is as true today as it was 25 years ago: when simple information is cheap and plentiful, context and meaning are more valuable than ever. The paywall is refocusing our activity around this simple truth.


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