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WIRED September 2019

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The Wired mission is to tell the world something they've never heard before in a way they've never seen before. It's about turning new ideas into everyday reality. It's about seeding our community of influencers with the ideas that will shape and transform our collective future. Wired readers want to know how technology is changing the world, and they're interested in big, relevant ideas, even if those ideas challenge their assumptions—or blow their minds.

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United States
Conde Nast US
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
totally wired

Bones jiggled by turbulence, brain numbed via SkyMall, nose twitchy with the smell of my neighbor’s peanut breath and secret farts, I am lost. My hand reaches for my lone salvation, a ladybug-sized nub on the armrest labeled map. The little seat-back screen lights up with a fetching 3D rendering of our plane—there’s me and you, Gail the gassy librarian, in row 27!—gliding over a bumpy, russet and tawny patch of Wamsutter, Wyoming. We are 36,572 feet up, traveling at 197 degrees due west-southwest at 542 miles an hour. Rejoice, for I am found. FlightPath3D, you confection of cartography, code, and cartoonery, the only travel buddy I need. I zoom in, and—courtesy of crowdsourced reviews in ecstatic cahoots with the GPS—greater Wamsutter beckons: At the Dusty Trail Cafe, Sheryl S.’s companion,…

3 min.
“what strand of fan-created culture is your favorite, and why?”

“Tape trading—people who record live performances by bands, with permission or without, and trade the files on the internet through nonprofit channels. They are archiving performances that otherwise would be lost to the ether and strengthening the communities of fans. How else would I have met all these other Dungen freaks?” —Senior editor Michael Calore, “Write Stuff,” page 34 “I’ve always wanted to go to one of those immersive, live-action role-playing events set in a fandom world. There’s one for Battlestar Galactica in Norway where they hire out a real battleship!” —Contributor Laurie Penny, “We Can Be Heroes,” page 50 “After a magazine published a cover story I photographed about The Walking Dead, I came face to face with THE FANS. They altered, reinterpreted, revised, modified, and transformed every photograph of the…

1 min.
case studies

In July, Christine Biederman wrote about the founders of the online sex-marketing juggernaut Backpage.com, Michael Lacey (pictured) and James Larkin, and their fight with the feds. “Here’s the thing,” Biederman writes, “Silicon Valley had better hope they win. United States v. Lacey is a dangerous case.” In the same issue, Stephanie Clifford told the story of several young women who were terrorized via online sextortion. And in June, Paul Ford wrote a lyrical defense of the tech industry. GET MORE WIRED If you’re a print subscriber, you can read all WIRED stories, ad-free, online. To authenticate your subscription, go to: WIRED.com/register.…

7 min.
mythic proportions

Three of Beowulf’s virtues make sense. The fourth seems more like a vice. He was the man most gracious and fair-minded/Kindest to his people and keenest to win fame. ▪ Gracious, fair, kind. But also: more eager than anyone to see his name in torchlights. “Keenest to win fame” is one translation of lofgeornost—lof is “glory,” geornost is “gladdest for.” Some also translate lofgeornost as “praise-yearnest.” ▪ We English speakers are praise-yearners from the outset. The signature warrior hero of English literature, Beowulf, was, if not “famous for being famous” (in the 1960s phrase), something weirder still: famous for wanting to be famous. Beowulf’s strengths are not chiefly bravery or even victories in battle; he is renowned precisely for his thirst for fame. ▪ A bit of a blow. Fame…

5 min.
free riders

Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine for a moment that a hardheaded social scientist from, say, 1974 is plucked out of time and dropped here, in the midst of the internet age. What, more than anything else, would blow their mind? ▪ I’m not just asking what they’d be most dazzled by. I’m asking what would shake their sense of how the world works. What would they least have seen coming? ▪ My hunch is they wouldn’t be as astounded by our world as we like to think. Our technologies of instant communication would be impressive, yes, but they’d at least make sense as the culmination of a trend that began with the telegraph. Other seemingly new phenomena like viral false news and deepfakes have predigital precedents. Even some of the…

4 min.
the weird joys of worldbuilding

Recently, a 23-year-old college student named Nick tried out a new pastime: building 3D virtual worlds. ▪ He got his hands on Dreams, a game by Media Molecule that gives people tools to create digital scenes—anything from a room filled with items to an entire landscape you can wander around in. There’s a tool for sculpting objects and another for animating them, and a unique visual programming language to tweak things. Daunting! But soon he’d made some remarkable stuff, which he shared via the game’s online interface. ▪ In only a few weeks, Nick became rather good at Dreams. I checked out one of his 3D worlds, in which you pilot a humanoid robot across a barren rocky planet, the whole place aglow in extraterrestrial moonlight. It gave me shivers—a…