The Next 25 Years of WIRED Start Today

In the first issue of WIRED, published 25 years ago this year, founding editor Louis Rossetto declared that “in the age of information overload, THE ULTIMATE LUXURY IS MEANING AND CONTEXT.” (Caps his.) If anything, that simple observation rings even truer today. That’s why WIRED has always valued depth. We dig deep into our subjects, reveling in wonky engineering details that other publications skip. We think deep thoughts about the future. And we form deep relationships with our audience—connecting them to a community of ideas and encouraging them to think harder about the future they want to inhabit.

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

That’s why today we are launching a paywall—a business that rewards our connection to our audience and will help us keep WIRED a home for unique, surprising, challenging, and sophisticated journalism for the next quarter-century and beyond.

Careful readers may note here that, as the voice of the digital revolution, we have hewed to Stewart Brand’s famous notion that “information wants to be free,” a declaration that some have interpreted to mean that nobody 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 is so valuable,” he told Steve Wozniak in 1984. “The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.” That tension persists today. Even as information has become cheap or free to distribute, we believe that quality information—built on great reporting, vivid writing, and illuminating insight—remains valuable.

By subscribing to WIRED, you can help us continue our legacy of fresh insights, deep reporting, stunning design, and beautiful writing. The details are here, but in a nutshell: If you read four articles in a month, you will be invited to subscribe to read further. If you subscribe, you not only get unlimited access to and a print subscription, you’ll also receive a free YubiKey—a crucial tool for protecting yourself online. You’ll get access to a digital edition of our magazine, delivered fresh to your tablet every month. And when you visit us online, we’ll take out the ads.

But the real benefit of your subscription is that you’ll ensure that we can continue producing great stories and content. To that end, we want to announce three new programs we’re launching with the paywall. First, we’re happy to introduce the all-new Backchannel—a home for our most ambitious digital long-form journalism. Our long features are routinely the most popular on our site, and that’s why we are building a special home for them—and doubling our investment in producing them.

Next, we’d like to unveil our new Ideas section. WIRED has always prided itself on what we call mind grenades—expansive, surprising ideas that change the way the world thinks. We are now dedicating a section of our website to publishing the biggest ideas from the most exciting thinkers in the world—including MIT MediaLab head Joi Ito, Magic and Loss author Virginia Heffernan, Big Chicken author Maryn McKenna, and Jason Pontin, the former editor of MIT Technology Review.

Finally, we are unleashing an entirely new kind of story—WIRED Guides. These are definitive, authoritative guides to the most important subjects 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 the blockchain works? WIRED Guides have you covered, with enlightening essays and links to great stories from WIRED’s unparalleled archives.

For a quarter-century, WIRED has watched as the internet has rewritten everything about journalism and media—who creates it, what we expect from it, and how we support it. And yet, at heart, Louis’ central observation in our launch issue is as true today as it was 25 years ago—when mere information is cheap and plentiful, context and meaning are more valuable than ever. The paywall refocuses our business around that simple truth.

Russian Roulette — An Excerpt From the Wired E-Book John McAfee’s Last Stand.

Twelve weeks before the murder, John McAfee flicks open the cylinder of his Smith & Wesson revolver and empties the bullets, letting them clatter onto the table between us. A few tumble to the floor. McAfee is 66, lean and fit, with veins bulging out of his forearms. His hair is bleached blond in patches, like a cheetah, and tattoos wrap around his arms and shoulders.

More than 25 years ago, he formed McAfee Associates, a maker of antivirus software that went on to become immensely popular and was acquired by Intel in 2010 for $7.68 billion. Now he’s holed up in a bungalow at his island estate 15 miles off the coast of Belize. The shades are drawn so I can see only a sliver of the white sand beach and turquoise water outside. The table is piled with boxes of ammunition, fake IDs, Frontiersman bear deterrent, and a single blue baby pacifier.

McAfee picks a bullet off the floor and fixes me with a wide-eyed, manic intensity, his light blue eyes sparkling. “This is a bullet, right?” he says in the congenial Southern accent that has stuck with him since his boyhood in Virginia.

“Let’s put the gun down,” I tell him. I’d come here to investigate why the government of Belize was accusing him of assembling a private army and entering the drug trade. It seemed implausible that a wildly successful tech entrepreneur would disappear into the Central American jungle and become a narco-trafficker. Now I’m not so sure.

But he explains that the accusations are a fabrication. “Maybe what happened didn’t actually happen,” he says, staring hard at me. “Can I do a demonstration?”

He loads the bullet into the gleaming silver revolver and spins the cylinder.

“This scares you, right?” he says. Then he puts the gun to his head.

My heart rate kicks up; it takes me a second to respond. “Yeah, I’m scared,” I admit.

“We don’t have to do this.”

“I know we don’t,” he says, the muzzle pressed against his temple. And then he pulls the trigger. Nothing happens. He pulls it five times in rapid succession. There are only six chambers.

“Reholster the gun,” I demand.

He keeps his eyes fixed on me and pulls the trigger a sixth time. Still nothing. With the gun still to his head, he starts pulling the trigger incessantly. “I can do this all day long,” he says to the sound of the hammer clicking. “I can do this a thousand times. Ten thousand times. Nothing will ever happen. Why? Because you have missed something. You are operating on an assumption about reality that is wrong.”

It’s the same thing, he argues, with the government’s accusations. They were a smoke screen—an attempt to distort reality—but there’s one thing everybody agrees on: The trouble really got rolling in the humid predawn murk of April 30, 2012.




The end of the password era.

We snicker when we read that the most common, hackable passwords are “password” or “123456.” Who would possibly think that using “password” as your password is a good idea? You feel good and secure knowing that your 7-20 character passwords have plenty of numbers, symbols, and uppercase letters. Plus, you always get a “very strong” password strength rating when you create a new one. You’re online identity is locked down, Fort Knox style.

And then you read about Mat Honan. He’s a senior writer at Wired who, despite having “robust” alphanumeric passwords of seven, 10, and 19 characters long for his Apple, Twitter, and Gmail accounts, had them all hacked and lost years of stored documents and photos because they were linked together. Ever since being hacked, Honan has been looking into online security and what he discovered about our password-centric web is terrifying, to say the least.

No matter how complex, no matter how unique, your passwords can no longer protect you.

Look around. Leaks and dumps—hackers breaking into computer systems and releasing lists of usernames and passwords on the open web—are now regular occurrences. The way we daisy-chain accounts, with our email address doubling as a universal username, creates a single point of failure that can be exploited with devastating results. Thanks to an explosion of personal information being stored in the cloud, tricking customer service agents into resetting passwords has never been easier. All a hacker has to do is use personal information that’s publicly available on one service to gain entry into another.

Of course, it’s easy to make online security more secure but nobody can remember an insanely long, random password and nobody wants to encounter difficulties recovering your password when you forget it. That’s one of the (many) problems with password-based online security: these systems need to be convenient enough so that people keep using them. You might not be addicted to Facebook, for example, if logging into the site were onerous and recovering your password were a chore. Honan goes into great detail in his piece about how the password-based system is failing us (you can read it here).

He points to biometric approaches to security (like fingerprint readers and iris scanners) but shows how those could easily be compromised. He praises Google for moving in the right direction with its two-factor authentication system where a password is sent to your phone if someone tries to log into your Google account from another computer. But, again, that can be compromised by hacking into your cell phone account. So how does he suggest we move forward?

The only way forward is real identity verification: to allow our movements and metrics to be tracked in all sorts of ways and to have those movements and metrics tied to our actual identity. We are not going to retreat from the cloud—to bring our photos and email back onto our hard drives. We live there now. So we need a system that makes use of what the cloud already knows: who we are and who we talk to, where we go and what we do there, what we own and what we look like, what we say and how we sound, and maybe even what we think.

That shift will involve significant investment and inconvenience, and it will likely make privacy advocates deeply wary. It sounds creepy. But the alternative is chaos and theft and yet more pleas from “friends” in London who have just been mugged. Times have changed. We’ve entrusted everything we have to a fundamentally broken system. The first step is to acknowledge that fact. The second is to fix it.

With so much of our lives protected by easily hackable passwords, I’d say yes, it’s time we figure out a better way, even if that means navigating the Internet of the future is a little more complicated.

Source: Smart planet