RE: Whole Earth Singularity Issue

From: mike99 (
Date: Fri Jul 11 2003 - 15:44:53 MDT

There's a reason why the Whole Earth Review can't raise enough money to
paper-publish anymore: it's as dead financially as it is intellectually.

No doubt WER thought that an issue focusing on the Singularity might bring
in a host of new readers. Unfortunately, its imbalanced presentation of the
Vingean Singularity idea is so poorly done that it is little more than a
joke. WER rounded up its usual suspects, such as Lanier and Sterling, to do
their usual hatchet job on trends they either don't like (Lanier) or they
don't understand (Sterling). Cory Doctorow, a once promising SF author, has
just embarrassed himself for life.

It's too bad, really. WER used to be provocative, interesting and a whole
lot of fun. But that was in the good old days before it began its long, slow

The slide of WER into irrelevance began more than 10 years ago. What was
once a vibrant and intellectually diverse clearinghouse for non-mainstream
ideas under founder Stewart Brand became a significantly less adventuresome,
more predictable, more politically-correct effort under the hands of a long
line of short-term editors, none of whom could make a go of it.

I cancelled my subscription some time in the '90s after having been a loyal
subscriber since the '70s.

Like many more-or-less intellectual magazines, WER never made enough money
through subscriptions or newsstand sales to pay its own way. Such journals
are wholly dependent on rich benefactors to keep publishing. Willing
benefactors became few and far between as their fortunes dwindled along with
Silicon Valley and the stock market. (BTW, the offices of WER are in Marin
County near a houseboat landing. Very funky and cool. I knew people who
worked there just for a cachet of being able to say that they had done so.)
WER tried taking advertising for the first time several years ago in order
to make up the difference. It didn't work.

The Vingean Singularity, if it transpires in the form of a Yudkowskian
Friendly A.I., promises to be a white hole fountain of fabulous creativity
and an almost magical cornucopia of beneficence for humanity.

The Singularity of WER is, apparently, the gravitational collapse of a once
great magazine into a black hole of intellectual and financial bankruptcy.

Michael LaTorra

Extropy Institute:
World Transhumanist Association:
Alcor Life Extension Foundation:
Society for Technical Communication:

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