Monday, November 28, 2016

Magazine Monday: Review of Wired Magazine

by Steven D. Mathews, Library Assistant

The Yocum library subscribes to the print edition of WIRED magazine (est. 1993), a monthly periodical focusing on “emerging technologies” and how they affect contemporary culture, the economy, and politics. If you’re in between classes, want to relax, or take a break from studying, come to the quiet-area magazine lounge on the third floor for some easy browsing and catch up on some current events in subject areas that you may not find in your news feeds.

For example, the November 2016 issue of WIRED features a special guest-editor: President Barack Obama. In 1990, you may recall, Obama became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review (read about it at the N.Y. Times).

The Editor-in-Chief of WIRED, Scott Dadich, writes in the opening of this issue (“Exploring Frontiers With the President”) of Obama’s reelection in 2012: “Obama campaigned on a platform of hope and optimism, about the future, and that’s what WIRED believes in too: that the future will be improved by inclusion and invention, by the unfettered flow of information and ideas, and by civil discourse, scientific discovery, and technological innovation.”

The theme of this issue is “Frontiers,” a word that was mutually agreed upon by Obama and Dadich. The individual articles are organized into five different subtypes: personal (“push the limits of human intelligence and health”); local (“build better cities and communities for everyone”); national (“create a strong, more innovative republic”), which features “A To-Do List for the Tech Industry” and a contribution from Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; international (“confront the challenges that face the entire world”); and final (“search for future on Mars and beyond”).

In Obama’s editorial introduction, he writes: “When WIRED asked me to guest-edit the November issue, I didn’t hesitate. I know it’s the height of the election season, and I happen to have a day job that keeps me pretty busy. But given the chance to immerse myself in the possibility of interplanetary travel or join a deep-dive conversation on artificial intelligence, I’m going to say yes. I love this stuff. Always have. It’s why my favorite movie of last year was The Martian.” He also “is a big Star Trek nerd,” according to Dadich. Obama also contributed “a slightly intimidating, very rewarding list of essential books for future leaders,” such as Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. In tiny print, at the bottom of this list (page 40), you will also find “Obama’s Playlist for Staying Fit,” which includes songs by Nina Simone, Black Eyed Peas, Sting, and more.

Despite the many full-page ads in each issue of WIRED, this special issue will provide some general insight into President Obama’s visions for the future of the world after he leaves office in January. Dadich is careful to note, though, that some readers may see a potential conflict of interest here: “You can imagine that there might be some sensitivity about the White House getting involved with editorial decisions in a journalistic enterprise. We laid those rules out far in advance, and let me assure you that after we picked stories together, the president’s team left the reporting and writing to us. In fact many of the ideas and opinions in the issue are not necessarily those of the president. They represent a collaboration among him, the magazine, and our writers.”

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