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Wired magazine launches in the UK – But is it really plugged in?

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The eagerly anticipated re-launch (a previous attempt failed fourteen years ago) of Wired, the magazine about what’s next, hit UK stores last week, but was some what of a disappointment.

Whilst launching a new magazine in an economic downturn, particularly one which failed to capture the interest of UK readers first time around, is some what questionable, Wired’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t feel that new or innovative.

Although there are some interesting articles like: ‘How the iPlayer saved the BBC’ and ‘Your life is a number’ a large majority of the magazine is pictorial. The magazine is full of sexy shots of new technology, including 3 double page spreads of circuit boards and wiring and 10 pages of speakers and other musical equipment, with very little copy to support it. This unfortunately just comes across as porn for geeks rather than supporting the magazine’s strap-line – ‘the future as it happens’.

In many ways this is the root of Wired’s problem. It doesn’t appear to be practicing what it is preaching, or at the very least, not in the way the reader expects. A magazine is hardly the format for getting up to speed with the latest developments in technology and innovative engineering. Monthly magazines prepare content months in advance, so if Wired’s statement is that it delivers – ‘the future as it happens’ – it’s arguments and stories can hardly be as groundbreaking as they claim, if they are only confined to a monthly publication rather than a constantly updated website, fully rooted in Web 2.0.

New Editor David Rowan told  The Guardian “There are quite a lot of magazines in Britain doing products, with girls in bikinis with iPhones. That wasn’t us.” He added that what Wired UK aims to do “is not fluff or bullshit: its data”. That may be so but the result is a large number of pieces which fail to capitalise on their content, most notably an interview with Twitter CEO Evan Williams.

Despite all this though, Wired does show potential. Its website has a number of original stories uploaded daily and the concept of informing the masses about the changing nature of the web and technology has a lot of scope. However its focus and the way in which this data is packaged needs addressing. In basic terms the magazine tries to hard to cram in to much at the expense of detail. Whilst graphically stunning throughout, it is this which distracts and confuses the reader. For Wired to work it needs to simplify its message and design and focus more on copy, so that reader doesn’t feel robbed or left out of the loop, which Wired is clearly trying to bring the reader into.

In conclusion, whilst the model appears to work in the US, since launching in 1993, it would seem that Wired would have benefited from taking the Maxim approach, investing solely in its online counterpart.

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