Review of a Self-Help Dropout

It’s as if Chris Hardwick asked WIRED, “Is there anything I can do to re-inspire confidence in your magazine with Jason Cobb?  He’s been reading your magazine since your covers featured tight-fisted EFF logos, even before Marc Andreesen launched Netscape. He’s the rebellious teenage hacker whose grown up to work in an office everyday, but still yearns for the fancifulness that only WIRED can bring.  Let me bring it to him.  Let me be the one.”  And so, we get “Diary of a Self-Help Dropout” by Chris Hardwick, freelance writer, comedian, and musician.

Its a review of three self-help books including Allen’s Getting things Done, a feature favorite and life changer for Jason Cobb and millions of others around the globe.  I busted out laughing on page 75 when he summarized Allen’s system for prioritization, “Explode my individual tasks into a philosophical framework incorporating my life’s ultimate purpose.  Oh, OK. That’s all I have to do.”  I’ve often felt the same way.  One more quote that just reeks of Jason is on page 77 when Hardwick says of menial tasks, “You might as well write a check to ‘Failure’.”  I think that if Jason just gives this issue a chance he might come to love WIRED again.

Best “Crash” Ever?

Jan 2009’s WIRED magazine sees more bells and whistles than ever before.  There are more things going on, each page filled with sub-boxes, clues to guide you through the choose-your-own adventure that editor Chris Anderson wants every issue to be.  The first article to stick out to me was by Scott Brown on page 66 entitled “Best Crash Ever.” What caught my eye was a reference to “The Great Facebook Panic!”. Okay, Scott, you have my attention.  Go on.  He does.  The premise of the story is to imagine what the new depression, which starts in 2008 will look like now that we are in the digital age, but around half-way through the article, something started sounding familiar.  The dystopian mix of technology and hard-times sounded like a sequel to Snow Crash and then it hit me.  Why not have a sequel to Snow Crash set in today’s “metaverse” and economic slowdown. When the only thing we are good at as a nation is programming and pizza delivery, it pays to have tight wheels, friends you can trust, and a fast connection – even if it means living in a U-Stor-It.

I emailed Scott Brown this message:

Great story in the Jan 2009 issue.  Wondered if “Crash” was a wink to Stephenson’s Snow Crash? I didn’t think about this until about half-way through when I realized how your article could be construed as a premise for a sequel to Neal’s epic.

And he replied a little over a month later:

Oh dude. I wish!