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I recently mentioned a blog I read on the Wired site called 27 B Stroke 6.

Well, sadly, they are changing their name to something less clever and creative: “Threat Level.” How… interesting. How… thought-provoking. Pshaw!

I have been a subscriber to Wired for many years. The reason I never read it much when it first came out is because it was so over-designed as to be difficult to read. Magazines are… what? Anybody? Yes, read. A difficult-to-read magazine is useless.

Thankfully, Wired‘s loony design got toned down and I started subscribing once I realized what a great magazine it actually was.

Well, actually, that’s kind of a lie. I subscribed once I noticed they were offering the mag for $12 a year. Wow! A bargain!

During my readership, Wired has undergone three major redesigns. I think I can safely say only the first one was a success. The last two are horrible.

The first mistake, this being from the second redesign (I think), was making stories continue in the back of the magazine. For years, Wired stories were printed in a continuous flow, ending before the next article began. But that was changed, and now you have to flip way back into the magazine to finish reading an article. This sucks. I hate magazines that do this. It is inconvenient to read and bookmark.

The second mistake was the fonts. Oh, the FONTS! The second redesign brought the text of the magazine back to the nearly unreadable zone. I can suffer very small text, but when it’s small and thin, forget it. This style lasted a couple years.

The last redesign, which happened sometime last year, was yucky. The first change that brought the magazine from “cool” to “pedestrian” was the size. Wired went from being a wide-format magazine, which is nice to hold and imparted a bit of specialness, to being a normal size, which is… normal. Dull.

The last redesign also brought a bunch of “new” fonts, designed specifically for the magazine. Oh, the FONTS! They suck. Often, the font meant for body text is blown up huge for headlines and such, and the font is butt-ass-ugly at larger sizes. And the multiple fonts used do not harmonize well together, nor have I really been able to determine when a certain font is used for what, meaning they are all just tossed in whenever and make the magazine look junky.

Maybe to offset this now-ugly monthly experience, I recently subscribed to Print magazine. (Yes, that Print.) It is a model of beauty. The typesetting is pristine and high-class. The fonts are readable. The layout is thoughtful and pleasing. It makes the people designing Wired look like junior high students just learning InDesign.

What does all this have to do with 27B Stroke 6? Only this: Wired‘s changes, both online and off, have smacked of Corporateness. Wired used to have this rebellious spirit about it, but that’s definitely changed. The magazine is now almost dull. Any hipness it tries to impart seems forced, like Cargo or something. I still enjoy the info I get from it, but it’s no longer my destination magazine.

The name change for 27B Stroke 6 is another sign of this. The old name was amusing and clever. If not everyone got what it meant, so the hell what? For God’s sake let some people be in the dark about something. Let there be something to discover about something. But corporate marketings desire the exact opposite of this. It’s a shame.

At least the new redesign is an actual improvement. The site has sucked for quite a long time now, design- and coding-wise. At least now it’s cleaner and easier to use.

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