Though I am a subscriber, I can usually take or leave Wired US. Each year, there’s a few good articles and some interesting design choices, but overall it has an unnecessary love of celebrity, and each issue never really hangs together as a package. The front sections in particular are very uneven.
That’s not the case, however, with the latest issue: The Underworld Exposed.
It takes its regular features and subverts them in interesting thematic ways. The piece about “what’s inside a product you know” is about street heroin; their How To is “How To Ship Coke”; the Test page is about knockoff versions of famous products.
The main features are about the small Romanian town at the centre of European internet scams, the value of illegal human organ trafficking, and people who break lottery codes in order to launder money. The text never tries to moralize. It’s surprisingly bold stuff.
It often feels like an issue of mid-1990s Colors, with a bit of VICE thrown in. Which, in my book, is a very good thing.
I really enjoyed the design of this infographic spread about New York sex workers – nothing stereotypical, no fake neon or tittersome burlesque design. Just straightforward facts, letting the banality of reality speak for itself.
Still not sure about some of the design decisions – the layout of Ricky Jay’s superb collection of historical criminals is a little awkward, for example, and as so often happens with Wired, the cover feels like an overly researched missed opportunity – but overall, this is an unusually focused and engaging issue.
Definitely worth picking up or buying on your iPad.