STILL HERE- STILL CRAZY
Tell me again
why you do this thing for free? Kate asked.
We had to pause a moment. We had to think of an answer.
About two years ago people didnt ask you questions like that.
It was obvious. You were running a web site to make a billion or two
or glory. Now, well even the glory looks a bit slim in the wider context
of the Internet.
Its like this, Mathew Welford described, (on his way
to do special effects for the new Lord of the Rings
movie in New Zealand, the Milky Way has less stars than there
are web sites and no one actually knows how many stars there actually
The state of the web now is a bit like reverseWarholism. Everyone
gets the chance to be a complete nonentity for fifteen minutes.
And if we are the sum total of our websites, then we are a sorry confused
So which way to the front? Is it even cool to have a site anymore? And
if so, shouldnt it be minimal? Minimal generally means we
have no content but we look so cool. The Swedes started this way
back in the sixties with spectacularly uncomfortable furniture.
So we sat on our uncomfortable used furniture - its plastic if
you must know and ultra minimal - and we had a weekend think tank about
Hacks. You know the thing. Who are we? Why are we? Do we even have an
economic model - other than my salary. Should we go to print?
Immediately we could see walls. Print is about being something or
other. Fiction or travel or comment. There seem to be
rules about that. Everyone to their niche. Fiction magazines sort of
get hidden at the back of a rack someplace in the few places that stock
them. Travel magazines are everywhere now. We checked out Conde Nast
Traveller (Truth in Travel). Great photographs, amazing prices,
just where did I put my diamond shoes.... So a luxury designer/travel
mag is out for us. Comment? Well lets see theres Time, Newsweek,
The Economist, Wired, its pretty well covered. We cant afford
to eat in the places where they pick up the stories about corruption
in high places. Actually we cant afford to eat in the places that
would give us the low down on low places. But we can see the machine
is slowing, we can watch it stop. We can talk about it because we are
a cog. We know about cogs.
The beauty of a web magazine is that we can cover the world because
our readers travel it. Our fiction is of a high standard because really
good writers send it to us from all over and they know, like we all
do, that no one is really buying short fiction unless you are a celebrity.
So in the end, after many lattes and wine and something with aubergine
in it, we came down to the idea that Hackwriters really should exist.
It fills a need. Its not some ego busting glossy conceit. Its
about polishing your craft, keeping the flame alive, starting out, rejoining
the game. Everyone is equal. Sure its eccentric sometimes. We
have people trying to persuade us that large women are beautiful and
strange experimental fiction by young writers who can mix it with established
ones because on the web no one knows your age and we arent telling,
unless they want that.
Who gives a damn? If its good, its good. We have travellers
all over sending back their experiences, writing about their journeys,
good or bad. No one paid them. Conde Nast might say Truth in Travel
but we pay our way. Sleep tight hope the bugs dont bite
is a reality in Hacktreks pages. Sure wed love to slip between
the sheets of a villa in Capri, but mostly we are just glad to slide
off the conveyer belt that is Easyjet and tramp around a city until
we find some overpriced lumpy mattress and a rusty shower. Our diaries
are raw, because life is complex and stupid sometimes. We dont
edit that out. We dont make it prettier.
If we expose the shallowness of our times, well, life is shallow and
all you do is get deeper into shit anyway. What do you expect - fairytales?
Well we have them too.
The wonderful thing about Hackwriters is that we have no idea of what
each month is going to turn out like. Unlike most magazines which gives
you everything at the beginning of the month, we are just getting good
by the end of the month. Its the nature of things. Better still,
we have writers who come back to us and you can see what is happening,
how they are developing and comment. We like comment. What has happened
to Helen Gilchrist now she is back from New Zealand people ask? Well
shes back chasing dragons in Hacks this month.
We have people who get attached to our writers and we tend to think
this is a good thing. Hell,even I get attached. So its a big welcome
back to Kezia also with her story on young clubbers.
Our fiction pages have grown thanks to people like Joege Liesegang and
Kelvin Mason and now Alexandra Coman. A German writing in English, an
Englishman living in Denmark and a well a Romanian, add them to Australians,
Americans, John Prohaska in Canada, Europeans, I kind of hope that an
Asian and African voice will arrive soon as well. ** 16.07 No sooner
said and Zia Zaman sends in some brilliant travel articles from Singapore.
Well we cant do print, not like magazines. You just dont
get a print magazine like Hacks and we dont want to be at the
back of the rack. Were on the web and well be there as long
as you read us and write for us. Be sure to tell your friends and oh
yes, if youve stayed this far, buy my book 'Diamonds'.
You can actually order it now. It exists in some kind of electronic
form anyway. But rumour is a paperback is due out soon at under $13
- so send it to a friend for their birthday. You know you want to. (USA
© Sam North 2001
Great Diamond Rush of 1872 is on
And thanks to Holdthefrontpage
for their continued support.