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OMNI Magazine Remembered

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the remember-paper dept.

Media 131

An anonymous reader noted that Slate is doing a bit of a retrospective on OMNI. If you're anything like me, reading it was a treat. At home I suffered through Popular Mechanics, but OMNI was what I wished I had. There's many interesting things in the article, like the fact that OMNI is the place where William Gibson first coined the term "Cyberspace."

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Hot Alien Chicks (2, Informative)

Sleen (73855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643026)

The Alien Chicks with the glossy lips were hot!

But yeah, loved that magazine and especially the short stories. Not very reliable science stuff but overall a very optimistic and stylish mag that back then was a nice counterpoint to Heavy Metal which was less rooted in reality.

But both had Hot Alien Chicks! :)

Re:Hot Alien Chicks (4, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643074)

It was like National Geographic and Heavy Metal had a baby. I used to love that magazine.

Re:Hot Alien Chicks (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643414)

For long time?

Bah! (2, Interesting)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644690)

OMNI magazine is alive and well in 2010. What's the matter with you people?

Here's proof. (Ignore the Apple IIgs thingy he hauled to the beach though..)

Clip from 2010: The Year We Make Contact [youtube.com]

Re:Hot Alien Chicks (4, Funny)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643742)

My parents didn't allow me to subscribe to OMNI because it was a Penthouse publication.

Unlike my friends, who all had stashes of porn that they hid, I had stashes of Omni.
It's sad to grow up as a geek.

Yes, those Alien Chicks were hot.

Re:Hot Alien Chicks (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644094)

Yes, those Alien Chicks were hot.

Dude. It was a Penthouse publication. The letters to the editor weren't real!

Re:Hot Alien Chicks (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644874)

i 3'd omni. the scifi stories were awesome (like gravity's angel about the SSC) and i still keep a bunch of issues lying around.

Re:Hot Alien Chicks (1)

inicom (81356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644938)

I was a early subscriber to OMNI (I still have the first few issues somewhere in storage). I loved it, and there were many things in it the encouraged me in science and was more accessible than Scientific American (which I subscribed to concurrently). It also led me on all sorts of incredible tangents for intellectual exploration. Basically, in many ways for me it was replaced by the Internet.

I would call Mondo 2000 the better example (versus Heavy Metal) of a more frivolous version of OMNI - tackling similar themes but with reckless and entertaining abandon.

I remember the artists (4, Insightful)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643032)

OMNI had the coolest illustrators of the day - about the only one of my longstanding favorites that I don't recall ever seeing
in the mag was Frank Frazetta.

Re:I remember the artists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643118)

Yeah, I loved some of the covers. They were just...thought provoking.

by 2010.. (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643042)

(by 2010, robots will--yes!--"clean the rug, iron the clothes, and shovel the snow.")

Roomba is there. and they have these dryer cabinets that dry your shirts on the hanging on a rack so you don't have to iron them. and global warming will mean no more shoveling of snow.

Re:by 2010.. (3, Funny)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643270)

and global warming will mean no more shoveling of snow.

Tell that to my driveway!

Re:by 2010.. (3, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644114)

You can melt snow in your driveway just by looking at. It may take a few months, 'tho

Re:by 2010.. (2, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643526)

    Actually, there's a tech way to handle driveway snow. Google for "driveway snowmelt system" [google.com] . A heated driveway will take care of all that pesky snow, and help ensure global warming for the rest of the planet with the wasted energy. :)

    Actually, Wikipedia says that automatic systems are fairly efficient, only running while snow is falling at your driveway.

    I don't know how long they've been available, or how good they are. I don't live in snow country. Gimme a robot that'll clean up after a hurricane, and I'd be happy. Hmmm, the car is upside down in the neighbors yard, but his roof is in mine. Fair trade.

It was OK (3, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643052)

It was more on an entertainment magazine than a science magazine really. I always prefered to get my Sci Fi straight up via publications like Analog, but I found Omni to be entertaining often enough in my youth. It really was more Sci Fi than a true science mag though.

Re:It was OK (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645316)

I don't know if it's because I changed or the magazine did, but my love of OMNI slacked off as I started to see it as a glossy, stapled version of Weekly World News, with stuff about UFOs and yeti being passed off as "science" (or even as serious "science fiction").

Re:It was OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30645378)

yep. 'Course Galaxy is the one that I miss...

I would really like to find copies of the (2, Interesting)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643072)

"Why pizza burns the roof of the mouth" articles that ran on the last page. 2 or 3, IIRC, arguing over whether it was the Melted Mozzarella Layer (MML) or Tomato Sauce Layer (TSL) that caused the burning.

Re:I would really like to find copies of the (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643142)

I would like to find a copy for some of the strange contests they ran, one which was about plausible sounding explanation for common occurrences, which included why people yawn in reaction to others yawning is that they do so to balance the barometric pressure. That one and my favorite about a real perpetual motion machine, strapping buttered bread to the backs of cats in a ferris wheel arrangement where both sides naturally want to be bottom first.

Of course they had a few cars and trucks of tomorrow issues that I still see as amazing.

buttered cat array (Yes, I found it) (3, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643672)

I cut and pasted the top of the page here, go to the link to read it in all its glory.

http://www.deepscience.com/justsilly/fun006.html [deepscience.com]

Results of a contest for "theories" sponsored by Omni magazine.
Back -- Next

GRAND PRIZE WINNER:

When a cat is dropped, it always lands on its feet. And when toast is dropped, it always lands with the buttered side facing down. I propose to strap buttered toast to the back of a cat; the two will hover, spinning inches above the ground. With a giant buttered cat array, a high-speed monorail could easily link New York with Chicago. [see below for further info on buttered cats - Ed.]

RUNNERS-UP:

#1 If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of pickup trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all the world's great literary works in Braille.

#2 Why Yawning Is Contagious: You yawn to equalize the pressure on your eardrums. This pressure change outside your eardrums unbalances other people's ear pressures, so they must yawn to even it out.

#3 Communist China is technologically underdeveloped because they have no alphabet and therefore cannot use acronyms to communicate ideas at a faster rate.

#4 The earth may spin faster on its axis due to deforestation. Just as a figure skater's rate of spin increases when the arms are brought in close to the body, the cutting of tall trees may cause our planet to spin dangerously fast.

HONORABLE MENTION:

The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian "pahks" his "cah," the lost r's migrate southwest, causing a Texan to "warsh" his car and invest in "erl wells."

Re:I would really like to find copies of the (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643376)

I think that might have been the "Last Word" section. I still remember an article saying "I've always been afraid of clowns. I wonder if it has something to do with a clown killing my father". Did Jack Handy rip that off for SNL's "Deep Thoughts", or did he write for Omni as well?

Re:I would really like to find copies of the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643812)

I still have all my copies OMNI all classics. I go through them every once in a while just to see how accurate they were, and great artwork as well.

Re:I would really like to find copies of the (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645156)

I remember a full page photo from one that I've tried to look up since, so far unsuccessfully. It was herons or swans or some other large birds in Japan in the winter, huddling in the snow.

In my memory it's a great image; the reality might be disappointing, but if anyone knows which issue it was in, I'd like to try to look it up.

Re:I would really like to find copies of the (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644720)

"It's Meat" short story - a memorable discussion among sentient-energy aliens baffled at their discovery of thinking, traveling, talking, singing meat, and their eventual decision to ignore it as repugnant.

Re:I would really like to find copies of the (2, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645002)

Terry Bisson's They're Made of Meat [eastoftheweb.com]

One of my all-time favorites for what it makes you think of the end, somewhat like some of Asimov's stories that were only two or three pages.

Died with Woowoo BS but... (4, Funny)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643092)

It lived with a solid core of futurism. Futurism is kind of dead now, now that we're using phones to surf the web and cops are using sonic weapons against crowds. The future's here and Omni guessed a lot of it right in the 70's and 80's.

Only if Letters to Penthouse could be this accurate. BRB. Pizza delivery girl is here.

Re:Died with Woowoo BS but... (2, Interesting)

marquis111 (94760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643184)

I noticed this phenomenon about a decade back. Used to be in the 70s and 80s, when you went to Walt Disney World in Florida, it had this solid "golly gee" factor when talking about the future, especially at Epcot or Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom. I don't pick up on that so much now; in fact I pick up on a definite retrospective and/or nostalgic feeling when I go there. It's like, now that pretty much any thing is possible technologically, talking about something that's not present but possible is just an exercise in talking about something that will be here when the engineers figure out how to make it profitably.
To paraphrase Yogi, "The future ain't what it used to be."

It was all good (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644000)

[Mother]

Now far off to your right, we have a welcome neighbor...

[Father]

Our GE nuclear power plant, dear.

Re:Died with Woowoo BS but... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645328)

... It's like, now that pretty much any thing is possible technologically, talking about something that's not present but possible is just an exercise in talking about something that will be here when the engineers figure out how to make it profitably.

Yeah, unfortunately everything futuristic you might talk about falls into two categories: (1) things that half the people you talk to will be surprised doesn't already exist, or (2) things that will convince people you're a nut waiting to upload. There is no middle ground, everything is either here (at least in the lab) or techno-religion in the common view. We simply don't believe in the future anymore. It's either the present, or it's fantasy...

Re:Died with Woowoo BS but... (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643266)

Only if Letters to Penthouse could be this accurate. BRB. Pizza delivery girl is here.

That was fabulous, thanks for that. :-)

+1, Underrated!

Re:Died with Woowoo BS but... (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643482)

Only if Letters to Penthouse could be this accurate.

Well, it *was* published by Bob Guccioni. (Which means if it were still in print, it'd be full of urinating female robots by now...)

Re:Died with Woowoo BS but... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643968)

I hated when the futurist culture died. I'm enjoy the ideas behind it but people right now aren't sure what direction it's going to take, most scifi is way way too far out. And there's very few writers who are looking at things on a shorter scale 10-50yrs.

Re:Died with Woowoo BS but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30645690)

At some level, technological triumphalism duels with visions of apocalyptic futures in the public imagination. In the late 60s we had Silent Spring vs. the Apollo program. Not that they were directly opposed to each other, but the views of where science was taking us were. Certainly more popular culture is doom filled. And sometimes the influences are pretty non-obvious. One of the reasons for the wasteland vision of Fallout III is that it is difficult to renter LOTS of trees, barren rockscapes are easier.

But in the long term, we do tend to go back and forth between optimism and pesimissm about the future, with neither taking complete control of the popular psyche.

Dons mirrored shades 'n' jacks into Wintermute (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643146)

Man that just flicked the coolest retro switch in my head ... guess its time to read Neuromancer again.

Re:Dons mirrored shades 'n' jacks into Wintermute (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643362)

Yeah.

I'm a technical boy, too.

(Reaches into gym bag.)

We Didn't Put a Colony on the Moon (1)

Greg Hullender (621024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643150)

But at least we managed to bomb it. NOW it knows who's boss!

--Greg

Re:We Didn't Put a Colony on the Moon (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643656)

by Greg Hullender (621024)

Please quit signing your posts like that, it is considered bad manners and many forums (unfortunately not slashdot) will probate/ban you for it. We can already see who wrote your post, you don't need to sign it.

--Greg

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644402)

Agreed! This is so annoying, only tools sign their posts.

Sounds like... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643156)

I once saw a new magazine on the news stand called "The world in Focus" billing itself as a whole newsstand of features for £1.75. It later became Focus, which became BBC Focus, which I think is still running. Was a pretty good read last time I saw it in the UK. There was a time when it had an editor who had a good sense of humour and the articles were written in a light-hearted way. For example there was one about what Europe would have looked like had Napoleon stopped trying to annex every bit of land that touched his, referred to him as 'Boney' all the way through the article.

Print is dead? Not quite yet. There's something about the experience of a nice glossy magazine with an attractive magazine layout, instantly accessible and not so big that you need a search engine.

Technological Singularity (1)

zerosomething (1353609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643180)

Vernor Vinge first mentions the Technological Singularity in the January 1983 issue in the First Word. I've got that one in a closet along with all the first 3 years except the first issue.

Re:Technological Singularity (1)

sh00z (206503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644536)

Vernor Vinge first mentions the Technological Singularity in the January 1983 issue in the First Word. I've got that one in a closet along with all the first 3 years except the first issue.

Would you like my copy of the first issue? It's the only issue *I* have. It's nearly complete, but I have to confess that in my pure teenage geekiness, I cut out and used the Enterprise iron-on page ("A spaceship has landed on Earth--it came from Rockwell") [airliners.net] .

Cyberspace was a pretty cool term, (1)

david@ecsd.com (45841) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643226)

until the mass media got a hold of it. Then it was cyberthis and cyberthat. Nowadays, every time I see the cyber prefix, I want to find William Gibson and smack him one on the mouth.

Re:Cyberspace was a pretty cool term, (3, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644194)

Careful, with attitudes like that, you may get deported to Cyberia.

Re:Cyberspace was a pretty cool term, (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644850)

He has his own coiner's remorse over it. See his cameo appearance in the miniseries Wild Palms, playing himself:

Paige Katz: This is William Gibson, Harry.
Harry Wyckoff: Oh, yeah... Neuromancer, right?
Paige Katz: He invented the word "cyberspace".
William Gibson: And they'll never let me forget it.

The other publication (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643236)

I only remember this as the other publication by the publisher of the once-great Penthouse. ;-)

Porn or science, resistance is futile to the Internet. ;-)

Wow, this brings back memories. (1)

foo fighter (151863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643238)

Wow. That takes me back. My dad got me a subscription to OMNI in the late 80's. It was always a good day when the latest ish would show up on the kitchen table when I got home from school. When it folded I looked around for something to replace it, but there never really was its equal. Wired came close during its peak in the mid- to late-90s, but it didn't have the usually short fiction or kooky charm. Realms of Fantasy magazine continues to be my source for short fiction (though it was strictly fantasy, nothing approaching sci-fi is allowed to touch its pages), kooky ads, and the Folkroots column is great. But by the 2000s I had dropped all my print science mag subscriptions and moved solely online. Thanks /.!

It started off cool, but then went weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643258)

I remember reading it when they started and it seemed to be kinda the "Wired" magazine of the day, but then they got into pop sci-fi stuff (probably to appeal more to the masses) and then it just got weird with stories of Alien abductions and alien sex and alien whatever. yeah...the "alien whatever"...that's when I stopped reading it.

Re:It started off cool, but then went weird (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643430)

I hope Wired goes the same way. That magazine should have jumped the shark when they hyped the dotcom bubble back in 1999-2001. There they exposed their true colors as a hype machine for advertisers and conmen, IMHO. They should go out with a full spread on UFOs, 2012, or some other loony theory.

Re:It started off cool, but then went weird (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643546)

I'm curious what Wired said about .com you find so offensive?

From my perspective, Consumer Smart Phones, Social Networking, and Online Retailers, pretty much make the promises of .com real IMO.

Re:It started off cool, but then went weird (1)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644160)

I'm curious what Wired said about .com you find so offensive?

http://wired.about.com/ [about.com] ??

Re:It started off cool, but then went weird (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644508)

They hyped many of the businesses of the day. For example, take the June 2000 Wired Index. They had some of the greatest cons of this decade (Enron, WorldCom), companies that vastly lost value within two years (Lucent, AOL), companies that got bailed out recently because they were failing (Daimler/Chrysler, AIG). Broadvision was already collapsing at the time they added it (massive decline in stock price over the prior three months). Aside from AIG, I just listed 6 companies out of 40 that shouldn't have made the list in the first place IMHO. I bet there's a lot more on that list than what I listed.

Browsing Wired's old issues online, I see a number of other hyped stories. No name VCs [wired.com] making "power plays", sexy new markets [wired.com] that don't quite pan out, more no name VCs [wired.com] extolling the virtues of "dumbass" investors. There's the worry about what to do if things get too good [wired.com] in the decade that just passed.

The market will fluctuate daily, but by 2010, the Dow will soar past the 50,000 mark.

There's a lot more pie-in-the-sky predictions which fortunately have been thwarted by circumstance and incompetence.

One sees much the same in the other direction, it's not until more than a year after March, 2000 that one sees a title story that has the dotcom decline as a key part of the story (Andy Grove, then Chairman of the Board for Intel, the story discusses [wired.com] Intel's problems coming from the market and demand declines). There's still plenty of "power plays" and other VC games hyped throughout the issues.

Re:It started off cool, but then went weird (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645646)

Has it ever crossed your mind that they might not be conmen, but in fact were as surprised by the bursting of the dot.com bubble as everyone else? Note that, if it was obvious, it would never have occurred to begin with. The fact that the bubble inflated to begin with is incontrovertible proof that it wasn't obviously a bubble. You seem to be promoting them as being either part of a conspiracy or of being both omniscient and dishonest (for not telling us the truth they supposedly knew when millions of other people did not), rather than simply wrong...

Omni would be better off forgotten (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643268)

Glossy magazine full of fluff. Bleah.

Scientific American got more attention in my childhood.

Great mag (2, Informative)

jmyers (208878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643284)

Oh man I used to love this mag, I had long forgotten about it. I subscribed for several years. I was in college from '78-'81 and that is that main period I remember reading. I read an article about the development of video games and how flight simulator technology was being applied. When I left college I went in the air force and became a flight simulator technician. I chose that job from the list based on reading about it in Omni.

Definitely the best decision I ever made. I found I had a knack for technology and working on/with computers. At my high school there were no computers, most people had never seen one. I never saw a computer in college except maybe in the administration building when they took my money. If I had not read that article and chosen a technology field in the AF I would probably be a burnt out school teacher.

Re:Great mag (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643410)

Nice try at recruiting through astroturfing, babykiller, but I hope most people here can see through your lame post hyping a military that offers dead-end jobs for mediocrities.

Re:Great mag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644062)

Whoa there, fella. JMyers is a Microsoft astroturfer, not an Air Force astroturfer. You should check someone's post history before making an accusation like that.

Re:Great mag (4, Interesting)

jmyers (208878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644358)

I probably shouldn't reply to your post but here I go way off topic. I grew up as kid during the Vietnam war. I had friends with older brothers that had been to Vietnam and some that did not come back. When I was in college I was very anti-war and anti-military and never considered it for a split second. As a matter of fact your comment sounds like something I would have said back then if someone mentioned the idea.

After finishing my 3rd year of college I was thousands of dollars in dept from tuition and going nowhere. Friends that had graduated where taking jobs as school teachers and making no money. This was in 1981 and believe me the economy sucked and there were no decent jobs. I had a friend in about my same situation and he talked me into looking into the AF. I ended up going in and it was a great experience. I was in four years and it was total peacetime. No action going on anywhere that I was aware of.

The main reason I got out was that the air force eliminated the flight simulator technician job and it became a civilian contract position. My post is not recruiting anyone for that job because it no longer exists in the air force as far as I know.

 

Good times! (1)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643320)

For years, I kept the very first edition of OMNI magazine safe in my room at my father's house.

Trips to work in Yellowstone, five years in the Navy and my travels since, last time I checked, the magazine was no longer in the bedroom any more as of about 10 years ago. Seems dad threw it out with a few other things he considered "clutter". Oh well. :/

Re:Good times! (1)

obyom (999186) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643460)

Weren't the first issues of OMNI named NOVA? I think the title was changed because of the TV show, NOVA.

Re:Good times! (1)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643802)

Not sure, but the first issue I had of OMNI, was the first issue named "OMNI". /shurg

Re:Good times! (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643910)

I think there were ads in Penthouse or other mags announcing Nova but the name was changed to OMNI before the first issue went to print.

Great aside from the mixing of science and fringe (2, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643326)

I read it occasionally when I was a little kid. The combination of actual science along with fringe or outright pseudoscientific claims (alien visitations and hauntings seemed common choices) left a lasting impression on me as a kid. I ended up eventually adopting a sane, skeptical outlook but it took many years. I have to wonder how many people got lost in nonsense from reading OMNI at an impressionable age and never really recovered.

Re:Great aside from the mixing of science and frin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643464)

Exactly. Omni was like the National Enquirer of science magazines. It was geek porn, which makes sense, considering the publisher.

Re:Great aside from the mixing of science and frin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30645298)

people got lost in nonsense from reading OMNI at an impressionable age and never really recovered.

Why would you want to recover? The world had a lot more possibilities between those covers.

Re:Great aside from the mixing of science and frin (1)

GabriellaKat (748072) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645946)

Or how many of us now watch SyFy (still hating the name change, as much as when Omni left for the web). I used to steal my big brothers copies and read them and loved this magazine. Guess its a good thing I didnt take his Penthouse and Playboys as often, or I would have thought that was how women are supposed to look and act ALL the time.

Jumped the Shark (1)

DCGaymer (956987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643344)

Sadly as a growing adolescent it became clear to me Omni had jumped the shark when they showed full page color illustrations of dinosaurs mating...as a featured article. Omni, I loved you, but that was the end.

Get Ready Because Here I Come! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643352)

The process is called "search engine optimization" and is commonly referred to as SEO. It's killing the Internet if it hasn't already. I've complained about it before but it's too late to do anything about it except moan more.

Essentially the process involves tricking Google or Bing or Yahoo into ranking your particular Web site higher than the competition by reverse-engineering the tricks used by Google, et al to rank sites in the first place. The problem with the technique is that it ruins the search experience for users and also requires the search engine folks to constantly work on countermeasures to minimize the impact of SEO techniques. SEO techniques then adapt to the changes, and then begins round two, then three, etc.

This behind-the-scenes war is why there is no one major search-optimization trick or large consulting firm doing this. It's all underground and consists of thousands of individual specialists who consult for just a few companies and chat among themselves in the background. Nothing can get too big--such as a subscription service-- because Google and Microsoft will simply subscribe and take action immediately. As it now stands there is a long enough lag time between the implementation of an SEO trick and the countermeasure for a company or individual to get a lot of attention and make extra money. The result is kind of an arms race in the world of search.

The problem, as I see it, is the horrid results of certain searches ruining the enduser experience. Try and find the best cell phone deal on the Internet. Do it by using a search engine. Every hit is some commercial site trying to sell you something. Almost every time you ask for certain advice the pages get clogged with things for sale. What if I don't want to buy anything and just want to find out about something or know the facts? Impossible. The results hardly ever link to a PC Magazine comparative review or any objective analysis. Just faux reviews and fake objectivity leading you to some product for sale.

All sorts of tricks are used too. My favorite is the site that pretends to review the top three, four or five products. It's usually designed to sell one of the products; we'll call it product B. The reviews tend to show that only two of the products in category A and B are actually any good. C and D are just terrible. Seems objective so far, no? So the reviewer then goes into great detail and the differences between A and B are dissected. They are both close in quality and usefulness. But wait, A is way too expensive and B despite all its minor flaws is so much the better deal that you should buy B. Click here to buy B.

Before we are done with the Internet this is the only sort of site that will exist. And, oh, by the way, product B is a piece of crap, okay?

People who just have a few trusted sources that they can count on (such as PC Magazine) are better off using those than doing blind searches when it comes to comparative analysis. But I can assure you that most people will use Google, Bing or Yahoo before anything else.

You can tell how well or poorly the search engine countermeasures are doing when you search for something, and you click on a link and the link leads to another search engine with the same term auto-entry in its search engine. This trick kills me. You are looking for something innocuous such as "hub cap" and the result you get is one of those parker pages that is a faux search engine with a bunch of ads somehow related to hub caps and often a Google Adsense ad. How can this even happen?

My advice to Web site managers, when you see this sort of result, is to contact THAT site and hire the consultant doing SEO for it. This sort of thing is no accident.

There's a sudden preoccupation with SEO. Perhaps it's only an epidemic in Silicon Valley, but you can't even do a blog post without everyone being worried about the SEO implicatons. "No, use a different word!" "Misspelling helps get attention!"

I'm not sure where this is all headed, but it's kind of like the Open Source movement. It relies on a large and vague group of mavens, and that group just keeps growing. I can assure you there are more people thinking about SEO than there are people at Google thinking about how to stop them. It's like Open Source coders far outnumbering Microsoft coders.

Now every person who has ever put up a Web site is reading more and more about SEO. So just wait, and get ready, because HERE I COME!

Re:Get Ready Because Here I Come! (1)

pbrooks100 (778828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644106)

All this text, and not a mention of OMNI Magazine. Was this post somehow placed by a futuristic cyberspace type program, a snow shoveling robot, or an alien chick with glossy lips?

Mondo 2000 (2, Informative)

British (51765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643440)

Anyone remember Mondo 2000? I bought & read issues of that, but looking back, it was just pure performance art garbage. I swear that magazine tried to worship anyone related to The WELL in every issue. Oooh! Circuit bending! Ooh! My life on a webcam! Boy did that get old.

Re:Mondo 2000 (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644914)

I subscribed to Mondo 2000. The premise looked great, but it fell apart quickly. I didn't resubscribe. It sounds like nobody else did either.

Nowadays I subscribe to New Scientist, buy Sky & Telescope at the news stand, and have fond memories of how un-cool Scientific American used to be. Omni never really did it for me.

...laura

I remember... (1)

c0y (169660) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643492)

Back in the 80s I recall reading an article in OMNI that debunked many of the popular sci-fi myths. Among the notable points:

* Invisibility implies blindness since your retinas wouldn't absorb any light.

* Time travel without space travel would suck too, since you'd most likely re-materialize in empty space.

* Giant insects will collapse under the own weight.

Re:I remember... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645994)

* Time travel without space travel would suck too, since you'd most likely re-materialize in empty space.

This criticism has always bugged me. Setting aside the fact that it's probably as absurd to postulate time travel without space travel as it is to postulate space travel without time travel (you arrive at your destination at the moment you leave your starting point? I don't think so...), it implies an absolute space-time frame that violates the fundamental assumptions of relativity. Somehow, the moment you activate your time machine, relativity is supposed to get thrown out the window and we're to assume you arrive at some absolute space-time coordinate that's the same as the absolute space-time coordinate you left from, despite the fact that there's no such thing as an absolute space-time coordinate. You moved (you're no longer on Earth) because you didn't move (relative to whom? it's never specified, implying absolute space-time) really doesn't make much sense...

In any case, without knowing more details of the mechanics of how such a device operates, one cannot say whether you would end up in space or not. Saying you might or might not is sensible. Saying one alternative or the other is "most likely" is absurd. How can you rate the probability if you haven't worked out those details? Any claim about the "likelihood" of one alternative or the other is absurd.

are omni issues a collectors item then? (1)

the simurgh (1327825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643528)

i wonder if i could sell my slightly worn copy of omni from the 80's. the one where the stephen king short story firestarter was first published?

Re:are omni issues a collectors item then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644732)

i wonder if i could sell my slightly worn copy of omni from the 80's. the one where the stephen king short story firestarter was first published?

www.ebay.com

OMNI was ... (2, Insightful)

notpaul (181662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643564)

OMNI rocked in all the ways that matter.

As mentioned, the sci-fi, the science, the palpable sensuality of it's envisioned future ... it was the death of OMNI which led me to seek solace in the emergent WIRED. For a time, it was a suitable heir.

And the death of WIRED (just try and argue that it ain't) has led me ... nowhere.

I'd gladly pay $36 a year for a worthy successor to either one.

Re:OMNI was ... (1)

the simurgh (1327825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643692)

i too would pay for a decent magazine like omni. none of this homogenized bs they pass out today. and certainly not this lying spin BS they put out in everything.

Pure Geek Porn...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643736)

....it was indeed !

Re:Pure Geek Porn...... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643938)

usually in more ways than one!

The explanation is simple (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643798)

Omni died for one simple and oft overlooked reason - it stayed in stasis from the day of it's birth. Really, pick up practically any issue from the late 1980's and compare it to any issue from the early years - and it's exactly the same, stylistically, thematically, and in content. The world moved on and Omni didn't.
 
Hence, it's readership and ad revenue declined steadily across the 80's, leading to the now infamous 'ad-on-the-cover'. In the background, but increasingly visible in the contents, the editors frantically tried to update their material without actually changing their editorial philosophy. By the time it died, it was already a relic propped up only by the unwillingness of Guccione to either change the status quo or to disconnect the feeding tube.

Re:The explanation is simple (3, Interesting)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644376)

No, it died because they replaced Ben Bova (An actual SciFi writer) with Kathy Keeton (Who was some kind of penthouse writer) then it got all about frilly style and such crap.

Fond memories (1)

Telecommando (513768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643842)

I was a charter subscriber to OMNI. Actually, it wasn't OMNI I subscribed to, it was called NOVA at the time. There was apparently was a fuss made by WGBH and their NOVA TV series so the magazine's name was changed to OMNI before the first issue was published.

In the beginning it was quite good but in the later years it veered into pseudo-science and other nonsense and I lost interest and let my subscription lapse.

Re:Fond memories (1)

the simurgh (1327825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30643982)

i liked the pseudo science crap. after all psychiatry is pseudo science crap and bam! everyone has a psychiatrist.

SHIt?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30643872)

OF AMERICA irc

Bruce Sterling coined the term Cyberspace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644034)

In Mirrorshades.
I did read the William Gibson short stories in Omni though.
Ellen Datlow Rocked as a editor

Re:Bruce Sterling coined the term Cyberspace (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644178)

Bruce Sterling coined the term Cyberspace

Yeah, but TFS says Gibson "first coined" it, and the general consensus is that "first coining" trumps regular coining

The Sandkings! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644078)

Awesome short story. It so opened my eyes to what Sci-fi could be. My dad got it and I remember thinking "WOW".

Introduced me to Howard Waldrop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644166)

I was a snot-nosed little kid when I first picked up Omni and read "Flying Saucer Rock And Roll". I had learned about the Great East Coast Blackout from reruns of Bewitched and other shows. I had learned about doo-wop music because that's what records my parents had. Howard did a mash up that blew my little elementary school mind and I added Omni to the pile of comics I'd buy every month. I remember how SHOCKED I was when I finally got into porn and discovered that Omni and Penthouse had the same publisher and very similar designs. Continuum was essentially the Vietnam Veteran's Advisor for geeks!

Best. Magazine. Ever! (1)

mim (535591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644276)

I still have a bunch of copies stashed away somewhere that I found when cleaning out my dad's attic. Now I want to go find them! Good winter project for one of these weekends...

We need an online index (1)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644290)

I really wish I could find a comprehensive online index. A few things I'd really like to read:

--The world's hardest crossword puzzle. A friend and I worked on this together, spending hours ( pre-WWW ) at the library searching for answers to clues like "four dimensional hypercube" and "piniped". I'd like to give it a go now with Google's help as well as seeing the answers, which I never saw.

--Someone took a mobile home and worked to make it as energy efficient as possible. I remember it was super-insulated, even having foam "corks" to block off deep set windows at night and keep heat in. A tiny woodstove, maybe one intended for an ice shack, provided all the heat needed.

Every once in a while I'll see someone on Ebay selling issues from the periods I think these ran, and ponder buying a several year set to see if I can find them.

Of course, even better would be if someone put all the old issues online.

OMNI Paper Plane! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644350)

Does anyone know where I can get the plans for that paper airplane from around maybe 1983? That sucker flew a good 200ft at a pop. I'd love to make another one to show off to skeptics.

Great until they were taken over by UFOlogists (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644454)

I loved the magazine, then they became a magazine for the supernatural and other crap that I could care less about.

It was a nice run for the first year or so, then I stopped buying it.

..and its founder... (4, Interesting)

XB-70 (812342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644462)

I was hired as part of the launch of Omni magazine and worked with Bob Guccione for a couple of days. He struck me as a complete greaseball opportunist [not that that's a bad thing - Ed.].

Later that year, I was at a trade show in Dallas. His other publication, Penthouse was present as well as his competitor - Playboy.

The contrast between the two companies could not have been more different. The Playboy booth was marginally tasteful and people were laughing and enjoying themselves with the pretty 'girls-next-door' - OK, 'fantasy-girls-next-door'.

The Penthouse booth was full of wary, pouting sluts who paced from side-to-side as they were beeing leered at by the mostly male passers-by. It looked more like a zoo enclosure than a booth.

Omni was somewhat similar in that it wrote in a style that was condescending and often trite. Here or there, I enjoyed an article, but most of it was so fanciful as to be disengenuous.

In short, I don't miss it.

OMNI mag was great (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644474)

It was part of the era of when scientists were still able to dream big! I remember an article from Dr. Forward (God bless him and may he rest in peace) using condensed matter to nullify gravity, seriously excellent article.

Omni? We hardly knew ye! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644592)

God, how I miss those slick, pheremone-impregnated [citation needed] pages. The first issue I ever bought was the one with "Johnny Mnemonic" in it.

Look, more 80s nostalgia. (1)

saltire sable (1197695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30644826)

I definitely have some fond memories of looking through my dad's stacks of OMNI. Of course, I also liked looking through his stacks of Penthouse...

OMNI had a lot of neat-o stuff, like some pretty awesome paper airplane designs. It was also the first place I saw a stereogram, which at the time was just an array of black and white dots, but started showing up everywhere a few years later, in colour, as those "Magic Eye" pictures.

Didn't care too much for all the supernatural stuff, but I always liked that montage scene in the middle of Ghostbusters where the dudes start showing up on magazine covers, and an OMNI cover goes by with pictures of their proton packs and ghost traps.

0...3...2...1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30644854)

Not to be overlooked here on /., OMNI's very title was early 733t-speek (it's a launch countdown, if you don't get it).

First place I read Gibson and lots of others, plus those glossy ads for Compuserve eventually led me to ring up a year's allowance in gaming fees in the first month over the 300-baud modem on my Color Computer.

We've come a long way with both technology and sci-fi. As much as I loved reading Clark and Gibson, these days I'm blown away by the likes of Charlie Stross ( Accelerando [feedbooks.com] ) and Peter Watts ( Blindsight [feedbooks.com] ).

I enjoyed OMNI, but (1)

nuckfuts (690967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645022)

Reading OMNI always felt a bit like an exercise in wishful thinking. It was like reading car magazines that feature incredible prototypes. Yes they're awesome, but you're never going to see one in your lifetime. OMNI was about what was possible, not what was actually happening.

To read about real advances, I preferred Scientific American [scientificamerican.com] , especially back when Martin Gardner [wikipedia.org] wrote for them. Prior to that, I never used the terms "recreational" and "mathematics" in the same sentence.

On a side note, there was a fantastic 3D illusion created as a tribute to Gardner. It's still available for download here [grand-illusions.com] .

fond and proud memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30645530)

My dad was proud to have had a joke published in OMNI. I think it was for a contest. It's here: http://www.jpnordin.com/fun/science.htm

Johnny Mnemonic (not the film) and Sandkings (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30645666)

The short story Johnny Menmonic [wikipedia.org] first appeared in OMNI, and was probably my first exposure to Gibson as a kid. The other OMNI SF story that sticks in my head was Sandkings by George R. R. Martin. OMNI showcased some great SF and art. The art for Johnny Menmonic was a Helnwein self-portrait - some of you might recognize it as the cover of the Scorpions album Blackout, similar to the cover of Rammstein's Sehnsucht. There was even an occasional long poem.

I also recall an issue where there were various political predictions, including that the USSR would become more capitalist while the US would become more socialist by 2020, IIRC. Not bad predictions (although terribly general), even though the USSR dissolved. Russia has become more capitalist and the US has expanded social programs even before the current congress (think SCHIP, etc.).

OMNI introduced me to my favorite limerick:

If binary digits are bits,
Then decimal ones could be dits,
And when things get weary,
Try something less dreary,
Like playing with trinary tits.

And the "Anti-Matter" section was always a fun read. AFAIK, there's nothing like OMNI around anymore. These days, futurism, when one can find it at all, tends toward either the intolerably bleak or some virtual reality mental masturbation. No, Star Trek doesn't count as futurism. With so few of us eagerly anticipating brighter futures, I wonder if enough of us are being inspired to create them.

- T

It started out great... (1)

Dammital (220641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30645756)

... glossy, slick, intelligent in the right places, readable from cover to cover. Orson Scott Card's A Thousand Deaths was my first introduction to him, and that story still creeps me out. When Omni's staff inexplicably began to promote those silly UFO and parapsychology pieces, I allowed my subscription to lapse.
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