Policy made plain.
Aug. 3 1997 3:30 AM

Cybermag in Tabloid Love Nest


One goal of Slate is to help you to stay efficiently abreast of developments you aren't wildly interested in. You may have skipped all those worthy newspaper articles about that coup in Burundi, but we hope you'll feel guilty enough to read a short "Gist" column on the subject. (Relax, that's only a theoretical example. There wasn't a coup in Burundi. As far as we know.) In that spirit, we introduce a new feature this week called "Keeping Tabs," which will track developments in the world of the tabloids. (It will be posted Wednesday evening, Aug. 6.) Slate readers, of course, are much too morally austere to have any genuine interest in the sex lives of Hollywood stars, the diets of talk show hosts, and suchlike paranormal phenomena. But we all have a duty to stay well informed of what engages other people. And Washington writer Emily Yoffe has heroically volunteered to wallow in the mud on our behalf and distill it into a palatable essence.

Weld Done

Last week was not the first time Bill Weld quit a high-profile job in a high-profile manner. At dinner in a leafy Washington neighborhood a decade ago, the talk turned to real estate: The Welds' house down the street is for sale. Is that William Weld, head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division? Is he leaving town? Yes, he's moving back to Massachusetts--his wife's up there now, checking out schools. Many weeks later, a front-page story in the Washington Post reported that Weld and another top Justice official "abruptly announced their resignations yesterday" as an act of "conscience" over revelations about ethically questionable behavior by Attorney General Ed Meese. Meese had no advance warning that Weld's "mounting frustration" had reached the breaking point. So we have long harbored the suspicion that Bill Weld, jolly and appealing character that he is, might be a bit, um, self-styled--an impression discussed in this week's "Assessment."

That said, it should be noted that Slate is forever in the debt of the Weld family. David Weld, the governor's nephew and then a Microsoft employee, came up with the name Slate last year, at a moment when we had almost despaired of finding any name for our magazine that was both euphonious and trademarkable.


In Your Interface

There are two new ways to enjoy Slate without soiling your fingers in the World Wide Web. Our popular new feature, "Today's Papers"--a summary and analysis of the front pages of the five major national newspapers--can be e-mailed to you every morning, Sunday through Friday, free as sunshine (for now). Today's Papers appears on our site overnight and soon (next week, we hope) will be in your e-mail box by breakfast time on the East Coast. At the moment it's a bit later than that. There's an easy e-mail sign-up form at the top of Today's Papers. Or you can sign up by sending e-mail to microsoft-request@microsoft.nwnet.com, with the message "subscribe papers" on a line by itself.

Then there's PointCast, a "push" service that puts news and information on your screensaver. A selection of articles from Slate is now among the features PointCast will automatically download for you. Getting your Slate this way is as easy as dismantling a medium-sized nuclear power plant. Simply go to www.pointcast.com, download the PointCast installation software, install the software, configure the software (using the easy-to-misunderstand instructions), then go looking for Slate, which can be found by simply right-clicking on the box labeled "connections," choosing the "personalize" option, clicking the "add" button, then clicking on "news and weather," then scrolling halfway to Ohio until you come to a listing for Slate, and then clicking on "subscribe." That's all there is to it!

And don't forget the other ways Slate can come to you, instead of your having to come to us. Slate on Paper, our weekly all-text edition, formatted for print-out on standard 8½ x 11 paper, is also available by e-mail (free) or on actual paper by actual U.S. mail ($70 a year). To sign up for e-mail delivery click here or e-mail read@slate.com. To get the paper mail delivery, call 800-555-4995.


If you sign up for Hotmail, a (free, natch) Web-based e-mail service, you can get Slate's table of contents delivered to you every week. And we also continue to support Slate delivery by FreeLoader, another "push" software product that, sadly, has gone to its reward.

The new version of Microsoft's Web browser, Internet Explorer 4.0, due out next month, will allow (but--Microphobes please note--not require) automatic download of Slate. (You can download a trial version of IE4 now, if you want.) We have humbly petitioned the poo-bahs at Netscape Corp. to include Slate in the Inbox Direct feature of their own new browser, Netscape Alligator 4.0 (we think it's called). But so far they seem determined to deny their customers this valuable opportunity.

Down the road, we anticipate even more advanced "push" features. Our "Summary Judgment" department, which saves you the trouble of reading reviews, will be upgraded into a service that will implant the consensus opinion on all the new movies, books, television shows, etc., directly into your brain, saving you the trouble of reading and seeing the books and shows themselves. Also, while PointCast packages news and information as your screensaver, SlateCastTM will package acute witticisms about the news directly onto your voice-mail answering message--in your own voice--thereby completely eliminating the need to develop or even to express your own opinions.

Finally, for those who still enjoy having their own opinions, Slate will soon offer a new "personalization" feature. The inspiration is published accounts of Bill Gates' new house, which reportedly learns guests' preferences in music and art and adjusts itself accordingly as you stroll from room to room. Slate BiasServerTM applies this concept to the magazine world: You'll register your views just once, and Slate will thereafter recognize your browser and serve up opinion and analysis that reconfirm your prejudices. You'll be able to cruise from article to review to column to department with a growing feeling that you're absolutely right about everything. Just like the editors of Slate ourselves.

--Michael Kinsley