Wired magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, with much reflection and self-congratulation. But one strange thing: in its very first issue in 1993, Wired ran an article that had already run under a different byline in a different magazine. A tipster provides evidence that an article in that issue about Japanese computer hackers by Karl Taro Greenfeld ran almost verbatim a year earlier-under a different byline-in Tokyo Journal. Furthermore, Greenfeld ran another article on the same subject in the LA Times Magazine, in which he describes one computer hacker identically to how he had described a different computer hacker in the Wired piece. Something seriously weird is going on here. [UPDATE: We now have a note from Karl Taro Greenfeld, saying that he is the author of all the pieces in question, and explaining the byline discrepancy, which is posted below. An explanation of what happened here-and key portions of all the stories in question-after the jump].
A note from Karl Taro Greenfeld:
I wrote all the articles. that story was actually written for Details but they killed it and then I sold it through my friend Chris Seymour to Tokyo Journal-I had once been the editor their and so there were numerous reasons why I didn't want to use my own name. Wired saw the story in Tokyo Journal and called Chris who told them to call me. Kevin Kelly, the wired managing editor at the time bougth the story from me and understood the whole situation. Even weirder, The Face ran a version that had both my name and Chris' name on it.
Summary of what happened, as far as we can tell: Greenfeld wrote the piece for Details. It was killed. He sold it to the Tokyo Journal (which he used to edit), which ran it under a different byline. Wired saw the story, liked it, bought it, and ran it under Greenfeld's byline, knowing the entire backstory. The different names given to the hackers in the LAT Magazine piece and the Wired piece hasn't been fully explained. So while we originally wondered if this was a plagiarism issue, it turns out to just be a case of a writer reselling his own work.
By Christopher Seymour, Tokyo Journal:
Karl Taro Greenfeld's description of a hacker named "Kojack" in Wired:
Karl Taro Greenfeld's description of a hacker named "Snix" in the LA Times Magazine: