By R.U. Sirius
The origins of the term “New Edge” may be under contestation. I recall John Perry Barlow claiming the coinage and I’m sure Mondo Publisher Queen Mu has claimed it as well. I think maybe Morgan Russell has also claimed it. I have a fairly strong impression that its first usage was in Mondo 2000 promotional rhetoric, which would give the advantage to Mu. In an interview for the Mondo book, Joichi Ito indicated that the Japanese professor and media philosopher Mitsuhiro Takemura and he coined the term for a Japanese magazine. But when I mentioned the other people who claimed to have coined it, Joi thought maybe they were just the first to spread it in Japan.
I secretly think I came up with it (yes, irony noted). Not that it matters much. Changing Age to Edge is not exactly an accomplishment on par with feeding the poor and hungry or writing Crime and Punishment or “The Special Theory of Relativity.”
But what are — or were — the implications of the “New Edge.” Was it the “new age” plus techno? Was it the avant garde of the ‘90s? Was it some Mondo hype that we only intended to feed to potential advertisers before deciding — what the hell — it’d be a good title for the book. Or was it, as noted by Wikipedia, “a styling theme used by Ford Motor Company for many of its passenger vehicles in the late 1990s and early 2000s.”
The audio file below contains a brief talk I gave in 1990 at a Whole Life Expo titled “The New Edge” and gives my take on it at that time. I opened with an audio collage that was organized by Don Joyce of Negativland, although I don’t remember exactly how that happened. Those of you who saw the film Cyberpunk will recognize that much of it is appropriated from that blockbuster. It’s included in the file and is pretty cool and fun.
Listen to the audio now: