Stim was a first-of-its-kind, boundary-pushing pop culture bomb detonated on the world wide web in the 90s. That’s probably how I am supposed to describe it? But it was really cool! We were one of the first webzines, rowdy but experienced creators who were given the green light by the legendary Ed Bennett, who had just left MTV and VH1 to develop web content.
What I loved about Stim was that it was a license to explore culture (and make some) without snobbery. We had David Foster Wallace alongside a step-by-step tutorial about putting pudding on your face to look like Data from Star Trek. And we mixed it up technically too: our serial “The Stimples,” created by Steve Speer, played out in a fish-eye lens 3-D environment, but we also had the “Fax Bomb,” where we would give an art prompt and people could fax their drawings directly to a web page.
Stim was showcased in the Whitney Biennial in 1997 (maybe 1999?), the first year they showed digital work of any kind. After we shut down, Time magazine took a picture of me standing on my desk and ran it with a line that said something like “Could Stim have been the next New Yorker?” which is probably the highest praise I have ever gotten for anything.
I’m really proud of our contributors, which include Tom Vanderbilt, Mike Albo, David Pescovitz, Jennifer Dalton, Daniel Radosh, Doug Wolk, Valerie Stivers, Nell Zink, Richard Kadrey, Tiffany Lee Brown, Jocko Weyland, Debbie Stoller Virginia Heffernan, Steffie Nelson, and Gareth Branwyn.
But my true love is for the Stim team: Georgia Rucker, Greg Kuchmek, Wellington Fan, Jennifer Dalton, Steve Raymond, Stephanie Brown, Lizanne Deliz, and Margie Borschke. WE ARE ALL STILL FRIENDS!! Name another publishing venture where that is true.
We lived at stim.com for many years, but the (messy) archive can be found at stimmag.net these days. Looking at it just now, I was intrigued by this experimental fiction moment—wtf? But also really cool if you keep going. In an homage to how long it took to load anything back then, I have made this page gigantic, sorry not sorry.