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IBM is tired, the news is Wired

As the presidential showdown approaches, Vermel and I have developed an insatiable appetite for election news.

As the presidential showdown approaches, Vermel and I have developed an insatiable appetite for election news. We're sucking up so much TV and online reporting, that Vermel has borrowed one of the GOP's principal stereotypes and applied it to me. The kid says that I'm the male, techno-savvy equivalent of a Soccer Mom, that is a Digital Dad. "You're the voter for the next millennium: smart and online," he told me.

If you're tired of the same old stories, a soon-to-be-launched news service from Wired promises to bring you scoops with more attitude than a maitre d'. The company plans to expand the offerings of its HotWired site to include "an online news service that will provide news from the perspective of the digital generation."

Wired must have picked up on one of the lessons that Ziff-Davis and my own employer, CNET, learned a while ago, namely that technology news could be Web publishing's "killer app." More than anything else, all of those timely headlines keep eye-balls streaming into the site.

Let's hope Wired's IPO fares better than America Online's stock (AOL), which has been taking a beating as of late. Meanwhile, rumors have been circulating that Steve Case's online service is ripe for a takeover from the likes of AT&T.

I can't verify the truth (where are the moles when you need them the most?), but it sounds to me like insider helium meant to inflate AOL's stock. I hope so, for Steve Case's sake. Judging by AT&T's past purchases of online services (anyone remember Interchange?), nothing could be worse for AOL than a takeover by the telephone company.

After owning a piece of Prodigy, IBM knows better than to go messing around with an online service. But Big Blue has another problem. The company is heading towards its own version of the Year 2000 crisis. By the new millennium, legions of aging IBMers are due to retire, leaving the ranks of Big Blue young but depleted. IBM is toying with the idea of lengthening its retirement age, but will probably radically step up its efforts to recruit fresh blood in the coming years. Retirement sounds nice, but Vermel won't let me do it. My paltry 401(k) won't cover his digital addictions. Send me your sympathy and your rumors.