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How the Internet Didn't Fail As Predicted

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the series-of-popular-tubes dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 259

Lord Byron Eee PC writes "Newsweek is carrying a navel-gazing piece on how wrong they were when in 1995 they published a story about how the Internet would fail. The original article states, 'Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.' The article continues to say that online shopping will never happen, that airline tickets won't be purchased over the web, and that newspapers have nothing to fear. It's an interesting look back at a time when the Internet was still a novelty and not yet a necessity."

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The interwebs! (1)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401600)

The internet is "failing"...if all the big media fatcats have their way, the internet will have "failed".

Now the use of the term "internet" is far-reaching, so I suppose for all of it to actually fail, every backhoe in the world would have to find a buried pipe and start digging at the same time. But I digress...

Re:The interwebs! (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402444)

I think the quote that gets me is: " It's an interesting look back at a time when the Internet was still a novelty and not yet a necessity."

Don't get me wrong, I tend to go into withdrawls if my connections go down for an extended period of time, but, the internet being a necessity? I dunno. There are plenty of people out there that live and breathe and make money with no connection or need to the internet whatsoever. I don't think it is truly a necessity like shelter and food.

While *I* would not want to live without it, people still can pretty easily these days.

Re:The interwebs! (3, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402654)

But in modern industrialized societies, hypothetically turning off the entire Internet would have secondary effects on those who don't use it in their daily lives or work. Not that people would die in large numbers or anything.

Re:The interwebs! (3, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402974)

For example, don't you think that the automated and streamlined ordering systems that corporations use to reduce costs on necessary goods used by the poor would suffer?

It's necessary in the same way that roads and highways are necessary for the developed world. Sure, we could do without, but there would be a discernable difference if you removed either.

Re:The interwebs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402812)

Many public services are now dependent on the Internet. How do you think grocery stores coordinate deliveries? Even phone connections now go over the Net. The Internet may not be food and shelter, but without it your access to them would quickly be disrupted - good luck getting your money out of the bank to pay for groceries, or your mortgage, for example.

my piss is the frostiest (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401604)

Taste it if you dont believe me

Re:my piss is the frostiest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402064)

Get on my horse, my horse is amazing!

Interesting (1)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401634)

I'd like to read this. /. needs more articles that are actually interesting to read. Maybe more about the past predictions, even? :)

Re:Interesting (5, Funny)

syrinx (106469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401670)

Here's a good past prediction: http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/10/23/1816257 [slashdot.org]

Re:Interesting (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401864)

Love it:

"No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame."

Re:Interesting (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402456)

Please don't tell me you're now just figuring this out?

See kids, this is the real reason you should Read the Fine Article!

Re:Interesting (2, Interesting)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402060)

Priceless comment from that story

Apple is the Mercedes Benz or BMW of the computer industry. They deliver the best-designed products with "why didn't I think of that?!" features that eventually become commonplace on the Fords and Chevrolets of the computer industry. How many computer makers let you into the case without turning screws? ....

Apparently Apple disagreed with jcoleman (139158) regarding "easily openable case == design feature"

Or, "openable case == design feature"

Source [slashdot.org]

In all fairness, his remaining 6 points are fairly valid and some are responsible for Apple's success in the market today.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402234)

To be fair, the original iPod wasn't a big hit. It took a few revisions before it really took off.

Re:Interesting (3, Interesting)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402272)

There is a difference, when that paper was released everybody could see past their BS and realize they were wishful-thinking.

The iPod *was* lame, as in, lacking features the competition has had since the beginning, the iPod "won" by means of a) Marketing and b) The iTMS.
By "won" I mean, being the biggest player, it is no the sole player by a long shot.

I don't have numbers to back this up, over half the media player owners I know own something else than an iPod, but I live in Mexico, does anyone can bring statistics about media players in the world or at least the US?

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

jedrek (79264) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402500)

It also "won" because of the interface, something everybody on slashdot keeps ignoring. Do you remember what the interfaces of pre-ipod mp3 players were like? No comparison.

Re:Interesting (1, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402622)

You mean the idea of ripping of the basic UI from a CD changer head unit?

I still prefer a varation on this theme that has buttons rather than a wheel.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402952)

Nope. It was successful due to very good marketing. It didn't have any real advantage over the competition but the way it was marketed and the money invested in advertisement was really something in a completely different league than what the rest of the mp3 player manufacturers could do.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

dunezone (899268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402334)

The iPod was pretty lame when it was introduced. Only worked on Apple, limited space, limited features, pretty much set the stage for most Apple products.

It was only until several years later when increased the storage, added color, and allowed it to work on PC did it take off.

Re:Interesting (1, Insightful)

Brannon (221550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31403078)

What are you like 4 years old? It took off immediately like it was shot out of a cannon, faster than the Sony Walkman did--is that not fast enough for you?

DUPE! (4, Funny)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401790)

I swore I read about this 15 years ago. Slashdots getting worse.

Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (4, Informative)

Shuh (13578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401694)

A big-wig at I.B.M. predicted the entire world market for computers would be restricted to about 5 units.

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (5, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401782)

He's right you know. Those computers were the size of rooms. As demand went beyond 5, they started dividing those computers up into smaller ones. Ever wonder why computers are always getting smaller? They are running out of those 5 original computers, so they have to go smaller and smaller in order to stretch them further.

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 4 years ago | (#31403102)

Haha awesome!

-l

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (2, Funny)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31403182)

The solution to the looming computer shortage is to have more and more people share each of these remaining computers. I have developed an optimal technique for sharing (I call it Normalized Access Time, or NAT for short).

An alternate solution might be to just build more computers, but I'm not sure the infrastructure is in place for that yet.

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (1, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401796)

People who think they are very self-important tend to underestimate the impact of things they did not directly influence. Perhaps he was not involved with the PC and thus thought it was destined to failure. You think I'm crazy? Not so. Just think of the old adage, "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself" and similar such phrases. True in some cases, sure... but the more self-important one starts seeing one's self, the less able that person is to view the innovation of others as worthwhile and lasting.

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (5, Informative)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401994)

How young are you, friend? The quote does not refer to that piece of Johnny-come-lately unarchitected junk called the PC. The IBMer referred to was Tom Watson Senior, talking in the 50's about the IBM 600. At that point in time, the price of a computer was such that only very few (perhaps 5) customers would both have the dough and see any reason why they should buy one. Back then, no-one had any idea at all about how to justify the purchase by displacing costs, never mind justify by competitive advantage.

What happened next: not 5, but 18 customers bought one. So IBM designed a bigger faster model, the 650. The pricing team begged to set the price on the assumption that 23 customers would buy one. Finance refused to allow any assumption other than that the 18 customers for the 600 would buy a replacement 650. In fact, over 600 were sold of the model 650. This brought in such a huge mountain of money that IBM could bet on the design of a range of compatible models, the System/360. The rest is history - if you look at the horizon, you can still see the peaks of the mountain range of money that the S/360 brought in.

Your sig (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402260)

Cock Up Your Beaver" does not mean what you think. That might be true, but googling that phrase will produce exactly the results you would expect.

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402026)

People who think they are very self-important tend to underestimate the impact of things they did not directly influence. Perhaps he was not involved with the PC and thus thought it was destined to failure.

Well even if it wasn't a misquote [wikipedia.org] , that quotation supposedly originated in 1943. I don't think anyone [wikipedia.org] was working on personnel computers back then, so we should excuse Mr. Thomas J. Watson from considering market that wouldn't exist until after he died! So your sentiment, while laudable, is rather misdirected in this instance.:P

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402152)

One of my favorites was from Danny Hillis [wikipedia.org] , a pioneer in parallel computing. "I went to my first computer conference at the New York Hilton about 20 years ago. When somebody there predicted the market for microprocessors would eventually be in the millions, someone else asked, 'Where are they all going to go? It's not like you need a computer in every doorknob!"

Years later, Hillis went back to the same hotel. He noticed that the room keys had been replaced by electronic cards you slide into slots in the doors. There was indeed a computer in every doorknob..

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (4, Funny)

Eggbloke (1698408) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402316)

A big-wig at I.B.M. predicted the entire world market for computers would be restricted to about 5 units.

'But I predict that within one-hundred years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will be able to afford one....'

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402438)

What makes their not-gonna-happen predictions especially bad is the fact that some of those things were already happening in 1995.

Re:Computers Were Supposed To Fail Big Too (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31403072)

Actually, no, he didn't. But it makes a nice urban legend. As a footnote, he supposedly said it in 1943, which would mean his prediction was correct for about ten years, which is better than a lot of people have done forecasting technological progress.

It's all about the Editor (4, Insightful)

Cytotoxic (245301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401702)

from the original article

What the Internet hucksters won't tell you is that the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don't know what to ignore and what's worth reading.

And along comes Slashdot et al with moderation and meta-moderation schemes to allow the crowd to edit the stream. Problem solved (sort of). Hard to imagine that it was impossible to see lack of editing as anything other than an insurmountable obstacle. But the article was written by journalists with editors, so maybe that explains their limited vision.

Re:It's all about the Editor (2)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402104)

And yet, for most users, the Internet IS a wasteland of unfiltered data. I would argue that there are far more people online that "don't know what to ignore and what's worth reading" than those who do know.

Re:It's all about the Editor (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402354)

Even if it takes more time, from an idealistic standpoint it should be up to the user to choose what is important and what is not. Bonus points for true transparency, openness, and comprehensiveness of the data.

Re:It's all about the Editor (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402682)

This is the big failure of conventional journalism. They leave out a lot of important details and get what's left badly wrong. Just about any subject matter expert that examines the output of journalism as it relates to their specialty will find journalism shockingly bad. I suspect this is the true genesis of the demise of corporate journalism. The more interconnected people become, the more able people are to communicate about this sort of thing. People from different walks of life can share with each other just how WRONG journalists are.

Re:It's all about the Editor (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402906)

The worst part is what journalist intentionally left out due to bias and protecting their own interests. Now when people hear something important on the news they are likely to look it up on the internet to get the unfiltered details. Of course if it is controversial then they will go to the sites that feature the bias of their choice. At least there is choice and alternate views available.

Re:It's all about the Editor (2, Insightful)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31403014)

This is the big failure of conventional journalism. They leave out a lot of important details and get what's left badly wrong. Just about any subject matter expert that examines the output of journalism as it relates to their specialty will find journalism shockingly bad. I suspect this is the true genesis of the demise of corporate journalism. The more interconnected people become, the more able people are to communicate about this sort of thing. People from different walks of life can share with each other just how WRONG journalists are.

There are journalists who are insightful and thorough, journalists who produce large quantities of poor quality output, and there are journalists with undisclosed biases or agendas. In these respects, conventional journalists are identical to "unconventional" journalists (independent internet journalists writing for small internet publications or blogs).

I'd argue that there isn't any more "conventional" journalism; all mass media publications are now easily subject to the same review/critique as the independent media, in near real time.

What you've pointed out is that most non-experts in a given field have a hard time understanding and accurately representing even slightly complex information from a given field of specialization. This difficulty is no different for "journalists" than it is for other non-experts. The problem is not that journalists are prone to be misunderstanding, but that people in general are prone to misunderstanding.

This is why the most respected "journals" are (and have been) "peer reviewed", that is, subject to review by other experts in the same field, before publication. So, why don't we call those experts "journalists"? The do publish in journals, after all.

Re:It's all about the Editor (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402932)

The great irony is that nothing changed, "professionals" were always biased, Wikileaks had more scoops on important issues then all major newspapers had in decades. "amateurs" = 1, Pro's = 0, the internet has it's drawbacks because anyone can open their mouth but it also means ANYONE WHO KNOWS can open their mouth in response, discussion has added so much to news stories and propaganda and newspapers basically had to add user comments or risk having less of an audience and less investment in their site. It' hilarious that thesE MARKET NEEDS were never catered to by so called private sector, sites run by passionate people were copied and mimicked by the business world.

Wish he was wrong about the salespeople (4, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401718)

From TF95A:

Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet--which there isn't--the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

Oh, how I wish the network were still missing that "essential ingredient". On the page containing the 1995 lament, I now see ads for:
* Hugh Downs' Artery Cleaning "Secret" (now with 50% more Nobel Prize Laureate!)
* Acai Berry Exposed - Official Test
* Drivers from Minnesota wanted! (of course, I'm in Dallas... with a MN proxy server)
* Saint Paul - Mom Lost 46lbs Following 1 Rule (MN mislocalization again)
* DON'T Pay for White Teeth (with the requisite sugar cube clenched in teeth, WTF?)

Meanwhile, *my* neighborhood mall -- the first air-conditioned mall west of the Mississippi -- is now a grass-covered field [wikipedia.org] .

That said, I don't think I could go back to 1995, though it would be a fun challenge. The best part was doing DNS reverse lookups of domain names, since the company's network didn't have a DNS server. I could read David Letterman's Top Ten list the next morning, if I plugged the right octets into something called "Netscape" -- I thought I was livin' large.

Re:Wish he was wrong about the salespeople (3, Informative)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402082)

Oh, how I wish the network were still missing that "essential ingredient".

Wish no [adblockplus.org] longer [noscript.net] !

Re:Wish he was wrong about the salespeople (4, Funny)

Admiral_Grinder (830562) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402752)

Is it me or did that sound like a sales pitch?

Negroponte (2, Interesting)

gibson123 (1740752) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401726)

If you have not done so, a must read is Negroponte's book "Being Digital", it's amazing how far in the future he can look, one of the best books talking about digital technology I've read, still, 15 years later: http://www.amazon.com/Being-Digital-Nicholas-Negroponte/dp/0679762906 [amazon.com]

Government crackdowns (4, Interesting)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401744)

Did they predict that governments will attempt to crack down on free speech on the internet by dreaming up fake terror threats and copyright nonsense to control the internet, and thus please the governments corporate whore masters?

Re:Government crackdowns (5, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402488)

Nah. That was predicted back in 1949 [wikipedia.org] . Though he was off by a few years on the actual timeline.

Wow, he really missed the opportunity (5, Insightful)

Cytotoxic (245301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401756)

From the original internet criticism:

What's missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another.

So he was able to see that human contact was the thing that was missing from the internet - and then blew it. Because of his lack of vision, he's still eating Ramen Noodles. Meanwhile Zuckerberg and Tom Anderson and many others made billions on Facebook and Myspace etc. solving exactly those problems.

Actually, that's a nice lesson for the Slashdot crowd. Remember that idea you were just panning as stupid and unworkable because of xyz flaw that only you could spot? Yep, that's opportunity knocking.

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401844)

Facebook and Myspace count as human contact?

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402222)

Watching dudes whack their 3 inch dongs on Chat Roulette gives you all human contact you could ever want. :-)

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (0, Redundant)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401888)

You point was so insightful I sent the link to my wife. No doubt you will be moderated rightly into orbit, but due to lack of points not by me.

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (3, Insightful)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401950)

From the original internet criticism:

What's missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another.

So he was able to see that human contact was the thing that was missing from the internet - and then blew it. Because of his lack of vision, he's still eating Ramen Noodles. Meanwhile Zuckerberg and Tom Anderson and many others made billions on Facebook and Myspace etc. solving exactly those problems.

Actually, that's a nice lesson for the Slashdot crowd. Remember that idea you were just panning as stupid and unworkable because of xyz flaw that only you could spot? Yep, that's opportunity knocking.

And he didn't have much of an excuse to bemoan the lack of human contact and virtual communities either... Cliff Stoll back then was a net guru and quite active on usenet, so it's not like he wouldn't have imagined how the net connects people...

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (5, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401986)

Zuckerberg and Anderson are not rich because they had vision to bring human contact to the internet.

Zuckerberg and Anderson are rich because they realized that most internet users cannot or will not learn to use use their computers well enough to handle an email application, an IM application, a news reader, and a web browser, and that most internet users are not online for content but for mindless entertainment.

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402910)

WRONG: zuckerberg is rich because he executed the textbook downward market expansion perfectly and repeatedly until he had a majority market share. If you'll recall, he first offered facebook only to the most exclusive crowd: Harvard students. He then moved on to the rest of the ivies, other top-tier schools, mid-tier schools, and so on until your grandma was eligible to sign up. That's why he won, facebook didn't have any technical advantage at first.

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402380)

Actually, ICQ solved that problem in 1996! It already had the ability to create user profiles, (chat) groups, and search for people with similar interests. Then came the imitators (AIM, MSN, etc), who chose to imitate it in a way that was basically only good for instant messages anymore.
And then, much much later, came Facebook, MySpace, etc. Who did the same thing. Except in the crappy website fashion. Plus they sold off the users’ data.

Meanwhile, I still use ICQ. (Amongst others like XMPP or IRC.) Via Kopete, but still...

P.S.: Perhaps you could say, that IRC preceded them all. But IRC did not really have much of a user profile and matchmaking functionality. But it could have easily. Sad that that was missed.

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (2, Insightful)

kristjansson (624846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31403148)

You know, if Clifford Stoll [wikipedia.org] is eating Ramen at this point, I think it's because he wants to... I also have to wonder if everybody here is really this ignorant of who the man is...

Re:Wow, he really missed the opportunity (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31403204)

So he was able to see that human contact was the thing that was missing from the internet - and then blew it. Because of his lack of vision, he's still eating Ramen Noodles. Meanwhile Zuckerberg and Tom Anderson and many others made billions on Facebook and Myspace etc. solving exactly those problems.

Well they haven't really solved those problems. Nobody has solved those problems yet. Instead, I'd say they did something like... provide us with such an addictive semi-social activity that we don't realize how isolated we are. It is indeed very clever and profitable.

Reading and posting on a social networking site is not "human contact". Maybe we will someday have such a terrific VR system on the Internet that we can emulate genuine human contact and provide most of the physical/psychology health benefits of interacting people other people, but Facebook aint it.

Sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401786)

FTFA

"So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month?"

Today, my local mall in St. Louis couldn't outsell a 24-Hr period on the internet in a year.

Re:Sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31403246)

I don't suppose your talking about Crestwood Plaza or whatever it's called now?

Internet search has come a long way. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401824)

Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them—one's a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn't work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question,

Heh. Lets cut and past "date of the Battle of Trafalgar" into the location bar of Chrome here...

and instantly...

"Battle of Trafalgar — Date: 21 October 1805
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Trafalgar [wikipedia.org] "

Proving that internet search made the internet useful. The article's author had a stunning failure of vision.

Re:Internet search has come a long way. (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402922)

Sometimes I miss the old days of internet search. Sure, you had to hunt through half a dozen pages of results to find the information you were looking for. But half the fun is in the search. The other half is ending up in places you never would have thought to go on your own. These days you can find what you're looking for in a few clicks. Somehow that makes the internet feel smaller.

I predict my own doom !!! (1)

Foske (144771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401832)

Read my lips, in fifteen years I'll be as famous and important as this internet thingie !

I knew this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401860)

You are all figments of my imagination.

Now I imagine you all naked.

If you feel a tingling sensation, don't be concerned...

To be fair... (3, Informative)

Jiro (131519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401878)

To be fair, if you actually read the original article he mentions books and newspapers right after talking about books on disk--in context he's obviously referring to ebooks and not ordering a book and having it physically delivered (which would be nonsense for newspapers anyway). Paying for electronic books and newspapers is better than in 1995, but it hasn't exactly taken over, and newspapers are more outcompeted by free sites than by anything you buy.

Re:To be fair... (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402258)

Didn't the WSJ, or one of the other business rags have a service in the 90's where your computer would automatically dial into their servers early in the morning, and have a copy of the paper in your printer by the time you woke up?

What makes it really ironic (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401924)

As I said on my blog [codemonkeyramblings.com] ****, the irony was that within 1 year of his article JavaScript was released in Netscape Navigator 2.0 and Brin and Page began Google. The former played a key role in enabling a lot of the usefulness in the web and the latter played a key role in organizing it effectively from the viewpoint of the public, especially to the extent that his point about how hard it was to find useful data was negated by Google.

I have to agree with Newsweek's writer who criticized him by saying that his problem wasn't in stating what the problems were, but his blithe assumption that they would never be overcome. That, right there, was the fatal flaw as it assumed that the computer industry was not invested in the Internet's future. That's almost like assuming that the established auto companies have no interest in the electric car market and would gladly let Tesla take it over unmolested.

****Just an ironic dig since he figured that blogging would never become mainstream, let alone that some bloggers (myself excluded) would become powerful players in the media.

Re:What makes it really ironic (2, Interesting)

trash eighty (457611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402024)

A few months after this article being published i was in my first job... creating an online store selling stuff over the internet. I believe Amazon was just getting started then too. They have done quite well for themselves...

Things did change very quickly though, Netscape 2.0 was the game changer as you say.

Re:What makes it really ironic (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402430)

No, what makes it really ironic, is that one year later (1996), ICQ was released. The first social network. (Yes, it had all the functions to count as a real social network. I know because I had my first blind date because of it. [Turned out not so well though. ;])

How do we know it hasn't failed? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401942)

Maybe it has split into multiple bubble universes, and the people who are dealing with the consequences of the collapse of the Internet multiverse are simply beyond our cosmological horizon.

We are unaware that anything has gone wrong, because *our* universe continues to expand.

Re:How do we know it hasn't failed? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402452)

How do we know that you didn't die in childbirth in several of the multiverses, and thus the people in those universes were spared the discomfort of having to read that silly post?

Re:How do we know it hasn't failed? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402566)

Well, depends if you look at it from the 4chan realm. ;)

It's from Clifford Stoll (0, Redundant)

Wee (17189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401946)

I mean, seriously: This is the guy who wrote an entire book about how e-commerce was "baloney" and who now makes a living selling things on the Net. He thought the Internet would kill libraries and make schools close. He claimed that "information, better communications, and electronic programs" could never "cure social problems" (tell Obama that).

What else would you expect from him?

-B

Re:It's from Clifford Stoll (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402068)

"This is the guy who wrote an entire book about how e-commerce was "baloney" and who now makes a living selling things on the Net."

I'm a little surprised. Stoll is best known to me as the author of "Cuckoo's Egg", I think his first book, about his take-down of an early hacker (a kid in Eastern Europe who used a simple mail exploit to pwn a couple of Stoll's UC Berkley IT lab machines, if I remember correctly.)
First, I'm a bit surprised a hacker-catcher would take a luddite view of the future of the Internet, and second; I find it interesting as well that he would trash eCommerce. For such an interesting-sounding person he appears to utterly lack any real vision.

Re:It's from Clifford Stoll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402522)

He's not exactly a Luddite. He just values direct human interaction a lot and feels the interspazz detracts from that. This attitude is just as prevalent in "Cuckoo's Egg" as in "Silicon Snake Oil" and, my favourite, "High Tech Heretic".

Re:It's from Clifford Stoll (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402834)

Simply use the inherent efficiencies that the internet allows for to engage in the distraction of your choice.

If that happens to be "direct human interaction", then that has benefited from the evil dehumanizing internet.

Re:It's from Clifford Stoll (1)

trb (8509) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402908)

I'm a bit surprised a hacker-catcher would take a luddite view...

If you read his book, you might remember that he logged the "hacker's" activities by copying them to printers and displays rather than to another computer's disk files. (You can see this by going to Google Books, then searching for Cuckoo's Egg, then searching for printer. See page 24 or so.) So he might have been a hacker-catcher and a luddite too. Or, as we call them now, steampunks.

Not surprising (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401956)

Back in 1995, I was just finishing up a Journalism degree at a Big Ten university, and in more than one media class, the subject of the internet (and its future) came up. But it was the students that brought it up...not the professors or the teaching assistants.

Unfortunately, the subject was always dismissed as some kind of fad. In fact, in one class, the assistant refused to even discuss the subject at all, almost as if he was annoyed by it. So, I'm not surprised at all that some in the mainstream media have been slow to really comprehend the subject, let alone adapt their business models.

Right idea wrong approach (1)

OldSoldier (168889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401972)

I read his response...

At the time, I was trying to speak against the tide of futuristic commentary on how The Internet Will Solve Our Problems.

Sounds like a perfectly fine thing to caution people about. Problem is he then goes on to say these THINGS won't happen when in fact they DID happen but they still didn't solve our problems.

Re:Right idea wrong approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402388)

I read his response...

At the time, I was trying to speak against the tide of futuristic commentary on how The Internet Will Solve Our Problems.

Sounds like a perfectly fine thing to caution people about. Problem is he then goes on to say these THINGS won't happen when in fact they DID happen but they still didn't solve our problems.

Exactly, this part from the original (i.e. 1995) article illustrates both how he is both right and wrong:

Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

He was wrong about the first and last things, but he's right that digital information is no replacement for a competent teacher. Although though a well made educational disc can certainly enhance the effectiveness of a competent teacher. Thus he's wrong in almost all the specific applications he mentions, but still right that in predicting it won't be a panacea for humanity's more important issues and problems.

Cliff Stoll in 1995ish (4, Funny)

fatboy (6851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401974)

In 1995 or 1996 Cliff was the keynote speaker at the Dayton Hamvention. He really got those old men fired up and hating on the Internet. He was promoting a book named "Silicon Snake Oil", IIRC. It was quite humorous for the next two or three years to watch the reaction of some of those guys asking about manuals for stuff I was selling in the Dayton boneyard. I would direct them to check in the Internet, and they would loose all manner of sensibility. Too funny.

Re:Cliff Stoll in 1995ish (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402062)

Thus saith Cliff's Keynotes

Nobody will ever need more than 640k RAM (0, Troll)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401984)

-Bill Gates

Re:Nobody will ever need more than 640k RAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402284)

It was 64k and that visionary Steve Jobs who said it.

Re:Nobody will ever need more than 640k RAM (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402406)

That quote might be apocryphal, but his quote "The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers." on page 265 of the first edition of The Road Ahead is well established fact. (I have the book.)

Re:Nobody will ever need more than 640k RAM (1)

GasparGMSwordsman (753396) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402636)

Except he most likely never said such a thing.

When IBM introduced its PC in 1981, many people attacked Microsoft for its
role. These critics said that 8-bit computers, which had 64K of address space,
would last forever. They said we were wastefully throwing out great 8-bit
programming by moving the world toward 16-bit computers.

We at Microsoft disagreed. We knew that even 16-bit computers, which had 640K
of available address space, would be adequate for only four or five years. (The
IBM PC had 1 megabyte of logical address space. But 384K of this was assigned
to special purposes, leaving 640K of memory available. That's where the
now-infamous ``640K barrier'' came from.)

-Bill Gates

Source Bloomberg Business News circa '96.

Snopes also has some useful info:

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Gates#Misattributed [wikiquote.org]

Much like the virility of your comment, my CAPTCHA was "limpness"...

To err is human... (3, Informative)

drewhk (1744562) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402040)

You should read the end of TFA:

"At the time, I was trying to speak against the tide of futuristic commentary on how The Internet Will Solve Our Problems.

[...]

And, as I’ve laughed at others’ foibles, I think back to some of my own cringeworthy contributions.

Now, whenever I think I know what’s happening, I temper my thoughts: Might be wrong, Cliff

Warm cheers to all,

—Cliff Stoll on a rainy Friday afternoon in Oakland"

one thing right anyway (1)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402076)

...predicts that we'll soon buy ... newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

Well, it's true that nobody's buying newspapers over the Internet. Isn't that one of the newspapers' biggest problems?

Tomorrow's World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402146)

I predict that within 100 years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them.

Stoll? (1, Interesting)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402252)

Clifford Stoll? Seriously? That guy has never been much of an authority on computers. He was just a guy who capitalized on the little bit of street credit he got from bringing down the hacker Markus Hess. Stoll's opinions were never worth much.

Note (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402336)

I am old enough to remember reading this article back in 1995. His view was uncommon back then, though shared by a lot of anti-Internet curmudgeons. His article was a reaction to all the people touting the Internet as something that would swallow up all commerce.

Risks of contrarianism (2, Insightful)

SiliconEntity (448450) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402362)

According to the article, Stoll's excuse is that he was trying to play the contrarian:

At the time, I was trying to speak against the tide of futuristic commentary on how The Internet Will Solve Our Problems.

Contrarianism helps sell magazines (and garners pageviews) but let us not forget that it is usually WRONG. Yes, humbling as it may be to admit, the great unwashed masses, the "sheeple", are usually right in their collective opinions. Contrarians often escape punishment for their folly because no one cares, but in this case Stoll got properly burned.

"This invention X will fix the school system" (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402396)

The flip side of the coin is that every new media since Edison's phonograph (and probably before) has been touted as fixing the broken education system. yet for the most part, they dont.

Reminds me of the NYT (4, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402548)

In 1920 they published an incredibly snotty editorial ripping on Robert Goddard, arrogantly stating scientific errors (such as that a rocket could not work in a vacuum as it lacked something to 'push against'), and generally claiming that even a high school student could see that this Goddard fellow was a crazy loon.

They published a 'correction' of the editorial on July 17th, 1969.

But he's actually been to the future!!! (1)

yamamushi (903955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402596)

It's easy to see how one would make this mistake, when they've actually been to the future : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNGJkkkagGw [youtube.com]

Cliff Stoll? (3, Informative)

smd75 (1551583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402704)

For someone with worthy experience to talk about the internet, Im quite surprised he wrote A) That article from 1995 and B) Silicon Snake Oil. His book The Cuckoo's Egg was excellent. I felt he had a firm grasp as to where the internet could go. I admired the guy for his work. I guess all those Berkeley kids aren't on top of their game. The guy _was_ an astronomer after all.

Things Change at a Rapid Rate (1)

Sagelinka (1427313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402756)

I remember the "internet" around that time. Windows 3.1 and AOL were the big shots. 14.4kbps modems and computers that had only 386MHZ. Good times. But only a narrow minded person would believe that the internet, or computers for that matter, would fail. All technology updates at a very rapid rate. From Tapes to Compact Discs to Flash Media.

Re:Things Change at a Rapid Rate (3, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402876)

and since it existed when they were born, my children will think there was always an internet and that it was always big, and that people always had a computer or four in their homes.

so we could say (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402766)

He neglected to see the Eighteen Wheelers cruising down the Information Superhighway that would make roadkill of his article, and didn't realize that If You Build It They Will Come.

This is a nice example (1)

al0ha (1262684) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402870)

A nice example of why reporters should stick to reporting and quit with the constant conjecture and personal opinion. Too much personal opinion, paid opinion and otherwise influenced opinion and conjecture fill what passes for "News" these days. A reporter's only job is to report the facts, but somehow that lesson, learned in journalism 101, does not make it out of academia anymore.

The internet didn't fail as predicted... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402882)

It failed in ways no one predicted.

Stoll versus Lanier (2, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31403008)

It's instructive to look at the differences in what Clifford Stoll says versus what someone like Jaron Lanier says.

Clifford Stoll reminds us that technology is not a panacea, and to stay human.

Jaron Lanier is upset by "numb mobs composed of people who are no longer acting as individuals" - you know, that the peasants were let onto the ARPAnet. His main gripe with the Internet is that he doesn't get the attention any more [newstechnica.com] .

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