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The Commercialization Of the Internet

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the what-happens-at-the-end-of-the-money dept.

Editorial 305

YorickFinn writes "Common Dreams recently posted an article by Norman Solomon on "Denial and the Ravaging of Cyberspace." In short, Solomon argues that the commonly held view of the net as the last bastion of truly democratic mass communication is, in fact, a myth. For instance, he points out that "Websites operated by just four corporations account for 50.4 percent of the time that U.S. users of the Web are now spending online...." Ultimately, Solomon claims that the net may become more like "interactive digital TV," with the decline in the use of browsers and the increasing prominence of technology such as MTV.(The "M" is for Microsoft, formerly WebTV.) All told, his forecast is somewhat bleak, but not entirely unfounded. Worth the read."

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Lum! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234930)

I will love you forever and a lifetime more.

Re:Lum! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234937)

Wow! That's a whole lotta lurve !

Re:Lum! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234946)

I mean, let me tell you something, you pea brain, the oceans are full of dirty fish.

Re:Lum! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234964)

Oh really? Dirty as in - smutty/rude, or dirty as in - unclean/need-a-bath?

Re:Lum! (-1, Offtopic)

wheel (204735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234985)

I don't want to hear about your disease.

Shmo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234954)


tp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234949)

two million, two hundred and thirty four thousand, nine hundred and thirty eighth post?

How to stop it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234950)

The commercialisation of the internet can only
be stopped by converting to Windows XP.
I've been running Windows XP for the last couple of weeks. It's amazingly fast and stable. The interface is clean and intuitive. Truly an amazing Desktop OS, maybe the best yet.

Re:How to stop it. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234962)

Hey that's amazing!

The post number of this parent (2234950)
is exactly the same as the registration
number on my car*!!!!

*If you take away some of the numbers and
add some other ones.

without it we'd still be in '92 (1, Insightful)

kfckernal (517538) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234953)

Its not all bad..The money that was thrown in the tech sector made the internet a better place..Sure that money has all but dried up now. But without it technology wouldn't be as far along as it is.

Re:without it we'd still be in '92 (0)

foistboinder (99286) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235064)


I kind of liked the internet the way it was in '92. At least, it can be argued, the signal to noise ratio was better back then.

Re:without it we'd still be in '92 (2, Funny)

mcelli (518034) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235111)

Yeah 92 really sucked, I remember if I was surfing mindlessly I wouldn't get a single banner/popup ad! I mean who's going to tell me about a tiny wireless camera that goes ANWHERE!

I remember checking my email and not a single solicited message, not one! I mean what fun's email if the only email you get is the stuff you want. Without junk mail, I'd have never got my University diploma, and would still be an uneducated idiot in a low paying job.

Seriously, I think we should discuss how ADVERTISING now owns the internet. Corporate control has definately become a problem as it has removed information to the internet and replaced it with sensation. Advertising has removed convenience and taste from the Internet and turned it into a cesspool of free porn and useless products (Internet tupperware).

I compare the Internet to a Lord of the Flies situation. Let them be animals and they will be animals. If Americans weren't so blindly protective of "Free Speech", we could regulate it like other information mediums and return to an Internet with CONTENT!

So is Andover one of the four? (1)

Frey (14600) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234955)

...cuz, I sure spend a lot of my time at slashdot.

Re:So is Andover one of the four? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234969)

It takes a religious goof like you to say that the world is full of fool drunks .

this is what i think of the article (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234959)

@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@@@
@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@
@@@@@@@ @@@@
@@@@@ @@@@@@
@@@@@@ @@@
@@@@@ @@@
@@@@ @@@@@@
@@@@@ @@@@@@@@
@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@

Re:this is what i think of the article (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235026)

Shut up you stupid ascii spork wannabe. His ascii art is of far higher quality than yours. Yours is just a crappy bunch of @s.

Re:this is what i think of the article (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235058)

What happen to the goatsex art post he started it all. There is roomi n the ascii troll community for many artists. He has a different style, but it is still good.

Furst Pohst (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234965)

Poesting ferst

I don't know if it is possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234971)

but I personally would like to see a reversal of the commercialism of the net and return it to the Universities, gov't agencies and think tanks. There are too many turds on it, and commercializing it was the biggest mistake to progress. If there is any possibility, then lets fight to remove the commercial aspect, and therefore all the 'typical user' scum off the net.

Help clean up the net and return it to its original and rightful owners

Imminent death of the net predicted (1)

kingdon (220100) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234972)

The slogan "imminent death of the net predicted" is one I know from usenet, but it applies here. Instead of asking whether non-commercial sites are the majority, ask whether they are growing. And whether they are cool, informative, etc. I mean, I doubt we need a zillion different people all providing stock quotes and weather - I don't see a problem if that kind of thing is owned by a few big companies. But are the small sites finding it harder to make it than in 1995? I'm guessing not - the small and cheap to run hobbyist site isn't affected by what is happening to banner ad prices. Just to pick a random example I ran across recently, Hippo World [] has everything you ever wanted to know about the hippopotamus.

Re:Imminent death of the net predicted (1)

Rob Mac K (513824) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235013)

Note that the site you linked to is hosted via, *the* top corporate-owned site in the article. Probably not the best example in the world.

As AOL consumes more and more of the net, their incentive to make user sites accessible to the rest of the non-AOL net decreases.

Re:Imminent death of the net predicted (1)

analog_line (465182) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235047)

Some of us wouldn't exactly mind that.

CALL FOR GOATSE ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235069)



15.-17. September 2001

At Slashdot first post


15. September - Main topic: frist post

* Anonymous vs. login frist posts
* 20 secs - enough for frist post content ?
* Frist post ASCII art
* History of frist post from 12. century to the year 2001

16. September - Main topic: historic trolls

* The dawn of time: Natalie Portman and hot grits
* Is Ogg dead ?
* Stephen King: dead forever
* BSD is dying: endless agony and sibling trolls
* The brave defenders of truth: linux gay conspiracy

17. September - Main topic: new developments and future trends

* ASCII trolling: forever or until next slashcode release ?
* High moderated thread invasion
* The deleted post conspiracy
* Goatse redirection - the missing link

Please make all your goatse submissions until 12. September 2001.
All papers will be accepted, because our reviewers didn't want
see any more open anuses.

Re:CALL FOR GOATSE ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235121)

HA this is great... Mod this up!

Re:Imminent death of the net predicted (2, Interesting)

Unknown Bovine Group (462144) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235095)

The author of the article only grazes the truly insidious issue that could jeapardize the 'democratization' of the net. He talks about access via WebTV et. al. We don't care what sites the majority of people spend the majority of time using, so long as we don't lose functionality. However I have experienced this problem with @Home. It's the 'consumerization' of your internet connection.

Don't you want a fast pipe to the internet? Well sign up here. OK, now that we have you, we've noticed that while a vast majority of you are happily hitting our cache of MSN, AOL, etc. there are some of you RUNNING SERVERS, using bandwidth, connecting to IRC, etc. Please stop that; we'll artificially limit your upstream speed to discourage that non-consumer activity. Oh, and we've decided to get rid of the Usenet newgroups that take up too much bandwidth, since the vast majority don't use them anyway. Oh, and your emails are getting lost but you should only be using @Home email for 'recreational purposes'.

And "go back to dialup" is NOT the answer.

We must be vigilant that the regular actions of the vast majority don't become the de facto standard and remove the abilities and freedoms we've come to know as the internet.

Commercialization? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234977)

And I thought it was only CmdrTaco that couldn't spell, but it's now spread to Hemos!

It's Commercialisation.

Just wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234978)

it's difficult to remember that quaint, commercial-free Internet. Marketers didn't just eye the medium -- they conquered it.

Don't give up hope just yet...the Web is just a first try at global hypertext, and it has flaws that make it susceptible to this junk. But some of us are already working on its successor...

Stupid Users (3, Insightful)

Scrag (137843) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234979)

While most people might spend most of their time on commercial sites, that doesn't mean everyone does. It also doen't mean that they are forced to. If a user feels like spending his time on commercial sites, it isn't my problem.

The whole point of the internet (ok theres not really one point to the internet) is to ALLOW everyone to be able to have their own sites or visit the sites they want. This doesn't mean that everyone should be forced to go to the "underground" sites. If someone wants to go to a sanitized news source, that does not hurt me in any way. I've never understood the problem with letting people use the internet how they want. There will always be an "underground" on the net for people who want to go there.

Re:Stupid Users (2)

quartz (64169) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235065)

I think what the article was trying to say was that statistically speaking, the Internet is commercial. I don't see any big surprises here. The overwhelming majority of consumers are too lazy or stupid to say something with any meaning for the rest of the world, therefore they don't *need* a mass communication tool. They need their daily fix of one-way mass communication directed at them, so their surfing habits are very likely to match their TV viewing habits - which is exactly what the article describes: most of them only surf commercial sites owned by those 4 corporations.

That, however, does not mean the internet itself is commercial. That would be a very stupid thing to say, if you only consider that a lot of governments have an internet presence, and governments are anything BUT commercial. The network itself is agnostic, it doesn't care if the packets running through it are commercial or not. We geeks use it for a lot of non-commercial stuff, but that doesn't count for someone who is looking exclusively at numbers. Joe Consumer counts, as he always did.

Re:Stupid Users (4, Insightful)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235156)

You know I don't see it as being lazy or stupid to not put up your own page. You just might not have the time or energy or have anything that needs a web page. Ok sure I could put up a web page with a picture of my cats and such but in truth who cares? Many of those people who you acuse of being to lazy or stupid are neither. They just have lives that don't revolve around the net. They have kids to spend time with and bills to pay.

When I get around having kids (G-d willing), and the choice comes to 1) put up a web page, 2) spend time with the kids. I will go with 2 every time.

I also don't see a problem with a few big companies getting 50% of the hits on the internet. There are thousands of small groups with web sites no one is stoped from looking at those site, and many people do. But it does mean that whats on the web sites of the big 4 is not useful (to someone) or relivant.

just another day.. (1)

raindog151 (157588) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234980)

people have been saying this since flash and shockwave first arrived on the scene. exempting maybe a few of the 'true' interactive sites (heavy, etc.) i really doubt this is going to happen.

then again, the fred durst generation is probably plotting our demise while i'm reading old cDc text files.

I don't buy it... (1)

GiorgioG (225675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234983)

I haven't read the article, only Hemos' summary, but I have to say I don't agree. You can create your own high quality content for free with many of the tools out there, even get free hosting, etc. Decline in the user of browsers? I don't buy that either. WebTV still uses a browser of some sort - it has to - AFAIK anyway...

Re:I don't buy it... (2)

well_jung (462688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235068)

That's exactly the difference. It costs me maybe 50 bucks a month and some of my time to run a decent, informative, niche website.

I don't even know where I'd begin to try to launch a niche TV station. But I know it'd cost a hell of a lot more.

The "democratizing" impact of hte Internet is the very low entry barrier. It's not about where most people spend there time. Most people only watch four TV stations; we don't realy care about them.

What we care about is that even though 99% of the people may not give two shits about some topic or other, that 1% will still have a presence. That's what matters! The information will be there, with little regard for your desire for it to be there.

It's just falling in line with the rest of america (2)

GoNINzo (32266) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234986)

We might consider the web democratic only because we have MORE say than we have other places. And that might be just a gradient of percentages.

80% of the wealth is controled by 10% of the population. If we have 50% of the web controled by 1% of the population, that's a little bit better in some respects.

The thing that scares me is that we have so many opinion sites that are advocating new products and they arn't revealing their affilations. A good example is Tom's Hardware [] . And while this is a guy who had a bias from the start (and the bias isn't that bad), what happens when we have only a few media companies and everything is spawn by them? You might read some reviews on yahoo, unable to know they are owned by the company that is releasing the products. And while not directly lying about what's good and bad, they might put the 'good' reviews of their own products closer to the top.

Eventually, you'll have things like "AT&T would like you to get 3 months of free cable modem service, but only if you go see the great movie 'Plotless'!" The ideas of cross promotions are only just starting to be explored on the internet. Or imagine that search engines tend to exclude items. It just goes down hill from there.

This is why grassroots sites will always be helpful, until places start astroturfing. The question is, where does slashdot fall in this range?

Re:It's just falling in line with the rest of amer (1)

Rob Mac K (513824) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235027)

Not only that, but 90% of the "traditional media" (newspapers, television, and radio stations) are owned by a grand total of eleven corporations. The fact that web usage is beginning to trend the same way surprises me not at all (and in the end, I suspect it will be the same players - already AOL/TW is in there).

Re:It's just falling in line with the rest of amer (2)

Masem (1171) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235129)

The thing that is different about the web from the other traditional forms of media is the cost of entry; with radio and TV, you must get an expensive license from the gov't, while newspapers of a significant distribution need expensive equipment.

With the web, all you need is a $1000 computer, $20/month and a free-hosting site to publish.

I really don't care all that much that a significant fraction of the web is controlled by a tiny fraction of aggolmerations, as long as (1) the cost to publish remains as low as it is and (2) there are no barriers to prevent one from obtaining any outside of the agglomerates. (1) is pretty much going to remain as it is, but (2) may be questionable, with the suggestion that AOL-TW could effectively wall their garden in both directions, possibly allowing their members to only see sites they control, or prevent non-members to see their sites.

As long as the infomation is unwalled, people will visit a off-beat site if they believe the information is good. There are, for example, game review sites that have no corporate backing and are only in it for the fun, not the advertizing dollars, and their reviews are much less biased than one can read on the corporate review sites. Heck, USENET to some extent serves this same purpose.

So while agglomeration of content owners is somewhat distrubing, it's not a concern until they wall off their garden, at which point the barrier to web publishing goes up, and the death of the web would then be imminent.

Re:It's just falling in line with the rest of amer (1)

japhmi (225606) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235157)

Eventually, you'll have things like "AT&T would like you to get 3 months of free cable modem service, but only if you go see the great movie 'Plotless'!"

I'll go see a stupid movie once every 3 months in exchange for free cable modem service. (let's see, $7.50 movie, that means.... $2.50/month cable internet... Win!)

Slashdot sucks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234988)

Slashdot sucks! Here is why:

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

And there you have it.

Internet is no TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234990)

The point is anyone CAN communicate with other (possibly many) people via Internet. TV, Radio, even phone network does not allow this.

Internet is a very different medium from everything that was available before. The closest analogy to it is literaure, not TV.

Re:Internet is no TV (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235078)

Yep. Until M$ and AOL and Yahoo! actually make it impossible for individual users and small companies to put up their own Web sites, e-mail and Usenet servers, etc. -- which I don't think is going to happen -- the Net is still "free" in a meaningful sense.

Developers on small Web sites can help with this a lot, simply by making sure that their sites are truly part of a _Web_ rather than an "information superhighway." IOW, create an extensive and well-maintained "links" section that connects primarily to other small, cool sites. Maybe I'm turning into an old fogey, but it seems to be that once upon a time, that's what the Web was all about, and now people have fewer and less interesting links even on their personal home pages. I'd like to get back to the way things used to be. Ultimately, we need to spin our own Web; let the corporate sites do what they will ...

GIVE ME A BLOWJOB NOW! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234991)

SUCK MY COCK!!!! Unless you're female. Women are terrible at giving blowjobs.

Jon Katz

Moderators on crack (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235044)

Who moderated that "Offtopic"? It's obviously a "Troll". Idiots.

Ouch, it stings! (1, Offtopic)

zpengo (99887) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234993)

I don't want my MTV.

WARNING link in signature!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235086)

don't click his sig if you're are at work

whatever (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2234994)

Boring, hasn't this already been discussed about 50,000 times. Come up with some original shit. Damn this website fucking sucks.

It never really was democratic.... (4, Insightful)

daoine (123140) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234995)

..if you consider democratic as an ideal where everyone has a voice.

The net has always had an access cost -- you had to have a machine, you had to have a connection. In the "ideal" net of late 80's and early 90's, it wasn't necessarily more democratic. Only people with computers and net connections had access.

With commercialization came lower costs and greater access. So while the proportion of content has become less democratic, the number of people who have been given the opportunity to access it has become more.

No, it's not the wacky little connection of home grown websites that it used to be, but it's not necessarily a bad thing that more people have been given access either.

Perfect. (1)

melatonin (443194) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234997)

All told, his forecast is somewhat bleak, but not entirely unfounded. Worth the read.

Makes it a perfect /. article :)

Missing the point (2)

Have Blue (616) | more than 12 years ago | (#2234999)

The Internet doesn't need to be 100% free of corporations to be "the last bastion". People still spend 49.6% of their time at sites not run by the 4 biggest corporations. When that number drops to zero, it will be dead. Until then, it's mixed.

What does democracy have to do with it? (5, Informative)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235003)

4 corporations account for 50.4% of web traffic.. sounds like 50.4% of web users 'vote' for those sites with their usage. That doesnt mean those are the best websites, or the most worthy of their attention, just that most people use them. I guess that has some vague notion of democracy.

democracy != freedom

As long as we're free to go to whatever websites we want to, and free to communicate with whoever we want to, the web will be free. It doesnt matter if one website gets 99.9% of all web traffic (democracy in action there) as long as the other 0.1% can look at something else.

Democracy is about majority rule. Freedom is about no one, not even a majority, having the right to tell one what to do.

So, sometimes freedom and democracy overlap, and sometimes they collide.


"Democratic" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235152)

No, you don't understand. Common Dreams is a "progressive" news source and in that lingo "democracy" really has nothing to do with majority rule - it just means "morally good". They can't use the terms "good", or "moral" since that would be judgemental which we all know is immoral.


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235004)

Anyone going to DragonCON this year. I haven't seen anything on Slashdot about it and I was wondering if anyone from the 'community' was planning on going.(I am)

Re:DRAGONCON (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235018)


Re:DRAGONCON (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235046)

spell it right 1053r!

And this is a problem? (4, Insightful)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235009)

Ok, let me get this straight; the internet is democratic mass communication only if everybody picks the "right" web sites?

There's no chance at all that the reason 50% of people's time is spent on web sites belonging to four companies is because those four companies are providing a service that Americans feel is worth spending 50% of their time reading?

Freedom of choice means freedom to make bad choices, and freedom of the press includes freedom to print crap.

Re:And this is a problem? (2, Insightful)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235063)

No, no it can't be. A voice of reason? Say it isn't so!

It never fails to amaze me how people equate "they don't do what I do" with "well, that must mean their stupid and/or *forced* to do something else."

The internet will become less democratic when others *force* me to stop publishing on the net. No one has yet to tell me I can't post on my shittly little website. [] . Just because no one reads it doesn't mean my rights are being trampled, it just means I really don't have anything compelling to say.

Re:And this is a problem? (1)

Essron (231281) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235091)

I agree. The difference between the net and TV, print, and AM/FM radio is that the net offers one-to-many communications which can be broadcast, not only recieved, but the average citizen. Everyone has a voice, even though nobody wants to hear them.

Imagine the thrill of HAM radio when it came out. Email and IM has numbed us to the awesome power of communicating with a hobbiest on the other side of the planet.

Where people are going is less important than what people are saying, IMHO, even if its just a site about hippopotomi (sp?).

Even if 90% of americans lose interest in the net and 9% only request files from, the remaining 1% can use the net to enhance our lives in ways previously unimaginable.

Re:And this is a problem? (4, Insightful)

Genom (3868) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235115)

There's no chance at all that the reason 50% of people's time is spent on web sites belonging to four companies is because those four companies are providing a service that Americans feel is worth spending 50% of their time reading?

Nah - it's because us Americans, for the most part, with notable exeptions, are lazy technophobes who have been convinced that if technology isn't "so easy a complete moron could use it", or doesn't look super-slick and glitzy, that it's not worth using.

People aren't interested in content, they're interested in big flashy graphics, and pretty lights, and little midi jingles that play when you hit a page.

Welcome to the world created by mass-capitalism and the sellout of government to corporations - where the incentive is not to make a better, cheaper, more efficient product, but to produce the lowest-quality product you can, while still making it sell well. Where the incentive is not to properly educate the consumer, so they can make an informed decision, and buy your product on it's merits, but to confuse the customer, and keep them stupid by telling them that competitors products aren't "as easy to use", and that they "shouldn't be bothered" with things that aren't "easy".

Yep. That's where we are. We're in a world whre everyone is supposed to be, and assumed to be morons. Distracted by bright lights and flash, while ignoring the larger issues. Don't worry about those things - they're not "easy". "Let us take care of that for you -- all you have to do is hand over your credit card -- that's a nice doggy -- here's a biscuit ::pat pat::"

Nah--I'm not bitter ;P

Freedom of choice means freedom to make bad choices, and freedom of the press includes freedom to print crap.

So it does =) I hope it stays that way. Everyone (corporate or private) should have the right to publish what they'd like to publish. I'm even against "gating" content behind warnings and layers of obfuscation to "save the children" from pr0n, violence and the like -- I say let them find it! Let them learn about those things - and make their own *choice* as to whether or not to look at it again. Let parents give their kids the morals to know whether the stuff is "right" or "wrong" - instead of imposing "right" and "wrong" based on some farsical community hivemind. And for people that feel they "shouldn't be bothered" with pr0n or various disgusting content sites - here's a clue: "Don't go back there if you didn't like what you've seen there!"

::sigh:: of course, I *know* I'm in the minority - I just rant a lot ;P

It is important to remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235011)

That without commercial support (sellout) we wouldn't be here (nowhere) today.

Re:It is important to remember (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235029)

That is an awsome post.

I wish i had some mod points to mod you up.

This is what America wants (1)

M_Talon (135587) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235031)

Unfortunately, this is just another sign of the new "American way". People want things fast and simple. Corporations have the money and power to deliver them. What most don't realize is that the information being delivered will be biased based on the agenda of whichever corporation is delivering them. However, increasingly the public has displayed a sort of almost domestic animal mentality. They want information, and don't care to look into the motivations behind those delivering it. They assume that it must be truth, since it's published. That's the assumption that gives the corporations more control.

Everyone's got an agenda, but only the observant notice it. Too bad the observant seem to be in the minority now.

marketshare is not a freedom measurement. (2, Insightful)

mobosplash (316006) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235038)

The fact that more than half of internet time is at the top four companies sites doesn't have anything to do with free speach. That's like saying Americans lack a basic freedom to live where they want because most people live in big cities. The only important issue is can I publish any ideas or beliefs that I want. From what I can tell I can on the net easier than I can any other way. Whether or not my views capture the interest of anyone else is a different issue.

Yeah (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235049)

Well, just last year, people wanted to encrypt our harddrives to prevent copying of documents. People want to limit what software we use. It sounds like people don't want us to have computers anymore. As opposed to building a new device to distribute their media, they'd rather cripple our computers. The thing is, how much of the public is doing much "computing" these days anyway? I've been to offices where it seems that they have people who browse the web for a living.

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235146)

The thing is, how much of the public is doing much "computing" these days anyway? I've been to offices where it seems that they have people who browse the web for a living.
That's about the size of it. My brother-in-law keeps telling me what a "computer whiz" my nephew is. To hear my brother-in-law speak you would think his kid is the reincarnation of Alan Turing. When the kid visited me this summer it turns out all he knows about computers are a few Windows specific tricks - how to customize the desktop. He only knows how to surf the web and play games. The kid has no interest or knowledge about how computers really work, and yet he is regarded as some kind of guru.

The funhouse mirror. (1)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235051)

"THE INTERNET" continues, as always, to be bandied about by people who believe that the net they see is the net that exists.

But the Internet is really chaos, as any situation where more than a few people communicate becomes.

This world's Internet is a mirror.

It is a lot like a funhouse mirror at times.

It can make our mouths disappear, or make them larger than they need to be.

It can make our heads very tiny, our eyes very big, and our credit cards larger than our hearts.

It all depends on where you look.

Every one of us wants to make this funhouse mirror reflect ourselves onto others.

What needs to be preserved is not anyone's vision of a mirror that puts a business suit on everyone, or a black mask- but a mirror that reflects everything.

I wonder if we're mature enough as a civilization to do this- I suspect we may just end up breaking the mirror, because we can't get our minds around the fact that other people see different things in it.

So What? (3, Insightful)

Bilbo (7015) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235056)

I'm not sure I understand what the problem is. It's like saying that, "90% of the traffic on the roads today is for commercial purposes" (which, if you include commuter traffic, is probably a low estimate).

So what? The volme of commercial traffic probably funds most of the development of road infrastructure (including gas stations, insurance companies, snow removal, etc., etc....).

As long as that "commercial" traffic doesn't prevent me from making use of the roads for whatever purpose I see fit (like going for a drive on the country, or going out for a spin on my bicycle), then I can't see how that hurts me.

(True, the Internet isn't what it used to be, but I don't see that the original ideals of free, global communication have gone away... if you take the time to look for them. The "unwashed masses" may still be duped by the forces of commercialism, but that will always be true. The Internet isn't going to "Save the World" any more than any other technology is.)

Survey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235061)

Which desktop do you use????


KDE 2.2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235105)

No doubt the best there is.

Windows 2000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235113)

Sometimes you need things to work.

An offtopic FYI (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235062)

In case people still haven't heard, these days slash inserts Futurama quotes into the http headers. I've included the ones I have collected so far below. (Before I go, props to all ascii arters, especially the erotic ones, and life is good when you are drunk, even if it really, really sucks. Gotta go, more beer to drink, you understand.)

X-Fry: I don't regret this, but I both rue and lament it.
X-Fry: I refuse to testify on the grounds that my organs will be chopped up in to a patty.
X-Bender: Bender's a genius!
X-Fry: There's a lot about my face you don't know.
X-Fry: Nowadays people aren't interested in art that's not tattooed on fat guys.
X-Fry: I learned how to handle delicate social situations from a little show called 'Three's Company.'
X-Bender: Fry, of all the friends I've had ... you're the first.
X-Bender: The laws of science be a harsh mistress.
X-Bender: Care to contribute to the Anti-Mugging-You Fund?
X-Fry: I heard one time you single-handedly defeated a hoard of rampaging somethings in the something something system.
X-Bender: In the event of an emergency, my ass can be used as a flotation device.
X-Bender: Oh no! Not the magnet!
X-Bender: There's nothing wrong with murder, just as long as you let Bender whet his beak.
X-Bender: Honey, I wouldn't talk about taste if I was wearing a lime green tank top.
X-Bender: Want me to smack the corpse around a little?
X-Bender: Like most of life's problems, this one can be solved with bending.
X-Bender: Oh, so, just 'cause a robot wants to kill humans that makes him a radical?
X-Bender: A woman like that you gotta romance first!
X-Bender: Hey Fry, I'm steering with my ass!
X-Bender: My full name is Bender Bending Rodriguez.
X-Bender: Oh, no room for Bender, huh? Fine. I'll go build my own lunar lander. With blackjack. And hookers. In fact, forget the lunar lander and the blackjack! Ah, screw the whole thing.
X-Bender: Well I don't have anything else planned for today, let's get drunk!
X-Fry: That's it! You can only take my money for so long before you take it all and I say enough!
X-Fry: How can I live my life if I can't tell good from evil?
X-Fry: Well, thanks to the internet I'm now bored with sex. Is there a place on the web that panders to my lust for violence?
X-Fry: But this is HDTV. It's got better resolution than the real world.
X-Fry: I'm flattered, really. If I was gonna do it with a big freaky mud bug, you'd be way up the list.
X-Bender: Forget your stupid theme park! I'm gonna make my own! With hookers! And blackjack! In fact, forget the theme park!
X-Fry: These new hands are great. I'm gonna break them in tonight.
X-Bender: OK, but I don't want anyone thinking we're robosexuals.
X-Bender: Bite my shiny, metal ass!
X-Bender: I hate people who love me. And they hate me.
X-Bender: Well I don't have anything else planned for today, let's get drunk!
X-Bender: My life, and by extension everyone else's, is meaningless.
X-Fry: Would you cram a sock in it, Bender? Those aren't even medals! They're bottle caps and pepperoni slices.
X-Fry: Leela, there's nothing wrong with anything.
X-Fry: I'm gonna be a science fiction hero, just like Uhura, or Captain Janeway, or Xena!
X-Fry: I'm never gonna get used to the thirty-first century. Caffeinated bacon?
X-Fry: I must be a robot. Why else would human women refuse to date me?
X-Fry: To Captain Bender! He's the best! being a big jerk who's stupid and his big ugly face is as dumb as a butt!
X-Fry: He's an animal. He belongs in the wild. Or in the circus on one of those tiny tricycles. Now that's entertainment.

Banners are a part of the succes internet is today (1)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235072)

Sure, maybe eight years ago there was no such thing as advertisement on the internet, and it was almost completely free of commercial activities. But it was also pretty expensive to run your own website, and most websites that were actually useful or fun were contributed for free by universities and other non-profit organisations.

Sure, 50% of all American time spent online is spent on sites of 4 coporate giants, but let's assume this 50% wouldn't have even been online if the popularisation of internet made possible by banners wouldn't have taken place.

It's simple: if it's cheaper and easier to run your own website, more people will do so, making more content available, making the web more interesting for people, getting more people on the web, making it more interesting for advertisers, etc. etc.

I personally seldomly go to sites run by AOL, microsoft or whatever, but I'm pretty happy with the extra infrastructure their money provided for me to do my thing on the net.

The commercialisation of internet is in essence the incorporation of internet into mainstream economics and culture, and this has its good sides and its bad sides of course, but as long as the other 50% of the users (and remember, these are only american figures) can do their thing without being dominated by money, I think we have a pretty good thing going here.

This seems a little bizarre. (3, Insightful)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235075)

What on earth does AOL/Time Warner do that's 32% of the Internet? I visit CNN occasionally, but as far as I know that's about it for me and AOL/TW.

I suppose AOL users spend quite a bit of time at AOL/TW sites, and since they represent such a large percentage of Internet users, that skews the figures. But that's hardly fair to the rest of the net, since AOL itself is dedicated to giving people an experience that sticks with their services.

If you consider the argument that AOL users are AOL users first and Internet users second, the picture starts looking a lot less bleak, with Microsoft at 7.5% and Yahoo at 7.2%. The fourth company must have such pathetic market share they don't even tell us who it is! But we can tell - the total is 50.4%, so subtracting out AOL, MS and Yahoo we get a titanic 3.4% for number four, whoever it is.

This hardly strikes me as a good case for massive concentration, and certainly it doesn't show how Slashdotters use the net. It is true that I explore new sites just for the fun of it a great deal less than I did before, and I concentrate on specific sites I already know. But every query I type into a search engine exposes me to new places, and Slashdot does the same, and some of those will wind up in my mental list of cool sites to visit.

So the situation is not so bleak. The fellow who wrote this, however well-intentioned, has blinders on. He starts with the idea that anything controlled by private business is bad, and inevitably comes up with the same conclusions writers on the left always do.

He forgets about millions of personal home pages, including my own, whose owners develop an expertise on various issues they are happy to share. He forgets about community sites such as Slashdot, where people speak freely about what matters to them, and help evolve an uncontrolled consensus. The soul of the net is still alive and well.

Any mass medium develops a large variety of users. Some of those users are passive, others are active, as many of us are here. In the end, though, that's a choice made by each of us individually. And the mindless drones are drawn to heavily advertised sites, but that surely doesn't mean the sky is falling; if they weren't here, they'd probably be watching TV, which makes viewing any web site look like an intellectual exercise.


one nayshun, under fud, with libel & liesense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235081)

that's right, that's why we're ADAMant about folks deepending on more than just a few open-sources for their information/interaction. what if VA rob et AL, gooes under? anyhow, we're here [] , As well as 100 or so "other" places, & we recommend that everybody consider having themselves GNUked [] , so the lights can remain on somewhere, no matter how bad the devastation from the ongoing fud0cide is. take a look at these guise [] , before we get around to GNUking them. if you want to help, call us.

Guided Surfing (1)

Un1v4c (226792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235084)

Ahh, the good 'ole days before every site popped up "Shock the Monkey" and "The amazing X-10 perv cam."

"The alternative seems to be a move toward closed networks, not unlike America Online, in which the user experience is guided, shaped and far more controlled -- something advertisers and online retailers are demanding."

All I can say is, "arghhh!!, Oh wait..., /. just guided me to that site, up yours Hemos!"

Just 4 companies? (5, Funny)

vovin (12759) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235087)

So all those pr0n sites are really just 4 companies? Weird.

Misleading stats (5, Insightful)

astrashe (7452) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235088)

Wait a minute -- on the one hand, the net is horrible because people can distribute copyrighted material, and on the other hand the net is horrible because big corporations control everything?

I think the 50% stat is a little misleading. People spend a lot of time using free web applicaitons that sites like MSN and Yahoo give them. But should a person's time on Hotmail really be counted as the same sort of thing as a person's time reading the NY Times? If AOL forces its users to hit their page first, how does that compare to a site like this one (/.), where people choose to view it?

The Drudge Report is a good example of what the net can do. It's one guy with a massive audience. Andrew Sullivan's site is another example of a single guy with a big audience. I think sites like Indy Media have big audiences as well. Even if they don't, when compared to Time/Warner/AOL, it's an enormously powerful tool for getting the word out.

I think there's a parallel here to Linux vs. MS. People started businesses, everyone started talking about "world domination" and all of a sudden Linux is failing if it can't compete on MS's home court, the corporate world. But that's not the way Linux started -- it was a great way to learn, it was something that allowed everyone to participate. It's still great for that stuff, and it always will be.

Debian can't be killed, it will probably go on for decades. Seriously -- what possible scenario could you think of that would cause it stop existing? Why isn't that the relevant fact, instead of the VA Linux stock price?

Alternative media don't have to compete with commercial media to succeed. They just have to survive and provide high quality information. The net makes that possible, and it's going to continue to make that possible. And the net's going to make sure that almost every family in America, and in most of the industrialized world, is going to have access to that information.

Sure, most people aren't going to bother with it. But what did anyone expect? That the net would change human nature? Most people don't care. But a lot of people are going to take the trouble. They already do. And those people can make a difference.

Re: Solutions (1)

Bodero (136806) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235092)

I am a high school student working on a little project about the commercialization of the Internet. It seems that a the recent rush of commercial organizations onto the net has increased the overall load. The backbone I believe is currently university supported.

Nope. It was never university supported. It was run by various organizations funded by the government.

I would like to accumulate a variety of viewpoints on this issue as well as your opinion on what should be done by the U.S. government.
(For those interested, I am actually working on a bill for Model Congress)
I was thinking that something along the lines of some type of tax on companies using the internet for commercial purposes. The revenue collected could be used in some sort of program to expand and upgrade the backbone of the net.

No way. Any government run system will be inefficient and poorly run. Let the private sector run it.

As an example, I worked for years at a Navy facility that was connected to the Milnet (part of the original Internet). The Milnet was built on 56K leased lines, and became over loaded long ago. The organization that ran the Milnet was so over bloated that they were trying to charge our facility somethine like $25K per month for the right to use their 56K network. We replaced our Milnet connection with a T1 line from a non-goverment source. The T1 line (which is 24 times the size of a 56K line), cost less than $25K / year and worked a hell of a lot better.

The governement is needed to help motivate us to "do the right thing" and as a social tool for determining what "the right thing" is. But trying to use it to speed up development of a new technology is foolish. The best way to help the Intenet is to get the goverment as far away from it as possible.

A corporate Tax is not free money. If you tax a company, then they are just forced to rase their rates to pay the tax. So, instead of getting an internet account for $20/mo, I might end up paying $25/mo. So, in the end, the money comes out of my pocket, one way or another. And if my money is going to be spent on the Intenet, I want to choose who and when I spend it. I don't want some goverment agency "investing" it for me.

I would appreciate any type of comments, esp. if I am factually misguided either by e-mail and/or follow up post. Thanks.

The porn problem on the net is an interesting problem to try and solve. Try to figure out how the goverment might be able to help with that. Any law that trys to ban some use of the net will fail - but laws that lean more towards forcing industry to create a solution to a problem might work.

And this whole issue of cryptology and export controls is something that needs to be "fixed" by goverment. It's an example where current laws are tying the hands of industry (preventing the export of strong cryptology), which is slowing down the development of the net. Research these laws and try to find some alternative that helps the Internet grow, but still maintains some type of national security.

Take an interest in freedom (1)

hiroko (110942) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235097)

Perhaps the Commercialisation of the web will only be halted by those that can be bothered to look beyond the "easy", spoon-fed existence that most people seem to accept.

A significant proportion of people can't be bothered to vote for the government that will (theoreticaly) serve them - peoples attitudes need to change if the internet is to be "saved" from commercialisation.

Look at the sites, though! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235099)

I saw this study. The top four sites were AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, and I believe, the Napster site.

First of all, Napster is obviously evidence of decentralization. (Presumably that's why the article listed only the first three of these sites.)

Second, I have seen actual traffic numbers for Yahoo. You know what most people are doing on Yahoo? They're reading e-mail! Presumably that's what they're doing on MSN and AOL as well. Again, this is evidence of decentralization, not centralization--people are talking to each other, not listening to what a corporation is telling them.

MTV is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235107)

It was WebTV. It is not any good. Only the uninformed would use it or sometimes a granny. Worst is that Bill Gates has access to all your personal records when you use MTV. I don't like MTV.

The general public doesn't get the internet (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235114)

They just want better TV, and now they're going to get it.

It IS democratic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235117)

Just because people choose to spend time at commercial web sites doesn't mean the Net isn't democratic. If anything it shows that when given complete freedom to view whatever they want online, they prefer commercial web sites to those created by hobbyists. That's not an indictment of the Net, but an indictment of the hobbyists who can't create things people want to see.

There's nothing stopping you from creating a web site devoted to your hobby or your pet or your summer vacation or whatever. And if you do so, that site will be viewable from anywhere on the planet. If that isn't democratic, I don't know what is.

Bogus Numbers (1)

Haxx (314221) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235125)

Websites operated by just four corporations account for 50.4 percent of the time that U.S. users of the Web are now spending online, the authoritative Jupiter Media Metrix research firm reported in early summer. At the top of the heap were AOL Time Warner's sites, with 32 percent of all minutes spent online in the nation, followed by Microsoft (7.5 percent) and Yahoo (7.2 percent).

First off.. AOL isnt a website it is an intranet. Nobody sits on, so knock of at least half of the 32%.

Part of microsoft's 7.5% is because people dont change the default IE webpage.

Yahoo Kicks ASS

These figures dont represent anything. the 20+ million people who go on AOL to chat and play Slingo dont count unless they are surfing. Have you ever surfed with AOL's browser? Please.

If you knock off 2-3% off MSFT and remove Half of AOL's users from this stat then you might have an article

Who told this guy that he could count all AOL users as Net Users???

TV and Internet combined (1)

sabinm (447146) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235126) in dex.shtml

This link shows what the future is : what companies are investing in droves : Cisco content engines. Not exactly webservers, they are powerful servers that deliver pure content. Mostly now for corporate networks, they soon will dominate the internet as more bandwidth becomes available. This is our future. Multicast television shows on televisions with ether-out.

welcome to a brave new world!

This post will bring you luck! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235131)

But it is your choice whether the luck will be good or bad! Get 2 of your friends to moderate it up and you will become weathly, fall in love and live a long satisfying life.

If you moderate this post down, terrible things will befall you and those you care about. Your closest friend will fall ill, your pet will die and you will be condemed to a life of pain and suffering. Choose wisely.

The net is dead, oh woe (2)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235133)

Yes, once again we have a report that the net is dead, companies are taking over, we've all lost, etc. I've heard this in one form or another for about three years.

Guess what? It's not dead, it's changing. Everything changes. Did people think that companies would NOT see the massive opportunity? Of course not. Look above you - as I type I see a banner add.

So, it's changing. Everthing changes. The question is what are we going to do if we don't like it?

If you don't like it do something about it. Change it sneakily. Change it cleverly. Go down fighting at least and show some dignity.

The future is for those that will make something of it. Just showing up doesn't count.

Trouble with dilbert? (1)

JordoCrouse (178999) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235136)

Is this Norman Solomon the same idiot who published the The Trouble With Dilbert [] ??

He obviously has a problem with corporation or person who is willing to market themselves to make a little money. Yeah, Dilbert is a little overmarketed, but somebody is still buying all the crap, right? Yeah, the internet is dominated by a few corporations, but everyone is still going to their websites, right?

This guy doesn't care that the internet is becoming more of a corporate entity. He doesn't care that the commonly held view of the net as the last bastion of truly democratic mass communication is, in fact, a myth. He's just pissed that people aren't buying books or going to his website, so he decided to fire off a few well carefully worded editorials, and try to extend his 15 minutes of fame.

And the really sad thing is this: He got his 15 minutes from /. -- a website owned by a publicly traded corporation --

The shame! The horror!

Nothing new under the sun. (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235138)

I guess I don't represent the average user with my browsing habits. I don't visit AOL/TimeWarner or Yahoo sites if I can avoid it and only visit M$ to download patches. I quit using most of the search-scam engines about two years ago when I realised that I was better off trying to randomly guess the URL of the site I was looking for than ask one of them to find it for me.

However, theis article isn't telling us anything we didn't already know. The same thing thing is true of any media type. Take TV for example: 90% of the viewers tune in to either NBC, ABC, or CBS (or FOX if you really want to kill brain cells) and receive their dose of mindless pap, and a few in the minority will look for something a little more intellectually stimulating aired by an independant. Movies can be categorised in much the same way. So can radio, books, etc... So what? When the majority flocks to the big-media spawned garbage that calls itself "entertainment" or "information", it is more of an indictment of human nature than it is an indication of a conspiracy on the part of corporate interests to squeeze the internet into some kind of ugly, corporate-controlled, profit generating monster.

misinterpreted threat (2)

twitter (104583) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235139)

From the article:

"Search engine optimization is the number one strategy for generating qualified traffic to your site," said a recent sales pitch offering prominence in search-engine listings."Eighty-five percent of all traffic is generated via search queries and over 90 percent of that traffic is driven to the top 30 results. If you're not in the top 30, you're not in a position to compete!"

The dot-com flameouts have sped up the Net's commercialization -- as quests for cash-flow, market share and multimedia synergy become more voracious.

The underlying assumption shared above is that traffic is important. The market moron is looking for profit. Sollomon seems to agree with WSJ analyist who state that "severe market dominance" is possible. Who cares?

Traffic is not important, access and control are. As long as you and I can serve freely, the old internet will continue to grow. People who bother to look will find it. New search engines will be made when old ones suck. The only thing that can kill the web as we know it are the companies who would own the physical media itself, and change it's standards to resemble broadcast toll roads.

Spam as evidence? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235160)

I agree with this comment, and would like to add one thing: the "recent sales pitch" quoted by the article looks a whole lot like the spam I get daily. What kind of idiot reporter uses spam as evidence for anything?

Don't Get Your Ribbon Cables in a Crunch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235142)

Tired of thin skinny cables?

Introducing the ALL NEW GOATSE IDE cables! They're BIG, THEY'RE ROUND, and you can fit LOTS of DATA through them. Order yours today at

The power of the dollar to buy a bit of the 'net (1)

ferreth (182847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235143)

At one time, web pages were a kind of super large collaborative effort, with the objective of sharing information. The whole idea of links was basically so you wouldn't repeat what other people had said. The web of links created a knowledge/opinion bank of the world, where you could find out anything, or for that matter, people's opinion on anything.

Commercial enterprise has the objective of making money, and guess what, business approached the internet intending to use it to further that goal. Like the real world, you could take over information resources to make yourself bigger, gain a larger audience, and possibly, make more money. Those with money could buy themselves content.

Coming from the above perspective, I'm not at all surprised that a few companies have managed to garner the most web site visits. It's just a mirror of the rest of the world.

What remains to be seen, IMHO, it what will happen to the 'individual on a soapbox' sites. Certainly it's tougher to be heard now a days, but will the few rich and powerful manage to drown out the many who might have something to say that the rich and powerful don't want you to hear?

How do they know? (1)

Kenyaman (458662) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235149)

o how can they tell how much time somebody spends at a site? There's no way to tell how long I actually spend at a site -- just how often I load it.

I'm not terribly surprised that AOL, etc. tops the list (given its popularity among the unwashed masses), but is that sites run by or hosted on AOL? That'd be a significant difference.

Furthermore, so freaking what? Most people think they are network TV's customers and that network TV should respond to their wishes. I am not network TV's customer: the advertiser is network TV's customer. I am network TV's product: they are selling the advertiser the opportunity to present a message to me. TV Programming is merely a means to that end. So what if the web goes the same way?

Luddite (1)

jeillah (147690) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235150)

Sure, let's go back to the pre '93 Internet, when it was only used by the government, big universities and bigger corporations. All at taxpayers expense I might add!!!

Dot-com plunge proves the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235151)

Premise 1: Webvan burned through $1 billion and disappeared. Dozens of other companies burned through hundreds of millions of dollars and also went bankrupt.

Premise 2: Not a single amateur personal site has gone bankrupt.

Conclusion: The dot-come crash is a force for decentralization.

It is MSN TV, not MTV... (2)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235154)

I had to take a second look at this one...even MS isn't thickheaded enough to challenge MTV (Music Television) in a head-to-head trademark war. Even MSN TV may be too close for comfort for MTV. This trademark issue might become interesting - especially if MSN starts streaming music videos.

Owned by corporations? (3, Insightful)

L Fitzgerald Sjoberg (171091) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235158)

Am I correct in understanding that among that 50.4% are sites like Yahoo's Geocities and AOL personal pages? Which is to say, the sites are hosted by Yahoo and AOL, but the actual content is put there by individuals.

If that's so, then I'm not overly concerned at the moment. It's like saying that there's no free press because 90% of the paper in the US is manufactured by three corporations.

Okay, it's not exactly the same, because paper companies don't require you to agree not to print porn on their paper and they don't sell ads on letters to your grandma. But I think there's a wide difference between 50.4% of the sites being hosted by a few corporations, and 50.4% of the content being generated by those corporations.

google (2)

krokodil (110356) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235159)

It is nice article. Passage about search
engines reminded me that google started
inserting "Sponsored Link". I feel it is beginning
of demise. I stopped using Altavista when they started doing that. Time to look for new
search engine...

Denial of the obvious.. this article isn't worth i (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235161)

my favorite ""The most heavily trafficked sites are overwhelmingly devoted to commercial activities in one form or another, such as online shopping, financial services, investment, corporate-screened entertainment, travel deals and market research. ""

Any more commas and he would have covered 99% of what you can DO on the internet.

The internet has been sold as a means of buying stuff and finding information. It is pretty obvious to those who think for themselves that corporations are much better at selling themselves than individuals are. Nearly everyday I see the three companies he wrote about being mentioned in one form or another on different mediums. It is very hard to compete with entities that people encounter on the web, radio, tv, and print.

Is that bad? No, because as we have seen, no amount of advertising keeps a bad company on the net for long. People will go where they feel is suitable for their needs.

As for 50%+ of people's time being spent on only certain sites, I would like to see what constitutes "time spent". Are we refering to time actually using the resource of the site, or including idle time or just passing through time.

Last. People here and in the tech fields love to over estimate the intelligence and willingness of the common web surfer. Most would never know how to search, let alone where unless they were taken by the hand. Same goes for shopping, after all if its on AOL it must be safe! (ask my Grandmother why she shops where she does, and I have other relatives who are convinced QVC is the place - and why? BECAUSE)

Who woulda thought (1)

jxqvg (472961) | more than 12 years ago | (#2235167)

  1. The Internet is being used by more and more of mainstream society.
  2. Large companies with familiar names are providing mainstream content.
  3. Most of mainstream society wants to view this mainstream content most of the time

Where's the confusion here? Mainstream people with real money made "The Internet" what it is today, and if it weren't for them, we'd still be using Archie, Gopher, & Lynx et al as the extent of our experience. Most of the grid would be a 56k phone line, if that, and only the priveleged few in major cities or near research facilities would stand a chance of getting a decent connection.

How would those Voices of All That is Good and Holy spread their Good Word to the world if they didn't freeload on real money? The whole thing was started by military and academia, then developed by corporate/government [Your country here]. If there was some sort of "freedom", it was only the residual glop clinging to the edges of the bowl. If that "freedom" is "disappearing", it's only because the true nature of this tool is finally becoming clear to the clueless college and high school kids who think they have some sort of God Given Right to it.

The Voices of Freedom are pissed because their free ride is over. Sorry kids, but institutional mommy and daddy aren't going to support you forever.

Guano Heralded as Prozac Substitute (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2235168)

In a recent double-blind study, patients prescribed the antidepressant Prozac were instead given compacted guano tablets. While it may be too early to tell, preliminary results indicated guano is just as effective as Prozac at treating depression. The study, headed by Bats Against Depression (B.A.D.), aims to prove that Prozac is no more effective than bat excrement. So far, results look promising.

Dr. Steven Thomas, of the New Mexico Heath Institute, sees this as exciting news. "Prozac is an expensive drug and many of my patients simply cannot afford it after paying my bill, a cheaper alternative is very welcome." Others are not convinced.

"This could be a the start of a dangerous trend.", says Dr. George Zott. "Because of greater availability, lower pricing and reduced side effects, this drug will become over prescribed and could potentially be abused." A spokesperson from B.A.D. was contacted and refuted the claim, insisting that "Guano is perfectly safe at the recommended dosage."

Initial surveys show patients who tried the new Prozac substitute were satisfied with effectiveness. "I feel so much better now that I've switched to this bat shit stuff. Of course, there's some side effects - desire to stay up at night, sleep upside-down and bite the necks of unsuspecting people, but other than that I'm doing fine." Said M. Edwards, a salesman from Miami. Most others experienced less pronounced side effects

B.A.D. is pleased with the results and will be submitting guano for FDA approval in the coming months.
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