Monday, March 31, 2008

The internet is a fad


Hindsight is useless when it comes to predicting the future. Just ask the guy from Decca who told the Beatles that rock ‘n roll groups were old hat.

More recently think of the man from IBM who said he couldn’t see a market for home computers.

Now we can add another name to this less than illustrious list - Clifford Stoll.

Here are a handful of quotes from Stoll’s less than visionary 1995 Newsweek article on the much hyped internet.

“Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney”

“….Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.”

“Then there are those pushing computers into schools. We're told that multimedia will make schoolwork easy and fun….Who needs teachers when you've got computer-aided education? Bah.”

“Then there's cyberbusiness. We're promised instant catalog shopping - just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month?”

“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. A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee.”

Big thanks to Dave and Asi for alerting me to the ‘wisdom’ of Mr Stoll.

Click here to read Stoll’s article in full.