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20 February 2010

I think he's right about a lot of the drawbacks, only he thought people would stay offline because of them.
posted by Hugh Janus 20 February | 22:49
That's not what he wrote; he wrote that "cyberspace isn't, and will never be, nirvana". And that is perfectly accurate, since Kurt Cobain died a year before he wrote that and therefore, has not been online.
posted by oneswellfoop 20 February | 22:53
He seems to be a misanthrope who completely underestimated others' misanthropy. Heh. (Really, avoiding salespeople is the NUMBER ONE reason I like shopping online.)
posted by occhiblu 20 February | 22:58
Kind of agree, Hugh, but I think he underestimated mass culture's ability to digest and filter the randomness out there. Not that the hive mind does a perfect job, but the possible role of that "mind" is, I think, exactly what's missing from his perspective.

Then again, could I have predicted anything meaningful about the internet in '95? Not at all. I figured it would just be this weird fringe thing that university kids and researchers used, that the technological hurdles to getting online would never become manageable for the masses.
posted by treepour 20 February | 23:27
"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. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month?"

Lulz. There were a total of $133.7 billion in "cyberbusiness" sales in 2008 (more than $11 billion per month). Or roughly $100 million in one afternoon.

(Data found after five minutes on Google.)
posted by Rhaomi 21 February | 00:55
In February 1995, I was still six months away from logging into the internet for the first time via kermit over a 2400 baud modem but I remember reading that article and thinking that it was rubbish. He was right about most of the problems but for some reason saw them as roadblocks and not problems to solve.
posted by octothorpe 21 February | 01:17
[QUOTE]He was right about most of the problems but for some reason saw them as roadblocks and not problems to solve.[/QUOTE]

Hmmm, good life lesson, there. Hey self: remember not to do that.
posted by treepour 21 February | 01:23
Oh, crap, tag-fu fail!
posted by treepour 21 February | 01:24
Stoll will still agree with much that he wrote back then. He's still against computers in the schools.

In 1995 I was getting married to someone I'd met on the internet.
posted by Obscure Reference 21 February | 08:48
... 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.

2 out of 3 ain't bad.
posted by Joe Beese 21 February | 11:55
I'm claiming BS. This has got to be a stealth The Onion article.
posted by Doohickie 21 February | 13:23
The first really usable web browser (Mosaic V2, which implemented HTML v2.0) was not released for general use until October 1995, eight months after this article was written. I remember being shown a demo of Mosaic 2.0 Beta, in mid 1995 and suddenly realizing how all of these online databases could be really useful for research.
So the author is right - when the article was written, you needed to be pretty technical to access the Internet and you would have seen it as a collection of databases, accessed via teletype terminal functions.
It was the invention of an HTML-based browser, not web access, that changed society.
posted by Susurration 21 February | 13:53
But Mosaic had been around since '93 and Netscape had been released in October '94 so there were graphical browsers when this article was written.
posted by octothorpe 21 February | 15:39
If you've never seen Clifford Stoll in action, you should check out his TED talk. Then imagine that article read aloud in his voice.
posted by Obscure Reference 21 February | 17:23
octothorpe - only early text browser versions, with html v1.0 were available before 1995. The public would not have had much access to these - they were mainly distributed via academic networks. So their influence would have been minimal. It was not until HTML v2.0 that graphical browsers became available. That was the end of 1995.
posted by Susurration 21 February | 17:35
The funniest thing is the comments from the people who obviously didn't catch the date of the article. Morans.
posted by Specklet 22 February | 09:24
Wait, no, Susurration. I first saw Mosaic sometime around Christmas 1993. When I saw your post I wondered for a moment whether I was remembering it wrong, but apparently not.
posted by tangerine 01 March | 16:52
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