Hilariously off-the-mark article published by Newsweek in 1995 by Clifford Stoll. Some excerpts:
After two decades online, I’m perplexed. It’s not that I haven’t had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I’ve met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I’m uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. 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.
I always love a good future prediction, especially when it comes true. The best though is when someone makes an “anti-prediction” that then comes to pass.
Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.
Wait, wait, it gets better! It reminds me of someone who reviewed Wikipedia in 2001. Expecting so much from a nascent product, without any foresight to possibilities.
What the Internet hucksters won’t tell you is tht 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. 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, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, “Too many connectios, try again later.”
It’s at this point I’m starting to wonder if this is an elaborate hoax. The comments read like parody – the equivalent of the fake “what women were thought of in the 1950s” articles you occasionally see floating around.
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? 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.
I have enjoyed a virtually salesperson-free existence since 2003 and love it. Being able to research my decision from a wide-variety of products and then choose the best deal is how things should be done.