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The Bandwidth Dilemma: Coders vs. E-CEOs 91

EMlNEM sent an interesting talking piece that's currently running on Cryptome. It's a look at some of Leadbeater's work and what the "new Internet" is and what it is supposed to be. Katz did a take on this recently called The Myth Of the Tech Slump, which IMHO, was much better.
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The Bandwidth Dilemma: Coders v. E-CEOs

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  • "How the news and game entertainment industry will reach supremacy while simultaneously pushing the borders of technological know-how remains unclear."

    Am I the only one who thinks that major advances in consumer hardware and software exist for the sole purpose of playing games? I mean, the internet wasn't exactly meant for real-time communication, but the game industry seems to be taking it in stride... I'm sure they'll come up with stuff.

    A recent Byte article talked about the Next Generation Internet and the government mandated promises that were supposed to be fulfilled. Among them were high end streaming audio and video, and I'm not so sure about the video part, but the audio part was handled pretty decently by MP3 (and Ogg Vorbis, and WMA, etc...)... So not all advances are going to come from geeks (academia), the entertainment people will be involved with it quite a bit methinks.

    The news people? Push? ^^;;
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • You hit it right on the nose. I see similar assumptions all the time and every time it's from economists or executive types. Putting price tags and stock tickers on everything to judge success is great in the businessplace and all, but once you get out of that scope you need to take the blinders off or you'll forever be way off the mark.
    They just don't "get" it. :-P
  • Indeed, although there was a lot of smoke and mirrors about whether the P/E ratio was really relevant in the "new economy". Hence arguments that stock price vs. revenue _growth_ should be the proper measure rather than price vs. earnings. It sounds good on the surface, but it still doesn't give much of a clue if the business model is viable. IMO anyone who didn't expect the bubble to burst about a year before it did needs to get a better source of news---one without glossy pages, banner adds or extensive coverage of movie stars. I recommend the Economist.

    To be fair to tech companies, many companies have been taking on debt, consumer confidence ain't great, consumers have been taking on massive debt, there was a media frenzy about the "R word", etc. Not a pretty picture. Let's just say "mistakes were made".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Certain things SHOULD be funded by a socialist model.

    That's not the Libertarian idea, although how you can claim to be a Green and a Libertarian is beyond me! It's like claiming to be gay and straight - choose one, you can't be on both bandwagons.

    Look at the Cali energy crisis: public utilities should be severely regulated!

    What California did to its energy providers could be described as many things - stupid, mindless, ignorant of basic realities - but it could never be called "deregulation" in any meaningful sense at all. So it is most certainly not an argument for regulation.

    The fact is the people who are regulating it are utterly inept. This fake deregulation proves this - nothing more - and makes a great case for actual deregulation.

  • Why don't you just lay off her man, she is just tyring to cash in on the new economy using the world wide web. She just need to make some cash while surfing the web so she can upgrade her personal computing experience and maybe download the 'net.

    Seriously though, making fun of people is fun.
  • Er, it was founded on the principle that there were advantages to be found in making available distributed computing resources, promoting communication and doing so in an efficient, fault-tolerant manner.

    The attitude of the early days of minicomputers and time sharing systems are closely linked to the attitudes of the people who developed the ARPANet. Which wasn't especially military yet, either.

    The Endless September aside, the 'net has grown and profited by leaps and bounds since the microcomputer users hooked up to it. Sure, the signal to noise ratio has gotten worse. But there's also more signal, and that's pretty good too.
  • Flame me if you wish. But in my humble opinion, I'd just like to point out that it seems that some of the most popular abbreviations in geek speak today are being overused. Sure, I thought IMHO was cool when I first heard of it. But, as all popular phrases and lingo goes, words lose their spark. I'm not advocating that everyone stop using such phrases, but I just think that seeing IMHO in every other Slashdot post is a little excessive. Many people could benefit from broadening their vocabulary. Perhaps browse a thesaurus and look for words with similar meaning. May I suggest "in my meek and submissive opinion" or "from my radical perspective." And to close, I'd like to end this tirade against cliches with my own spin on a current phrase: Don't hate the player, hate ... the 10,000 slashdotters before you that used IMHO.
  • Hell -- I'd accept targeted marketing if we could just get rid of the UNTARGETED marketing!
  • It's naive, I know. But wouldn't it be nice to have a medium which was:

    • world-wide
    • cross-cultural
    • accessible to everyone
    • wasn't yet another avenue for targetted marketting.

    Bring back the text-based (not ASCII!) Internet. Let's embrace Unicode, open standards and technologies designed by intelligent people thinking hard and collaborating to produce a substrate for a world-wide society for this the new millenium. GIFs can't be translated. Streaming animations won't animate the text-only terminal. Proprietry protocols are a great way to lock in monopolies of information, which leads to the advertising drivel that constitutes most TV and radio. Sometimes graphics are the best tool for the presentation of information. They're not the best way to display text content.

    I hope I'm preaching to the converted, but all too often I see posts from people advocating the use of MSIE-targetted web pages (for example), or claiming that they shouldn't have to accomodate those people who 'can't afford' a real computer. It's much more important than that.

    Never before has there been a chance to connect so great a proportion of the world's population together. Let's do it right - and keep it open and accessible. Let's educate people to use the 'net, not dumb down the 'net to the moronic standards that dominate our other media.

    We don't need a stupid society.

  • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <gundbear@ p a c b e> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:05PM (#447863) Homepage
    If the author of this article, referencing Leadbeater, is correct in his interpretation... I'm glad the geeks won!

    I so do not want to live in a world as described by Leadbeater... The net is perfectly fine the way it is, and in a very bottoms up, needs driven way, is evolving, albeitly in a non-hurried and eventful way, into whatever it is best suited and best needed for.

    We *already* have television and radio networks for the dissemination of media and 'content'. The net itself is a self publishing, self pruning system where people can spout, and fade away to noise if no one wants to listen. I like it that way.

    If I knew what I was working on, e-speak, would make the world *more* like Leadbeater's vision, I would quit.

    It also sounds like Leadbeater is trying to 'rewrite' history to reflect his biases. I hope he fails!

    Geek dating! []
  • I'd disagree on your interpretation, but agree on your sentiment.

    Dot-com slump/failure *was* due to an over-focus on technology, and lack of focus on market. If there is a technical development, it becomes a market when someone sells it correctly. Otherwise, it will flounder. If a dot-com had no market, it wasn't because the market didn't exist, it was because they failed to create, master, and maximize their market. They had excellent technical products without problems they could solve.

    So to address some of your points: Buy groceries online?

    How about combining a recipe site, with grocery shopping, with delivery services, as well as streaming video 'lessons'? How about adding 'cooking' services to deliver the finished meal to your home? How would you tailor it to make money? I don't know, but it seems natural to combine the many recipe sites with the grocery sites with the delivery sites.

    Who wants to buy groceries online? How about people who don't know how to pick a canteloupe? Or know when to buy bananas? Or can't tell which wine is any good? Or can't decide between red potatoes or yellow potatoes? Or don't know the subtleties of the different cuts of steaks? There's people who don't cook, that's obvious, because of all the fast food restaurants and dine in places all over SiValley. My reasoning could be flawed, since I'm pulling from the experience of myself, my college friends, and all their friends. We cook for fun, but we don't know what we're doing ^^

    <em>Online purchasing is ideal for commodity items where you know what you're getting the moment you order it. Books, CDs, software... </em>

    The genius who can overcome this mindset and problem will make lots of money ^^. A limitation that can be overcome is called an opportunity.

    Reread what you said. Books, CDs, software. How can you buy *new* books, CDs, and software, online, if you've never tried the book, heard the music, or used the software? There are *outside* distribution channels that sell these products, and the internet is just used to organize the buyers and sellers. So content sites that allow one to use software for free, unlock functionality for a nominal fee, and unlimited download and use for a higher fee, is an *opportunity*. Or with books. Browse for free. Read unlimited amounts online for a small service charge (maintenance fee?), get hardcopies for a small price. Same with CDs. Or DVDs. Etc.

    There's a market. Someone who wants to get all the niceties of radio broadcast, or tv broadcast, or libraries, combine it with the catalog, search, review, and query capabilities of the internet, tie it with the relative distribution efficiency of the internet, as well as the large potential market audience, and finally tieing into the consumer need to 'own', can make lots of money. Right now they are all independent. I can look up reviews and information online. I can hear, read, or watch in real life. I can order and purchase online, in a separate transaction. I cannot yet get all three services from one site, or a group of sites. Amazon is *building* itself that way, but it's not there yet.

    Do you see what I mean?

    Geek dating! []
  • To me this is not stagnation. It is more like the feeling you have after a long bout with fever and flu. A bit weak, but incredibly happy to not feel like shit anymore.

    Did anyone else think it was strange to have strangers on the ski lift (or at the grocery store, or wherever) ask you which stocks to buy, just because you do "you know, computer stuff"? The thought that seemingly rational yuppies might want my investment advice shows how stupid things were getting.

    The real effect of the Craziness was to get computers into all US middle-class homes. How many people do you know who don't have email? The hype and fear gave the computer/internet combination essential tool status. People will use those computers for something, and it wasn't to buy petfood and groceries. BFD, next.

    Despite the fact that the hype failed to reflect reality a lot of infrastucture was built up very quickly. Games, email, research, porn, hobbies, web boards, IM/IRC chat, news. There are a lot of talented and enthusiastic amateurs going in all directions with all of the above.

    So Leadbeater, et al. can have their new e-topia without geeks. I imagine it will be as joyless and over-hyped as the Craziness that is ending in Our Internet.

    Buh Bye vc. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.


  • by ZanshinWedge ( 193324 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:45PM (#447866)
    As others have said, this Mr. Leadbeater is full of crap.

    First off, there is one major misunderstanding at play here that I need to correct. Saying that the "dot-coms failed" is blatantly incorrect. The internet is the first truely new frontier we've had in a long time and I think a lot of people don't know their history about frontiers, development, and speculative investment. The first problem this caused was a huge speculative bubble when everyone and their mother was under the mistaken impression that the internet was pure gold on a platter for anyone willing to take advantage of it. The second problem this caused is (when the speculative bubble burst, as they always do) the prolification of all the naysayers who don't think the internet is worth a damn anymore. The truth of the matter is in between these extremes. Yes the internet is a great thing, for education, entertainment, and commerce. However, it doesn't mean that it's like a huge free pile of gold, it will take just as much hard work and determination to make money (or do anything of serious importance) on the internet as it takes to do make money or do anything of importance outside of the internet. And yes, there will be lots of failed businesses. This is to be expected. Look into the history of the railroad. In the early days it was frought with incompatible standards, rampant speculation, inflated stock prices, stock price collapses, investment scams, and failed businesses. And yet it was still an amazing achievement and an amazing opportunity for investment and it radically changed the world.

    If you look at most of the failed internet dot-com startups you will see that they all follow a similar pattern. A possible "good idea" gets a large amount (millions) of venture capital. The company rapidly expands its workforce to be a "real company" with offices, servers, employees, etc. The company positively hemorrhages money, including money spent on commercials (*cough*superbowl 2000*cough*) to increase publicity and hopefully to rapidly (perhaps that should be explosively rapidly) expand their customer base. Lacking a business plan, existing customers, income, a long term strategy, or even a good operations plan (in combination with the fact that their attempt at publicity doesn't result in hordes of new customers) the company runs out of venture capital rapidly (gee I wonder where the money went) and they are forced to shut down in less than a year.

    As any crack addicted disease addled senile monkey could tell you, that is not a good way to run a business. And there's no reason to believe (and in fact now we have ample reason to disbelieve) that there is something special about the internet that allows people to have a poorly managed company yet still make gobs of money. If you're going to make money on the internet (or anywhere) you need to 1) have a sound business plan, 2) expect (and plan for) reality not meeting with your expectations 3) keep costs low for as long as you can 4) build an existing customer base 5) build your service or production base (i.e. know wtf you are doing and continue to improve how you do it) 6) get a solid revenue stream 7) wait until you get firmly on your feet before reaching for the next level 8) make a plan for growth 9) plan for the worst 10) don't expect for (or plan for) that huge growth to come right away, it could, but it's more likely it will come later and when you least expect it, plan to keep up your "growing strategy" for a while, I would suggest something around 2 years being a good time frame. All of that is sound business advice. I don't know how people could think that a poorly thought out idea combined with pouring millions of dollars down a rat hole and then expecting that your business will grow at a mind boggling rate and expect to make all your startup capital back in 6 months or even a year is beyond me. And, apropos to the subject at hand, absurdly bad business strategy is not the fault of all us technogeeks.

    Internet business is not dead, it is alive and thriving, and now it's all the better that the flock has been clensed of the weak and diseased.

  • The page-based internet is boring. People want genuinely interactive experience, with drama, excitement, games and jokes.

    I got one word for ya, baby: Java.
  • This Leadbeater guy is described perfectly. Look-under the madman/guru section. Walking sterotype. And all he is doing is lamenting the fact that idiots can't make gobs and gobs of cash off the internet without having a clue anymore. Then he proposes to fix this situation by getting rid of the people who know what they are doing (we must be pretty embarassing to a guy who couldn't tell a router config command from a shell script). The fact that these pundits get published and read is as bad for our industry as Rush Limbaugh is for truthfull, intellegent political discourse. Sorry- i'm on my first cup of coffee. I'll work up to a good rage/flame later.
  • I think a lot of people have come to the mistaken impression that this newfangled thing we call television is "the way it should and MUST be". There are more models out there than this 50 year old youngin' and some of them are quite different. I see the internet advertising "problem" as an extension of that false belief that TV is the baseline and that it should be emulated. It has only been in the last 50 years that people have been (more or less) forced to watch an entire advertisement while watching whatever they're interested in. And even now that idea is breaking down, people have remote controls, people have cable, they have VCRs and TiVos, they will skip the commercials. Are we to expect that people on the internet will do any different? This is nothing new, you can't force people to read print advertisements, people will generally skip over them, they may look at one if it catches their eye or is about something they are interested in. I think if we look at print media (which is much more like the internet and internet commerce than television is) we will see many areas of interest.

    For example, catalogs. Catalogs cost money to make and to ship yet they are the primary way for people to see and order from your business. Web based stores are similar. It costs money to maintain a web site, but you've got to do it right. Few mail order companies charge for their catalogs and catalogs rarely have advertisements, they make their money from orders. They can be profitable because all they have to do is have a warehouse full of products, a good system (and a few employees) to fulfil orders, a small support staff, and produce a catalog. Of course, it's important that you have something worthwile to sell and you manage your business correctly, but it's a strategy that works. Being in the e-commerce business I know tons of small and medium sized business that make good money selling stuff on the internet in essentially the same manner a catalog business (aka mail order / telephone order business). would be making money right now if they weren't leveraging their income and investment capital to grow.

    For businesses that don't sell products or services directly they will need to think of ways to make money. They should look to how other companies do it. Advertisements are one answer but they need to be executed well. We know that banner advertisements are not very effective, I think some people need to look at what advertising techniques are effective in other media and which ones are effective on the internet (or perhaps there are new techniques for the internet). Very little research (or indeed effort) has gone into such a critically important area.

    And, of course, there is always the subscription model which has worked well in the past and should in the future (if done right). People will pay money if you provide them with something they like. We already pay a good chunk of money just for getting online so I guess we must think there is something worth laying cold hard cash down for online. And, I believe, that will be a much better way to go.

    Keep in mind though that this world wide web thing is still fairly new and it still has plenty of growing up to do. The Jet engine wasn't invented until many decades after the first powered flight, and commercial air travel didn't really take off until almost half a century of flying. Similarly, it was decades before good quality roadways, highways, and even automobiles existed after the first "horseless carriage" was invented. Same thing goes for the telephone, it was ages after it's invention before most homes had one. I don't think it will take quite that long for the internet to become firmly entrenched (or more so anyway) in our lives and our commerce but it will take time for it to reach the level of other inventions that have been around for many generations.

  • > The page-based internet is boring.

    Oh yeah, that's why the whole 'book' concept has been such a dismal failure throughout history. They had a niche until Radio, Movies and TV arrived but nobody reads them anymore. Who wants to read a fixed text?

  • I haven't seen anyone get it as wrong as this Leadbeater character. Hmm.."[Web Pages] deliver none of the excitement of a good television advertisement." You mean all those ads I FWD over when I watch my tape of the Simpsons? Yeah right, 99% of TV commercials suck, there are about 5 cool/funny ones a year.

    And this gem: "According to Leadbeater the 'first Internet' failed because the technologists and geeks, in the end, triumphed over the CEOs and their managers ". Gee, I thought it was all the idiot CEOs on a spending spree trying to cash in on IPO money that fucked all the first wave of companies.

    I'd quote more but I got so annoyed I had to stop reading halfway. This guys opinion doesn't count for a whole lot and its a shame people listen to him.
  • Hey, I just heard that Jon Katz article (I think it was a shorter version though) on NPR last night, read by Jon Katz himself. It was on the show Marketplace on NPR.

    The RealAudio story is here: ml []

    Jon Katz's story starts 19 minutes into the program.

    There are also some other interesting stories in the program, like how Mexico just got the right for its truckers to use US highways due to a NAFTA court. Something called Pink Slip Happy Hour in SF, where people who are looking for jobs can meet recruiters in a more social setting (and how different people are handling getting laid off from dotcoms). And a comedy piece about what it'll be like when Microsoft starts making home appliances.
  • You're missing the point. The point is that there are people in power out there who hate technology, who don't understand it and are afraid of it. Because of their positions of power, they're forced to accept the technology, but they will never trust it.

    Leadbeater is talking to those people. Those of us who know better are completely irrelevant - we're overhearing a conversation we can't particpate in. Leadbeater is speaking the fears of those in power, and validating those fears. He's providing them with a "rationale" that will justify taking technology out of the hands of the skilled, and putting it under the control of the luddites.

    Nothing you say, here or anywhere else, has any value - unless you are in a position of power.

  • (Sigh...more "Flamebait"-happy moderators...)
    how you can claim to be a Green and a Libertarian is beyond me!

    Actually, I'm genuinely curious about this, since (to, admittedly, grossly oversimplify), the "Green" party line is roughly "Government should take control of everything to protect us" while the "Libertarian" party line is "Government should go stand in the corner and let us protect ourselves as best we can, which can't be any worse than Government is doing now." That being the case, how do you combine the two? Government mandated personal freedoms?

    Perhaps the poster meant combining the "anti-corporate" theme of the Green party with the "personal [individual] freedoms" theme of the libertarians, which I can't argue too much with, personally. (Though I do, personally, subscribe to fairly strongly libertarian views, I do feel that treating a corporation as a "person" makes a mockery of the rights and priviledges of actual individuals...On the other hand...corporations are government-made entities, so I don't see anti-corporatism as being necessarily anti-libertarian, either.)

    To the comment from the original poster that the problems here in California prove that "public utilities should be severely regulated!" - is "You can pay a pile of money for wholesale power, but you can only charge customers a fraction of that when you sell it" sound like severe enough regulation for you? While the above post's rebuttal was a bit blunt, I don't see that it was innaccurate - the power industry is, and has been, subject to a lot of regulation - where power providers are allowed to buy from, how much they're allowed to charge, whether or not they can own their own power plants, when and where they can build NEW power plants...This Was Not Deregulation, it was Reregulation!.

    Mind you, the power companies are not totally blameless - they evidently signed on to the re-regulation plan quite willingly, thinking they were going to make a killing manipulating the new system.

    Rumor has it that they have real deregulation of power in Pennsylvania, and that it's working quite well. Any Pennsylvanians out there want to confirm or deny this?

    "They have strategic air commands, nuclear submarines, and John Wayne. We have this"
  • "I recall several dumb movies from someplace (and a few dumb shows) where everyone was wired into the shoot-them up games systems, and the fantasy lives of being directly wired in."

    Hey, Tron RULED!

  • I'll admit up front that I haven't read the article - the comments already posted about it tell me that it's probably a waste of time. The theme, apparently, is that "geeks" are preventing the internet from being a spiffy, flashy experience. Obviously, that's ignorant foolishness. Not only would getting geeks out of the 'net not make it prettier, it would prevent the continued development of the "Rich Experience®" that the marketroids are pushing...:

    And I'm certain there are plenty more examples people could add to this list...

    "They have strategic air commands, nuclear submarines, and John Wayne. We have this"
  • Amazon tries that combination, but the browsing part of the equation is too lame for my purposes.
    I'll admit, if I find a single bit of info while flipping through a book, I'll jot down a quick note. If the rest of the book sucks, I won't buy it.

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:22PM (#447878) Journal

    Leadbeater sounds like someone trying to sell people on the easy life of a canary in a cage with a firewire connection straight into the skull.

    He sees the Internet not as an information system or a data system, but a world wide entertainment system, or a world wide hedonism system. All for his profit, fun, and folly.

    The analogy I would make for the Internet vs the WWW is life coming on land from the sea. All life depends on the sea, and you ignore it at your peril. But land dwellers tend to be myopic and ignorant of anything not rooted in their particular clod of mud.

    I recall several dumb movies from someplace (and a few dumb shows) where everyone was wired into the shoot-them up games systems, and the fantasy lives of being directly wired in.

    This man sounds like just the fool to sell us on this, or to sell us on being Borg.

    the danger in any of these, despite the apparent advantadges, is being a drone for the system, not being in control of your own life. I do not fancy life as a bloated corpusle is the body of cyber-consumerism

    This ties in so well with the story the other day about excessive computer use making people stupid (actually, causing memory loss). (NB - entitled "Are Computers Stealing Your Memory? []")

    Sounds like Leadbeater is a poster child for the cause.


  • No, this author sounds like another self-serving pundit with his head up his arse. I remember reading a similar book from a Penn State prof called "The Emperor's Virtual Clothing" or somesuch - but it was written in mid-90's. Now, if I read that book now, the author would look twice as stupid. I suspect the same would be of this book in 2005. Non-techies and PHB's can read such books and then feel superior to techies. Good for them, I'm glad some of those folks are capable of reading.

    BTW: my favorite form of reductionism used by PHB's and others who don't know how to do your job: "It's only coding". Yeah, well, about nuclear physicists: "It's only splitting atoms". There, now, don't you feel superior? :)

    It's easy to make such broad strokes and say dumb things like "geeks don't understand business". Or "techies are holding business back". What's harder to do is to really suggest a good solution to problems, rather than just blaming a group of people are presumably not running businesses anyway. If PHB's can do it better, why aren't they?
  • Okay, I think he is absolutely correct with this point. People do want the internet to be an interesting, whizz bang experience

    And what people would that be? Most folks I know want e-mail (with maybe the occasional jpeg attachment), on-line banking and shopping, the occasional bit of research, and of course Napster, and that's about it. None of which require "immersive media".

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • Sorry, but the recent dot-com slump has nothing to do with an over-focus on technology, it has to do with a lack of common sense and sound business judgement.

    Most of the dot-coms going out of business today are doing so because they have no market. VC's saw something that seemed sexy and new, and they dumped their money into it with little or no thought to the matter. Who really wants to buy groceries online? Would you buy a thick, juicy steak off a drop-down menu?!? Or would you rather pick out the most appetizing one in the butcher section of your supermarket?

    Nobody wants to buy clothes online -- half the experience is the visit to the store. Online purchasing is ideal for commodity items where you know what you're getting the moment you order it. Books, CDs, software... When businesses try to force a new distribution channel down people's throats that no one wants, the market responds.

    It's not about technology, it's about common sense.

  • by Have Blue ( 616 )
    So the dotcom boom is over and the Internet goes back to being a world of flat pages, plain text, academic information, etc.

    So what?

    Was the internet improved by the presence of internet-oriented businesses? Their major contribution to the net was banner ads. What about all that porn? I've seen estimates that 50% (conservatively) of Net traffic is porn (although that's probably been displaced by MP3s by now). If all the banners and porn and sites vanish, then that just leaves more bandwidth for stuff that is actually important and useful.

    A possible counterargument: The presence of large amounts of money on the net also supports expansion, upgrades, and maintenance.

  • by Daemosthenes ( 199490 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:29PM (#447883)
    the geek antipathy to GIFS is well known

    There is a simple reason why geeks, and yes, even normal people, hate GIFS. The blinking ones are annyoing as hell! They get tacky very fast, as proven by this [] page of abominations. Simple is elegant is better. This doesn't only apply to geeks my friend. This is pure common sense.
    Is it any wonder then that the internet has come to be dominated by corporations? These are the only organisations that have had the foresight and desire to implement the common mans preferences. From AOL to Amazon, these are the organisations now controlling the internet, much to the geeks chagrin.

    Ok, let's examine that statement. Amazon, a corporation which "dominates the internet" is run by one of the biggest self-admitted geeks of them all: Jeff Bezos. If you look more closely, I believe you'll find that the corporations dominating the internet are running it through the geeks, not leaving them in the dust. Most conventional corporations wouldn't have a clue how to run an e-commerce program, a large scale network, or other highly technical fields. Those require the "geeks" you complain are left out of the big picture.
    We had a chance, an opportunity, for a commerce free web, an arena of equality and information. But we did not grasp it, we did not show enough imagination. It is our fault, us, the geeks, that the commercial corporations are taking the initiative and providing the internet that the common man wants.

    Let's face it: what could we, the geeks, provide that would be of interest to the common man. Geeks (in a general stereotypical statement) enjoy technical matters, so-called "dry academia" as you stated. That's why we're here reading slashdot, buying o'reilly books, and doing other such geek-ish things. The common man (in another stereotypical statement) does not enjoy the same things we do. They actually want to recieve news from corporations like CNN, be able to order merchandise online, and interact with corporations, not technical academia. Geeks could not provide a "common man's internet" even if we tried.

    So, in summation, your comment has a few valid points, but seems to be missing the fact that geeks never really had a chance to dominate the whizz bang internet of the common man in the first place. That's why sites here like /. exist. It's not the common mans news; "News for Nerds, stuff that matters."

    Either that was an elegant troll, or you are wrong...

    47.5% Slashdot Pure(52.5% Corrupt)
  • The Internet, like almost all other major technologies, went through an amazing period of innovation and creativity. However, you can trace almost 90% of the truly important internet innovations to a period BEFORE 1996 (and maybe even before 1992). In this respect, the Internet is like almost every other major innovation of the last 100+ years. For example, the automobile was invented in the late 19th century. The cars we use today are functionally the same to what was invented more than 100 years ago. The automobile was BIG when it was invented and started to take hold. Less than 20 years later, it was becoming a common part of daily life. So, history tells us that the core functions of the Internet are already set. That everything else that will be done on the internet is nothing more than a new-fangled cupholder or a tricked-out alloy wheel. If you want the next BIG Internet thing, we'll need to invent something other than the Internet...
  • by ip4noman ( 263310 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:35PM (#447885) Homepage
    According to Leadbeater the "first Internet" failed because the technologists and geeks,

    Failed? It was awesome!

    I was just talking to a guy on the train about this last week. I was reminiscing about the high-signal-to-noise days of the early days of Usenet over the Arpanet (late 1980's). He was yacking on about some new startup making pay-as-you-go chips that was gonna be the next e-boom, .... yeah yeah yeah. He was telling me that I should "load up" on this stock and that I would be rich.

    I was telling this guy that I thought e-commerce was a big capitalist gang-bang, and that it (and advertising) has ruined then internet. And reminded him that the Internet was originally a SOCIALIST program, meaning, government "controlled", funded with tax dollars... and it worked real well!

    I couldn't belive that I was saying this, as I'm a Green []/Libertarian [], and the term "socialism" is anathema to the Libs, (as well as the Dems and the Repubs).

    But think about it: Certain things SHOULD be funded by a socialist model. The roads, for example. In a "free market" system, you'd have 2 toll roads going between the same 2 points, with the toll takes competing/colluding for your money. Look at the Cali energy crisis: public utilities should be severely regulated!

    Look at the capitalist/commercial media in America. It sucks. It does not inform, it does not provide a balanced view of things, the corporations control the elections... the capitalist media does nothing well, but produce/distribute SPAM.

    The socialst media in Canada and England produce some wonderful art (Imagine Monty Python or The Young Ones being produced in America?). The only thing like it in America is Public Access TV [], or community radio (like what Pacifica [] is/was/tries to be) which has a socialist funding model with a decentralized authority (just like DNS).

    I say its time for a return to the Socialst (economic) internet model, with the goals of decentralization and free speech, get the profit-seekers off the 'net, and immediately delcare the Deja archive [] a national treasure, with the goal of an UNCENSORED archive being restored/preserved for the good of mankind.

    Call me a dreamer ... ;^)
  • "The net will prosper when it is no longer the preserve of geeks, and when the speed of connections and size of bandwidth are secondary to the quality of the experience it delivers."

    Damn straight. And I want my holographic TV, too. Wish those geeks would stop forcing me to worry about bandwidth and computation and optics. None of the CEOs I've met seem to worry about that stuff.

    Reading things like this makes me wonder just what it takes to get published. Certainly not expertise or deep understanding.

  • He's way overestimated the value and feasibility of interactivity. Sure, we want the web to be personalized. It already is. I can go to whatever website I want. This is not like T.V. where I have 60 channels, half of which I will ever watch, and half of those have something interesting on at any given time, and half of those are sufficiently interesting that I'd consider turning the tube on in the first place. Sure, it's great to be able to customize your websites, and places like Yahoo! have done a great job of that. Despite all this, the great benefit of the web is that you can get more or less the information you want when you want it, as opposed to whatever the broadcaster wants to give you. The idea that people will willingly revert to the old system is ridiculous. Sure, people will get some significant percentage of their content from the big media companies, but the ability and allure of clicking a link and going somewhere completely different and exploring outside the walled garden will not suddenly disappear just because ok some nifty flash animations.

    He complains that web ads don't make us laugh. Boo-f*cking-hoo. T.V. ads are pretty lame. People don't like them. Their effectiveness lies in our inability to avoid them. Now that we can program our content-gathering machines, we are finding ways to ditch the ads. These methods are catching on as people get more and more annoyed with them. We will ditch the ads and never go back. There will always be a place for some advertising on the web, but few websites will rely on them for revenue. When micropayments become viable, people will realize that they can pay for exactly what they want, and nothing more, and they will do it gladly. With that money as a direct result for good content, a more diverse base of content providers will be motivated and capable of satisfying customers, and the result will be a solidifying of the diversity of the web, not a collapse of it.
  • The beginning of your comment starts with an admirable goal, but makes me ask a simple question "What's the point?" What's the intrinsic benefit of teaching someone to use the 'net? Personally, I can barely remember life without my trusty browser, but to the majority of the world's population the Internet offers minimal value.

    If I live in poverty in a third world country, having access to the 'net won't change my life one bit. I'm lucky if I can even READ, let alone benefit from using a computer. Show me an internet application that cures world hunger, and then I'll believe that 'net will truly change the world we live in.

  • No, I won't call you a dreamer. Obviously Leadbeater is one of these fellahs who think the Internet should be pay-per-view TV with fewer moving parts. Maybe he surfs with his credit cards out alla time, who knows?

    I also think his opinion of what people want/use the Net for is way off, too. Glitz, f/Flash and entertainment? Sure, but it's also a great way of getting information, something he completely overlooks--maybe because he really thinks the sheeple don't need it (?). Then again, I also agree that over-commercializing on the Net is kind of turning this big old library into one of those late-night infomercials.

    At any rate, people who think that capital-B Business is the Saviour of the World[TM] make me want to go take a shower...or three. Let's hear it for the geeks, nerds, freaks, and weirdos!

    (Hmmm...I bet Leadbeater's actually secretly pissed because the little guy he used to beat up on in high school is now making 10x his salary computer geeking all day...)

    Oh, and ip4noman, friend...? Canadian media is (partially) socialized, not socialist. You must be some kind of Libertarian if you can't/don't/won't make that distinction. One is a societal practice, the other is a political philosophy. And (this offends my soul!) you forgot to mention the Air Farce, which kicks the Young Ones' butt around the block three times.

    But you speak rightly about the regulation thing. (I love my OHIP!!)

    ?! -- ?!
  • by MrBogus ( 173033 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @11:30PM (#447890)
    That's not a good way to run a busineess from the capitalists point of view. But, if someone gives you a hundred million dollars to corner the market on poopscoops or whatever, most dotcom managers did the rational thing: Paid themselves a huge salary, hired all their friends and paid them a huge salary, bought the sexiest equipment and software you could find, hired lots of pretty girls for the marketing department, including your girlfriend and maybe your other girlfriend, and since the SuperBowl commercials went so well, why not give yourself a raise before these capitalists catch on?
  • There are more important things than the Internet, sure. Like food. But information access is still more than just a luxury.

    In many places poverty is the result of a power differential. (In many others of course it can be the result of natural disasters, but bear with me!) One of the tools which allows power structures to remain entrenched is control over information. Free access to unfiltered information won't be a panacea, but it can certainly help to curb the worst abuses of power. When people can communicate quickly and anonymously, abuses can be addressed earlier and more effectively.

    Most people seem to have a sense of justice. So when the message can get out, the population at large can effect change. There would have been no outrage at Nike for its explotive practices had no news of them ever come to light.

    Of course information by itself is insufficient - there has to be a critical reader at the receiving end. Here again, the Internet can provide educational resources where there would otherwise be none, or very carefully controlled selection. The control of the 'net by advertising interests will see such applications marginalised or controlled.

  • this was the evil plan all along?

    why was I kept current?

    Next time the geeks destroy the hopes and dreams of the visionaries we need to make sure that we all get our fair share of the spoils.

    Also: dotcom mani [] ???


    [1] Hart, Claudia, "A child's Machiavelli-a primer on power"

  • You must be young.

    IMHO, RTFM, ETC... these sorts of abrieviations didn't come from l33t d00dz who wanted to look cool on chatrooms. They came from people who used BBSs and USENET before most people knew what a network was. Those people (I was part of them) just wanted to communicate faster. They aren't used to be flashy or cool -- they're used to type faster.

    Personally, I think the word 'the' is overused to the point of being cliche. You should find some other word to use in its place if you want to be fashionable.

    ... to say nothing of the word 'cliche'.
  • Interestingly enough, I agree with just about everything you've said. In a society that is prepared for the "information age" the sharing of information becomes a powerful phenomenon.

    However, most of the world's societies have not yet laid a foundation that adequately prepares them for the "information age". In the U.S. we are extremely spoiled...even those who live in abject poverty or homelessnes have incredible access to services and information. But in most of the rest of the world access to more information would do them little, if any, good.

    For example...I can post the schemactics to build a space shuttle, but if I don't have the appropriate technology base then having the information doesn't offer any value to me (other than knowing that something like that can be done).

    I fundamentally believe the Internet is the Earth's new way of sharing information. However, I'm not sure everyone is ready for its benefits yet.

    By the way, you mentioned the story about Nike using exploitive practices. Personally, I think its horrible that they did what they did. But what was the opinion of the people working FOR Nike. After we forced them to shut down the plants, did the people working there get another job? Or did the information actually harm them more??
    However, the Internet might be a great enabler for building the porper foundations.
  • Check out this deconstruction of Katz []. Makes some valid points.
  • "How can you buy *new* books, CDs, and software, online, if you've never tried the book, heard the music, or used the software?"

    Regarding "trying the books"; I'm the guy you may have seen inside of the brick-and-mortar bookstore, sitting down and skimming the preface, chapters and index of that book. Works for me ...
  • Actually, it'd be good if Leadbeater got his way. After all, it'd make competing that much easier for the rest of us... hell, even a VB weenie could achieve "God" status under his concept. Java programmers might actually have value some day, and HTML might really be considered "coding". So, go for it, Lead 8) I could use the two-day work week.
  • We already have a stupid society. Just look at our Presidential poster-child.

  • Perception of expertise and deep understanding by those same CEOs who just don't worry about that stuff.

    Does not matter whether you are technically correct, it's how well you can sling the buzzwords.

  • This is right on for now, but how much longer?
    Hopefully a 'free internet' has been embraced and will never be altered.
    But let's say, for example, all other web browsers die off and the only way to access the web from a PC is via the MS OS and IE (I know, a stretch, but bear with me).
    So one day John Smith and his website pissed of MS and in that night's auto-update, everyone's browsers no longer will go to
    Or perhaps Cisco gains so much control over network hardware, they force ISP's to block access to some sites whom they are offended by.
    Or perhaps ISP's just keep loosing money and figure they have to do subscriptions like HBO- so you have to subscribe to various websites to access them.
    Things are good now, but for how long. Remain vigilent! Lets just hope the idiots responsible for passing the DCMA aren't around when the above scenarios are played out.
  • Hey, if you don't like ad-supported [] websites [], don't visit them! Sheesh.
  • There's a good example recently of naked greed. Some journalist in the UK saw the tech stocks going up, heard about online stocks and thought he couldn't lose. He didn't know shit about computers, didn't own a computer, had never done anything like that in his life. But he still thought he could pick the winners. He remortgaged his house and stuff, and blew the entire stack in under a year - now he's likely to be out on his ass bcos he got greedy.

  • But think about it: Certain things SHOULD be funded by a socialist model. The roads, for example. In a "free market" system, you'd have 2 toll roads going between the same 2 points, with the toll takes competing/colluding for your money. Look at the Cali energy crisis: public utilities should be severely regulated!
    I'm willing to listen to arguments like this, but you really need to polish yours up. Don't know where you live, but out here in urban California, the highways are constantly getting jammed up. Suprise: you provide something for "free" and all of a sudden the demand for it goes way up. A greater reliance on toll roads would at least encourage people to think twice about using the resource, to look for ways to economize on it's use, and so on.

    Having two competing systems going between two points doesn't sound like such a bad idea, either. Far from being inefficient, a little redundancy would create a more robust system (as compared to "take 101, and only 101, and if there's a crash, you're all screwed").

    And the theory of course is that two competing agencies are encouraged to cut prices and improve service. Sometimes it even works that way. Look at supermarkets. Look at long distance phone pricing after the ma bell breakup. Look at the fall in airline prices and the rise in airline usage (with no decline in safety).

    (And the energy crisis here in California just goes to show that there are scum out there who will play orwellian name games using whatever jargon is popular at the moment. Whatever was really going on out here, it doesn't look much like real "deregulation" to me.)

    Look at the capitalist/commercial media in America. It sucks. It does not inform, it does not provide a balanced view of things, the corporations control the elections... the capitalist media does nothing well, but produce/distribute SPAM. The socialst media in Canada and England produce some wonderful art (Imagine Monty Python or The Young Ones being produced in America?). The only thing like it in America is Public Access TV, or community radio (like what Pacifica is/was/tries to be) which has a socialist funding model with a decentralized authority (just like DNS).
    I could quibble with some of your examples here, too -- for example, a popular libertarian line is to claim that cable television is doing a better job at educational TV than PBS, with things like the Discover channel and the Nature channel.

    But I find it hard to walk away from the fact that a lot of the big money media comes up really lousy stuff. The capitalist argument would be "hey, we're just giving them what they want, who are you to tell people what they should like?" But is that the whole story? Are people in general really so lame that network TV has their number?

    I think that if you really want to get some where, you're going to need a model of reality a little deeper than "capitalism vs socialism". Okay, maybe you like PBS better than CBS, NPR better than Rush Limbaugh. What about the New York Times? Should they be government owned?

    And how is "volunteer" actvity like "Pacifica" socialist in any sense? Pacifica uses very little tax money -- for a long time they didn't use any at all.

    (I can't believe you call yourself a "Green/Libertarian". WTF? On the other hand, I voted for Nader this time, and Browne last time, so maybe I'm getting there too.)

  • See here the conspiracy theory of the New Economists: blame it on the geeks. In Leadbeater's words: "The page-based internet is boring. People want genuinely interactive experience, with drama, excitement, games and jokes. The first Internet spent little on content and charged nothing for it. The result: hosts of bored consumers using a medium designed for geeks and nerds."

    Okay, I think he is absolutely correct with this point. People do want the internet to be an interesting, whizz bang immersive media experience, and the people who are implementing the internet are not providing it. The geeks who built the internet have eschewed interesting presentation and content in favour of dry academia. The builder of the WWW, Tim Berners Lee, was even against the use of pictures in Web pages for a long time, and the geek antipathy to GIFS is well known.

    Is it any wonder then that the internet has come to be dominated by corporations? These are the only organisations that have had the foresight and desire to implement the common mans preferences. From AOL to Amazon, these are the organisations now controlling the internet, much to the geeks chagrin.

    In my view, the geeks had their chance. But, they threw it away by being all to idealistic. We had a chance, an opportunity, for a commerce free web, an arena of equality and information. But we did not grasp it, we did not show enough imagination. It is our fault, us, the geeks, that the commercial corporations are taking the initiative and providing the internet that the common man wants.

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Advertising and how simple words and pictures just aren't enough. He blames the failure of dot-coms one lack of proper advertising. It's not like television where people can have rich advertising ads that they can get emotional about? What a pile of gibberish. Does disgust count as an emotion? That's what I feel when watch television with it's "Rich advertising experience". Television can kiss my ass.

    The phrase "I do not watch television" is not just some cliche. More and more people are turning the stupid thing off. I think the TV people are starting to get nervous about all those eyeballs turning their eyeball-backs on them. They want that revenue back somehow but their beloved dot-coms with their eyeball snatching banner ads are going down the toilet. So much for the promise of easy bucks.

    No, they have to provide some sort of internet content that TV sponge-heads will enjoy. Then it's just a matter of product placement. Sponge-heads can't be bothered to read, so so much for ASCII and traditional web pages that have all those WORDS on them. Must have shiny things that move and canned laughter to stimulate those tired neurons into dull laughs and scripted emotinal moments.

    Now, after all that, I must concede that there will most likely be some sort of Second Coming of the Internet. It will be more like the four horsemen. (I had a high school biology teacher named "Horse-man" but that's another post). Higher bandwidth will enable the type of content and advertising that is akin to television.

    But of course all is not lost. Some of us are already planning for that very eventuality and are warming up our VPN skills at this moment. You see, if a wall need be built to keep the riff-raff out, it will be built. Invite-only VPNs will be everywhere as Oasis's for the weary "New Internet" sufferer.

    Kill your television.

    Sorry about the typos and other assorted errors. This ain't easy with lynx.

  • "the bandwidth secondary to the experience" bullshit, again. Well, let them set up their streaming flow of shit in the face, and wait for 11:30 PM for it to blow out. We'll see if they still think bandwidth is secondary.
  • Think about it. When the radio was the primary source of of entertainment, the next big thing wasn't a better radio, but the television. The next big thing as far as telivision goes wasn't the introduction of color, but of cable services which offered a greatly expanded choice of programming. With this in mind, how can one believe that the 'next big thing' after the internet will simply be an incremental improvement (and im not quite sure the author's personal utopia is an improvement) on the internet?

    The next big thing, whatever it ends up being, will not come from a self-improtant consultant, but from the mind of bright student somewhere, who probably doesn't even realize yet that their crazy idea will revolutionize the infromaion/entertainment industry.
  • We are the Cochroaches of technology. We were here before the vc's, dotcoms, and all the other hoopla, and we will be here after they leave. Just as MS claims Linux will fail, *BSD is 20 year old technology, does matter We are the cochroach. We watch rulers come and go, empires rise and fall, Mountians rise up, seas fall, and in the end we are still here.
  • Something I noticed from the beginning of the article that kind of outlined the general feel of the piece:

    Which of the following does this guy want?

    1. Fancy designs that are flashy and interactive which grab the users (using html "hocus pocus" that he says scared them off in the first place)
    2. Straight-forward non-"hocus pocus" layout which won't grab the user but won't scare them away

    That's one of the main issues with web design, I'd say. He seems to advocate both and neither simultaneously.
    This perhaps highlights that the article's demonstration of a certain naivete about the internet, and the sort of gross overgeneralizations contained therin. Interesting ideas, but they're built on faulty logic. He totally ignores the things other posters have mentioned such as .com business acumen, bandwidth availability, capitalism vs. socialism on the net, etc. and makes blanket statements which don't cover the minutia that interact to make the net work.
    Overall, it's an uninformed screed.

  • Oh yes, the every popular car analogy... let's see, a car in the early 20th century ran on something like 40? octane petrol. Fuel injection, 4 wheel drive/steering, traction control, reliability, maintenance cost, fuel economy all "little" changes, but a modern car sure ain't nothing like one from the turn of last century. The same goes for the Internet. We are not on 14k modem anymore (well, most of us aren't)
  • Most conventional corporations wouldn't have a clue how to run an e-commerce program, a large scale network, or other highly technical fields.

    Uh, yeah, and geeks do? Has even gone into the black yet? Geeks give themselves too much credit.

  • Who really wants to buy groceries online?

    er, I would. And I do. I purposely do not own a car, and so 6-10 bags of groceries is quite hard to carry home. has apparently reached the top 10 ecom sites in the presumably some people other than me are buying.

    Other than that, yes I agree.

  • I was at a trade show conference this Monday, ISPCON in Toronto, and one of the speakers in the marketing session sounded just like this guy.

    I won't say his name for fear of the backlash, but he talked about how we need to take the "IT out of digital marketing and the Internet" and (even scarier) how we need to provide wireless access to developing countires so we can.....turn them into consumers. Not to feed them, or help them build an economy...he wants to give them the ability to make money so people can market to them!

    I've been involved with the Internet since '94, and what scared me the most was that the majority of the people in attandace agreed with him!
  • You get partial credit. :) I learned about it before, but the story a few days ago reminded me of it. It seemed applicable.

    Is there some grace period between concept description and usage I should know about so I don't sound like a loser in the future? All I really want in life is people I'll never meet to think that I am smart and knowledgable.

    Anyway, the other reply is closer to my intent.

  • The guy that was being quoted by the author is being quoted so that the author can say exactly what you just said - perhaps you should have read past the first few paragraphs....


  • AOL!

    I have to say my only question for Leadbeater is one from Dilbert: "Since when did ignorance become a point of view?"

  • Capitalism's okay - the problem you seem to be seeing here a bit is that it's vunerable to positive feedback. Ideally, we want a free market in which all goods and services therin are interchangable with all other goods and services. It's the efficiency that we're after more than the means of getting it. (though freedom's always lots of fun; the Borg might be more efficient but it's not worth it) Unfortunately in the real world, businesses attempt to grow and combine, which does not always do wonders for the benefits that the system is supposed to provide for society.

    IMHO regulation is only really important in the realm of antitrust, truthful advertising and safety. The first to prevent the collusion you describe with the toll roads; the second to ensure that when you buy a product you're getting what you asked for; the third to make sure that your jeans don't cause your head to fall off. The last _could_ emerge naturally from a market unregulated in that respect, but I don't trust businesses enough to not sell jeans that make peoples heads fall off far enough down the road that it doesn't matter. Like cigarette companies lying about their product's addictive and carcinogenic properties. If they'd been up front about it, that would have at least been a mark in their favor.

    More centralized systems than that though seem to result in accumulations of power. Be they in businesses or paternalistic governments I don't feel comfortable either way. And even that isn't so hot. Perhaps there's a much better system that hasn't been invented yet, but we're stuck for now.
  • I thought the business model was

    1: Write dumb business plan that will never work.
    2: Get $X in funding where X is a large number
    3: Extract $Y from $X where Y X and won't be noticed
    4: Allow company to go bust.
    5: Let media laugh at you becuase you lose $(X-Y) in virtual money. Not let on that you now have $Y money left over.

    Providing $Y is a reasonable sum of money e.g. $1million then your average Geek has done OK for a years work, even if he has lost $499 in virtual money.

  • What Leadbeater is trying to sell is dreamware, this time not developed by Californian anarcho capitalists but big media business, AOL-TimeWarner style.

    <sarcasm> So he wants us to ignore the tiny little geek-driven companies like Yahoo! [] and look forward to the successes achived by Time-Warner's immense Pathfinder effort? </sarcasm>

    (I'd include a URL for Pathfinder, but the site isn't there any more; it just redirects to
  • Coders versus E-CEOs.

    "To win the game you must hack ME, Bill Gates."

  • I wrote the message in a hurry, and I quickly realized the mistake.

    In any event, the point that I was trying to make was freedom of speech is a key element of the Internet's continued existence.

  • I agree heartily. The early internet (and computer industry in general) was much better in the early nineties. Mainly due to the fact that it was inhabited by intelligent and interesting people, as opposed to morons trying to make buckets of cash from a crappy business plan.
  • So, basically the internet is not (yet) television...a vast wasteland of advertising sprinkled with mind numbing "programming". Man, I am *so* crying for all those CEOs-to-be who want to co-opt the internet and turn it into another flavor of tv.
  • 1000 individuals in a neighborhood will be able to set up Wide area Gig Ethernet communication faster than a bunch of bloated enterprises that have to replace many machines just to change one little detail of their work.

    Centralized planning doesn't work. QED.
  • by SimplyCosmic ( 15296 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:06PM (#447925) Homepage
    Against historical commonsense Leadbeater, a former Financial Times journalist, dates the "first Internet" from 1996 to 2000. Forget the twenty-five years or so year before the World Wide Web took off. Leadbeater is well aware of this forgery. He deliberately rewrites history, provoking the ASCII/Linux believers by saying that the Internet was born out of the dotcom spirit of e-commerce. What Leadbeater is pushing is what we may call New Voluntarism. Forget the hackers story of Internet rooted in military/academic informatics. Internet was born out of the Will to eBusiness. Shopping and entertainment are the true nature of humankind. They are the one and only source, engine and destiny of the Net.


    According to Leadbeater the "first Internet" failed because the technologists and geeks, in the end, triumphed over the CEOs and their managers and usability HTML slaves. Early online business pioneers were of good will, ready to serve their first customers. But the general audience got scared off by geekish hocus-pocus. Consumers, terrified by the complexity and clumsiness of this hyped-up yet incredibly self-referential environment simply left, way too early, never to come back again.

    So it didn't fail because people who rushed into being a with a plan no more complicated than "We want to make money online and fast, we don't care how". I failed because of all the geeks and nerds and their technology? Wow.

    Frankly, the idea that the Internet "failed" because didn't crush your local pet store is kind of silly. As a geek, the Internet is still chugging along nice for me. And even for my non-geek friends, the continued growth in websites for research papers and entertainment, communication through instant messengers and email, and online gaming galore, means that the Internet hasn't failed for them either.

    Maybe it's just my lack of business experience, but this author sounds like someone who's upset that eCommerce wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and now wants to create the "next big thing".

  • Wait a second... What are the connexions between the author of that smelly goo and Micro$oft ? This bashing of the open standards, "limiting the growth of the internet", this "second internet coming" phantasy, make me wonder if all that crap is not, after all, a troll to push the ".NET" thing...
  • by fat_hot ( 226324 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:59PM (#447927)
    the article must really suck, eh?
  • We had a chance, an opportunity, for a commerce free web, an arena of equality and information. But we did not grasp it, we did not show enough imagination. It is our fault, us, the geeks, that the commercial corporations are taking the initiative and providing the internet that the common man wants.

    What a crock of shit. If geeks are incapable of creating the internet that the common man wants, just how exactly are the supposed to stop somebody else from stepping in and creating it? Think about it. You have roughly three choices:

    • The net is restricted to geeks who can keep commerce out. The goal of it being an arena of equality and opportunity is not possible because only geeks are allowed in.
    • Geeks try to provide a web that the common man likes. You claim that geeks are only interested in dry academia, and thus incapable of building such a web.
    • The web is open and non-geeks step in to provide the content that the common man wants (the current situation). You complain because it's commercialized.

    Guess what. None of these scenarios results in the open, wonderful, commerce free web you want. It's impossible for the web to be both open and to keep corporations out.

    Anyway, who cares? The dry, academic, non-commercial side of the web is still there for the people who want it. There are tons of academic papers, personal web pages, and all of the kinds of things that existed on the web before it was corporatized. In fact, in many ways it's better than before it was corporatized because there are now vastly better authoring and content management tools available to the common man because corporations needed them to develop their web content. And there's also the flashy, whizz band side of the net that the people who don't want the dry academic stuff are interested in.

  • by Alatar ( 227876 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @07:07PM (#447929) Homepage
    A piece about an inflammatory loudmouth who used to hate geeks back in high school, and takes great zest in hating them today. Next story...zzz...
  • The internet isn't a game at all, so what does this last comment actually mean?

    It means that the internet isn't a pie of a fixed size, where the only way to get more of it is to take it away from somebody else. The creation of corporate web sites has not eliminated the right of ordinary people to create the web sites that they want to make (litigation aside). If Disney wants to create a massive web portal that draws 1 billion hits per day, it has zero impact on my ability to create my goldfish cam page.

  • Your link [] is funny as hell.

    She offers web design services []. Maybe it has something to do with the beer I've been drinking, but seeing anyone who creates a page this ugly [] offer web design services is really funny.

  • I would be tempted to do the above. Seriously.
    I would like to suggest that those in a position to do so, encourage Leadbeater to continue at full speed on his current course. I would also want to encourage other moronic eCEOs and venture capitalists to follow his lead. Let me explain.
    I get the idea that Leadbeater is suggesting that future eCompanies should avoid geeks. Well thats fine by me. I don't want to be stuck in cubicle at AOL/Time Warner for any period of time anyway. Of course, when you remove the geeks from your potential work force, what are you left with? A bunch of second rate tech staff whose only motivation is that the Net is supposed to be a pot of gold. People like that would have trouble maintining a LAN with 4 win9x machines, let alone a webserver..... Any companies in that position will collapse even faster than the current crop; Leadbeater is headed on a course of self-destruction. An appropriate ending for such a man.
    It seems to me that other /.ers (Jon Katz too) would agree with me when I say that the dotcoms killed the free spirit and high signal to noise ratio of the early 90s internet. I would like to encourage the remainder of the dotcommers to band up with Leadbeater and head for self-destruction with him.
  • This Leadbeater fellow sounds an awful lot like Nicholas Negroponte and his aimless ramblings about how my doorbell and shower would be telling me about my new emails and other such drivel. The reason I stopped reading Wired years ago (way back when it was still considered somewhat on the ``cool'' side).

    I, for one, am getting more than a little sick and tired about these marketing know-nothings ranting on about wanting to enhance/maximize/whatever my ``internet experience''. I've experienced AOLs style of ``internet experience'' and said No thanks. But bozos like Leadbeater will need to shove it down my throat whether I want it or not.

    Unfortunately, if we just ignore idiots like Leadbeater, they won't just go away. They'll find some clueless CEO and add yet another member to their cult of ignorance (after all: ignorance is bliss).


  • Yes but unless you drive an RX-7, the basic premise of the internal combustion engine is still beating inside your car just as much as in a Model T. The original poster wasn't suggesting that the internet won't *evolve*, as it is quite clear that it is and will. But he's contending that history has shown that once a technology has been accepted, attempts to radically alter that technology will be met with apathy and disinterest, and the core technology will be preserved.

    Though honestly, I'm not sure if that applies to the internet. Other than the basic concept of a de-centralized global network, there isn't much *core* ideology inherent in the 'net. Perhaps the concept of the browser/WWW/http protocol, I believe that such a concept is well-rooted in the minds of the 'netters, and that it will prevail. After all, when people think of the internet, they mostly think of the http protocol - things like ftp and smtp/pop are more of an afterthought.

  • Mr. Leadbeater's complaints about the current situation are a pretty good summary of what I find *desirable* in the Internet. The future he invokes is one that I do not want and will not pay for. There are sites approaching his specifications now, and I avoid them -- they make me ill.

    I think that the market will choose not to decide, if we can keep it free enough to make that choice. People who want shiny toys will have them; people who want meat-and-potatoes information will have it. Everybody wins.
  • /\/\/\/\ They're older than that; many come from precomputing teleprinter usage.
  • Who really wants to buy groceries online?

    er, I would.

    I dunno, every time I think about having groceries delivered, I remember _Death Wish_.
  • In the rich world there is a closely correlated inversely proportional relationship between amount of TV watched versus how successful and fullfilling peoples lives are. Plot income against free time spent watching TV: you'll get a straighter line than if you do the same with smoking, life expectancy, drug addiction, alcoholism, still-borns or any other social disease.

    It's amazing there isn't more of a stigma against it. I mean, people can smoke crack all day long for all I care, but you don't expect them to come in to work and freely admit it.

    You can have a worthwhile job, spend the necessary time to be a good hacker, and then you can have enough time left over either to play video games, watch TV, or have a social life.

    So, the corps wanted to turn the net into Television v2.0, and it didn't work out. Thank Christ. A bunch of assholes lost a lot of money. Good.
  • just because they've been around longer than script kiddies have been on the planet doesn't mean we should use them over and over again. and as i said before, i'm not saying these words shouldn't be used. yes, they're a part of our vocabulary at this point, its true. but--these words also shouldn't be used to the point that say, all the thirteen year olds who start reading slashdot don't bother to find out what the word means, and suddenly they start using it all the time out of context. however, if the same thirteen year old were to wonder what the word meant, looked it up, and suddenly learned about USENET and the days of BBS, more power to them. i wasn't trying to 'change the world' with my post, i just wanted to express my feeling that post-ers should use some ... discretion when choosing how to word their posts, instead of copying what everyone else does. originality is a good thing.
  • My point was that you can't try books online.

    Right now they are separate activities; browse a book in a store, or a library, or a friend's bookshel. Listen to music over the radio, on a friend's CD, or on the music channel. See a movie on TV, etc.

    If someone could combine the browse, the search, the information, and the purchase of items all on one site, they might have something powerful ^^

    Geek dating! []
  • OK, you pretentious sounding twit, I've heard just enough of your inane bull shit ranting.

    Money talks. "Geeks" do not magically wave a wand and make the Internet their own. Nor do they close the door to the Internet on corporation. Doing so would make the Internet the very opposite of the principle it was founded upon: Freedom of speech.

    The most effective communication medium is used by the masses. Get used to it. I, a computer literate person, am not intimidated.

  • by dissipative_struct ( 312023 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:13PM (#447942)
    after the .com bubble finally popped, but apparently not. The recent market crashes had nothing to do with bandwidth, or content, or presentation. They were simply companies with poor business plans who got WAY too much venture capital, and then had generated ridiculous stock prices. It wasn't the content, or the presentation, of their Web sites... their core businesses couldn't POSSIBLY hope to generate enough revenue to give them a realistic P/E ratio. I don't care how cool your site looks, you can't generate $10 billion in revenue selling mail-order dog food. And you CERATAINLY can't generate $100 million in revenue from advertising when there are no barriers to entry (besides $50 to register a domain name and $10/mnth for Web hosting) in your market. Poor business models produce bankrupt businesses, period.

    Of course, it is true that it's up to the corporate sector rather than the geeks to make the Internet a better experience for the average user, and they did it. They just couldn't make the ridiculous amount of money they projected. That's the fault of the executives, not the geeks.
  • Consume all the crap they want to sell us or be consumed by them.
  • by volsung ( 378 ) <> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @06:17PM (#447944)
    Just as a clarification, the antipathy to GIFs is for patent reasons, not because they are pictures. We don't like Unisys yanking us around with random threats over a format that was perceived to be free. I don't think I've seen anyone gripe about PNGs on the other hand.

    As for us "giving up our chance," I don't think its creators were going for fame and glory, so to speak. The Internet turned out the way it did because the original primary users wanted it that way. When you want raw information in a hurry, boring pages work quite well. I don't need dramatic or interactive API documentation. If the "common man" wants that, he can pay someone to do it. Just so long as the Internet doesn't become one huge, interlinked Flash animation, it won't bother me.

    The Internet isn't a zero-sum game. There's plenty of room for everyone.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982