Flashback 1995: Hyping the Internet
I was doing some research and chased a little rabbit down a hole to find this article from my early Internet days at Guru Communications / Sobe.com / VCN. Some of it is actually useful to the story today, some funny, but mostly it makes me say duh - strange that many people still don't get it....
Almost every time you turn on the television or open a newspaper, it seems there is another story about the Information Super-Highway. In 1993 there were 25 articles published on the subject during the entire year. Recently, on February 17, 1995, there were 42 articles published on one day; and that number continues to grow. For the computer novice, which seems to be a large percentage of the population, several questions inevitably arise. What is it? How does it work? Where is it? Who owns it? When will it be available? Why is everyone talking about it?
In short, most of you are probably saying "SO WHAT?"
While the answers to these questions could fill an encyclopedia, every single person on the face of the earth is, or soon will be, affected by this somewhat mysterious development popularly known as the Information Super Highway. Today there are an estimated 35 million people who have access to this new medium of communications. This figure is expected to double by the end of 1995. More immediately, America Online and Compuserve will open up their services so that their four million members will be added to these ranks. When Microsoft debuts its next version of Windows in a few months, the Information Super Highway will be a "mouse click" away from millions of additional consumers with an ease that equals turning on the computer. [same can be said now of Windows Vista and RSS]
This requires an understanding of what these events and technological advancements mean to society and yourself as an individual. It would certainly help if you understood how computers work, but that knowledge is really not necessary. What you do need to know is how the technology can work for you.
The Information Super Highway, now being paved as a network known as the Internet, is not so much about computers, as it is about communications: About removing geographic and cultural boundaries; About eliminating financial barriers to commerce; About developing new opportunities; About being more efficient. More importantly, the Internet is about the people who use it and what they do with it. [still working on that cross boundary stuff after all these years]
Society is about to cross the threshold into the new millennium. As we review our history, we have marked the evolution of mankind with important milestones and technological advancements. The use of fire, stone tools and the wheel. The use of paper, ink, the written word and the Pony Express. The cotton gin, the mass produced automobile and the telephone. Radio, motion pictures and television. The personal computer, the fax machine and now the Internet. The culmination and integration of thousands of years of evolution of mankind is requesting your presence and it is not going to wait for you.
"Transport of the mails, transport of the human voice, transport of flickering pictures-in this century as in others, our highest accomplishments still have the single aim of bringing men together." -- Antoine de Saint-Exuperay, 1939
What is the most important knowledge we have gained from witnessing these milestones in society? The single most important insight is that change is inevitable and necessary in our continuing evolution. We have also learned that resistance to change is also inevitable. Through the efforts of a few brave souls willing to challenge the status quo and bring forth change everyone will benefit - even those who may oppose it. Today, once again, we are witnessing this revolutionary change and it is happening at a staggering pace through numerous technological advancements.
The Internet, however, is delivering more than mere technological advancements. The Internet is creating a political, economic and social revolution on a scale so large that it will change your life regardless of your interest in it. Representing what is known as an "enabling technology," the recent union of man, telephone and computer enables you to perform old activities in exciting new ways, and entirely new activities in a manner previously discussed only in popular science fiction.
For perspective, imagine being one of the first people to see the Wright brothers fly at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Imagine hearing a startled Alexander Graham Bell shouting -Watson, come in here, I need you." Imagine all of your neighbors and individuals from around the country watching moving pictures of "Uncle Miltie" in a dress. Imagine communicating with a frightened student from China during the recent attempt at revolution; his only link to the outside world was through the Internet. You do not need to imagine these events because we know that they are possible, they have all occurred, and they changed our lives forever......such is the importance of the Internet.
Now, imagine reading the newspaper, communicating with a friend in Europe, virtually traveling to Africa, following an expedition up Mount Everest, or watching portions of a Rolling Stones concert live at your desk. Imagine researching important matters in your life, without having to search the library for countless hours. Imagine buying all of your groceries through your home computer, or buying the latest Compact Disc without shopping the racks, or paying all of your monthly bills without wasting countless hours on tedious errands. These time saving, relief filled devices are all possible, or soon will be, through the Internet.
Does the Internet sound like something that merits a little more of your attention? Unless you live in another dimension or want to be secluded from the world at large, you cannot avoid this important development in the history of humankind. By beginning to gain a greater understanding now, and coming to terms with the many ways the Internet can begin to benefit your life today, you will be prepared for tomorrow. Tomorrow is not a far off distant place of unknown potential and technology. Tomorrow is here today, and it is called the Internet.
For a somewhat funny photo of me in my vest wearing, goatee sporting, Mac SE surfing best, check out the original article (complete with a 'sand' tiled background)