Francis Hwang on Wed, 17 Apr 2002 15:40:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> The Economist: The Internet sells its soul

I love all this "The internet sells out" talk. As if it were ever 
about something besides profit? Once upon a time, companies believed 
that they could give you stuff for free, but there was always a 
profit motive behind that. Maybe they thought your demographic info 
would be useful to other companies. Maybe they thought they could 
sell you digital cameras. Whatever the case, the profit motive was 
always there. It's not like the internet used to be this grand place 
full of peace and free love and great LSD. Sure, we went to the 
dotcom parties and we drank our free drinks, and it was fun while it 
lasted, but who was sponsoring the whole thing?

Yes, web pages are getting more obtrusive with their ads. First of 
all, there are tons of products that block this, including Mozilla, 
which AOL will be using as their main browser in the near future.

But we would be sorely mistaken if we took "the internet" to be 
synonymous with "the web". Think of all the interesting technologies 
that gained prominence in the last few years -- instant-messenging 
(not new, but newly discovered by non-geeks), Everquest, Napster and 
all its p2p children. None of those are web sites. They are services 
that do what people want them to do.

Just like email. Last year my mother started using email, with the 
help of my youngest brother. Keep in mind: She's a 50-something 
Korean immigrant who distrusts ATMs and prefers often to wash dishes 
by hand. Now I get these cute missives from time to time, talking 
about family trips or the painting she's doing from time-to-time.

Email's old news, I know, I know. Yet the fact that my mom has an AOL 
account makes my life immeasurably better than the fact that anything 
that Yahoo or Amazon has ever done. The fact of the matter is that 
people want to talk to other people, not to corporations. And when 
dot-coms can't figure out what to do about that, then they go 

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