The Web as we know it today was two years old in June 1997, when the page below went up. It lasted, according to Archive.org, until October 2010. When I ran across it back then, it blew my mind — especially the passage I have boldfaced in the long paragraph near the end.
The Internet is a table for two. Any two, anywhere. All attempts to restrict it and lock it down will fail to alter the base fact that the Net’s protocols are designed to eliminate the functional distance, as far as possible, between any two points, any two devices, any two people. This is the design principle for a World of Ends. That last link goes to a piece David Weinberger and I wrote in 2003, to as little effect, I suspect, as @Man’s piece had in 1997. I doubt any of the three of us would write the same things the same ways today. But the base principle, that table-for-two-ness, is something I believe all of us respect. It won’t go away. That’s why I thought it best to disinter @Man’s original and run it again here.
I have another reason. Searching for @Man is Michael O’Connor Clarke‘s last blog post before falling ill in June. I don’t know who or where @Man is today. I did correspond with him briefly when we were writing The Cluetrain Manifesto in 1999, but all my emails from that time were trashed years ago. So I’m clueless on this one. If you’re out there and reading this, @Man, get in touch. Thanks.
Attention, Fat Corporate Bastards!
Attention, Fat Corporate Bastards!
Attention, Fat Corporate Bastards in your three piece suits!
Attention Fat Congressional Bastards!
Attention, Fat Congressional Bastards in your three piece suits!
We know about your plans for the Internet. Although you won’t listen, we would like to point out how wrong you are now, so we can point out gleefully how right we were later.
According to a presentation given by Nicholas Negroponte at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto, called “The Information Age: Transforming Technology to Strategy,” here is what you Fat Corporate Bastards think we want:
- Movies on demand (94% executive approval)
- Home shopping (89% approval)
- On-line video games (89% approval)
Here’s what you think we don’t want:
- educational services
- access to government information
Here’s a clue: you can stick the first set up your bum, sideways.
Here’s what we really want. Don’t bother paying attention; I want you to learn the hard way, by wasting lots of time and money.
Desired Internet Service Attributes:
- Cheap, unlimited flat-rate international communication
- Hands off: No censorship, no advertisements, no lawsuits
Desired Internet Services:
- Email, WWW, Usenet, IRC, FTP
- Explicit adult material
- Access to government and corporate information for oversight purposes
- Educational services
- Free networked multiplayer games
Guess what? We already have all the things we want. As soon as we’re ready for something new, we get it — for free. Why? Because the traditional consumer/producer relationship doesn’t exist on the Internet. Don’t you think that if we really wanted the things you think we want, we would have already developed them some time in the past 20 years for free? Free! Free! It’s so much fun to be able to use that word you hate. Take your margins with you and stick to trying to shove ads onto PBS and NPR.
You almost certainly think of the Internet as an audience of some type–perhaps somewhat captive. If you actually had even the faintest glimmering of what reality on the net is like, you’d realize that the real unit of currency isn’t dollars, data, or digicash. It’s reputation and respect. Think about how that impacts your corporate strategy. Think about how you’d feel if a guy sat down at your lunch table one afternoon when you were interviewing an applicant for a vice-president’s position and tried to sell the two of you a car, and wouldn’t go away. Believe it or not, what you want to do with the Internet is very similar. Just as you have a reasonable expectation of privacy and respect when you’re at a table for two in a public place, so too do the users of the Internet have a reasonable expectation of privacy and respect. When you think of the Internet, don’t think of Mack trucks full of widgets destined for distributorships, whizzing by countless billboards. Think of a table for two.
If you don’t understand right now, don’t worry. You’ll learn it the hard way. We’ll be there to help you learn, you filthy corporate guttersnipes.
With bile and premonitions of glee,
@Man, World-Class Data Snuggler