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From 1996: Peter Pontificates -- Discover The Internet

The NT Insider began publication in Winter 1995 and Spring 1996.  That was a looong time ago in computer years. And, well... time hasn't been exactly kind to some of Peter's opinions.

In honor and in celebration of our first copy of The NT Insider being available for download in digital format, we thought you might enjoy seeing one of Peter's original Pontifications.  This one dates back to the Spring of 1996... Less than 2 years after we first registered OSR.COM as our domain name.  Getting a 3-letter domain name was easy back then.  But, as Peter would say, I digress...



From 1996: Peter Pontificates -- Discover The Internet!

I’m so tired of hearing about the Internet. Not because the Internet isn’t useful — it obviously is. It’s just that I’m sick to death of hearing people talk about the Internet like it was invented by Netscape or was created as some side-effect of installing Windows 95.   And this isn’t just some strange newbie disease, either. Some of the most egregious offenders seem to be industry pundits who’ve been getting email on the net back since the days you needed to have UUCP.

I’ve dreaded this for years. Wasn’t it already bad enough that every student at East Overshoe U could (and did) answer complex questions posted in the more technical usenet forums with “I don’t really know, but…”? Now, everyone in the world can ask a forever repeating set of banal questions without ever reading a FAQ, checking the previous postings, or even knowing the purpose of the group!

But, it’s even worse than that. The commercial advertising community has discovered the net. It’s gotten so bad that you can’t watch a commercial on television here in the States without seeing a URL plastered on the screen at the end. Just what earth-shattering, life transforming (or even marginally useful) information do you suppose one will find at “www.toyota.com”? Let’s see if we can guess?

And remember the good old days when people used to really get flamed? I can’t help but wistfully think that a sort of art form has been forever lost. (Insert heavy sigh here)

This is not so say that I’m not taking some pleasure in the Internet’s popularity explosion. In all honesty, I am finding it pretty interesting to watch “civilians” discover news groups. I figure about half of the new users know about the “alt.” set of news groups chiefly because they spend all their time lurking in groups like alt.sex.beastiality.hamster.duct-tape. The remaining fifty percent will be horrified, and demand immediate government intervention, when they find that their little Johnny or Suzy has just finished downloading the GIFof-the-week from alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.oral. And wait until they get the bill for the CompuServe time!

Perhaps there is a limit to how much one can fault the new arrivals for being nescient. But shouldn’t the industry people know better? If I hear one more idiot remark that, “the coming of age of the Internet represents a paradigm shift in computer technology”, I’m going to beat them to death with my Bitsurfer. Listen: Let’s assume that I even agree with the whole concept of paradigms (hey, there’s another topic on which I could pontificate). The invention of the transistor resulted in a paradigm shift. Likewise the invention of the LAN. Mister and misses Meatball consulting the AT&T 800 directory at 28.8K bps using Mosaic is not a paradigm shift.  No way.

I guess I’m just not really sure that we benefit in any meaningful way by having immediate electronic access to snack food (www.fritolay.com) and household appliance (www.hoover.com) information via the web. I’m not even sure that we benefit by being able to see one carefully chosen grainy picture of some over-exposed mainstream political candidate grinning at their gaping fans. And now we have “real-time” audio. I’m so excited.

The only advantage I see in all this web-mania is that it will suck up immense amounts of network bandwidth. This will help the boom in network infrastructure build-out continue at record pace. And since, presumably, Mom and Dad are doing their research on which doo-dad to purchase in the evenings and on weekends, much of that bandwidth should be available for people like us to use during the work day. Maybe then we’ll be able to download the latest set of bug fixes for NT from Microsoft’s FTP server in less than an hour. Nah, never mind.


Wow... Plus ça change, eh?

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