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Metcalf and Other Net.Fogies
I'm evolving a hunch that the problems we're seeing with "old fogies"
denouncing the Net, and anonymity, and "smut on the Net," are part of a
larger cultural issue. Namely, the familiar case of an older generation
complaining about the sloth and sin of the younger generations.
(Caveat: I'm 44, so I'm certainly a generation older than many of you, and
am about the same age, give or take a few years, of Dyson, Metcalfe, Kapor,
Denning, and the other Net.Doomsayers. However, 20-25 years ago, when I was
in college, I recall of course similar predictions of disaster. (And as it
turned out, the predictions that promiscuity would lead to a disaster
turned out to be partly correct, viz. AIDS.))
Robert Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet and founder of 3COM, and how
publisher of "Infoworld" and sailing enthusiast, was interviewed on CNBC a
few minutes ago. He repeated his prediction of an "Internet collapse" in
1996, based on overuse, on bad pricing models, on lack of controls, and on
It could be that the Dennings, Dysons, Kapors, etc. of the world are simply
growing jaded with the Net and are projecting their own ennui in their
comments that the Net may need to be controlled. This may come with age, as
I'm sure the Kapor of 25 years ago would not have wanted President Nixon
and Attorney-General Mitchell telling him what he could read and write.
(In fairness, none of these folks listed have called for censorship. But
all have expressed "concerns" of one sort or another. Not that discussing
concerns is inappropriate--after all, we do it all the time. But I sense in
many of their phrasings of concerns a stereotypical "old fogeyness"
Just a thought. Maybe the solution to the EFF problem is to "not trust
anyone over 30."
--Tim May (untrustable since 1981)
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected] 408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."