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Re: Metcalf and Other Net.Fogies

At 10:27 AM 9/5/96 -0700, Timothy C. May wrote:

>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.

Hey, I'm 47, and I haven't given up on sloth and sin yet.  8-)

Seriously, the problem here is that you don't want to set up the stereotype
you allude to further down ('don't trust anyone over 30'). Stereotypic
thinking, ya know? Besides which, I've run into some real dorks who were
UNDER 30...

>(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.))

Hmmmmm...are Dyson and Kapor really net.doomsayers? I really haven't heard
any kinda doom and gloom from those two...

>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
>other concerns.

... and I've tended to think Metcalfe was just sending an 'ad absurdum'
flare when he predicted the death of the Internet, not so much predicting as
taking an impact analysis to the extreme.

>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.

I'm not sure which comments you're referring to, but I've come to understand
that the generation-gap thing has no pat answer.  Dave Farber is younger
than Bruce Taylor, if ya know what I mean...and there are plenty of old
pharts who are active in the various movements and groups opposing any
restriction of the Internet.

>(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"

I dunno. Consider this: almost 30 years ago a bunch of us were more or less
active in left wing politics that had some of the same aims I see expressed
on this list and elsewhere, and we made mistakes. I don't know that I
learned from my mistakes the way you're sposed to, but some folks learned,
and are trying not to fuck up again.

On the other hand, some folks really are just stodgy, but I bet they were
stodgy kids, too.

>Just a thought. Maybe the solution to the EFF problem is to "not trust
>anyone over 30."

Heh, right. Feet tall.

Jon Lebkowsky           http://www.well.com/~jonl              [email protected]