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Media irresponsibility

Douglas Rushkoff's piece in the Guardian (and on his own site, here) gives a sense of just how distorted the media's perspective of the "Internet economy" was during its boom:

When AOL bought Time Warner, the New York Times asked me to write a comment piece. "What does it all mean?" my assigning editor asked.

What I wrote was that AOL's purchase of Time Warner heralded the end of the dot-com bubble. AOL was cashing in its casino chips. ...

The New York Times refused to run the piece. They told me I was misreading the landscape to such an extent that for them to publish such a view would be irresponsible.

Apparently the media at least sometimes believes its own hype. (The interesting question, of course, still remains: To what extent did they contribute to it, and to what extent were they just along for the ride?)

Rushkoff also reminds us, near the end, what we really thought of "AOHell" before its stock price skyrocketed and so many investors put the blinders on:

What they don't get, and what real Internet enthusiasts have been saying since AOL took off in the early 1990s, is that a company like AOL never had a future. AOL was a training ground: an introduction to the internet for people who didn't know how to deal with FTP. None of us thought it could last, because once the technological barriers to entry for the Internet had been lowered, no one would need AOL's simplistic interface or it's child-safe, digital content wading pools. People would want to get on the "real" Internet, using real browsers and email programs.

Of course, at the height of the bubble, the only future anyone cared about was whether the next line of "investors" was going to push the stock price even higher. And, for a while, they did.

July 25, 2002 1:41 PM

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Copyright ©2001-2003 Matt Pfeffer

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