Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why the Internet Will Fail

Back in 1995, a guy named Clifford Stoll wrote an essay about why the internet would fail.

Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet–which there isn’t–the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

Goodness, we can't function without salespeople!

That's perhaps unfair. I've met plenty of helpful salespeople who have answered my questions. Still, a necessity? Not always. Sometimes the internet is better informed than a salesperson. On the other hand, I can never tell if a shirt in a shop online will look okay on me, and I definitely can't just give it to someone who will seek out the proper size for me.

Mr. Stoll has a point. Yes, teachers are important. So are librarians! But saying the entire enterprise will fail because of a few shortcomings - some of which aren't even shortcomings anymore - was just silly. I wonder what he has to say now? At least he makes really cool bottles.


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