November 5, 2007

"The all-time dumbest assumptions and observations about the internet."

More than one billion people are browsing the internet today (World Internet Usage). That's significantly more people online today than just seven years ago. And even more people are getting online everyday.

Who knew the internet would be so successful in everyday life? A lot of critics and analysts had no idea the internet would even be around today, they thought it was going to drop off the map - it was just a fad, after all. But here we are, seven years later, and anyone with a computer is online.

Still, you have to give credit to those geniuses who even questioned the future of the internet. Today I have decided to do just that: here are the all-time dumbest assumptions and observations about the internet.

5. The Internet is a fad, like CB radio.

Gavin Shearer, of the Puget Sound Business Journal in Seattle, wrote a two page response to a question about the longevity of the Internet, in which he states:

"The development of the Internet, in some ways, mirrors the development of radio. At one time, radio was a young medium with a lot of promise and loads of problems. The critics of the day wondered about the viability of a medium that was so technical, and so prone to reception problems."

This story is added to the list because of the questioners "associates," who believed the internet would quickly fade from mainstream like CB radio. It's interesting to note that people really thought the internet was just a fad.

4. We're Running Out of IP Addresses

Back in 2006, Andy Patrizio of brought up an interesting claim: there won't be enough IP addresses for us by 2010. The best part of Patrizio's argument is that all internet users will end up sharing internet addresses to access online content. Meaning piracy would be nearly impossible to trace, storing passwords online would become more difficult, and all of your privacy (you know, bookmarks, passwords, contacts, etc.) would go right out the window.

But is it realistic? The internet can be molded however we please, so - even though numbers will start to get out of hand - IP addresses will never "run out." They'll just become even more annoying.

3. Social networks--future portal or fad?

CNET News has been known to report a few odd things from time to time, but this report about social networks fading from popularity really hits a home run with their wacky assumptions.
"...attendees at the Piper Jaffray Global Internet Summit here still can't decide if these companies are next-generation portals, or merely flash-in-the-pan communities that will eventually fade from popularity like one-time high-fliers Geocities or AOL."

Because, you know, these websites are only as big as they are today because more people are getting sick of them than there are signing up.

2. AT&T Provides Free Internet Access to Customers.

When I found this article I literally fell out of my chair, through The New York Times archive: AT&T to Provide Its Customers With Free Access to the Internet.
"This is a fantastic development for the Web as it hurtles toward critical mass as a commercial medium," said Donna L. Hoffman, professor of management at Vanderbilt University. "To achieve critical mass, you have to get people on line. We're already seeing the diffusion of the hardware, software and modem bundle into the home. What hasn't been moving along so quickly are bandwidth and access."

Wow. That most have worked out great for AT&T at the time.

1. A computer network called "Internet."

Probably the most entertaining video about the internet of all time, a 1993 CBC Television report about (then) new technology from "tools of the human spirit," of course it's about a computer network called "Internet".

Forget the unbelievable ranting about accessing millions of records of data for only $200 a year, the fact that "Internet" is what they decide to call it is what makes this video really great. Make sure you have your sound turned on, and that you have a few minutes to spare for the video. The modem chime is my favorite part.

So there you have it, some of the all-time dumbest assumptions and observations about the internet. Time has proven that not only are a lot of these assumptions and observations just silly, but plain wrong. So the next time you hear something about "web 2.0 is a fad," or "IMAP is a fad," or "high speed internet is a joke," go ahead a laugh, we'll make room for such accusations in another list in seven years.

Source: World Internet Usage, 2007