The Cyberbrains

Research and contemplation in new media

Vanity Fair’s history of the Net

jpkthumb.jpgThis month’s (or actually next month’s, July-month’s) Vanity Fair has a great article “An oral history of the Internet: How the Web Was Won.”

The article does just that, with quotes and anecdotes from the big names today, the guys and gals who made all the dough and quotes from the egg-heads who made it all happen.

Here’s some highlights in case you don’t want to shell out six odd bucks:

Jim Clark is one of the founders of Netscape:

One of the things that struck me at that early embryonic state (the early 90s) was that the Internet was going to mutate the newspaper industry, was going to change the classified-ad business, and change the music business. And so I went around and met with Rolling Stone magazine. I met with Times Mirror Company, Time Warner. We demonstrated how you could play music over this thing, how you could shop for records, shop for CDs. We demonstrated a bunch of shopping applications. We wanted to show the newspapers what they were going to undergo.

The venerable Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone wasn’t a taker and neither were the newspapers. DOH!

They got another chance, however.

Vinod Khosla created Sun Microsystems with some Stanford buddies and later joined a prestigious venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins Caufield & Byers.

“The media people essentially did not think the Internet would be important or disruptive. In 1996, I got together the C.E.O.’s of 9 of the 10 major newspaper companies in America in a single room to propose something called the New Century Network. It was the C.E.O.’s of The Washington Post, and The New York Times and Gannett and Times Mirror and Tribune and I forget who else. They couldn’t convince themselves that a Google, a Yahoo or an eBay would be important, or that eBay could ever replace classified advertising.”


Don’t even mention Craigslist to them. And speaking of that list.

Craig Newmark is the Craig in Craigslist. The man who singlehandedly did more to destroy classified advertising revenue than any other human on the planet. A self-professed nerd who just wanted to help people.

“I’d say our style is basically just, well, flea-market. People have stuff to do, they’ve got to do it, no business-speak, just getting the job done. The site is about as mundane as you can make it. It just deals with everyday life, but sometimes there are people who just really need to reach out to people, and sometimes our site works out for that.”

To my mind, that sounds a lot, at least notionally, like citizen-journalism. It’s affects and its drivers.

Another citizen-journalesque quote comes from Jimmy Wales, the options trader who started Wikipedia. The relationship to concepts like citizen-journalism, if not obvious, is there once you think about it.

“How do you innovate a social community-social rules and norms that allow for good-quality work to take place? What you have to balance there are, on the one hand, if a Web site is essentially a brutal police state where every action could easily result in random blocking or banning for the site and nobody can trust anything-that doesn’t work. Complete and total anarchy, where anyone can do anything, also doesn’t work. It’s actually the same problem we face off-line. It’s the problem of living together. It’s the problem of good city government.”

That’s food for thought.


June 12, 2008 - Posted by | From The Cyberbrains, Joe Kokenge

1 Comment »

  1. […] [Sugestão encontrada no Cyberbrains] […]

    Pingback by História oral da Internet (Vanity Fair) « | June 18, 2008 | Reply

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