The Internet does change everything. Or does it? Others have said
that. Maybe it doesn't change everything, just a whole lot.
It's what marketing calls a "disruptive" technology. One
that unseats or radically changes things which have come before
it, often in surprising ways. "Cyberspace" has existed
in one form or another for decades. But mostly used as a tool or
enjoyed as recreation by a technically oriented sub-culture. In
the hands of everyone now, it does change everything. The media
hype that surrounded and to a degree continues to surround the Internet
is appropriate, though often very poorly and shallowly presented.
That there have been horrible financial calmities from Inernet related
business in no way changes the massive shifts in everyting from
government to business to personal and social trends which continue
to occur with this widely deployed technology.
One of the things that you, a thoughtful, actively intellectual
person, needs to guard against, are the mood swings brought on by
so-called popular press and even various trade press persons. Early
on in the major growth phase of the Internet, all kinds of amazingly
intelligent people had plenty of visionary things to say about the
future. At the same time, some even more amazingly stupid or simply
average minded folks blew a lot of smoke in people's eyes. First,
the 'net and anything dot com like was going to be the be all and
end all. To hear some people spin their stories, we wouldn't even
need food anymore. We could live on information. A really vapid
minded super cool type would say something like... "food itself
is information, encapsulated in the biomolecular structure of life...
blah, blah." This might be true. But it's also just... ah...
kind of stupid. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for deep though and
philosophical BS on occasion. But a lot of these people talk like
this all the time and take themselves seriously. Sadly, they were
packing them into the conference rooms for awhile there.
So. Where's the truth? The truth is, "Yes, the existence of
the technologies that allow for and provide the Internet do and
will continue to change a great many things." But as
the ideas and technologies from the Internet disperse into our lives
via so many different mechanisms, it's important to consider how
and why and what the impact really is for each of the elements and
how they relate to the whole. Putting all the family savings into
Internet stocks for most people was as foolish as doing so for biotech
or what will likely occur again soon for nanotechnology or fuel
cell technology. All of these things are or will be potentially
radical sea change technologies. And it's appropriate to give them
a reasonable amount of consideration. We just have to remember the
lesson of the Internet growth period and bubble burst for "the
next big thing." The problem(s), where there are problems,
is most often not so much new ideas or technologies, but poorly
considered responses to them.