December 28, 2018

"Just in case everyone is getting too carried away with the apparent wonders of the computer age..."

"... Clifford Stoll is here with a warning in 'Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway.' There may be roadblocks up ahead," cautions Christopher Lehmann-Haupt in a 1995 NYT book review, "Feeling Hornswoggled By the Computer Age," which I stumbled into — I kid you not — because I was searching for the word "hornswoggle" in the NYT archive. Hey, you have your research projects, and I have mine.

Anyway, I was up for reading and blogging the review because — 1995! I want to see how people were casting doubt on the internet in 1995. I remember the dubiousness about the internet in the early-to-mid 90s. (I even had a letter to the editor on the subject published in the NYT in 1993 — here.)

Back to Mr. Lehmann-Haupt:
As [Stoll] tells it, his misgivings began on a vacation, when he found himself on a Connecticut farm, "bathed in the cold glow of my cathode-ray tube, answering E-mail." A sense of disorientation set in, a disconnection from the physical world. He felt virtually unreal.

So he begins his book by deploring the lack of physical sensation in cyberspace. The game of Adventure is no substitute for actual spelunking, he reminds us. People won't shop by computer; they prefer real money and flesh-and-blood salespeople.
Ha ha ha.
Children need human teachers, not video screens. E-mail's all right when you've just got something to say, but E-mail's not right when you're trying to get people's attention; the Postal Service is more reliable, he insists, and far more forgiving of mistaken addresses. Besides, real letters have stamps on them, and unique handwriting, which has declined because of computers, like everyone's prose style despite the belief that computers would inspire better writing. And a compact disk is no substitute for a book. 
A compact disc? I think he's talking about music.
Goaded by this enmity toward the abstractness of computing, Mr. Stoll proceeds to a general attack on hardware, software and their various interfaces....  In the electronic library of the future, you won't be able to browse through the stacks, although, he adds, given the immensity of the task, the prospect of digitizing all books is probably beyond realization. The flow of bits can be surprisingly slow under certain circumstances. Even the dream of video on demand is unrealizable, he writes. "It's a surprisingly tough engineering job, keeping a thousand movies ready for instant retrieval."...
Look out for The Past's Future. It's terrible!

93 comments:

wildswan said...

I miss browsing through bookshelves in a store staffed by other book-readers. And I very self-righteously refuse to buy the ugly, overpriced books currently sold in ugly, crammed stores staffed by unknowledgeable, indifferent staff. But somewhere in between then and now, did I drive the righteous bookstores out of business by turning to Amazon used books and to Amazon's enormous selection and to Kindle? Yet I now have twice as many books as before for less than I would have paid at a bookstore; and I have hundreds on Kindle so they go with me on vacation. How could I resist?

But am I being monitored as I read? I feel free when I do paper. Life - it just goes on.

Gregg said...

Didn't you have a separate Blog about the "Future that Never Was" or some such?

BUMBLE BEE said...

"I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers" Thomas Watson IBM president 1943

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

One more reminder the NYTs has never known it's ass from a hole in the ground.

In 1995 I was already shopping online and ready for movies on demand.

Shouting Thomas said...

I graduated from NYU with a degree in multimedia programming and technology in 1996 and plunged directed into the dot-com Wild West era. What a gas!

Hard to remember how confusing the whole internet biz was back in those days. I worked for two dot-coms that blew thru $100 million dollars in six months or less. Everybody knew there was a fortune to be made on the internet, but nobody had a clue how do do it.

The great, definitive statement of the hysteria and confusion of that era was South Park's Underwear Gnomes episode.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Its

John said...

Don't keep us all in suspense, John.

I said it quite clearly. Mandatory E-verify with draconian penalties for businesses (and individuals) found to be employing illegals.

YoungHegelian said...

What worries me is that it just seems impossible to secure the internet. The common protocols that make traffic between heterogeneous systems possible are also wide open doors for hackers. And it's not just the data stores that are now getting hacked. It's even the backbone routing protocols themselves.

We are so screwed.

Gregg said...

"I miss browsing through bookshelves in a store staffed by other book-readers."

You can still do that at a place called .....the public Library. --Private Libraries too, by appointment. I miss the old Dewey decimal system and card catalogs.

Steven said...

A lot of us were laughing at Stoll and the people who took him seriously back in 1995.

And I'll note that, for example, the biggest problem with digitizing books has been copyright law. The Google Books digitization of university libraries successfully tackled much of the physical effort (25 million different books scanned as of 2016), but access is painfully restricted.

wild chicken said...

I miss the old Dewey decimal system and card catalogs


We're getting a brand new modern multimedia library in Missoula. Not sure it will have real books or not. But it will have all sorts of cool entertainments for kids!

I'm so excited. Not.

tim in vermont said...

Bookstores in the UK are the best, or were when I lived there. Staffed by people who fucking knew literature and what was on the shelves and where, they knew their bookstores the way cabbies knew London.

rhhardin said...

You can use computers for physics and mathematics. That's reality at your fingertips.

tim in vermont said...

And I'll note that, for example, the biggest problem with digitizing books has been copyright law.

Yes, it has become easy to steal on a massive scale, if it weren’t for the law.

rhhardin said...

The computer age started for me in 1963, the only problem being cost. You had to use a company's computers.

Rob said...

Ann Althouse wrote in 1993, "You quote America Online's reasonable-sounding monthly fee of $9.95, which includes five free hours. That leaves us with 85 unfree hours at the price (which you don't give) of $3.50 an hour. That's $9.95 plus $297.50, or $3,689.40 year! And that's assuming the kids knock off after three hours, that you have only one child and that you yourself don't go "savvy" and start hanging out electronically."

Ha ha ha.

CJinPA said...
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CJinPA said...
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Lucid-Ideas said...

"Yes, it's true. It's all fake."

- Ellen Pao, on twitter yesterday

"Ellen Pao is fake."

- Twitter, on Reddit yesterday

"It's sad but real. Reddit is fake."

- Some dude, on 4chan yesterday (always trust the dude on 4chan. They speak the truth)

PM said...

Guy sounds like my broker.

CJinPA said...

...which I stumbled into — I kid you not — because I was searching for the word "hornswoggle" in the NYT archive. Hey, you have your research projects, and I have mine.

Well, MY research project this week was looking up old Stephen Glass articles. (He was The New Republic writer who made things up. It became a film, "Shattered Glass," which my wife got me for Christmas LAST year and I didn't watch until Christmas Eve THIS year.)

Searching his old articles, I found one he penned with Jonathan Chait in 1997 pouring cold water on the hype over this new online company, Amazon.
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/1997/01/amazon-con.html

The internet certainly gave us that: web searches that take us to places we were not expecting to go.

tim in vermont said...

The internet has made living in the country a ton easier, with UPS replacing "The Wells Fargo Wagon" but I will always like books, the mustier the better.

Unknown said...

I second that, Tim in Vermont.... I make my living in the country, and the internet makes it possible to write and draft and work for others and I don't have to have an expensive office downtown.

Scott Patton said...

"In the electronic library of the future, you won't be able to browse through the stacks"... Our host's browsing the stacks (of servers) brought us this blog post.

chillblaine said...

Happy New Year! This was from my lame party.

rhhardin said...

Trump says he'll shut down the southern border if wolf hunting is not approved. - radio news

rehajm said...

I dreamt of the .pdf file 15 years before I saw one.

Things I am a grumpy Clifford Stoll about except I’m right: Cryptocurrency, Autonomous Vehicles.

Shouting Thomas said...

I seldom read a physical book nowadays. Everything from the web or on my iPad.

I'm currently scanning sheet music or downloading public domain sheet music so that all my piano scores are readable on my iPad.

Of course, I'm going to have to buy a new full size iPad ($1,200!) to make that really work at the piano and organ.

Page turning apps solve another dilemma for the classical pianist or organist.

tcrosse said...

tim in vermont said...
Bookstores in the UK are the best, or were when I lived there.


There was a wonderful bookstore in Glasgow, right by Central Station, that had every Penguin paperback ever printed. The downside is that it was right next to a butcher shop which sold a lot of game. In those days, 50 years ago, Scottish butchers had little refrigeration, and it was customary to let meat hang so as to age. In the summertime, even though it never got very hot in Glasgow, the place would stink to high heaven and so would the bookstore. On a summer day people would browse the books with hankies over their faces in vain effort to ward off the stench of rotting meat.

traditionalguy said...

The future proves the past. Gripping about the new and better ways coming to plan life and to communicate with others is always a waste of time. You cannot stop it unless you become 1984 World Prison that keep the people drugged up and propagandized hourly....oh yeah that way of life is what we are fighting with to the death every Trumpian Day.

Amexpat said...

I joined BMUG (Berkeley Mac User Group) in '89 when I started law school. Cliff Stoll was a big name in the group because of a book he wrote about capturing a Russian hacker, I think he might have ran the group. There was a very lively discussion board there that I was active in. The thing I really liked was that it was members only so there were no anonymous trolls. Another good function, which I'd like to see here, was the ability to block commentators who you felt weren't worth reading.

MadisonMan said...

I gave my kid 3 actual books for Christmas. (We'll see if he reads them).

I'm in the middle of reading two books from the library. I know you can check out audiobooks, but I'm sticking with something I can hold. According to the fabulous Why we Sleep (Read it!), kindles and the like interfere with melatonin production.

MadisonMan said...

Now, in 1995, my little corner of the University was already putting out data on the internet for people to view. I may have put out my own website by then, encoding it all by hand in .html code.

The people who were at the forefront of making data available on the internet all eventually left the University for much more lucrative private sector jobs.

Chubfuddler said...
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JRoberts said...

I remember when my office started using AOL to transfer data files from our California office to our distribution center in Atlanta. I'd would have to walk around the office to get my female co-workers to log out from their various online dating accounts so I could get work done.

BUMBLE BEE said...

As I recall Control Data did not follow IBM's lead into the personal computer market, because he saw no viable market. Something about "who needs a computer in their home?".

Two-eyed Jack said...

I worry that children do not have the emotional connection with books that I and my adult children have. For older generations a trip to the bookstore or library was an adventure. You could look through the books, make your own selection, sit in your parent's lap and peruse large format books by Dr. Seuss and the like. This made library time always feel emotionally rewarding and undergirded the effort to learn to real longer and more complex books. I worry that I the love of reading is based upon real love, and that the intergenerational transmission of this love is faltering as we substitute screens for paper.

Michael E. Lopez said...
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Chubfuddler said...

Is it fair to deduce that our host's viewing of Friends has advanced to Season 5, Episode 11, in which Ross dates a woman named Elizabeth Hornswoggle (and Chandler's New Year's resolution prevents him from commenting sarcastically on the name)? The One with All the Resolutions

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It is funny that his vision of the future is so much smaller and negative than the reality of the Internet, E-books, E-shopping etc turned out to be.

The biggest thing that WE need to remember and to keep us from feeling so smug is that this technology that we have now is ephemeral. It can easily be destroyed, hacked, altered and dissipate into nothingness.

It is always good to have back ups. Both for your computers and other technology. You never know when or if we will NEED those old musty tangible books, printed photographs, pens and pencils, hammers, nails, bikes, horses and carriages. You never know.

Enjoy what we have.....but don't be so smug about it :-)

Robert Cook said...

"'People won't shop by computer; they prefer real money and flesh-and-blood salespeople.'

"Ha ha ha."


Actually, although I will shop on online for particular reasons, I do prefer brick-and-mortar stores (I'm not too keen on salespeople, unless I'm asking them a question), and I definitely prefer paying with cash than with credit card.

Paul Snively said...

Stoll was a Luddite who chose the wrong career path.

MadisonMan said...

For older generations a trip to the bookstore or library was an adventure.

Even immortalized in song!

William said...

Courtesy of Amazon Prime, I'm currently watching all the plays of William Shakespeare. I knew his greatest hits, but there are many plays I've never seen. His plays are a fine refuge from political correctness. He's reassuringly misogynist and patriarchal. I just recently saw A Comedy of Errors. The play features some fine poetry that elaborates on how fitting it is for women to submit to the rule of men. As an added bonus, there are several scenes that highlight the merriment involved in beating your slave. You rarely see plays nowadays that feature the fun side of slave beatings.......The plays are much easier to watch than to read. You can figure out the unfamiliar words by the action and emotions of the characters. I'm sure I'll be a better person after seeing all the plays of Shakespeare.

Robert Cook said...

Similar to others here, I love browsing in bookstores. Unfortunately, many bookstores that still exist today are terrible, no better than airport bookstores. Fortunately for me, I live in NYC, where some excellent and good bookstores remain. (Sadly, they are far fewer than when I moved here in 1981.) I have read a few books on my iPhone, (FRANKENSTEIN, being one...an excellent book!), but I prefer reading a book printed on paper and bound between covers, and I love books as fetish objects. I'll often peruse my bookshelves simply because it pleases me to see the books. I'll take some out, handle them, flip through them, put them back in their place. Whenever I consider winnowing out the chaff, I find it hard to get rid of even those books that don't mean anything to me, that I may never have read or will never read again. (I do have books I'll probably never read again that do mean something to me, and I will never get rid of them.)

Fernandistein said...

Children need human teachers, not video screens.

Sounds like something a human would write.

Lucien said...

As an advocate I preferred using “Hornswoggle” vs. “defraud “, but it’s not quite as gritty as “Swindle”.

gg6 said...

A fascinating post, Althouse! Not to suggest the Clifford Still story is over yet, but I note he currently lives in - duh - California, where he makes and sells blown glass Klein bottles from his basement and writes quant programs for Wall Street investment firms. Who said there are no 2nd acts in American life!

bagoh20 said...

I love computers and the internet, but does anybody else notice how stuff is so much slower now? It used to be when you turned on an appliance like a TV or stereo, it just came on and was instantly ready to deliver. Now everything needs to boot up for a minute or two. And I think I have spent years sitting and waiting for computers to boot up. I thought by now they would figure out how to get that to be instantaneous. The gears in there are running at the speed of light, but it still takes longer than making a sandwich just to turn on. What is it doing, reading my email first?

wild chicken said...

kindles and the like interfere with melatonin production.

Oh, dear, I was afraid of that. I read Kindle only, now. Last night I even bought a Kindle version of a hardback I already have. You never have to worry about text size or having good light. And you can search!

But my sleep quality has gotten terrible.

Balfegor said...

People won't shop by computer; they prefer real money and flesh-and-blood salespeople.

In the abstract, I think this may actually be true even today. I actually prefer shopping in a brick and mortar building myself, someplace where I can feel the product I am considering. But that is only true if the service experience is pleasant. It's not pleasant in the US, at least the price points I shop at (I will pay a premium for service, but not a big one). Staff are unhelpful or rude (even at Apple, which used to have good staff!), and outside of the straight warehouse experience (CostCo), there's so often that pushy upsell. So it's Amazon for me.

Static Ping said...

Compact Disc = CD. They can be used for all sorts of data storage, music being one of the more popular choices. (Video games and other software packages are also popular. Movies ended up on the similar concept of DVD, then Blu-Ray.) You can certainly put books on a CD, but it tends to be overkill. Books do not tend to take up a lot of space unless it is an encyclopedia or something like that, so I do not remember that being much of a thing.

Of course, these days many laptops do not even come with a CD player (or CD/DVD player). Music has moved from CD to download to streaming, though CDs are still available.

Static Ping said...

Personally, my music is mostly on CD with some downloading. I want to avoid streaming since if you do not own it then the service can simply take things away at a whim.

mccullough said...

Great letter to the editor. Can see that blog style developing. 1993 was a good year.

mccullough said...

“to win a stranger’s interest in you.” This is what we call foreshadowing.

William Chadwick said...

In my more sourpuss moments, I've often thought that decades hence. we will decide that the biggest effect of the widespread use of computers was to give jobs ro stupid and uneducated people jobs to replace the kind of jobs they used to have: chambermaids, hamburger flippers, ditch-diggers, etc. With a little training, they got to sit at office desks and screw up things on a wholesale basis.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Althouse imagined spending $3,689.40 a year on AOL in 1993.

I wonder what the trigger for the letter to the NYT was? Just how big an AOL bill Althouse's kids ran up back in 1993?

I also wonder how much Althouse and Meade spend more a year on internet access now. If cable and cell service is counted (and shouldn't they?), as well as things like Amazon Prime, Netflix and NYT subscriptions, I would hazard that it is more, perhaps even more on an inflation-adjusted basis ($3,689.40 in 1993 is equivalent in purchasing power to $6,411.04 in 2018).

tommyesq said...

Tim in Vermont: "Yes, it has become easy to steal on a massive scale, if it weren’t for the law."

So true - my copyright professor in law school (in 2000) polled a class of about 80 who had downloaded music via Napster, I was one of about 5 people not to have done so (probably because I was too old to have figured it out yet). Most common answer as to why this was okay with them - because it is on the internet. And these were future lawyers...

tommyesq said...

Madison Man said "The people who were at the forefront of making data available on the internet all eventually left the University for much more lucrative private sector jobs."

Isn't that the way it is supposed to work?

Nonapod said...

"I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." Robert Metcalfe (inventor of Ethernet), in InfoWorld, 1995:

"The growth of the Internet will slow drastically... By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's." - Paul Krugman.

Unknown said...

As with Static Ping, I think we need to remember the time and context. In this case 1995, education using a screen rather than a teacher, and the 1995 conception of reading on screen rather than a book.

IN 1995 for most home users and children at home or school, the internet wasn't fast enough for any hypertext or multimedia, but CD-ROM was.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Aren't we now in the opposite place from where Clifford Stoll was in 1995?
All computers can do is retrieve data and perform calculations and act on the result. They don't have free will. They can't be truly creative, they can't create things that don't already lurk unrevealed in the numbers.

Brian said...

Cliff Stoll's "The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage" was one of my favorite books while working as a sysadmin/programmer for a small midwestern company. The technology is dated but the underlying concepts are the same today as back then. He approached the problem as a scientist would, a sort of "Hmm that's peculiar, lets investigate more". Fascinating reading. I remember reading it in a single night.

For a book that had a better track record about the future that happened to also be printed in 1995, look to "Being Digital" by Nicholas Negropante of the MIT Media Lab. He got a lot of things right, including digital paper, digital delivery of books, combined media, etc.

chuck said...

Took me a while to connect him to The Cuckoo's Egg, written in the Paleohacker age.

Terry Vance said...

From LA Times article on same book, 3 years ago:

Stoll predicted that the Web would be a fount of misleading information and outright lies, that it would be oversold as a tool for education and governing, and that it would isolate people more than bring them together. "A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee," he wrote.

I embrace your standard of cruel neutrality; in this case I wanted to add just a tad more neutrality.

Luke Lea said...

"In the electronic library of the future, you won't be able to browse through the stacks . . ."

I've often wondered why Google books doesn't do a virtual imitation of a library's stacks, showing clickable spines arranged beside each other the same way they are in a real library. Would be a great way to browse.

P.S. If they adopt this idea do I get any money for thinking of it first?

Bruce Hayden said...

“I miss browsing through bookshelves in a store staffed by other book-readers. And I very self-righteously refuse to buy the ugly, overpriced books currently sold in ugly, crammed stores staffed by unknowledgeable, indifferent staff. But somewhere in between then and now, did I drive the righteous bookstores out of business by turning to Amazon used books and to Amazon's enormous selection and to Kindle? Yet I now have twice as many books as before for less than I would have paid at a bookstore; and I have hundreds on Kindle so they go with me on vacation. How could I resist?”

Interestingly, I just finished visiting BN. Bought three paperbacks. Sure, I probably could have found them a buck or two cheaper for Nook (orbKindle - I use both). Probably down to fewer than a dozen paperbacks a year, down from the maybe 100 or so, when I was flying every week. And got a couple hardbacks for Christmas (plus a bound copy of my kid’s PhD dissertation).

Part of the allure of Kindle and Nook is convenience. I no longer have to find a bookstore, or wait until it opens. I can now buy the ext book in a series in the middle of the night from my bed, which is a big improve the from being 100 miles from the nearest bookstore, which is our situation when we are in MT. I can remember, not so long ago, when I would browse the meager selection at the grocery store for something that I could, possibly, read. Noticed yesterday that their selection has shrunk down to a couple dozen titles, mostly formulaic romances. Still, I finished adding another 26 linear feet of shelf space in the garage for my paperback collection.

Bruce Hayden said...

“As I recall Control Data did not follow IBM's lead into the personal computer market, because he saw no viable market. Something about "who needs a computer in their home?".”

Probably wouldn’t have done much good. I used PCs in the mid 1980s from both Sperry Univac and AT&T, and both were out of the PC business within a couple years. I think that we may still have one of the Sperry machines lying around somewhere. Even IBM was ultimately forced out of the market.

wild chicken said...

why this was okay with them - because it is on the internet. And these were future lawyers...

It was "public domain" because, well, it was out there in public.

iowan2 said...

I've often wondered why Google books doesn't do a virtual imitation of a library's stacks, showing clickable spines arranged beside each other

I often go down roads like that. Then my analytical brain kicks in and asks why did it used to be done that way? Oh yea, space. Now all I have to do is scroll full book covers, and I can browse 100's. Then I can sort and filter, author, title, genre, etc.

gilbar said...

nonopod said... "The growth of the Internet will slow drastically... By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's." - Paul Krugman.

Including even some of the commenters here; Was there Ever a more stupider person than Paul Krugman?
Ever?

sinz52 said...

"I've often wondered why Google books doesn't do a virtual imitation of a library's stacks, showing clickable spines arranged beside each other"

Some third-party eBook organizing tools, such as Calibre, have that capability. On my smartphone, my eBooks look like they're on a "virtual bookshelf." You click on the eBook's cover to open it.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

That Hornswoggler Mueller filed charges against some Russians for Defrauding USA, but the Russians out Swindled him by showing up.

Phew, I'm so proud now.

sinz52 said...

"'I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers' Thomas Watson IBM president 1943"

I remember one work of Star Trek fiction (my memory may be off on the details):

Mid-22nd Century
Starfleet Conference Predicts Limits to Growth

"After 20 years of designing warp-driven starships, I feel confident in my ability to predict what the future will bring. First of all, we will NEVER be able to design a starship that can travel faster than warp factor 4..."

stevew said...

Sorry Clifford old chap, your compass seems to require calibration.

madAsHell said...

and I definitely prefer paying with cash than with credit card.

Holy Shit!! What next Cookie?? You prefer .45 over 9mm?

You are full of surprises!!

tcrosse said...

Was there Ever a more stupider person than Paul Krugman? Ever?

Well, there are people who take his opinions to heart and act on them. Stupid enough?

gilbar said...

oh tcrosse! now you're just pulling my leg!

Steven said...

Yes, it has become easy to steal on a massive scale, if it weren’t for the law.

Wow, how could I fail to see the obvious?

When people point out trying to track down every grandchild of a dead author who unknowingly inherited a copyright on a book is a Sisyphean task that simply will never be done because of the sheer impracticality, they don't have any sort of a point.

When they suggest Congress should amend copyright law to arrange a simple, easy, ASCAP-like clearinghouse that could collect standardized royalties, so that millions of forgotten books could be accessed digitally, they're being disingenuous!

Sure, they talk about allowing copyright holders to opt out if they like, but that's a lie. They're all just thieves being righteously stopped by the law!

Leland said...

A compact disc is a great substitute for a book. In 1995, I would rent audio books on CD for various long distance trips I was making at the time. Now I use Audiblec to download books via the Internet.

Murph said...

I read Cliff Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg in the 'way back on a recommendation from a prof. at Colorado School of Mines. Was fascinated by it. Didn't understand a whole lot about computers (and still don't), but it didn't matter - it was a detective story.
That prof was also the person who first demonstrated to me and my son multiple "windows" on his computer. My kid was still in HS then, so it must have been about maybe 1990 or 1991?
I remember reading in Silicon Snake Oil his negativity toward doing research on the web -- he held IIRC that you'd never be confident that you'd found that last bit of relevant information.

Lucien said...

@Narayanan Subramanian:

Nonsense . . he was Bamboozled!

BJM said...

Wait...Aren't we are all dead after Trump rolled back Net Neutrality...oh and not merely dead, but sincerely dead under a sheet of ice...or sea water..depends on which decade made the global warming/cooling predictions.

I prefer the term flimflam.

johnhenry100 said...

Don't forget that Moore's law will finally hit a brick wall next year.

Moore's law is that computing power per dollar doubles every 18 months.

Next year for sure. Really, this time it will happen.

I've beem hearing that ever since I first heard of Moore's Law in the 80. We b ave not hit that wall yet.

My first hard drive, in 1987 cost almost$300 and held 40 megabytes. That seemed like enough storage for the rest of my life.

Costco was selling 3 terabyte drives for under $100 last week.

John Henry

tim in vermont said...

I guess it was too much for Google to scan the copyright pages of each of those books that people spent years of their life writing.

DanTheMan said...

It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
- Yogi Berra

Sam's Hideout said...

It's vaguely possible that Stoll was referring to the 1993 Hugo & Nebula anthology CD which contained all the Hugo and most of the Nebula award nominees (science fiction fan voted & writer voted respectively), one of the earliest significant ebook ventures.

Also, it took more than a decade before Netflix was streaming movies in 2007, even though that was its original intention, the DVDs by mail was always intended to be a stopgap.

Char Char Binks said...

I knew no good would come from city folk and their flying machines!

Earnest Prole said...

If you’re hornswoggle-curious you should check out mine -- it’s magnificent.

gilbar said...

our beloved Professor Althouse said... Look out for The Past's Future. It's terrible!

The Good News Is: Look forward to The Future's Past. It's Wonderful!

Paul Mac said...

Clifford Stoll in 2006 at TED reiterating some of this re: education.

https://www.ted.com/talks/clifford_stoll_on_everything

For reference YouTube launched in 2005 and was bought by Google late 2006. Is

Ann Althouse said...

"I also wonder how much Althouse and Meade spend more a year on internet access now. If cable and cell service is counted (and shouldn't they?), as well as things like Amazon Prime, Netflix and NYT subscriptions, I would hazard that it is more, perhaps even more on an inflation-adjusted basis ($3,689.40 in 1993 is equivalent in purchasing power to $6,411.04 in 2018)."

I spend about $3,000 a year for phone service (2 cell phones), high-speed internet, and premium cable service (U-Verse). The 2 of us use way more than 3 hours of internet per day — probably more than 4 times that amount, so multiply that $6,411.04 by 4 to get a number that compares to the AOL number that prompted me to write that letter.

And it's not just the money, it's the inhibition built into knowing that if you go over the limit you pay by the hour.

Steven said...

I guess it was too much for Google to scan the copyright pages of each of those books that people spent years of their life writing.

Hey, Tim, you know how I know you've never even attempted copyright clearance on a fifty-years-out-of-print book?