Pop Rocks: 1995 Newsweek "Why the Internet Will Fail" Essay Actually Predicts Its Successes

In 1995, Newsweek writer Clifford Stoll decided the Internet was nothing more than a passing fancy. He was so convinced, he penned a hearty screed decrying prognosticators who suggested the Internet would amount to anything more than a noisy, cluttered nuisance of random data. Stoll was, obviously, quite wrong. He even admitted as much in a comment response to Boing Boing's story about the recent resurrection of his piece on a blog, saying "Of my many mistakes, flubs, and howlers, few have been as public as my 1995 howler."

But what is fascinating about the story "The Internet? Bah!" is how eerily accurate much of it is, just in the opposite direction. Many of the things Stoll believed would never happen actually happened and in remarkable fashion. But, digging deeper, Stoll wasn't wrong about everything and he did hit upon a significant problem plaguing the web today without being close to understanding its magnitude.

First, let's address what he got wrong.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke