August 1997

Root Page of Article: Encountering Insufferable Elitism , by Don Langham

Musings of the Cyber Elite

    "[Women] are not attracted to this world [of computers], certainly not to the extent that men are, and that's one of the reasons why it is such a spiritually impoverished world. Most men with a reasonable degree of sophistication are happier in an environment that includes women. One of the problems with the computer society is that not only is it an almost all-male society, but it is a little-boy society, part of an ongoing infantilization of the society over the last half century" --David Gelernter

    "I love Wired, but I don't believe that it is an inclusive publication. In fact it's an exclusive publication. That's what a lot of people do on the Web. Rather than make it for Everyman and Everywoman, they overcomplicate it. What we've learned at AOL is the simpler, the easier, the better." --Ted Leonsis

    "Everybody thinks that Bill Gates is radically innovative, but if you look at the personal computer industry today and compare it with the mainframe industry of two decades ago, there were eight architectures at that point, IBM and the seven dwarfs. In the PC industry, we have two architectures. It is less innovative now than the mainframe business was. There is less competition. There are a million dwarfs making boxes and a couple of guys making software. This is going to lead to a huge computing crisis, and nobody sees it." --John Markoff

    "The Web is likely to become a lot more like television than like books, at least as long as screens are such a fatiguing interface device. As new technologies come online-streaming audio, streaming video-big media companies will move in and we'll all be vying for the attention of Web audiences. The Web started out as a text-based intellectual space. Now it's going to have to compete with MTV." --Jane Metcalfe

    "Publishers have a lot of money invested in intellectual property and the infrastructure for putting that intellectual property into a form that can be distributed. That's had to do with owning forests and paper and printing presses. Now, the electronic means of distribution, publishers and big entertainment conglomerates spend a lot of money on content. But the tail that wags the dog is not content-it's discourse. For every book published, there's a community of people who read that book. They may read every book by that author or about that topic, and they think about that book or topic. If they had access to one another, they would talk about their thoughts. The real future is not selling chunks of content to passive consumers, but creating a context within which those consumers can be active and speak to each other. For authors, readers, and publishers, this transformation from a world of mass into a world of bits has to do not with content and something frozen, but with a continuous stream of discourse." --Howard Rheingold

    "Everybody talks about content. Everyone says, 'We're content providers. Let's repurpose content. Consumer want access to content.' Not true. Most of what is described as content is really raw data, and people most assuredly don't want raw data. What they lust after is context. They want the raw data run through the filter of a human consciousness, someone else's human consciousness, who can do for it what they can't do themselves: add imagination or analysis, then deliver it in a way this is entertaining or valuable. What we are really talking about is the value added by creative minds." --Louis Rossetto

    "It is important in this revolution to be constantly on guard against developing hazy utopian notions that our lives are somehow going to be better. The Internet, at the moment, feels democratic and open, and everybody is accessible, but it is certain that as the Internet matures, walls and blocks and passwords and exclusion zones are going to arise, and people are going to create elite environments that others are not allowed into." --Paul Saffo

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