The time Newsweek predicted the Internet wouldn’t catch on

I wish I could take credit for discovering this classic gem, but I found it on Reddit. Still, for those of you who don’t know a TL;DR from a TIL, behold the wonderful ignorance that was 1995.

Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana (Newsweek, Feb. 26 1995)

Here are my favorite quotes:

“Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM (I linked this term, in case you are too young to know what one is) can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”

In response I give you NYTimes.com, Khan Academy, and Facebook.

“How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach.”

How many of you are reading this on a tablet, smartphone, or ultralight laptop? That’s a trick question, I know that no one is reading this (I have the data) but in theory you COULD be reading it at the beach on one of those devices.

“Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don’t know what to ignore and what’s worth reading.”

Wikipedia.

“Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet—which there isn’t—the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.”

The salespeople? That’s what we’re going to miss? Minimum wage retail jockeys? Are you kidding me (and I can say these things having spent A LOT of time working retail)?

The next time you’re tempted to poke fun at a new technology, just remember that your comments will be archived for nerds like me to make fun years in the future when you’re wrong.

Unless we’re talking about Snapchat. I’ll never understand that (outside of sexting).

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About Ezra Englebardt
Account planner, digital nerd, marketing guru, tweeter, facebooker, occasional blogger, cyclist, snowboarder, mountain biker, social media junkie and avid reader. CU-Boulder and Boston College alum. Frequent guest speaker in Boston-area universities.

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