Opinion: Page (1) of 1 - 09/03/01 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Why the Backlash?

Anger toward justified or not, depends on your POV By Stephen Schleicher
In the last week or so, some of the staff at Digital Media Net have written some pretty harsh words against the Internet. While it may seem like a coordinated effort between Senior Producer Charlie White, Executive Producer David Nagel, and myself the lashing out at the Internet (or lack thereof) came about by chance. But something has had to have happened in our general thinking to all make us write something similar at the same time. This got me thinking this week about how others perceive the Internet.

Has the Internet become a fad, a thing that was neat at one time, but is now hardly worth the effort? Could it be because of the recent dot-com failures worldwide, or the fact that it costs more and more money to support a site that, in the short term, doesn't generate enough income to sustain itself? Or could it be that people are just fed up with the Internet wasting so much of our time?


The Internet should not be thought of as just a fad, it is a valuable resource for those who in many cases cannot get the information or goods they need from any other source. Without the Net, video and audio professionals would have limited means of sharing tips, tricks, trouble-shooting techniques, and ideas with fellow pros from around the world. Sure, print publications could cover this, but not only are print publications far behind when it comes to delivering timely news, a publication is not there at three o'clock in the morning when you are having trouble with your video project that is due the next morning. Students too are also able to gather needed information that a fifteen-year-old Encyclopedia Britannica sitting in the school library cannot deliver. Rural hospitals and care providers have also benefited from a growing Internet in that medical information can be shared quickly with specialists from around the world during an emergency. While there are those who have not become web-savvy and are quick to put down the Internet as a passing fad, this is not a medium that is going away any time soon. Indications point out that the Internet may soon become more integrated with our lives than we know, and maybe even want.

Money is always a huge concern for anyone dipping their toes into the Internet waters, and well is should be. The Internet has provided ways for many companies to generate huge incomes, and has provided a means for many companies to lose just as much. I really liked what Charlie White said in his piece about the "pyramid scheme" that is going on with streaming media. Instead of costing a fixed amount to reach a large audience, you have to spend more and more money for each new viewer. This monetary flow is probably one of the biggest problems with the Internet today. If companies are to survive, there needs to be better cost/delivery structure in place. The good news is there are companies that are trying to make streaming more cost effective for everyone.

The current economic trend has not helped dot-coms either. It is not uncommon for tech stocks to take the first hit anytime there is a problem with the economy, and anything that is perceived as new or cutting edge, will certainly suffer when money is tight. I wish I could say something that would instantly make the economy turn around, the unemployment rate to fall, and get more money in the pockets of everyone faster. The only solace I can offer is that the economy will improve eventually, and dot-com companies that have followed my suggestions, are stable and will thrive in the coming years.

Clifford Stoll wrote many years ago in his book Silicon Snake Oil how the Internet has become a huge consumer of his time. He talked about how he would spend hours and hours each day just going through his email, and that by the end of the day, he was further behind than he was the day before. Of course, he wrote this back in the day when 28.8kbps was just coming into wide use, and he didn't have to deal with e-mail attachments, virus, or get rich fast through Internet dating scams that prevail today. While it would be great for everyone to be on broadband, the infrastructure of the U.S. just isn't there yet to get everyone connected at 512kbps or higher. This means that a great deal of time is spent checking e-mail, downloading the latest web-page, game or streaming media clip, and not enough time to do the things that need to be done during the day.

One of the nice things about having a laptop is that I can take my work anywhere. While I am writing this piece, I am sitting in a laundry-mat while my clothes take a tumble in the dryer. Of course this prevents me from being connected to the Internet, as my D-Link will not reach this far. This means that later when I dial into my 56k connect (DSL is supposed to arrive this week in my new digs); I will still have to wait a half hour or more for all 200 or more e-mails to download. During that time, I will post this article and hope that the FTP doesn't time me out. Total time spent doing all of this will probably be around 45 minutes. 45 minutes of my day that are gone forever.

Should DSL or a cable connection go down, even more time will be spent with technical support trying to figure out what is wrong. David Nagel of creativemac.com has had to endure this torture on more than one occasion and hours and hours of his day have also vanished to the cornfield, never to be seen again.

Regardless of what thoughts or views people have about the Internet, everyone still has to realize that while it is the fastest growing medium, in its most popular and current form, is still in its infancy. Some expect too much from something not yet in its twenties. While we all may get angry, upset, or disenchanted about the Net at times, let's give it time to grow and find its place in our world.

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Stephen Schleicher is a well known writer, visual effects artist and media guru! You can see more of Stephen at
www.majorspoilers.com and www.stephenschleicher.com
Related Keywords:treaming media, Internet, Stephen Schleicher, David Nagel, Charlie White, cost, audio, video, streaming, Internet

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