Assimilating the Web

By Scott Rosenberg

Published June 27, 2001 7:30PM (EDT)

Read the story.

I live in one of those cities (Phoenix) that is being assimilated. Gannett Corp. has a TV station and the daily newspaper among its holdings. The constant cross-promotions are laughable. We're blessed with talking heads telling us that they've got an early exclusive that you'll read about tomorrow only in USA Today or the Arizona Republic. Add in the fact that the content of the Republic has become nothing more than a local version of USA Today and you should get the idea -- it's very bland in Phoenix. I think of it like this: Soon it won't matter what's being reported because there will only be one TV station, one newspaper, etc., and as long as they're all telling the same stories, no one will know the difference.

-- Melissa Harrison

Scott Rosenberg's article was excellent. It is so easy to get hypnotized by the smooth marketing and advertising campaigns into believing that the media giants have the consumers' interest at heart as they refine their products and services. Rosenberg spells out the implications of this "progress" and reminds us that it is the bottom line and control of the consumer that is driving the strategic thinking of the Microsofts and AOLs of the world. If there's only true freedom of the press for the owners of the press, then we'd better keep our eyes on those who are trying to own the "digital press."

-- David B. Treadway
President, National Institute on Media and the Family

Before there was a WWW, we got our online fix with BBS's and subscription services. Those who got on the Internet (I used Panix out of New York) were happy to find files via FTP, Gopher and various other clients, communicate via Usenet, e-mail and IRC and travel virtually via telnet. It was a geek's world, a special place for people willing to take the time and do the heavy lifting. You had to figure that once they made it easy, it would all end up in shit!

Here's what I think about Rosenberg's hysterics: Fuck the Internet. The minute the 'Net became a symbol of every person's chance to "speak out," speak they did. Now we have millions of pages of drivel and pornography and silliness and most people I know only care about exchanging e-mail and ordering a book from Amazon.

Life will go on just fine without Salon or Suck or Feed. If these sites have value they will survive. If readers aren't willing to pony up the cake, well, then they never really cared, did they?

All of us who ever did care found great "content" in the local magazine shop (or comic book store). My biggest beef about the demise of this digital cesspool: I'll have to start buying newspapers and magazines again. That's okay -- I've forgotten what they feel like!

-- Jeffrey Abelson

It's funny that the Internet is often referred to as the "Information Highway," but unfortunately a move hasn't been made to actually treat it like most highways that exist in this world.

Most highways can be accessed freely at one point, and then traveled freely, and then exited freely at some other point along the highway. Politicians, public servants, the public would never think of letting General Motors control what kind of car is used on the highway, who can access the highway, who can travel on the highway, or where people can get off the highway. Yet that is exactly the direction the Internet is going.

If Gates or one of the other boys wants to go build their own Internet, fine! But let's keep our existing Internet as accessible and free from domination as our asphalt highways.

Three things are needed to produce a democratic Internet. First, a high-quality, free standard Web browser (the highway), perhaps developed by the Linux community. Secondly, free access for everyone to the on-ramps, no-charge service for everyone.

And lastly, a guaranteed right to put information on the World Wide Web along with a guaranteed right to access the information. It would be something like an extensive peer-to-peer system with no central servers.

-- Harry Pasternak

Thank you for yet another completely moronic diatribe about how Microsoft and AOL are out to get us. Their success on the Web is due largely to the utter incompetence of their competitors, rather than anything they have done.

What especially irritates me is the latest attacks on tags in XP. This is a feature people have talked about for years because it's something that computers can do, but other forms of publishing cannot.

In the end, tags aren't about Microsoft, they are about paranoid freaks who want to completely control their own information and who deeply resent someone making hyperlinks they don't want made.

-- Joe Woodbury

By Salon Staff

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