Where is the internet when we need it ?

Its unfortunate, but true. The internet is not a driving force in our economy. Its a stable mature platform on the same level as electricity, phone service and TV. You can’t live without it, but don’t it expect to be a catalyst for the economy. We now argue about whether new companies have a business model and can be profitable and get excited about updates rather than new competitors. Thats the sign of a stable market.

Its time to look elsewhere for that “thing” that takes us out of our economic doldrums.  These blog posts created a big stir when I originally posted them. They  aren’t controversial anymore.

If you are young, super-smart and looking to have an impact. The internet is what your mom and dad got excited about. Find something us for all of us to rally around and change our lives. Please.

Here are the old blog posts:

The Internet is Officially Dead & Boring – Its the economy stupid !

There was a lot of discussion about my previous posts here and here. My point is that the internet is a stable platform. Its a utility. Its evolved to the point where you can count on it and develop applications for it without much fear that its going to change.

What confirms my point is that with all the talk of a possible or existing recession, not a single mention is ever made about how increases in productivity from technology will pull us through. That is counter to the recessions of the past 25 years. Whether it was the early 80s, the 90’s or even the post bubble , economists and others pointed to technology as a catalyst to productivity that would help pull us out of our economic doldrums.

When there were boomtimes , as we saw from about 91 to 2000, technology was given the lions’ share of the credit.

So where are the claims of further productivity enhancements from technology ? They are no where that I can find.

In fact, we can start to make arguments to the contrary. That technology and in particular social network and video sites can be a hindrance to productivity in the workplace.

Further arguments can be made that the MSFT YHOO potential merger is further evidence that the technology industry is maturing.

It is what it is.

The Internet Is still Dead and Boring

I obviously hit a nerve with my last post. My index for quality of post has evolved to the number of “you suck”, “broadcast.com sucks”, “You got lucky”, etc posts that are submitted but never confirmed. For this post it was off the charts. Good.

When people resort to personal comments. Its usually a good sign.

Among those I respect, there were a lot of great responses. Let me first say, my position on this has nothing to do with HDNet. I’ve not abandoned the net. In fact i have more than 100 RSS feeds and untold other sites Im involved with.

Ive been inundated with spam on Myspace. Used flicker. Used Digg for sourcing news and laughed at the unending ridiculousness of its posters. Used and posted to Youtube, Google Video, DailyMotion, Veoh, Flickr, Slideshare, used every bittorrent client, got bored with twitter after 7 minutes, signed up for other findme, find you, this is where I am, this is where you are, type app I could find, and the lists go on and on. I read techmeme, techcrunch, extremetech, and tons of other tech sites and I make a point to try every and any new site that seems the least bit plausible or interesting. I spend far far too much time on the net just to make sure I keep up and know whats going on.

Honestly, its just a bigger, more time consuming version on CompuServe Forums from back in the day (Find someone who participated in the OS/2 forums if you want to know about social networks). Only back then you didn’t call People friends, they were just forum members.

I have a ton of Internet investments that you dont and wont know about.

i have loaded and used facebook apps and I have downloaded the API documentation and actually read it. I’m such an exciting guy, I downloaded Ruby on Rails and read the documentation as well. That’s what Saturday Nights are for.

I have bought installed and integrated every imaginable wireless device in my house. I think its fun.

I have invested in and gotten involved with application development on Facebook. Had a serious discussion with Facebook about the revenue opportunities they could achieve if they would license their API for full scale commercial applications on other websites. For example, to me, it would be an interesting and potentially explosive business move for Yahoo to license the Facebook API for their Panama platform. I think the beauty of Facebook is that people for the first time have defined and opened up the “database of their lives”. Which if integrated into an advertising platform like Panama would allow advertisers to truly personalize ads, rather than algorithmically present ads. To me it was an interesting conversation.

I think it could change the way advertising is handled on the net. Each user could have the option to publish certain fields/objects which could be replicated/peered to the licensees of the API and then integrated Into the ad serving application. When the user showed up on the licensee site, say Yahoo Finance, the ad server could present a contextual ad chosen based on the published objects within the context of the Yahoo content.

Its one of many good or bad ideas that are feasible because the net is the plain vanilla boring, never really changing platform that it is.

Guess what. When things go from exciting to stable and boring in the technology world, that’s a good thing.

Call me a cynic. I feel the same way about Personal Computers. Faster processors dint do it for me. Installing Vista was a disaster till I read a copy of CPU magazine and used the OS mods they had in there to clean the junk up. Its sad but true that a 25 year old platform is more volatile than the Internet. It still takes so long to boot that for the first time since I had a Mac in 1990 I bought a Macbook and junked my Vista Laptop. My time is at a premium. The days of being concerned that if I bought a Mac there might be some apps that I could use but the wouldn’t run on the Mac are long gone. Not because the Mac has an Intel processor, but because I cant really think of any new off the shelf software that I would get excited to buy.

Beyond Office and email, I spend a ton of time on the net. That boring platform that ain’t gonna change and is dead in the excitement category.

What do I get excited about ?
I’m excited about Virtual Machines, as I have written before, and the changes and impact they could have on all of us. I get fired up about the continuing decline in flash and hard drive prices. Its amazing to me after all these years of watching drive prices fall that I can buy more than 500gigs of drive for under 100 bucks. That i can buy a 16gig flash drive for not much more. and it still pisses me off that i have to deal with file size limits that require me to manage my email files when I back them up.

And of course I’m excited about the HDTV space and whats happening there. Maybe some people dont think peoples media consumption patterns change when 70″ HDTVs are installed in their homes, I do.

Which brings me to why I said that “The Net is Dead and Boring”

The best way to sum up how I feel about the excitement and opportunities on the net compared to the many other personal and corporate technology options out there is to use a Yogi Berra quote.

Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded

When everyone is looking for gold in the same river, the best opportunities are somewhere else.

But hey, that’s just me.

The Internet is Dead and Boring

A lot of people are all up and upset about my comments that the Internet is dead and boring. Well guess what, it is. Every new technological, mechanical or intellectual breakthrough has its day, days, months and years. But they don’t rule forever. That’s the reality.

Every generation has its defining breakthrough. Cars, TV, Radio, Planes,highways, the wheel, the printing press, the list goes on forever. I’m sure in each generation to whom the invention was a breakthrough it may have been heretical to consider those inventions “dead and boring”. The reality is that at some point they stop changing. They stop evolving. They become utilities or utilitarian and are taken for granted.

Some of you may not want to admit it, but that’s exactly what the net has become. A utility. It has stopped evolving. Your Internet experience today is not much different than it was 5 years ago.

That’s not to say the impact of the Internet on the entire planet hasn’t been off the charts. It has been. It has changed the lives of billions of people and it will continue to be a utility to billions of people. Just like cars, TVs, Radio, Planes, Highways, you get the point.

Some people have tried to make the point that Web 2.0 is proof that the Internet is evolving. Actually it is the exact opposite. Web 2.0 is proof that the Internet has stopped evolving and stabilized as a platform. Its very very difficult to develop applications on a platform that is ever changing. Things stop working in that environment. Internet 1.0 wasn’t the most stable development environment. To days Internet is stable specifically because its now boring.(easy to avoid browser and script differences excluded)

Applications like Myspace, Facebook, Youtube, etc were able to explode in popularity because they worked. No one had to worry about their ISP making a change and things not working. The days of walled gardens like AOL, Prodigy and others were gone. The days of always on connections were not only upon us, but in sufficient numbers at home, work and school, that the applications ran fast enough to hold our interest and compel us to participate. In other words, the Internet stabilized. Great software was developed to run on the software.

Just as a reminder to some, Myspace, Facebook, Youtube, etc are not “the Internet”. They are software applications that run on the Internet. Just like MicroSoft Excel is a software application that runs on MicroSoft and Apple operating systems.

The days of the Internet creating explosively exciting ideas are dead. They are dead until bandwidth throughput to the home reaches far higher numbers than the vast majority of broadband users get today.

Few people’s actual throughput to their homes have increased more than 5mbs in the past 5 years, and few people’s throughput (if you dint understand the difference between throughput and the marketed downstream speeds your read from your ISP, you should) to their homes will increase more than 10mbs in the next 5 years. That’s not enough to define a platform that allows really smart people to come up with groundbreaking ideas.

In fact, if you index the expected growth in bandwidth consumption by applications that are heavy LAST MILE bandwidth users (as opposed to the Internet backbone where there is plenty of bandwidth but consumers cant get to it) vs the actual increase in LAST MILE bandwidth available to the home, our net effective throughput to the home could decline over the next few years. The Internet is like a highway. There is plenty of room for everyone to go as fast as the throughput will let you go, that is until the traffic forces everyone to slow down.

For some reason a lot of people don’t understand that concept.

So, let me repeat, The days of the Internet creating explosively exciting ideas are dead for the foreseeable future..

The Internet is boring. That is not a bad thing. In fact its easy to make the argument that its a great thing. That it has become the utility that the people who worked to get it started firmly believed it would. That it finally is the platform for any number of mundane applications that are easy to write and that anyone can use and trust.

Just like wheels, printing presses, cars, TV, radio, electricity, water…..

56 thoughts on “Where is the internet when we need it ?

  1. It may be true that the internet isn’t a place a new player can make a billion dollars. I don’t know. It may be less exciting for players who have that kind of highbar. But for many people to whom a few million is enough of an enticement, it’s still very much the place to be.

    Comment by Tim Norton -

  2. I’m surprised I have seen Mark commenting on OnLive gaming technology.

    It’s a great idea, and technology that should be run and distributed by cable providers to subscribers, not sent over the internet.

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/03/25/video-onlive-streaming-game-demonstrated/

    Comment by Gabe -

  3. I would have to agree with Grace Reinbold on this one. I think that investing a little time in entrepreneurship can go a long way. Instead of complaining, we should help make the internet better.

    Comment by kp -

  4. Yes the internet is a infrastructure technology, but unlike an infrastructure like a railroad that can only do one thing, the internet is a programmable infrastructure that is constantly evolving. The only limits to further internet evolution are the ones imposed by our imagination (or lack thereof).

    Comment by Oleg -

  5. People commenting against don’t seem to understand that the internet as a “platform” is what is stale. Mark is praising the technology advances, including “software technology”. But I say ADVANCES, not the same ol’ stuff. There is a problem with duplication. Take for example the million dollar homepage that after it gained publicity everybody and their mother tried to duplicate. Now there are turnkey scripts you can install to accomplish the same thing.

    The solution to the stagnant internet and technology issue is to use your brain and get creative, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Seriously. People always say that “we are not yet there technologically”. The fact is that regardless of the need for the technology nobody wants to actually put forth the time and money to make it happen until one day someone ambitious comes along and makes it happen.

    Mark, take for example your words above “and it still pisses me off that i have to deal with file size limits that require me to manage my email files when I back them up.” Why not develop the technology? I am not in any way an expert on what you have invested in. Maybe this is something you are developing. But if not then it is something to think about.

    I personally am dumbfounded that people are talking about how the sea levels will rise dramatically and we will lose land when that happens. The solution is rather simple actually. Dig some MAJOR holes used for nothing more than flood control and position them strategically near the problem areas. Use the soil collected as we currently would, for land development! Advances in technology requires nothing more than the simple thought process.

    Comment by Web Design Taxi -

  6. Hey Mark this carlton gray from ohio and im a lifetime fan of the mavs and i will be at my first mavs game on march 29 agaisnt the cavs and i hope u guys stomp on them and ill have my poster u will reconize me ill be the one asking for your autograph so dont dissapoint me see you there

    Comment by carlton gray -

  7. This statement pretty much sums up an argument I made on slashdot a couple of weeks

    Comment by halim -

  8. “Honestly, its just a bigger, more time consuming version on CompuServe Forums from back in the day”

    This statement pretty much sums up an argument I made on slashdot a couple of weeks back:

    The Internet now is not much different than it was 10-15 years ago, we just have more bandwidth for some of the heavier applications (like streaming video). Facebook, MySpace? They are profile-driven forums (rather than thread/topic-driven forums, aka BBS). YouTube? It is like mp3: Outdated tech that’s too popular to die (just like mp3, YouTube is old tech that’s been replaced by better standards…but too many users are still clutching to what’s popular). Blogging your opinions and debates? Check Usenet and other Prodigy/CompuServe/etc forums circa 15-20 years ago.

    The Internet has seen little innovation recently, and I’d say there’s two major culprits: 1) Too many green users who are still catching up to what the old guard was doing a long time ago (the number of new users to Facebook and similar apps every day is astonishing when you realize how old the actual applications are…by general internet historical standards, most of these social apps hit their peak one or two years ago but they still show blistering rates of incoming users); and 2) Too many people still grasp at older tech because they are comfortable with it, as opposed to 10 years ago when we would jump around from standard to standard to find what was better (there were many more standards being introduced every few months back then).

    Indeed, the Internet has become boring. It needs a major shake up; but those of us who have been around 15+ years have got to wonder if the fresher faces of the internet can handle the rapidly changing ‘net we enjoyed in the late 90s.

    Comment by J -

  9. Honestly, mobile has a good shot at, and is already starting to be that next thing. What you can do with your iPhone (mobile in general, but the iPhone in particular) now, and what you’re going to be able to do with it a year from now is pretty huge (there’s way more in the 3.0 release than just cut/paste). Its a way to extend your brand, or product in a way to reach consumers like never before (when they’re in the stores, on their way to buy something, looking for something in particular etc; you can’t get much more targeted than that). And it now offers a new platform to both create new products for, and use as another delivery mechanism for digital content/functionality that prior left you tethered to your computer; instapaper.com is a perfect example of this, and Amazon’s release of the Kindle App is another one.

    Comment by Jason -

  10. Have you read, “A Whole New Mind”? The author, Daniel Pink, theorizes that we will move into a new “conceptual age.” I think that is what you are looking for – the next big thing. He makes sense with his explanation of outsourcing mundane chores and how we value certain skills that should be cultivated. I’m explaining it pretty clumsily but if your question is serious then check it out.

    Comment by Tyler -

  11. I have to agree. I was able to get a news site running in a couple weeks. It was a piece of cake; obviously we are still improving it but something like this would have cost loads 10 yrs ago and taken 6 months. And not to mention just about all the s/w is free (thank you open source…).

    The next big thing is cleaning up after the mess of the last 40 years, or rather overhauling society and the infrastructures it depends on to propel it to the 21st century. You mention XBRL in a previous post (btw I was not able to post to that, I received a page that said “discarded”), that’s just a start.

    With the scientific advances that are going to be made in the next 50 years, we need to be able to hold organizations (mainly corporations) and the people that run them accountable. The system needs to be changed to reinforce and reward good behavior, because right now much of the system rewards people who are real good at playing shell games or just plain old sociopaths (can someone design a pill for these people already) that have no care for anything beyond me, me, me… the rest of us are not here to clean up your mess.

    Comment by Dominik Zynis -

  12. Technology enhances man’s endeavors, but probably is not so important as to look to it as an external savior. Maybe we simply need to add one more industry sector to the national/global GDP.

    Add in industry that is currently prohibited. Hemp is a wonder product. Marijuana is America’s largest cash crop. Prostitution is a mega industry which, when unregulated and blackmarketed, is full of health hazard that impacts our medical industry and societal well being.

    Adding any of these industries to the total package will be a serious catalyst for economic recovery and prosperity.

    Comment by ddc -

  13. Most of the comments posted here sound like they were written by Harvard MBA grads looking for jobs. BC (before computer) and AI (after internet) are limited only by imagination. There is no doubt that an entrepreneur will surface, one who will use tools of the internet for something so great that it will amaze the world for centuries. Maybe that person is your child… or even your parent. Gee, maybe that person is already at Twitter in DC. Why are we posting on Cuban’s blog anyway? That in itself proves that the internet is not dead, even though our brains might be. We only have one life to live and I for one am grateful that I can write to a blog posted by a guy who dances, smiles, laughs and provokes response from a lot of folks who can spell big words but may never understand what life is about. What fun.

    Comment by Grace Reinbold -

  14. One of the best things about this blog is how the comments often digress. “The internet is dead” morphed into a debate about robotics and solar power. Enjoyable. But I think everyone has to be realistic when gauging what great technological advances we can achieve. “Sea-steading”? dumbest thing I ever read. “Free power”, living off the grid, nano-solar in the roads – you are asking this from a country that cannot even get people to switch from analog TV. Small steps first…

    Comment by doug -

  15. It is true that Internet is becoming a stable platform, on par with electricity, phone and TV.

    However, much more important point is that it has dramatically lowered costs of starting businesses capable of reaching millions of customers worldwide. It is now possible to create a business targeting any advanced marketplace with employees based anywhere.

    This has been never possible before, ask many millions who left their native countries for very hard work in search of a better life. Now it it is the first time ever, that you can access remote markets from anywhere.

    Though the number of people realizing this is still very small, it is very doable. I know, I have done it myself a couple of times and know others that are doing it themselves.

    This is the crucial difference between the Internet and other transformational technologies – it is empowering many more people to participate.

    You may say it is not easy to create a million+ users site – sure it is not, but if you know the rules of the game i.e. SEO then you are at the same level as everyone else. And more and more worldwide are taking the next step and succeeding.

    Of course, there is a lot to be said about the current pause in the action giving the impression that not much is happening on the Internet technology front.

    The comment above, on P2P, is very relevant and we are working to get some more action going :)

    Comment by Borislav Agapiev -

  16. I agree with Mark.

    Efforts to monetize the web have turned it into not much more than an entertainment platform and direct marketing tool. After all these years, why can’t I *easily* share data that lives on my hard drive? Why do I have to upload my data to a middle man who wants to shove ads in front of my friends who just want to see pictures of my kids.

    How’s this for a leap forward; the P2P client replaces the web browser as the main interface to the internet.

    Comment by dtb -

  17. Pingback: Technically Philly » Twitter is getting into lots of trouble: its role in Fumo trial not rare | Covering the Community of People Who Use Technology in Philadelphia.

  18. Pingback: And the next game-changer is… « Two Notes Ahead

  19. I see your point, but I think its just on the verge of changing our lives even more.. the concept of the Internet is not new but how we use it will always change over time and people will come up with inventive stuff. Like TV was not considered new technology but then came the vcr, dvd, tivo, hd… and so on

    Comment by dk -

  20. Right you are M.C., the “internet” by itself is not a business model, and either is a website that displays advertising as a result of bulk traffic and impressions that mean nothing. Your idea regarding targeted advertising for facebook users is an excellent one, and if facebook’s leadership is smart, they will listen to you.
    Companies want consumers driven to their websites for different reasons, some of them are pushing products, and some services, but they want traffic because they know that traffic eventually produces transactions. It’s the same reason that spammer’s continue to spam. If you deliver 10,000,000 advertisements for canadian pharmaceuticals, eventually, some idiot is going to plug in his CC info and make a purchase.
    My personal take on it all is that the internet is simply a medium by which business can interact with consumers, it’s devices not concepts that change our human lives. Look at the iPod; iPhone; iTouch or anything else Apple has released in the last 5 years. No website has transformed society like their products have.
    Forums, Bulletin Boards, Newsgroups have all been around for years, reinventing them as facebook.com or myspace.com doesn’t represent innovation in my opinion.

    Next revolutionary device: The handheld device that replaces my laptop, my desktop, my phone, my iPod, and my digital camera. I throw it on my desk at any given time and it wirelessly interfaces with any display of my choice, my wireless keyboard/mouse, printers, internet, my home’s thermostat, you name it. Invent that device and you’ll change the world.

    Comment by Brian -

  21. I’m 100% capitalism but not for cheats. If oil companies had half a brain they would be investing in this tech as well to secure their future. Even the regimes in the middle east who only want to fund empty Las Vegas style cities and terrorism.

    An ideal solution would pay to repave our roads with nano solar cells built in… also throw in some kinetic friction technology to squeeze out even more power. Has this not been thought of?! I mean how many miles and miles of road do we have? No need to take up thousands of square miles in Arizona if we can do it unobtrusively in our back yard. Isn’t that what this whole pick up a shovel campaign is all about?

    Comment by Jeremy -

  22. Saw an interesting show on Discovery channel yesterday about the many alternative energy generation methods that are being developed. It is these that could be the future of our economy. The problem is that there is no incentive to invest in these companies right now. If the government would pass a carbon emissions cap bill it would force people to find innovative ways to stay below it. They talked about the company who is making what is basically solar cells that you can paint on to any surface and make it a solar cell. Or turbines that are mounted to buildings that generate the power needed to operate the building and then the excess is sold back to the utility companies. To me, this is what we need to do not only to lower our dependence on petroleum products but to stimulate our economy in new ways with new businesses. The same old, same old isn’t working anymore.

    Comment by Bill -

  23. I think the whole issue lies in value creation. As seen previously with the outrageous P/E ratios during the tech boom/bust and the more recent overvaluation of real estate we have failed to actually create intrinsic value. All the value we saw was inflated market value which we all know was hot air. So what is the solution?

    Cheap energy. Sure every tree hugger and Friedman/Krugman worshipper out there wants to save the earth but I could honestly give two sh*ts about the earth. What we need is cheap sustainable energy for the economy’s sake. Think about if the following were lowered or removed:

    1. home heating/cooling & electricity use
    2. free personal transportation costs
    3. free commercial energy to create products at a fraction of current cost
    4. free commercial transportation costs to transport products of current costs

    All of these combined would provide both greater purchasing power for the consumer and comparative advantage for the US to manufacture and distribute products once again and correct the trade imbalance with China and the rest of the world. We may not have labor resources like the rest of the world but we have ingenuity and apparently an endless supply of money. I’d love to hear rebuttals and any data anyone has to support my claims.

    Comment by Jeremy -

  24. Clint, you and I are probably not far apart in our views of the government.

    You have to admit, the federal government is going to become more activist and more impactful over the next decade and private capital is going to become harder and harder to raise.

    You may not like it, and I don’t blame you if you don’t, but government is only going to become a more logical choice for people who want to “have an impact”

    Comment by Mikey -

  25. Mikey gave “The Federal Government” as an answer to “What should a “young, super-smart and looking to have an impact” individual rally around?”

    Mikey, that is the act of a evil man. The only people you should steer toward the federal government are the slack jawed dim wits whose sheer lack of ambition beyond slacking their way through a union job toward a pension will ensure the least harm. If you get a young, super-smart person into the federal government who is looking to make an impact, you end up with them actively trying to control an economy they don’t understand by begging, borrowing and stealing money to throw at it… and you wouldn’t want that would you?

    Abie, what you want to look into is the private space industry. The only two events in the history of humanity that will rival the emigration into space is our evolution into existence and our extinction… everything else is footnotes.

    Comment by Clint -

  26. “What should a “young, super-smart and looking to have an impact” individual rally around?”

    The Federal Government.

    Comment by Mikey -

  27. All of you out there claiming that the internet is dead should really think about what you’re saying. If you’re using it, then you just help make it boring. Why don’t you just come up with the next best thing if its sooooo boring?! Due to generation gaps, the younger generation is all about the internet. So whats the problem? If you surround yourself with all the technology that money can buy, then yes you’re going to be bored. You will have nothing to look forward except ‘the next best thing’. True, the internet has become norm in the last decade, but thats just life!!!

    Comment by kt -

  28. Mark,

    You were right then, you are right now. The internet is a utility. It will continue to allow new developments to be brought to market, but it’s time in changing our ‘age’ has passed.

    I think three areas will be on the horizon for defining the next ‘age’ of man:

    1. ‘Free’ Power: In our lifetimes we will see the ‘option’ of going “off-grid” become mainstream. You will be able to join your small community co-op power with their own wind generators, or opt for your own solar/fuel cell arrangement in your backyard. Only legacy commercial zones and apartment owners will stay on-grid.

    2. Live Anywhere: Wireless broadband and ‘free’ power will change the landscape of our lives as we will no longer be tethered to traditional infrastructure to support our way of life. Look for small ultra-rural communities to thrive as mini-infrastructures are established along traditional trade corridors. Future generations will wonder what all the fuss was about ‘tele-commuting’.

    3. Auto-Travel: With all this ‘sprawling’ we are about to do, the technology to kick back and tech-out while getting from point a to b will become in-demand. No more driving yourself around, but rather controlled-access auto lanes with auto pilot capable cars. Small regional airports (Sugarland, Lockhart) will begin to rival traditional ‘hubs’ in total travelers per year.

    4. Seamless translation: The next big iphone app will be a translation tool that takes live conversations and offers translation of our most common languages on the fly. It won’t be perfect, but it will be functional. (Google translate, systranbox, babelfish)

    A measureable portion of these four are already happening today, so I wouldn’t say I am going out on much of a limb here.

    Some lesser known questions I’ll be watching for answers include;
    What will happen with high-speed train in the US?
    How will the “Wal-Mart Model” continue to mature? (Woolworths anyone?)
    What impact will technology based education have on future learners?
    How will the politics of our children change the way we govern ourselves? (Legalized Marijuana?)

    Comment by BillFitz -

  29. Speaking of jumped the shark, here are 99 more reasons why the internet should be killed:

    http://www.youshouldhaveseenthis.com

    Comment by econ365 -

  30. Let me help everyone out; If you already know about it, then it is not ‘new’ and has not, so it will not, change the world as we know it. The internet itself is over 30 years old, so it wasn’t new when Netscape came along it was inefficient.

    Speed and routers have made it more efficient and applications and java have made it more productive, but it’s still the same old internet. Sorry folks, Mark C is right; Marc A is wrong.

    Comment by econ365 -

  31. I think that the internet has become one of the great equalizers in business. Some people, as young as 13, made a fortune out of the internet. It only involves a booming idea to create fortune in it. And age does not matter as long as there is the determination. The great feature of an internet business is its portability. The ability to operate almost anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. So whenever you migrate or whatever place you go into, you can carry your internet business with you.

    Comment by Millionaire Acts -

  32. I think you are right. The internet is fairly predictable in its future capabilities. But, the number of internet users is expanding and will continue to expand as long as more and more people are born with the internet.

    Comment by Paul D -

  33. As I type this I’m in Austin, TX for the 2009 South by SouthWest conference. For anyone unfamiliar, it’s one of the largest collections of cross-discipline talent annually, combining web designer/developers with filmmakers and professionals, as well as pros from the music industry. It’s safe to call it a who’s who of the media business… except that you’ll mostly run into all the people that keep the industry running – not the talent or “stars” themselves.

    At this year’s conference there are many who would argue with you about the future of the internet. In many of our discussions the prevailing theme is that the internet – as a medium – is just getting started. Designers and developers alike point out that we’re just scratching the surface with respect to web technologies and applications. I agree.

    The internet is not dead. It’s just that you’ve run out of creative ideas to position yourself in the forefront of this ever-changing medium. So you think the opportunities have dried up. So what? There are literally thousands of people here that are proving otherwise, seemingly on a daily basis with their wild new applications and innovations.

    Time will tell what becomes of our “information age” and it’s accoutrements. But don’t think for one second that the game’s over, because this clock’s still ticking.

    Comment by extenze -

  34. Mark, I’m glad to hear you’ve thought about micropayments enough to realize why they’ve commonly failed. :) A working micropayments system has to be ubiquitous and seamless, one-click to buy, past startups like BitPass didn’t seem to realize that. Actually, Amazon has tried to move towards micropayments with their Flexible Payments Service, unfortunately they haven’t focused on making it seamless. As for Paypal, they’ve been content with simply being the profit center at Ebay for years, note how they haven’t aggressively gone after off-Ebay payments either. I’m working with a payments startup to implement micropayments in a way that will avoid past pitfalls, I think it can be done. We’re trying to raise series A funding right now so if you or anyone is interested in finding out more, I can be reached at spree at jaggeri dot com and I can put you in touch with our founder. I read this blog because I think you understand the issues with digital content better than most, and micropayments will be all about monetizing digital content at first. It will save journalism, if not the newspapers. Ultimately it will be used to monetize all online transactions, from wifi to webapps, so it is the last piece for the internet to take off.

    Bosco, I’ve been banking at an online-only bank for years, bankofinternet.com. Agreed that Andreessen can often be off, despite being an otherwise smart guy.

    Comment by Ajay -

  35. @MC, That’s exactly what I thought when I first heard of Andreessen’s talk. After all, I bank with Wells Fargo and haven’t walked into a branch in years. But after I listened, it hit me. He’s talking about completely branch-less banks. And he’s talking about one of these big branch-less banks becoming as big as Wells or BofA. And he’s talking about taking the low-cost customers away from the traditional branch banks and leaving those legacy banks with expensive customers who need to go in, talk to a teller, etc. Not a service provided by a traditional bank, but PayPal scaled to Wells or BofA or Citi.

    Seriously Mark, you probably actually know Marc Andreessen. I can’t think of a thing he’s written or a speech he’s given prior to this one where I didn’t think he was on crack (and speed). I’ve always been left shaking me head and wanting an hour of my life back when I’ve read or listened to him. And I know that I’m not the only one, because some very Internet famous people have told me the same thing. But in this talk, Marc just nailed it.

    Comment by BoscoH -

  36. The internet itself is just a utility, but it is far more flexible than traditional utilities like, for example, electricity or water. I doubt anyone is going to come up with a new application for water, but I do think there is still a lot of potential to come up with great new applications for a big array of interconnected processors (and more importantly the people behind them.)

    Here’s one example:

    Every attempt I have seen to provide some utility of the “if you like this, then you might like that . . .” completely sucks. But a working application to relate preferences would be incredible. I want to tap into the millions, or billions, of interconnected users to find out about music, movies, books, events, activities, etc, which I would like. I think I would gladly pay for things that are now free, or at least direct all my commerce and traffic, to a provider that could do this well. It would be a major competitive advantage.

    However, it is a very tough problem and so far I have seen nothing that comes close to doing this well.

    Comment by J:Lai -

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  38. Just would like to offer a thought about what is happening and it is about trust and integrity. The companies including the banks that are doing poorly lost public and internal trust a long time ago. People want to deal with ethical businesses, whether that means going “green” I am not sure. I just know that folks want to deal with those that have personal integrity and can be trusted. We have had enough BS to last several lifetimes and we are seeing through it. Just my 2 cents.

    Comment by lawrence george jaffe -

  39. I am searching. What should a “young, super-smart and looking to have an impact” individual rally around?

    Comment by Abie -

  40. As another poster (Dan) mentioned, the major technological innovations in the next twenty to thirty years will revolve around the efficiencies they create for their users. The internet seems to offer a great number of these possibilities – such as branch banking converting to a predominantly web-based model – but such innovation will not result in the emergence of the new corporate giants. Instead, the companies that adapt the fastest will win out for their owners.

    The masters of “new” – venture capital firms – are moving from the Googles and YouTubes to try and decide if “clean-tech” has a future.

    But, if you look at the “seed” companies listed on Sequoia Capital’s website (http://www.sequoiacap.com/company/seed-stage), you’ll also notice firms involved in the following sectors:

    -Nanotech, Semiconductors
    -Business Systems / Security (efficiency)
    -Online File Storage (dropbox – efficiency, portability)
    -Mobile Tech
    -Online content
    -Personal software (contact management, travelguru type tools)

    Yes, this list reflects Sequoia’s traditional portfolio focus, but the new technology that will define 2010 – 2050 will have to be funded – and VC provides those funds. From the list it looks like efficiency is the name of the game.

    PS: I do share Mark’s sentiments about the ‘net. As a college student, it seems like every two or three people you meet is creating their own new social networking “platform.” Assets and ideas are subject to diminishing marginal productivity….people are subject to diminishing marginal sociability. I can only have so many friends!

    Comment by Adam Hansmann -

  41. Hm. Yes, the internet is “boring” in the sense that it is now stable and relatively ubiquitous, but isn’t that kind of like saying the moon is boring now that we figured out how to get there???

    Granted the Internet is no longer a good place to become an overnight billionaire, so maybe it’s not as exciting for people like yourself. But as far as its potential for being really useful and profitable on a wide scale (especially when it comes to content creation as opposed to aggregation) I think the Internet’s just getting started, and is therefore not at all boring.

    from MC> Actually i would compare it more to electricity, airplanes, TV, printing press, et al. All were transformational at their beginning and for a relatively long period after. We dont think twice about them now. They are just there

    Comment by Peter Krupa -

  42. Why look forward at all for a new economic catalyst? Why not look back over the past and see what was skipped over? Remember, time and history appear to be cyclical and not linear.

    We can now combine the modern political winds (this creepy socialism talk), with the ideas and innovations that got passed over in the past due to not being capitalist enough (free stuff, and services unable to sell by the measure).

    Call me crazy, but think about this anyway.

    Wireless energy transfer on a mass scale. U.S. Patent 0,787,412 Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy through the Natural Mediums, by the much suppressed scientist, Nikola Tesla, along with his other patents, could provide “free” electric energy to all – lightening (no pun intended) ALL consumers’ pocketbooks.

    In his lifetime he went as far as to build in Manhattan a facility that could wirelessly provide free electricity to all homes, businesses, and ships at sea within its radius. More facilities would increase the radius to potentially worldwide. His capital came from JP Morgan himself, who eventually realized the electricity being output could not be charged for on a meter, and then went out of his way to discredit Mr. Tesla and suppress his invention. Mr. Morgan’s clout was such that if he didn’t like you, no one else in the investment sector would take a risk on you either. He was also subordinate to, but not liked by, Thomas Edison, which helped to keep the man’s innovations suppressed as well.

    In fact, I suspect that there is probably a couple of areas where science and capitalism don’t meet eye to eye, and science tends to suffer for it. This is one case study that’s documented.

    But, times have changed. Even bankers look like politicians now, and aren’t all that popular. Government expanding and considering nationalizing is now a possible trend. Why not have the government take up the old innovation of one of history’s greatest minds, and provide us free electricity, instead of historically inefficient stimuli and bailouts. I feel if we had these political trends in Tesla’s era, he might have advanced humanity 100+ years of science in one lifetime. Its pretty obvious businesses and individuals alike would benefit from free electricity, and lets no forget how much the poor would appreciate it who can now buy more food. Confidence in the end strengthens markets, and even the currency, imagine the synergistic effect on society and the planet.

    This would represent the technological and economic quantum leap in society that your blog post seems be looking for, similar to the internet.
    :)

    Also to anyone who’s not familiar with the story of tesla and morgan, theres plenty of information about it online and related documentaries on google video and youtube.

    Comment by dc_ -

  43. Dan, the internal world modelling seems to work acceptably well for humans… when you observe the world around you, everything you think you see or hear is a model built in your brain using the data gathered by your senses. The interpretation of sensory data to create an internal model is the base level, experience and education over time builds on that internal model and allows for extrapolation to previously unexperienced events and future events. The more closely that model world matches up to the actual world, the better the entity is able to interact with the real world spatially and temporally.

    Replicating a process that already works would seem to be the more reasoned way to develop high level robotics and I see it as less of an abstraction of biological functions than a subsumption architecture. That isn’t to say that there’s no room for subsumption architecture as one building block among many- but by itself it would seem to be limited to insect level AI and autonomy. Hell, it may even be a necessary component of high level AI- as the analog to the “subconscious” while the world model as the analog to the emergent property of the “conscious” mind.

    I have no problem borrowing from any field of cognitive study and will pledge no fealty to any individual researcher.

    Comment by Clint -

  44. Wrong Mark, the internet has great gains waiting to be harvested and it only lies fallow now because it cannot be monetized properly. Micropayments are the solution. I’m consulting with a payments startup right now to implement micropayments, but we’re trying to raise our next round of funding and who knows if we’ll make it. You’re right that the internet is dead and boring but for the wrong reasons: it’s a fantastic tool that’s vastly underutilized because we never got the business model right. When micropayments are deployed, another tech boom begins with real revenues and products this time, no pets.com fluff.

    From MC> micropayments are not the answer. Why ? because it takes more time to deal with completing a micropayment trx then the perceived value of the result. If micropayments were the answer Amazon and even paypal would already be pricing in decimals

    Comment by Ajay -

  45. Pingback: Interesting ideas on the boring internet | Ruckusmedia.co.uk

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  47. All of the truly EXCITING stuff for the internet is being killed of my scared citizens.

    1) Tracking- isn’t it exciting to be able to find where your friends are? Meet them at a bar? Nope. People are scared “Big Brother” is going to spy on them.

    2) Mobile Payments- How about I send my friend $4.38 to buy me a hotdog during a baseball game? Why do I need to dig into my pocket and look for cash? Who carries cash nowadays? Nope. People are scared theives will take their cellphones and spend their money like drunken sailors.

    Be scared. The rest of the world will pass the US by.

    Comment by J -

  48. Pingback: The Lootmaar Blog » The Internet is Dead and Boring?

  49. “robot’s internal world modelling” Clint, I am guessing you are Hans Moravec’s graduate student? I read his book “Robot” in high school and realized then how absurd the idea was of internal modeling. Years later I read that Rodney Brooks personally tried to convince Moravec that modeling is the wrong path.

    So yeah, go up to MIT or Indiana University and talk to some of the robotics people there. They will tell you that robotics isn’t always engineering.

    Comment by Dan -

  50. You know the internet is dried up for entrepreneurs when the only feasible business model for Web 2.0 start-ups is grow your user base and pray Yahoo! or Google gives you a call.

    Comment by Kyle Getrost -

  51. Heard of seasteading?

    http://www.seasteading.org/learn-more/intro

    The concept may be the next big thing. It could change our lives, our systems, both personal, social, and how we can be governed. Seems like a great idea.

    Comment by Edgar Enriquez -

  52. Dan… you say that the problem with robotics is; “It will be random, because people keep ENGINEERING robots.”, “Engineering will get you about no where.” and “Their robotics technology was engineered and all it can do is sweep a rug — poorly at that.”

    You keep using the word “engineering” but I don’t think you know what it means. The process of designing and building a robot IS engineering. It is akin to saying that the whole problem with talking is that language thing.

    One key component of a robotics boom is that the processing power and programing advance to the point where the robot’s internal world modelling capabilities allow it to mimic at least a rat level of intelligence.

    It also needs a physically robust and mobile body with a compact and powerful energy source that allows at least a days autonomy from a wall socket.

    The amount of engineering that this will require is quite staggering.

    Personally, I believe that the utilization of the Internet has barely begun. There may not be any more meteoric innovations that burst from basement to billions- but that was a singular moment in human history that may never be replicated. There may not be any room for more revolution with the Internet but there is a lot more evolution ahead of us than there is behind.

    If the human race survives the next several decades then I think that “the next big thing” could be the opening of space. The real estate and resources out there dwarf what is here on earth but it won’t be anything that a bright person with a good idea can take advantage of in their garage. Corralling a medium sized metallic asteroid into cislunar space might turn a billionaire into the first trillionaire but there is little room for thousandaires to become billionaires overnight like the buildup of the Internet allowed.

    Comment by Clint -

  53. Mr. Marc Andreesen, pre Yahoo!, and pre Google, also pre Broadcast.com (sorry), along with his small college group of friends and additionally later Mr. Jim Clark, brilliant pioneer tech and biology guru, who spotted the upstarts and flew personally to met with them in Michigan to recruit them, which all eventually became Netscape, ARE the true founders of what we call and use today publicly, the internet. Everyone and every company now is “after the fact.”

    Would love to hear THEIR answer, opinions to this recent “Blog Maverick commentary.” If Marc is reading, thanks for signing that “Mosiac” paperback large oversize book I sent you and you having your peole mail it back to me. Your a ledgend!

    patrick
    Resident in Santa Barbara, CA / Seattle, WA

    Comment by pat -

  54. It is hard to understand what the problem is because living in Pittsburgh the economy is lovely. Even with CMU and Pitt being subject to > $100mm in fraud on Wall Street. In fact, anytime I try to go to a coffee shop in Squirrel Hill or Shadyside on a Sunday they are all PACKED like sardines. Crazy Mocha, Jitters, Starbucks, Coffee Tree Roasters, Arefa’s, 61C, Te Cafe — all packed. If people are still spending money on coffee that tells you that they are doing well.

    Robotics is the next big thing, but unfortunately all of these roboticists and technology gurus have no clue what they are talking about. They predict a booming robotics industry by 2050, but that’s such a load of crap. No one has a clue when the robotics industry will take off. It will be random, because people keep ENGINEERING robots. Engineering will get you about no where. iRobot is suckling on Uncle Sam’s nip because they can’t sustain in a consumer driven industry. Why? Their robotics technology was engineered and all it can do is sweep a rug — poorly at that.

    In the meanwhile, I think there will be a lot of little spikes in innovation. Maybe this will be called the efficiency era. We will see a lot of subtle and less subtle changes in cities, public transportation, fuel (algae?), solar energy (multi-layered solar cells), some guy in Jitters was talking about making cement from carbon dioxide and sea water. Things will be happening.

    Comment by Dan -

  55. That’s funny Mark. A Marc who became famous because of the Internet, Marc Andreessen, disagrees with you. Arnold Kling reports on a talk Andreessen recently gave here:

    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/02/up_in_the_valle.html

    In it, he suggests banking could be revolutionized by doing away with the costly branch model, replacing it with entirely online banking.

    From mc> Which makes my point exactly. If we are discussing optimizing banking and in particular, branches vs online (something that is not even the least bit new), then the internet has long jumped the shark

    Comment by BoscoH -

  56. Sex drives a lot of innovation on the internet, get a way to hook it up to a penis and the internet will leap forward!

    Comment by cb -

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