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Newsweek’s Clifford Stoll Was No Nostradamus

Three Word Chant! dug up a fun bit punditry failure from a February, 1995 article in Newsweek by science writer Clifford Stoll.

The title of the story: “The Internet? Bah!

Some highlights:

The truth in [sic] no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works. …

Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

More prognostication:

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 [sic]. 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.

Wow. Two typos and analysis that finds a way to make Bill Kristol look prescient by comparison. Unlike Kristol, though, Stoll at least seems to have realized the error of his thinking. According to his Wikipedia page, Stoll now makes a living selling glass Klein bottles on the Web.

H/T Unlikely Words

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