It’s hard to believe a time when the Internet was like the Wild, Wild West. Not in the sense that there was so much to explore – there still is – but a time when domain names were abundant and available free for the taking. Winston didn’t mention this in his book Media Technology and Society, but domains registrations were free of charge in the early days when the DNS was new. I wish he had discussed this in his book because it was an interesting time in the early days of the commercialization of the Internet. Let’s talk about email though.
According to Winston: “the most unambiguously valuable facility provided by the net is e-mail.” I would have agreed with him 5 years ago before all of the social networks took over the way we communicate online. The fact of the matter is, Facebook is changing the way communicate and write each other messages, particularly with the younger demographic.
A quick online search for the phrase “email is dead” gives us articles on the topic from CNET, the Wall Street Journal, PC Magazine and more. Many contend that competition from instant messaging programs and closed networks like LinkedIn and Facebook make communicating much easier. Personally, I don’t know if I find these systems easier, but I have noticed lately that my peers (and those younger than me) DO prefer me contacting them through one of these rather than sending them a mail.
Winston also writes that: “there is also little to support the idea that the net will become a crucial method for selling goods and services.” Whoa! When I read this I had to flip to the front of his book to see that his book was first published in 1998 and reprinted in 2000. Well, that explains a lot. At that time Amazon hadn’t yet proved itself and Zappos was nothing more than an idea in a young guy’s head who couldn’t find shoes his size whenever he went into a shoe store.
I am not ripping on Winston. No way. He took us through history all the way up to 1998 and he did an excellent job. A week ago I didn’t know what supervening necessities were, nor did I know that these necessities play a large role in directing the process of innovation.