The Internet? Bah!: In 1995, Clifford Stoll told us why “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.” Even better:
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. 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.
The best part of the laugh is that we’d never know about this delightful bit of god-awful prediction if the Newsweek archives weren’t online. (I saw Clifford Stoll speak in high school; I found him hugely interesting and entertaining. This column wasn’t his brightest moment.)