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Media, which we published until 1997, called many of the major
trends on the Internet years ahead of their realization. The entire
archives are still being converted to a format that we can post
on the Net, but for your reading pleasure here are a few excerpts
from past issues of Digital Media:
March 6, 1995: "By linking the online service [MSN]
to the operating system, Microsoft simultaneously links all Windows
95 applications to the new publishing platform. This sounds like
a developer's dream come true. However, this close association also
serves to block other emerging, competitive technologies, like Secure
HTTP, the apparent leader in Internet commerce backed by Netscape
Communications and others."
April 10, 1995: "People will not be satisfied with
a single channel of interactivity, nor with 500 channels that can
be viewed one at a time. Consumers will happily pile channel on
channel on their screens to gain a better perspective. They want
to see outside the eye of the camera."
December 5, 1994: "There will be no global electronic
marketplace in virtual cash and credit transactions on the horizon
until the export laws change. Consequently, card-based transactions
will continue to be the mainstay for consumers and the future of
financial cards is smart cards."
May 10, 1995: "There's nothing singular about the single
market, and therein lies the heart of the European digital media
story. Rather than viewing the continent as a single, quantifiable
shelf in the global marketplace, companies must identify and exploit
niches that cut across cultures, classes and countries…. The
fatal flaw in most European plans for American product releases
is a mirror of the American misunderstanding of the single European
market. There is no such thing as an "American market"
- there are many markets in America that can be served with targeted
editorial and creative products."
May 10, 1995: "Progressive [now Real Networks] has
not announced any intention of offering baseball programming, but
it is an apt example of how the company will compete with its [server]
customers…. Starwave [is producing] ESNet SportsZone, a Web
sports news service and potential competitor in netcasting baseball
games. Progressive would want to sell a RealAudio server to Starwave,
but it would also want to build a market for its own baseball netcasts.
PC vs. TV has been one of the great bouts in the early stages of
the information era, but RealAudio and HotJava show this controversy
is a lie of the mind. Any idiot can see that the two media are embroiled
in a wildly incestuous relationship."
February 10, 1995: "Microsoft is at a critical point
in its life. Its size and strength have outstripped its old heart.
Gone are the days when a few critical projects could drive the entire
company, and with that bygone era have gone the young hackers who
will give their all and even their personal lives for five years
in exchange for a small fortune…. Product lines have longer
lives, and engineers and marketers are not so easily interchangeable
- today it takes more than half a Microsoft career to master the
intricacies of a Word, an Encarta or an NT."
"Assistant Attorney General Anne Bingaman complained in federal
court last month that her department "got all the relief we
could possibly get" in its 1994 consent decree…. She may
have got some relief, but she got it two and a half years too late.
Microsoft successfully linked its new operating system to its aging
DOS not to ensure compatibility but to tie consumers to an upgrade
path to Windows. Now Bingaman and Justice are declaring victory
when they should be enjoining the extension of the Windows franchise
into online services and electronic shopping…. she wasn't even
looking at the relevant factors in the emerging information economy."
January 2, 1995: "They made it work. A movie, The Crow,
appeared on-screen when I asked to see it. For that Time Warner
Inc., Silicon Graphics Inc., AT&T and Scientific-Atlanta are
due a measure of awe. No one else has rolled out a video-on-demand
network with a working 3D interface controlled by a handheld remote.
No one else is going to learn harder lessons than these companies
when they try to make this network work on a large scale, because
it's not up to the challenge."
October 11, 1995: "Digital Media predicts that, at
current rates, it will take until sometime between 2010 and 2015
before 80 percent of American homes are receiving services akin
to 1994 predictions (video-on-demand, customized information services
and multimegabit data services delivered via fiber)."
DM Index of Megamedia Milestones
1997: There will be five Baby Bells
1998: Copper networks will provide 350 Kbps
2001: 50 percent of U.S. stations will offer
digital terrestrial television broadcasting
2002: Wireless cable subscriptions will reach
10 million households
October 5, 1994: "The companies that will succeed in
the information age are those that successfully re-imagine themselves,
purposefully, with an eye toward the technosystem and from the inside
out. The tast is to get from the disconnected, disjointed analog
organization of today to a digital one that provides a cohesive
culture and corporate image at every point of contact among employees,
customers and suppliers. It will require not only intelligent investments
in information technology, but a serious reevaluation of human skills.
Today, that means making your organization look and work more like
November 7, 1994: "The convergence once thought the
catalyst of change in Hollywood has proved a collision, and it looks
as if Silicon Valley may be run over by the dream makers of Tinseltown….
So far, "repurposing" has proved itself an unworkable
concept in interactive entertainment. Movie-based games have the
look and feel of a health-care system only a policy wonk could love,
filled with technicalities and details rather than a good story."
September 13, 1994: "Adobe is a publishjng-oriented
company that has the technology, tools, money and commitment to
make Acrobat work as the format of choice for electronic publishers."
September 13, 1994: "Sex is a useful tool when selling
deodorant and beer. So why is everyone shocked that on the Internet
people are talking about having sex with animals, poets and the
cast of Star Trek? Violence insinuates itself into every relationship
on television, whether it is carried out with a gun or a snide comment.
Meanwhile, the general press has launched an attack on the Internet
for its lack of civility?"
June 5, 1995: "After reenacting Romeo and Juliet in
1994 - which culminated in the aborted Bell Atlantic-TCI merger
- cable operators and the phone companies are presently acting out
the climax to Macbeth. Virtually everyone dies in Shakespeare's
play, and it looks like some giants will fall in this modern drama
August 7, 1995: "[I]n practice, Internet advertising
is expensive and offers little accountability; for some advertisers,
even its effectiveness is in doubt…. Companies that pay high
prices today for a Web presence probably won't be disappointed if
they put that cost into their education and research budgets. Those
who hope for near-term returns are in for a letdown…."
December 18, 1995: "There are many good ideas in the
Net appliance vision. Unfortunately, they are wrapped in a lot of
assumptions that defy technical and business reality.
"The idea of 'disposable software,' programs that are downloaded
from the Net, executed and erased once their business is done, is
an important one; the belief that these micro-applications will
completely displace the stored applications used today is foolish….
For all you speculators in the stock market, it's time to buy hard
"[T]he Web world is on the verge of a major standards war….
Java applets that don't run in Netscape's Navigator 2.0 but not
Sun's browser. Granted, these are very early versions of the technology.
Yet the incompatibilities don't lead me to believe that Java applets
are going to run in whatever machine they land on."
March 12, 1996: "All the premium online services are
at a turning point; they have to transform themselves and abandon
their legacies as access providers. As the cost of Internet access
bottoms out, AOL and others must migrate from being online connection
companies to become content kingpins like Time Warner and Viacom.
At AOL, this transition is already underway…."
March 12, 1996: "How does a company make a profit carrying
bits in an age when bandwidth is becoming a commodity? Answer: Sell
yourself to a bigger phone company. Which, of course, is exactly
what the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 will encourage in
spades. The massive consolidation of phone, cable and Internet service
companies will speed up this year. Remember, you read it hear in
October  that by the end of 1997 there will be five regional
June, 1996: "This next year will show whether the promise
of Java will actually be delivered. While the sheer amount of money
invested precludes a quiet fizzle into oblivion, high expectations
can lead to disappointment, and once disappointed, consumers are
very leery of technology, to wit the Newton experience. The question
is whether the computer companies involved in delivering Java can
resist their impulses to divide and conquer their markets rather
than to unify and conquer them. If the past is any measure, Java
is in for a rough ride that bound to end in tears."
October, 1996: "By the year 2010, bankers will likely
represent a variety of financial institutions rather than one. They'll
use computer and network access to a wide range of instruments to
assemble customized investment and money management tools for each
one of their customers."
October, 1996: "Ask yourself, would you contract with
FedEx [BusinessLink service, which provided back office services
in conjunction with shipping services] to handle payroll if it cost
the same or more to deliver checks to your employees in traceable
packages, or would you stick with ADP because they specialize in
payroll services? You'll go with ADP. FedEx wraps the real benefit
- that packages can be tracked earlier in the ordering process -
in a lot of additional services and interface issues…. It would
be much more effective for FedEx to address a different problem,
that of how to put product into a traceable delivery system from
anywhere on the planet, regardless of whether the sender has a long-term
relationship with FedEx…. This is a distributed network feature
which would be relatively easy to implement. FedEx need only develop
an application programming interface which exposes the tracking
system to outside applications through secure channels, then disseminate
it for free on the Net."
September 11, 1995: "The zeitgeist of the '60s has
a lot to do with the definition of cyberspace today. Try blindfolding
yourself and having a passage read to you from Tom Wolfe's The Electric
Kool-Aid Acid Test, followed by a passage from Stewart Brand's The
Media Lab or Kevin Kelly's Out of Control. The similarities are
remarkable, not to mention as damaging as LSD in the company coffee
pot would be for any major telecommunications firm…. The problem,
from my perspective as a refugee from the '70s and '80s, is that
the visionaries who tout cyberspace believe that they have invented
from whole cloth a new world of opportunity and commerce."
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