Imagining the Internet Predictions Project
 
More from Clifford Stoll

Internet hustlers invade our communities with computers ... The key ingredient of their silicon snake oil is a technocratic belief that computers and networks will make a better society. [But] the most important interactions in life happen between people, not between computers. - 1995
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The places where computer labs are being built are where the music room and the art room used to be. Soon it will be where the gym used to be. In 20 years' time we'll have a country full of computer-literate people who will have lost touch with what's important in society. - 1995
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I doubt our offices will be replaced by minions working from home. The lack of meetings and personal interaction isolates workers and reduces loyalty. Nor is a house necessarily an efficient place to work, what with the constant interruptions and lack of office fixtures. Perhaps it'll work for jobs where one never has to meet anyone else, like data entry or telephone sales. What a way to turn a home into a prison. - 1995
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Electronic referenda on current events would further shorten the event horizon for public policy. Instead of political changes every few years, policies would be voted on every few months. This is hardly the path to long-term planning. The electronic constituency would be a most fickle electorate. - 1995
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Computers will deviously chew away at libraries from the inside. They'll eat up the book budgets and require librarians who are more comfortable with computers than with children and scholars ... The result won't be a library without books - it'll be a library without value. - 1995
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This bookless library is a dream, a hallucination of online addicts, network neophytes, and library-automation insiders ... Such a dream assumes that ... books are all digitized and available on the computer. They aren't. They never will be. - 1995
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Every roadway has been built explicitly to lessen traffic, yet today's traffic jams are worse than ever ... In the same way, I doubt that adding bandwidth to the Internet will solve future bandwidth crunches. Indeed, we'll only find more people trolling the Net, trucking larger files across the wires. - 1995 The truth is 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. - 1995
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A computer-screen newspaper will never take the place of a real one read over a cup of coffee. And "networking" with role-playing electronic personalities will never replace face-to-face conversation. - 1995 I'm not against the Internet. I just want people to be more skeptical about it. People are skeptical about nuclear power and genetic engineering and a lot of other areas but they blindly accept the Internet. We techies should be more honest about what computers can do and what they cannot do, or else we are setting ourselves up for a big pie in the face. - 1995
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I suspect Big Brother won't have an easy time tracing us. Many important computers will forever be off-net. Most have such weird data structures that it's just not worth the effort to correlate with other databases. And untrustworthy information pervades the system. Our privacy will be protected, as it always has been, by simple obscurity and the high cost of uncovering information about us. - 1995
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Bit-heads talk about digital cash, but that can only show experimental systems with fancy names like DigiCash and First Virtual. For a long while, it's funny money ... A network address isn't associated with a physical location, so it's open turf for fraud ... network-authentication software can never give the same sense of trust as a face-to-face business transaction. No computer network with pretty graphics can ever replace the salespeople that make our society work. - 1995
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Our schools face serious problems, including overcrowded classrooms, teacher incompetence and a lack of security. Local education budgets hardly cover salaries, books and paper. Computers address none of these problems. They're expensive, quickly become obsolete, and drain scarce capital budgets. Yet school administrators want them desperately. What's wrong with this picture? ... Today's standard connections, Ethernet and coaxial cable, will be obsolete within a decade. - 1995
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You wake up one morning to discover that your handwriting's gone. You can't sign your name. Your business has lost its letterhead, envelopes, checks, logos, and even the ink in your pens has disappeared. You open your mouth, and no sounds come out. You can no longer shake hands, frown, snicker, or laugh out loud. Oh, you can still communicate, using the same uniform style imposed on everyone: ASCII text. The only difference between your messages and another's is their contents. You spend your life developing your public appearance: it shows in your handwriting, signature, voice, clothing and handshake. You leave all this behind when you send e-mail. - 1995
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The Internet is composed of extraordinarily cheap and parsimonious people who will go way out of their way, for example, to avoid spending 50 cents on a long-distance phone call. You've met them. I think they will be equally stingy with their digital cash. People don't trust sites on-line. If I go down the block and buy something from a merchant, I trust that when there's cash exchanged, I'm going to get the goods and I'm not going to get ripped off. On-line I'm not so sure about that. The business that's here today, it can disappear tomorrow, change its e-mail address. I may easily get burned. That's not to say don't make World Wide Web browsers. They're fun, they're enjoyable, but they're grossly oversold. - 1995
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The Internet is not the key to the future. It's not going to provide great, wonderful information. Instead, it will continue to provide a rather mundane view of our very, very mundane world. - 1995
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In the next 10 years, somebody will figure out how to charge for information over the Net, so you won't get things necessarily for free. That will have several good effects, including a way to pay authors for their work. And because of the economic incentive, it will become easier to filter out the good from the bad. - 1995
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I don't believe that phone books, newspapers, magazines or corner video stores will disappear as computer networks spread. Nor do I think that my telephone will merge with my computer, to become some sort of information appliance. - 1995
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The bloom is off the road ... I don't think it ever was blossoming ... It's promoted in a way that's bogus: That it's a virtual community, that it's good for business, that it's good for society, that it's good for education. Within each one is a grain of truth, but not a beachful of truth ... We've been sold a bill of goods: that it's better to have a virtual experience, an experience via computer, rather than a real experience of walking among the trees. I think it's real worrisome. - 1995

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