The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I stumbled across Tom Fasulo's "I Hate Computers!" site at work today, while doing some research (what else). I felt like I'd hit a time warp back to the distant past (aka the early '90s).

Fasulo's been churning out his online newsletter since--get ready--1991! (It wasn't named "I Hate Computers!" until 1994.) Of course, having server space at the University of Florida, which, like most American colleges and universities, was among the first non-governmental places to have Internet access, definitely helps. His day job as a professor at UF's Department of Entomology and Nematology (that's insects and bugs to you and me) enables Fasulo to moonlight as a sometime-pundit on tech issues.

The most fascinating part of this site is the archives, which go back to the dawn (and really, the pre-dawn) of the widespread, commercial Internet. I get a real kick out of reading some of these entries, and noting how much--and how little--some things have changed. Take, for instance, this sampling from the very first issue in July 1994:

CEOs and other Very Important People are suffering from e-mail overload, and some are requesting to be contacted by more conventional methods, because they no longer attempt to handle their e-mail backlog. "E-mail is a powerful tool to promote communication and flatten hierarchies. But what nobody wants to admit is that people in an organization have different amounts of power and status. And that those who are better off want to restore a degree of isolation," says Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Langdon Winner. And it's not just the top dogs that are overwhelmed -- the chairman of Computer Associates shuts down the company's e-mail system five hours a day so that everyone can get their real work done. (Wall Street Journal 6/22/94 A1) Well, what do you know, now it's cool *not* to have an e-mail address.

Email overload from a decade ago; and remember, this was wayyyyyyyyyyyy before spam!

Think current file swapping and other intellectual property issues are a sign of modern times? Check out this news item from February 1995:

Meanwhile ...According to the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights' draft report, browsing the Web, sending Usenet postings, reading e-mail and just about anything else you do in cyberspace may be violating copyright law. "It's really that bad," says a copyright professor at Wayne State University. The reasoning in question says that since loading a program from a disk into working memory constitutes making a copy, therefore transferring the text of a document across the Internet so it can be displayed on someone else's screen is also making a copy. In addition, the working group has suggested abolishing the "first sale" doctrine, which states that someone who buys a copyrighted work has the right to pass it on without paying additional royalties. (Scientific American Feb.'95 p.30) See how simple it all is?

All this, well before the first CD track was ripped, encoded and uploaded.

I could post scores more examples like this. It's a trip, man.