[Repost] IE gains on Netscape; Web reminiscing; theme of the 1990s.

I Find Karma (adam@cs.caltech.edu)
Mon, 29 Jun 1998 20:24:05 -0700

Lovely, Rohit let the list go to shambles this past weekend for no
particular reason, so I'm not sure anyone received my post on the theme
of 1990s America at


and of course the just-before-it FoRKpost that my "theme of the 1990s"
post links to is completely corrupted and I have no way of going in and
editting it myself. The link was to the following post, which I'm
also not sure anyone got. So I'm reposting it so at least the Altavista
robots can find it.

By the way, FoRK has really sucked lately. Way too much email, way too
conversational, way too little new interesting vision/bits/clue.
Meanwhile, Rohit continues to wallow in a half-and-half existence that
allows him neither to get his work done nor to pump up his social
status. And I don't know if he'll ever 1) be able to relax, or 2) be
happy. Maybe some of us just don't have it in us. Like I said in the
"theme of the 1990s" post


there are two trends in the U.S. in the 1990s: segmentation and
interconnectedness. Rohit has segmented his social life while at the
same time interconnecting with lots of people around him. Therefore,
Rohit *IS* the central theme of the 1990s, and the universe really
*DOES* revolve around him...

Oh, the humanity. Repost of the post I sent out that no one received
and that wasn't fork-archived is included below.
-- Adam

To: fork@xent.ics.uci.edu
Subject: [IDC] IE gains on Netscape; reminiscing about the Web.

> IDC's research also forecasts that shipments of Web browsers within the
> US will grow from 10.1 million units in 1997 to 124.3 million units in
> 2002, totaling a compound annual growth rate of 52 percent.

A ten-fold increase in five years? I thought we were joking when we
suggested putting Web browsers in everything from car radios to exercise
machines. I guess we weren't.

If I were Netscape right now, what would I do?

1. Try to get bought by Oracle or Apple or Sun or IBM or Intel or
Motorola or CBS/Westinghouse or Turner or Viacom or AT&T/TCI or HP
or Dreamworks SKG or, for Pete's sake, SOMEBODY...


2. Like the Free Software Foundation, make the source code for ALL
products freely available, and

A. Instead attempt to become the world's greatest portal by merging
with Disney or Yahoo or (gasp) Microsoft...

or B. Instead attempt to become a services-and-support company like
Cygnus or Caldera...


3. Sell what's left of the company stock in a downward spiraling
"cash-out", with JimB or MarcA reminding the last person out the door to
turn off the lights...

Seriously, if you were Netscape right now, what would YOU do?

And you know, now that I think about it, Netscape is sort of serving as
a living-and-breathing metaphor for many of the Web's early settlers. I
myself started developing my Web pages in 1993, when the Web was
relatively new and everyone was randomly surfing everyone else's pages
just to see what was out there. For the most part, almost every link
worked (unlike the 404 graveyards currently contaminating my pages!),
because of the small number of sites and people out there who actually
had Web pages. We were pioneers, like Netscape in 1994, showing the
world that the more people and companies participated, the more
interesting a place the Web would become.

And then the ice weasels came. Somehow, in the last five years,
personal Web pages have been flooded out in a sea of governmental,
company-sponsored, and organizational information -- as Greg suggested


we have a brave new world wide web, supplementing television in the
great inundation of data smog that at once makes us passive and
egocentric. As I quote Bolcer posting Postman interpreting Huxley,
"people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies
that undo their capacities to think..." As I quote Rohit FoRKposting
and tubthumping, "My brain is melting..."


My brain is melting too, Rohit, but it's the symptom of something
bigger. Another symptom is that I have now officially stopped randomly
Web surfing for the fun of it. I don't know when it was exactly that I
stopped Web surfing for the fun of it. Sometime after the "death of
Jerry Garcia / Netscape IPO / Windows 95 launch" 34 months ago.
Sometime before the emergence of Style Sheets as a cultural meme.

Nowawadays, for me the Web is like one gigantic reference library (in
which information can be expired, incomplete, or downright wrong) -- I'd
say 97% of my Web use is going to Altavista/Infoseek/Excite/Hotbot to
look for something, and the other 3% is referrals from a magazine,
newspaper, movie preview, email, or FoRKmail.

Three big announcements this week indicate that the manifest destiny
promised by the Web of 1993 has now been realized, by:

1. GOVERNMENT -- The US patent office announced this week that they
will trump IBM by making ALL patent information since 1976 available on
the Web. They could probably make use of...

2. INDUSTRY -- Microsoft's Terraserver was flooded with 50 million
hits per day this week. It is perhaps the biggest database with a
portal to the Web, and hoohah did those MS SQL servers live up to the
task! Certainly an indication of more big things to come. And speaking
of big things...

3. INFRASTRUCTURE -- AT&T acquiring TCI continues the trend of merging
consumer voice, data, and video services. With all this convergence,
how soon will it be before we all have access to a universal
high-bandwidth pipe delivering everything into and out of homes and
businesses? How long before all data is digital data?

So yes, we're living in the middle of a significant Web paradigm shift,
sort of like sitting at the computer terminal as Windows 95 upgrades
itself to Windows 98. Personal web pages like the ones I made for "Lead
or Leave" and Green Day get flooded out as professional organizations
take over those tasks (and, for example in Green Day's case, threaten
lawsuits). Personal home pages like mine don't get randomly surfed
anymore, except by the accidental serendipity of a search engine
presenting a link to me for the random word ballet on my quotelist.
Filtered, semantically-meaningful, contextually-based searching and
location remain a Holy Grail, and the data smog is closing in fast...

I guess my personal Web pages have undergone the (Rohit staple)
Maslovian hierarchy of sustenance, survival, acceptance, self-esteem,
and self-actualization:


At first, it was a struggle for me to even put them up there (since I
grew up without Web tools, I still have the tendency to write in raw
HTML myself...). Then my Web pages and I were battling for surfing
survival in 1993 and 1994, as I tried to advertise my pages before the
big waves came. After that was acceptance: in 1994 and 1995, we got
lots and lots of hits from Web newbies and Internet oldtimers alike,
since they really didn't have any better place on the Web to go than
places like my pages. As a result, my self-esteem rose, with me
incorporating the many suggestions people emailed me to make my pages
better until... sometime in 1996 when the hundreds of emails a day
started to implode on me. Yes, it was sometime in 1996 when I finally
admitted to myself that I could not read every email that came my way,
and I started adding filters and proxies, and picked up the habit of
dumping the entire Inbox every now and then to try to start from
scratch. Not coincidentally, this was right about the time when A) FoRK
rose from the ashes like a Phoenix that has no fire, and B) Rohit and I
spun around the world a couple of times, showing me that the world
really isn't as big a place as it once seemed.

And now? Now, I am self-actualized. I realize that time management
mandates that I only use the Internet in very controlled ways if I am
ever to get anything done. The Web can be a friend, but sometimes it
takes a whole lot more than it gives. ESPECIALLY when you're looking
for something in particular, as Daryl Zero would strongly advise
against. (The Web is great when you're looking for nothing in
particular, as Daryl Zero would strongly argue for... :) The Web used
to be this great grass-roots medium where anyone with a message could be
heard. Now there are simply too many messages to be heard. So the
voices outside my head get filtered away.

And that makes me sad. So melancholy am I about this paradigm shift in
the way I use the Internet -- the way PEOPLE use the Internet -- that
it's as if I have been going through those five stages of the terminally
ill (denial, anger, bargaining, grief, acceptance) talked about in


In this case, the terminally ill entity is the Web itself. Rumors of
Netscape's impending death are not exaggerated. Because technology is
no longer the driving force of the Web, and with the exception of its
portal, it seems to me that all Netscape has is technology. (Not that
Sun is in all that more enviable a position. If the network is the
computer, dudes, why do I need to buy computers from YOU anymore?)

At first, I denied this realization and then I got angry: I worked hard
over five years to produce decent Web pages, but the bottom line is I
just don't have the time to produce the kind of content in there that
companies and governments can offer. My greenbooks hardly compare to
Slate or Salon or the WSJ Interactive edition.

The bargaining came as I tried to advertise my pages to get more people
to visit, and I grieved when no one did visit because there's only
finite time in each person's schedule, and people are going to use that
time maximizing bit/clue/vision flow in and/or being dazzled by a
barrage of entertainment. So now, I accept the fact that though cool
new technologies may arise in the future -- as the tenfold increase in
Web browsers is realized in the next 5 years -- it is content and
entertainment that are king from herein. And the more content and
entertainment we encounter, the less time we have to think.

Those of us with our "ham radio" approach to personal Web pages will
still be here as the Web continues to evolve, but compared with the
flood of information out there now and in the future, we don't even
register on the map anymore. And so it shall be with Netscape.
Netscape may enjoy its browser lead now, but the downward spiral is
quite clear from herein.

The lesson is learned: if you're gonna play in the big leagues, make
sure you know how to hit, pitch, and run...

> Netscape Still Tops Web Browser Market In US - IDC
> June 25, 1998 07:30 AM PDT
> ****Netscape Still Tops Web Browser Market In US - IDC 06/24/98
> FRAMINGHAM, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.A., 1998 JUN 24 (NB) -- By Bob Woods,
> Newsbytes. Netscape Communications' [NASDAQ:NSCP] World Wide Web browser
> may still be number one in the US, Microsoft Corp.'s [NASDAQ:MSFT]
> Internet Explorer (IE) is closing in on Netscape's Navigator, according
> to a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC).
> IDC said that in 1997, Microsoft gained 8.2 percent in market share in
> the small business market, to grab 26.7 percent of that market.
> Netscape, meantime, gained only 2.3 percent, but it still held 46.7
> percent of the small business market.
> In 1996, Microsoft held 18.5 percent of the small business Web browsing
> market, while 44.4 of users in that segment browsed with Netscape
> Navigator.
> Joan-Carol Brogham, a research manager in IDC's Internet continuous
> information research service, said that Microsoft achieved a "high rate"
> of new user adoptions and upgrades in 1997 through "landmark efforts to
> market version 4.0 of Internet Explorer, which kept recognition high
> throughout 1997, and by shipping the product toward the end of the
> year."
> Netscape also continues to lead in all segments of the US browser
> market, although IDC did not elaborate on those figures.
> The IDC report also found that from 1996 to 1997, a shift occurred in
> applications used with the browser, as e-mail, calendaring and
> scheduling, and document management made "significant gains" in the
> browser space. In addition, small businesses showed the highest gain in
> Web browser usage of the five user segments: home, small business,
> medium-sized and large businesses, government, and education.
> IDC's research also forecasts that shipments of Web browsers within the
> US will grow from 10.1 million units in 1997 to 124.3 million units in
> 2002, totaling a compound annual growth rate of 52 percent.
> IDC claims it uses "a unique and highly accurate methodology" that
> "provides the most representative cross sample of users as well as a
> consistent tracking of market share and Web growth trends."
> "The US World Wide Web Browser Market Review and Forecast, 1997-2002,"
> is now available from IDC.
> IDC's Web site is at http://www.idc.com/ . IDC is a division of
> International Data Group.
> Reported By Newsbytes News Network: http://www.newsbytes.com/ .
> 12:32 CST
> (19980624/Press Contacts: Joan-Carol Brigham, 970-668-3199, or Elizabeth
> Freedman, 508-935-4764, both of IDC/WIRES *ONLINE, BUSINESS/)


We are going to cut off their air supply. Everything they're selling,
we're going to give away for free.
-- Paul Maritz, Microsoft Group Vice-President, referring to Microsoft's
strategy to beat Netscape. From documents published by the U.S.
Department of Justice, quoting a report in the New York Times. See