First it was the humble BBS, low investment, no advertising to speak of - replaced by CompuServe. CompuServe had the content and the users + the global network. But they were owned by ultra conservative H&R Block and while technicly more advanced than AOL, could not manage to communicate this to users. I.E. they had 19.2 and 56k modems 90% rolled out years before AOL but advertised nothing because it was not 100%. AOL hyped their access speeds at a time when they had perhaps 10% running at then high speeds! AOL out advertised them. Then CompuServe came out with "WOW." A supposed game changer that was released in 640x480 resolution at a time when everyone was proud to own their new 1024x768 monitors. Their conservative oligarchy of Rob Vance and Steven Whilhite then refused to integrate with the internet in any way even while CompuServe bought Spry, the then only profitable browser company! This solidified their true conservative nature and killed them.
AOL then was on top. They ran on a single computer system and were truly a single self contained system. Though this helped them to rollout global changes in the past, it made them myopic and anti internet. Though they tried some, they had a culture that simply could not adjust to the internet. Their philosophy was to conqure the internet. Thinking they could continue by advertising how cool they were just as they had done to conqure CompuServe, they failed to realise that they were effectively advertising against EVERYONE now since everyone was quickly launching themselves onto the internet.
Again, HYPE won the day! AOL out hyped CompuServe. The Internet out hyped AOL.
Enter FaceBook like MySpace and others before, they created a buzz and a sense of coolness. With marketing that could only be conceived through the university system they took the world by storm. They are loosing that buzz quickly as corporations take over and try to leverage that buzz into cash. Just as the internet was designed to be unstoppable, after all everyone with two connections by design starts routing internet traffic, some one else will come along with a better way to create buzz. It is after all ALL HYPE. CompuServe out hyped BBS systems. AOL outhyped CompuServe. The internet out hyped AOL.
There is a fundamental change here though. Because the basic framework is now more solidified, it is now even more just a matter of hype. FaceBook runs on top of the internet. The next system will as well.
Now for a guess - if governments make the internet a locked down system under their control, it will take the conservative reigns and will need to be replaced by a new "undernet." A global network that cannot be regulated - this will be the next great HYPE. All the old internet hardware is there and it could be built quickly with modest changes. The internet was created as a government tool. Perhaps it will end that way as well. Information will not be contained for long. Long live the "undernet!"
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