CHRIS DIXON: Here’s How Badly the ’90s Mainstream Media Completely Mispredicted the Internet Age


Andreessen Horowitz partner Chris Dixon explained in a recent blog post that the mainstream media is rarely right when it comes to predicting the future. It’s the job of entrepreneurs and investors to convince the skeptics and ignore needless negativity.

To prove the point, he gives the example of a 1995 Newsweek article, called “Why Web Won’t Be Nirvana.” Among other claims, author (and astronomer) Clifford Stoll augers that “no online database will replace your daily newspaper,” and “no computer network will change the way the governments works…Lacking editors, reviewers, or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data.

Flash forward 18 years: Newsweek has shut down to make way for The Daily Beast, and the lieutenant governor of California has written a book about how citizens should use technology to disrupt the government.

Damn, how you like THEM apples, Cliff?

Dixon actually isn’t the first to highlight this lil’ gem of the 1990s. Daily Beast writer Nick Summers dug up the post three years ago, and even pointed out that Stoll had eventually apologized on a Boing Boing forum — “Of my many mistakes, flubs, and howlers, few have been as public as my 1995 howler. Wrong? Yep. At the time, I was trying to speak against the tide of futuristic commentary on how The Internet Will Solve Our Problems.”

Of course, now you’ve got haters comin’ out of the woodwork to shut down Bitcoin, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, and other next-level technologies. Wonder if they’ll be as gracious in their apologies as ol’ Cliff…