Join 3,423 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


November 7, 2001
9:57 AM   Subscribe

Curmudgeon revels in the dot-com carnage.
posted by TiggleTaggleTiger (47 comments total)

 
Fogey revels in hackneyed stereotypes of the younger generation. Next . . .
posted by feckless at 10:05 AM on November 7, 2001


I don't think anyone needs to worry about having a job once the boomers start retiring. In fact, we're all going to have 3 jobs to we can support them and their failing Social Security system.

Those old smug bastards better watch it.
posted by pjdoland at 10:11 AM on November 7, 2001


it's a very unfocused article, certainly. throughout, Gay and D'Agostino count off the stereotypes of the typical dot-com IT workers throughout the 90's, yet most of the people he quotes as evidence are not IT workers. a banker here, a journalist there; were these people ever paid six-figure salaries to goof off? furthermore, why do the authors admit early in the article that these dot-commers often stayed late, only to later quote a Mr. Ruge who says "Putting in more face time, having to stay as late as your boss, even if it’s 7 or 8 o’clock—I don’t think I could dignify it as work ethic. I think those are fear-based behaviors; people are doing it out of their own anxiety." so were IT workers afraid for their jobs earlier? very sloppy work indeed.

and i like how single quotes are accented, but double quotes aren't. that way, the punctuation can rightly be said to be as inconsistent as the article itself.

thanks for the link, tiggle -- an interesting read.
posted by moz at 10:20 AM on November 7, 2001


In fact, we're all going to have 3 jobs to we can support them and their failing Social Security system.

Soylant Green will solve all of our problems.
posted by thirteen at 10:21 AM on November 7, 2001


who else thinks gloating over the bursting of the dot-com bubble will last longer than the dot-com bubble?
posted by gwint at 10:35 AM on November 7, 2001


Did you not mean to link this article instead?
posted by cell divide at 10:38 AM on November 7, 2001


Perhaps it should be called Soylent Grey.

Forgive me for that bad joke.

Moz, thanks for the analysis of the article. You are right on the money.
posted by rks404 at 10:40 AM on November 7, 2001


Oops: click here
posted by cell divide at 10:41 AM on November 7, 2001


strange, it worked in preview both times!

http://www.observer.com/pages/envelope.asp
posted by cell divide at 10:42 AM on November 7, 2001


Heh. Just wait until somebody tweaks his computer. Sounds like I've got enough expertise (none, nada, zilch) to commit mayhem in a place like those described.
posted by realjanetkagan at 10:42 AM on November 7, 2001


I can say from my own experience that kids straight out of school pretty much expected to make $100K right away, get stock options, a sports-ute, and other perqs, and all these monkeys could do was code (badly) some HTML and maybe some Visual Basic.

Maybe now these legions of latte-drinking, overpaid, whiny kids will grow up a little bit and learn some real skills so they can get real jobs.
posted by mrmanley at 10:45 AM on November 7, 2001


In fact, we're all going to have 3 jobs to we can support them and their failing Social Security system.

And I'm gonna hafta work for an extra 10 years past retirement just to make up for the umpty gazillion dollars that those all those smug, young dotcom bastards sucked out of my 401k when their bubble burst.
posted by MrBaliHai at 10:45 AM on November 7, 2001


> I don't think anyone needs to worry about having a job
> once the boomers start retiring.

Speaking as such a person, I confidently expect Social Security will crap out and I don't plan on getting back a cent of what I've put in. Oh, it'll pay off -- but it'll pay off in some form of Confederate money that nobody will accept in return for stuff like food and shelter. Soc Sec payout will be good only at government-approved redemption centers where all they sell is, well, like thirteen says... I doubt I'll ever be able to quit working, short of the grave (which is the norm for most of human history anyway.)
posted by jfuller at 10:49 AM on November 7, 2001


Yeah, I had that 401k-draining problem too. Damn whippersnappers held a gun to my head and forced me to invest in their offerings. Wouldn't even let me sell once I noticed the bloom coming off of their stock prices, either. The heartless bastards!

'Course, I'm just a latte-drinking, overpaid, whiny kid, so what the hell would I know, right? Anyhow, back to work with me....
posted by youhas at 11:54 AM on November 7, 2001


Maybe now these legions of latte-drinking, overpaid, whiny kids will grow up a little bit and learn some real skills so they can get real jobs.

Troll much? An awful lot of MeFites are tech geeks in some way; are you hoping to bring on an indignant chorus of protest?

Mine: I was never *spoiled*, only well-treated, and I worked hard for it, which I think is a fair trade. I got laid off anyway though, along with many friends & colleagues far more talented than I. I'm back to work now, and what do you know, I'm still working hard and being treated well in return. It feels a lot like 1999 except there's no orange-scooter guy bringing me ice cream.

The point is, I find generalizations such as "they were all spoiled" and "they all deserve what they're getting now" to be a waste of air, or of pixels. Petty fun for the makers of such observations, perhaps, and a boost to their egos as they show off their perfect hindvision (which is why gwint is dead-on), but otherwise useless. This entire article is a perfect example.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:12 PM on November 7, 2001


Damn whippersnappers held a gun to my head and forced me to invest in their offerings.

Dunno about your 401k, but mine doesn't allow me to pick individual stocks to invest in, just select from a group of mutual funds that range from low-risk (bonds) to high-risk (stocks). Each fund's portfolio contains a variety of investments in multiple market segments, so even if I juggled my investments each and every day, it would've been virtually impossible to avoid the fallout from the tech downturn. In my last statement even the bond funds took a severe beating.

But I'm just a latte-drinking, overpaid, whiny adult who works for an older tech company that lost over $100 million investing in dotcoms, so what the hell would I know, right?
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:15 PM on November 7, 2001


Petty fun for the makers of such observations, perhaps, and a boost to their egos as they show off their perfect hindvision

Hindvision for some perhaps, but a substantial number of people were saying that the typical dotcom business model was seriously flawed well before the bubble burst.

As for overgeneralizing, that's always a danger. I know plenty of people who were genuinely trying to produce something wonderful and an equal number who were just in it for the perks. In the end, I have far more friends who came out of it with nothing than became millionaires.

It was a unique product of a unique time, a nadir of naivete to some, but a pinnacle of progress to others. Regardless of how you viewed it, I doubt that we will see its like again in our lifetimes.
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:42 PM on November 7, 2001


SOME of what the article says is true, especially in the first paragraph. However I know of no one who is kowtowing to The Man. I know of no one who is retreating to the safety of Big Co. I know of no one who is offering to work more hours.

I, like many of you, was part of the net startup phenomenon, and I can tell those of you who were not that there was a sense that we were doing something special, but it wasn't an entitlement thing. You worked your fucking ass off. You pulled your own and covered anyone else's slack who wasn't hacking it. Those people were soon out and replaced by others. There was no entitlement. You proved yourself every single day.

He makes it sound like a big playground. You know what, when you work 100+ hours per week like me, doing things like going into a client meeting shoeless and playing around in the engineering bay with Nerf guns was a necessary diversion and not some reversion to childhood.

While this idiot was sitting at home drinking his scotch and reading his Wall Street Journal in his underpants, I was at work. When this idiot was sleeping in a Prozac/Valium/Viagra induced state next to his partner in a loveless marriage, I was at work. While this guy was eating his oat bran and prune juice, listening to NPR in the morning, I was at work.
posted by fooljay at 12:49 PM on November 7, 2001


Right on, pjdoland! ^5
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:12 PM on November 7, 2001


By the way, as far as these stereotypes go, I'm a web designer and have been in the 90's.
Did I miss something? Where was MY six fig income?
Actually I earn a modest, yet liveable blue-collar salary and I am happy with it. I also like what I do.

I used to get nausiated over these boomers making six-figure incomes who don't know how to turn on a computer (I used to work in IT). I wonder if the authors of this article looked at us Xers with the same kind of contempt throughout the 90s and are now reveling.
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:20 PM on November 7, 2001


fooljay:

While I admire your work ethic, I had personal experience with about fifty of your generation's best, and I can say that this ethic was not shared by the majority of them. I had to keep on their asses constantly in order to meet project deadlines. I ended up writing (or re-writing) a lot of the code myself. There was an astonishing lack of maturity and ability to work on a timeline among the young engineers I worked with, and they had almost no ability to recognize their own weak spots.

Oh, sure, they were at work, which they evidently equated with working. There were guys in the office sometimes fifteen hours a day -- even though most of them stood around for sometimes hours at a time, guzzling coffee and gabbing with each other over the cube walls.

The arrogance was astonishing; these first-year grads wanted the kinds of salaries a ten-year IT professional commands. If you want to play nerf-hockey or throw frisbees around, do it on your own time. You're there to do a job, not to explore your inner child.
posted by mrmanley at 1:25 PM on November 7, 2001


While this idiot was sitting at home drinking his scotch and reading his Wall Street Journal in his underpants, I was at work.

Nice to see that the stereotyping and overgeneralizations go both ways.
posted by MrBaliHai at 1:30 PM on November 7, 2001


Most old guys like him that I've worked with don't work nearly as hard as the young people do. Yeah, we might not have been doing it in blue suits and tweedy skirts, but we worked harder and more passionately than he and his overpaid, CEO-level, useless ilk do.
Show me an over-fifty, six figured income guy working as hard as we did at a "dot com" and I can show you 50 others who golf every friday, take 3 hours lunches every day, schlep their work off to "peons" and have their secretaries wear short skirts and bend over to pick up pens they've dropped.
This guy probably never even spent time in a dot-com or talking to real dot-commers. He's just bitter we re-wrote the rules when he was just getting to a point where he could take advantage of them.
posted by aacheson at 1:35 PM on November 7, 2001


As a noncom in the Internet Wars, here is what I never got: Why did so many of the dot-commers that I dealt with during the halcyon days of ~1997 to ~2000 seem to think that their work amounted to saving the world, and, concurrently, that they were somehow heroes for banging out code for a living?

So you were making money, having fun, and fooling around with really cool toys. Sounds good. And everybody wants to think that their work has some value beyond just bringing home the paycheck. Okay. But come on people, if I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase, "We were/are doing really important work here," I wouldn't need my 401K plan.

Figuring out a new way to market chotchkes to middle americans in their bathrobes may be a living, but it is hardly "really important."

I think that for people like fooljay (no offense) the world was really small. If you are working 100+ hours/week and spending all your time in front of a computer screen, you might think that the world revolves around the Internet. But the whole Internet phenomenon, for all its fury and bluster, has been only peripherally important to the vast majority of people on this little dirt-ball we call Earth.

I work for an estate planning firm in Seattle, and we have had many of the dot-com millionaires walk through our doors. They effectively shake out into two different types of people. On the one hand you had those who understood that they had gotten lucky - been in the right place, at the right time, in the middle of something that was fun and exciting, but, ultimately, fleeting. They other group thought that they, specifically and exclusively, were the reason for their success. They felt that the reason they had become fabulously wealthy was because they were smarter, better, and just plain cooler than the rest and (paradoxically, if you think about it) that those had missed the boat were just lazy, dumb, square, or some combination of all three.

BTW: The former of the two groups were also the most generous with their estates and also the most likely to head into something completely different when they made the leap out of the dot-com industry. The latter often bought hook/sinker in the idea that "there was nowhere to go but up" and sunk much of their money into further dot-com ventures. (1999 & 2000 was all about setting up the stock-funded trusts, 2001 has been all about revoking same - go figure.)

Do those of us on the sidelines get a bit of guilty pleasure at seeing the dot-com empire crumble down in on top of itself: sure we do. It ain't pretty but it's human nature.

But just like there are many current and ex-dot-commers who are being undeservedly stereotyped as arrogant, spoiled, whiny kids there are a large number to fit the mold to perfection. It's guilt by association, and it isn't fair, but it probably isn't going away anytime soon either.
posted by edlark at 1:53 PM on November 7, 2001


While I admire your work ethic, I had personal experience with about fifty of your generation's best, and I can say that this ethic was not shared by the majority of them.

Just like the general population, you can't trust everyone and not everyone is a star. However, having worked in an out of the internet, I can tell you that I've never been surrounded by a higher concetration of motivated and intelligent people. Sorry you had those experiences. I'd chalk it up to bad hiring or at least hiring during a period of high demand/low supply.

The arrogance was astonishing; these first-year grads wanted the kinds of salaries a ten-year IT professional commands.

Certainly a great deal of that is due to the law of supply and demand. If you don't work for the going rate, you're not doing anyone a service.

Nice to see that the stereotyping and overgeneralizations go both ways.

It was a joke... A illustration that generalizations are always bad. ;-)

Figuring out a new way to market chotchkes to middle americans in their bathrobes may be a living, but it is hardly "really important."

The negative aspect of the "boom" is that a lot of people came in to ride the coattails. They came up with half-baked ideas and got millions of dollars in funding from the greater fools. That isn't where the really cool and world changing stuff was being done, but all of it contributed not only to the idea that the Internet revolutionized a lot of things and to the downfall of the economic basis for the boom...

The internet still goes on, as do the good companies, good ideas and good people.

I think that for people like fooljay (no offense) the world was really small. If you are working 100+ hours/week and spending all your time in front of a computer screen, you might think that the world revolves around the Internet.

It has nothing to do with the world revolving around the Internet but instead how the Internet affects the world. It did, did it not? My life is changed. The way I do things have changed. Paradigms were shifted, were they not?

Case rested.
posted by fooljay at 2:24 PM on November 7, 2001


I had personal experience with about fifty of your generation's best, and I can say that this ethic was not shared by the majority of them.

Then they were not being managed correctly. There is no person who properly motivated doesnt want to contribute or they wouldnt be there.
posted by stbalbach at 2:40 PM on November 7, 2001


It has nothing to do with the world revolving around the Internet but instead how the Internet affects the world. It did, did it not? My life is changed. The way I do things have changed. Paradigms were shifted, were they not?

Case rested.


Not quite yet.

How did it change the world. It seems inaccurate and aggrandizing to say that the Internet has changed the world. (It may yet still do so, but that's for some other thread.) There has been some really good discussion of late revolving around how the Internet was misperceived through the late 90s - mistakenly viewed as a "new" industry instead of a tool to be used by the existing establishment.

The Internet accelerated and exacerbated already existing trends and dynamics, but it didn't create any new ones. (The onset of wide-spread e-mail use being, perhaps, the one exception to this statement. But even this can be seen in terms of a change in scope rather than a change in kind.)

The prevailing paradigms that existed before the Internet - both economic and social - seem to be pretty well solid in their place. The fallout from the "new business" model Internet firms being the most obvious example.

Can you give me an example of a true social, cultural, or economic shift that has come about (and lasted) because of the Internet?
posted by edlark at 2:47 PM on November 7, 2001


The problem (in my experience) was the division between the CEO with no real knowledge of the Internet with houses in Santa Monica and Malibu living high on the hog along with the sales team/biz dev/suits on investor money, then on the other side you had the tech folks being "decently" paid, supplemented in what I like to call "funny money" (options, glorious options). The CEO "uber-rich" got the headlines, while those of us who actually used and worked on the web got painted with the same hubris brush.
posted by owillis at 2:48 PM on November 7, 2001


What really burns my biscuit about this article is that I work in at a place where I HAD to play by the old rules, and did/do.

Yet, since I'm an internet guy, I get a different treatment from the managers, like they're half expexcting me to drop trow in the middle of a meeting or something.
posted by tj at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2001


about fifty of your generation's best

If they were truly the slackasses you describe, then quite obviously they aren't anything like the "best" of "our generation", which puts you back to insulting large numbers of people again, mrmanley.
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:52 PM on November 7, 2001


Phooey.
posted by zeoslap at 2:52 PM on November 7, 2001


about fifty of your generation's best

Hmm, maybe you have a larger issue with your HR people (who probably had no idea what they were actually looking for, due to poorly constructed requiremnts) than anything else?
posted by tj at 2:54 PM on November 7, 2001


In fact, we're all going to have 3 jobs to we can support them and their failing Social Security system.

Soylant Green will solve all of our problems.


yeah! eat me, gen x!
posted by quonsar at 3:28 PM on November 7, 2001


I'm curious, did anybody else on Andreesen's NSCA Mosaic team at the University of Illinois make any money?
posted by mmarcos at 3:56 PM on November 7, 2001


mmarcos: I'm sure some of them probably did, if they rode into Netscape with him. I recall seeing a documentary on Netscape last year, and some of the people they were interviewing that were on the core dev team were "employee number 12" types, who had already cashed in long-held stock for real, live liquid cash assets that put them into "never ever ever have to work again" stratosphere- millions or tens of millions of dollars. So presumably the answer is some but not all of them. It's probably like that famous group photo of the original MS team- bet at least one of the original people left MS before the stock was splitting 3 times a day while still skyrocketing in value. And kicking themselves daily for it... :)

Oh, and most but not all "dot-commers" were hardworking, intelligent people. There were lazy spoiled self-important boobs, but most of those were in management anyway. There were the hangers-on liberal arts grads getting 60k as "marketing" or some other vague job position, but most of the people were hardcore techies who would have done what they did anyway, not as johnnie-come-latelies.

And just because people finally realized that wearing a uniform/suit in a place where no outside people see you- such as in a server room or developing code in an office lit only by the glow of your monitors- was a waste of formality, or that a little letting off steam or playfulness helps in the workplace, doesn't make them lazy. No reason we all have to revert to 50's era suit-wearing, martini drinking clones. The excesses of the worst-run companies do not refute the theory of a relaxed work environment or well-compensated employees.

Fuck, I mean- I'm still waiting for the 30- or even 20- hour work week. :)


posted by hincandenza at 4:43 PM on November 7, 2001


Hey, you're waiting for the Great Society. In the 60s Congress promised that American would work less and less hours for the same wages in the future. Ha!
posted by mmarcos at 6:23 PM on November 7, 2001


sapphireblue:

I don't doubt that there were honest, hardworking techies in the dotcom sector. I just think it's a lot fewer than you seem to think. Ever visit the offices of Amazon or other "pure play" internet companies at the height of the hype? I'd guess that about half the staff (at that point) was completely redundant.

I'm just glad the era of "I'm smart and hip so gimme" is over. And good riddance to it.
posted by mrmanley at 6:29 PM on November 7, 2001


Spoken like someone who was never particularly smart nor hip. Bravo!
posted by hincandenza at 7:11 PM on November 7, 2001


This conversation reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's tongue-in-cheek retort to Ginsberg's Howl. I can't remember the exact quote, but it was something to the effect of: "Alan, did it ever occur to you that "The best minds of your generation" were, in fact, busy busting their asses at Cornell?"
posted by Optamystic at 7:23 PM on November 7, 2001


The young do not know enough to be prudent,
and therefore they attempt the impossible,
and achieve it, generation after generation.
-- Pearl S. Buck
posted by stbalbach at 7:46 PM on November 7, 2001


The Internet accelerated and exacerbated already existing trends and dynamics, but it didn't create any new ones.

And how exactly would this not fall under my assertion that the Internet "affected the world around us"?

Can you give me an example of a true social, cultural, or economic shift that has come about (and lasted) because of the Internet?

Jesus, there are so many that I'm actually kind of disgusted that I actually have to enumerate some. Still, I will calm down and realize that we're probably talking about semantics here and that we probably agree more than we disgaree...

{{breathe}} {{breathe}} {{breathe}}

OK, yeah, that didn't work....

- So how about an awakening of global conscience?
- How about a virtual shrinking of distance between everyone?
- How about the fact that my computer now provides me with 90% of the information relevant to my daily life (maps, phone numbers for businesses, news, movies, books, conversation, etc etc)
- How about a huge boost in efficiency in communication between multiple corporate offices or field personnel?
- How about pr0n for God's sake! (maybe that's a bad choice of words, but I had to leave it in)

My examples are just a few humble ones. There are soooo many more and ones that are probably far better...
posted by fooljay at 12:43 AM on November 8, 2001


How about fooljay? I would have never know of him had it not been for this little internet thing. By that definition alone, the internet has done some good.
posted by Optamystic at 12:48 AM on November 8, 2001


Well this smells like schadenfreude, stale schadenfreude at that. Haven't we been talking about this for ages? What gets me is that most of us were a party to it - the dot-com'ers, the investors, the media. The dot-com'ers seem to be the fall guys (not undeservedly in some cases), but no-one else seems to want to take any responsibility for their actions during this boom. What happened to the analysts and media who over-hyped these stocks in the first place? If people like the author were so savvy to the fake gold rush, why weren't they out there selling picks and shovels?
posted by DaRiLo at 1:03 AM on November 8, 2001


Or, Optamystic, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong... :-)
posted by fooljay at 5:14 AM on November 8, 2001


fooljay,

I'm really not trying to pick on you here, and I'm sure that for you the Internet has been a profound influence. Perhaps what we are having here is a semantic argument and what I'm really objecting to is the casual use of the term "paradigm shift," but if you want to claim that the Internet has somehow caused fundamental changes in the world then you have to mean more than just the fact that us "power users" hang out on it all day long.

I think this illustrates my initial point, for those who work within and associated with the Internet "industry" the world and their lives seems to have been fundamentally changed. But this still remains a very small class of the world population. Really, this is even a pretty small portion of the population of the United States.

- the vast amount of economic commerce still takes place within the confines of "bricks and mortar" businesses

- the vast amount of social commerce still takes place physically, between individuals on a face to face basis

As for your examples:


- So how about an awakening of global conscience?

The idea that we should "think globally" has been around since the turn of the last century. We like to think that we invented "globalization" because we have started to talk about it again in recent years, but the same hopes and fears were being discussed (and hyped) in the late 1800s and in the 1920s.


- How about a virtual shrinking of distance between everyone?

"It's a small world," as they say and has been for quite some time. See above.


- How about the fact that my computer now provides me with 90% of the information relevant to my daily life (maps, phone numbers for businesses, news, movies, books, conversation, etc etc)

Again, this is personal and not global. I could say the same for myself, but the fact is that you, me, and most likely virtually everyone else here on MetaFilter are not a representational sample of even the U.S. population let alone the global population. It is not like access to this information was unavailable prior to the induction of the Internet - most of it could have been obtained via a phone call, for example. This is describing a change in scope not in kind.


- How about a huge boost in efficiency in communication between multiple corporate offices or field personnel?

This one has potential, but I think the jury is still out. Having more information does not translate in to having more efficient information networks. One can always run into the "babble principle."


- How about pr0n (porn?) for God's sake!

Okay, well this one I've got to give to you. You bet, hands down. ;-)
posted by edlark at 2:15 PM on November 8, 2001


Perhaps what we are having here is a semantic argument and what I'm really objecting to is the casual use of the term "paradigm shift," but if you want to claim that the Internet has somehow caused fundamental changes in the world then you have to mean more than just the fact that us "power users" hang out on it all day long.

I think you're absolutely right, reading your responses (which I doubt I'll go over point by point) it's all about semantics.

For instance, there are millions of people around the world who have never ridden in an automobile, and yet, that form of transportation has greatly affected the world.

So you'll probably tell me that a car is different that the internet because it's been around longer and because more people have een affected by them.. Okay then what about wireless phones? Answer machines? Chemotherapy?

It's a sliding scale to be sure, but I think that the internet has put many amazing and wonderful things in motion that would not really have been possible without it, regardless of whether or not the idea of such breakthroughs had been around for a long time. People may have wanted certain things and talked about certian things before but the internet brought them to a great many people and continues to affect more people positively every day.
posted by fooljay at 6:33 PM on November 8, 2001


Most (not all, but most) of the people responding to the original article totally missed the authors' point. Their focus wasn't on techies or tech companies ("dot-coms", et al), so why is yours?

The authors were commenting on the larger issue of the attitude of entitlement that has, fairly or unfairly, been attributed to many of the youngest, newest members of the workforce -- not just "Internet revolutionaries."

Makes me wonder how many people actually read the article, and how many based their commentary solely on a literal (as opposed to a more accurate symbolic) interpretation of the original poster's "dot-com carnage" title.
posted by verdezza at 8:07 PM on November 10, 2001


« Older Watch Marketing In Action...  |  Want to Link to Auto-Zone? ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments