September 30, 2001
6:57 PM   Subscribe

Anyone else remember Wired's theory of The Long Boom from 1997? I guess they were wrong.
posted by endquote (20 comments total)
Four months earlier, their cover story was about how push technology would replace the browser. Nostradamus, they ain't.
posted by waxpancake at 7:08 PM on September 30, 2001

Electronic cash, a key milestone, gains acceptance around 1998.

But PayPal, the poor bastards, still manage to lag behind.

Laughed and cried? Probably. If one reads every line, remembers what Wired looked and smelled like at the time, it sort of reminds you that self-fulfilling prophecies don't really exist.

But also that there's something beautiful about being so optimistic and believing and (I confess) the hidden conviction that all that is said in this article may yet happen...

Thanks, endquote, for the memories; hopes; whatever.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:09 PM on September 30, 2001

Wired made an obvious typographical error. The headline should have read, "The Long Doom."
posted by kindall at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2001

Boys and Girls: not much has happened in the last month; the last year, to negate a boom. Wait a while before ducking and covering.....
posted by ParisParamus at 7:52 PM on September 30, 2001

Wait a while before ducking and covering.....

That's like saying that you're fine to hang out in your Swiss chalet because the avalanche happened 20,000 feet above you. That Micron announced quarterly losses of, um, $500m, might suggest the extent to which the components industry is undergoing such an avalanche, which will just as surely head on down to the manufacturers and retailers.
posted by holgate at 8:02 PM on September 30, 2001

Wired is wrong about everything. I've never met a magazine so irritating and difficult to read, yet still thinks the world of itself.
posted by nance at 8:05 PM on September 30, 2001

Micron is now dealing with a commodity product and they were not prepared for this change of events, they are hardly a bellwether for manufacturers and retailers.

Things will be on the upswing in 3-6 months, which isn't that long now that 'Internet time' is dead
posted by Mick at 8:41 PM on September 30, 2001

Unlike all the other semiconductor manufacturers swimming in inventory? Three to six years, more like, and I'm prepared to bet on that. We're still in the post-Y2K "nuclear winter" when it comes to the PC business. The years of companies massaging quarterlies are having to end, since you can only take that billion-dollar one-time charge so often.

(Anyway, I had my conversation about the "Long Boom" in the spring of '99, when things were still silly. As I said then, you can't sustain a market on a collective delusion of groundless share-price prosperity, because such delusions never behave in a coherent manner. Reality breaks through.)

And yeah, Wired never predicted its own transformation into an emasculated "technology and golf gizmos for middle-management" mag.
posted by holgate at 9:13 PM on September 30, 2001

Double post.

I find this is useful.

The above is sarcasm.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:16 PM on September 30, 2001

They stuck a big caveat in the article:

"This is only a scenario of the future, by no means an outright prediction of what is to come. We can be reasonably confident of the continuation of certain trends. Much of the long boom's technology is already in motion and almost inevitably will appear within that span. Asia is ascendant whether we like it or not. Barring some bizarre catastrophe, that large portion of the world will continue to boom. But there are many unknowns, all kinds of critical uncertainties. Will Europe summon the political will to make the transition to the new economy? Will Russia avoid a nationalist retrenchment and establish a healthy market economy - let alone democracy? Will China fully embrace capitalism and avoid causing a new cold - or hot - war? Will a rise in terrorism cause the world to pull back in constant fear? It's not technology or economics that pose the biggest challenges to the long boom. It's political factors, the ones dependent on strong leadership."
posted by tomalak at 11:28 PM on September 30, 2001

That's the drawback of future forcasting: You might be wrong.
posted by Down10 at 11:37 PM on September 30, 2001

Anyone who ever predicts that the economic wonderland will last forever is an idiot an ought to be treated as such. It happens towards the end of every cycle which themselves last around 25 years. WWII -> 1970s. 1970s -> now.

I've just realised WWII is as far from the day I was born as is today. Damn, that suddenly seems a whole lot closer. :(
posted by vbfg at 1:02 AM on October 1, 2001

Do yourself a favour and have a read of any of the Wireds from 1998/99.

If you're a nerd who watched the artsy fools and idiots come and go, it'll make your day.

Schadenfreude (sp?) indeed.
posted by godidog at 5:21 AM on October 1, 2001

I remember this from back in the day when I actually enjoyed my subscription to WIRED. At about the same time that "Long Boom" was published, somebody -- George Will? John Wrisley? -- wrote an article pointing out similarities between the business and economic climates of the Roaring '20s and the '90s: Recovering from war, inxcreased globalism, revolutions in communication technology. Now, an analogy can be pushed only so far, but one thing I took away from the comparison was that capitalism seems to have an unshakeable cyclic pattern to it, and most of the story of 20th-century economics has been an attempt, nearly always futile, to control the cycle.

So now we're in another downturn. This, too, shall pass.
posted by alumshubby at 5:35 AM on October 1, 2001

Do yourself a favour and have a read of any of the Wireds from 1998/99

Come on you guys, Wired was good! Has anyone looked lately at his or her predictions, even of events close to us?

And the Jetsons were fun as well!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:43 AM on October 1, 2001

Actually, that issue about the "constantly expanding economy" was the one that convinced me to cancel my subscription to Wired. I had been a subscriber since 1.8. I don't even read them any more ... but Shift Magazine scratches the itch that Wired used to.
posted by bclark at 6:13 AM on October 1, 2001

Will a rise in terrorism cause the world to pull back in constant fear?

Will Alan Greenspan take it upon himself to single-handedly destroy the U.S. economy, guaranteeing and snowballing the dot com collapse and its inevitable fallout?
posted by rushmc at 6:20 AM on October 1, 2001


I canceled my sub as well. I sent 'em an email that I remembered when they had a Geek Page, and now they had ads for leasing corporate jets instead -- they'd forgotten to dance with them that brung 'em.
posted by alumshubby at 6:22 AM on October 1, 2001

I worked with both authors last year. I don't think a scenarist can ever be "wrong" since they don't claim to predict but simply to extrapolate current conditions in an effort to explore possibilities.

The main problem with the Long Boom is that any decent scenarist usually presents a set of complimentary scenarios, plotting different courses of events along axes of crucial binary difference, attempting to show all the different ways a conundrum might unfold. The Long Boom, by contrast, is the happy scenario of the set, blown out of proportion.

Why? Because people wanted to hear it. Because these two boobs wanted to sell their book. Because doom-saying is passe. Because they're both so stoned most of the time that they might actually have believed it.
posted by scarabic at 9:12 AM on October 1, 2001

Wired has never had a clue about anything - they simply fell prey of the overwhelming dotcom stocktopia and assumed a role of a hightech preacher in crack....

But hey, a little optimism -despite being unrealistic and all- wouldn't be better than our totally grim and pessimistic world of today?

Sometimes we should just stare back and laugh of what we thought was our big problem, if nothing else.
posted by betobeto at 11:07 AM on October 1, 2001

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