Dot-Com Is Dot-Gone, and the Dream With It
November 25, 2001 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Dot-Com Is Dot-Gone, and the Dream With It A New York Times article on the dot-com-crash. "Each day, the old idols seem to fade further into the dim past, barely recollected in a country where the languages of "revolution" and "warfare" are no longer just business metaphors. This is the next step after the bursting of the dot-com economic bubble — the bursting of the cultural bubble, the end of the nerd as a crossover hit, of the I.P.O. zillionaire as role model to college students." I agree that our country is in the beginning of a cultural revolution; starting with the dot-com crash last year and accelerating with 911. Am I alone or does anyone agree?
posted by Oxydude (23 comments total)
the US has been heading for a major change in thinking about investment and the business of doing business-as-usual for the past two decades. As the baby boomer drain - the social security "entitlement" - approaches, globalization movements kick in, population needs and income levels change, governments (federal, state and local) are starting to realize that the Old Ways of getting money, keeping utilities going and attracting/keeping businesses in the area just aren't working. There'll be a heavy reckoning in academic circles about how the structure and funding of government and American capitalism will have to change - radically. I think America's in for a lot of serious lifestyle changes (transportation, ownership of goods/property, standard of living, education) in a few years.
posted by salsamander at 7:48 PM on November 25, 2001

I am intrigued that the new message for being a good, patriotic citizen is to spend money. Too many science fiction stories of a dark future are coming true.
posted by fleener at 7:54 PM on November 25, 2001

The dot-com revolution's dead. I think everyone agrees on that. It must be a slow news day for the New York Times to publish an article oin a topic that's been covered to death.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 7:55 PM on November 25, 2001

When I read such stories after September 11, my mind often turns to an article I excerpted from the New York Observer, just a few days before the attacks, that noted our fatigue with being successful. "Remember last autumn, when New Yorkers felt omnipotent? We had the Subway Series, a frothy, yeasty Dow, frilly, feminine fashions, serious steaks at restaurants, a Mayor who was boldly stepping out with his mistress (how French!). We were playing handball inside our lofts, the better half of Hollywood was relocating to Tribeca, women in their mid-40's were popping out babies, and the political climate was about to be dominatrixed by the smooth, competent, sexlessly reassuring Gore Girls. Well, this fall already feels like a bracing cold shower."
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:11 PM on November 25, 2001

Yeah, who's gonna drive the bus now that Ken is gone?
posted by shoepal at 8:28 PM on November 25, 2001

Yadda Yadda Yadda dotcom is dead, basic laws of economics still apply, a bunch of out-of-work dotcommers are writing lousy books about how lousy they ran thier businesses, and foosball tables are not a deductible business expense. Move along you lookie-lous, nothing to see here.

Sorry, I've read enough commentaries that say the same thing. Saying that truth is more true after 9/11 does not make it new.
posted by ilsa at 8:31 PM on November 25, 2001

Wrote this a while back about whether anything lasting came out of the boom, and whether resenting the people involved is/was really appropriate. Wrote this about a reporter who was all to eager to capitalize on the industry downtrend by hanging some ordinary folk out to dry. And wrote this recently about a little part of the dream that is clearly gone, something I miss, something I will keep dreaming of until it returns someday.

Is the dream gone? (first ask which one...)

1) The internet will change people's lives.

2) Everyone involved will become rich.
Kind of. Many did. Some even did it by innovating and creating lasting value. Lots of smart people found work there. Many (not all) of those folk are now out of work, so be kind when trashing the stupidity of the dreamer. But some of us are still plugging away in high hopes.

3) That old companies will be destroyed by new, young, dynamic webs of interconnected revolutionaries empowered to redefine value and save the soul of the consumer.
Yes. That one's over.

What does 911 have to do with any of it?
posted by scarabic at 9:07 PM on November 25, 2001

Isn't our country ALWAYS in a cultural revolution? Picture each decade in your mind...

1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s

they all feel completely different, sometimes based on the economy, sometimes on war, sometimes on social issues. But that's the weird thing about this country, we really seem to love change. Or is it just me?
posted by billder at 9:13 PM on November 25, 2001

Isn't our country ALWAYS in a cultural revolution? Picture each decade in your mind...

The most obvious, and yet most insightful comment in this thread. People with various vested interests are always trying to say and prove that "their" period is more interesting, more revolutionary than others.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:29 PM on November 25, 2001

I agree that our country is in the beginning of a cultural revolution; starting with the dot-com crash last year and accelerating with 911

Hogwash, there may be change coming, but don't give the dot-commers who failed credit for providing the groundwork for our future. And give our society more credit for its pre-existing benevolent side than that. Business was changing all throughout the 90's and most people were not, and never have been, as self-absorbed as the young dot-commers got rewarded for being. We will not be a kinder, gentler nation because of the Web.

Every few years the world that college students are facing changes and, predictably, they change with it. When the economy is bad, grad school and Peace Corps applications rise. When it is good, Wall Street and other get-rich-quick jobs are lusted after. Anyone who graduated in the 80's as I did is not impressed with this "newfound" altruism or personal development plan of current graduates.

the new message for being a good, patriotic citizen is to spend money.
It has always been the message; there has been no need to articulate it bluntly for 10 or so years, but it's been there. Simply put, Consumption is 70% of our GDP (our economy, roughly), give or take, and guess what Consumption is?
posted by dness2 at 9:34 PM on November 25, 2001

I agree that our country is in the beginning of a cultural revolution; starting with the dot-com crash last year and accelerating with 911. Am I alone or does anyone agree?

I'd agree that what the U.S. is going through is more than a natural evolutionary process. It is a revolution, because we are revolting (okay, I opened the door; go ahead and pile on there with yer punny comments, silly MeFiers). What are we revolting against? Our "terrorism? it can't happen here" past -- a past that was not only carefree, but, as it seems all too apparent now, careless.

I don't see how the dot-com bust is related, except for what it represents in this context: our fixation on "the good life", occupying ourselves with the comparatively trivial -- stock portfolios, celebrity worship, etc. -- as opposed to the truly important: the value and fragility of human life, everywhere in the world. (I only wish we'd get the "everywhere in the world" part down in a lasting way, but quick.)
posted by verdezza at 10:38 PM on November 25, 2001

I don't know if we'll see a cultural revolution. Right now, the Left is unorganized and largely absent, current movies and music suck and publishers are content to promote the hoary, out-of-touch drivel authored by the East Coast Literary Elite. What I think we will see is a similar kind of cultural response that occurred during the Reagan era. Things along the lines of "Max Headroom," "Spitting Image," "Stranger than Paradise," Black Flag and William Gibson. It's hard to pin down where culture is going to go. It's contingent upon what manages to escape through the cracks and somehow lands a major draw within the cultural spheres of influence that count: namely, the underground and working artists loading up on everything to check out where the cultural clime is heading. Unfortunately, with corporate conglomerates controlling the majority of today's media, it's nowhere nearly as permissive or as flexible as its 1980s counterpart. I look to the Web as a launching ground for tomorrow's best laid plans.

Shoepal has a certain point about who will drive the proverbial bus. The lack of a firm leader, whether artistically or politically, someone along the lines of Martin Luther King or even a self-promoter like Andy Warhol whom everyone can find some identity with, is one of the greatest ongoing problems that U.S. culture has today. Kurt Cobain was deified in the 1990s during his life and death. But since then, there's been nobody that the whole world can rally around (or that the media is willing to do for a potential innovator). Fresh-off-the-boat filmmakers are lionized well before they are ready (count the sophomore slumps that you can remember and it will probably rival the length of an ample family's Thanksgiving ingredient list). Since then, the hero worship has been content to waffle, moving towards the microcephalic likes of Britney Spears and Eminem. But I personally find a certain giddiness in the unknown. Thanks to MP3s, one can find their own particular tastes, share them with a small coterie and keep a privileged artist to himself. The question is whether our current economic model will allow for penniless innovation amidst the vacuity of cashcow "art."

Even if the hero idea is ultimately abandoned, it might be a good thing in the end. In this way, we might truly find a way to exorcise the art from the image.
posted by ed at 11:37 PM on November 25, 2001

First off, I don't think that the dotcom era is over. The fact that you're discussing this on an internet message board seems absurdly ironic in that sense. For those who were involved with the internet before the web (yes, the internet existed before browsers) the revolution was always about something bigger than email and websites. It was about changing the way people think about computers and physical boundaries. In that sense, the revolution succeeded and will continue to prosper.

The crash was the result of the hype. The expectations that could never be met under any circumstances. Saying that the dotcom era is a failure is like saying the space program is a failure because we don't all live on spaceships and teleport everywhere. If the dotcom era is a failure it's strange that most experts expect online sales to increase anywhere from 40% - 70% this year.

The dotcom era is not dead, it's simply gone back to what many of us always thought it should be.
posted by billman at 12:08 AM on November 26, 2001

1) The internet will change people's lives.

How can you honestly say that? The internet may not have changed our culture much now. But it certanly has changed our lives greatly.

Anyway, I think that while it may not alter the laws of economics or whatever, the internet is greatly going to change our lives and culture in the long run.
posted by delmoi at 12:26 AM on November 26, 2001

delmoi: scarabic was answering "no" in response to the question is the dream gone?, so it looks like you both agree after all.
posted by moz at 12:32 AM on November 26, 2001

Bravo Ed!
posted by ericrolph at 12:38 AM on November 26, 2001

Cultural revolution? Sorry, but nope. Temporary thoughtful introspection brought on by a calamity of epic proportions? Yup. All encompassing 5000 channel television/internet universe is here to stay with all the cheesiness (oj trial) and titillation (britney) inherent in that. More than any other culture (I think), Americans have really short memories.

We're not going back to the "good old days" (good for whom anyway?). We can learn from the past but not be obsessed with returning to its values.

The economy tanks, the Dow/Nasdaq will probably be in the crapper for the next 2-3 years. A boom will come back, probably not web-centric but certainly net-related (biotech, efficient web businesses) along with other technologies.
posted by owillis at 1:07 AM on November 26, 2001

I think there's been a quiet cultural revolution. I just watched that movie again the other day, and was shocked at the hubris of those people. Not only did they think their little semi-retarded idea was going to change the world, but they were able to convince the money men that they were right...

Certainly a very strange time for America...

That said, even though I've been laid off from several dotcoms and most of my ex-coworkers have left the industry entirely, I still make a good living from the internet. As a webdeveloper/community guy at a major health-oriented dotorg, we've seen nothing but growth in our services being delivered to a worldwide audience.

... so, maybe the novelty is gone, but now the internet has become part of the everyday fabric of everyday life.
posted by ph00dz at 6:35 AM on November 26, 2001

From the NYT article: Though dot-com executives might seem irrelevant these days, the technologies they sold, by and large, are not, pointed out Paul Saffo, an analyst at the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, Calif. "People haven't stopped using the Internet," he said. "The fact is that it is changing the world, and it has changed the world." People now expect to be able to buy a book or make an airline reservation in the middle of the night, "and it's washed into the rest of their lives."

I don't think anyone here is questioning how much the Internet has changed our lives. Let me try to rephrase one aspect of what I think the originator of this thread was trying to ask -- and if you think I'm misstating the case or have any other pertinent comments, please feel free to make yourself heard...

As the economy was being driven to record heights due to the hype-heavy dot-com frenzy, we witnessed the triumph of the nerd; now that the economy has subsequently fallen, has the image and/or influence of the nerd suffered a correspondingly precipitous fall?

Anyone? Anyone?
posted by verdezza at 9:25 AM on November 26, 2001

I don't think so. Why? Because the richest man in the world (love him or hate him) is a bonafide nerd. Besides a couple folks, I think the dotcom frenzy was more the "triumph" of the marketroids and bizdev-ers than geeks. The geeks are still running the servers...

I mean, come on we've got Nick Burns: Your Company's Computer Guy!
posted by owillis at 9:39 AM on November 26, 2001

I am intrigued that the new message for being a good, patriotic citizen is to spend money.

This is nothing new. "Buy American", "Buy War Bonds"...these are all common battle cries in times of war.
posted by glenwood at 1:18 PM on November 26, 2001

And maybe the music'll get better. That 90'sstuff really sucked the big one.
posted by HTuttle at 3:05 AM on November 27, 2001

If you ask every single person in the world what they think about all the music in the world, millions of people will hate every single individual piece of music.
posted by trioperative at 8:09 PM on November 27, 2001

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