What the Bubble Got Right
September 29, 2004 3:05 PM   Subscribe

What the (Internet) Bubble Got Right Paul Graham has written a thought-provoking essay on the positive lessons we should have taken away from the Internet bubble of the late 90s.
posted by tippiedog (10 comments total)
My favorite part is from section six, titled "Nerds":
Clothing is only the most visible battleground in the war against formality. Nerds tend to eschew formality of any sort. They're not impressed by one's job title, for example, or any of the other appurtenances of authority.

Indeed, that's practically the definition of a nerd. I found myself talking recently to someone from Hollywood who was planning a show about nerds. I thought it would be useful if I explained what a nerd was. What I came up with was: someone who doesn't expend any effort on marketing himself.

A nerd, in other words, is someone who concentrates on substance.
posted by tippiedog at 3:07 PM on September 29, 2004

Ha! Thats the part I liked least. Sure, I too prefer substance over style but, well, not always....

I do like to see people dress well not as a reflection of authority but as a reflection of aesthetics. I do like to be around people who market themselves to some degree and I can differentiate this from people who over-market themselves (e.g. salesmen)

Substance and style are not mutually exclusive and some of the most brilliant and succesful people I know can do both. The statement "A nerd, in other words, is someone who concentrates on substance" sounds like the slightly defensive remark of someone who was a social misfit.
posted by vacapinta at 3:18 PM on September 29, 2004

1994 called. Wired wants its copy back.
posted by meehawl at 3:52 PM on September 29, 2004

If it hadn't already been hijacked as a new euphemism for liberal, the word to describe the atmosphere in the Bay Area would be "progressive."

His knowledge of less recent history is clearly a bit shaky.
posted by Slothrup at 4:15 PM on September 29, 2004

I think this guy is full of shit. The internet was a paradigm shift for business, but this happens fairly frequently. The volatility surrounding its commercial inception is subsiding every day, manifesting itself in very normal ways. Programmers are a dime a dozen. 'The Web' is increasingly controlled by big business. The pace of innovation has slowed remarkably (for example look at the tremendous change in business applications that occurred from 97-00, compared to almost no innovation since then).

To say that the internet will forever change the world by having 20something execs run clothing-optional, productless companies financed by IPO's that make everyone rich is just silly.
posted by H. Roark at 4:42 PM on September 29, 2004

I think this guy is full of shit.

I was seriously underwhelmed by this, but I'd encourage anyone to read some of his other stuff, specifically "Hackers & Painters" before dismissing Paul Graham.
posted by yerfatma at 6:09 PM on September 29, 2004

A little glib perhaps, but this seems pretty right in general terms.

I feel so old.
posted by dg at 8:19 PM on September 29, 2004

$200/share for Yahoo! and comparable high prices for other issues wasn't a sympton of the problem, it was the cause of the problem.

The unjustified and unjustifiable run-up in secondary-market tech stock prices from 1996 to 1999 was responsible for essentially all of the overinvestment in new issues of tech VC, public stocks and bonds, which led to the terrible misallocation of labor resources and the inevitable layoffs/paycuts that followed, as well as the huge market losses and resulting loss of investor confidence.
posted by MattD at 6:48 AM on September 30, 2004

wasn't a sympton of the problem, it was the cause of the problem.

Not to get all Thomas Aquinas here, but don't you think that share price had a cause? I don't see how it can be anything other than a symptom.
posted by yerfatma at 7:01 AM on September 30, 2004

Department of Nothing Changes
(...for at least the last 300 years):
"South Sea Bubble" Bursts
During 1720, the South Sea Company's massive investment scheme involving overseas trade began to falter. On September 29, any hopes of saving the project ended as jittery investors--whose shares had lost more than 80% of their value--began a run on the banks. To inflate stock value artificially, company investors and directors created rumors suggesting that exclusive trade rights with Spain's Pacific colonies would soon be granted. Unheard-of 10% dividends were announced, and dummy companies were formed, making investment fraud as tempting as the Internet "dot com" enterprises of the 1990s would be. W. & R. Chambers's Book of Days (1864) reported: "The Duke of Bridgewater and the Duke of Chandos were among the schemers. By these deceptive projects, which numbered nearly a hundred, one million and a half sterling was won and loss [sic] by crafty knaves and covetous fools. The only policy of the projectors was to raise the shares in the market, and then sell out, leaving the bubble to burst."
-Jeffrey Kacirk, from his Forgotten English Calendar 2004.
posted by Shane at 11:59 AM on September 30, 2004

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