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The Confessions of a WebBozo


Hi. Umm… my name is Anthony Ravenscroft, and I'm… uh, you know….

No, I'm okay. I can do this. It's just difficult to admit in public.

All right—I have to come out and say it, so that I can finally get on with my life:

I am a WebBozo.

Over the years, I have stood on the very brink of success, fortune, and fame… and never known it. My various associates and I have many times found ourselves on those marvelous flights of technological fancy and finally fetched up against the fateful questions, "What if…," and, "If only…."

And, again and again, we have allowed ourselves to be turned aside, defeated—humiliated, even—by the unimaginative, the losers. And thus have we been losers as well.

That, ever so briefly, is why I have joined XYMASE: not with mere enthusiasm (of which I possess an abundance), but with something like relief.

The following is entirely true, and I do not exaggerate in the least (though it continues past 2000—but I'm not allowed to talk about that). I offer these defeatist gems up to you with no little embarrassment, and maybe even the occasional bit of shame. Altogether, let it be a lesson to you:

Dream big—then get off your arse and do something about it.

You could do worse than throwing your ideas at XYMASE or its equivalent. Like, say, nothing.


Good Advice I Have Gotten in the Past

"Nobody’s going to want to access text files over telephone lines. It lacks the aesthetic appeal of paper—books, magazines, newspapers. It‘s inconvenient, since you can only access it using a computer. And not many people can afford a computer terminal and the mainframe account." —classmate, 1977

"Why would you even want to put pictures in text files? It’s too bulky to store or transmit, and well-written information doesn’t really need illustrations." —data center manager, 1978

"Putting secret typesetting instructions into text is an interesting idea, but who’d ever use it? A few print shops? The equipment that could make use of the instructions would be really pricey."

"It’s interesting to think that business people and politicians might be able to search for relevant data through a database of media and standard references, and it would probably improve their use of time. But it’s too complicated for the people who would benefit, and there’s no way they’re going to hire staff to do it for them." —applications instructor, 1982

"That algorithm is very interesting, from a theoretical standpoint. But there’s not much practical application for something that would require so much calculation, and sending such long passwords back and forth." —classmate, 1983 (referring to the Rivest-Shamir-Adelman algorithm, which led to products like PGP, as well as RSA Inc.)

"Personal computers will never go anywhere. They’re just expensive video-game platforms. Real companies use IBM terminals tied to mainframes." —analyst, Control Data Corporation

"Why would you want a trackball? That’s obsolete technology." —computer professional, 1985

"You’re using WordPerfect? You’ll never get a job. All the companies are using WordStar."

"Look at those Macintosh nuts. Everything they do needs a mouse. They’ll never get anywhere, clicking on little pictures on a screen. That was obsolete with the Xerox Star system."

"You’re using Microsoft Word? That’s Macintosh-only. You’ll never get a job. All the companies are using WordPerfect."

"Have you seen Apple’s Newton? What were they thinking? No matter how portable it is, nobody’s going to want a very stupid computer that costs hundreds of dollars, especially one where you have to print precisely on its screen with a little plastic pencil."

"Increased hits is the same as increased sales. The sites with the highest eyeball rates make the most cash."

"There’s really not much use for algorithmic optimization schemes. People just buy more memory, or upgrade."

"If your Web site doesn’t make extensive use of frames, you’re behind the times. Nobody will visit to buy your products."

"If your Web site doesn’t make extensive use of interactive Flash graphics and sound, you’re behind the times. Nobody will visit to buy your products." —Website designer, 2000

"Nobody’s going to pay money to read a book on their PDA." —publisher, 2000

"80% of Internet sites will stream video to users by 2002. If you don't start now, your business will tank."

article © 2003, 1999, Anthony Ravenscroft, Ravenscroft Literary Development

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