HE SAYS:

I simply cannot understand the success of some of the giants of the Internet and, as hard as I try, I probably never will.

Netflix is a huge success distributing movies by mail and online.  Isn’t Netflix really just a modern version of the book or record of the month club which we all avoided like the plague?

eBay is a huge success providing a venue for people to sell their used junk to one another online.  Isn’t eBay really just an online garage sale that never ends?

Craig’s List is a huge success providing a platform for people to offer their personal goods and services online.   Isn’t Craig’s List really just a version of your run of the mill classified or personal ads we usually ignored in our daily newspapers?

Groupon is a huge success offering discounts on certain products and services in our local communities.   Isn’t Groupon really just an online version of those useless coupons we used to get in the mail and in newspapers for products and services that we never actually wanted like skydiving and massages or for bad restaurants that no one goes to unless they practically give the food away?

Online dating services are a huge success playing matchmaker to all the lonely hearts of the world.   Aren’t online dating services really just an online version of that dreaded but well intentioned friend or relative who always tried to fix you up with that person who’s best and only quality was their “great personality”?

YouTube is a huge success by giving people the opportunity to display their amateur videos online to the entire world.   Isn’t YouTube really the same as the tedious experience of going to a friend’s house to watch their home movies?   YouTube is actually worse since it is often contrived nonsense from people desperately trying to get their allotted 15 seconds of fame.

And then there is Facebook. What can you say about Facebook?  Just imagine if twenty years ago someone you barely knew called you up just to tell you that they had gone for a walk and were going to send you some pictures?  You would have thought they were crazy.   Well, that is an everyday occurrence on Facebook.   Isn’t Facebook really just a way to get an ego rush by being able to share your everyday activities with hundreds of “friends” who pretend to be interested because then they get to share their everyday activities with you?

Well, if you get it, please let me know.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

I hate to admit it, but I am old enough to have started my career before there were fax machines, word processing, e-mail, or the Internet.  When I first started practicing law, documents were created on a typewriter and if you needed multiple copies, you used carbon paper and hoped that you did not make a mistake.    If you wanted to get in touch with someone, you called them on the telephone.  I mean the kind that was attached to the wall, I am sure you remember them.

Today, we now have available to us all forms of technology to make both our work and personal lives so much more efficient and productive.

We can instantaneously communicate with people all over the world through e-mail and the Internet.    Time and distance are no longer obstacles to our ability to send and receive information to and from family, friends, customers and clients.   This technology has put the entire world at our disposal and we can now reach out to practically anyone, anywhere at any time, for both business and pleasure.   

The Internet is an expansive landscape of communication with the possibility of an unlimited exchange of goods, services, information and ideas, mostly, free of charge, unless you choose to buy something online.

The Internet has made the world one immense global marketplace where, with a little ingenuity and creativity, any business can have a presence on the World Wide Web that gives them exposure to the entire world and helps level the playing field in what was once an arena only available to international corporations with very large advertising budgets.

Unfortunately, none of these great technological advances come without a price.   The price we pay is the inevitable abuses that always arise whenever there is so much access by so many people.

The wonder of e-mail has been cheapened by unrelenting spam, viruses and phishing.   These concepts are not new.   Junk mail, identity theft, and invasion of privacy have always been with us in one form or another.   The only difference today, is the speed and extent with which it can happen.      

In the world of business, there have always been unscrupulous people who would do anything to make a buck.   Well, the Internet is no different.    Everyone can find something on the Internet they find offensive or disturbing.  

Despite all of its shortcomings, today’s technology, when used responsibly, is still the greatest tool ever to exist for the benefit of our businesses and our personal lives.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?