RE: Faking It: The Internet Revolution Has Nothing to Do With the Nasdaq

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Jul 17 2001 - 09:54:48 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Faking It: The Internet Revolution Has Nothing to Do With the Nasdaq
    Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 09:54:48 +0100
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    Very interesting.

    Did the Finns really do text messaging first? It's very big in Japan
    through I-mode, and here in the UK too.

    In the UK, something like 75% of the entire population has a mobile phone
    (I'm part of the Luddite quarter!). Parents give them to kids for safety
    to/from school and for emergencies. Call charges are pretty high though and
    is pretty obvious when you try and use them in school. Text messaging is far
    cheaper, and can be done more secretly way from teacher's prying eyes.

    The BBC even had a themed evening 'The Joy of Text Night' celebrating
    text-messaging (yes, it was as bad as it sounds, and was widely panned by TV

    I don't really agree with the view that people create new identities on the
    internet because they found their old ones inadequate. As a teenage player
    of role playing games (still demonised in parts of the Bible Belt?), I think
    the same principle applies to the internet as in those games- in other words
    it's a game, it's fun. Sure, some people are bound to be in a position
    whereby it's an escape from their own personality that they hate, but for
    others it's merely play, they do it because they can. Others still, may use
    the net to be who they really are, a personality they keep hidden from
    people who know them for fear of stigmatisation. Internet paedophiles stand
    out as an example here (in a weird bit of synergy I found a recent episode
    of South Park, and the UK's most popular soap Coronation Street both having
    internet abduction stories in recent weeks. Just slightly different takes on
    the subject though.....').

    I'm not sure the psychology of internet behaviours have yet been well
    formulated. Would I be right in thinking this person is a journalist? Their
    mode of argument seems to fit that style of argument (OK, I know this
    article is itself a piece of journalism, but I know what I mean, even if
    no-one else does).


    > ----------
    > From: Wade T.Smith
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Monday, July 16, 2001 11:37 pm
    > To: Memetics Discussion List
    > Subject: Fwd: Faking It: The Internet Revolution Has Nothing to Do
    > With the Nasdaq
    > [Excerpted from -]
    > Faking It: The Internet Revolution Has Nothing to Do With the Nasdaq
    > t
    > When Internet stocks began their free fall in March 2000, the Internet
    > was finally put in its proper place. It was nothing more than a fast
    > delivery service for information -- that was what serious people who had
    > either lost a lot of money in the late stages of the Internet boom or,
    > more likely, failed to make money began to say now. The profit-making
    > potential of the Internet had been overrated, and so the social effects
    > of the Internet were presumed to be overrated. But they weren't. Speeding
    > up information was not the only thing the Internet had done. The Internet
    > had made it possible for people to thwart all sorts of rules and
    > conventions. It wasn't just the commercial order that was in flux. Many
    > forms of authority were secured by locks waiting to be picked. The
    > technology and money-making potential of the Internet were far less
    > interesting than the effects people were allowing it to have on their
    > lives and what these, in turn, said about those lives.
    > What was happening on the Internet buttressed a school of thought in
    > sociology known as role theory. The role theorists argue that we have no
    > "self" as such. Our selves are merely the masks we wear in response to
    > the social situations in which we find ourselves. The Internet had
    > offered up a new set of social situations, to which people had responded
    > by grabbing for a new set of masks. People take on the new tools they are
    > ready for and make use of only what they need, how they need it. If they
    > were using the Internet to experiment with their identities, it was
    > probably because they found their old identities inadequate. If the
    > Internet was giving the world a shove in a certain direction, it was
    > probably because the world already felt inclined to move in that
    > direction. The Internet was telling us what we wanted to become.
    > I have already written here about Jonathan Lebed, the 15-year-old boy in
    > the New Jersey suburbs who used the Internet to transform himself into a
    > stock market manipulator. Jonathan's story suggested that you couldn't
    > really understand what was happening on the Internet unless you
    > understood the conditions in the real world that led to what was
    > happening on the Internet -- and you couldn't understand those unless you
    > went there in person and looked around. Once you did that, you came to
    > appreciate all sorts of new truths. For instance, the Internet was rock
    > 'n' roll all over again. Not rock 'n' roll now, but rock 'n' roll in the
    > 1950's and 1960's, when it actually terrified grown-ups. The Internet was
    > enabling a great status upheaval and a subversion of all manner of social
    > norms. And the people quickest to seize on its powers were the young.
    > A Finnish company, Nokia, figured this out before I did. Nokia has come
    > to dominate the mobile-phone business to the point where pretty much
    > everyone now agrees that the Finns will be the first to connect mobile
    > phones to the Internet in a way that the rest of us will find necessary.
    > The Finns were successful because they were especially good at guessing
    > what others would want from their mobile phones. One big reason for this
    > -- or so the people at Nokia believe -- was that they spent a lot of time
    > studying children. The kids came to each new technology fresh, without
    > preconceptions, and they picked it up more quickly. They dreamed up uses
    > for their phones that, for reasons no one fully understood, never
    > occurred to grown-ups. The instant text message, for instance.
    > To create an instant message, you punched it by hand into your telephone,
    > using the keypad as a typewriter. On the face of it, this is not an
    > obvious use of a telephone keypad. The difference between the number of
    > letters in the alphabet and the number of keys on the pad meant you wound
    > up having to type a kind of Morse code. The technique had been
    > popularized by Finnish schoolboys who were nervous about asking girls out
    > on dates to their faces and Finnish schoolgirls who wanted to tell one
    > another what had happened on those dates as soon as it happened. They had
    > proved that if the need to communicate indirectly is sufficiently urgent,
    > words can be typed into a telephone keypad with amazing speed. Five and a
    > half million Finns sent one another more than a billion instant messages
    > in the year 2000.
    > The instant message has fast become a staple of European corporate
    > communication. The technique spread from Finnish children to businessmen
    > because the kids taught their parents. Nokia employed anthropologists to
    > tell them this. Finland has become the first nation on earth to
    > acknowledge formally the childcentric model of economic development: if
    > you wanted a fast-growing economy, you needed to promote rapid technical
    > change, and if you intended to promote rapid technical change, you needed
    > to cede to children a strange measure of authority.
    > When capitalism encourages ever more rapid change, children enjoy one big
    > advantage over adults: they haven't decided who they are. They haven't
    > sunk a lot of psychological capital into a particular self. When a
    > technology comes along that rewards people who are willing to chuck
    > overboard their old selves for new ones, the people who aren't much
    > invested in their old selves have an edge. The things that get tossed
    > overboard with a 12-year-old self don't seem like much to give up at the
    > time.
    > Michael Lewis is a contributing writer for the magazine. This article is
    > adapted from his new book, "Next," which will be published later this
    > month by W.W. Norton. Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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