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Wild, Wild Web

Well, it finally happened. It's safe to say lawyers have found their way online. But not like the rest of us. There's big business interests to protect, and lucrative settlements to be had. And the consumer is somehow caught in the middle of a grassroots circus sideshow.

I've been waxing philosophical lately about the throwback to the days of the Wild, Wild, Web. It was a simpler time, when eager settlers headed out West to see what they could see. Palms glistened at the excitement, uncertainty, and vastness of unclaimed territory.

There was a time when all a budding prospector needed was a simple pickax and the desire to pan for cyber-gold. Sure there were rough patches, but the town-folk policed themselves, with the occasional deputy called upon to run them outlaws to the city limits.

The crude outpost struggled along through its share of cold winters, but soon, word spread about the small, but prosperous town. More settlers headed West, made easier by high-speed railroads, and the town grew by leaps and bounds. This booming outpost needed a name, and WWW seemed most fitting. Times were rolling, but trouble was sure to follow.

Not too long ago, a band of city slickers rode up in a dust cloud of red-tape, bringing with them big-shot bankers and lawyers. It didn't take long before many town-folk were living in fear, while still others figured if you can't beat the handlebar mustaches, go ahead and join 'em.

Then came a group of rough-riders, quick on the draw, who strode through town with a high-noon showdown with the newest unwelcome tenants in mind.

That's about where we're at right now. Big business using high-handed tactics to muscle their will on Netizens. More lawyers and more laws. Some well-intentioned, but most misguided. But through it all, the Internet has shown a startling and refreshing resiliency to adversity.

So how will this story pan out? Will the lawyers and bankers pack up their things and leave as quickly as they'd come? That remains to be seen. But one thing's for certain. It's changed the way we do business forever and turned old-school practices upside-down. I'm certain there's no place I'd rather be, than with front row seats to the new Net economy and the new virtual frontier.

To borrow on one Netizen's take, before the information superhighway, the world had never seen a truly free society.

Like urban legend of the Internet as a distributed network, designed to continue operating even in the event of nuclear warfare, the Web is living up to that legend by surviving corporate, legal, and legislative attacks against it. Another law. Another lawsuit. The WWW simply reroutes around 'em and continues to keep information free.

Any questions or comments, love letters or hate mail? As always, feel free to forward them to kblack@internet.com.