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 [email protected].

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