Bill Bonner Says....................greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
"If Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos were to found a religion, think of the following he might achieve."
This quotation is from Marc Faber's Dec. issue of "Gloom, Boom and Doom Report." It occasioned a thought. Having announced the Twilight of the Internet Gods, it occurred to me that I should go back and look at them in the light of day.
I began to look at the Internet mania as a religious movement -- rather than an investment phenomenon. In some ways, it makes more sense when viewed as a new religion.
A year or so ago, an item was widely circulated on the Internet. I can't remember the source or the headline, but it read like a combination of the Desiderata, Communist Manifesto and Apostles' Creed all wrapped into one. It was one of the most remarkably self-important pronouncements I have ever read.
It proclaimed a new world -- the world of the Internet, in which the old rules were to be thrown out. This was to be a new, and much better world -- much more civilized.
It reminded me of similar heavy-handed proclamations in the 1960s. Young people thought they were on to something back then, too. They put on funny clothes, spoke to each other in a strange jargon, and believed that their new culture was vastly superior to the old one -- which they found contemptible.
When I received this message I didn't know quite what to make of it. The confidence, conceit and arrogance of it was appalling. "Surely, God will strike down these people," a little voice told me.
Instead, they have been lifted up. The Internet God has risen along with the Nasdaq. There are now millions of worshippers.... true believers, many of whom have seen proof of His Works in their portfolio statements.
You have only to look carefully at some of the Internet companies' stock prices to understand that this is a market boosted by faith, not stock analysis. Investors have no reason to believe that Amazon will ever be profitable. But they have faith. It is the same kind of faith in the apparently impossible -- the risen Lord, the Immaculate Conception, the transubstantiation of bread into the body of Christ -- that animates Christianity.
The Internet faith is fairly new. It has not had thousands of years in which to refine and elaborate its doctrines. Yet, in just a short time, it has developed its own creed and moral code (no spamming!) There is even a creation myth -- in which Al Gore claims to have formed up the Internet from the dust of Congressional appropriations.
And there is the idea -- as in both Marxism and Scientology -- of the "new man." This new fellow is not supposed to act like the old brute. He's supposed to be lifted up to a higher consciousness -- where he behaves better, and develops a new culture in interactive communities.
The Internet religion has everything a religion needs. There are the prophets -- such as George Gilder and Linus Thorvalds. There are the high priests -- such as Mary Meeker and William Hamquist. There must be Internet martyrs too -- though I can't think of any.
"If you don't believe that the Internet will change everything," writes Seth Godin, one of the disciples of the Internet Faith, in the introduction to his book, Permission Marketing, "you still need this book."
And yet, as time goes on, it appears more and more likely that the Internet will change less and less.
I have been following a very interesting discussion in my own business. One of my partners has been trying to learn how to make money on the Internet. He's begun a dialogue with someone who is net-savvy... and capable of arguing the True Believer position.
My partner is challenging the jargon of the Internet -- trying to find out whether there is something really new in this medium. So far, the discussion has turned up nothing... The Internet may not be the One True God.
But I may have more on this subject. I have to run to a meeting...
-- James Daniels (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2000
-- kermit (email@example.com), January 24, 2000.
-- James (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 24, 2000.
Who IS Bill Bonner, James? Frightening to think that anyone would consider the internet their new God. Especially when I have so much trouble accessing it!!
-- kritter (email@example.com), January 24, 2000.