Is the Internet Eden or Armageddon? (1,887 words)
• What's more, all who surfed the Internet could be individually tracked as to their interests and then hit with precisely targeted advertisements and offers.
In the words of Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, among consumers, the fear of privacy invasion "tests off the charts." Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Andrea Petersen described DoubleClick—the 'Net's premier Internet snoop—as "going from dot-com darling with an inside track on e-commerce to an Internet pariah." But perhaps Thomas L. Friedman, writing on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, said it best: "I believe in the possibilities of the new technologies as much as anyone. But it seems that while we started by surfing the Web, the Web is now surfing us."
• These offers will be so precisely targeted that direct marketing response rates will go through the roof.
According to a study by the Poynter Institute and Stanford University, Web users look at only 45 percent of banner ads—the main source of revenues for as many as 7,000 Web sites. What's more, they spend an average of just one second on each banner ad, with click-through rates somewhere between two- and three-tenths of a percent. (Remember, click-through means eyeballs only, not revenues. In the words of Agora Publishing's Bill Bonner, "The only bank that takes eyeballs is the eye bank.")
• Students could use the Internet to do research right from their homes, thus avoiding hazardous night travel to and from the library.
I read a statistic recently that sounds right: Of the 24 million kids currently on the Internet, one in five has gotten or will receive an "indecent proposal" of some sort.
• The Internet is the great new repository of all the world's information and knowledge and available to all.
Yeah, and millions of people around the world have become sexually addicted to their computers. Example: When I was in Toronto in late April, the Toronto Globe and Mail revealed that the 10,000 employees of the Government Department of Fisheries were making 70,000 visits to porn sites every day.