Is the Internet Eden or Armageddon? (1,887 words)
• Books and magazines would be delivered electronically, saving billions in paper, printing, binding and delivery.
Two Internet-only magazines sprang up in the very late 1990s. Slate.com under the editorship of Michael Kinsley found it could not charge consumers, but was forced to rely solely on advertising. Salon.com has just fired a number of editors and is retrenching.
Why the Internet is Eden
Speaking personally, as someone who makes a living as a writer, the Internet is a godsend—an amazing research tool. Example: As a subscriber to The Wall Street Journal online edition, I have free access to its archives of millions of articles from hundreds of publications and a search engine that brings me what I need in seconds. Contrast this with the bad old days of schlepping to the library, parking the car, dealing with indices and microfiche machines.
What's more, the range of information available is fantastic—every Academy Award nomination and winner, Supreme Court decisions, sources for the peculiar halogen light bulbs that illuminate the paintings in my hallway. The uses of the Internet in terms of savings of time and money are limitless.
Why the Internet is Armageddon
The dictionary describes Armageddon as the ultimate battle between good and evil. That's the Internet! Consider the battles currently raging.
The Battle for the World's Soul
Computer cyberpunks are creating viruses such as Melissa, Worm and I Love You that destroy personal files around the world; many more are happily hacking into what should be absolutely secure computer systems in business and government, stealing and destroying files.
One international hacker stole 300,000 credit card account numbers from an American marketer of CDs and offered to return them for a ransom of $100,000. The marketer refused, whereupon the numbers appeared on a Web site for all the world to see (and steal). Alarmingly, in the words of Brajendra Pana, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of North Dakota, "Most computer break-ins go unnoticed; only about 10 to 15 percent are detected."