In the beginning there were computers and punchcards and FORTRAN and COBOL. I got familiar with those in junior high school.
Then there were modems and dip switches and Gandalf switchers connecting terminals to computers. I learned about those in high school.
Then there were faster settings on the Gandalf terminals and boxes with suction cups for phone recievers and then there were dedicated terminals with blinking cursors waiting for you to program them in PL/1 or write macros in Emacs for Univacs in Murray Hill, New Jersey as I worked for Ma Bell in college.
And I went to work with PDP-11s and Xerox mag-card systems and looked away as the personal computer was born.
Then I met my husband, and lo and behold, he had Commodore computers, then he designed Atari computers that could do everything the Univac in Murray hill could do and keep a lap warm, besides, and the modems got smaller and faster still and I memorized the song, in the late ’80s, of the De-doo, de-doo, boing boing of the home phone connecting me to a mail system using PINE and EMACS –or something, by then I lost track, all I knew was I needed to connect to a listserv called misc.kids so I could commiserate with all the other new parents out there because all that computing must have set off our biological clocks and we found ourselves with babies. And the misc.kids community feared the incursion of the AOLers who got disks and free accounts tucked into magazines.
And after a while, people forgot who AOL was. And Netscape, the mother of the browser, faded into obscurity,
and while it was fading, CLUETRAIN was born, and it became a movement, then a book that was magnificent in its nobility.
And now the CLUETRAIN folks have published a sequel, which is marvelously idealistic. I like idealism. My parents were idealists. Me, I like the IDEA of idealism, so I’m posting the NEW CLUES, or the CLUETRAIN SEQUEL
Hear, O Internet!
It has been fifteen years since our previous communication.
In that time the People of the Internet — you and me and all our friends of friends of friends, unto the last Kevin Bacon — have made the Internet an awesome place, filled with wonders and portents.
But now the People’s years of work face mortal dangers.
When we first came before you, it was to warn of the threat posed by those who did not understand that they did not understand the Internet.
These are The Fools, and they are with us still, although many have by now adopted the trappings of the Internet. They are like unto aging baby boomers wearing their baseball caps backwards. It’s just embarrassing.
Now two more hordes threaten all that we have built for one another.
The Marauders understand the Internet all too well. They view it as theirs to plunder, extracting our money and data from it, thinking that we are the fools.
Then there is the horde of our own Evil Inclinations. We give in to this eternal aspect of our nature when we too easily exchange the truly valuable for the merely shiny — and then we sit back complicitly as the Fools and Marauders amplify the very worst of what we are.
Make no mistake: We can lose the Internet we love with a stroke of a pen, a covert handshake, or by allowing memes to drown out the cries of the afflicted.
We come to you from the years of the Web’s beginning. We have grown old together on the Internet. Time is short.
We, the People of the Internet, need to remember the glory of its revelation so that we reclaim it now in the name of what it truly is.