"The World Wide Wait"

I was reading the 1997 amazon shareholder letter and in it, Jeff Bezos mentions the internet being nicknamed "the world wide wait".

It's hard to imagine the internet being nicknamed that now. Of course, I have all the hindsight bias in the world to know how big of a deal the internet really is. I skimmed through an article written in 1997 about this new world wide wait, and it was pretty eye opening. Here's an excerpt from the intro:

"The utopian technocrats might assure us that this is a powerful communication system, where packets of data can travel from one side of the planet to the other at the speed of light. They can promise that one day there will be faster links and cable modems, and smarter software for handling data. They can talk about something just around the corner called an information superhighway.
But in the meantime or us mere mortals... for ordinary users at home or in schools or small businesses . . . using the Web can be. .. an incredibly... frustrating... and expensive.. experience. Basically it's far too slooooooow."

After that brutal intro, the article goes deeper into explaining the internet. Reading descriptions of URLs, bookmarks, browsers, and how the internet works from 1997 really puts it into perspective just how confusing the internet was. The article even mentions more confusing ideas like: modems, web “servers” [sic], caches, and the FTP protocol. All this to explain what the internet is and how to use it. That's because the internet then — and still today, is hard to explain.

In 1997, the value proposition of the internet wasn't very clear. It was “an incredibly... frustrating... and expensive.. experience. Basically it's far too slooooooow." I see a lot of people using those terms to dismiss crypto today, and although I agree that there is much to be done I don't agree that it's worth ignoring. There are cool things happening in crypto that are providing real value today. But they're working on a smaller scale, are difficult to use, and held back by slow blockchains and expensive transaction fees.

Sound familiar? It does to me.


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