Thursday, January 26, 2006

Just in Time: Doom & Gloom for Oh Six

Wow, amazing how fast three months can pass. Here we are, late in January of 'oh six,' and I haven't even issued my annual proclamation about the state of the Internet and e-commerce. However, given my last posting, and my annual predictions in prior years, it probably comes as no surprise that I am not optimistic. Indeed, I can't remember the last time I was optimistic about the outlook for the Internet, maybe it was in the mid-to-late nineties, when I seem to recall a brief lull in virus outbreaks, very little spam or spyware, no phishing and no "for-profit" worms.

Alas, things have gone downhill since then. Sure, I use the Internet for a lot of things and find it incredibly useful. But I do so with trepidation, fully armed with paranoia and a variety of defensive mechanisms. My feeling today is that the incredible usefulness of the Internet is still, for a significant slice of the population, outweighed by the risks. My predictions for 2006? More large-scale privacy breaches, more articles about how some folks are turning away from the Internet, and yet more involvement by organized crime in acts of phishing, worming, and Internet fraud.

Oh, and the usual hand-wringing by countless boards and other bodies set up to "do something about this." Remember folks, we are less than four days away from solving spam, as predicted by Mr. Gates.*

Happy New Year!


*Note, for all the things he has done wrong, like break the Sherman Antitrust law, and his failures, like not making Ctrl-Tab work the same in all Microsoft Office applications, I still have to confess immense admiration for Mr. Gates's approach to philanthropy. If only more CEOs, such as those in the drug industry and the petroleum industry, would give of their wealth the way that he has, kids today might not find it so hard to be unselfish.