Clifford Stoll on this whole Internet thing

Back in the olden days I read a paper book called The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll. That book was one of the best I had ever read about computer security. It told the tale of a kind of cool/kind of nerdy astronomer who caught someone rifling his networked computers. After months of investigation he discovered a hacker working for the Russkies who was after our precious bodily fluids and he defeated him by shaking his keys over the network switch. It was, in short, the first hacker sting tale and he was running the whole thing over what amounted to dial-up.

Cliff, who now makes these great Klein bottles, was, for a while, an Internet pundit. Luckily, it didn’t work out but a buddy pointed me to this great article from 1995 where Stoll derides the Internet and says it’s a dead end.

While many of his points are valid – essentially in a sea of cacophony you rarely get beauty – but I love this little paragraph:

Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month?

Trust, me, Cliff, things have changed. Anyway, great read, great guy, and a fun look at the Internet of 15 years ago.