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January 17th, 2005

Unplugging from the Net

This LA Times article discusses how more and more users are getting frustrated by pop-ups, spyware, and spam and are unplugging from the Internet altogether. After seeing how an unsuspecting (and untechnical) person’s computer can easily be compromised just by doing regular web browsing with IE and using Outlook Express with the preview pane on, it doesn’t surprise me that people are getting so frustrated they’re giving up. Of course, it would only take a knowledgable person a few minutes with Ad-Aware, Spybot Search and Replace, Firefox, and Thunderbird to clean things up and make life easier, but for the masses that don’t understand (or don’t make the effort to understand), things can be a big mess.

However, this part of the article bothered me:

Stephen Seemayer had the first Pong video game system on his block. A decade later, the Echo Park artist was the first in his neighborhood to get a personal computer. And in 1996, he was so inspired by the World Wide Web that he created a series of small paintings for viewing over the Internet.

Now the 50-year-old Seemayer is once again on the cutting edge: Sick of spam clogging his in-box and spyware and viruses crashing his system, Seemayer yanked out his high-speed connection.

Seemayer’s machine, for instance, got so jammed with spam that he stopped checking e-mail. When he surfed the Web, pop-up ads from a piece of spyware he couldn’t wipe out spewed sexually explicit images and used so much computing power that the PC would just stop.

So when his son left for college in September, Seemayer finally unplugged.

Now when he uses his computer, it’s to compose letters or organize photos — anything that doesn’t require interaction with any other system.

Let me get this straight: you’ve got a guy who’s always been an early adopter of technology, who had a web site up as early as 1996, and who is presumably pretty savvy about keeping up with technical news and information and he doesn’t know how to get rid of spyware? Seriously: what the hell? First of all, he should never have gotten into this predicament to begin with… he should have known better. Second of all, if he’s so cutting edge, don’t tell me he was using IE with low security settings and can’t manage to install some anti-spyware software.

Guys like this will lead “normal” people to think, “Well, gee, a technical guy like him can’t deal with it, how do I have a chance?” That’s not good.

Posted in Technology

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday January 17, 2005 -- 12:48:52 pm
That article is pitiful. The Internet is better off without them. I sort of miss 1995, before AOL unleashed the masses onto the Net and ruined it.

OTOH, back then there was no Daily Ping...

DATE: Thursday February 10, 2005 -- 5:36:44 pm
True, the article is oversimplified and overdramatized as usual. And I understand your frustration about the Seemayer story -- but that very perspective on the part of technologists is a big reason why we still have these problems.

Early adopters and innovators in APPLYING technology are not generally interested in spending (aka "wasting") a lot of their creative time implementing and maintaining the technology. That's putting it mildly...

In other words:
Having a new capability = positive value..
Spending time having to decipher how to deal with the underlying technology = negative cost.
Bottom line = value less cost, which can be a net (so to speak) positive or negative.

Does that make any sense?

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