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Welcome to the Paleofuture blog, where we explore past visions of the future. From flying cars and jetpacks to utopias and dystopias.

But the Internet has no Dewey decimal system... (1995)

With search engines acting as such a necessary tool for internet use in 2009, we sometimes must remind ourselves that they did not come pre-packaged with cyberspace.

The 1997 book Predicting the Future looked at past and contemporary predictions of the future and assessed their accuracy. A 1995 prediction by Bill Gates about "the internet as a self-publishing medium" was met with great skepticism due to the lack of editors and, believe it or not, a Dewey decimal system on the web. An excerpt from the book appears below:

The lack of an equivalent to the Dewey decimal system on the Internet is a different matter. While it is true that experienced Internet users can eventually find what they're looking for, [Clifford] Stoll and other critics insist that it takes more expertise and time than Internet enthusiasts are willing to admit. This point of contention may eventually be answered by software developments that are still just blips on the horizon. But such a development, according to many experts, including both Internet boosters and doubters, is likely to have to await a formalized method for paying royalties to those who self-publish on the Internet. Bill Gates is sure this can be managed down the line, but as things stand there are still vast legal tangles to be resolved concerning payment to original authors whose work is published by major companies, let alone compensation for self-publishing.


Previously on Paleo-Future:
The Internet? Bah! (1995)
The Answer Machine (1964)
Bill Gates on Charlie Rose (1996)

 

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