"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 26 February 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Taking The "R" Out of "Free"


"I see it as a combination Seinfeld and The Spot." May we suggest "Suckfeld"?
Five years ago today in Suck.

There will come a day, far in the future, when the heady euphoria of the Web Bubble will have faded into legend and legacy code.In this future, only the very young and the very old will believe what's said in the ancient "case studies" — that once upon a time, everything was free. The decline and fall of the New Economy will be some distant, archeological event, and the gleaming towers of ecommerce it birthed will become myth, like Atlantis or France.

But, here and now, we're living through it, and the memory burns all too hot. While some claim that the death of the New Economy is a simple swing of the pendulum — which just happens to knock down everything in its path — things are more complicated than that. The bursting of the Bubble affects us all, and everybody who ever tapped a credit card number into an insecure form or received a thirty-cent check for clicking on banner ads or bought into that can't-miss, sure-fire start-up is hurting. The scythe may not have cut all fortunes to ribbons, but it has robbed us of the most profound pleasure the Web had to offer: getting' free stuff.

That dirty little Protestant jonez for a life sentence of an honest day's pay for an honest day's work? The pinko addiction that sends shivers of schadenfreude down the spine with each additional dot-com's demise? These zero-sum "ethics" now threaten the few meager vestiges of a bourgeois lifestyle that the webbrowsin' masses might ever know. Welcome to our age of unabashed unAmericanism, of celebrating the unemployment of those who had the audacity and gall to try to make a better future; of slapping the Alternative Minimum Tax on anyone who dared grab for the brass ring.

And so, like survivors picking through the debris of a disaster, we dolefully record what we have lost.

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