Dot.Con: The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Harper Collins (2002)

John Cassidy

Central Theme
In retrospect the craze of the nineties was mostly smoke and mirrors, but what fueled it? Cassidy argues it was a combination of greed and American’s grandiose self-perceptions

Just a few years ago in the midst of the craze
we were all being told that there were new rules for a new economy and that he who hesitates is lost. Venture capitalists were pouring millions of dollars into companies whose business plan had moved rapidly from a 20 year old’s brain onto a napkin and into a wildly optimistic prospectus. The older generation with it’s work ethic, savings and slow path to economic security was being pitied as a generation that missed the easy and exhilarating days of wealth.

And then it all imploded. What happened? How were so many intelligent people drawn into a bubble so predictably waiting to burst? John Cassidy answers the question entertainingly by reviewing the history of the Web and its commercialization and then advancing a theory as to why it happened. In a nutshell, a combination of human avarice and American hubris explain it all.

Beliefs num
–The Web is a marvelous development for humans
–The Web does have commercial possibilities
–Humans are hopelessly herd oriented
–Americans’ self perception made us particularly vulnerable to the craze because we:
a. invented the Web
b. love technology
c. are entrepreneurial
d. are capitalistic
e. see the entrepreneurial, economic possibilities in new technologies
f. tend towards an optimistic, sometimes utopian view of the future
–A craze like this comes around once every generation
–We won’t likely see a revived Web craze in the near future

Questions Worth Discussing num
–How did so many really smart people get sucked into a bubble so ready to be burst?
–How did it impact you personally?
–What impact will it have on entrepreneurs? The economy? The younger generation?

Provocative Quotes byline
–One of the strange things about history is how certain periods from long ago seem recent, while some events that just happened, relatively speaking, can appear ancient — Already, it is hard to fathom that just a couple of years ago many intelligent Americans believed that the marriage of computers and communications networks had ushered in a new era of permanent peace and prosperity.
==Prologue, Dot.Con
–The speculative bubble was about more than day traders trying to get rich on the Nasdaq and twenty-four-year old computer science graduates trying to become the next Bill Gates. It was about both those things, of course, but it was also about a lone superpower that believed it had discovered the secret of eternal prosperity. In short, the Internet boom and bust was about America — how it works and what it thought of itself as the twenty-first century dawned — and America is the underlying subject of this book.
==John Cassidy, about the book, Dot.Con

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