2000: THE INTERNET YEAR IN REVIEW
¤ The Internet reaches a demographic milestone as a new study reveals that for the first time, the majority of U.S. Internet users are FBI agents posing as teenage girls.
¤ Reacting to an alarming new report that warns of a widening "digital divide" between those who have Internet access and those who don't, the United Nations launches HaveNot.org, a community and commerce site targeted at the estimated 5 billion people who do not have access to the Internet. According to HaveNot director Anthawal Nadretee, initial traffic is "very slow, which we think is encouraging."
¤ Oracle CEO Larry Ellison denies the departure of the company's No. 2 executive has anything to do with a lack of communication between himself and "whatshisname."
¤ The Recording Industry Association of America announces it doesn't like it when the wind blows, as it sounds too much like the beginning to Elton John's 'Funeral for a Friend.'
¤ Unconvicted killer O.J. Simpson launches AskOJ.com, a site that will enable the former football star to answer questions from users, sell personal memorabilia, and come across as a sleazy unrepentant murderer to an entirely new audience. "There are literally millions of people in Asia, Europe, and South America who will now hear my side of the story before they conclude that I am a deceitful butcher."
¤ Speaking at a press conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer actually says a breakup "would certainly mean higher prices, less choice and harder-to-use products for consumers." Analysts take the statement to mean the breakup will have no impact on the company.
¤ America Online launches a membership drive offering 700 hours of free Internet access in the first month, meaning a new user would have to stay online 22.5 hours a day for 30 days to use up the free connect time. This would be funnier if it weren't true.
¤ IBM unveils ViaVoice II for Windows, a revolutionary new line of voice recognition software that, the company boasts, makes talking to your computer easier, faster, and "more a curate than ever beef whore."
¤ In a speech accepting his party's nomination, George W. Bush pledges to turn the Internet into a "God-fearing, gun-filled, sexless, Republican Internet" if elected, and promises to introduce a bill requiring every computer on the network to be powered, not by "liberal, Gore-loving electricity," but by safe, dependable oil. "My friends, let me ask you, do you know what the Internet is?" Bush asks the crowd. No one seems to know.
¤ Charles Peck, incoming chief executive of theglobe.com, concedes the troubled online firm is heavily in debt, but urges investors not to focus solely on the company's numbers because, he says, "they suck." "Clearly, if you just look at the numbers, they are very bad," says Peck. "However, if you do look at the numbers, then you're entirely missing the point I'm trying to make, which is, 'Don't look at the numbers.'"
¤ No rulings are issued in the anti-trust case. Microsoft immediately appeals.
¤ Stephen King revolutionizes publishing by posting the first two installments of a book based on a partially formulated idea he shelved nearly 20 years ago, promising he will keep publishing segments of The Plant if at least 75 percent of readers pretend there wasn't a reason he never got the book published in the first place.
¤ Symantec issues an apology to Microsoft after the security software maker's AntiVirus Research Center issues an alert for a "widespread and lethal virus known to cause system crashes and data loss" that turns out to be the Windows 2000 operating system. Symantec CEO John Thompson calls it a "regrettable but understandable" mistake.
¤ Rapper Eminem joins the online publishing community, announcing he will post expletives he thought up yesterday while talking to his wife, and will continue to post them if at least 75 percent of those who download them promise to fuck off.
¤ Alarmed by "deplorable" conditions at swelling dot-com relocation camps, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees grants Official Refugee Status to laid off Internet workers, making them eligible for food and medical aid, and discounts on Nerf guns and coffee.
¤ Microsoft denies it is attempting to win leniency from an Appeals Court by waging a PR campaign extolling the virtues of chairman Bill Gates. Company spokesperson Miranda Magdeleine insists Microsoft would never expect the court to be influenced by Gates' "infinite compassion," nor by his "occasional" episodes of bleeding from the hands and feet. "On the contrary," says Magdeleine, "the Virgin Mary has often pleaded with Mr. Gates to shun notoriety for his good works because, as she puts it, she 'doesn't want to lose another one.'"
¤ After another massive wave of dot-com cutbacks, analysts conclude the Internet is migrating toward a layoff-based business model, which they label B2U, or Business-to-Unemployment. "Like most true sea changes, we didn't recognize this one until it was staring us in the face," says Gartner Group analyst Pam Wallaby, who refuses to explain how a sea change can stare one in the face.
¤ Morningstar analyst Laura Pavlenko Lutton actually issues a report saying Priceline "has strong potential and is probably a good long-term bet." Meanwhile, First Albany analyst Ullas Naik puts out a "strong buy" on CMGI at $35. Both analysts refuse to divulge what they are sniffing.
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