I wrote this when I was nineteen, lonely, and over-supplied with intellectual arrogance. Nowadays I'm a bit older and much less lonely, thank you, and I'd say some of it differently and a lot more I wouldn't say at all. (In particular, the title, as a friend gently put it, stinks, and I was, of course, very wrong about the future of the net.) If I leave this on-line it is to mortify myself, but I still think some bits are true and even important, and some readers are kind enough to claim it had a certain rhetorical power; which I've doubtless just spoiled.

Cosma Rohilla Shalizi
Madison, 5 December 1996