Dot.com Crash, Enough Already

I posted this today on the Cluetrain Mainfesto list:

As a Cluetrain fan and a long-time list lurker, I’ve hesitated to jump in as the slings and arrows of this crowd are sometimes hard to follow…and I have felt too unplugged to keep from getting shot down in the cross fire.

That admission aside, I wanted to say that my few days off around the holidays have led me to grow nostalgic for last year’s coverage of the Y2K bug.

At least with Y2K, there was a date-specific when all the dire predictions of Apocalypze could end. That is not the case with the current year-end saturation coverage of the dot.com crash-meltdown-depression.

When will the bubble burst on these news stories? At some point in the near future, the “fuckedcompany era” must end as we all conclude that it is not significant to our lives anymore that dumb businesses managed by dumb individuals and funded by dumb investors die. Even smart businesses managed by smart individuals and smart investors die. Businesses start and die every day. They always have. They always will. I am old enough – and have been fortunate enough – to have succeeded significantly and failed miserably and frankly, the failures have done more for me than the successes.

That such business creation and contraction have been carried out in the public marketplace with exuberant amounts of cash at stake under the scrutiny of mass media makes it more interesting, but it does not make it “news.”

At some point, this coverage too must past as so much of it (like the Y2K coverage before it) completely misses the point.

The real impact of the Internet will come when coverage shifts from “the deal flow” onto “the idea flow” that permeates lists such as this and books such as Cluetrain and on weblogs and, in my humble opinion, sites like smallbusiness.com, where grassroots knowledge is being unleashed in ways we cannot yet comprehend.

Many years ago, I heard Paul Saffo explain a cycle of technology hype (which more recently, the folks at the Gartner Group borrowed and named “the hype cycle”) in which he graphed the inevitable over-promise, resulting disappointment and long-term impact of important technological advances. The roller-coaster of explosive hype, a disillusioning trough of despair and the underestimation of the technology’s positive longterm impact can be seen playing out as the marketplace and media and beleaguered participants try to make sense of the current “crash-meltdown-depression.”

As tiresome as the over-hyped “boom” story was, the “crash” story is long due for a correction.

Let’s move on.