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Events occur more quickly on the Net

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Maybe the Internet really does work in "Internet time," a unit that goes much faster than the real world.


I never believed that Internet time was a real thing. It was a way for consultants to rationalize how quickly the Internet sucked up investor money.

The common wisdom is that things happen more quickly on the Internet. That's why Netscape grew so large so quickly; and why development of Internet software always seemed to go faster than the development of other software.

The reality that I saw, though, was that companies with strong Internet ties were willing to reveal information earlier than others -- so we would find out about projects while they were still half-baked. That would allow competitors to react earlier in their product development cycles.

Projects didn't get completed any more quickly than in other realms.

But changes to product life cycles and specifications had to change more quickly -- or else the companies (and their products) would be buried.

Today, however, Internet time looks like a reality -- at least in the case of Google and the Church of Scientology. So pay attention quickly -- or you won't keep up.

Google is a very popular search engine. When you go to http://www.google.com, and type certain keywords into its search field, Google will return a list of pages that may contain the information you seek about the subject you typed.

It also includes clickable links that take you to each page. The Church of Scientology is a religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard. During the past month, the church sent four letters to Google requesting that Google remove links to a Norwegian-based Web site called Operation Clambake, which opposes the church.

The links show up any time somebody searches for "Scientology" or certain other phrases related to the church.

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According to the church, Operation Clambake is infringing on the church's copyrighted material, and that by linking to Operation Clambake, Google is aiding the copyright infringement as defined by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

So, in a flurry of activity, Google has removed the link to stay within the bounds of the law, devised a plan to deal with similar issues in the future then replaced the links in the search engine.

During the short time that the links had been removed, Google replaced each of them with a statement that it removed the link due to the DMCA and where to go to find more information.

For its part, Operation Clambake has posted a message saying "Google does the right thing! (finally)"

If you didn't blink, you might have caught all the action; it happened so fast. That's good. The Net and its "Netizens" are finally living up to the expectation of Internet time.

I guess in Norway, they always live in Internet time.

Otherwise, the publisher of Operation Clambake could not have possibly justified the word "finally" in his posting.

You can breathe normally now. The sprinting is over.

Q: In Windows 98, there was a great icon that closed all my windows with a single click. Why can't I find it in Windows XP.

A: The icon/button is called "Show Desktop," and in Windows 98, Me, NT and 2000, it looked like a desk blotter with a pen. The button is still available in Windows XP, but it doesn't look the same. So you might not recognize it. It's now a stylized blotter -- although I can't figure out why Microsoft went abstract with it. It took me several days myself to get used to its white blotch with the light blue outline. It's now almost impossible to describe succinctly.

Click here for an archive of previous Interact articles

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