[opendtv] Re: Another point of view on walled gardens

  • From: "John Shutt" <shuttj@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 4 Feb 2010 14:19:02 -0500

----- Original Message ----- From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>

Wow, what a strange view of reality.

The WWW was NEVER as it was perceived by AOL and CompuServe customers. They were the anomaly, trying to wall in what was never meant to be. Which is probably why they didn't last. And devices which attempt to introduce the same artificial walls may not fare any better.

Wow, what a revision of history, Bert. And you're old enough to remember the truth.

When CompuServe was conceived, there was no other way to reach the "internet" for anyone outside of academia and the military. The local Telcos weren't offering dialup internet access. The web browser hadn't yet been conceived. Heck, everything was in ASCII! The only alternative to AOL and CompuServe was dialing up your local BBS. It was CompuServe and AOL that built out the nationwide infrastructure necessary so you had a local number for your 2400 baud modem to dial. The only drawback? The outrageous per minute usage charges, which were designed to minimize the monopolizing of the precious few dial in ports in each point of presence.

CompuServe introduced the idea of buying airline tickets online at a discount. CompuServe and AOL partnered with businesses to get the whole concept of eCommerce started. Long before AOL's famous "you've got mail," CompuServe and AOL was defining the concept of email. Heck, I remember back in 1981-82, somewhere in there, MCI developed what they called MCI mail, where if your recipient didn't have an MCI email account, they'd print a hard copy of your email in their city and have it delivered in next day's snail mail for a buck.

Then along came the University of Minnesota's GOPHER, which was a plaything for those connected to the 'internet' at universities, and then later HTML and what would become Netscape defined the web browser concept that added graphics to GOPHER's text based experience. AOL and CompuServe offered internet portals as just one of their many menu offerings. Most destinations on the internet were academic or government affiliated.

As the concept of the internet grew, it expanded to businesses, and eventually enough content became available for "free" on the internet that it became a viable alternative to paying AOL and CompuServe their 10 cents a minute (or whatever it was) to use their services.

CompuServe, and especially AOL, clung on much longer than they should have to their walled garden model, mostly because of the ease of using their services and finding things. It was the early search engines like Yahoo! that really made surfing the internet possible without AOL or CompuServe, IMO.

So, in other words, you have it backwards. AOL and CompuServe sprang up out of the wilderness, and then later it was the internet that slowly grew up around them. CompuServe and AOL weren't the anomaly, they were the only game in town.


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