the Great Wired Way

REMEMBER ALL THE GIDDY talk about the “information superhighway”? Well it never got built. At least not the way Time Warner, Microsoft, and AT&T imagined it. As recently as two years ago, the media Goliaths were spinning blue-sky fantasies about delivering 500 cable channels and personalized services to your home, while collecting access tolls for the individual use of vast corporate entertainment libraries. The fantasies are still kicking around, technologically hitched to those WebTV “dumb delivery” boxes now in stores, which will link home entertainment to the Internet, and reinforced by the deregulatory revisions of the Telecommunications Act this year (which facilitates multimedia mergers and sanctions digital over the old analog information systems). But the uninvited guest at this party is the Internet; it was not supposed to be part of the plan at all. Once earmarked as a nigh-obsolete

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