Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Michael Wolff Has Been Trash-Talking the Internet Since 1998–See the Video!

Ah, Michael Wolff! Always throwing stink bombs and making deliciously wackadoo declarations about the Internet.

This time, it’s in a dinner interview the author had with BusinessWeek’s media columnist Jon Fine recently.

Wolff (pictured here) slaps around the News Corp. (NWS) social-networking site MySpace with a series of his trash-buckling phrases, some of which are true and some a bit more of a stretch.

But he sure is entertaining!

One of Wolff’s more controversial moments:

“If you’re on MySpace now, you’re a [expletive] cretin. And you’re not only a [expletive] cretin, but you’re poor. Nobody who has beyond an 8th grade level of education is on MySpace. It is for backwards people.”

This is vintage Wolff, to make a big hissy-fit fuss at an opportune time.

Surprise! His latest book, a bio of media mogul Rupert Murdoch (who owns this site), titled “The Man Who Owns The News,” is coming out right about now.

And speaking of vintage, Wolff can be seen in the video below whacking away at the early Internet just over a decade ago, with me and Feed’s Steven Johnson in an appearance on the “Charlie Rose” television show.

It was the era of AOL’s dominance, with Yahoo (YHOO) as the comer and Web 1.0 in its fully overvalued glory.

“It’s craziness, it’s loco, it makes no sense,” said Wolff about the Internet, circa July 27, 1998.

His caustically funny book “Burn Rate” on his naughty early Internet adventures, wherein he was the only person not to get rich in Web 1.0, had just come out.

(And I had just come out with my book on the rise of AOL–the fall of AOL sequel came out in 2003.)

Later in the interview, Wolff could not help himself and makes a truly bad prediction: “I think the myth of the Internet is that it is going to come into everybody’s home.”

Oops, the Web is pretty much ubiquitous only 10 years later.

But Wolff does go on to make a lot of the same salient points he makes today about MySpace and the Web’s hot-today-gone-tomorrow ethos.

The video of our segment starts at the 30-minute mark.

Michael has not aged a day, but please, please excuse my shoulder pads and deeply unfortunate haircut (how did I ever get a date?):

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik