Same As It Ever Was
When I was in college in the 1980s, David Byrne and the Talking Heads were in regular rotation in my room along with Pink Floyd, except for the one semester where the only thing I listed to was Dark Side of the Moon (ah – the joy of discovering repeat on an early CD player.)
Once in a Lifetime was one of my favorites. Looking back, it was a Gen X anthem.
Mark Goldstein sent me an email this morning titled your blog, an article i was in last week and yep in response to my post What Just Happened. It included the phrase “same as it ever was…same as it ever was.” and a link to The Internet Is Kmart Now from The Atlantic.
Amy had texted me the article mid-December when it came out. It starts strong.
The 1990s hadn’t gone as expected. A bad recession kicked off Gen X’s adulthood, along with a war in the Middle East and the fall of communism. Boomers came to power in earnest in America, and then the lead Boomer got impeached for lying about getting a blow job from an intern in the Oval Office. Grunge had come and gone, along with clove cigarettes and bangs. The taste of the ’90s still lingers, for those of us who lived it as young adults rather than as Kenny G listeners or Pokémon-card collectors, but the decade also ingrained a sense that expressing that taste would be banal, a fate that the writer David Foster Wallace had made worse than death (I swear he was cool once, along with U2).
yep. Thankfully SiriusXM has Channel 34: Lithium.
The article uses the Kmart / Bluelight.com / Spinway story to set up the conclusion. We were in the middle of it (Softbank Venture Capital/Mobius invested in Bluelight.com and Spinway.) Ian Bogost mostly gets the story right. And then, he ends the article as strongly as he started.
Today, the collapse of a big technology or retail company is almost unthinkable. Just look at the pearl-clutching over Twitter’s recent shambles: The public can’t fathom the idea that it might decline, let alone possibly die, for real. But the certainty of death, rather than the hubris of assumed eternity, was the salient cosmic feeling of the 1990s internet. Its creators had learned that sentiment from the Cold War, tapping out time on Atari games about the apocalypse while awaiting its real-world counterpart. Of course Kmart died, and Yahoo too. What else could have happened? “We’re all going to be absorbed; we’re all going to be consolidated,” Goldstein said. “At the end of the day, we just hope to end up as a button that survives.”
Yep. Same as it ever was.