Burn Rate, by Michael Wolff

Posted: August 21, 2004 at 11:56 am in fun_nonfiction

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Subtitled “How I survived the Gold Rush years on the Internet”. I had seen this book around and had some vague interest in reading it, but never got around to it until a friend of mine was giving away a free copy. So I borrowed it and read it. It was pretty nondescript. Wolff tried to ride the Internet wave, and even though he had a fair degree of success, never really bought into what the Internet was enabling, which was the democratization of media. As a writer himself, he felt that “my business, my somewhat unique skill set, was to compose point of view and story and character in such a way that a more or less broadly defined group of people knows what I’m talking about and perhaps even thinks what I want them to think or feels what I want them to feel.” He’s selling his point of view, which he believes to be educated and privileged. Instead, he found out, “the Internet was an instrument through which we were all finding we could exercise a highly individual and idiosyncratic control over the messages we were getting… you could, if you wanted, make your voice as powerful as any other. You could send your own message.” His response? “Good for you. God save us.” The rabble is loose.

Since I think that’s one of the most exciting bits of the internet, I didn’t really feel too much for his sadness as he comes to this realization. And the book itself was kind of dull. Despite reliving the times when everybody was trying to figure out what the internet was good for, from 1994-96, Wolff doesn’t really capture the dreams and anticipation we all felt living through it. Not really worth the read, I’d say.

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