This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Review Review
Dec 26 2000 12:00 AM PST

The media look back on the year in which more people used Napster than voted for George W. Bush.

The end of a year is approaching - and the end of a millennium, according to purists - so naturally the news outlets turned to roundups, summaries and best-of stories. For your holiday reading pleasure, Grok has pulled together the first roundup of the first of the roundups.

ZDNet's Robert Lemos picked the top 10 security stories for 2000. They are laid out Letterman-fashion across two ad-festooned pages. Grok can find no quarrel with Lemos' priorities, beginning with the vulnerability of high-bandwidth home users of Windows machines and continuing with distributed denial-of-service attacks and the "I Love You" virus. Also high on Lemos' list was the ongoing failure of system administrators to apply available patches for widely known security vulnerabilities.

The New York Times ran its annual survey of the important cyber-law stories of the year. Among the seven legal experts consulted by Carl S. Kaplan, the top story was the rise of Napster, followed closely by the Microsoft (MSFT) antitrust case and the DeCSS trial that pitted code as free speech against copyright law. Wayne State professor Jessica Littman noted for Kaplan that Napster's user community, 44 million strong, compares favorably with the number of people who voted for George W. Bush. Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig found it significant that Bill Gates "saw that there was a reason for antitrust law to monitor the Internet economy (i.e., the telephone call from ... Gates to the FCC to complain about the power of AOL (dossier)'s Instant Messaging service)."

Patricia Jacobus recapped the year's privacy news for CNET in an article whose title fit right in with the Egghead puns - "Privacy heats up but doesn't boil over." Jacobus and her sources found far more talk than action on the privacy concerns of online consumers. Advertising companies appointed "chief privacy officers" but would not consider reforming their data-collection practices while Congress and the administration continued to back industry self-regulation, Jacobus reported. By the time she quoted DoubleClick (DCLK)'s new CPO on the need to "assure consumers that they have control over their Web surfing experience," even a slow reader might catch an echo of irony.

MIT's Technology Review ran a millennial summary of 10 technologies that didn't make it, but that had their own advantages and perhaps a kind of elegance. Nick Montfort took a clear-eyed look at the Graf von Zeppelin airship, the WordStar word processor, the Amiga and other worthy technologies that ultimately lost out in the marketplace. Montfort recounted the tale of Edison's wax-cylinder recordings yielding to records, an inferior technology that was "good enough." The last cylinders were manufactured in 1929, the year Edison's company closed, but Monfort reported that the cult band They Might Be Giants went to the Edison National Historic Site in New Jersey to record a track on wax cylinder for their 1996 album "Factory Showroom." - Keith Dawson

The Year in Technology Law
New York Times
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Privacy Heats Up but Doesn't Boil Over

Top 10 Security Stories of 2000

Ten Passed Technologies
Technology Review