The E Decade

I began this decade writing a book about the end of American competitiveness and the accumulating evidence of the nation’s certain economic decline. “There exists,” I offered, “the unnerving possibility that our lives might be richer and better if our immigrant grandparents had stayed where they were born.” (Seriously, this is what I wrote.) The rise of a unified Europe, I predicted gravely, would be the most profound economic event of our time; Europe and Japan, I was sure, would inevitably supersede the U.S. as global economic superpowers during the nineties.

It is an interesting and humbling experience to write a book that turns out to be wrong in virtually all respects. Not just wrong but actually ignorant – unaware of almost every significant social, economic, and historical trend that is under way.

Still. Sometimes you can be so wrong that if you flip it, it becomes right. It was the economy, stupid – it just wasn’t a bad economy that would reshape our lives (“Shit, man, I’ve been downsized”), but the greatest period of economic expansion, growth, and prosperity possibly of all time.

In some ways, there is no better way to be wrong than to be wrong like this. In stock-market terms, you’re calling the bottom. By saying it can’t get any worse, what you are also saying is that it must, therefore, soon start to get better.

Although, oddly, no one ever appreciates that. Or perhaps brilliant stock pickers do. But you can bet that few normal, ordinarily depressed people, out of a job or unhappy with their careers, futilely casting about for opportunities as the decade began, had any idea that, just at the moment they gave up on – call it for what it is – the old economy, they would begin the process of being transformed by the wonders and largesse of the new economy.

“In the fifties and sixties, creative types all had a novel they were working on, and in the seventies and eighties, a screenplay. In the e-decade, you’ve got a business plan.”

In fact, let me be a little easy on myself for writing a perfectly useless book, because what I would have had to anticipate in order to write something of value was that a population of dropouts and corporate misfits and freelancers (now called entrepreneurs, visionaries, and virtual commuters) would help create an industry – not even imagined as the decade began – that would grow, in little more than 24 months (from late 1993 to late 1995) from pretty much nothing to something as important as steel and automobiles were in their day. Oh, yes, I would have had to imagine, too, that the government would balance its budget and that crime would disappear. I would have had to suppose that corporations would willingly, merrily, disgorge their wealth to their employees, that the stock market would turn up its nose at profits and become orgasmic over losses, and that even the streets of New York would, in the bloom of the new economy, become beautiful.


Some of us who go back a ways in the Internet era now use the word as a punch line. We say “the Internet,” and then we crack up. I mean, come on, here we are in the middle of an economic miracle – a whole new culture, in fact – that is founded on a technology that (a) has no demonstrable way to pay for itself, (b) has no precise use, (c) doesn’t really work all that well, and (d) whose very existence has to do, fundamentally, with porn.

The Internet may not necessarily be a joke, but it’s certainly funny.

We have projected all kinds of fantasies – sexual yearnings and utopian visions and childhood dreams (come and see the teenagers in my house talking on the phone to the people they’re talking to on AOL; the dream is of absolute communication) – onto this piece of technology. In fact, the decade was not a product of the Internet; just the opposite. It’s the fantasies of people kicked out of the old economy who made the Internet come alive.

The oft-told story (I am one of the oft-tellers) of Louis Rossetto is certainly worth retelling. An itinerant sixties guy who floated through jobs and experiences (Afghanistan! Soft-core movies – a bit player in Caligula!), he is living in Amsterdam at the turn of the decade, the editor of a small and failing computer magazine, and is possessed by a utopian-ish vision. He combines his vision with a business plan. The business that he envisions is all about how technology will enhance our work, transform our communities, our very idea of community, transform the way we talk, relate, have sex. Three years later, after an extended process of raising money (raising capital becomes in the e-decade almost like voting; it is the way we participate in a capitalist democracy), Rossetto launches Wired magazine in January 1993. This is before the first Web browser exists – at this moment, practically speaking, there is no Internet. The one e-mail address in the first issue of the magazine is rendered incorrectly: nicholas@Internet. And yet, there it is, on the page, this imaginary new economy – waiting for the Internet to be born.

Louis himself, though he is nearly the first to articulate the new economy, is strictly from the old economy. He is a Springsteen character. The chip on his shoulder is brutish.

He has a Robin Hood vision of the new age. The centralized, corporatized, bureaucratized economy is run by the Sheriff of Nottingham, who, in Louis’s vision, faces a forest of entrepreneurs, of disintermediated communication, of individual desktop tools, of new, sudden, communities of resistance (communities of interest, they are called); in other words, of people who are sick and tired of … well, it is not always clear what they are sick and tired of.

At any rate, technology, whose power formerly resided within the corporate structure of the old economy, has, courtesy of a revolution in size and cost, passed into the hands of the merry men. What’s more, the people in the old economy are left with an outdated, slow-moving, cumbersome infrastructure (i.e., installed base), which is not only crippling but mortifying. These old-economy momsers don’t possess even the minimal knowledge and skills necessary to walk the computing walk and talk the computing talk and are too frightened to go and learn (it’s humiliating to have to be tutored by a teenager). You could reasonably argue that every executive in America, circa the first half of the decade, has a learning disability.

This is really profound. Because if you could work a spreadsheet, you were pretty much competitive with anybody in finance. If you could handle Quark, you could do what it cost publishers millions to do – and do it a lot faster. If you could install a TCP/IP pack, you could move the planet. If you could program a database, fuhgeddaboudit!

None of these things were very hard to do, with a little humility; and learning them, for many people who had already been humbled anyway, proved irresistible. The power was heady. We (the unemployable) were going to bury you.

If uncompromising, uncommunicative, unbusinesslike Louis could raise millions to start a business, anyone could.

It is early 1995. in my own Robin Hood-ish way, I have fashioned a publishing company, which with the aid of desktop-publishing equipment, and the most basic HTML, is sucking (or suckering) money from big, no-nothing publishers (the stupids).

Only I have almost no idea what I’m doing; my own technology infrastructure is pitifully fragile. Fatefully, I receive an e-mail from a recent Columbia graduate, a philosophy student who thinks he can help me (he has discovered me, of course, on the Internet). In the little more than two years he’s been out of school, I learn when we sit down for coffee, he’s already gone belly-up with one business, a CD-rom enterprise (CD-roms, remember?), and been fired, he freely admits, from his next job as a freelancer at a fledgling Web company. This is an instructive moment, because as a prospective employer, I don’t think anything negative or untoward at all about his failures. Actually, I’m impressed.

And it’s not just my special tolerance at work here, or my interest in oddballs and eccentrics. Rather, we in the technology business understand a fundamental principle: All technology is transitional. Therefore, obviously, failure is almost always part of the process. Version 2.0 exists because version 1.0 sucked. Technology development is the process of failing upward. Venture capitalists (who would become in some ways the true arbiters of the decade; after all, you can’t do anything without having your financing in place) would go so far as to say they liked to see a failure or two on an entrepreneur’s résumé. And so I hire this recent graduate (he tells me about his keen interest in Wittgenstein) and failed entrepreneur to run my technology operation.

“Venture capitalists would go so far as to say they like to see a failure or two on an entrepreneur’s résumé.”

If I know just a slight bit more about technology than New York publishers, and they are paying me, then, I suppose, it should not have been so surprising that my Wittgenstein technologist, to whom I am suddenly paying fearful sums, turns out to know only a slight bit more than I do. Four or five months and a mountain of money later, my technology in a state of high dysfunctionality, he is headhunted away from me to another company and to even larger responsibilities.

Partly because he’s no longer my technologist but now someone else’s, we stay friends (almost everybody stays friends with everybody else in the new-media business; there is a shared sense of opportunity and incredulity); indeed, I am pleased that other people will now have to endure what I have endured. It is sort of a built-in leveler (like technology itself) that my incompetent technologist is hired by my competitors. I don’t think I can convey how unbusinesslike, how ill-prepared in any conventional adult sense, how without evident skills, without the basic rules of social comportment my Wittgenstein technologist is – i.e., he’s a fuckup – and accordingly, he is fired from his next job.

So he launches a start-up. He raises money (again, you have to appreciate the psychological impact of vast amounts of money flowing to the obviously undeserving – it turns out not to be embittering but actually liberating. I mean … if that schmo can do it …), rents a big loft space, fills it with workstations and employees. He quickly spends his investment capital, conceives business models that, even in the Internet business, seem cockeyed, and confides to a Wall Street Journal reporter, who then publishes the confession, that he’s spent a good part of his investment capital on ergonomically correct chairs. He heads for insolvency, is saved in the nick of time by another Web firm, which itself shortly takes a precipitous slide.

Undaunted, the Wittgenstein technologist launches another business. Rents another loft; hires more employees. Again, shortly, stares ruin in the face, and closes those doors. Then, still shy of 30, joins one of the industry’s leading venture-capital firms. Entrepreneur-in-residence is his title. His mandate is to spend $50 million on starting new businesses in which he will, of course, be a shareholder.

You gotta love it.

So who wouldn’t go into this business? Let’s be perfectly clear about the phenomenon – this is a business (it’s not the arts, it’s not a progressive school or left-wing summer camp, but business) blissfully free of the conventional measures of success. The profit motive – that really onerous aspect of business, that deeply unpleasant character trait of businessmen – doesn’t exist in the Internet game. But the wonder goes well beyond that, because while the logic of profits may have been disregarded, you can still get rich.

You would have to be nuts not to take this job.

And that, so far, is really the defining attribute of the technology that has fueled this boom. It is not, first and foremost, that people want to use the technology, or even that they have a use for the technology, but that they want a job in the business of promoting (“evangelizer” becomes an actual job title in the e-decade) for this new technology.

“Venture capitalists would go so far as to say they like to see a failure or two on an entrepreneur’s résumé.”

It’s a great notion: We’ll build a new industry by employing everyone (the auto industry worked on something of this model, paying workers well enough so that they could buy cars).

Still, can it be this good? i give a cautionary speech to audiences around the country eager to get into the Internet business. In this speech, I make an argument about the fundamental insularity of the business. The Internet is turgidly self-referential. Just getting the thing to work requires technical gifts way above the common technically maladroit man. People in the business seem incapable of acknowledging that there might be people outside the business. Civilians. Bystanders. A passive audience. If the Internet can’t speak to these people, can’t embrace people who are not interested in the Internet for the Internet’s own sake, if the Internet can’t speak to my mother, I say, then, obviously, it will have no future. This makes perfect sense, except that my mother, who has spent the last fifteen years working for a pharmaceutical packaging company ups and takes a job marketing Websites. (Recently a headhunter called her about a senior-level marketing position at a new Internet start-up. “Oh my god,” the headhunter blurted when my mother said that she was definitely quite senior at 74.)

In my speech, I quote the CEO of a media buying company (an old media buying company) who I’d once tried to convince to invest in my Internet ambitions. I had pitched him hard on all the wonderful prospects of target advertising and audience segmentation (i.e., slicing and dicing) and database marketing. But in a precise and methodical way, he’d explained – and convinced me – why the economics of Internet advertising are unsuitable to all but the most rarefied advertisers; how, even if a mass audiences develops, the Internet would be a fundamentally low-margin medium. How CPMs – that is, the cost per thousand viewers (eyeballs, in Internet parlance) – will inevitably go down. (Not only is he convincing, but, as it turns out, he is right – the one sure number in the phalanx of Internet numbers is that, month after month, as the Internet business expands, the amount advertisers are willing to pay for space goes down.)

Recently, giving my speech, I spy my media man in the audience. He is delighted to see me, he says afterwards; he, too, remembers our conversation. And not that he’s changed his opinion, mind you, he says, but he’s gotten out of his old business of selling highly profitable old media, and started, he says, a dot-com company. What he does now is measure the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of Internet media. He hopes to get rich, I interpret, on the basis of a business that says Internet advertising doesn’t work all that well. It is, in other words, not a question of good business or bad business, but, in the e-decade, a larger evolutionary issue of adaptability. There are forces you just can’t resist.

The Internet does not have to be right, if it’s ubiquitous.

Conversation overheard last week at 11 Madison (headhunter to job-seeker): “We’ll definitely be able to get you an option package that will at least pay for your co-op. Now, have you ever bought anything online?”

“Not yet.”

“Well, go home today and do some Christmas e-commerce so you have something to talk about in your interview.”

By now, as the e-decade closes, we have certainly surpassed that critical-mass point – if you are still bricks and mortar, still old media, still in commerce rather than e-commerce, still back in the old economy, you’re in deep panic.

The old economy is being abandoned. Every week now, I get the calls. People in the magazine business, in the television business, in the movie business (imagine that, the movie business is suddenly not glamorous at all), who want to go new media. I can create a composite here: Each and every one of these people has the fear in their eyes – fear that they are too late, that the world has passed them by, that in the equity decade all they will have is a salary, in the entrepreneurial decade all they will have been is employees.

And yet, nearly everyone save for the most messianic technology followers would freely admit that we are living in a moment of distorted reality. There isn’t anyone with a modicum of conventional business experience who doesn’t appreciate the weird and comical precariousness of the new economy, who doesn’t understand that the entire playing field of Internet businesses depends upon the stock market’s willingness (in old-economy parlance) to pour good money after bad.

It is, though, the messianic people, the true believers, who do rule, and whose passion is the most contagious. These are the people whom we look to, the people who are setting the agenda, the people who are writing the script, in fact making up the words (monetize, drill down, aggregate, disintermediate, granularize), the guys who are getting the girls (or their e-decade equivalent, because there is surprisingly little conventional fooling around in the Internet business).

San Francisco has even supplanted Los Angeles as the nation’s party town. Now, I don’t mean that in the shallow sense – San Francisco and the Valley are anything but Hollywood. These parties are painfully earnest, actually. But that’s hardly the point. The point is that the true believers are in a partying mood. Why not? It is, and certainly should be, a celebratory and self-congratulatory moment. Everyone is willing to believe the true believers.

Business has become an existential act. An adventure. The ultimate creative outlet. Think about your father coming through the door after his day at the office. Think about how he looked. How the corporation ate him alive.

So how in the world did a business life become so charmed?

It has to do, I believe, with the business plan.

If in the fifties and in the sixties, your creative types all had a novel they were working on, and in the seventies and eighties, a screenplay. Now, if you’ve got heart and imagination, in the e-decade, the Microsoft Excel decade (once only financial people could run numbers; and, prior to spreadsheets, even they couldn’t run numbers all that well), you’ve got a business plan.

A business plan, of course, is an entirely made-up thing (I’ve never seen a business plan that wasn’t at $40 million in revenue in its third year). It is pure theory. It is a story. Anyone will tell you the most important asset of a start-up business is a good story. Your business plan, like a novel or script, has to create a world based on a set of assumptions about people’s behavior and aspirations and the way they respond to temptations and countertemptations. If you take that story and you go to investors and they say Well, that’s plausible, that could happen, then it’s a go. They let you try to turn your fantasy into reality.

This is where business really becomes like a movie: The VCs are the producers; the CEO is the director.

Indeed, a big part of the CEO’s job is to hire – i.e., to cast. (Headhunters are, of course, the casting agents.) The CEO sits in the conference room, and the hopefuls come in; or the CEO is out to lunch, begging and pleading with potential stars to join his production.

And then, where there was nothing before, just an empty loft space, suddenly, on an Internet-time production schedule, the stage comes to life. The set is real. Overnight, there’s an office – young people, workstations, whiteboards. Although the set, of course, is not reality. (Architects are suddenly in big demand – an Internet office has to look like an Internet office. You definitely don’t want the new economy to look like the old economy.)

Others have argued that doing an Internet start-up is less like making a movie than it is like launching a political campaign. It’s about putting together an organization, refining your issues, staying on message, and getting all those hearts and minds to follow. The Big Mo. All that adrenaline. All that junk food. And then, Election Day – standing on the floor of the nasdaq. Watching the returns. Yes! Closing three times over the offer! A landslide victory.

Whether an Internet business is a pure intellectual exercise, a movie, or a political campaign, the one thing it does not much resemble is business.

Of course, it might just be sex – oh, and e-mail. Everything else, when all is said and done, may be just baloney. Dot-baloney. But the sex, or not exactly, not conventionally, sex, instead some weird stylized version of sex, makes this the erotica decade. E-mail, profoundly changing the way we fill our days, is, of course, a primary instrument of e-sex.

In fact, the Internet, or the Internet business and culture, is a prudish place. Technological development depends, more or less, on a mind-body split (e-mail is the ultimate mind-body disjunction). We don’t talk about screens that suddenly go dark when office doors are opened; we don’t talk about the gigs of porno automatically backed up every night on dat drives across America; we don’t talk in real life about what they talk about on the Internet.

But here is a big development of the decade: The Internet has made the world safe for fetishes. The enema decade, then.

But perhaps this is starting to seep out. Fetishes are making it onto television shows – the other night, I saw a character on prime time with a crush fetish, that is, if I have it right, someone who is turned on by stepping on roaches. I have wondered about that newsgroup before; now I know. Sort of.

And then there is Patrick Naughton. He may become something of the Dreyfus of the Internet business. He is the executive at the Disney-controlled Infoseek (I’ve met him several times at conferences; people say he is arrogant, but he seemed just like a true believing Internet guy to me) who one evening a few months ago, arrived at his assignation with a chat-room 13-year-old on the Santa Monica Pier, only to get himself apprehended by FBI agents.

This has prompted numerous questions among Internet people. Among them: As a class, have we become reckless, arrogant, heedless? Has the Internet made us feel all-powerful? Do we, or do our friends and associates, have a sexual screw loose? Are our friends and associates possibly having weird and incredible sex? Or, are chat rooms populated mostly by FBI agents?

And then there are the more Jesuitical questions (there’s often a similarity, especially if you’ve ever worked on programming a database, between Jesuitical and technological questions). What if Naughton wasn’t going to meet a 13-year-old girl? What if he was going to meet someone who was pretending to be 13 years old? If no one is who they say they are online, a fact everyone but the most lust-beclouded knows, then who’s to say Patrick Naughton’s actual bent wasn’t people playing at being 13-year-olds? I mean, in fact, his 13-year-old was not a 13-year-old, after all.

As for e-mail, its pleasures (in addition to its prurience) are myriad. Instantaneous gratification for one thing; for another, we no longer have to spell, or compose, or even be pleasant. What’s more, perhaps most profoundly, e-mail may be the most potent instrument of self-promotion ever extended to, well, everybody.

Jason Calacanis, a kind of Steve Rubell of the Internet (were this the late seventies instead of the late nineties, Calacanis would likely be in discos), publishes a chamber-of-commerce-type booster magazine about Silicon Alley. For the past few years, Calacanis has propounded a top-100 list: The hundred most influential people in Silicon Alley, or some such. This essentially comprises most everyone who has been in the Internet business for more than three years. At year’s end, Calacanis sends an e-mail to the top 100, with each of these top 100 in the cc: line. In the ensuing days and weeks, each of the top 100 respond to the other top 100 congratulating each other on his or her appointment to the top 100. Following that, each of the 100 forward to each of the other 100 the various press releases that are inevitably and often issued by each of the members of the top 100. Press releases about new businesses, press releases about new accomplishments, new awards, even new babies. Invariably many of the 100 pass the list on to other people in the Internet business who are looking to add to their press-release lists. If even half of the 100 pass it on to two people who in turn pass the list on to two people … figure it out.

Surely, the Internet is the greatest thing that has ever happened to the press release.

The Internet has been as good as the sixties, as the sexual revolution, as World War II. It’s certainly been the best thing that’s happened to me. It’s not only the money (which in my case was hard to hold onto) but the time – a decade to call your own. What we wait for, what we are poorer without, is a transforming experience, that generation-shaping development we enter as one person and come out another. That process is enlightening, enlarging, entertaining, energizing.

It’s a manic phase.

Who wants to be a millionaire? is the Price Club version of a profound and moving question. The real question, the real temptation, is not just about wealth but about wealth at a level never before imagined by the human race (this same human race whose entire four or five millennia of experience, in Saul Bellow’s description, is about scarcity).

I am on a talk show telling the story of the moment (the most fleeting of moments) in 1996, when I am worth $100 million. A reporter from the Wall Street Journal, also on the show, feels compelled, however, to point out how $100 million would be considered, of course, a relatively small stake in a successful Internet enterprise.

While that appears to make no sense, or to have stepped up to a level of abstraction and fantasy where logic becomes unhinged and perhaps irrelevant, I think I know what the Wall Street Journal reporter means to say.

There is, at the elusive center of the e-experience, the fantasy that we might become free of economic laws. This idea is true on a business basis (companies that have no imperative to make more than they spend) and on a personal basis. All it takes to make otherworldly riches is the will and desire. If you are willing to believe in the Internet, you can not only be free from want but make so much money that it would be, practically speaking, inexhaustible for generations to come. And you can do this without capital, experience, training, or even employment history.

I’m having lunch with George Bell, the head of Excite. We haven’t met before, though I’ve seen him at conferences. Recently I’d seen him on a podium with his new merger partner, Tom Jermoluk, the head of @home (everywhere called T.J. – “Hello, T.J.”; “As I was saying, T.J… .”). Although Bell seemed slightly subdued in his new role as T.J.’s sidekick, it’s still easy to think of Bell as one of the luckiest men of the decade, and I do.

“Your job is to transform – and to be transformed. To be able to with stand some speeded-up evolutionary process. And, of course, to be one of the survivors.”

Bell exists as close to the center of the e-experience as anyone – it’s not just the money, but the transformation. A Pygmalion thing, nearly. He’s a documentary filmmaker who goes to work for Times Mirror magazines in the early nineties on multimedia development – CD-roms and such. In old-economy, old-media terms, he’s got deep-rut middle-management written all over him. Which is why, in 1995, contacted by a headhunter, he’s willing to take the job as the CEO of an eleven-employee start-up company founded by some recent Stanford grads, called Architext, which markets search software for librarians, and which, shortly, changes its name to Excite and relaunches as an Internet search engine.

Bell, a man with modest business experience, or technology know-how, or Valley bona fides – “I’d never heard of Kleiner, Perkins” – rides the company from its handful of employees and zero value to nearly a thousand employees and a market capitalization of $7.5 billion in three years.

Fairly, I expect him to be one sort of fellow – a guy with $7.5 billion dollars worth of hubris and adrenaline.

But Bell, who is waiting patiently for me when I arrive late for our lunch at a midtown hotel, is pretty clearly on the other side of the manic phase. He has a net worth that has been as high $50 million (now on a down day only $35 million) but is weary, exhausted – actually, even thoughtful.

“It would,” he says, “be almost impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t had the experience what my life has been like. I’m not saying that it has been bad, but that it’s been – “

He can’t explain.

It’s not just the airplanes. It’s not just raising money – endless amounts of money. (It’s like drilling for oil, I’ve heard someone say: You’re always look for new sources, new deposits, new fields.) It’s not just looking at a vast payroll every other week at a company that is not able to reliably support itself. It’s not just the uncertainty. It’s not just the 24/7 business schedule. It’s the acceleration. You’re job is to transform – and to be transformed. To be able to withstand some speeded-up evolutionary process. And, of course, to be one of the evolutionary survivors.

This is the weirdest feeling – to be at one of the most successful companies in the decade’s most successful business and to know that you might not survive.

That is the problem, after all, with there being no measure of success – it means you can’t ever be a success, you can’t ever rest on your laurels, or ever rest, period.

“I’ve lost the capacity,” he says, “to let my guard down.” He shrugs. I understand.

Excite is a company that was started to become something else. From specialized library tool to consumer search engine to media-content company to personalized software to portal play to e-commerce site to acquirer to acquired to cable play to broadband content to digitally ubiquitous platform (what the hell?) to, as is increasingly likely, the evolutionary detritus of the Internet age.

No doubt Bell wouldn’t trade this experience – the ride – for anything. Of course not. This is what it’s all about. “The total blur,” says Bell. Still.

He moved his family from the West side of Manhattan (we could have looked into each other’s windows on Amsterdam Avenue) out to the Valley. Now Bell’s wife, Carrie Minot, sister of the famously literary Minot sisters, has made him buy a house in Brookline, Massachusetts – among the more inconvenient locations for someone who works in Silicon Valley. Indeed, as far away as possible.

“I’m good for six more months.”

“And then?”

“A lot of people I know are saying I’ll only ever work in a start-up. What’s next? Another start-up. Not me. Never again. Enough.”

Mania is wonderful – until it isn’t.

We talk about the future, and what everyone in this business talks about, which is the converse of boom – the hypothetical moment of bust. I’ve predicted that moment over several seasons now. No doubt Bell has, too – everyone with the slightest sense, or at least old-economy sense, has said it’s coming soon, coming inevitably. In fact, many of us have called it so often that it begins to seem plausible that the e-boom is different from a regular boom. That, as the true believers say, the process of economic transformation has just begun – and such a transformation, such an explosion of human potential, and technological wherewithal, has nothing to do with a decade; that there’s no reason it has to be finite at all. It’s not a fad. Journalists create decades, but technology creates epochs, some West Coast genius recently told me, and this boom – regardless of my own failings and George Bell’s weariness – is going to resound for years and years more.

Personally, I wouldn’t count on it. But then, I have been wrong before.


The E Decade