The tech world is truly ending.

Gates toppled as world’s richest man

Is it going to be back to business as usual again, or what? For awhile there, I really thought that the Internet Boom was going to make a permanent change to the business world. Suits and ties were disappearing, casual wear was becoming the formality. But is all that going to pass, kinda like Miami Vice and pastels? And what about the pace? I’ve only been out of school since 1997, but I feel like a grizzled old veteran from doing work on the Internet and web since about 1995. I’ve seen browser versions come and go, new technologies splash and drown, and I’ve seen a few before they were coming– but I’ve only got about 7 years’ experience in this industry.

So I know that computers aren’t going away, and the world is as tech dependent as ever. But the Internet, as we know it, might be going away. I mean, look at the sheer number of companies that have folded. Look at the money that evaporated. We had a flush of heady days of free this and free that, and everything’s free. But it never was. Someone always was paying, in the hopes that they could get you some other way.

What happens now? Does it all slow down? Does it now become just like anything else? Since all the money’s gone, no one will be funding the appearance of the next technology of the week. Until now, it’s all been time compression for me– one year is ten. Does that unwind now? So that I don’t see the next browser version, or the next release of a Macromedia product until 2005?

Goddamn it, the Net was special. How will working in this field be now? Less ‘hip’, less exciting, less splash, more mundane like any other field? Does it become slow enough now to comprehend and take over for the suit-wearing people we were calling “Dinosaurs” just last year?

Maybe it’s just me, but there was a life energy, a vision, an excitement, a hope, a big loud SOMETHING that I loved being a part of. I could give raspberries to my other Comp Sci graduate friends who were working in the back-office data dungeons of other stodgy old mundane companies, because they just weren’t having any fun. They weren’t doing anything new, they didn’t need extravagant creativity, they didn’t need to manage Big Change on a daily basis.

I’m not saying I wish we were all still having one big party (though it was fun!), but I do hope we still see the ideas and the ebullience. I just don’t hold out much hope. I’m thinking that this past decade will take it’s place right along with the others. People will be saying: “Remember the 90’s? My God, massage therapists in the office and punk 24 year olds becoming millionaires? Jesus, I’m glad that’s gone. Had us all worried for awhile.”

The only hope, really, that this holds for me, maybe, is that things will slow down just a little. Just a bit to a managable human pace, so that we never work 72 hour days again, and so that I might someday think about having a life outside work. Maybe that’s the silver lining. If it all slows down, we might get to be people again, we the tireless minions of the Digital Age. Maybe if this one year span turns into ten, I can think about getting that PhD I want and take night classes without fearing that some project or another at work will take me away from it. Maybe, and this is really crazy, I might think about having kids in the next decade or so and feel that I can spend some time with them.

Okay, I’m being melodramatic. Not overly so, I don’t think. I sure as hell have stories to tell my grandkids now.

But damn I hope we get to hold on to at least a part of the magic.