As my old boss used to scream, "I'm being fucked up the ass by an iron rod." So right now I am in a less than affable mood. That said, please excuse this rant.
Gutenberg--not the crappy Hollywood actor, not the crappy New Jersey city, Gutenberg, Johannes, took an old olive press and about 600 years ago figured out a way to attach moveable type to it and print books.
This was the internet of its day. It basically created Protestantism--because Martin Luther's Theses were able to get wide distribution because they could be distributed in large quantities. Once distributed it couldn't be killed by the Holy Roman Empire. Protestantism was the rare viral video that actually stuck.
All this happened in the early 16th Century. The internet of its day.
Now here's the rub.
The first printed book in the world without an ecclesiastical theme, without a mention of god, didn't appear till almost 100 years later. It was 1581 when Machiavelli published "The Prince."
In other words, it took decades upon decades for people to discern how to figure out the fucking medium.
Now if you accept the fact that people, in their essence, don't change that much and our ability to adopt, adapt to and understand new technology takes time, I would argue that we haven't quite yet figured out what the internet is really for.
As my friend the Ad Contrarian points out, internet sales account for just over 5% of all retail. And less than 1% of all video consumed is online video.
Right now, the internet is like sex being discovered by a teenager. Naturally they think it's the greatest thing ever--but they also think they're the first people ever to discover it.
My point--I'm sure it's buried in there somewhere--is simple. Grand proclamations about the internet--or any new technology for that matter--are horseshit. They are incomplete. They are ill-informed. They are often illogical. They serve the purpose of aggrandizing the proclaimer. They are his or her way of showing the world that they understand things that ordinary mortals don't.
Entire ephemeral industries grow up around the best of these proclaimers. But they are like most futurists. They will be the butt of jokes in thirty years when the digital equivalent of the flying cars they prophecy turn out to be binary Buicks.