A Dictionary Of The New Economy


When I first wrote this document, the dot-com crash hadn't happened. I put this on the web in April of 2000, a couple of weeks after the big stock-market crash which, while it marked the end of the era, wasn't then the deathblow it's now seen to be.

That's why the words "I told you so" don't appear here. Except for that one.


With the invention of the Internet by a consortium of AOL, Netscape, Microsoft and Al Gore in the early 1990's, the economy suddenly leapt forward to the next level of development. Gone was the concept of making stuff and then selling it. Instead, the way to make money was with The Internet. The business world embraced this new dynamic user-centric interactive paradigm.

Unfortunately, as with every paradigm shift, some people are left behind. It is for the benefit of these people that I present the following lexicon. If you are one such person, understanding the New Economy is now a simple matter of reading this page and then keeping it in your bookmark (OK, favorites) list so you can come back and look up things you don't understand.

Don't worry--it's a nice, short document that contains everything you need to know about the New Economy. Consider that a hint.

One final note: This is a living document, which means I never have to actually finish it.

Beta: Any release of any piece of software produced on Internet Time.

Cyber-: A prefix used by the computer illiterate to indicate that they don't know what they're talking about.

Dilbert: A comic strip by Scott Adams, a plagiarist who uses a network of hidden cameras to steal his material from my place of work.

Distributed denial-of-service attack: The tantrum heard 'round the world.

Domain name: An extremely expensive piece of property, often worth millions of dollars and the object of furious speculation, despite not actually existing.

Dotcom: A business with an expensive web site and no product. Dotcoms are chiefly in the business of acquiring investment capital.

E-Tailer: A business that sells goods to customers over the Internet.

Using an E-Tailer is just like visiting your local store except that rather than pick out the item you want and paying for it with cash or credit card, you need to navigate through a horrendously ugly web site to find the thing , disclose large amounts of personal information and a credit card number (not necessarily yours), and more often than not, sign up to receive unsolicited e-mail advertisements before having to wait at least three days for your order to arrive at a nearby post office (usually located next door to a shop with the same item already in stock).

As can be expected, this significantly reduces the number of people that will buy things from an E-Tailer. However, since most E-Tailers sell their wares below cost, this is to their benefit.

FreeBSD: Better than OpenBSD, NetBSD or Linux.

Free Software: Software made available at no charge, at least initially, in the hopes of building up a base of Dependant customers who will then need to pay for upgrades. This marketing technique was originally pioneered by the alternative pharmaceutical industry.

Free Software: Open-source software but with more restrictions added to make it more free. Often mistaken for Free Software.

Innovation: Any action or practice that is beneficial to Microsoft.

Internet: A synonym for "world wide web".

Internet Day Trading: A risky form of online gambling, slightly more expensive than simply burning hundred-dollar bills but without the entertainment value afforded by such a practice.

[Moving on] Internet Time: An alternative to planning and quality.

Investor: An individual or agency that lends money to a startup company in exchange for a share in the company's future profits. These are extremely plentiful and it has been theorized that this is due to an investor being born every minute.

IPO: A Ponzi scheme that the government has not yet stopped.

Java: The most innovative programming language of the 1990's, used chiefly in keeping Sun's stock prices high.

Linux: A Unix-like operating system, somewhat popular and widely used in a variety of Internet-related applications, despite not having been written by Microsoft. It has a far higher total cost of ownership than Windows NT, despite costing no money to license, running on cheaper hardware and being supported by a variety of competing companies rather than one monopolist. This is probably do to a lack of innovation.

MCSE: A certification stating that the bearer has paid Microsoft several thousand dollars.

NetBSD: Better than FreeBSD, OpenBSD or Linux.

New Economy: The business of freely distributing nothing in the hope that someday, people will want to pay for it.

OpenBSD: Better than NetBSD, FreeBSD or Linux.

Open Source Software:

  1. An alternative method of software development in which teenage boys of various ages and genders release a two-hundred line C++ program to the web and then brag about it on Slashdot. In theory, technically competent strangers will then debug it into usefulness, thus transforming the original author into the new Linus Torvalds. Surprisingly enough, this has occasionally happened.

    Eric S. Raymond says that open-source development is superior to traditional methods. He has a gun so I'm not going to argue with him

  2. An attempt to revive a failed product by making the source code publicly available on the Internet so that the magical Code Pixies will work on it free of charge.

Perl: A scripting language originally designed by Larry Wall. It is so disgustingly awful that nobody could possibly want to use it. The fact that millions do, in fact, use it is attributable only to the orbital mind control lasers that Wall developed while working at the JPL.

Programmer: Necessary overhead, best replaced by a high-school intern and a copy of Visual Basic.

Python: A scripting/prototyping/extension language designed from the ground up to be better than Perl. The main feature it seems to have that Perl doesn't is a large mob with torches and pitchforks.

Solution: A mixture of software and alcohol, extremely expensive.

Stock options: A means of keeping employees from laughing out loud in front of the investors.

Unix: A family of operating systems, known to be extremely difficult to use in that they tend to require that the user be able to press buttons not on top of a mouse.

Venture Capitalist: A lawyer gone bad.

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