I'm a big George Gilder fan. George is one of the few gurus whose writings and speeches always excite me. His thinking provokes my own, even when I totally disagree with him.

I also enjoy talk radio. I like it at every brow level too: from from Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh to Talk of the Nation on NPR, Forum, on KQED, and Bridges -- A Liberal-Conservative Dialogue (also on KQED, plus a few dozen other stations). So it was a treat when I heard George on Forum, sometime early this year (I only remember it was the day after the BellAtlantic-TCI merger fell through). It was one of many shows I tape and store for the rare future hour when I actually have the time to listen.

That time came last week, when my wife and I were driving through Big Sur. As usual, George hit many nails on the head (and hit many heads with verbal nails). But his biggest hit for me was identifying Web Culture as "book culture." I loved that insight so much that I sat down as soon as I got home and transcribed a few paragraphs to share here.

--Doc Searls
December 10, 1995

"We have an obsolete mass media. The mass media, with their centralized systems, broadcasting to millions of people, necessarily seek the lowest common denominator: our morbid fears and anxieties. So, almost by force of gravity, broadcast technology leads to an ever more immoral culture. A computer culture will supplant this broadcast culure.

"Computer culture resembles less broadcast culture than book culture. The book business is drastically different than the video business. There are 55,000 trade books published every year in the U.S., and half of those, by the way, are religious books.

"The difference is that books are narrowcast. They respond to primary interests rather than lowest common denominators. The book business has something for everybody. Narrowcasting is much more effective. This is why video in the future will resemble the book business, rather than the current broadcast model.

"TV is in a predicament where it takes more and more advertising to support less and less content of less and less substance. And I think we will escape that predicament with computer technology, which is becoming the cheapest technology in the world. It is computers' cheapness that will allow them to blow away the TV business in coming years."

-- Forum, KQED, 1994

Archives of George Gilder's Forbes ASAP essays (which are slowly becoming the book Telecosm) can be found at his own web site.

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