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by Gerry McGovern
Author, New Thinking

Where has all the youth, energy, and exuberance gone? Where has the will to change the world gone? Where has the belief that the revolution was unstoppable gone? That this time it was different? That this time it really was out with the old, in with the new?

The new economy is suffering some growing pains. The dotcom revolution has hit the inflexible iceberg of reality, and stock options have become like deck chairs on the Titanic. For a while, the world became like a film set.

Everything seemed possible and caution was thrown to the lions. For a while, it was easy to believe that we could all write our own happy endings.

It's not the end, but rather the end of the beginning. The shift from the old to the new is genuine and profound. We still need to dream to imagine the impact the Internet will have on our futures. It has already brought about profound changes. But these are nothing to the changes that it will bring about over the next 25 years.

Twenty-five years is a long time--well, it depends how you look at it. If you measure it by "Internet time," then it is a very long time indeed. If you measure it against human history (let alone the age of the galaxy), then it's not really that long at all.

Internet time--the idea that three months represented one year in the Internet economy--by now must be seriously discredited. The intense rush it created resulted in a lot of bad decisions, shaky projects, and shaky companies. The speed of technology will always be limited by the more careful workings of the human brain. There's only so fast we can go without losing control. It's no harm to slow down a little.

'Change is good' was the wired generation's mantra. The new was going to sweep away all the old practices, all the old ways of doing things. In the new economy, we were all going to think differently, to work differently. Things were really going to be better. Work was going to be fun.

When your stock options go down the drain, your sense of humor can go underwater. Fun gets redefined. It's no fun to work long hours for modest pay. Flexibility begins to looks like lack of structure and support. Amazon workers stop talking about looking after the customer, but rather looking after themselves, as they seek to join a union.

A recent LBS and Korn/Ferry study of MBA graduates who joined dotcoms found that many of them were questioning their decisions. The study stated that the graduates found that the "hours worked were longer, the travel is more onerous, and the time at home more limited. The new economy company increasingly mirrors the old, but without a supportive infrastructure."

So, is the party over? Yeah, well, maybe ... the innocence has certainly gone. All of us who work in the Internet are putting our clocks back. A year is now a year, a month a month. Reality is back in fashion.

Let's not get carried away by the bear stock market. The Internet is here to stay. It may now take years to realize the dream, to make the idea real. Do we have what it takes? We're still playing in the field of the future. If we give up now we never deserved the rewards in the first place.

� Gerry McGovern, New Thinking. All rights reserved.

Gerry McGovern is the author of New Thinking, a weekly column which has received numerous accolades and a book, THE CARING ECONOMY

The Caring Economy
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The Caring Economy, by Gerry McGovern, is published by Blackhall Publishing of 26 Eustace Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. ISBN 1-901657-61-2 Price _27.50 or US$35.95
Email: [email protected]

It is also available in the United States from Irish Books & Media, 1433 East Franklin Avenue, MN, USA 55404-2135. Call toll-free: 1-800-229-3505.

Email Gerry McGovern at [email protected]
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