Silicon Snake Oil

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Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway
Silicon Snake Oil.jpg
AuthorClifford Stoll
CountryUnited States
Publication date
Media typePrint
LC ClassQA76.9.C66 S88 1995
Preceded byThe Cuckoo's Egg 
Followed byHigh-Tech Heretic 

Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway is a 1995 book written by Clifford Stoll where he discusses his ambivalence regarding the future of how the internet will be used. He wrote the book at a time when he felt the promise of the internet was being over-hyped: "I'm mainly speaking to people who feel mystically lured to the Internet: lotus-eaters, beware. Life in the real world is far more interesting, far more important, far richer, than anything you'll ever find on a computer screen."[1] Stoll later acknowledged that the book was a mistake.


In Silicon Snake Oil and an accompanying article, The Internet? Bah!, in Newsweek[2] Stoll raised questions about the influence of the Internet on future society and whether it would be beneficial. Along the way, he made various predictions, e.g. about e-commerce (calling it nonviable due to a lack of personal contact and secure online funds transfers), the future of printed news publications ("no online database will replace your daily newspaper") and the cost of digitizing books would be too expensive since only 200 books had been digitized at the time.[3] When the article resurfaced on BoingBoing in 2010, Stoll left a self-deprecating comment: "Of my many mistakes, flubs, and howlers, few have been as public as my 1995 howler....Now, whenever I think I know what's happening, I temper my thoughts: Might be wrong, Cliff..." [4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Silicon Snake Oil page 13
  2. ^ Clifford Stoll: The Internet? Bah! Newsweek, February 27, 1995
  3. ^ Silicon Snake Oil page 175
  4. ^ Curmudgeonly essay on "Why the Internet Will Fail" from 1995 BoingBoing, February 26, 2010

External links[edit]