A sober yet engaging account of the forces that meshed in those crazy times.
The best book yet about the dot.com years.
Fast paced and energetic.
Evokes with near-academic precision the surreal and strange milieu of the Internet in the late 1990s… A fascinating study.
In this penetrating examination of a seminal cyberspace turf war, Wishart and Bochsler tell a story about art imitating life and the artist being sued for trademark infringement. Documentary filmmaker Wishart and Swiss National TV reporter Bochsler recount the tale of etoy, a company of German-based avant-garde artists that held wild parties and issued stock to shareholders. It registered the name etoy.com to serve as an online gallery and virtual workspace. In September 1999, etoy was sued by the hugely popular online retailer Etoys.com, which at the time was valued at $8 billion, for trademark infringement. The authors thoroughly detail each volley in the "Toy War," including lawsuits, denial of service attacks and grassroots activism. More significantly, the battle serves as a case study for exploring the conflicting forces that have shaped the Internet's development. Backed by venture capitalists and led by CEO Toby Lenk, Etoys.com was out to make a profit by selling products. Etoy, on the other hand, was supported by a few wealthy patrons and run by media-savvy artists with shaved heads who went by code names and wanted to shake things up. The latter were much more successful. With extensive and entertaining firsthand accounts, Wishart and Bochsler reveal how the dot-com boom warped the perceptions of artist and corporate executive alike. Although Lenk was a seasoned executive, he was caught off guard by the collapse of Etoys.com, and despite etoy's subversive origins, it developed internal power struggles that rivaled those of a Fortune 500 company. Photos. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Filmmaker Wishart and reporter Bochsler throw light on the Internet’s evolution from fertile idea to commercial juggernaut as they look at a David-vs.-Goliath domain-name fight. In the early 1990s, a renegade group of artists in Europe launched an Internet site called etoy (the name was essentially pulled from a hat) to satirize the dot.com frenzy, a conceptual art project that spoke to the times and encouraged an anarchistic, altruistic, corporation-free Internet. The aim was "to turn on its head the behavior of big-brand corporations that ‘steal’ the cool rebel music and the elan of street fashion" and to provide a "parallel world somewhere in between Lego land, Internet training camp, virtual fairground, hypermedia test ground, sound and vision dump and Internet motel" that would also make forays into the forbidden—"pornography, violence and drug use"—in its critique of middle-class righteousness. On the other side was eToys.com, interested only in making lots of money selling toys online. The authors track the story of both sites as they explore the seamy world of domain-name control, deliver an astute history of search engines, and try to make sense of just what investors were thinking when they valued companies at such grossly inflated stock prices. They wear their convictions on their sleeves when they suggest—with data to back it up—that Internet users collectively turned against eToys when eToys turned predatory on etoy because it thought the latter, with its near-identical name, would besmirch the former’s squeaky clean, family-oriented reputation. The artists of etoy also had their own fallings-out, but not before having a lot of fun with digital hijacking, subversive art, anda rousing campaign for the democratic integrity of the Internet. The freedom and inclusivity of the Internet still has life, write Wishart and Bochsler, even as its economic side makes seismic shifts. (Photographs)