Hello, and welcome to our show. Today's panelists include a prominent lawyer, a renowned psychiatrist, and a used-car salesman we picked up on a lot somewhere off Ventura Boulevard. We're here to talk about the most recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which says that 45% of Internet users have used the Net over the last two years to help them with major life decisions, such as health care or real estate (see "More Americans Using The Web For Life's Decisions"). First question: Are Americans on the right track with this Internet thing?
LAWYER: No. The Internet is full of liars, prevaricators, and fakes, all capable of offering legal advice. But that's a lawyer's job. We didn't spend that money on law school for nothing.
HOST: Maybe people don't want advice. Maybe they just want information so they can make their own decisions.
PSYCHIATRIST: Freud said all decision making stems from the Oedipus complex. Or was it bed-wetting?
CAR SALESMAN: You look like a Chevy person--am I wrong?
HOST: Toyota, actually. Isn't the Internet about empowerment?
LAWYER: Empowerment is a two-edged sword. It implies enablement and self-determination, yes, but it also carries with it responsibilities. Most people lose interest at that point.
CAR SALESMAN: You know what says empowerment? A 350 V-8.
HOST: Let's take a different tack. Does the word "disintermediation" mean anything to you?
PSYCHIATRIST: Disintermediation is the psychological state entered into during long business meetings.
HOST: Disintermediation refers to the ability of the Internet to connect users directly with the information or services they require, thus eliminating the need for third-party intermediaries. Does that raise any red flags?
CAR SALESMAN: The man knows his cars. Red is a very popular color these days.
LAWYER: Disintermediation is a bankrupt concept that went out with the online bust. The Internet creates new channels, it doesn't eliminate old ones.
HOST: Maybe. The point is, if Internet users can get access to enough information, it might radically alter the employment landscape, even obviate the need for certain professions--real estate broker, for instance.
PSYCHIATRIST: The psychological syndrome of assuming multiple personalities is known as dissociative identity disorder. My fees for that vary, depending on how many personalities are involved. And all movie rights are reserved.
LAWYER: Disintermediate the legal profession--are you kidding? Have you ever read any of those law books? Almost unintelligible. Translation: job security.
CAR SALESMAN: What do I think? I think I've been selling cars for 15 years, and I've never met a customer as sharp as you.
Where's the Oracle now that we need her? Not that Oracle. If you know of any good advice Web sites, or industry tips, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 516-562-5326.
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