December 11, 2003 | Graham

How do you tell the top of a boom?

They say that they don’t ring a bell at the top of a boom, but if a bellhop starts offering you share tips it is time to sell. I’ve always subscribed to the “straw hats in winter” theory of investing and feel very uncomfortable if everyone has the same idea at the same time as me. This makes me not a lot of fun in a disco which is the sort of place where everyone is expected to have the same non-idea at the same time.
This morning I got a bellhop tip about the internet boom. I’m used to receiving emails from slightly louche soon to be ex-dignitaries in places like Nigeria offering to share some of their ill-gotten loot with me if only I will give them my bank account details. I treat these emails with the contempt they deserve and delete them, never getting to the second or subsequent email where not only do I give them my account details but also share my password with them. Over the years I have received a large number of these. They are generally distinguished by promiscuous use of capital letters and opening sentences that tell me that I must be surprised to hear from them. Damn right I am.
Surprisingly there is not a lot of variation between them. For a while the geographical focus shifted from Nigeria to Liberia when lots of aides of the recently deposed President of that country, Charles Taylor, tried to contact me. There was also a religious theme for a while with born again Christians wanting me to help them by taking their burden of sin and filthy lucre off their shoulders.
The latest trend is the use of “old” technologies. Twice in the last week I have been rung by people from Ghana who want to do business in Australia, and have picked me as their chosen vehicle. Deeply flattered I have muttered something into the phone about a scam and hung up. Surely this is the end of the Internet as we thought we had come to know it when an Internet scam migrates to more primitive technology.
Research by the Pew centre in the US tends to confirm this. Internet penetration has stalled at around 60% of the population since 2001. Of the remaining 40% half will go back on line at some time, while half have no interest at all. So, if 20% are offline but will be online again at this moment, that suggests that there is an equal number who are online who will go offline at some stage. Leading to the conclusion that only around 40% of the population is dedicated, always wired citizens. My hunch is that the boom has topped and nothing much will change until someone seamlessly marries the Internet to the television set. When we start thinking of it as more of a communications pipeline than a new form of media, it will be ready for some more take-up.

Posted by Graham at 10:41 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. i disagree completely. the Internet, like all technology will render less efficient technologies redundant eventually.
    if you think how far the internet has come from its mainstream introduction in the early 1990’s to the year 1999, which Thomas Friedman named the year of the internet, to today it’s growth is exponential, just another 4 years on.
    just wait until china plugs into the internet economoy over the next 15 years.
    ultimately all forms of communication will be consumed by the internet, just ask the united states postal service!

    Comment by russ — December 15, 2003 @ 5:06 pm

  2. The internet (just like the wheel, the printing press, lighter than air travel, the telephone and the computer) will NEVER be accepted by the populace!!

    Comment by Geoff hudson — December 15, 2003 @ 7:38 pm

  3. Graham, Earlier this year I had one of those calls from Ghana, while I was at work. The line wasn’t to good naturally, and this guy wanted me to call him back! I couldn’t help but laugh as I hung up. I guess I’m at the top of the boom too.
    Thanks for the Ambit Gambit blogging forum, and all the best with your battle against your party. Peace be with you this Christmas.
    Cheers Andrew

    Comment by Andrew Coates — December 18, 2003 @ 10:17 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.