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Publishers on Push: David Hudson
May 02, 1997 :: David Hudson

My gut tells me that the word "push" is going to be a minor footnote in future histories of the late 20th century boom in telecommunications. A quirky blip, ranking slightly higher than the blink tag, but lower than gopher.

Of course push, as it's being presented to us at the moment, is "wrong", anti-interactive, antithetical to all the Net stands for, etc. But I don't think Pointcast, Freeloader, the whole batch, are in any way a sign of what the very near future is going to look like. They're bandages, wads of gum and rubber bands strung between "the web" as seen on a "personal computer" and a whole host of interactive gadgets ranging from miniscule PDAs to home entertainment centers that'll swallow your living room whole.

Don't get me wrong: the battle between personal choice and force-feeding will go on -- and actually, that's the good news. We, or rather (dare I say it?) the market will pick and choose along the way. If a channel or a mailing list or a Web site or an agent, etc., starts shoving information we don't want at us, we'll turn it off, unsubscribe, not go there anymore or fire the bastard, etc.

To take the most primitive form of push as an example, one I'm currently and sadly addicted to, the mailing list, we already have filters for a particular type of message we don't want. At the other extreme end of the scale, television, we zap or mute. Seems that for every new method of push, some enterprising soul comes up with a way to put the power back into the consumer's hands. Selectivity is a service far more valuable than just about any product currently being pushed. And so, it will win out.

David makes his home in Berlin, is responsible for Rewired, and co-hosts the Media Shock forum on Electric Minds.



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