David Bowie Predicts the Internet in 1999

In this now infamous clip David Bowie discusses the internet with Jeremy Paxman of the BBC a very famous interviewer for a programme called Newsnight. Bowie was a rockstar but he also had other interests. He explained how he thought the internet is more than just a tool and why it was destined to change the world. This was in 1999 too don’t forget! Bowie even launched his own internet service provider, BowieNet, which ceased operations in 2006.

David Bowie: Internet changing the world

In the 1999 BBC interview Bowie told a skeptical Paxman that

“I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable.”

Paxman then calls the internet a tool and Bowie retorts:

“an alien life form” and expresses his belief that “it is going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”

Bowie knew what he was talking about in 1998, a year before the interview, Bowie launched BowieNet an internet service provider which was more than just an ISP. It provided access to a dedicated website with exclusive content, including photos of Bowie, a blog and news feed.

Users were encouraged to start their own website with the free 5MB of space that they were paying for. They also were able to chat in live chats with one another and Bowie himself. You could say that this was a social media website.

Allegedly his enthusiasm for the internet was so great that David Bowie claimed that he’d bypass music and go right to the internet if he were 19 again!

“If I was 19 again, I’d bypass music and go right to the internet.” 

(Big Think)

Questions for you

  • Why did he think this way?
  • Was he right?
  • Was his profound prediction justified
  • Has what he predicted come right
  • What hasn’t come right
  • Could this be easily adjusted? Is it confirmation bias?

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