Log In

Reset Password

Bigger Than A_Breadbox? Bigger Than The Internet? Is Ginger IT?



Text Size

Bigger Than A_Breadbox? Bigger Than The Internet? Is Ginger IT?

I have seen hype piled high and deep, but this story takes the top prize.

In its never ending search for the next big thing, the media has been drinking an extra cup of strange Kool-Ade so readily ladled up by the likes of Wired Magazine, Inside, The Washington Post, Bryant Gumbel on CBS’s The Early Show, and countless others. Here is the story.

Steve Kemper, a journalist with credentials including the Smithsonian, sold a book to Harvard Business School Press for $250,000 about IT. Nobody, including the editor and the agent, know what IT is. The fact that Harvard Business School Press rarely pays for any manuscript helped launch a media feeding frenzy that appears to have no end. Chumming the waters with rumors has brought the media waters to a boil. For example, technology visionaries like Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr have invested in IT. Credit Suisse First Boston signals IT should make more money in its first year than any start-up in history. The hyperbole techno-train keeps rolling down the tracks. Here is my favorite speculation: the inventor of IT, Dean Kamen, will be worth more in five years than Bill Gates. Holy Moley! Grab your hip boots folks. It is getting deep.

What is IT?

Strangely, no one knows what IT is. The inventor, Kaman, a native of New Hampshire, not only remains ultra-secretive, but downplays the IT hype tidal wave now that it appears to have consumed him. When someone (probably a media hack) speculated IT will be “bigger than the Internet,” my thoughts immediately ran to Christopher Moltisanti. Now that he is a made member of Tony Soprano’s crew, perhaps IT could be woven into the plot to solve his cash flow problems.

Wild speculation remains the order of the day. IT has been given the code name Ginger. The most rational speculation pegs the product as an environmentally friendly personal transportation gizmo – essentially a razor scooter powered by hydrogen. I am not making this up. The media speculates Ginger will be “bigger than the Internet”? I am doing everything in my power to stop from breaking out with uncontrollable laughter.

Down This Road Before

The last major media hyped product wrapped in similar secrecy to enhance the allure was from a company called Transmeta. The major hook was provided by software developer superstar Linus Torvalds. When it was learned that wunderkind Torvalds chose to work for a small, unknown company, immediately all its activities were bathed in a white-hot media spotlight. Eventually the public learned Crusoe (code name for a low powered microprocessor) was the focus of years of developmental efforts.

After a much hyped IPO and very careful scrutiny by hard-bitten industry skeptics, the technology has been greeted with a polite yawn. While Transmeta survived the dot-com implosion of first quarter ‘00 high-tech realignment, the company faces something less than a rosy future. Forecasts of the startup becoming the next Intel were wildly overblown.

Back To Ginger

The public will have to wait until next year to learn the identity of Ginger and the magical gift she brings to overly excited media wonks. As recently as late March ‘00, Kamen, the inventor, refuses to discuss IT, aka Ginger. Brill’s Content early March ‘00 article, “Overdoing IT,” attempts to paint the “bigger than the Internet” product in a more sobering light. As one point in the piece, Brill quotes an exchange between meteorologist Mark McEwen and Bryant Gumbel during The Early Show on January 21 where Gumbel is quoted as saying: “It’s between the Internet and cold fusion.” The Brill piece brings its readers a small dose of reality with this observation:

“In fact, neither Jobs nor Bezos is an investor in any firm held by Dean Kamen. And the scientific community believes that cold fusion is not feasible. But at this point, we were in the playground of myth.”

Frankly, it appears to be too late to get any type of realistic take on the story. Now that the media has its teeth deeply in IT/Ginger, it has given it the Elian Gonzales/Monica Lewinsky treatment. For my money, get prepared for another major letdown. Of course I could be wrong. [wink]

URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) of interest:


(This is the 251st of a series of elementary articles designed for surfing the Internet. Next, “Living Books” is the subject on tap. Stay Tuned. Until next week, happy travels through cyberspace. Previous issues of Internet Info for Real People can be found: http://www.thebee.com. Please email comments and suggestions: rbrand@JUNO.com or editor@thebee.com.)

Comments are open. Be civil.

Leave a Reply