andrew ross (by way of Pit Schultz <>) on Fri, 27 Jun 1997 08:10:09 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Jobs in Cyberspace 1/2

Jobs in Cyberspace

by Andrew Ross

Remember all the giddy talk about the "information superhighway"?  Well it 
never got built.  At least not the way that Time Warner, Microsoft, and AT&T 
imagined it.  As recently as 1993, the media Goliaths were spinning blue-sky
fantasies about delivering 500 cable channels and personalized pay-per
to your home, while collecting access tolls for the individual use of vast
corporate libraries of  information and entertainment product.  The fantasies
are still kicking around, and, unlike in 1993 when phone-cable mergers like
Bell Atlantic-TCI were the model for interactive use,  they are currently
traded between cable companies and software giants like Microsoft. 
With Microsoft's acquisition of  Web TV  along with the cable operator
in June 1997,  its hopes are pinned on consolidating high speed Internet
via cable as the pipeline for vertical and horizontal integration of all
entertainment and information services.  Whether this strategy will prove
anymore financially viable than the earlier attempt at media convergence,
there's no doubt that those revisions of the Telecommunications Act in 1996
the Telecom Competition and Deregulation Act of 1995 which facilitate
corporate mergers have laid the legal groundwork.  Our hard-earned paranoia
the growth of monopolies within the world of old media has prepared us for the
worst.  And yet, as in all matters related to New Media, it seems as if the
theory has preceded the practice.  Everyone thinks they know what is
supposed to 
happen....but it always hasn't happened yet.  
The example of WebTV is a case in point.  Its main purpose, after all, is 
to deliver the Internet to Middle America.  Four years ago, it was 
unthinkable that the Internet would even figure in this kind of scenario.  
It was not supposed to be invited to the corporate cyberparty.  Once 
earmarked as a nigh obsolete relic of the pioneer days of digital 
communication--reserved primarily for academic communication--it has now 
truly become the network of networks that was once its faux-grandiose 
moniker.  Practically speaking, the Internet now functions as the 
information superhighway, and the big corporate players have reluctantly 
come to accept this fact.  Microsoft's wholesale switch to Internet-oriented 
strategies ("Embrace and Extend" is the company motto) in December 1995 and 
the spirited entry of its Internet Explorer into the browser wars with 
Netscape Navigator has been one massive attempt to catch up with what many 
predicted would have been left sucking dust.  Of course, since it entered 
the open standards environment of the Net,  Microsoft has done its level 
best to insinuate a proprietary architecture onto the World Wide Web (WWW).  
Both the Explorer, and Netscape in response, began to create proprietary 
HTML tags which the other cannot recognize, making it increasingly difficult 
to design webpages that work with both browsers.  While the Internet has 
absorbed the new corporate presence much more easily than anyone might have 
predicted, overtly proprietary moves like these are perceived as riding 
roughshod over its resident crypto-anarchist philosophy.
 Physically speaking, the Internet's infrastructure of cables, routers, and 
switches has proven less than adequate for the massive volume of new 
traffic.  In place of the early projections of the National Information 
Infrastructure's (NII) Gigabyte Testbed Initiative for huge bandwidth 
serviced by billion-bit-per-second wires, the reality is more claustrophobic 
: brownouts plague major intersections on the Internet's regional backbones 
where waves of data packets converge and often disappear because of 
insufficient bandwidth.  The explosive growth of multimedia 
applications--realtime audio, shockwave, video, animated gif files--for the 
graphic-intensive WWW is responsible not only for the traffic jams, but also 
for the rapid ascendancy of the Internet itself.    In April 1997, the one 
millionth Web site address was registered, by Bonny View Cottage Furniture 
of Petroskey, Michigan.  For those boosters who proclaim that the WWW has 
ushered in the greatest publishing breakthrough since the printing press, 
this is perceived as a million new  "publications."   But for those weaned 
on old media definitions of public communication, the geography of the Web 
is a strange landscape to host a new public sphere.  After all, it was the 
Web that brought the shopping malls and cyberstores, the advertisers, the 
financial real estate, indeed the entire world of commercial agents in hot 
pursuit of good addresses from which to promote and shop their wares.  Once 
the barbarians were on the Web, there was no looking back.  While 
distasteful to Net purists, the new commercial presence had little 
difficulty, initially at least, in fitting in with the open architectural 
milieu of Net culture.  Nothing in the house religion of Net libertarianism 
seemed at odds with the laissez-faire ideals of  the corporations.  Except, 
of course, when it came to paying for stuff ("information wants to be free" 
is a Net mantra).  A free market and freedom of speech are one thing, free 
products and shareware ethics are another, inevitably at odds with each other.
  But that little contradiction could be deferred for a while, at least as 
long as Wall Street was boosting Netscape (with the largest IPO in financial 
history in 1995) and other public offerings of Internet stocks through the 
roof, and the venture capitalists were helping to fund start-ups right, left 
and center.  Optimists had some reason to believe that, against all odds, 
some unholy marriage of cultural content, commerce, and community autonomy 
might provide a sustainable basis for the brave new world of self-publishing,
remote in ethos and practice from an old media environment where the press
was only free for those who own one.  In a classic example of theorem
preceding evidence, Josh Quittner, writing for Wired  magazine, had even
coined the anticipatory term, "Way New Journalism."  If ever there 
was a technoculture setting itself up to be frustrated, this was it.
 Predictably, then, 1996 was the beginning of the great shakedown.  New 
York's burgeoning Silicon Alley, the locus of the new content-driven 
revolution, suffered one setback after another.  Multimedia mainstays like 
Prodigy and Voyager withdrew their operations, the Murdoch group collapsed 
iGuide and Delphi, Pipeline was sold and and Mindvox went under, and many of 
the established webzine indies died off or were gobbled up by media giants.  
In California, Wired's failed attempts--twice--at an IPO, tarnished its 
pretensions to espouse a high-minded kind of Jeffersonian digital populism.  
Other indies like American Cybercast and Out (run by Out magazine) ceased 
publication.  Larger corporate content-oriented websites like Politics Now 
(a collaboration of the Washington Post, ABC, and National Journal, Inc.) 
shut down, while Time Warner's Pathfinder supersite was reputed to be 
running at a loss of $10m a year.  Industry pundits began to doubt whether 
any profits could be generated and sustained from media whose users have 
always taken "freedom of information" at its literal meaning--i.e. no 
billing, please!  Currently, none of the business models--banner-based 
advertising, subscription, pay per use, metered bits, digital cash, 
microtransactions, consumer branding--used to sustain content-oriented Web 
sites are working.  The current wisdom pronounces that successful Web shops 
will need 4-5 years to show a profit.  While this anti-commercial outcome 
could be viewed as some kind of  victory for the resident anarchist 
philosophy of the Net, it does not augur well for those who are willing to 
equate this new culture industry with the possibility of honest job creation.

The Bad Hand of Government

  While the Internet, in common with most modern technologies, is an 
offspring of military and other government contracts, its users have long 
since developed an antipathy to the hand that once fed it.  Anti-federalist 
sentiment is as fervent among some Net communities as among the militias. 
For example, the consciousness event of 1996 in the U.S. was the fight 
against the Communications Decency Act's ban on online indecency and 
offensive speech, overturned in the courts after intensive activity by the 
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other lobby groups from the 
Internet community (as well as the ACLU and a number of gay/lesbian 
civil-rights groups).  If you were a netizen in good standing, you would 
have received a barrage of email notices circulating about this 
life-or-death crusade for free speech.  By contrast, the fact that Congress 
threw the welfare state down the toilet that year barely registered at all, 
except on specialized listserves and Usenet groups.  So fierce is the 
Internet doctrine of untrammelled individualism that it sometimes translates 
into a general phobia about any government activities, and not just those 
directly affecting the New Media.  A portion of this response is 
well-founded: the pro-encryption, pro-censorship crusades of the 
Clinton-Bush adminstrations have been klutsy and cynical moves, undercutting 
the official state rhetoric about the glorious liberties promised by the new 
information order.  But the cyberlibertarian response is often bereft of a 
sober appreciation of the regulatory frameworks that are necessary in order 
to ensure civic freedoms and equities. This is a familiar paradox in liberal 
theory: forms of regulation prevent corporate monopolies from gobbling up 
all of public speech.  The most extreme illustration of this near-myopia was 
EFF maven John Perry Barlow's now famous response to the indecency 
provisions of the Telecom Act, flamboyantly couched as  "A Declaration of 
the Independence of Cyberspace":
Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and
steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the
 future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome
among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I
address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty
itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are
building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to
impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess
any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.
Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you.
You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie
within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it
were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature
an it grows itself through our collective actions.
You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did
you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our
culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our
society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.
 .... We are forming our own Social Contract. This governance will arise 
according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.
Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought
itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications.
Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not
where bodies live.
We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or
prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station
of birth.
We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her 
beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into
silence or conformity.
Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and
context do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no
matter here [.....]
 	In the United States, you have today created a law, the
Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution
and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison,
DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.
In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United
States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting
guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the
contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that
will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.
Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate
themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to
own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas
to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our
world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and
distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no
longer requires your factories to accomplish.
These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same
position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination
who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We
must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we
continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread
ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be
 are humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

You would be hard put to find a more lucid expression of the unfettered 
individualism at the core of Net libertarianism, California-style. It's all 
there; the disdain for the obsolete order of industrialism, the desire for 
self-liberation from the social life of mortals,  the retrofitted nostalgia 
for a Rousseauesque state of nature, and the aspiration to outrun 
transnational capital in the race to enjoy sovereignty beyond the boundaries 
of any petty state bureaucracy.  Add to this the powerful legacy of 
countercultural, not to mention anti-colonial rhetoric, and the result is a 
clean, messianic break with the world most of us inhabit.  This is the 
freedom we have always been falsely promised, let us emancipate ourselves 
from technical slavery by taking the new tools with us into secessionary
 Many critiques have been offered of this kind of hauteur, both from within 
and without the cyberspace community.  The one that concerns me here is the 
resident blindness to what could be described as the "material conditions of 
production" of cyberspace.  Far from heralding a Tofflerian end to either 
the age of "factories," equated by Barlow with "pig iron," or the age of  
government intervention, equated with "public construction projects," the 
aery layer of cyberspace inhabited by Barlow's self-liberated Netsters is 
underpinned everywhere by a new industrial economy that is the engine of  
the emergent information order.  Masses of people work in cyberspace, or 
work to make cyberspace possible.  It is not simply a medium for free 
expression and wealth accumulation, it is a labor-intensive workplace. 
In recognizing this there is no need to spurn the liberatory impulse that 
drives the Barlovian world-view.  What's more important is to turn Barlow on 
his head, as Marx once did of Hegel, and to see how and where this impulse 
can be generated within the labor process--the core of social sustainability.
 First of all, it must be acknowledged that the hand of government is not 
exactly inactive.  While the bulk of Net attention has been focussed on the 
issue of censorship and civil liberties,  state policies are everywhere more 
and more oriented to facilitating, if not directly governing, the shape of 
information industrialism. The massive revisions of the Telecommunications 
Act were a clear example of the use of the affirmative power of the state to 
sanction the aspirations of the giant multimedia corporations, legislated at 
a time when the US state was withdrawing those same powers from its 
committment to social welfare.  Government sponsorship of the NII, presented 
as a "creative investment," has been tied to ensuring national competiveness 
in the information industries, and under the rubric of the Global 
Information Infrastructure (GII), to US dominance in the transnational 
field.  Nurtured by US federal investment, the Internet is now perceived as 
a leading asset in the game of comparative advantage, not to mention a 
decisive force in the long war over English-language global dominance.  
Policy initiatives like Clinton-Gore's "Next Generation Internet" agenda in 
1996 rebut the prevailing mythology that government finally withdrew from 
its wardship of the Internet in 1995, when Net traffic was handed over to 
commercial service providers. 
   Nor has the military--the original source of the impulse to decentralize 
communications in the interests of reducing vulnerability to 
attack--withdrawn its hand.  Take the Internet naming system, known as the 
"domain name system," which has its roots in the US Dept. of Defense 
bureaucracy, and was designed to identify the purpose of computing locations 
on the Internet.  The "com." domain was the division given to commercial 
network addresses, who at the time the system was established, were a 
minority of networks on the Net--the majority being "mil." "gov." "edu." and 
"net."  In 1995,  administration of the name registry system was handed over 
to the InterNIC (internet network information center) of  Network Solutions, 
Inc. which has enjoyed a highly profitable monopoly through charging 
considerable sums for the once gratis name registrations. InterNIC has had 
effective control over the creation of domain name scarcity, the engine of 
its profits--since registrants (around 50,000 new applicants each month) 
were willing to pay more and more for the shortest, customised addresses. It 
is also owned by Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC) a 
2 billion dollar company with very strong ties to the Pentagon and the NSA.  
Its current board of directors include former NSA chief Bobby Inman, Former 
Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, and the former head of research and 
development for the Pentagon, Donald Hicks.  Ex-CIA director Robert Gates, 
Secretary of Defense William Perry and CIA Director John Deutsch have been 
past board members. A vast majority of its annual revenue comes from 
government contracts, including defense, intelligence and law enforcement 
contracts.  SAIC is designing new information systems for the Pentagon, 
helping to automate the FBI's computerized fingerprint identification 
system, and last year won a $200 million contract to provide "information 
support" to the IRS.  In brief, independents have no fully functioning way 
of using the Internet unless their rootservers are sanctioned by Internic's 
Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).  In effect, the administration of 
top-level domains--the bureaucratic center of the Internet--remained in the 
grip of the military-industrial complex, with its infamous tangle of 
interlocking directorates.  In April 1997, the self-appointed International 
Ad Hoc Committee of the International Telecommunications Union recommended a 
series of new global top-level domain names, such as .FIRM, .WEB, .ARTS, 
.NOM, .STORE, and others.  The IAHC recommended  ending InterNIC's monopoly 
of name registration. 
 None of these examples of government or military involvement invalidate 
Barlow's case--indeed they provide fuel for his fire--but to ignore these 
vested interests is pure self-indulgence.  More important, if more abstruse, 
is the principle Barlow refers to as the social contract between legislators 
and users. Without a representative public stake in the regulation of the 
information sector, the axiomatic committment to universal access, 
resonating, in political rhetoric, from Hoover's "chicken in every pot" to 
Gingrich's "PC in every lap" is even more hollow than the rhetoric itself.  
(There is simply no point in talking about people's access to high capacity 
information prior to their access to employment, income, health, and 
environmental safety--witness the frothy promises that the "Internet will 
liberate the Third World").  Regulation, then, is not simply a fetter on 
free expression, it can create the conditions for freedoms and rights, 
paramount among these being the right to equity among freedoms.  Such 
claims, stakes, and obligations have no moral authority in the commercial 
marketplace, although, if the shoe fits, they sometimes coincide with the 
effects of that marketplace.
 The most acute problem with Barlovianism lies not with its 
ultralibertarianism but with its neglect of material labor conditions.  Net 
intellectuals in Barlow's camp, no less than most information professionals, 
have little sense of the labor that produces their computer technologies, 
nor are they very attentive to the industrial uses to which these 
technologies are put in the workplaces of the world.  This blindness is 
understandable, though not excusable, when these sectors are remote and 
invisible, on the other side, as it were of the international division of 
labor.  But it is difficult to exonerate the neglect of  working conditions 
that lie at the heart of the cyberspace community itself.  Like all other 
sectors of the economy, the Internet industries have been penetrated by the 
low-wage revolution--from the janitors who service Silicon Valley to the 
part-time programmers and designers who service Silicon Alley.  Just as 
Silicon Valley provided a flexible model for post-industrial employment,  
Silicon Alley may be poised to deliver an upgrade.  The initial indications 
show that there are indeed jobs in cyberspace, but most of them don't pay 
that well or offer much job security.
In the brief analysis of Silicon Alley that follows, I will focus on the 
particular example of cultural labor in an employment market--New York 
City--which famously enjoys a surplus of such labor.  No less than in the 
arts and education, creative work in Silicon Alley can be, and generally is, 
undercompensated because of the invisible wages that come in the form of 
psychological rewards for personally satisfying work.  At a time when noone 
seems immune to the plague of low-wage labor it's important that artists, 
educators, writers and designers see this discount arrangement for what it 
is--exploitation of the prestige of cultural work to drive down wages in a 
market where the labor supply will always outstrip demand.

The Great Wired Way

 Silicon Alley has been hailed as the first new urban industry  to emerge in 
New York in well over a generation.  In a city associated as much with its 
independent culture as with its forced financial meltdown in the 1970s, its 
decaying infrastructure, and a chronic habit of hemorrhaging jobs, it is 
notable that the new presence is also a culture industry of sorts.  
Breathlessly heralded in all of the city's media organs as a superrush of 
adrenalin to the urban economy and culture alike, the Alley is customarily 
described as running in a thin strip from the Flatiron District above 23rd 
Street down to lower SoHo, and as staffed by creative East Coast hipster 
geeks (as opposed to Palo Alto techies and Bay Area self-styled supergeeks). 
 Its multimedia webshops not only provide corporate and public institutions 
with Internet design and programming services, and entertainment software, 
they also harbor a neo-bohemian community of online publishing and graphic 
Among other things, the much lionized emergence of the New Media's small, 
independent entrepreneurs drew upon the human resources and skills of the 
downtown artworld, creating some accomplished new art sites like ada 'web 
( and Artnetweb (, and The Blue 
Dot ( (adding to older, invaluable artworld 
resources like Echo [] and The Thing 
[] and newer ones like Rhizome 
[]).  These sites contributed to the flourishing 
electronic arts movement, and ada'web's projects by  Vivien Selbo, Matthew 
Ritchie, and General Idea were the first online works to be acquired by a 
major museum institution, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in 
February 1997.
  	By 1996,  pioneer Silicon Alley webzines like Word (, 
FEED (, Urban Desires (, Total 
New York (, Stim (, and NY@work (a 
labor-oriented site) had formed an independents sector of original content 
publishing, distinct in feel and opinion from Microsoft's power-oriented 
Slate, the industry lifestyle-oriented Hot Wired, and Time Warner's megasite 
Pathfinder.  In the spring and summer of 1995, when half a dozen local 
would-be publishers had followed Urban Desires into the Web publishing 
arena, the heady expectation was that native New York creativity would steal 
a march on the West Coast and launch a more independent, and sociable, 
sector of the hi-tech community, drawing an audience and advertisers to a 
new medium where no one controlled distribution.  The alternative, 
countercultural ethos of hacker vintage suffused the indies sector, and 
fuelled a classic culture clash when venture capitalist groups from the West 
Coast, or from NYC ( Flatiron Partners--the VC arm of Chase and Softbank, 
and the city's own Discovery Fund) came calling all along the Alley. 
  Today, FEED is the only first-generation Web site that still functions 
solely as an online content publisher (helped along by recent deals with 
Wired and the New York Times Electronic Media Company). The others have 
either folded, been sold, or are serving as creative window displays or 
calling cards to attract clients for their web developer owners. In the 
meantime, the potential of the medium remains largely unfulfilled.  The 
graphic scrolldown space is still clunky, slow and wearisome to read after a 
few screens, and while feature articles have been developed in ways that are 
appropriate to the medium, the webzines have yet to break a big story.   The 
deliciously irreverent and heavily hypertexted daily media commentary from 
Suck ( is the only publication in this field to win 
itself a must-read audience.  No one yet believes that "way new journalism," 
art and multimedia performance have matured--the scene is often likened to 
early TV, when radio shows were reissued in new formats--but there is much 
that is promising and much more to come.   While none of the delivery 
schemes, the ad tracking mechanisms, or the direct marketing plans have been 
able to support the content boom on Silicon Alley, it's clear that the 
appeal of online independence is now a formative part of youth culture, and 
that, down the line,  the second-  or third-generation wave is likely to 
alter the New Media landscape for good.  The sense of living within and 
contributing to, a "revolutionary" culture, or at least a new paradigm,  may 
prove powerful enough to propel segments of youth culture through some of 
the managerial constraints exercised by information bureaucrats and venture 
capitalists alike.
 	Silicon Alley was in part the creation of city politicians and real estate 
investors looking for a way to revive the ailing early 1990s downtown 
economy with its alarming  building vacancy levels (as high as 23%) ; in 
part the response to an immediate need for WWW content providers and 
designers directed at the vast local labor pool of creative workers (many of 
them would-be artists and journalists); in part, the entrepreneurial 
outcropping of the self-publishing movement driving the great WWW boom; and 
in part, the result of a new generation of twenty-something trust fund 
babies looking for a glamorous outlet, much like the collectors and 
gallerists who frequented the East Village art scene in the 1980s.
  In an age of outsourcing, and virtual decentralization, why should such an 
industry exist, at the heart of a core city like New York?  The The reasons 
usually cited (and recorded in a Coopers and Lybrand report of 1996)   focus 
on access to editorial and artistic talent, access to clients and strategic 
partners in advertising, publishing and entertainment, and access to the 
cultural prestige of New York City.  Ironically, for a digital work culture 
often oblivious to its physical location,  the capacity to maintain 
face-to-face social contact also ranks high.  Contrary to all the Internet 
hype about the elimination of centralized workplace through virtual 
networking from remote terminals, the "schmooze factor" is an important, 
cohesive part of the social space of Silicon Alley.  This is no less the 
case in New York's garment industry, where buyers, manufacturers, designers, 
and retailers still like to schmooze on Seventh Avenue in the garment 
district; this highly social feature of daily industrial life may be just as 
important as fast turnaround time in production--habitually cited as the 
main cause of job retention in an age of offshore production. 
For those who still worry that post-industrialism is a contradiction in 
terms, it's not clear that the neo-bohemian corridor of Silicon 
Alley constitutes anything like an industry, in the sense of producing and 
distributing a product far beyond its borders.  Among other things, it is a 
service developer for corporate website promotion, a low-overhead R&D test 
bed for software tools and applications, a source of multimedia expertise, a 
subcontractor of  low-wage HTML labor (the cliche is that high school kids 
are willing to labor for cappuchinos because website work is cool),  and a 
welcome, if underpaying, non-union employer of a generational cohort that 
might otherwise have ended up being "warehoused" in graduate seminars.  The 
1996 Coopers and Lybrand study of the economic impact of New Media in the 
New York region showed more employees, in 1350 companies--over 700 in 
Silicon Alley alone generating over a billion dollars in gross 
revenues--working in New Media than in television and books.  The figures of 
18,000 plus jobs in Silicon Alley, 27,000 in New York City as a whole, and 
71,500 in the tristate area, were variously interpreted , since they 
included a high percentage of part-time and freelance employees. 
Nonetheless, these numbers were fast approaching the media industry's larger 
segments (and projected to outrank them all in the next few years) at a 
growth rate that outstripped any other business in the city.  But the 
average salary of New Media full-time employees, at $31, 421, was well below 
every other segment, ranging from book publishing and movie production, at 
$47, 824 and $48, 907 respectively, to advertising and TV broadcasting, at 
$62, 559 and $63, 261.  (While this salary may seem comfortable in 
comparison with global wage levels, it does not go far in go-go New York 
City these days).  Ironically, the report, with its prediction of a 138% 
increase in full time equivalent jobs over the next three years ( 120,000 
new jobs--doubling the full-time employees, tripling part-timers, and 
tripling full-time equivalent freelancers), appeared at a moment when some 
pioneer companies were beginning to go under.  Many of the surviving 
Webshops were soon to make deals over the course of the year with the likes 
of Microsoft, Omnicom, Sun, AOL, Time Warner, and Viacom--deals, admittedly, 
that remain the underwritten goal of most  startups.  When the smoke 
cleared, the roads to sustainability were more starkly defined, and 
certainly the prospects for a critical, IndieNet culture were much thinner 
and more circumscribed.  Many of the new battles were being fought, for 
example, in the hometown listings wars--exactly the same wars being waged 
over securing the block advertising revenue of the big entertainment 
conglomerates by alternative newspapers (the last grassroots attempt to 
create an independent publishing medium) in cities all over the country. 
With the addition to the market of Microsoft's Sidewalk New York in May 
1977, there now existed several such sites, devoted to informing the surfing 
public whether Jurassic Park was still playing at the theater down the 
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