The decisive event separating ignorance from wisdom* took place when Darwin wrote "The Origin of the Species," thus giving mankind his insight into evolution. While the examples he used in his book to illustrate his theory came from the animal kingdom, it's easy to see that EVERYTHING has a life cycle. Any organism responds to its environment either by adapting and thriving, or by failing to adapt and disappearing.
Of the many books that have been written about Darwin's theory, perhaps the most provocative come from Oxford professor Richard Dawkins. His "River Out of Eden" provides truly life-changing insights into the origins of life or, as someone said after reading it, "Now I know where God lives."
There are some interesting parallels that can be applied to what has been happening in the dot com world:
At some point millions of years ago some creature changed environments and moved from water to land, an event described as "The first fish to step on land." Fundamentally, that event represented a change in survival strategies for that creature, from water-based to land-based. At that point a whole new set of survival strategies became viable, including flight. It was "The evolution of evolution," with some species adapting and surviving and others (in fact, most others) failing to gain purchase and becoming extinct.
The introduction of the Internet is, similarly, a new business environment and a broad variety of survival strategies are being tried. These range from business-to-business, business-to-consumer, e-commerce, ad supported, and others. The environment was initially friendly and supportive, so it was easy to survive. But the environment is changing.
Dinosaurs became extinct when their environment changed, perhaps caused by the climate or by some meteorite collision. The dinosaurs' survival strategies were no longer able to sustain them in their new environment.
The Internet environment has also changed, and what we are seeing today is the consequence: the increasing number of dot com corpses floating to the top, with many more still beneath the surface.
But Darwin, and Dawkins, would see this as not only a completely natural and predictable process, but a healthy one as well. The absence of dinosaurs made it possible for other classes of species to grow and thrive, most notably mammals.
So as painful as it certainly is for those affected by the change of environment taking place in the dot com world, this is natural selection at work. Survivors will be those companies whose business plans and survival strategies are appropriate to the environment.
For investors, decisions in the early days of the Internet were as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Today conditions have changed so dramatically that many question the viability of the industry itself. Darwin would not agree. He would say adamantly that both barrel and fish will continue to exist, an