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But the bigger the person-brand gets, the more tempting the offers to surrender it to someone else. My franchise ­ the way it's perceived ­ becomes valuable to others. I'm on the Doug Rushkoff bus, and I'm going along, and the better my bus is doing, the bigger and flashier and more attractive the offers are for me to pull over, stop the bus and get on someone else's. And I've tried that a few times for a short stint. But the minute I do that is when I feel like I'm dying. That I'm gone. And not just from a business perspective, I mean literally dying ­ becoming separated from my own sense of purpose.

JB: Aren't you a bit young to have such war stories? You sound almost cynical.

RUSHKOFF: I've gotten my first dose of life experience. My first run around the block. Over the past decade of new media, I've got to witness one cycle of something you've probably seen iterate 3 or 4 times by now. In 1985, 86, I watched the emergence of computer technologies, personal computers, networking, fidonet, bulletin boards, and I thought, "wow, the world is going to change." And people who had lived through the '60s were saying, "look, we've been through one of these before, and it looks bright from the beginning, but there's all these things to watch out for."

Howard Rheingold told me, essentially, "your optimism is really sweet, but we've watched this happen before, and we have to be careful and thoughtful if we want it to work out." My response was "Nonsense! This is it! Renaissance is upon us! We're off and running!"

And then I watched the process by which those ten rules of the networked economy really function. And I watched the way the Internet was turned into an electronic strip mall, and communities were turned into markets. And I watched the way the law of network externalities, which I thought was just going to get everyone on line and communicating with each other, actually made things worse.

I call it the MovieFone syndrome. When MovieFone started, you could find out when movies were playing. You listened to an ad and they'd give you movie times, and then you hang up. A little later they added feature through which you could order your tickets, for a buck fifty service charge. No one's twisting our arm, though; we don't have to buy our tickets over the phone. But once the law of network externalities comes into play and enough people are using the service, MovieFone changes from a convenience into something you have to do. If you have a date on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night in New York City and you're going to see a movie, you'd damn well better use MovieFone and pay that dollar fifty extra per ticket, or you're not going to get into that movie. So is MovieFone still a convenience? Or is simply a way to charge an extra $1.50 for each movie? To reign in another "externality?"

JB: What about people that don't have the eleven dollars, or don't have the touch tone phone?