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Previously in Web Citations:

Head for the Hills

Are you prepared for Y2K and impending global chaos? Find help on the Web (while you still can).

Unified Mouse Theory

Welcome to the wonderful world of Disney.

Beta-testing the Bible

Not just another digital-age prophecy.

Break on Through

Portal, n. 1. A door, gate, or entrance; esp: a grand or imposing one.

Digital Sunlight, Digital Shadows

Using the Web to shine light on campaign financing is supposed to make elections more honest. If only.

A Little Help From My ... Friends?

Hey, it worked with Linux. Enlisting the aid of countless strangers is a strategy that's catching on.

Biotech at the Barricades

Some would say the avant-garde is dead.This avant-garde wants to live forever.

Dharma Geeks

Sure, there's Buddhism on the Net, but maybe the Net itself is Buddhist.

Revisions of Slavery

What the Web accomplishes that neither Hollywood filmmakers nor PBS documentarists can.

For more, see the complete Web Citations Index.
What Side Are You On?
January 6, 1999

You probably thought that the U.S. v. Microsoft case was about monopolies, antitrust laws, Internet browsers, or the future of the software industry. But in the eyes of the true believer, it is about none of these things. As one reinterpretation of Genesis posted online suggests, the battle between Microsoft and the government is really part of a larger, Manichaean struggle between a bloated, corrupt Leviathan and courageous defenders of liberty -- between order and chaos, right and wrong, good and evil.

Committee for the Moral Defense of Microsoft
But which side is which depends on where you stand. The Committee for the Moral Defense of Microsoft argues that the Federal suit against the software giant is nothing less than "an assault on success and liberty," and that "Microsoft is perfectly entitled to behave the way it does in order to increase profits for shareholders, regardless of the public good." The Ayn Rand Institute, which hosts a Microsoft Defense Site, sees a philosophical struggle at hand: The ARI's Dr. Edwin A. Locke writes that men like Bill Gates and John D. Rockefeller are hated and envied "because they are good -- that is, smarter, more visionary, more creative, more tenacious, more action-focused, more ambitious and more successful than everyone else."

The Support Group For People Used By Microsoft
The dissatisfied consumers at sites like I Hate Microsoft and MicroCrap would probably disagree. "Microsoft exploits people," explains another anti-Microsoft site, The Support Group For People Used By Microsoft. "Microsoft takes advantage of people. Microsoft treats people as a means to a selfish end. In short, Microsoft uses people." As a remedy, the SGFPUBM offers a "12-Step Program to Obtain a Microsoft-Free Existence" -- perfect for those poor souls who experience "Windows 95 Nightmares."

Most of these sites are linked up to the International Anti-Microsoft Network, where one can find an explanation of why Bill Gates is the Devil, along with a report that Microsoft has entered into negotiations to acquire God Himself. ("Microsoft God will make our Lord more accessible and will add an easy, intuitive user interface to Him, making Him not only easier to find, but easier to communicate with.")

As you might expect from a monopoly, Microsoft is, according to another site, also seeking to buy Hell. "Microsoft and Hell share the same vision of providing our customers with unparalleled levels of suffering and damnation," Beelzebub -- the Lord of Flies and the CEO of Hell -- says on the site. "We're very pleased that, as part of Microsoft's product offerings, our philosophy will now benefit a much wider group of customers."

--Nicholas Confessore

Join the conversation in the Technology & Digital Culture conference of Post & Riposte.

More on Technology and Digital Culture in Atlantic Unbound and The Atlantic Monthly.

Nicholas Confessore is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Copyright © 1999 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
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