New In Print
By Skipper Chong Warson, Fri., Feb. 28, 2003
Leaving Reality Behind:
etoy vs. eToys.com & Other Battles to Control CyberspaceBy Adam Wishart and Regula Bochsler
Ecco, 320 pp., $25.95 Yes, another dot-com story -- this one complete with rise-and-fall details (pictures too!) and an epic storyline (think David and Goliath), one that raises significant questions regarding the cohabitation of free expression and commerce on the Internet, as well as affirms that the principles of the online world are virtually the same as the ones in the real world (read: You can't make money from nothing -- R.I.P. 1995-2001).
Written by a BBC documentary filmmaker and a Swiss television journalist, Leaving Reality Behind chronicles the parallel and intersecting paths of Etoy, a group of rag-tag Swiss hackers/performance artists, and eToys.com, one of the Web's most ambitious toy retailers. In their well-documented (more than 100 interviews along with an extensive bibliography) study, Wishart and Bochsler describe one microcosm of the Internet boom and bust: the e-tail toy giant, once worth more than $8 million, that sued Etoy, claiming that the seven young men in the collective had damaged its trademark by their self-described "offensive, depraved, insane, obscene, prurient, perverse, destructive, anarchistic, rebellious, and anti-social in nature" motives (clearly displayed at www.etoy.com) in 1995.
Though the title dispute between etoy and eToys.com is the clear focus of this book, the real story is in the details that color its background pane: in the brief yet cohesive history of the Internet, in the colorful cast of supporting characters, and in the back-and-forth power tugs of war (such as the Network Solutions/ICANN dispute regarding control over domain-name registrations). By conveying a true-to-life portrait of the Internet age, this book is a kind of warning to aspiring megalomaniac entrepreneurs and an insightful recent history of the New Economy. Anyone with a pulse should read it. Really.Leaving Reality Behind: etoy vs. eToys.com & Other Battles to Control CyberspaceAdam Wishart and Regula Bochsler