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Year 2000 Computer Bug Hoax: Why this site exists

POSTSCRIPT: This website was frozen on December 31, 1999, as a permanent document on how all of us acted and reacted to the Y2K myth from 1997 to 1999. There will be no updates. Enjoy reading all of the emails, especially the wild ones from 1998. - David Robert Loblaw, 03 January 2000

This site was first called ...

... Millennium Hysteria when I launched it in late-1997, but I soon found that was far far too big of a category. Once the Y2K-circus opened its tent inside my organization and the travelling freaks dazzled management into doing anything they asked, I whittled the site to Y2K to give voice to the eye-rolling that all of my programmer colleagues were doing.

As I say on the main page of my site, I admire everyone who’s making money off Y2K. To create a multi-billion dollar industry out of a million dollar computer issue is outstanding. This demonstrates the essence of capitalism and entrepreneurship: find a need or a desire or a fear and exploit it to get as much money out of it as possible until it runs dry, then find something else.

I would never stand up and debate any of the Y2K hypsters in public -- they have everything going for them. With only a few words, they can easily exploit the fear of the unknown, the fear of computers, and especially the fear of big numbers. If they opened their speech with a line I once read on the net somewhere: "Every time bomb has a clock. This time bomb is a clock!" everyone’s heartbeat would increase and I’d be left mumbling, "but, but, but ..." I’d be slaughtered.

Even after the "crisis" fizzles to nothing shortly after 01/01/00, the hypsters still win. They will announce that everything turned out fine and total destruction was avoided because of their work. They'll accept our thanks, and walk away with smiles on their faces and money in the bank. (Actually, some of them won't walk away. As they don't want the goose to die, they are busy creating post-2000 scenarios: hire con-sultant X to maintain a vigilant check on your applications in 2000, 2001, 2002 ...)

I named my site and its email "just a number" as it sums up what I think about this. Whenever a number is higher than a few dozen, everyone’s mind starts to blur. Debates can only be held up with words; the moment someone injects a number, the resulting fact-eating disease starts to kill the debate.

We attach high emotions to bland numbers. On the stroke of midnight on every New Year’s Eve, there is a momentary thrill. "Oh my God, it’s 1990! 1990!!! We’re in The Nineties. It feels so weird to say it." We now await The Big 2000 as the most gorgeous, sexiest date we’ll ever have. He/she better not let us down.

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With each email or web-site I read, I say to myself, "Does this person actually want there to be problems on 01/01/00?" and the answer is often yes. This dumbfounds me. For whatever reason, I see that many people are looking forward to major chaos and catastrophe (not to themselves, of course.) Some actually need there to be temporary chaos in order for wonderful things to happen to them immediately afterwards.

The daily onslaught of responses I receive are now my favourite part of my web-site. I first assumed only friends and colleagues would comment; and now, due to the ever-increasing volume, I can no longer personally respond to every email I get (well, I could, but I need to spend time with my cats too.) I’m always adding more clips of my favourite emails on my Viewer Feedback page.

When all is said and done, it is an absolute certainty there will be computer problems in the first week of January 2000 (as there were this past week and will be next week.) I know I'm going to love working on JAN-00 as I'll be able to blame every single problem I have on Y2K. "Sorry, I didn't send you those stats. My system crashed. Year 2000, you know."

Every kid dreams of the perfect excuse; soon, every adult will have one.

All the best to you and yours in '00
Make today a good day as there are only a few left.

David-Robert Loblaw
1999 A.D.

Read some e-mails