Bob gets his just desserts....

Friday April 11 4:27 AM EDT 

Sage who warned of Net's collapse eats his words

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 10 (Reuter) - The networking pioneer turned
computer industry columnist who predicted the Internet would collapse last
year, Thursday kept to his promise by literally eating his words. 

Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet technology and founder of 3Com Corp ,
had pledged he would eat the words from a December 1995 InfoWorld column
he wrote if the dramatic debacle he predicted did not come to pass. 

In the column, Metcalfe warned of a "catastrophic collapse" of the
Internet in 1996. 

He made the original vow at a conference of World Wide Web engineers and
enthusiasts in Boston in 1995, and he argued here before the Sixth
International World Wide Web Conference Thursday that the Web had logged
major outages. 

Metcalfe said that outages at Netcom On-Line Communications Services Inc ,
America Online Inc and BBN Corp had demonstrated instances where thousands
and millions of lost service hours had occurred. 

But he also acknowledged the "gigalapse" catastrophe he'd projected had
not yet happened. 

Metcalfe did plead that he had just turned 51 years old and, although he
had checked to determine the ink in his column was non-toxic, ingesting it
could make him fatally ill, jeopardizing the happiness of his children. 

Metcalfe's arguments in a closing keynote address on Thursday night were
apparently not persuasive enough to swing a room packed with Internet
partisans and experts with a stake the Web's continued growth. 

The crowd erupted in hoops, claps and chants of "Eat, baby, Eat!" when he
put the decision to a voice vote. 

Then the crowd booed and whistled when Metcalfe tried to get away with
eating a piece of giant cake, shaped and finished with icing to look like
it was his column, instead of eating the column itself. 

"You mean eating just a piece of cake is not enough to satisfy you? I kind
of suspected it would turn ugly," he said in mock surprise. 

Metcalfe then ripped a copy of the offensive column from a back issue of
the industry publication, tore it into pieces and dropped it into a clear
liquid in an electric blender he'd hidden on stage. 

The columnist then poured the resulting mix into bowl, and tasted the
cloudy, pulpy substance with a spoon before slurping down the bowl's
contents to the crowd's cheers. 

   W. John MacMullen............................http://ils.unc.edu/~macmw