In November 1999, at the height of the e-commerce gold rush, a hearing in a Los Angeles courtroom wrenched open the fault lines that ran through the Internet.
On one side was eToys.com, the billion-dollar darling of Wall Street and the brainchild of Toby Lenk, one of the hottest entrepreneurs of his generation. On the other side was etoy, a group of cutting-edge European artists, hungry for fame, who used the Internet as their canvas. The struggle between them became known as the Toywar. At stake were liberty, justice, and the speedy delivery of toys.
Leaving Reality Behind is the definitive and gripping account of a battle that shook the Internet and sharply focused attention on the conflict at its very core: Was the Internet created as entertainment for the many or for the exponential profit of the few? This riveting case reveals the larger story behind the first decade of the Web -- the conflict surrounding its creation; the invention of search engines; the battle over domain names, and the discovery of the glittering promise of online retailing -- when the capital markets left reality behind.
As the real-life thriller of the Toywar came to its climax, the online world went into meltdown. There remained one crucial question: After the Internet crash of 2000, which would prove more enduring -- an eight-billion-dollar corporation built by America's brightest businessmen or a chaotic art project created by a group of artsy rebels from Europe?
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In November 1999, at the height of the e-commerce gold rush, an extraordinary hearing took place in a Los Angeles courtroom. On one side, the billion-dollar darling of Wall Street, Etoys.com, the brain child of Toby Lenk, one of the hottest entrepreneurs of his generation. On the other side, eToy.com, a group of bleeding-edge European artists, hungry for fame, who used the Internet as their canvas. The conflict became known as the "Toywar". Etoys.com accused eToy.com of virtual piracy and demanded that they be shut down. American big business was being jeopardized by a European, home-spun Web group. The outcry amongst the Internet community was unprecedented. The ensuing battle sharply focused attention on the conflict at the very heart of the Internet: was it for the joy of the many or the exponential profit of the few? Was cyberspace a revolutionary public space or was the new frontier an extension of the shopping mall? Through the story for the Toywar, Adam Wishart and Regula Bochsler weave the history of the seven years that changed the world forever. "Leaving Reality Behind" is the real life thriller about the virtual struggle between commerce and liberty. In 2000, as the online world went into melt down, what would be more valuable and enduring, a ten billion dollar corporation created by the best American entrepreneurs or a chaotic art project by a group of anarchic European rebels?About the Author:
Adam Wishart is an award-winning BBC documentary filmmaker. He was the director of a highly acclaimed documentary about the Millennium Dome, and he has written for New Statesman, New Scientist, The Guardian, and The Independent. He lives in London.
Regula Bochsler has worked for more than a decade as a reporter, producer, and anchor for Swiss National TV. She has a Ph.D. in modern history, teaches media history, and is the author of a dozen historical documentaries. She lives in Zürich.
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