Boing Boing: AT&T's You Will ads - campaign for Internet normalcy:
Andrew Sullivan has posted a youtube of the old AT&T "You Will" ads about all the things AT&T would make possible through the Internet. I think these are the most emblematic advertisements of the era, defining the way that big companies totally missed the point of the Internet. They were like Thomas Edison declaring that the phone would bring opera to America's living rooms -- AT&T posited that the Internet would just amplify our normal, everyday lives, so you could "tuck your kid in from a phonebooth."
What they missed was that for all the normalcy that the Internet could enable, it would be much, much better at enabling deviance -- all the behaviors that were suppressed by society, or impossible to engage in given social constraints. Instead of "Have you checked a book out from thousands of miles away?" they might have asked, "Have you ever ripped an 18th-century book and sent it to a Gutenberg pal in another country to be OCRed?" or "Have you ever used a global mapping service to track down mercenary armies in distant lands" or "Have you ever discovered that your secret kink has an actual name, a newsgroup, an IRC channel and a monthly convention?"