Why I Decided it Was Time to Write a Book
Steve Case
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Bryan: Hard to swallow: First day of Hanukkah in Santa Fe, New Mexico, December 21, 2008 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

No offense, but this is hard to swallow

This may be unfair, but Steve Case is a name one associates with a dial-up service. Not just dial-up, but dial-up that persisted as a business model for decades. One’s mind recoils at the notion of conflating this image with that of a futurist. It’s a matter of credibility. That said, I may change my mind after reading your book, and so might many others. Just pointing out the height of the hill you’re gonna have to climb.

One other thing: changing the service’s name to AOL was an epic blunder. America Online was a better name by far.

America is the world’s greatest brand. Sure, America has its detractors around the world. We find objectionable things in the brands we love just as we do in the women we love. Repressive regimes rail against America because the promise of America undercuts their authority. It challenges their legitimacy.

American pop culture is subversive in a good way. It’s America’s greatest export, and it’s a powerful agent for change. American pop culture enrages mullahs and dictators everywhere. Why? Because exposure to it results in demands for equal rights for women and other basic freedoms. It helps bring into the 21st century people trapped in societies mired in the past.

America Online was a brand name that resonated, whatever the limitations of the service. As America Online, the service had an opportunity to change the world — and put its stamp on it. The inability to recognize that may have been the greatest failure of all.

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