I'm getting ready to sit down and watch the new film Startup.com, a documentary about the life and death of dotcoms during the Internet Gold Rush. I was going to wait until I had watched it to write this column, but as I sit here contemplating the very existence of this film, I feel compelled to write about something entirely different.
The fact that there is a movie-in fact, movies-about a time period in the very recent past is intriguing, to say the least. In fact, that time period isn't even over; there are still dotcoms dying and dotcom workers clutching pink slips in their hands as they try to catch a cab home. And the entrepreneurs who caught severe strains of start-up hubris and get-rich-quick fever are still shaking their heads and wiping the sweat from their brows following their long day's journey into night.
The thing that intrigues me about this situation is that many of the people who were a part of the fallout are wearing their failures proudly, even flamboyantly. The dotcom fallout we witnessed of late is really just failure on a grander scale-that is, as long as there have been start-up businesses, there have been failures and successes. Yet now we're making movies about it. Participating in speaking engagements about it. Discussing it in newsgroups, on the radio, on TV. Joking about it on various Web sites. Celebrating failure with an eye toward learning from it and moving on as wiser, stronger, more seasoned entrepreneurs.
And not that I think that's a bad thing to do-in fact, I'm anxious to watch this movie. I am fascinated by the idea that as a collective consciousness, we didn't exactly see this fallout coming. (Yes, some predicted it, but in general, it took our breath away.) And as a collective consciousness, we're doing what anyone does when they've been slammed by something major: talk about it exhaustively, rehash the old mistakes to make sure we don't make them again, pick up the pieces and take baby steps forward.
I'm actually quite proud of how we have handled the Great Fallout of 2000. And I can't wait to see what's next.
Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.