A NewsScape founder wrote this introduction in 1994:

The Internet: an embarrassment of riches....

Sooner or later, the Internet will be too vast for statistics to matter.

How can anyone get their mind around the notion that there is 80MByte of fresh data added each day? A million new users each month?

The art of making the most of the incredible treasure troves and resources of the Internet is just that: an art. The application of science in the form of "agents" that can attempt to profile the users’ requirements is a partial solution, but in the end, all Internet users will have to rely on the editorial skills and judgement of a few people who have acquired the mystic skills necessary to appreciate, collate and understand just enough to achieve the guru status necessary to be able to steer and form opinion of all others.

Much the same already applies in many walks of life: no-one had time to sample all the delights of the West End or Broadway, and so a breed of professional browsers grew up known as the "theatre critics". When the theatre-going public accepted that some of these people expressed views in line with their own, they granted them the most astonishing powers of life and death over the theatrical producers and performers.

This critical process evolved to encompass the new industries of radio and TV-although in the case of radio and TV, this was a lot more accessible to casual browsing by the public, who for a long time had relatively little choice anyway.

In the case of the Internet, it is easy to gain the impression that everyone is a critic. It is in the nature of the system that such people will be attracted to become the early adopters, and share their views with anyone who will read them. But there is also a growing element of "dark subscribers" who eagerly graze the information, but keep themselves to themselves as the more flamboyant Internet users establish a hierarchy of guru-ness.

These people are happy to use email as a valuable tool, and treat the rest much as you might a CDRom encyclopedia. The importance of steering and guiding this mass of endeavour cannot be underestimated if the Net is to fulfil its purpose.

Fred Bussell