Katie Couric And Bryant Gumbel Discover The Internet

from the ah,-discovery dept

A whole bunch of people have been sending in this video, which has already gone viral, of Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric having a very confused discussion about the internet on The Today Show way back in 1994 (at which point the internet really was not that obscure):
It kicks off with a debate over how to pronounce the @ symbol, with Gumbel properly saying "at," but being unsure of himself, after Couric suggests maybe it's "about." This is even though @ was the "at" symbol well before the internet. Then there's a conversation as they're totally confused by the email address that is put on the screen and what it means, leading up to Gumbel declaring in a frustrated voice:
"What is internet anyway?"
Eventually someone tries to explain it, and Gumbel seems to just get more frustrated and incredulous:
How does one... what is it? What do you write to it, like mail?!?"
It's not like they're supposed to be reporters or anything, who can do some research to find out what it is they're talking about...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    DataShade (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:22am

    Of course, television news "reporters" have never supposed to be good reporters, and shows like The Today Show aren't about news, but relaying the news to big advertisers' favorite demographics the way those demos can relate to.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:28am

    And pulled down. Classy, Today Show people, classy.

     

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  3.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:31am

    Re:

    Epic fail.

     

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  4.  
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    Shane C (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:42am

    Backup copy

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:46am

    Hi, I'm new to this Internet thing. Could someone please tell me where can I buy stamps for my email?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:59am

    You got the quote wrong actually, Mike. He asks "What is internet anyway?", without the "the". Ends up portraying him as less of an idiot, which I don't think is what you were going for.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 2:07am

    Not really surprising since American schools are becoming the laugh stock of the world.

    Teachers that don't teach but preach make up 13% of American teachers.

     

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  8.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 2:13am

    Re: Backup copy

    Updated the embed.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 2:14am

    Re:

    You got the quote wrong actually, Mike. He asks "What is internet anyway?", without the "the". Ends up portraying him as less of an idiot, which I don't think is what you were going for

    Yikes. You're right. I updated the quote.

     

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  10.  
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    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 2:19am

    Re:

    And pulled down. Classy, Today Show people, classy.
    And sooooo effective - took me all of 45 seconds of googling to find an alternitive copy. Perhaps the idea is to change the story, though how "the owners of Today have no sense of humour and overreact" is a better story than "Oh look some people said something dumb and funny on Today almost 20 years ago" is a mystery to me - clearly I don't have the rarified TV mogul head for it.

     

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  11.  
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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 3:56am

    Re: Re: Backup copy

    Just FTI, the "Metatube" link doesn't seem to want to play for me. I'm outside the USA (Scotland) so that might be the problem. But if there's a copy on YouTube or any other less parochial site, I'd appreciate a link.

     

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  12.  
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    Jose_X, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 4:03am

    Connecting with fans in the early 90s

     

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  13.  
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    bob, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 4:54am

    Idiots

    I actually saw this when it aired, and yes they are idiots.

    But I like the Canadian announcer from the CBC in his report about the Internet's.

     

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  14.  
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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Backup copy

    Apologies. I left it for an hour or so and this time it worked.

     

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  15.  
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    rl78 (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 5:07am

    I loved this...

    I wonder what Katie and Bryant thought about all those AOL disks coming in their mailboxes. Probably used them to sturdy up there "cup holders".

     

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  16.  
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    Meoip, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 5:08am

    Internet Address

    Am I the only one who noticed the internet address was what us young folk call an email address. Not only that but this small company, NBC, didn't even have it's own website it was part of GE's site.
    I cannot wait until this appears on 30 rock.

     

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  17.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 5:31am

    Re: I loved this...

    Hey, don't joke about those CDs... Back in my Foul Bachelor Frog days, me and my roomies would pop a buck on those self-adhesive rubber feet, grab those CDs, and -BAM- infinite coasters.

    You jelly, AOL?

     

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  18.  
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    abc gum, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 5:32am

    heh - gotcha internetism

     

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  19.  
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    lavi d (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:00am

    It kicks off with a debate over how to pronounce the @ symbol, with Gumbel properly saying "at,"

    Well, technically, at that time, that wasn't entirely correct.

    Of course, I can't find any references to back up my claim, but trust me, I took typing in Jr. High and that's not what it used to be called.

    I'm fairly certain that the majority of people familiar with that symbol (outside of the computing world) at that time would know it as an accounting symbol signifying "each at", as in, "five pairs of shoes @ at $100"

     

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  20.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:13am

    Re:

    Sorry, it goes as far back as the ancient Greeks, Medieval monks, etc. You are right about the acounting and commerce usage though.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_sign#History

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re:

    That's empirical evidence if I've ever seen it.

     

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  22.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:20am

    Before it became the standard symbol for electronic mail, the @ symbol was used to represent the cost or weight of something. For instance, if you purchased 6 apples, you might write it as 6 apples @ $1.10 each.

    With the introduction of e-mail came the popularity of the @ symbol. The @ symbol or the "at sign" separates a person's online user name from his mail server address. For instance, joe@uselessknowledge.com. Its widespread use on the Internet made it necessary to put this symbol on keyboards in other countries that have never seen or used the symbol before. As a result, there is really no official name for this symbol.
    http://atsymbol.com/history.htm

     

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  23.  
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    Griff (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:22am

    Give them a break

    This was, what, 2 years before the netscape browser went mainstream ?

    There was no web to speak of, people like me who were heavily into CompuServe knew the internet as this necessary evil to send mail to people outside CIS but which (without MIME yet becoming widely accepted as the defacto way to attach a file) was a real mess to use for communication and tended to full your screen with horrible headers few could understand.

    At this point "the internet" (Archie, Gopher etc) was for serious geeks only.

    You could argue that they shouldn't have been even trying to do the segment without more research, but to not know what they were talking about in 1994 hardly put them at the bottom of the pile.

    In fact considering there was no real web yet, it was actually fairly prescient for them to be even realising it was worth talking about

     

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  24.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:24am

    Re: Re: I loved this...

    We used to decorate a whole Christmas tree with those AOL CD's.

    I wonder how much landfill space those things are taking up...

     

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  25.  
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    Joe Future-Shock, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:33am

    We laugh now, but 20-30 years from now, we'll be the clueless dopes.

    "Now, how exactly do I have my consciousness digitized and uploaded into the HoloWeb?"

    "Geez granddad, push the green button!"

     

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  26.  
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    Jake, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:34am

    Re: I loved this...

    In all fairness, so did a lot of people who did know what the CDs were supposed to be for.

     

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  27.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:55am

    Re: Give them a break

    I remember the internet in the 90's. I first used it on '94 at the University (home internet was unheard of).

    I never understood that Gopher thing. I know it was like... link browsing? But each click just seemed to randomly take you elsewhere and another set of links.

    Maybe in the USA it was more popular, I don't know. I'm a tech person, nowadays I use internet more than anything else and understand most of the protocols and concepts. Still, Gopher don't make no sense to me.

     

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  28.  
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    Trails (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:21am

    About?!?!

    @=About?!?!

    Katie's on very thin ice...

     

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  29.  
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    W Klink (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re:

    It just demonstrates that, after 17 years, they still don't understand the internet.

     

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  30.  
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    Trails (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re:

    Yet again, Mike gives the mainstream press too much credit...

     

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  31.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re: About?!?!

    resisting...urge...to... autotune....

     

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  32.  
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    codegrunt, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:12am

    Re: Give them a break

    Agreed Griff. The folowing link shows what folks were using to access the WWW in 1994:

    timeline of browsers

    Mosaic was the main browser, Windows was at version 3.1 and 2400 baud modems were still common. The Internet was hardly mainstream. Personally I was still spending more time on USENET than the WWW in 1994.

     

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  33.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: About?!?!

    give in to the dark side! let her sing her song of internetz in the voice she'll never have!

     

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  34.  
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    Jason, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:50am

    Re:

    No, this topic is about failing to understand the internet-not failing to understand how to submit new stories (or failing to understand the boundaries of science).

     

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  35.  
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    Trails, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: About?!?!

    SHAWTAY!!

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:32am

    What's worse, according to the Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro, the guy who originally posted the clip was canned by NBC after he posted it. http://twitter.com/robpegoraro/status/32954056494292992

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:47am

    this is some funny stuffs all the way around.

    it was 1994... not everyone had caught on to the internet quite yet so them not knowing about it could be easily excused. if this was an off the cuff spontaneous conversation their total lack of knowledge could even be excused (a little bit, not completely). keep in mind some of what was super shiny and new in 1994:
    ordering pizza from pizza hut started in 1994
    consumers finally outpace academics by 2:1
    netscape was founded
    mosaic still climbing the charts
    the 20million user number had not yet been hit
    some 'best of the internet' lists for 1994 still include separate categories for best gopher site and 'best workaround for non-SLIP users'.

    oddly, some things never change such as the dire warnings back in 1994 that the 'information superhighway' is going to fall under government protection which as all other things the government attempts to regulate causes it to basically suck more than a black hole.
    and yes the idea that "A protocol will be developed for smaller interest groups to form larger common-interest federations."

    its fun to look at this video and be judgmental about their knowledge (or lack thereof) on the internet but keep in mind... the internet as we know it was still quite young at that time just as katie and bryant were... thankfully time has improved two of those three.

    ill let you figure out which two...

     

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  38.  
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    Kevin (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Internets. How do they work?

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 4:55pm

    Katie Couric is not a reporter. She is a unit of measure. I don't hear you criticizing the liter for being poor at research.

    Now if you'll excuse me I need to go make myself 2 Courics lighter.

     

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    rl78 (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Re: I loved this...

    cup holder=cd tray

     

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  41.  
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    rl78 (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:41pm

    Re: Re: I loved this...

    its not about fairness, its about funny.

     

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  42.  
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    Rekrul, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:11pm

    Re: Re: I loved this...

    Hey, don't joke about those CDs... Back in my Foul Bachelor Frog days, me and my roomies would pop a buck on those self-adhesive rubber feet, grab those CDs, and -BAM- infinite coasters.

    The idea of CDs being used as drink coasters never made any sense to me. The whole idea of a coaster is to keep moisture off the table by providing a barrier. Except that CDs have a hole in the center which can act as a drain. Not only that, since the plastic doesn't absorb liquid, it would just pool on the surface and spill off when you picked it up.

     

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  43.  
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    Andrew, Oct 22nd, 2011 @ 4:47am

    Re: I loved this...

    Reminds me of one of the tech support jokes...about a lady asking if she can replace the cup holder on the computer that she bought. The person from support was really confused thinking even that they gave away a free cup holder. It turned out....it was the CD-ROM drive.

     

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  44.  
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    Shine (profile), Jan 14th, 2012 @ 8:17am

    I admit, I was late in learning about internet...my kids were still small when internet became really popular. I was interested but my priority was my kids.

     

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  45.  
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    Joy, Feb 2nd, 2012 @ 12:25am

    Everybody knows about the internet now. Even my grandmother. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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