It’s a neat metaphor—you can almost hear John Williams’ theme from Jaws in your head as you read it—but it doesn’t have the staying power of the one proffered by an expert Ms. Blume consulted for the piece: "Right now we’re still in the Wild West."
That particular truism is as worn in as an old saddle and hits the mark like a rusty pistol:
"[T]he online world is also a Wild West of spam e-mails and hard-to-trace suppliers, according to healthcare regulators."— Ben Hirschler, Reuters, November 13, 2008.
‘Wild west’ internet getting wilder as e-crime soars, PC Pro, October 30, 2008.
“It’s the Wild West out there," Anthony Hopp quoted by Tim Landis, Springfield, Illinois State Journal-Register, October 27, 2008.
"The Internet can be a lawless wild west, filled with as much evil as good," Toronto CityNews, October 20, 2008.
"Advocates have long boasted about the Web’s ‘Wild West’ character, with no limits on who can publish or what can be said," Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts, MetroWest Daily New, October 19, 2008.
‘Wild West’ internet needs a sheriff, The Register, August 10, 2007.
"This is the Wild West," Chris McCaleb, quoted by David Lieberman, USA Today, March 13, 2007.
"Today’s announcement marks a significant step in transforming the Internet from a Wild West to a popular medium that respects the rule of law," Jeff Zucker, quoted by Gary Gentile, The Washington Post, October 18, 2007.
"Sixteen years ago, a cattle rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist named John Perry Barlow surveyed the landscape of electronic communications and had visions of the Wild West," Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle, May 23, 2006.
"Eight or nine years ago when the internet was really starting to get going, it was the Wild West," Geoff Yang, quoted by Tom Bible, The Age, November 27, 2006.
"[W]e don’t want the Internet to become the Wild West of the 21st century," Representative Robert W. Goodlatte (R), quoted by Frank Ahrens, The Washington Post, May 25, 2006.
"It’s still the Wild West," Nigel Morris, quoted by Eric Pfanner, The International Herald Tribune, January 10, 2005.
"[T]here is a bit of a Wild West atmosphere on the Web," Carol Sottili, The Washington Post, August 21, 2005.
"The Internet, downloading, file-sharing – it’s a whole new Wild West for the music business," Ross Scholling, quoted by Tom Zeller, Jr., The New York Times, November 14, 2005.
"In the Wild West world of the internet, a new sheriff is in town as Microsoft puts a high price on the heads of the virus writers, offering bounties of up to $250,000 for information leading to an arrest," Jane Wakefield, BBC, May 11, 2004.
Wild West, or Mere Conduit?, The New York Times, May 13, 2004.
"When the Internet exploded on the scene as a viable commercial medium in the late 1990’s, the phrase ‘everything, all the time,’ from The Eagles’ rock hit Life in the Fast Lane came often to mind. The Internet represented the new ‘Wild, Wild West’," Eric J. Sinrod, USA Today, August 25, 2004.
"I think of the Internet today as being in the wild, wild west stage of society development," Kristy Pryma, IT World, January 30, 2003.
"Bounty hunters worked in the Wild West: They might tame the Internet, too," editorial, The San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2003.
"So far, the internet has generally been compared to the Wild West," Jack Schofield, The Guardian, September 11, 2003.
"It’s still the wild, wild West, Ken Leebow, quoted by Jane Black, BusinessWeek, March 7, 2002.
When it comes to ticket scalping, the Net’s the Wild West, USA Today, October 7, 2002.
"The Internet is not the Wild West and laws that exist in other media or other forms don’t disappear," Dave Baker, Associated Press, December 16, 2002.
"With most organizations now past the Wild West days of the Internet, many of them have begun to rethink their Web site strategies," Michael Vizard InfoWorld, February 2, 2001.
‘It’s been a bit like the Wild West’, The Guardian, April 17, 2001.
"The model for streaming companies today has been like a Wild West model," Tim Schaff quoted by Brad King, Wired News, June 21, 2001.
Internet slowly losing Wild West image, The Albuquerque Journal, January 3, 2000.
"How many presentations about the internet refer to it as the Wild West?," David Birch, The Guardian, August 17, 2000.
Is the Internet the Wild West of lawlessness?, ZDNet Australia, November 7, 2000.
"It’s the frontier, the political equivalent of the Wild West,” Robert Bauer, The New York Times, May 20, 1999.
"It’s the wild west. It’s unregulated, it’s crazy, it’s a little dangerous, very seductive and everybody wants to go there," Ian Anderson quoted by Richard Skanse, Rolling Stone, August 31, 1999.
"The Internet may no longer be the Wild West," Kristen Philipkoski, Wired News, November 9, 1999.
"The Internet has proven to be the wild, wild West of the business world," Rock Lockridge, CNN, March 27, 1998.
"With Web publishing technically easy — any high school student could put up a site — doubters questioned the caliber, not to mention credibility, of on-line work. They saw the virtual world as a journalistic Wild West, lacking the ethical rigor of a conventional newsroom," Jamie Heller, The New York Times, August 3, 1998.
”It’s a Wild West out there,” Stephen Negron, quoted by Bonnie Rothman Morris, The New York Times, August 20, 1998.
"The Internet is like the Wild West right now," Peter Yesawich, quoted by Roger Collis, The International Herald Tribune, February 14, 1997.
"[T]he new frontier of the World Wide Web is often compared to the Wild West," Matt Richtel, The New York Times, June 9, 1997.
"It’s like the wild, wild West out there," detective Michael Geraghty, quoted by Thomas Goetz, The Village Voice, September 30, 1997.
"From hackers to tricksters, the Internet is a kind of electronic Wild West," George Avalos, The Seattle Times, March 16, 1996.
"It’s like the Wild West,” Kim Polese, quoted by Robert D. Hof, BusinessWeek, May 20, 1996.
"Unregulated and unpoliced, the Internet resembles a Wild West frontier town without a sheriff," Barry James, The International Herald Tribune, August 5, 1996.
"The Internet is like the wild, wild West," Rich Bernes, quoted by George Tibbits, The Associated Press, November 21, 1995.
"Until more safeguards are added, he said, the Internet is ‘the Wild West. People need to be very, very careful’," spokesman for American Society of Travel Agents, quoted by Christopher Reynolds, The Seattle Times, December 3, 1995.
The Wild West of the 21st century, The Jerusalem Post, December 24, 1995.
"The Internet is still the wild wild West," Greg Gerdy, quoted by John Markoff, The New York Times, January 30, 1994.
Internet Security A Bit Like Wild West, Sun Herald, April 18, 1994.
"In this new Wild West, there is no sheriff and, more important, no shortage of rogues silently probing network corridors and prying gently at the door of each computer, seeing if they can sneak in," John Markoff, The New York Times, October 24, 1994.