Case Closed

I hate to crow about somebody getting fired, or forced to quit, but Steve Case of AOL has millions stashed away, so I'm going to anyway.

With his resignation as chairman of AOL Time Warner, it seems we can now declare an insufferable era officially over -- not just ended, but emphatically kaput.

The era was those years of putting up with smug Internet gurus who, when confronted with people reminding them of reality, would issue the ultimate put down -- you just don't get it.

Remember when somebody would say you don't need a store anymore, you can sell chewing gum and newspapers over the Internet. And you would say, why? Why not just walk to the magazine stand? It's all right there. And some Internet child would crinkle his or her nose and say -- you don't get it do you?

Well, well, well. The founder of the "you don't get it" crowd -- Steve Case of AOL -- finally saw the writing on the wall and resigned as chairman of AOL Time Warner. And if the Time and Warner folks have their way, they'll scrub AOL off the corporate name too.

This was the guy who preached synergy and convergence; whose stock price conferred upon him the mantel of genius, and led a legion of young people -- and some older people -- into believing in the Internet as if it were a cult, not a business tool.

Case has quit, but justice in this world isn't perfect and Case took hundreds of millions of dollars out of AOL and AOL Time Warner before reality crashed in. He got the gold mine and his shareholders got the shaft.

But hey, you take what you can get. Case has resigned. Microsoft is paying a billion dollars to the people of California. And dot-comers are asking if you'd like fries with that.

All in all, the world is a better place.

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