A clip of Prince talking about the internet back in 1999 has been making the rounds this week. Spoiler: The icon seemed to be on to something.
Prince’s remarks took place at the Yahoo! Internet Life Online Music Awards. The Verge notes he was there to present the “Online Pioneer” award to Public Enemy. He may have been there to present an award, but Prince’s words were ominous, to say the least.
“Don’t be fooled by the internet,” begins Prince in the clip below. “It’s cool to get on the computer, but don’t let the computer get on you. It’s cool to use the computer, but don’t let the computer use you. Y’all saw ‘The Matrix.’ There is a war going on. The battlefield is the mind, and the prize is the soul. So, be careful. Be very careful.”
Interestingly enough, David Bowie had similar thoughts on the internet in 1999. Bowie told BBC Newsnight, “I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society — both good and bad — is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying…
When the interviewer responds, “It’s just a tool, though. Isn’t it?” Bowie fires back, “No, it’s an alien lifeform.” He adds, “…The actual context and state of content is going to be so different to anything we can envision at the moment. The interplay between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico. It’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”