Imagine the following situation: your credit card provider uses a risk assessment program that monitors your financial activity. Using the information it gathers, it notices your purchases are following a “high-risk pattern”; it does so on the basis of a secret, proprietary algorithm. The assessment program, acting on its own, cuts off the use of your credit card. It is courteous enough to e-mail you a warning. Thereafter, you find that actions that were possible yesterday—like making electronic purchases—no longer are. No humans at the credit card company were involved in this decision; its representative program acted autonomously on the basis of pre-set risk thresholds.
This is the story of how an unlikely threesome—a girl, a heavy metal band and their fans — pioneered the web at its infancy, bucked the status quo and proved that the Internet wasn’t a fad.