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A Dot-Com Dream Lives

A little while ago, I paid a parking ticket online, and it was more pleasant than I could have hoped.

First, the $30 fine was no big deal, given that I'd somehow gone more than seven years without getting ticketed in the District. Second, paying up was simpler and faster than any of my prior interactions with the city's bureaucracy. Instead of writing out a check, looking for a stamp and mailing in the form, I just had to visit the District's site, type in the number on the ticket and supply a credit-card number (allowing me to collect some frequent-flyer miles out of the deal). A minute later, confirmation of my payment appeared onscreen.

The experience was everything I'd been promised--not by anything at the District's site, but by a movie I'd seen more than six years ago called

This documentary chronicles the birth and brief life of a dot-com called that wanted to help municipal governments provide citizen services on the Web, starting with parking-ticket payments. The firm's two co-founders couldn't run a company too well--towards the end, one wound up firing the other--but for a while, they knew how to sell a vision. It looks like they were only half a decade early.

The movie provides an excellent look, alternately funny and cringe-inducing, at a singularly kooky episode of American capitalism, when a good PowerPoint presentation and the right domain name could somehow earn you millions in startup funding. If you haven't seen, it's worth adding to the Netflix queue or borrowing from the library sometime (here's the Post's review).

The weird thing is that with all material the dot-com era offered--as much hubris as any Greek tragedy--there haven't been more flicks made about it. More than seven years after (which itself almost became a dot-bomb casualty) asked why nobody in Hollywood was trying to do anything with this topic, it seems that few people have even tried.

But maybe I've just overlooked some of these movies or TV shows. If you have any to recommend, please share in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  October 9, 2007; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture  
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DC actually has lots of cool "e" services.

My favorite, that I've fortunately never had to use, is the Towed Vehicle Locator Service available on your handheld/phone at

Posted by: David | October 9, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

... just be sure to use .aspx files which run best on Vista!

Posted by: steve Ballmer | October 11, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

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