Some musicians (cough Metallica cough) saw the Internet as a Wild West threatening their ability to control fans' access to their music. David Bowie saw things differently.
In 1998, only 42% of American households had Internet access. Compared to the 74% of households with Internet access today, that's a pretty huge difference.
After releasing his 1996 song "Telling Lies" as a web-only single and selling 300,000 copies (a huge number in any era), David Bowie decided the Internet provided a unique opportunity to interact with fans in a new way.