I feel like there’s a meme for this kind of thing. Or, there should be. It goes like this: Tech writer gets all curmudgeonly about something lots of people like. Said tech writer spends lots of time explaining how it sucks and other, simpler, things are better. The current iteration of this story is from Will Smith (no, not that Will Smith), who writes for Tested. In his article “CES: It’s Mostly Bullshit“, he expounds on the suckiness of all things CES. He’s really only redeemed by saying “mostly”.
In January, those involved in technology always turn to the Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) trade show for what’s new and exciting in the industry. Often, the products on display are years off – and others are about to be mass produced. Through all of the coverage, I’ll showcase a few of the products that I found interesting. It’s been a few years since my last visit to CES, and I do intend on going back in the future – but for now, I’ll have to sift through the mountain of coverage and bring you the best of what I see. Since the sheer size of the show makes it impossible for anyone to see everything, if you’ve heard or seen something good at the show this year, do share it in the comments.
In an article on PC World, Matt Smith sings the praises of Microsoft’s Research and Development department – but not before making a bold (and dodgy) statement:
As far as 99.9 percent of the world population is concerned, Microsoft is a stodgy, old-guard technology company. Its bottom line is fully leveraged against PC operating systems and business software—hardly the building blocks of a future-thinking portfolio, right?
99.9 percent? Do these 99.9 percent think software is made by accident too? What then plays out is a chance for him to list recent projects, many of which we already know about, in an effort to win the prestigious “Best Microsoft Shill” award. I think the TV show Hawaii-Five-O is still winning in this one, though.
An article on New York Observer caught my interest for being a lot of things (despite meta). It truly does seems that all blogs are excessively covering anything Apple and, for that reason Ryan Holiday thinks Apple events:
“…a staged pseudo-event where the lazy media and a powerful corporation conspire to pad each other’s coffers.”
While I think that’s a tad over-cynical, I do think it’s something worth talking about. The “echo chamber” as it’s been coined seems to be a perfect fit for hit-hungry online media, Apple, and the Internet. The other side of this, however, is lots of blogs talking about subject they’re interested in and attempting to add some kind of value to to coverage. We vote with our eyeballs. Often for the more perverse coverage possible. Also, it’s very difficult for most sites to make money online.
So, why does Mr Cynical think this is the case?
“Because attending a two-day conference might rack up a few weeks worth of easy stories about sexy new gadgets, plus with every investor, celebrity, brand and executive temporarily in one place, bloggers can grab interviews or prep puff pieces without having to do any legwork.”
The thing is, as hard as it may be to like it, we’re in a cult of specifications. The readers want to hear about it and technology sites want to meet that demand. Meeting that demand makes them money. If the demand were for something different (like dramatic reenacting of handkerchief-wearing dog poses), I’m sure all the tech blogs would be reporting on Michael Arrington. Mixed in with all these lazy puff pieces is surely going to be lots of good coverage.
I’ve gotta say, writing can be some of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried to do. Some of the stuff I’ve written can easily (by most means) be considered garbage. Making something coherent and readable takes a certain command of the language as well as having some sort of story to tell. This might have always existed, but I seeing more and more a rise in articles, posts and other online information written in a language that is english, but not quite completely english. From that, there is also the backlash that tends to arise – some of it downright nasty. I’m sure you’ve seen them too, the articles that look like they might be useful, but ultimately fail a substance test.
Today, while reading the mass of technology news I get to see every day, I came across a story that varied the headlines on the same turn of a phrase “Blackberry is losing developers”. Across the web, this story was picked up and amplified, yet a basic Google search of the source company turned up zero information on the survey itself. Was this stuff hidden to the general public? Was anyone going to actually cite the source? How many reporting blogs appear to have read this survey?
I’ve taken a little time to step back and ponder what it is that happens here on this blog. Can this really be called “tech news”? Can it be that we’re a “how to” site?. Is it more of a “product review” site? Should it be said that this is more about punditry and the “curation” of information? This and other questions have been on my mind as I have been struggling to clearly define what you might expect when that browser you’ve chosen lands on this blog page. So, let me explain.
One of the more disgusting trends I noticed (it was probably always there), was the common blog post with a trialing “?”. Most of these blogs offer a big question and tend tease some sort of substance, but when you get into the blog – your offered nothing more than an expansion on the initial question. The trouble with this is that you’re offered nothing in the way of new or useful information, and in more cases, the actual question was never answered. So, let me take you down a dark tunnel of questionable blogs and other pet-peeves of 2011.
Twenty-Ten will go down in history as much more than ending the first decade of this new millennium. This year we saw the leaking of copious amounts of oil, WikiLeaks: leaking copious amounts of government data and a massive earthquake damage in Haiti. 2010 will also be remembered for all of the amazing and interesting technology news – from the introduction of the iPad, to the nuances of privacy, to the rise of Android (and fall of RIM), to the domination by Facebook of practically every form of media (Howard Stern beware). Join me as I take a look at the big stories of 2010.