So, this is a personal gripe of mine.
In the last, oh, two years or so, it has become increasingly cool to be hip to technology, and, more importantly perhaps, to engage in rampant punditry on the cultural effects of two companies in particular: Google and Apple.
In my school newspaper, Washington Square News, you will find the Opinions editor writing nearly-weekly columns on technology topics. But, what you’ll find, is that Google and Apple get more mentions then basically any other technology company out there. iPods, apparently, changed our culture in shattering ways, because now, instead of people talking to each other on the subway, they listen to their music collection. And web search and web e-mail (which existed before Google, and will exist in various new forms from now onward) is apparently so darn cool when the logo is rainbow colored, but not when its name rhymes with a parting phrase in Spanish.
Don’t get me wrong: if I consider myself a technology afficionado, then Google and Apple technologies are pretty highly rated, in my book. But can we just get over this obsession? I am speaking mainly to that strange cloud known as “the technology press,” but even to all these new technocratic snobs who spend all day talking about their Flikr albums, podcasts and “Web 2.0” calendaring.
Listen, I’ve been around a long time, and others have been along longer. Can we recognize computer products for what they have become? Commodotized fads, just like basically all other products. Technology makes a statement. Some people use GMail and iPods. These people are cool. Other people, like me, prefer no MP3 player, because I think what’s said in New York City is much more valuable than listening to my music.
And guess what? I still have my e-mail collection on a real, rich client, because I think the one I use is more powerful than Gmail will ever be.
Frankly, if you’re going to comment on culture, take a step outside of the Google/Apple obsession. Talk about things that matter. You’re obsessing over the moves of multi-billion dollar publicly traded companies. Companies that have to make a profit, and come up with a bottom line. Your obsession with them only exists because they want it to exist, because their marketers are smart cookies, and you are their pawns.
Just realize that there are lots of important things to talk about, and web-based e-mail and MP3 players just doesn’t make any reasonable list.
Can I also do what a lot of these technology pundits do, and snag up my own law? Here it is, Andrew’s Law: if you aren’t a coder or engineer, you can’t waste all your time commenting on software or technology products. There, that law being in effect, 90% of the web’s blogs should crawl to a dead halt.
2 thoughts on “Apple and Google: Can We Just Get Over Ourselves?”
I read an interesting article back in the fall about how tech journalists were biased to Apple (and the same theory works in the bias to Google). It’s by John C. Dvorak, so if you can read past the rants, it’s likely the most intelligent article he has written in quite a long time.
To some extent, you’re right, it is about being percieved as cool, hip, and in with the fads.
Hey Cary. Dvorak often engages in this punditry himself, though the one most famous for it is Robert X. Cringely. What annoys me about Cringely is that he is a good writer, and in particular his book Accidental Empires is one of the best accounts of the Microsoft/Apple rivalry in the early years of the PC.
But sometimes the stuff he writes is just so ludicrous is the favor of sounding cool instead of being a journalist and digging up some juicy stuff for his readers. He has all sorts of conspiracy theories all the time about Apple and Google, meanwhile real small start-up innovators produce their products behind closed doors, and Cringely doesn’t uncover anything.
The real problem is that tech journalism just sucks overall. Tech journalists don’t ever leave their houses. They don’t seek stories. They just write about what they think sounds cool, and what is accessible to them from the comfort of their Safari browser, or whatever. Do you think a NYTimes reporter would ever get away with writing about stuff going on in the administration, if he/she weren’t out there, collecting information from sources in Washington and elsewhere? Tech journalists hardly ever use sources, they just report press releases or speculate. Quality is not an issue. It’s just not there.