Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

  • Author:
  • Published: Apr 20th, 2010
  • Category: Media
  • Comments: 1

It’s Not Always About the Look

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Less interesting than the most recent Farhad Manjoo article on Slate is the little flame war between him and Charles Stiegler in the comments section* (which are now lamentably inextricably linked to one’s Facebook/Twitter/other social network site and utterly redundant to the local forums anyway, but I digress).

No, people don’t always buy expensive products solely on the look of them. Hell, with cars it’s fairly clear to me that people honestly don’t care about the looks at all, which is why just about every contemporary car is some similarly amorphous egg-like blob, and just about every previous era’s cars were boatloads more distinctive in looks (not to mention color. “Mist” is not a color. Your car is gray, and so’s your life, asshat.) It’s practically the engineer’s dream: Things like cost, luxury options, safety ratings and gas mileage become the primary means for gauging cars because everything else is basically the same.

But back to AppleCo, Manjoo on Slate is to Technology like Emily Bazelon on Slate is to Mothering: Lowest common denominator uninformed squeeing that makes me wonder why I’m not making money duping people who are equally as ignorant on those topics that I’m some form of journalistic guru. Case in point, who the fuck cares about what the new iPhone looks like, if it still sucks as a phone? What ever happened to utility?

While I’m beating up on Manjoo, there’s also his last article about Twitter, with this incredible bit of tripe:

…if a lot of conversation on social networks is banal, that’s only because banal conversation is one of the main ways people form and maintain social bonds. You don’t ask your co-worker what she did on the weekend because you really care; you ask her because you want to chat. In that way Twitter is only mirroring real life.

It’s called “banal” for a reason: It lacks originality. If you form social bonds by broadcasting banality, you’re a very boring person and so are all your friends.

*If there’s anything I hate more than closed-source iShit, it’s professional shills paid to suck the teats of Steve Jobs. This particular example trolls his own articles’ comments threads. It’s rather funny how masturbatory it all is.

  • Author:
  • Published: Apr 7th, 2010
  • Category: Society
  • Comments: 2

Commerce, In a Nutshell

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An article on yesterday’s Slate elicited two responses from me:

a) zOMG there’s a decent article on Slate!

b) The narrative that Jobs was the marketeer and Wozniak the brains behind the AppleCo ‘counter-culture’ creed isn’t new, but it does highlight the failure of Classical economics to provide the best product for the lowest price: Namely, that we have what is less than a computer for the cost of a computer, driven mostly by the double forces of an uninformed consumer public and the propaganda of ceaseless advertising campaigns.

The market’s constant efforts at undermining itself – socializing liability, fostering monopolies and keeping everybody as uninformed as possible – is tantamount to piracy, when all is said and done. While paying off reviewers to gawp at inferior products sold at higher prices isn’t as insidious as, say, selling tainted baby food and stonewalling government inquiries, it comes from the same mode of short-term economic reasoning, and is hypocritical when those very same industries yell at foreign countries for resisting globalization.

It stems from the barriers to competition – entry costs, disinformation, etc (indeed, by this definition all advertising is by nature a lie and most economic reporting and journalism is tainted, just like, well, most regular reporting and journalism) – and is most hilarious in that it comes from within. Capitalism was always a crock, propped up by socialism every time it failed (which is just about every five to ten years), and it never learns, if Apple is any indicator.

Yeah, But Can It Prop Up a Desk?

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This, quite honestly.

Now, most of my job is in handling technology – some would assume that such is thus my lifestyle – but I have never been swayed by any glowing box smaller than a laptop and less functional than the computer I’m typing from now. I hate cell phones, let alone the gadget conglomerations packaged as cell phones called iPhones or Sidekicks (Has no marketer ever heard of feature creep? Seriously, nobody uses 90% of your “apps”) but nothing takes the cake like the Kindle.

Way back in 2002 when I was suffering the frozen hellhole of Cornell (in the words of Jon Stewart, no less) I took a course in English that had the word “technology” in its title on the course catalog. I thought to myself, “Hey, here’s a forward-thinking professor wanting to rap to us about Web 2.0, blogging and the general state of New Media in creative writing” as, after all, it was one of those “not your run-of-the-mill English classes.” Read the rest of this entry »

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