My Gripes About Tech And The Internet

Last week I made a decision to purge the few tech sites I had in my blogroll.

I’ve given this a great deal of thought this weekend. And I’m not going to change my mind about this.

Even though I did it in anger and the sites I had in my blogroll were the ones I could minimally trust (that’s why they were there to begin with), I’m not restoring them.

I also said I’m no longer going to link to tech reviews. I’m not changing that decision, either.

From now on the only tech items that will appear in this blog are:

1) Links to opinions about tech.

2) Links for Reference (e.g., “Ten Most Useful [insert OS] Utilities,” “How To [whatever],” etc.)

3) Firsthand tech accounts by me.

I will not link to tech news, either. There are plenty of sites that cover tech news and you should go to them for that.

What reinforces my decision in this item from, of all places, The Register, which is known for generally being fearless in covering tech. OK, go read that item. Then come back for the rest.

What was the bloody point of that Reg piece? Some people have called it a “hands-on account.” Say what? The best that can be said about that non-account is that its real title should be, Look At Me! I Got A Picture Of That New Fujitsu In My Goddammed Paw!

What information did that account give that wasn’t already known elsewhere?

None!

So what was the bloody point of it? To me, just the stupid picture.

Why didn’t the guy open the Control Panel and report on how long it took icons to populate? Why didn’t he see if the resolution could be changed? Why didn’t he try handwritten inking (he mentions the damned stylus, after all!)?

It’s as I said: a non-account. It’s not even a fondle. It’s bullshit!

And that’s why I’m not rescinding my earlier decisions. I’m sick of bullshit. And tech is full of bullshit.

This blog will be a Tech Bullshit-Free Zone.

I’m not looking to get invites from companies to their coming-out shindigs for their latest gizmo. They can invite me if they think they really have a kick-ass product, but only if they aren’t afraid of what I might write about it. And I’ll show up only if I have nothing better to do in my life.

I’m not looking to get on the list of Approved Reviewers so I can be granted a few days or even a bullshit week to drop everything else in my life and devote all that time to delving into a product in depth. I have better uses for my time than to prepare a report that will address technical minutiae I’d never encounter in my own personal everyday use.

I’m not looking for any corporation to think I’m going to hug them. I’m a potential customer, not a blind sycophantic fanboy. Corporations exist to serve us, not the other way around! Too many people who write about tech have inverted that relationship.

My time and my money both matter to me. And I’m stupid enough to think the same might apply to some of you too.

Tam Hanna dropped me an email and he put into words what had only been lurking as a feeling within me:

Today’s mobile devices are extremely complex and can’t be truly reviewed in just a few hours of lifetime… . Thus, reviewers should usually publish their reviews in a piece-by-piece basis.

However, sometimes publishers force their analysts to work fast (I never do so) and that leads to the consequences you outlined.

He’s right, but there’s also more to it than that. And it’s this:

The Internet Is Not A Printed Magazine, Dammit, And Tech Is Not Like Books Or Movies!

A magazine once printed remains as it is. It can’t be changed without recalling all of the copies (yeah, go try that!) and ripping out pages or pasting in new ones. That’s just not how the Internet operates! The Net is the greatest living thing ever invented. Yet too many people who write about tech treat it as if it’s just an electrified magazine. It’s not.

A book or movie once finished, like a magazine, generally remains as it is (let’s put aside “restored text” editions of books and the endless variations of movies once they hit DVD: “Director’s Cut,” “Unrated Version,” “Anniversary Edition with Outtakes,” et al). Tech isn’t like that at all. Tech can be revised through software updates. Bugs can be squashed (some of which a reviewer might not even encounter!), existing functions can be enhanced, and entirely new functions can be added.

But what are tech reviews generally like? Like a review for a book or a movie! Once written, never changed and never updated. As if they had been published in a printed magazine!

That is bullshit. In fact, even moreso than blind fanboy pre-release hype, that’s the biggest bullshit all. Because people will spend their time reading reviews and if they are convinced by what they have read, they will then go spend their money buying the product.

I think that when someone is in the position to convince people to spend their money, that person has a clear duty to their readers. And that’s to keep their review as fresh as possible with as many updates as needed to give their readers all the information possible to make a buying decision.

Don’t start a tech site and then dick around by claiming your writing only reflects your personal use — and then not bother to tell people a product you had touted was actually so bad that you stopped using it but never bothered to let your readers know that! Get the hell out of writing about tech if you’re going to pull that shit. Get out now! Stop misleading people. Be totally honest with your readers all the time or be prepared to look like a coward and a corporate shill and a liar when you’ve been caught contradicting yourself, contradicting your own past record.

When it comes to this blog, I try my best to update even the links. You can click on the YouTube category, for example, and see posts where I’ve had to strikethrough links that are dead because the videos were subjected to a DMCA takedown. Just last week I had to strikethrough a link for a blog because the blog had been deleted. And if you click on the 770 category, you can see that I’ve kept everyone informed about the torment I have experienced from that product. I can’t claim that these updates are done daily. There are nearly 1,400 entries in this blog now, and I can’t go through them all every day. But when it comes to material I have personally written, I will try to edit the original post to add a link to any other post that provides an update (see the original Samsung Q1U Fondle post) and, in extreme cases, strikethrough my own text and provide an update within the post itself. As it is, I try my best to cross-link everything, to provide a history (and to make it easier for search engine spiders). (At some point, I’m going to have to devote a few days to going through every post and cross-linking everything.) And all this is being done using the WordPress web interface tools which, to put it lightly, are not very flexible. Most other sites can’t claim to have to jump through such hoops to keep track of everything — many, many sites are actually dynamic databases and gathering past posts doesn’t require such strenuous effort.

I also really hate writing about tech. I keep forgetting that. You’d think I’d recall my own post at the dawn of this blog!

But those of who who love writing about tech: Get serious or get lost. Get honest or get lost. Treat the Internet as the medium that it is or get lost.

I won’t be linking to any of you any more, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be reading.

And I’ll wail when I see you pulling shit.

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