Swimming with the Razorfishes

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ego

There is an odd sort of person who publicly gets involved with technology, that is, people who make public their choices about personal computers, cell phones, MP3 players, etc... And there seems to be some common, annoying things that many of them do, particularly those who position themselves "against" one or another technology.

  1. The attitude that every product should somehow support every possible standard and format, and those that don't are somehow involved in a conspiracy or illegal behavior. Miguel de Icaza is bent out of shape that the very newest iPods (apparently) have require a new version of iTunes that uses a different music library format that (temporarily) prevents Banshee, a nice Gnome-based media app, from managing the music on an iPod, something it could previously do (in a completely unsupported and brittle reverse-engineered way). I understand why someone might be upset that they can't use an iPod on Linux, but extending, as Miguel did, to a comment on "Apple's anti-competitive practices" is really quite loony.

    Who is affected by this change? Linux users. No, wait, desktop linux users. [Before the hardcore geeks wag a "you're a newbie" finger at me, I should mention that I have a PC that just dual-boots Solaris an Ubuntu. I love me a good Unix OS and like to think that I have big techno-balls to match just about anyone else. But I don't use Linux as a desktop OS. I'm hard pressed to find many who do.] I would guess (and it is just a wild-assed guess) that there are maybe 25,000 people in the US who really use Linux as their desktop OS, not just people who dual-boot to dabble in Linux, and I think that is a generous estimate. Of those people, how many would buy an iPod? One third? One half? Does anyone actually expect Apple to devote a large amount of engineering resources to have access to this handful of potential customers? Believing that, too, seems rather loony.

  2. People who feel the need to publicly proclaim, that because of some feature (or lack thereof) in a bit of software, "I won't be buying one of those!" Miguel linked to Cory Doctrow's screed about the iTunes library format change, in which he closes with a pithy, "I guess my next player won't be an iPod after all." I don't read much of what he writes, but does he publish all of life's little choices this way?

    "I guess I won't be buying Fleischmann's cream cheese anymore!" "I guess my next lightbulb won't be made by GE!"

    It seems to be very similar to a bratty twelve year-old girl turning her back and shouting, "I hate you!" when something doesn't go her way. And I have the same reaction: why the fuck do you think I care?

  3. Related to #2, there are the people that pull some random feature out of their asses and use that to justify why they don't want some techno-toy, or that the product will be a complete failure.

    The new iPods don't do streaming OGG over 802.11n!? No way I want them. It doesn't do 196kHz sampling? No one will buy it.

    I'm not sure why, but this seems to happen particularly often with Apple products. As soon as something gets released, people all over the web explain why no one will buy it.

I find this all very tiring, like reading Slashdot comments.

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