Saturday, February 16, 2013

The best tech writing you'll read this week just might be an article about wheelbarrows

I may may not always show it but I'm a great fan of technology (it's tough love, but love nonetheless). What I am not a fan of is the way that we discuss technology. Many (maybe most) journalists on this beat are so besotted with the gee-whiz aspects that they have little time to think seriously about why are certain technologies successful, what demands they makes on infrastructure, and how they answer existing needs and create new ones. (Search on 'ddulites' for more on this).

Having journalists report on the subject of their infatuation is generally a bad idea, but in this case the damage goes beyond the inevitable annoying prose. Technology is important and when we can't discuss it intelligently we make bad decisions that end up holding progress back.

Look at Groupon. One of the most exciting and promising areas of research today is the study of social networks, but partly because business reporters did such a poor job covering the subject, this crappy gift-card company was able to convince investors that its creaky business model was 'social.' (and no, requiring minimum orders for a deal to go through wouldn't have qualified even if they hadn't set the threshold meaninglessly low). The money that went to Groupon was diverted from other investments, including businesses that actually used the properties and analyses of social networks in their business plan.

Perhaps it's not surprising that the best thought-out, most clear-eyed popular writing on technology I've seen recently would focus on the least glamorous type of technology imaginable (via DeLong).

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