Scouring the Business of Technology

Pet Peeves

Everyone is entitled to its own opinion, and so do writers with regard to their style and viewpoints. As media consumers, we ought to separate the wheat from the chaff. When reading articles, you have to always bear in mind that all humans suffer from the Blind Men and the Elephant syndrome. Each viewpoint sees only an atomic part of reality, and since reality is a dynamic process, each viewpoint is subject to Karl Popper’s criterion of falsifiability (that is, we just infer, not conclude). The problem with writers is that they only portray a very small part of reality (which is a moving target, so to speak) without taking into account its entirety. It’s like saying we have seen the entire picture but in truth, we are just like the blind men mistaking a part for the whole.

But more often, writers have to speak their mind, voicing their intentions and expectations on where reality should go. Unfortunately, writers could only get so far. The gulf between writers’ ideas and reality is so huge that you have to make a systemic view of reality in order to put it in perspective.

Here are some of my pet peeves:

1. the era of the personal computer, from a business perspective, is coming to a close

2. Desktop Linux: The Dream is Dead – reality is long but who cares. Linux is being used by more people than ever! Also, the success of open-source software is so difficult to judge using the same language as its competitors (from TechRadar blog post “Linux is Winning”)

3. The book is dead. Long live the book (by Jeff Jarvis) and The Physical Book is Dead in 5 Years (by Nicholas Negroponte)

With all due respect to the abovementioned authors, I think physical books along with the other media like newspapers, TV and radio are here to stay. They will just complement our digital experience. The problem with categorization is that, reality is complex and locale-specific.

But the message is not lost and it’s crystal clear:

The problems with books are many: They are frozen in time without the means of being updated and corrected. They have no link to related knowledge, debates, and sources. They create, at best, a one-way relationship with a reader. They try to teach readers but don’t teach authors. They tend to be too damned long because they have to be long enough to be books. As David Weinberger taught me, they limit how knowledge can be found because they have to sit on a shelf under one address; there’s only way way to get to it. They are expensive to produce. They depend on scarce shelf space. They depend on blockbuster economics. They can’t afford to serve the real mass of niches. They are subject to gatekeepers’ whims. They aren’t searchable. They aren’t linkable. They have no metadata. They carry no conversation. They are thrown out when there’s no space for them anymore. Print is where words go to die.

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