Daily Archives: November 17, 2007

Idiocy and blogging

Dave Winer wrote me a nice compliment today.

“The other day at lunch I was telling the Uncov guys that despite what they may think, Scoble really is brilliant, read this piece, I feel completely vindicated (though sometimes I read his stuff and shake my head in disbelief at how he could be so wrong).”

Oh, that brings up something I’ve been thinking about for a while:

If you aren’t willing to look like an idiot in public (or, even, prove that you ARE one) you won’t be a really great blogger.

Lately I’ve found that I’ve started worrying about LOOKING like an idiot to all of you and it’s stilted my writing. I started worrying about getting a better “rank” (whatever the heck THAT means). And all the hubris-filled-bullpucky that goes along with this stuff.

If you asked me whether I wanted to be invited to an Apple or Google press conference I’d drool on the floor and say “yes, yes, yes.” Now that I’ve been? I really can’t understand why I thought that at one point. It was a major flaw in my thinking.

But I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately. Who are the guys who I’d rather hang out with?

People who prove they are human.

Human beings make mistakes.

Human beings aren’t always smart. Even the smartest ones. Remember Douglas Engelbart, the guy who invented the mouse and many of the concepts you’re using today to read my blog? He got kicked out of the research industry in the 1970s cause he was weird. He wasn’t afraid of telling you what he thought the world would one day look like.

Anyway, back to being human. The best baseball players only hit the ball 33% of the time. And that’s the BEST ones.

So, excuse me if I sound like an idiot a lot of the time. Just hit “J” on your Google Reader and move along to a smarter post.

And if you’re expecting me to be smart here you’ll be sorely disappointed. I’d recommend reading my link blog instead. Why? That’s where I put all the smart stuff.

In the meantime, if you worry about looking like an idiot you’ll never take risks and you’ll never explore yourself. More idiocy ahead! :-)

Google makes moves to protect organic relevancy

TechCrunch is reporting on Google’s moves to protect organic relevancy in its search results. Good for Google.

I’ve gotten attacked by PayPerPosters who don’t understand the difference between sponsorship and paid editorial and Google gaming.

Personally, as long as bloggers disclose ON THE POST that they are getting paid I don’t have a problem with these schemes. Back when I was saying PayPerPost was bad they weren’t requiring disclosure ON THE POST itself. If they do now then I’m OK with it.

Most of my reading now is in a RSS reader. So if the disclosure isn’t PER POST, as in “this post is sponsored by…” then I can’t know, as a reader, that that post is paid for by an advertiser. That’s evil, in my book.

On the other hand I’d rather Google be a bit more granular than just penalizing the entire blog. They should just penalize the posts that are paid for. But it’s hard to do that.

Bloggers beware. If you just write great content and put the ads around the content like everyone else does you won’t be messing with Google and Google won’t mess with you.

UPDATE: Kevin Burton, who runs the site TailRank which tracks millions of blogs, points out that PayPerPost never forced disclosure by its members. That’s why this company has no moral high ground to claim. Go Google Go.

The brand promise of Apple

This is an Apple ad:

Done by Apple. More on that later.

So, last night I was out to dinner with a bunch of smart people. Folks who run their own companies. Folks who have helped many companies get started. Tech companies.

Of course people started talking about my Apple problems. Everyone at the table is a Macintosh user. What was fun is that at one point people started telling me about the problems they have had with their Macs. Many with far more serious problems than I have had.

I tried to turn on my video camera. They all instantly shut up and said “no video.”

Why not?

I dug a little more. It was because they all blamed themselves for the problems of their Macs and I think they also bought into the “Apple cult” which says that if you use a Mac you must be cool. Heck, look at that ad again. Who is cool? Not the PC user.

Now THAT is “brand promise.”

We believe Apple’s marketing so deeply that we aren’t willing to question it.

And then there’s something else. Apple has an ARMY of people who are anonymous who will come and call you every name in the book. I know. They hit yesterday here. I deleted them all, but, dozens, if not hundreds, of comments calling me every name in the book.

They hit over on Andy Beal’s site too. He got tired and just closed the comment thread over there.

The common thing about most of these comments is that it’s MY FAULT that my Apple machine is having trouble.

See, on my Windows machine I’m willing to accept this. After all, I know that Microsoft can’t really test every combination of hardware out there. My Windows machines can take dozens, if not hundreds, of different video cards, sound cards, hard drives, memory configurations, etc. The thing is on my Mac I didn’t load any third-party RAM — Apple’s brand promise is that you never will need to open your box to customize it. Heck, the iPhone goes further. You CAN’T customize it and if you try you have to “break” into it. I’ve never opened the box, or tried to do some weird stuff. I’m even pretty protective about what I load on this system. Why? Cause my world has moved to the Internet and browser-based apps. No need to install tons of software like I used to on my Windows boxes.

I watch that video over and over again and I get really pissed.

Pissed enough to say “screw you Apple” all over again.

Some of you (hi Fake Steve Jobs) misunderstood my point about Apple PR’s not wanting to give me free or loaner hardware. See, I know Apple sends free or loaner hardware to certain journalists. But only those it deems “important.” Steven Levy. Walt Mossberg. Those types. They got iPhones two weeks before those of us who were “unimportant” could BUY them in the stores.

The point isn’t that I want free (er loaned) hardware. It’s that Apple uses that free hardware to MANUFACTURE the “myth” of Apple as being great, and good, and “cool.” Also, if these guys want to get more free or loaner Apple hardware before the rest of us they need to make sure not to point out too many flaws in it. Yeah, they can point out a few, but they know they got picked because they generally write pro-Apple stuff. It’s a reason why I don’t want free stuff and why I waited in line to be among the first in the Valley to have my own iPhone.

Again. Brand promise of Apple. Only those who will give Apple a fair shake will get the goods. When Fake Steve Jobs says I’ll never get invited to another Apple press conference again he isn’t too far from the truth! Retribution is a bitch.

UPDATE: That’s not totally fair on my part. I know these journalists will report when they are sent something that doesn’t do what it promises. I need to correct this post. The journalists don’t get free products that they get to keep (most of the times). They do send them back. I’m sorry to the journalists who I made this point about. Walt Mossberg has an ethics statement where he talks about this.

UPDATE 2: Ryan Block, who writes for Engadget, has a good set of replies to my claims above.

It’s the brand promise of Apple. You will have to BUY your Apple after those “famous journalists” get to use one for free for two weeks and you vil like it. Oh, and you’ll beg to be let into a Steve Jobs keynote because you vil want to sit at the feet of Jobs and drool on the floor like the idiot blogger you are.

Just remember the brand promise of Apple, OK?

1. If your machine behaves badly it’s your fault.
2. Any idiot can use an Apple machine (that’s what they tell you before you buy one) but if your machine crashes then you must be a “genius” to fix it (they have bars at stores now where you can “borrow” a genius, but only after waiting in line — my son twice has been turned away from genius bars because they were too busy and was told to “come back tomorrow at 10 a.m.”). Oh, and if you are having problems at 10 p.m., and dare tell people on your blog about your problems you’ll get tons of abuse back “how DARE you be an Apple user and not know you needed to flash your PRAM.” Translation: any idiot can use a Mac, but not really.
3. If you dare complain about the brand promise you’ll get pounced on by hoardes of annonymous astroturfing Apple FanBois.
4. If you don’t get the brand promise of Apple don’t attempt to point out that the ads are ridiculous. Instead, just leave the cult and go back to using that “inferior” machine you used to use.
5. Check out my new Mac, with its cool brushed metal surface and the light-up Apple logo.
6. If you use an Apple machine you will be as cool as Kevin Rose.

Baratunde has it right when he says “I hate the smugness of Apple.”

Oh, and to the guy who says I’m a Microsoft shill. You better check your facts there. Over the past year I’ve spent more than $10,000 on Apple products of MY OWN MONEY and if you include the machines I’ve bought for PodTech, I’ve spent more than $20,000. Not to mention my son and I spent two days in line waiting for our iPhones. Now if THAT is what you call “shilling for Microsoft” I wonder what “shilling for Apple would look like?”

I guess I just am not cool enough to like my Mac. I’m back on my Sony Vaio, which has never crashed the way my Mac did the other night. It also never has needed to have its memory and graphics controller replaced the way my Mac did. And its USB ports work, unlike those on my son’s computer. But it decidedly isn’t cool.

It doesn’t come with the brand promise of Apple.

Oh, and back to that ad at the top of my blog? Have you ever met the PR guy for Microsoft? That’s Frank Shaw. A really nice guy. He even has a blog (idiot! — Apple hires all the “cool” PR people and they never will do a blog) Who does PR for Apple? Katie Cotton. She’s a LOT closer to the PR lady in that video above, which is TOTALLY ironic — watch this video again and compare to the ad above. Brilliant marketing.