Sep 10, 2012
2 notes

A simpler explanation for The Verge’s HP coverage

Marco:

Big “gadget” blogs depend on maintaining very friendly relationships with the companies whose products they cover so they can continue to get exclusives, interviews, press badges to events, and early access to products.

Gruber:

it’s not about access; it’s about not pissing off the vocal anti-Apple contingent of their readerships.

Topolsky, denying both of these explanations:

We don’t need to mention it in every article, nor will we. Nor is there a rule that we must.

My first reaction was the same as Gruber’s. But if we take Topolsky at his word, that leaves one simple explanation — one which does not call Topolsky’s integrity into question.

The Verge just isn’t very good at tech journalism.

You’ve seen the pictures. To decide not to mention the similarity to the iMac (and the Thunderbolt Display, and the MacBook Air) is to leave out something incredibly relevant to this story. No matter what the reason was, that’s just bad journalism.

I don’t think any of us believe(d) for a second that the people at The Verge are so bad at their jobs. If Topolsky is telling the truth, though, then that’s exactly what they are.

Feb 18, 2012
18 notes

Save the Libraries. Cut University Funding Instead.

So, California is cutting library funding instead of, you know, anything else.

Many of the responses have lumped this together with other cuts to schools and universities. This is incredibly unfair to libraries.

  • Libraries do a much better job of directly serving the poor. Universities, at best, tend to do this indirectly, if at all. Most university students and professors are already middle class or higher.

  • Libraries efficiently provide valuable services to their communities with very little money. Universities, while sometimes performing valuable research, are constantly wasting huge sums of money. Much of this money comes from loading up 17-to-21-year-olds with crippling student loans.

  • Libraries are famously impartial and nonjudgmental, and have no agenda other than to provide equitable access to information to anyone who desires it. Most university departments are rife with ideology and are hostile to conflicting views.

  • Libraries are open and free to everyone. What they do only improves people’s prospects. The primary purpose of universities, granting credentials, is by definition exclusionary. They improve the prospects of a few at the expense of others, by fostering an environment where people are expected to have degrees before they can do anything of value, and erecting unnecessary barriers to individual prosperity.

Yes, university funding has already seen some cuts, but I’d rather see more cuts to universities and fewer cuts to libraries. They’re not the same thing. One of these systems claims to serve the poor, be open to differing viewpoints, and drive greater knowledge and learning for all humankind. The other actually does all of these things.

Feb 8, 2012
1 note

Could the Wall Street Journal (and everyone else) get the same basic fact wrong?


(or: About that “nine-digit” Apple offer for Dropbox … Is tech journalism really this bad?)

Back in October, TechCrunch posted an article with the headline, “Dropbox Said No To A ‘Nine-Digit’ Acquisition Offer From Apple, Steve Jobs”. This was quickly picked up and repeated all over the web by nearly every major tech news site.

Today, the Wall Street Journal has essentially repeated this factoid in “Google Near Launch of Cloud Storage Service”.

TechCrunch started this by quoting a Forbes article on Dropbox by Victoria Barret:

Houston cut Jobs’ pitch short: He was determined to build a big company, he said, and wasn’t selling, no matter the status of the bidder (Houston considered Jobs his hero) or the prospects of a nine-digit price

(emphasis mine)

In a video interview with Barret, Houston says, “We didn’t get into specifics, but he definitely floated the idea [of an acquisition].”

So here’s what I’m wondering:

  1. Did Apple actually make a nine-digit offer for Dropbox? In fact, did they even make an offer of any specific amount? Houston’s video interview makes this very unclear.
  2. Has Drew Houston ever even claimed Jobs made a nine-digit offer? Or did TechCrunch “exaggerate”, based on Forbes’s “prospects of a nine-digit price” line?
  3. After all of the press this received, has Drew Houston cleared this up anywhere? Has Victoria Barret (the Forbes journalist) either confirmed or denied Houston made this claim to her?
  4. Did any other media outlet look into this before running with the story, either confirming Apple made the offer or at least confirming Houston claimed they did? I’m particularly interested in the Wall Street Journal’s perspective on this.

If the now widely accepted fact that Dropbox rejected a nine-digit offer from Apple is actually not true, and everyone from PC Magazine to the Wall Street Journal is just repeating a false TechCrunch headline, then there are a lot of people who ought to be ashamed of themselves.

It’d be nice to get some clarification on this either way. Let’s hope tech journalism really isn’t in such a sad state.

(A bonus question: Today’s WSJ article says Dropbox was founded by “two graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology”. Didn’t Arash Ferdowsi leave before graduating?)

About