The Power of the Oppressed…

Okay! Well, I’ve made another new decision about the future of this blog. My original plan to use it as a place for occasional first impressions of stuff I’m playing with? That could probably benefit from a certain amount of modification or refinement. I look at way, way more stuff than I can possibly publish about. I thought it’d be kind of cool to use the blog for some less-formal opinions.

I guess that as an Internationally-Beloved Technology Pundit (Certification pending;. Lots of red tape. I’m told that they still haven’t finished processing Tracy Kidder’s paperwork), the line between an off-the-cuff blog post and a formal review can get a bit blurry.

I stand by what I’ve been saying about MarsEdit and Ecto, of course. And after looking at reader comments as well as the original posts again, I do call everyone’s attention to the places where I explicitly stated that these posts were written with the authority of someone who’s been using the apps for all of 15 minutes. So I don’t think anyone has any particular reason to fly off the handle about what I said.

In any event, I am indeed planning on writing a formal review of both apps in the near future. So believe you me, any points you wish to make about either tool — pro or con — will be read and mucho appreciated.

This has been an interesting demonstration of the advantages of a “real” WordPress blog over my old AppleScript-powered one at YellowText. I’ve been in “beta” mode for so long that I’ve sort of forgotten that people out there are actually reading these things. I still haven’t made a real “announcement” that this new blog exists. Most of the referrals are still from people who were Googling my name or other things.

My old blogging software was my own creation and it didn’t have commenting tools, so I was cut off from user responses to my blog posts. I got plenty of emails, but the blogging community’s culture isn’t based on private emails to authors. It’s in taking part in public discussions with a group.

From 1995 to September of this year, I was blogging in a near- vacuum. YellowText was largely cut off from the rest of the world, too. I’d wired in support for RSS just a couple of months after the first standard was hammered out. No worries there. But I had never bothered to research and code up any connections to the invisible architecture that makes the world aware of what I was posting.

Welp, the almost immediate reaction to my casual posts about offline blogging apps is a pretty resounding demonstration of that infrastructure’s power and importance. Awesome.

This is an ugly little blog and I’m still learning WordPress. I’m happy for it to continue to be ugly while I learn more about theme building. As with YellowText, part of the fun of not hiring people to do the job for you is that you learn a hell of a lot, even if it does mean that you have to eat your own dogfood from time to time.

But to be honest, although I’m damned proud of my homemade blogging software and I’ve enjoyed using WordPress for these past few months, I’ve never been more happy to have made the switch than I am tonight.

(Now buy my books, already. C’mon. I’m so desperate to find a Wii for my niece that I’m this close to buying the $700 Super Package at Wal*Mart. I’m an honest freelance journalist and thus every additional royalty counts.)


“iPhone Fully Loaded” (Andy Ihnatko)


“iPod Fully Loaded: If You’ve Got It, You Can iPod It” (Andy Ihnatko)

6 thoughts on “The Power of the Oppressed…”

  1. Andy,

    The problem with pointing out that you’re writing “with the authority of someone who’s been using the apps for all of 15 minutes,” is pretty simple: most reviews seem to be written by people with 15 minutes or less experience with the apps they review.

    Lots of readers won’t take any special meaning or caveat from that statement because our impression is that most reviews are written in that fashion. it’s like you’re being redundant: “I’m writing an informal review of this app, and I only have 15 minutes experience with it.”

    “Bloggers,” unlike paid journalists (and their ilk) only reivew stuff that is new to them because it’s the experience of newness that motivates them to write.

    So your statement was redundant and repetitive. When we read it, we see only, “I’m writing a review.” But even that is redundant, considering its context.

    Seth

  2. Seth,

    I agree with you, almost completely. Most of us, who use technology of all shapes and sizes every day to earn a living, do take every review with a grain of salt, and ultimately make up our own minds about whether or not to invest in a piece of hardware or software. I think we also tend to have the “first kid on the block” mentality. For those of us who have the know-how or the interest to find Andy’s blog, your comments are right on. (minor digression): I actually think it would be very interesting to see how the readership of this blog grows without Andy publicizing the url.

    Andy – if I had an iPhone, I’d buy your iPhone book. Your discussion of the Kindle on MBW was interesting, but I will most likely not buy one. I think John C. Dvorak put it best when he said “Why do I need to carry around 400 books? I only read one at a time!”

    Happy Holidays!
    Myra

  3. Good heavens. I dearly hope that the standards (or the expectations) for tech journalism haven’t sunk so low that people think an explicitly-labeled collection of quick, initial impressions constitutes a “review.” That’s just foolish.

    Do I really have to come up with a can’t-possibly-misunderstand-it “NOT A REVIEW” badge for these things?

  4. Andy, ya know, I am slowly learning not to take anything, particularly the general public’s naivete, for granted. I’ve been left with my dumbfounded mouth open, shaking my head in disbelief one too many times. I like to think that the intended audience for tech reviews and non-reviews (i.e., first impressions) are savvy enough to know the difference.

  5. “So your statement was redundant and repetitive. When we read it, we see only, “I’m writing a review.” But even that is redundant, considering its context.”

    You know what? The only thing that Andy I can do is write what he thinks is right. How people read it is up to them and largely beyond his control.

  6. Andy, I feel that your knowledge and insight to a new product can be more thorough if your blog readers have the opportunity to help you dig down into the details. You won’t have to agree with what is being challenged, but you can use such a challenge to provide a more robust review. I’m glad you welcome the input.

    I like the new format and plan to visit it regularly. I hope to see the conversations between writer and readers continue.

    Finally, I felt like I was caught in my own “National Treasure” motion picture (absent any of the car chase scenes or trips to Europe) as I attempted to solve the intricate puzzle and uncover the ultimate path to this very secretive website. I think you should announce the URL publicly so that no others have to risk their lives to get here. (by the way, the inscription on the back of Bill Gate’s iPhone was a nice touch .. I had to lock him in a dark abandoned cave for many hours before he even admitted that he had one)

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