Four examples of Internet anti-news


I have this theory that the Internet is getting dumber. Or, at least, more spectacularly so, since we now have Web 2.0, and that’s supposed to be better, and more social and stuff.

Maybe it’s sleep deprivation. Or having less and less patience to put up with idiots in general. Or (most likely) maybe I really need to get Bayesian classification working again on my RSS feed intake to filter out the crud and waste less time paging through a quagmire of stupid, pointless “news”.

Basically, what it adds up to is that we now have the equivalent of a global, hysterical little old ladies’ club. You know, like those aging dowagers that loiter around tea shops in their extended book clubs or prayer groups or whatever – the ones that twitter about anything.

Here’s a few examples offhand:

Some fool tries to sell Mac clones. Apple trounces them. End of story.

Prior Art: Going back to the Apple II days. (i.e., not news – I remember NuTek and others from the raging 90s)

Visible Effects: mass hysteria in Mac blogs. Endless speculation about when they’ll get sued, garnished with stupid fanboys ranting about how it’s “all about the integration” and utterly clueless industry pundits harping on about how Apple needs to license Mac OS X to ensure their computer business stays afloat.

Invariable Outcome: They get legally nuked to the ground – or go out of business by themselves. Nothing grows on the scorched patch of ground for seven years. Everyone forgets about it in under a week.

Someone adopts Apple technology at a large organization. Turns out it’s not the largest department. End of story.

Prior Art: Mostly minor footnotes here and there, discarded in the culverts under the information superhighway.

Visible Effects: mass hysteria in Mac blogs (yes, there’s a pattern lurking here). Endless speculation about Cupertino’s strategy for the enterprise, with selective amnesia regarding Apple’s recent phasing out of some enterprise products and their oft-cited inability to provide platform roadmaps large IT purchasing decisions rely upon. After all, who is (ever) going to game their entire hardware inventory on a single supplier? Oh, wait.

Invariable Outcome: Apple fanboys get a new disposable poster child for their evangelization campaigns until someone realizes that there are less than 100 people involved in an organization totalling 386.558 people worldwide. Then the news becomes just another minor footnote somewhere.

Microsoft leaks some internal video, which may or may not suck. It doesn’t matter in the end.

Prior Art: Some were brilliant. Others became history.

Visible Effects: Everyone links to this insanely cheesy production and wonders what the hell they were thinking. Which is OK by itself, until the Vista doomsayers start chiming in and ranting about how XP was way better and how they’re going “start looking at alternatives” or something.

Invariable Outcome: The video will soon be consigned to the bottomless pit of visual sludge that YouTube is turning into and people will keep using XP. Nobody really switches away from Windows – they just like to complain about it (remember how long it took for people to get rid of MS-DOS? it went through eight versions…)

A Linux distribution releases a new version. Clueless zealots say it’s better than Mac OS X.

Prior Art: Slashdot. ‘nuff said.

Visible Effects: Slashdot again. Still, there’s plenty to look forward to in the next few weeks. Here’s a little table of upcoming releases:

Distribution Version Release Date
Ubuntu 8.10 April 24th
Fedora 9 April 29th
OpenSUSE 11 June 19th
Debian ? Whenever it’s ready

In a week or so, there’s going to be mudslinging galore in all the usual places, mostly fueled by people who confuse compiz and (rather unintuitive) eye-candy with usability, plus the usual KDE vs. Gnome debate from the legions of cheapskate armchair geeks who confuse a desktop environment with a whole computer.

Invariable Outcome: People with too much time on their hands1 reinstall their machines three times in three months (four if Debian ever makes another release). 97.98% of people don’t care.

I suppose I could go on and on. But, on the whole, why bother?

1 People still without kids (and hitherto some time on their hands) who want a decent Linux for their laptop might want to check out Fedora (if only because they now acknowledge the existence of mobile broadband) or OpenSUSE (yes, even despite the continued horror that is YaST), if only because Novell builds their enterprise desktop off it and I happen to like their user-centric desktop customizations.