We “hardcore Apple guys”

Steven P. Jobs re-emerged into the public eye at the iPod Event on 09 September 09, where he talked first about gratitude, specifically, among other things, about the mid-20-year-old who died in a car crash who was gracious and conscientious enough to have been an organ donor.

You should watch the first 5 minutes at least. He did more than discuss it. He was a class act.

I’m not sure what your definition of a ‘hardcore apple guy’ is, but the hardcore perfectionist engineers, UI folks, VI folks, hardware folks, design folks and everyone else who has what it takes to live as an Apple technical/creative (there’s no real line between the two) both in terms of initiative and talent will keep doing beyond their best every day—or they’ll leave.

And this same thing will continue whether Steve is there or not, just as it did when Steve wasn’t there….and we now know that at least some people at Apple knew that Steve might NOT have been coming back at all.

It’s not Steve’s head cracks open and Apple’s entire product line springs forth like Athena from the head of Zeus. Magical ideas come from whoever they come from at Apple. Smart people shepherd them up and out; honest people give the right people the right credit as they present the ideas to the right people.

Speaking of legend, middle management at Apple is the stuff of it. Not all good. In fact, mostly not. It’s more Kingdom than Business at Apple and there’s no disappointment to be had when the expected sycophants appear and the gashes on the backs of those they crawled over to get where they want to get, reaches exceeding grasps are hidden by the sea of Apple-logo’d T-shirts and hoodies.

Obsequiousness always points up, but management ostensibly is aimed downward. Therein lies.

Was there more to that sentence? Perhaps. Sometimes. Sometimes not. This time I choose not.

Obviously grand ideas get There, where There is usually to Steve, eventually.

Eventually.

There are thousands of incredibly talented people at Apple applying their talents to real world things that interest them and that they believe will be of value to others. I don’t ever recall hearing any single person, in any context, ever mention that the purpose of a product family, product, product version, feature, sub-feature or pixel as being something there for the purpose of making Apple money.

And here’s the secret of Steve as I know it to be, which means it’s no secret at all, and it’s also total bullshit because I’m not Steve and so what the fuck do I know? But it doesn’t seem to stop the punditry, the haters, the pigeonholers, the outsiders, the ununderstanding, the ignorant, the bold, the cowardly, the jealous, the envious, the contrarian from telling the world exactly who Steve is and what he’s thinking.

Worse, they tell me what I am—a cultist or a Mac “fanatic” or “hardcore” or “fanboi”—whatever it takes to label me in hopes of pigeonholing me and reducing me to something they can neatly package up into something harmless and dismissible.

The argument comes down to this for them: if I’m just an irrational git, nothing I have to say is valuable or arguable and by the either-or fallacy logic they themselves are the cool, collected, rational ones who by fiat are superior.

The rest of the world is business and money and economics and Apple is wizardry.

And all along my point was that with Steve and Apple, there’s no magic wand. Go figure.

Then it comes to Apple Life After Steve: I’d never expect anyone on the exec bench at Apple to ever try to replace Steve. That would be stupid, and none of those people are stupid.

Small groups of people are not always committees. Committees rarely accomplish anything.

Small groups of committed people are the ones who change the world.

Steve knows when to get out of the way and when to block the way. That much is obvious to anyone with eyes good enough to see things in original terms and not just according to the patterns that exist in other companies. Apple isn’t just any company.

Tim Cook and Jony Ive and the rest kicked some serious ass when Steve wasn’t there. I’m guessing they each knew first hand when Steve got out of their way and when Steve blocked their way.

It doesn’t take a genius to see any of this nor does it take an Apple insider. It just takes someone who appreciates the tabula rasa.

I just wonder why more people out there don’t see it.

Probably because they’re too busy seeing “how it is”.

And why bother looking if you already know what you’re gonna see?

The Accidental Irony of Mobs

No, I’m not going to bash the “MSM” (Main Stream Media), the TLA that the vituperative Right Wingers like to use as pejorative. Be nice, they think they’re being clever.

The Media aren’t liberal (or even Liberal), they’re whores. Headline whores in print, Click-whores on the intarwebs.

Now, I love Salon.com. It’s one that I visit every day. Sometimes multiple times every day: immediate stuff during the day, and more editorial-type stuff in the evenings (Joan Walsh rocks my world), but no media source, no personal source, no expression of opinion by anyone who’s every lived upon this nutty little rock we call home, is free from error.

Farhad Manjoo is a staff writer, San Franciscan, general gadget and tech geek, and all-around reasonable fellow. He’s more accessible (in topic, in text and, it seems, personally) than one might have any reason to expect, no matter the egalitarian byproduct of the web.

He’s written a book: True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, and being that the book speaks to the same general realm to the same general audience as he column, hell, why not excerpt it and kill two birds with one stone? I don’t blame him for that (in fact, I’m chipping in my humble help in selling his book for him: links galore!).

I do, however, have concerns about a lack of alternate explanations when he speaks about “Apple fanbois” and comments on articles about Apple products. There are plenty of batshit crazy commenters who, like he says in the excerpt/column “Why Apple fans hate tech reporters” look for any reason to stage a nutty. Strangely though, I know no one in real life who reason flies out the window because someone wished Macs came with card slots. Anyhoo, if you’re at all interested in the topic, please go read the article.

I don’t have a problem with him exposing the rabid Apple fans. What I have a problem with is that he never goes any further, never qualifies it with context or percentages or, well anything else; it’s a simple declarative. Now I suppose that he never really claims to be an investigative journalist, but I’d hope he might have a theory-making facility in his head that might go looking for historical and causal elements for what has brought so many Apple fans to that beyond-reason state of mind. He doesn’t even bother to muse about it, implying that rabies befell the Apple fans and they dropped into his world, intact and crazy.

But such knee-jerk behavior doesn’t spontaneously occur. In fact, the most common (I’m guessing) way that people arrive at such straits comes from years and years of having to challenge misinformation, having to abide snarky dismissal, and often, well, having to do the reporter’s job for him/her, only to be thanked by being rounded up into a group that you can easily, snarkily dismiss and then broadcast (from your taller pulpit) misinformation about these “kinds of people”.

Before, during and after my tenure at the Mothership, I find so much misinformation out there that I get all fired up (this stuff affects my professional ecosystem, after all) and get ready to post, only to think twice: I’ll be dismissed as “one of them” no matter how eloquent nor researched nor level-headed I am. And that’s too bad.

But Manjoo gets paid for this shit. He should know better. He works for Salon.com, so in my opinion, his standards should be significantly higher that just anyone’s.

And what’s happening here, at least with the genuine (more on that in a bit) pro-Apple commenters, is the classic minority v. majority pattern, and I can think of a few alternate explanations right off the top of my head:

  • years of published misinformation, being corrected by commenters who get ‘no joy’—nor do they ever see corrections
  • Trolls. Good lord! He doesn’t even mention malicious commenters amping things up.
  • Anti-Apple spoilers posting as “Mac fanbois”, adding to the bad reputation

I wonder if any of these things crossed Manjoo’s mind. I’d like to think it’s ignorance and not malice. Nuance and complexity certainly water down the sensationalism. Meaning less inflamatory headlines, meaning less clicks, meaning fewer opportunities to whore, meaning, well, less pay/interest/reading.

M501-1186-main2-ca.jpg He even comes out and asks, “Why are Mac fans so quick to see bias everywhere?” but he never answers it. Why are generalist tech writers who write about the Mac so quick to see bias everywhere?. Instead he trots out reactions to—get this—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict! Ridiculous. But Mr. Manjoo? I’ll answer your question directly: it all started with “The Macintosh is just a graphical toy” (c.1984) and it hasn’t let up since. Another example: someone gets bent out of shape because Mossberg complained about the iMac not having cardslots? Asked and answered a bazillion times: Steve don’t like seams and aesthetic clutter on surfaces; oh, and how many card types are out there now? The pic to the right is a 64-in-1 card reader. Price? $14.99. Anecdotally, the last card I used was a first-generation iPod shuffle and I used it (shhhh) to boot my Apple TV from when I was hacking around with it. Can’t imagine why anyone would be frustrated to have to answer already-asked-and-answered questions over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Apple fans don’t hate tech reporters, they hate a lack of research by tech reporters. And, they hate Rob Enderle. Hint to the would-be Apple fanbois out there: if you read an article, STOP reading if you see Enderle as a quoted source. Do it for the children.

Which sucks less? A fervent fan who defends his likes, a spoiler who only knows how to play the spoiler, or a reporter who doesn’t know the difference and doesn’t bother to learn?