This is a follow-up to my post from a few days ago about hardware and software. When I wrote that post, I brought up a contrast between Apple and Google's design philosophies. This just happened to be convenient example, as I could snap screenshots of the two apps for the purpose of illustration. Unfortunately, I realize after reading the post that the point I was trying to make with the comparison was muddled (that's what happens when you try to hammer out a post as quickly as possible), but I've also realized that it was a bad comparison in general. This is because people are crazy.
First, some background: I've been a pretty committed podcast consumer for ~5 years now: I listen to them while jogging, at the gym, doing repetitive benchwork, commuting, etc. I like to have a mix of 'news' casts to stay informed (e.g., NPR) as well as educational casts to learn interesting factoids (e.g., Econtalk, Stuff You Should Know, Caustic Soda). Recently, I've also started listening to a few different 'technology' podcasts focusing on news and reviews of the most recent products in computers, gadgets, and media. I was reccomended a few new casts, specifically Tech News Today and Build and Analyze, so I listened to a couple episodes of each (I'd reccomend the former and eschew the latter, by the way).
I've noticed a common thread among all of the tech podcasts that, when you step back and think about it, is very weird: Almost every time that certain companies or products are brought up in any context, discussion is either preceded or followed by extensive apologies to the listeners for having to bring up said company coupled to defenses against 'bias' and 'selling out'. I'm serious: think of how mind-blowing it is that when a show's hosts discuss a new Android phone, pointing out its relative merits and flaws, they literally have to spend a minute or more apologizing for their opinions and defending them as being based on 'facts' and not because they 'love Apple'. Alternatively, discussion of the new iPad announcement is preceded by an apology to all of the people who 'hate to hear about Apple' as well as the suggestion that they 'scrub forward' a few minutes into the show to get back to the rest of the tech news.
Take 5 seconds to think about what this image means.
Seriously, people are crazy. Admittedly, why they get 'upset' about the products that they don't own is obvious: Investing money into a brand is a reflection of your personal opinion and thus a statement of your 'values' (or whatever). Criticism of the brand that you chose (or, more ludicrously, praise of this brand's competitors) becomes internalized as direct criticism of your own choices and/or values. This is insane. Are we so thin-skinned and criticism-averse that we get upset when someone suggests that what we bought isn't perfect? Is it reasonable to throw tantrums when people simply point out facts1?
Now, I'm not completely unsympathetic to these umm, passions. I can understand the behavior in kids, for example - I certainly fell into the trap myself. This is because purchasing decisions are arguably more permanent among kids who only receive big-ticket items on rare occasions. If I decided to ask for a particular brand of PC for my birthday, only to find out a little later that a much better competitor was released, it's likely that I'm stuck with my decision for some time. Every time some tech podcast host points out how much better the new model is, it may cause me child-self to get 'defensive'.
Therefore, it strikes me that these podcast hosts are essentially wasting time and effort trying to appease 12 year olds2. The alternative possibility, that grown adults are 'losing their s$%t' over comparisons of the number of pixels between two random cellular phones, is too terrifying to contemplate.
1I'm dead serious. You should listen to letters written to tech blogs in response to their listing of sales figures. Clearly, pointing out that iPads outsell Android tablets by some margin is 'bias'.