February 17, 2019

.comment: Without a Parachute - page 2

The Paradox of Inverse Situation

  • February 4, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

It can't have escaped your notice that computing has gotten really weird in a lot of ways. Flaky. And not the adorable flaky that we used to encounter in dandy fringe efforts like Brown Bag Software's Mindreader text editor (which attempted to guess what you were typing and complete the word, not unlike the URL completion stuff we now see which, like Mindreader, also is of no particular use). No, flaky in a different way. Do an experiment: Pick a semi-serious cable television channel -- CNN, CNBC, A&E -- and during an hour's viewing count the number of computer-related advertisements: Hardware, software, online brokerages, things that aren't especially clear as to purpose but that are clearly computer-related, such as that odd Novell ad with the tropical fish and David Bowie. Toothpaste ads that list a website don't count. Even so, you'll find that half the ads or better have to do with computing.

(Computer advertisements have had a long and distinguished history of being too goofy for words. Why it is that computer hardware and software companies hire ad agencies that are allergic to telling people what the product is, what it does, and why you might want to buy it is a mystery. Remember the old Wang ads in which the camera spastically moved all around the room, while the voices spoke in terms practically nobody understood? Those set the standard, and since then companies have paid for the utterly useless broadcast of even more disconnected messages.)

Note, too, that none of the ads have anything to do with Linux. Nor, for the most part, directly with Microsoft, save for their current advertising campaign about the reliability of their server products (which came just as their own Web system got trashed. Microsoft first offered the excuse that Microsoft itself can't figure out its own software; later they admitted that they'd gotten hammered by a DDoS attack). The lack of Linux ads is actually a good sign, I think. It means there's still hope.

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