I like to believe that nerds are normal, adjusted people. After all, I am one.
Sadly, the evidence does not support my beliefs. That evidence being the technology journalism and punditry—the natural reading sources for nerds—occurring on the Internet day in and day out. I’m going out on a limb here to guess that the writing is like it is since that’s what drives page views and page views pay for donuts and the circle of life continues. So both readers and writers must get something out of it.
What’s so wrong about it, then? Well, it seems that nerds are unable to comprehend the idea that there’s not really a right and wrong way for everything. There are different ways, and those ways all have advantages and disadvantages, and different gadgets, software, and so on will appeal to different people in different ways. So it is possible for several products to inhabit the same perch on the tree of life and appeal to different audiences. At the same time. Without a kung-fu death match.
If all you read are tech blogs and magazines, the preceding graph is just a hippie loser pipe dream. All products must kill all other products, and there can only ever be one product which is the One True Product. It stands, one hand on its fist and the other grasping a smoking M-16, as it glares steely-eyed at the wasteland of death and carnage it has wrought on the other, less perfect, products.
Or something like that. Anyway, there can only be One True Product. I first heard this idea called The Highlander Fallacy on the Angry Mac Bastards podcast1, and that encapsulates the reasoning—”there can only be one.”
For a prime example, google “iphone killer” and prepare to be depressed.
To make the highlander idiocy clearer, transfer it to another field. Let’s say, cars. When Volvo released the XC70, how many car journalists slobbered all over themselves about how it was The Subaru Outback Killer?
That would be none. Why? Because it’s ridiculous to believe that one product can satisfy an entire market. Read that again. It’s insanity to believe that any one product can satisfy everybody who is in the market for a particular sort of product. People are different. People like different things. People value different things. What gets your balloon all engorged doesn’t do a thing for another person. That’s called being an individual.
I don’t know why it crops up all the time, but since I have a blog and am a nerd, I have theories. The most depressing theory is that nerds like systems with rules, systems with an objective reality. You’re smart, you’ve looked into the issue, you’ve reached a conclusion. Boom! Anybody who reaches a different conclusion is wrong.
Another and certainly not orthogonal theory is that nerds are psychologically stunted sad cases who never evolved beyond the moralities of fifth grade. One must win!
Another theory, and again not orthogonal, is that nerds seriously need to find some outlet for their tensions2. If you find yourselves typing a frothing-at-the-mouth screed about a product you have never used and have no intention of ever using, you might have a problem.
Perhaps these theories are all wrong. Perhaps it’s something completely different. But whatever it is, we need to find and correct the root cause so we can have some relief from the stupid crap that fills tech websites.
So I implore you, whether you write on your little bloggy-blog like I do or you write for the freaking Wall Street Journal, at least try to never write an article about how product X is a product Y killer. It makes you look like an idiot.
A lazy idiot.
Posted Friday, 03 September, 2010 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.