I get why everyone is suddenly so taken with technology. I’ve been in this business for a long time and it’s always fascinated me. It’s addictive and sort of fun. It’s also a ginormous time sink and money pit. But then, wasting time and money is what we do these days, so, in a weird way, that sort of makes sense.
Anyway, I get all that. What I don’t get is everyone’s obsession with tech media. It’s one thing if you’re an industry insider but the fan-boy frenzy is off the charts.
Popular tech sites are to fan-boys like tabloids are to star-struck stalkers of the Kardashians and Lady Gaga. But somehow, I just can’t picture swarms of groupies and Paparazzi stalking geeks like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. That just creeps me out.
I never thought I’d see the day that Silicon Valley, land of high-tech innovation, went commercial. The Valley used to be a special place. Now a billion people think it’s their place. And they’ve got an insatiable appetite for content that makes them feel like they’re part of the geek elite – the in crowd. And the popular tech media is all too happy to oblige.
Take Gizmodo, for example. When they got their hands on an iPhone 4 prototype disguised as an iPhone 3GS that a drunk Apple software engineer left on a barstool in a Redwood City beer garden, that was certainly a scoop, even if they did pay five grand for it. But that was two years ago. What have they done lately?
Today, the site whose tag is Everything Is Technology features mind-bending articles like This Is the Most Beautiful View of Poop You’re Ever Going to See and A Wedding Ring Spins More Like a Boomerang Than a Coin. And who could possibly get through life without learning The Best Way to Tie Your Shoes?
What I found really annoying, however, is an article that pokes fun of the technology portrayed in Scorpion, a pretty cool TV show where a team of geniuses and a token babe use ingenious hacks to solve national security crises. It’s sort of a cross between MacGyver and Mission Impossible.
The post panders to an audience of geek wannabes by picking apart the show’s plots and technology hacks as if it’s somehow meant to be hard science instead of an hour of entertaining drama.
It’s as if the Food Network’s Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay catered to the foodie crowd by sarcastically ridiculing people who can’t toast bread instead of teaching us how to prepare savory recipes.
I guess the very idea that someone might subscribe to the notion of suspension of disbelief in fiction, enjoy the interplay between the show’s eccentric characters, or seek entertainment in a TV show instead of analyzing the efficacy of making an EMP out of microwave ovens is just so pedestrian, at least to Gizmodo.
Last time I checked the post had 175 snarky comments along the lines of “Make sure not to format the IP address for your mouse or your NTFS tables will have to park their heads on your SCSI” and “Who’s watching this besides people who get paid to watch it and write about it,” to which the writer replied, “Everybody is watching! I blame Big Bang Theory, which helped create the genre of nerd shows for people who hate nerds.
Well, I’ve got two messages for Gizmodo.
First, I’m a former engineer who, unlike elitist English majors from UC Berkeley, actually spent his career working with real entrepreneurs and innovators making real products in the real high-tech industry. And not only am I a nerd who likes nerds, I also enjoy shows like Scorpion, The Big Bang Theory, and yes, even Marvel’s Agents of Shield. Horrors.
Second, if this is how Gizmodo and the other popular media clones intend to distinguish themselves when legitimate journalists from The Journal, The Times, Bloomberg, re/code, CNET, and every other media outlet is converging on tech in a big way, I think they’re in for a rude awakening.
Look, entertainment is one thing, but try not to get too swept up in the tech hype like all the wannabe geeks and fan-boys in the social media crowd. They’re pretentious and annoying. Besides, you’ll never get back all the time you waste on that nonsense.
(Photo credit: Robert Voets/CBS)