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Preview: Comments on: Top 10 Technologies That Suck (And/Or That Suck At Explaining Themselves)

Comments on: * Top 10 Technologies That Suck (And/Or That Suck At Explaining Themselves)

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By: SC

Tue, 25 Oct 2011 03:58:52 +0000

I'll go one step further - MOST all of the technology we use on a day-to-day basis SUCKS. I've been steeped in this tripe for 20+ years now (yes, as an occupation, on several different levels), and have grown to despise it for what it does to humanity, and for how far it has disconnected us from the *real*, finite, non-digital realm. And to despise it for how incredibly transparently (at least to some of us) we have become so entirely addicted to it. I could go into further dissertation on this subject, but it is always pointless to try to point out these shortcomings to the masses that have so blindly enslaved themselves to their silicon "captors". I'm no luddite, but am beginning to see more and more value in being, or becoming, one. Someday, soon, many of you will realize exactly where I am coming from, and what I am feeling. Never mind the fact that some Stuxnet-type attack on 'net backbone/infrastructure hardware/software will probably make you realize it even before you would have realized on your own. Good day. SC

By: Ed Kohler

Mon, 20 Mar 2006 18:51:09 +0000

Looking past the privacy issues and storage advantages of Gmail, the real differentiator is the auto-grouping of emails as conversations. Of course, this is harder to explain than "we give you a lot of storage" so it won't get much press. I couldn't believe how hard they made it to delete emails when it first went live. It was more than a year before they added a delete button rather than forcing people to use a drop-down menu to delete emails.

By: Brian

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 06:23:51 +0000

This has turned into a great thread--thanks! One more thought on podcasts: I dare you to browse through IT Conversations and not find something that interests you.

By: Dave!

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 20:07:46 +0000

1. Gmail Definitely over-rated. But useful in the same way that YahooMail or any other free mail is useful. I can use the address to post to public forums and keep my work/personal e-mail relatively spam free. 2. Bluetooth My phone headset is useful. But sure, in general, it's an over-hyped technology. 3. FeedBurner I think FeedBurner does ad some value to feeds. However, I think in the end they won't matter because there is nothing they do that someone else can't do. They have "market share" because they were first to market. Good, for now... 4. D.e.l.c.i.o.u.s If your bookmarks are a trade secret, I hope you're doing a lot more than just not using to keep them under wraps. That said, I *love* and use the hell out of it. Not only does it make it very easy for me to keep track of sites with useful information, by subscribing to feeds of people in my industry, I get *very* useful information before I see it in other sources. Frankly, I think can be a really fantastic tool for gaining new information--in the right industry. Maybe not for law, but for technology, it rocks. 5. BlackBerry Never had one, don't want one. 6. Flickr Well, first, you can make photos private on Flickr, so only people you designate as Friends/Family can see them. It's a very nice way to share with distant friends and family, because they can see them, comment in one easy location so that other friend/family can see what they thought, or even order prints for themselves. If you want to keep your snapshots to yourself, that's cool... but Flickr does ad real value to photos for a lot of people. You don't have to be an exhibitionist to get value out of it, on the contrary. 7. LinkedIn Agreed. I think this is actually a pretty annoying "service". 8. Podcasting Well, most "podcasts" are worthless. But commercial "podcasts" (using the term loosely) are pretty valuable. It's how I get to listen to fantastic NPR shows that I otherwise wouldn't get to hear because I don't own a radio outside of my car. 9. Desktop Linux Agreed. Great on the server. On the desktop, I'll take OSX. 10. TiVo Yes, television is really that good. At least some of it is... but most if it that *is* actually good isn't on at a time when I'm near a TV. Which is exactly why Tivo matters. (Again, Tivo in the generic--I know trademark attorneys are cringing at that one--sense of the word.) And you're wrong: my wife and I watch American Idol after it has aired, when we get home from class and work. The voting lines are still open and bonus, we can fast forward not only through ads, but through horrible performances as well.

By: Rick Klau

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 15:33:04 +0000

I can't say I disagree with your conclusions in #3 and #4... But surely you'd cede that there's a time and a place to explain/evangelize to the mass market? It seems to me that FeedBurner's not yet at that point - with RSS still in an early adopter phase (where it will remain until IE 7 ships and Microsoft Vista is released later this year), we're still talking to an early adopter crowd. People who don't blog, do a podcast, or produce a commercial publication don't need FeedBurner. And if they don't fit into one of those categories, they don't really need to understand what we do - we're simply of no concern to them. Not surprisingly, I tend to disagree with some of your other takes. That flickr isn't right for your individual photo sharing needs doesn't obviate the benefit it brings to groups. The ways delicious can be used to collaboratively share and describe content make it a tremendously powerful tool for communities to share information. You saw my comments on TiVo - it remains the single best UI of any electronics device I've ever seen, and it's more significantly affected our day-to-day activities than any computer ever has. (And the secret? It doesn't help you watch more tv, it helps you watch less... A 1 hour show is now 40 minutes long. And instead of being constrained by what's on *now*, I can watch what I want, from a buffet of shows that I've decided I like. It's a much better use of my/our time.) I could care less that their website doesn't do a good job explaining how it works - after 15 minutes of having a TiVo, you fundamentally change how you think about TV. It makes my TV usable. MythTV? Give me a break. I'm supposed to devote a stand-alone PC to downloading, installing and configuring Linux, then a specialized app, then configuring the hardware? NFW. It's like saying that you shouldn't fly commercial because you can build your own hobby plane. I think you've let your general distaste for marketing (you do, after all, have little tolerance for marketers who approach their roles differently than you would) cloud your ability to judge a technology on the merits; poor marketing does not equal poor product. (Though the inverse is almost certainly true - better marketing *would* equal better products, in that more people would understand how to use them.) But you didn't focus on how to improve them, you focused on explaining why their marketing shortcomings meant that the products/services themselves were lacking... And I don't buy that premise. --Rick

By: Erik J. Heels

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 15:04:07 +0000

Greetings Rick, You should write the marketing for TiVo et al. You do a much better job of explaining it than they do. I may give some of these technologies a second try. I am actually quite willing to be sold. I just don't have a lot of patience for bad marketing or bad selling. I just gave a telemarketer a chance to sell me on attending a conference. I asked, "Why should I, a patent attorney, care about this conference?" The salesman was unable to answer the question. If you a pitching a product/service, you should always be able to tell your target audience why the product/service matters. Just for fun, I have rewritten FeedBurner's 100-word elevator pitch by translating it to Japanese and then back to English with Babel Fish (
"FeedBurner helps bloggers and podcasters, the commercial publisher obtains many values from the contents which are drawn up. It conveys the subscription service for the publisher to whom our high-level supply management engineering deftly is large, is small and therefore you raise the range, it measures the audience, monetize is possible contents. Being established in 2003, FeedBurner makes that reaches to the contractor of 190 countries due to many where the publisher crosses the earth of some 1,000,000 possible. And that is many people. We are the closed company which is placed on the headquarters in the city where Chicago the wind is very strong."
Regards, Erik

By: Erik J. Heels

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 13:47:03 +0000

In response to this piece, Rick posted a reply about why FeedBurner matters on his weblog ( I think that the key to the future of these technologies is how well they are able to communicate to the masses. Check back in five years - heck, two years - to see if these companies still exist and/or are still relevant (or still employing Rick). Those that succeed will have been able to communicate more clearly to the masses. The following is a summary of what I emailed to Rick this morning. I think that writing about stuff can help us figure out what we're really talking about. See my friend Brian's comments (and my reply to his). My basic complaint with most of these sites is that: (1) they may, in fact, be cool, or they may be full of fluff and/or security/privacy issues; (2) geeks may get it; (3) to matter long-term, you have to explain it - and make it matter - to your mother and grandmother; (4) few do #3 well now; and (5) it may be that some, in fact, do matter, but it's hard to tell the difference between fluff and substance when the marcom is so bad. In fact, a Linux list that I am on recently had an extended thread about why RSS/Atom matters, which is not at all obvious, even to my techie friends. I should note that, in that thread, I was (and remain) a proponent and defender of RSS/Atom. I also predicted that Atom would prevail over RSS because it has a cooler name. For discussion. If [fill in name of company you dislike here] bought [fill in name of company listed on my top 10 list above], how would you feel?

By: Rick Klau

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 06:01:08 +0000

When this post is done on SNL, I want Dana Carvey playing you, banging his fist on the table and saying, "In my day..." :) You say you're closer to the tech... but I wonder if that's really true? Have you played with MySpace? Youtube? I can't figure MySpace out for the life of me, it has zero interest to me. I'm definitely not in their target market, that's for sure - but I bring it up because they're now among the most visited sites on the Internet. I think you and I are closer to certain aspects of the technology, but Brian's right when he says that our kids will experience the tech in ways that we can't fathom. When we travel, the kids get annoyed when the hotel TVs don't have a pause, rewind or 'now playing' button like our TiVos at home do. And sharing pictures and videos? You and I have a fundamentally different notion of 'privacy' than the generation growing up with camera/video phones and flickr (or Youtube, or any of the other similar sites). I can't even begin to predict how that plays out. I'm with Brian, though. Bluetooth blows.

By: Brian

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 05:23:07 +0000

I know what you mean, Erik. Your car guy can't look at a passing car without visualizing how it's put together, just like T (who is a talented musician) automatically deconstructs music as she's listening to it. It does take some of the fun out of it for her, I think. I didn't understand before that your main point was the failure of these companies to explain their value to you--I know what you mean, there., anyway, existed for years before the marketing slogans were half-heartedly slapped on the front page. As for not needing anything more than your blog to discover new sites--you must have a much smaller appetite than I do. 8^) Seriously, the main difference between your private bookmark collection and is the social aspect. I subscribe to the linkstreams of about 20 individuals just to see the cool things they find, bookmark, and implicitly recommend. I consider linklogging to be the primal Ur-blogging, a form that we still practice today with the scumpa Cool List. As Structured Data Guy, I prefer to share my links in XML these days instead of concatenated emails, so to me isn't really a web app--it's a database with an API that I can use however I like.