Expectations

Matt Alexander is the owner and editor of ONE37.net, a writer, a technology enthusiast and a contributing writer for The Loop.

Last week, amidst the furor of competing announcements, Microsoft unveiled its latest innovation in the living room: Smart Glass. Sporting AirPlay-esque functionality, Smart Glass is a platform-agnostic app that is well-placed to further instantiate and solidify Microsoft’s position within the entertainment sphere. For all of the novelty demonstrated by Microsoft, however, an enormous number of journalists have chosen to forego a measured critique of Smart Glass in exchange for short-sighted treatises into the apparent conflict between Apple and Microsoft for the television market.

Even as the Microsoft keynote was still taking place, a cacophony of ignorance began to rain upon the unsuspecting reader. Out of no where, unsubstantiated claims of victory and success for Microsoft seeped from purportedly trustworthy media outlets. Regardless of any degree of success Microsoft may have with Smart Glass, such writing is endlessly disappointing, ignorant, and transparently uninformed. With no public plans for the television market beyond the current iteration of the Apple TV, any argument projecting conflict between Microsoft and Apple is premature at best.

Flimsy rumor and whispers echoing from the ubiquitous “people familiar with the matter” indicate that an Apple television may not be too far away from reality. The shape and form of this assault upon the television market has been subject to distinct and ever-worsening change. Dependent upon the day, rumors flitter between indications of an app-enabled update for the existing Apple TV, a full-blown television model, and any number of further conceptions. At this point, it’s fairly reasonable to assume that Apple has something planned for the television space, but any further speculation is steeped within the bounds of wishful thinking and poorly formed inferences.

Accordingly, the average reader is all-too-frequently bombarded with “news” skimmed from a thinning, festering pile of unsubstantiated rumor, analysis, and definably faulty reasoning. In turn, consumer opinions and expectations are honed and weathered into poorly considered and utterly unrealistic perceptions of the company or product toward which they arrogantly feel entitled to submit demands and pre-emptive feedback.

The problem stemming from this scenario is that the end-user is rendered restless and dissatisfied with virtually any level of innovation and iterative improvement. Laptops and tablets are cast aside due to one “missing” feature despite the fact that the product was never truly destined to boast such a characteristic. Pieces of software are deemed all manner of negative adjectives purely due to the smallest of imperfections as opposed to the grandiose achievement upon which the developers should feel an indefatigable sense of pride.

Such a state of affairs is not new, but that is certainly not to say that the dire misappropriation of rumor cannot be rectified. Some prominent publications pride themselves upon the limited re-distribution of rumor and speculation. Speaking with Federico Viticci of MacStories regarding this topic, he stated:

We re-post rumors only when we feel we can add something to the discussion, or find a pattern in previous speculation and “confirmed” news. Or when we can link to other people who have debunked/explained the rumor already. I also want MacStories to be about quality and facts, not the page views. If that means avoiding rumors 95% of the time, so be it.

Perhaps such a perspective goes somewhat against the current grain in the technology journalism arena, but it’s undoubtedly a welcome exception. Adding to the collective discussion based upon consistent and far-reaching patterns is certainly an acceptable and important endeavor. Conversely, happening upon unsubstantiated rumor and applying it toward the justification of a further conclusion provides for poorly constructed, ill-informed, and contextless logic.

A justified true belief is defined as knowledge. All else is merely a belief, and should not be repackaged otherwise.

Speculating and articulating subjective hopes for the future is an affable, entertaining, and important endeavor. Judging the status quo and intelligently discerning the potential for change and improvement is an exercise in useful creativity, and entertaining discussion. Having said that, the very moment such speculation begins to blur the line between casual discussion and poorly formed rumor is the very moment at which speculation becomes a dangerous agent of misinformation.

In the weeks leading up to WWDC, the incessant nattering of rumor-mongers has grown to a level of truly immense proportions. With every passing day, a new rumor spews forth from a number of rumor sites — each offering artfully cropped images to hide the originating source’s watermarks. Although the rumors are tolerable in and of themselves, the trouble arises when such content is taken as a bridge toward disjointed conclusions. Outside the bounds of logic and reason, speculation is married with rumor, and the result is misleadingly reported as fact.

Next week, Apple will announce a great many things and, as is customary, technology enthusiasts across the world will emit self-entitled gasps of disappointment. Regardless of the most dazzling of improvements, there will be a rumor each individual has dearly held to their chest that has been “forgotten” by Apple. For the crime of an incorrect assumption on the part of the media, Apple will suffer a cascade of scorn and underwhelmed disenchantment.

In the final days leading up to the event — amidst the rising clamor of desperate, ill-informed expectations — it has sadly become too much to ask for a moment of respite. Even knowing that they carry themselves toward disappointment, these onlookers do so willingly and happily — blissfully oblivious to the implications and effects of their disproportioned expectations. Meanwhile, journalists are clattering away at their keyboards fueling the fire, and readying themselves to half-heartedly address the true nature of the competitive landscape when all has been revealed.

We are victims of our own insatiable consumerism, but the situation is woefully exacerbated by the self-entitled cries of the gullible and misinformed. With even the slightest semblance of contextual awareness, unreasonable negativity can be dismantled. Taking the most incidental of moments to pause and consider, the media can refrain from inciting such blind, impassioned ignorance.

Perhaps link bait is a short-term solution for advertising revenue and attention, but I daresay that treating readers with deserved respect is a much better avenue to a sustainable audience.



  • http://twitter.com/Moeskido Moeskido

    If only it was just amateur tech bloggers who were responsible for generating all the noise that drowns out legitimate signal.

  • http://diskgrinder.tumblr.com diskgrinder

    Excellent.

    Very well done

  • http://twitter.com/pfunk725 Angie B

    When the iPad 3 was announced I did not feel the sense amazement as I had with previous product announcements because I had watched the tech blogs dissect every possible feature during the previous months. I have decided not to let that happen again. As hard as it is for me, I skip every rumor that comes across my feed now. I want to be in awe and excited by the WWDC announcements this year!