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Horseshit - Joshua Topolsky responds to MG & Gruber (theverge.com)
241 points by divy on Dec 15, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 164 comments

As I once wrote here, Gruber and MG are not columnists or even pundits. They are simply Apple evangelists. They preach a faith-based approach to Apple's superiority where no amount of evidence can sway them.

Josh's description is dead accurate, but those of us who have been paying attention have known this for a long time.


Let me point you to the Pyramid of Refutation. http://i.imgur.com/QhGkT.jpg

Most arguments that I read that argue against Gruber and MG's point of view resort to either ad hominem or respond to tone.

Calling Gruber and MG Apple evangelists does not refute their central point.

I like Joshua Topolsky and The Verge a lot. I think they produce the best reviews in the business. Their audio and video casts are funny and informative. JT is probably the most informed Android reviewer. He's probably the most informed gadget reviewer.

JT: "It doesn't get under my skin because I fundamentally disagree that Android 4.0 lacks the polish of iOS."

JT: "I don't disagree with Gruber and MG. The iPhone is an amazing device. ... Not seeing it is not the issue — the issue is not being able to see it any other way."

JT's argument is that these are not verifiable facts we are discussing. We are discussing opinions. But he also states that Android is polished.

We would all be better off if he wrote an article titled "Android Is Polished" and listed the polish point for point.

Calling Gruber and MG Apple evangelists does not refute their central point.

What's Gruber's central point? To quote Gruber: "You either see it or you don't."

How do you refute that? His central point is that you can't attack my central point, because you can't see it. His central point is that you can't see god, because you don't have enough faith. It's not falsifiable.

Give me falsifiable metrics that could, at least in theory, be refuted and I'd be happy to look at them. But you can't trot out the pyramid of refutation when they've made your central point vacuous.

"It's not right. It's not even wrong." - Wolfgang Pauli[1]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

But the thing is this post doesn't have anything to do about whether Android is polished or not. It's a direct attack at the general posturing of Gruber and MG. And I see nothing wrong with that as it is clearly stated, and Joshua's reviews have made it clear where the phones shine and where they do not.

    Let me point you to the Pyramid of Refutation. http://i.imgur.com/QhGkT.jpg
Nice, that is going on the projector for the teenagers when we go back to teaching.

I read his article less as a refutation than as a "get off my side!" argument. He seems to fundamentally agree with Gruber and MG but fundamentally disagree with their presentation of the argument. This is similar to how many of my friends and family members believe homosexuality to be immoral but believe picketing the funerals of gay people with offensive signs is awful. The Pyramid of Refutation (which is new to me and awesome, by the way) doesn't apply because the goal is not to refute.

Wouldn't that be the "responding to the tone" part, 3rd from the bottom? That's not very high up!

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3296691 offers an easy example of misleading information that is wholly true. It's not quite the same situation, of course, but it's a similarly difficult point of view to dissect. ("He's only telling you things that will make you want to support (the Cold War|Apple).")

I like how you link to a post demonstrating your (presumably) "reason based" approach so well that pg had to moderate that discussion (full disclosure: I was part of this).

Let's be honest about the "faith based" HN approach to declaring Gruber is an evangelist. You just say it, without any evidence or argument and then voila, yousuck up a ton of karma from like minded people.

People who doubt me go search daring fireball threads on HN, it happens almost verbatim in every single one.

Gruber over the last few years has linked to scores if not hundreds of articles documenting the small ways iOS is more polished. He also frequently links to things that could improve iOS, many of which are in other OS's including Android. Reasonable people might describe that as evidence not faith.

Disagree with him? Maybe start your own blog and list scores or hundreds of counterexamples. Surely with all the Android enthusiasts there's many of these already?

Say why he's wrong, don't just spout your conclusion.

I take issue with that tactic. "Show me the evidence!" is a worthy battle-cry, and I certainly don't take issue with those who use it, but it's not always applicable in all cases. DF articles are regularly posted on HN, and regularly make the front page. Many of us who read them have noticed a systemic bias in Gruber's writing, such that most everything Apple does is terrific and most everything their competitors do is terrible, or at least not good enough to measure up to Apple. Sure, he gives reasons and arguments, but they're always one-sided. These aren't really the kinds of conclusions one can give evidence for, beyond "read what he writes". Certainly, reasonable people might come away from his articles disagreeing with those of us who think his bias is growing more extreme, and that's fine. It's not, however, useful to say that we're wrong because we "have no evidence". We have the same evidence you do, and we interpret it differently.

Put simply, whenever I see a link to daring fireball on HN, I can say with ~ 2σ confidence that it will a) be about Apple or one of its competitors, b) argue that, whatever the issue, Apple Does It Better, and c) have its arguments picked apart in the comments. This has been such a long term trend that it has become thoroughly predictable.

That's fine, and Gruber's entitled to write whatever he wants about whatever he wants. That doesn't stop us from labeling him an Apple evangelist, and it doesn't mean we're wrong to do so.

> Put simply, whenever I see a link to daring fireball on HN, I can say with ~ 2σ confidence that it will a) be about Apple or one of its competitors, b) argue that, whatever the issue, Apple Does It Better, and c) have its arguments picked apart in the comments. This has been such a long term trend that it has become thoroughly predictable.

This is not the fault of Gruber. It's a result of the selection bias applied by Hacker News as a whole. If you read Daring Fireball regularly, and not just the excerpts that make it to HN, you'll see that he frequently chastises Apple for what he believes are missteps. Here's a recent example:

You can't hold the guy responsible for the fact that only a certain subset of his articles ever makes it to the front page of HN.

Coincidentally whenever I research Mongol battles from the 13th Century the Mongols are kicking ass. I need some less biased history books.

Android devices are kicking ass and increasing marketshare percentage every month, whereas Apple is mostly stagnant or growing slowly as a percentage of smartphone sales.

Sure you can pull out some metric like "profit derived"(by which Windows Server totally rules the server space over Linux), but ultimately all the predictions by partisan pundits like "Let the iPhone get on Verizon and see Android stagnate completely" have been proven to be partisan BS.

Android devices are kicking ass against dumbphones, RIM, Nokia, old Windows Mobile and new WP 7. It's winning battles Apple isn't even in for the most part.

Where Apple competes, this is what you find:

(1) Almost everywhere the iPhone is on sale it's #1 (and where available probably #2... and when the new numbers come out will it surprise you if it's also #3 where available?).

(2) the iPad is #1 (in a smaller category) by a mile.

(3) the iPod Touch is #1 (in a much smaller category) by a mile.

"Let the iPhone get on Verizon and see Android stagnate completely"

Who are you quoting?


I’m not saying Android is going to be “killed”, or that it will be reduced to a miniscule installed base. Neither are remotely likely.

But I think over the next few quarters, it’s going to become far less relevant.

This is a common response, attacking the people who write nice things about Apple as "evangelists" rather than refuting their specific arguments. Perhaps they write nice things about Apple because Apple have been making really great products for a few years now. And if you actually read them you'll know that they do criticise Apple when they don't perform or do bad things.

A lot of people write nice things about Apple (I even think they've executed exceptionally well with great products). Walt Mossberg, for example (even Josh Topolsky is generally 90% positive on Apple -- but also likes Android). But there are many evangelists who write almost exclusively positive things about Apple and furthermore attack things that threaten Apple.

These evangelists maybe cordial to WP or WebOS, because they're no threat, but ICS -- they'll save their best faith-based sermons for it.

I dont think its because they think it threatens Apple (let's be honest, Apple is going from strength to strength).

I think it's because they've been making this same criticism since Android first came out, and its UI is still laggy and stutters. It's starting to look like that is just a permanent feature of Android, rather than something which should be fixed "soon".

All their criticism boils down to this one thing: that Android doesn't have the same level of quality when it comes to UI interaction. They readily say nice things about the features, but the interaction model is still broken, and they keep pointing it out because its important to them. Its important to lots of people, and thats probably why the iphone is selling so well.

Its obviously not important to people who prefer android, and thats fine. But since its not important to them they don't understand the criticism and ascribe people's love of the iphone to "faith" and "evangelism".

I think that's unfair. While WP7 obviously is derived from the 'physics based touch screen phone' category that the iPhone defined, it's also true that Microsoft took it in a different direction that genuinely looks different to iOS. They bet the farm on new design.

A lot of the criticism Apple followers have of Android is that it feels like a 'good enough' iOS alternative designed primarily to prevent Apple achieving dominance. Having lived through the 80s, many tech enthusiasts are keen to see a competitive industry with a focus on quality, design and innovation. Google facilitating Samsung producing iPhone knock-offs doesn't seem to contribute to that.

Except in their cases it's been shown time and time again that these evangelists constantly push a pro-Apple and anti-Google agenda. It's equivalent to the naysayers who fundamentally believe that Fox News is a fair and balanced network.

That's not to say that Apple never makes a good product or Google can do no wrong. They both have their fair share of successes and failures.

You can't argue that Josh is the more mature one here. MG lives to say controversial/sensational things and get 200+ comments on his posts. And I haven't been following him in a long time, but I know some of his posts on his personal blog, have been much more bitter against Google than his usual posts on TechCruch. He sounded very defensive about Apple, even though there wasn't a reason to do that in that specific case. It was just his latest general attitude towards Google.

By "argue that", did you mean "argue against the point that"?

Sorry to sound nitpicky, but I was confused by the rest of your post after reading the first sentence.

"It gets under my skin because it is a pompous, privileged, insulting, and myopic viewpoint which reeks of class warfare — and it is indicative of a growing sentiment I see amongst people in the tech community."

You know what I've seen an upward trend of? People taking themselves and everything they see entirely too seriously. "Class warfare"? Seriously? This is a phone review.

I think it's a more cogent and more substantial point than it might seem at first glance.

Anecdotally, I honestly do notice a class axis between iPhone and Android (though there are other axes, too). Just like there was a class axis between Facebook and MySpace for a while.


No one denies that consumer electronics can be status symbols. They can also be counter-status symbols.

And I think what Topolsky is reacting to here is the subtext of division. "You either see it or you don't," implies "I see this and you don't" which implies "I'm better than you." Which is an attitude in general that can exacerbate class differences.

And, as kenjackson has noted elsewhere, there's a distinct sense that some evangelists don't just observe the success of their chosen subject, but cheer them on and -- worse -- enjoy the failure of the others.

I think it's a good thing to expose. It's a better, more useful division that Topolsky is making here, I'd say: between advocates and observers, not between Android fans and iPhone fans.

In related news:

Snobby Robbers Only Steal iPhones, Refuse To Take Droids Or Blackberries


"Class warfare"? Seriously? This is a phone review.

Topolsky's point is that Sigeler's piece isn't just a phone review.

As technology becomes affordable to more income levels, people need to make sure they frame the debate correctly. I often hear people talk about those "too cheap to buy an iPad," not considering that the $300 difference between an iPad and a Kindle Fire represents two weeks of groceries for a family of four. [0]

This is similar to the occasional self-aggrandizement coming from white sports journalists covering black athletes, like the "I pay your salary so you'd better play hard every game!" meme that's halfway to plantation dialogue.

It's all about sports and phones until it isn't anymore.

[0] And let's not even discuss the hypothetical "why are they even buying tablets?!" counterargument, which is fraught with problems.

This is class warfare just not by standard definition.

It's not the proletariat vs the bourgeoisie. It's Apple vs. PC.

Sure the phones are the same price... but we all know that the perception is that the cool kids use Apple these days, and so the cool apps are only on iOS, and if you don't have a Mac you're just not a cool technologist. So that's the class warfare... cool vs blah.

I, for one, think it's ironic that just a decade ago Apple was for the noncoformist and today it's so mainstream it's boring.

I really do not understand why he spends so much of the article talking about "class warfare" and the difference between "expensive" and "cheaper" things. The iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus ARE THE SAME PRICE.

I don't believe that his argument is alluding to the objects' actual prices, but rather to the framework he perceives MG and Gruber using to further their arguments. Namely, an appeal to 'luxury', where luxury is a self-sufficient reason for something to be better than something else. And that people who haven't experienced this 'luxury' can't comprehend what makes it superior.

Honestly, I haven't read enough from MG and Gruber to form a meaningful opinion on their argumentative style, so I'll digress from staking out a position. But I agree with Topolsky in theory, that is that an argumentative appeal to luxury isn't sufficient in itself, considering luxury can be decomposed and explained at a more concrete level.

This is one of the problems with text-based communication. While I personally don't understand how Topolsky translates MG's automotive analogy into "class warfare," these types of misunderstandings are common when people aren't having a real-time conversation. If Topolsky were to talk about this on the phone with either MG or Gruber, he'd find his entire viewpoint changed within minutes. It's very possible that he is attributing "elitist" attitudes where they don't exist, but that's hard to know without a direct, real-time conversation.

I've seen this with my own co-workers on a daily basis. What seems like a contentious conversation via email/IM becomes a complete non-issue when discussed by phone or in person. The difference can be striking.

Perhaps, but people who make their living as writers, should be more of aware of the power and drawbacks of analogies they use.

A similar claim could easily be made here regarding Topolsky's post, along the lines of: "For someone who makes his living as a journalist, Topolsky should be more aware of "checking in" regarding MG's viewpoint. For example: 'It seems like your review implies that iOS fans are somehow more sophisticated than Android fans. Is that what you meant?'" This concept of "checking in" is a core component of effective human interaction that is, sadly, altogether too infrequent.

What makes you think he isn't aware? He writes opinion pieces, so having a strong point-of-view is sort of required. And look how much attention he gets from it.

I'd rather an inflammatory strong opinion than a wishy-washy falsely "balanced" piece.

>Let's not let our preferences (and that's all they are, preferences, not empirical facts) dictate how we think about and relate to other people.

I don't understand why people get so caught up in something they literally had nothing to do with other than giving their money away to achieve.

While the products we buy have value, the consumer played no role in that value. You didn't invent it. You didn't make it better. You didn't do anything but buy it.

I guess the fact that people put value where no value exists is a testament to the power of marketing.

Here are some rational reasons why consumers might publicly and self-interestedly advocate for products they have already purchased:

1) If the product maintains a good reputation, early adopters will have been seen to have good taste or perception, which is socially valuable.

2) If you have developed expertise in a product that grows in popularity, you have the potential to be a resource to late adopters. Whether that potential is exercised or not, it represents a certain amount of social, and in some cases professional, capital.

3) If your product becomes disfavored, it may become unsupported. This means that you likely have a shorter usable lifetime for the device, fewer support options (official, 3rd party, and community), and fewer future options for peripherals and software. Each of these network-value losses means less personal wealth.

Also, there's some evidence (see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endowment_effect) that people often overvalue past purchases even beyond the level that rational assessment would indicate.

"why people get so caught up in something they literally had nothing to do with other than"

Or, they derive entertainment value and therefore add to your list:

4) Same reason that people get caught up with supporting sports teams or athletes (that don't do it simply because they bet on sports teams or do fantasy sports).

All are examples of why one might defend their preference, which isn't the issue. I quoted the issue; why one would allow their preference to "dictate how we think about and relate to other people."

I'm not sure I understand--isn't defending a preference one way people relate to certain other people?

If by "other people" you meant all other people--I don't think that's actually true or evidenced here. All of these people have professional stakes which are in play in a heated debate they're having with a very small number of other people who also have professional stakes. But I'm sure Gruber and Topolsky and others go home and have lots of relationships with people that do not involve any of this.

I feel similarly about "think about": as heated as this language is, I don't know that we can easily characterize what Topolsky thinks about Gruber and Siegler overall.

>isn't defending a preference one way people relate to certain other people?

I took that quote and that post to refer to the negative implications of treating people differently based on personal preferences.

>If by "other people" you meant all other people--I don't think that's actually true or evidenced here.

Not all encompassing "all", but it happens quite a bit. Many a "flame war" have stemmed from something as trivial as personal preference. The very example we have is a public example, which is good for outlining the issue, not defining it. I understand these people have professional reasons to pick one over another. I understand why one would defend their preference aggressively. But as the article implies, there are ways of doing so without putting down the other person for a difference of opinion. That is the overall lesson.

> I don't understand why people get so caught up in something they literally had nothing to do with other than giving their money away to achieve.

They get caught up because they gave away their money. It's a matter of opportunity cost and rationalization at some level. Because these platforms are usually non-cross-compatible, "buying into" a specific platform entails a commitment of irreplaceable capital. When I was a kid, my parents got me a Super NES. Regardless of where you stand on Sega Genesis -vs- SNES, you were sure to defend the system you had, because, well, it's the one you have.

If you've invested years upon years of time and money in a particular pursuit, it seems natural to want to defend it.

Defending your preference is not the same as letting your preference "dictate how we think about and relate to other people."

This is the entire point of branding.

They are, however, building some amazing bikesheds around those products

exactly. people like to believe their choices are stellar in order to feel validated in their existence. They will jump at every opportunity to re-iterate why their phone/computer/car is a superior. i've stopped being baited long ago into such discussions and usually when someone asks why i am buying some phone that is not an iPhone i merely point out that i don't like iTunes, and 9 out of 10 times they politely fuck off.


I do think Josh Toposkly overreacted. MG's analogy was not great either, it needed a couple of caveats (see next para). But, Just because a Mercedes is being compared to a Honda doesn't mean that there's some sort of a class issue at stake.

Honda is a fantastic engineering company. In terms of drivetrain technology they are right up there with the very best (for lower capacity engines, I'd say they are better than Mercedes, but I digress). However, Mercedes (especially till the early nineties) was about attention to detail, not just the drivetrain, but each and every part that went in, was famously "over-engineered". If I may, my interpretation of the analogy:

a. Honda's focus is on the engineering (drivetrain to be specific), they are willing to do an average (nothing special, but not bad) job for the rest of the package. That includes average interiors, average ride quality, average styling etc.

b. Mercedes tries (or did try) to do a stellar job in each of those categories listed above.

So, if Android is Google's engineering, Google let's Samsung get away with a plasticky phone (I have used the Galaxy nexus for an hour and a half today). Yes, even now the feel of the phone in one's hand is not even comparable to the iPhone 4.

But the analogy falls flat because the Galaxy Nexus is more expensive on contract than the iPhone. Price matters, the pricing helps Mercedes devote resources to develop the products the way they do.

Gruber, got this wrong too. His own quote "You either see it or you don’t. If you don’t, that’s cool, enjoy your Nexus. " is correct, but it's correct on it's own, not with MGs quote.

I would agree that the reaction was over the top had this been any other pundit/writer that Topolsky was responding to. But this may have been the 'straw that broke the camel's back' for Topolsky. I get the feeling that he's tired of hearing arrogant and dismissive write-ups from these guys.

Topolsky's reviews are in depth and well thought out. It would be somewhat frustrating to have someone like Gruber turn around and say "you don't get it" without rationalizing or explaining the point.

I saw the Mercedes / Honda analogy falling flat in a very different place.

If you sit in a $50,000 Mercedes, and can't instantly tell that it's a more refined and luxurious experience than a $20,000 Honda - why the fuck would you buy the Mercedes?

Exactly. The Mercedes is not $30,000 better than the Honda. You're paying for status. Why would you do that unless you were making a statement about your salary, position etc?

I don't think that was the point, I think the point was there is an immediate and obvious difference between Mercedes and Honda. Everyone can notice it, even if they aren't experts on cars or design.

> "You either see it or you don’t. If you don’t, that’s cool, enjoy your Nexus.

That doesn't happen with a Mercedes and Honda. Not noticing a difference and not wanting to pay for the difference are totally different things.

"Everyone can notice it, even if they aren't experts on cars or design." I'm not so sure about that. I think Siegler's point was that he believes there's a select portion of society that can appreciate the difference between the Mercedes and Honda. That's why Topolsky interprets it(correctly IMO) as a class thing.

Maybe I'm off, but I think Topolsky interprets it as a class thing because Mercedes are expensive and many people can't afford them.

Do you think your average Honda owner would upgrade to a Mercedes if the money was the same? I do.

Even if it is $30,000 better than the Honda, some people's requirements differ.

I drive a 20-year old Volvo 740 that sits in the garage all week. I use it to run errands on the weekend. It cost me $1,200.

On the other hand, if I were doing a lot of driving (more than 1,500 mi/week), I'd opt for the nicest car I could afford.

You don't need an iPad if all you're going to do is watch Netflix and read eBooks. Buy the Kindle fire and use that $300 for something important, like your kid's braces.

I buy the right tool for the right job. I'll try not to be too disappointed about what snobs think.

But the analogy falls flat because the Galaxy Nexus is more expensive on contract than the iPhone. Price matters, the pricing helps Mercedes devote resources to develop the products the way they do.

Since no one has corrected this so far, I'll do it: the Galaxy Nexus on sale from Verizon includes 32GB of internal storage, and is offered for the same price as a 32GB iPhone4S. That is, $299 on a new contract.

In fact, the Galaxy Nexus can be cheaper on a new contract than the iPhone4S -- see Amazon offering it for $149 for a limited time.

The analogy also falls flat in that it starts on the assumption that the Galaxy is Honda to the iPhone's Mercedes. It's why analogy is such a terrible for of argument, it's almost impossible to form one without begging the question.

Having not used iOS4 or the Galaxy's spin of Android, for all I know Samsung may have produced a Veyron to Apple's Geo Metro and it's a case of Gruber "not being able to see it."

tl;dr: Gruber is too smart to pull shit like this, which makes his pundit-like editorializing even more disappointing.

Gruber recently addressed criticisms about his lack of "objectivity" on The Talk Show [0]. He substituted the word "fair" for "objective," then demolished a straw man where people want "$FAIR coverage" from him, where $FAIR = "don't pick on the short kid."

Here's the problem: "objective" doesn't mean "fair." Like Dictionary.com, [1] I use "objective" as in "report the whole story, and stop spinning everything to accommodate your world view." This is what Fox News does, and I've started noticing that Gruber does the same thing.

Consider that his "linked list" articles take two forms: positive links on Apple performance [2], or negative links on Apple's competitors with snarky commentary [3]. Take the Galaxy Nexus: if someone wants one, they just don't get it! [4]

Or...they're like my brother, a graphic designer who wants to do more with his phone. Or they're a coder like me, worried about a future where closed systems dominate. Or they're like my friend, who hates the elitist Apple attitude--the one where people who don't buy Apple products "just don't get it." Or they want a cheap feature phone, and don't have the $99 for a iPhone 4 right now.

Gruber is too smart to make generalizations like this. Hell, he likes David Foster Wallace -- whose books aren't exactly high-school reading -- and posted this a few weeks ago:

That’s why Wallace’s work serves as a beacon, a yardstick, for my own.

As incisive as his writing could be, DFW almost always eschewed cynicism in favor of humanism and emotional sincerity. In a way, Gruber's recent stuff provides the opposite: an unyielding pro-Apple view, a scoop of cynicism and disdain for Apple's competitors, and a black-or-white view of the mobile scene that doesn't reflect reality.

Seeing this from someone as smart as Gruber is really a disappointment.

[0] http://5by5.tv/talkshow/71

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/objective

[2] http://daringfireball.net/linked/2011/12/13/nielsen

[3] http://daringfireball.net/linked/2011/12/05/verizon-google-w...

[4] http://daringfireball.net/linked/2011/12/14/siegler

tl;dr - gruber knows exactly what he is doing, which is generating page views. the market for information is greatly surpassed by the market for confirmation

clearly he is a reasonably intelligent guy who puts a lot of thought into his writing. whether or not he really believes everything he posts, i don't know and don't care.

the thing is these type of posts serve a very specific purpose: to activate the apple fan's and generate page clicks.

we live in a world where the way to drive traffic in the tech blogosphere is to post rumors, and predictions about apple (and to some extent, other big tech cos). readers then seek out stories that confirm their pre-existing views--the market for information is greatly surpassed by the market for confirmation (see: fox news). and this works both ways, i imagine that gruber/seigler are getting lots of page views from people are angered by the whole apple fanboy thing, and want to have the satisfying feeling of knowing that gruber/seigler are just two more unthinking fanboys.

I had a bit about the irony of Gruber quoting PG's "Trolling" essay, but took it out. It really seems like Gruber trolls for views and ad money at this point.

He doesn't get my ad money, I stopped clicking any link to daringfireball a long time ago....

I don't think you'll missing anything. I just go there when I like to read a bit of the holier-than-thou attitude of Apple fanboys. Reminds me of the earlier Ruby / Git attitude which has, fortunately stopped. I couldn't stand these weenies.

It's tragic what is being lost in this race to the bottom for increased pageviews/audience share.

I really want to believe that people like Gruber (who I, at least used to, have a great deal of respect for) are above it, but watching things change over the past few years does make me wonder…

I mean, you're right. 's/unyielding/strongly' and all that.

I've read DF enough to know that Gruber points out small Apple missteps far more often than he points out Android victories (often; never).

What's the quota of Android victories that an author is required to cover?

Let's suppose there is some ratio of Android victories to Android failures in the mind of the "typical user." I'll wave my hands at the exact measurement of that ratio -- it would probably be some product of the number of instances and the magnitude of each instance. But there is a ratio.

If a journalist covers mobile devices in a given category at a significant rate, I'd expect their stories on that category of device to have a similar positive-negative ratio as the actual wins the category has achieved. I wouldn't trust a guy who had 90% negative articles when the win rate in the eyes of a typical user is more like 50%. I also wouldn't trust someone who posted 99% about the losses when the typical user sees about 90% losses.

I don't have enough data on Gruber to know exactly how far off the mark he is, but I do know enough not to trust that he is anything like objective. Now, if his blog was titled, "Apple news and Android criticisms," fine. You can post 100% criticisms if that's the domain you're claiming to cover. But I've never seen such a disclaimer from Gruber so I can't give him a pass on that one either.

All you've done here is substitute undefined numbers for an abstract concept.

No, what I've done is express my view that one should not update one's thoughts about Android on the basis of what Gruber says, unless he says something positive. His negative views on Android phones or features provide nearly zero information, because he was going to say something negative or nothing at all whether or not the news represents an improvement.

Put another way, I'll admit I can't tell you exactly how many positive articles Gruber should have written by now. I could probably calculate that number if I cared enough, but I don't. What I can tell you is that he is well south of where he should be on this topic, IF he cares about providing me with information with which I can update my beliefs about the quality of Android OS.

I think you've missed the point. I'm not disagreeing with your desire to not read what he writes. I'm saying that your claim to be able to objectively quantify that in a way independent of your own opinions is empty. You're just taking the abstract notion of objectivity and replacing it with unknown quantities. You're trying to elevate your existing opinion to the status of a statistical inference without having to show your work. I think that's deeply mistaken and moreover unnecessary. Your opinion is fine as it is. Everyone's is. But it's not a fact.

Of course, everyone's views on Android are different. While I may have some threshold for the number of positive articles that would be necessary for Gruber's writing to be useful, someone else may have some other threshold depending on their priors. For me, the threshold is quite low because I do not like Android at all, and Gruber falls short of even that low bar. I don't think there are many who can make significant updates based on Gruber's work, since P(negative review of Android feature) is nearly 100%, even for features most people consider good.

In other words, Gruber's writing is entertainment, not evidence. The post you were originally commenting on, as I read it, was based on the assumption that Gruber's writing ought to aspire to be evidence, and thus lamenting the fact that it's not useful for most people. Personally I don't believe in the idea of "ought," but I think that asking for a quota is a sort of intentional missing of the point that the previous person was trying to make.

Who is talking about quotas? ICS has revolutionized Android, but you wouldn't know it from reading DF. That's already a failure by Gruber, as a tech journalist.

I'm confused by what you're saying. You claim to not be talking about quotas, but cite not covering the fact[1] that "ICS has revolutionized Android" as a failure. If he had covered it, that would be better, correct? So evidently there is some level of positive Android coverage he's required to do before he's allowed to say what he actually thinks and link to what he actually wants to link to. If that's not a quota, what would you call it?

[1] Here I get absolutely bewildered by what you're saying, given that the first device with ICS was released today, and I know this precisely because I read it on Daring Fireball yesterday, wherein Gruber writes: "I spent a few minutes playing with Topolsky’s Galaxy Nexus in the On The Verge green room; some of the text editing improvements in Android 4.0 alone make it quite obviously the best Android phone in the world".

Yeah, but it's always couched in some sort of snark. Yesterday, he posted something offhand about wondering how many people were going to line up for the Nexus release, clearly worded in a way intended to mean "we all know it will be none". So today, people sent him images of lines outside a Verizon store, and his one line reply (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2011/12/15/galaxy-nexus) was, "Quite chivalrous of them to let all the women in first", which again, is intended to be read as, "look at all the nerdy guys".

Now do a google image search for "iPhone 4S lines" -- just pick the first few hits (here's the first one: http://www.iphonehacks.com/2011/10/iphone-4s-lines.html) -- and count the ratio of men and women. I'll save you the trouble and tell you up front there are a lot of men in those lines. But Gruber literally wouldn't think of commenting on that, because to him, people line up for the iPhone because it's wonderful, and they line for an Android phone because they're abnormal in some way, and that's simply how he processes the information. Whether or not its a conscious strategy is mostly irrelevant to me as the reader: if my choices are dishonest or incompetent, I'm going to look elsewhere. Which is a shame because he's a good writer.

Have an upvote: you're absolutely right, and I shouldn't have hammered out a response during class.

Forgive me though--it's finals time, and I only caught this through HN (and not my RSS feed).

Gruber is not a general "tech journalist", he's an apple centric blogger.

Two of his main themes are that the following bits of conventional wisdom (which you can get on any of dozens of "tech journalist" websites) are incorrect:

(1) Android is winning.

(2) Android is as good as iOS (or better or nearly as good).

Serious question: are those points conventional wisdom? Aside from Engadget reviews or whatever. I'm biased, as I actually get a decent amount of my tech news from DF.

Gruber comparing himself to Foster-Wallace made me throw up in my mouth a little bit....

MG's point is completely valid. The world is divided into two groups: those for whom the little details like UI responsiveness are supremely important, and those who don't notice it or don't care so much.

I'd also note that gadget sites like The Verge are incentivised to make Android seem interesting and competitive, even when it doesn't live up, because their business model is based on churning out large numbers of announcements and reviews. If they acknowledge that the devices are second-rate then why would their readers care to click their pages?

Josh's problem is with the way MG put it. He framed it as "Mercedes vs Honda". There's a strong, implicit class implication there.

If you took price out of the equation and just looked at the two products, the comparison may be apt, but Josh is staring the price matter in the face and calling foul. I can't say I blame him. I drive a luxury brand car, but I cringe a little bit when people ask me what I drive because I'm concious of the fact that people associate brand, value, and quality.

A better analogy might have been artwork. Some people will look at the Mona Lisa and see a painting of a plain woman. Others look at it and see one of the greatest paintings ever created. But like Josh points out, the world is not black & white. Some will see the quality of the Mona Lisa, but will not care. They may like other styles better. They may prefer work from an entirely generation.

Josh is opposed creating class warfare out of device functionality. In my view, MG's assessment of iOS as "more polished" is true, and I happen to place a high value on that polish, but I understand that I trade other aspects of the device in order to obtain that polish. Others won't make that same choice. Others won't see the polish at all. That doesn't make those people better or worse than me. It only makes them different.

"Josh's problem is with the way MG put it. He framed it as "Mercedes vs Honda". There's a strong, implicit class implication there."

Except that you can get a cheap used Mercedes for less than a new Honda, if you can't afford a new Benz and value the workmanship (or brand) enough to take the risk. And Honda made the NSX. There are Acura models priced in the same ballpark as lower-end new Mercedes.

Honda had a Formula 1 racing team until 2008. It was sold off, and was eventually bought by Mercedes Benz.

So the 'class' question is muddled, to say the least. Unless you think the NSX is the car of the proletariat and a 1990 Mercedes with 100,000 miles is the vehicle of the 1%.

I'm not sure if you're being humorous but if not then this over-analysis of the analogy doesn't really serve any useful purpose.

For all intents and purposes Mercedes=quality+luxury while Honda=cheapy+functional and this was the primary meaning behind the analogy utilized in Siegler's article.

I'd say Honda = affordable and dependable, not especially luxurious or loaded with features, but not necessarily cheap either. There are Honda models that start near $30k, and other models that start around $20k but have configurations over $30k.

I'd think Kia or Hyundai would would be seen as the "cheap" brand.

And the Honda company certainly doesn't shy away from serving the luxury market with their Acura brand.

In any case, the comparison of Mercedes vs. Honda was about fit and finish and creature comforts, not price. It works just as well when comparing a loaded, well-kept $9000 used Mercedes to a brand-new $15,000 Civic.

Even the most rudimentary trolls use car analogies to summon little tempests. It's right up there with religion and Hitler.

Agree 100%. This is earnest advice. It may seem like a snarky quip, but it's not. This is dead serious:

Never use a car analogy. Never.

Cars are too intimate. This is especially endemic to American culture. Too many people identify with their car. You may intend to contrast the horsepower of one car to another, but the reader will inevitable contrast the values most dear to them. "A coupe versus a saloon! HOW DARE YOU!?!?!"

I really hope you're being ironic.

I'd say that Josh is reading class warfare into an analogy that doesn't mean anything of the sort. Maybe there is a better analogy, but in an opinion piece the author is entitled to use his poetic license.

As far as the Mercedes-Honda analogy I think it is very appropriate. It's not that Mercedes are more expensive, it's that they are made with much more attention to detail, and higher quality fit and finish.

Besides, isn't the Galaxy Nexus more expensive?? I don't get the class warfare accusation.

MG's post has nothing to do with "device functionality". Your last paragraph basically summarises MG's argument, so I guess you agree with him, and just don't like the analogy. I think Josh is making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

"The world is divided into two groups, those that think little details like freedom are supremely important and those who don't notice or don't care so much"

"The world is divided into two groups, those that think little details like enterprise integration are supremely import and those who don't notice or don't care so much"

The argument holds no water. I can draw a line in the sand however I'd like to make any product seem better, and anyone who disagrees is just in that other group.

This whole "argument" is inane. People have preferences, and the rational ones will act in accordance to those preferences if they have the means. Getting huffy because someone dares to disagree with your preferences is asinine.

I don't really understand what you're trying to say. Your first two statements are true, but not related to the posts we are discussing. Your second two points actually agree with MG's point.

For people who prefer the iPhone the UI-responsiveness isn't some arbitrary line in the sand, it is what they judge to be important (one of the things). And MG's whole point is that some people don't find this important and will probably love the Galaxy Nexus, and that is fine. Josh is the one getting huffy.

His point is that the first two points are not true. It's not even that people disagree on how important freedom is, they even disagree with what freedom means.

The same is true for your views on iOS and Android. Here, let me throw it back at you.

"iOS users just don't notice the small details. Things like built im turn by turn navigation. Being able to fully dictate all text throughout all applications. The ability to return purchases on the market place. Full disk level encryption.

You either see it or you don't. For a lot of users, details and features like these don't matter. You might be happy with your Toyota, but I prefer the full featured BMW."

See how easy it is? Perhaps you'll also see how obnoxious these types of posts are when it's turned around.

I still don't see the problem. Yes, for people who really care about built in turn by turn navigation the iphone probably isn't the right phone. Some probably aren't even aware its possible, and others just don't need it. That isn't obnoxious, its just a fact.

The first two points are true - if people didn't disagree on the importance of freedom then much of 20th century history would be very different.

Imagine if you will that I release a phone that everyone in the world unanimously decided had a more responsive and beautiful UI than iOS, but only a battery life of 20 minutes. Would MG and every other person "whom the little details like UI responsiveness are supremely important" stand in line for weeks to get? Of course not.

Decisions as simple as "What phone will I buy" are an insanely complicated calculus of thousands of micro-decisions and trade offs.

People like MG like to pretend that they have themselves all figured out, and THE reason that the iPhone is superior for him is "the little things," or they buy Android because "its an open platform."

Its all bunk, they bought it because, hey the phone does what they need it to, and for some damn reason that particular configuration of options happened to strike a chord with them.

I agree with everything you've just said.

So isn't that a defence of MG's article? It was even titled "An iPhone Lover's Take on the Galaxy Nexus". The point was describing his impressions of the nexus from the perspective of someone who does* care about the things that the iphone does well.

Of course its a combination of lots of things. And for people who like the iphone, they are happy with the combination of tradeoffs that it makes. UI responsiveness and battery life being two of the important ones for the iphone.

No it's not. Look, MG didn't use a comparison of a Toyota to a Honda -- brands considered to be on equal footing. He likened the iPhone to a high end brand (Mercedes) and the Nexus to an economy brand (Honda).

This is not a comparison of equals, but a comparison of Luxury vs. Standard. That's no longer about preferences, that's about one being better.

No, he didn't compare the iPhone to a Mercedes and the Nexus to a Honda, at least not as flat comparisons. Read it again. He was explaining that to an iphone fan, ICS still does not have the same level of "polish", even though its features may be great. He gives examples, such as: how you have to click again to type in text fields, even after you've selected them; pages not rendering correctly on the browser; tap to zoom not working quite right; occasional stutters in the UI; crashing apps.

MG's point is not valid, because iOS isn't noticeably better than android. I own an iPad and use an android tablet for testing at work. I find that my iPad has just as many inconsistencies and annoyances as android does. both operating systems are far from perfect.

he's right that some people notice the little things in their UIs and some don't. he's wrong in implying that the apple users are the ones who notice. I'd argue that apple fanboys like MG Seigler and John Gruber, who never seem to have any complaints about iOS, must fall squarely into the group of people who aren't able to notice the little details.

MG isn't saying that iOS is "better". He's saying that there are some things in iOS that are better, and for the people who care about those things this means that Android is so far not acceptable.

And if you read either of those authors regularly, you'd know that they often do criticise things in iOS and Apple in general.

when i say better, i mean better with regard to the subjects being discussed here. We're talking about UI and 'polish'. in this regard, i don't believe there is a significant difference between the quality of iOS and android.

I read Daring Fireball fairly regularly, his criticisms are in different areas to the topic of this discussion. I don't read MG Seigler, i can't comment there.

"The Verge are incentivised to make Android seem interesting and competitive"

I think as it currently stands, it IS interesting and competitve. I don't want to begin a flame war. Merely saying the Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S matchup is pretty damn close. It really boils down to which philosophy you agree with. But don't call them "second-rate", because they are not.

I'm not saying that some devices aren't interesting and competitive, just that The Verge would be incentivised to make them appear so even if they aren't.

I agree that the Galaxy Nexus is a very good phone. But there are a LOT of completely rubbish phones that also get too much attention.

>those for whom the little details like UI responsiveness are supremely important

That isn't what he said. The general angle of MG and Gruber is that iOS is universally superior to Android.

I remember trying out the iPhone and being shocked at how terrible -- almost childish -- the notification system was. On Android it was graceful and well thought out. The same goes for application integration, where on Android it was well thought out from day one, while on iOS you have silos of applications.

There are a thousand and one ways that Android is more refined and has the "little details" that are superior to iOS. None of these ever matter to Gruber or MG. But where iOS has a nicer bounce after a scroll, well that's critically important.

If we want to go with car analogies, iOS would more correctly be a pimped up Honda Civic. The owner is sure it's a refined, idealized car, but they are the ones who don't realize what they're missing.

Yes, that is the point that MG was making an analogy about, which Josh found offensive. This horse-shit-storm is not about the "general angle" of MG and Gruber but about that analogy and the point it was making.

And it's not just the "nicer bounce after a scroll", its the whole UI interaction. The thing that iPhone fans like about their products is how the interface disappears and you don't need to think about it. The touch interaction model makes the user think that they are directly interacting with the content itself, rather than through the intermediate of a controller, and that this content is actually physical, rather than a representation on the screen. It's an illusion, but it is a compelling one. Examples: * The right bounce after a scroll, and the right inertia when you flick to scroll through a list; * Dragging your finger to pan around a map or large web page; * Icons and buttons changing their appearance instantly to show that they've been pressed.

It's little things that give immediate feedback to the user that create this illusion, and it doesn't take much to break it and remind you that you're using a device. What MG and Gruber keep pointing out is that Android keeps breaking this illusion, for example with stuttery scrolling or laggy/inappropriate feedback when you push buttons.

That sounds pretty cut and dry. Of course in reality it is absolutely nothing like that.

I've experienced plenty of lag on iOS devices. I've had buttons not respond, apps crash, and behaviours that left you wondering what you're supposed to do. As has everyone else who lacks the delusion spell. iOS is just an imperfect OS like every other, and adding hysterical narrative gushing about its profound perfection is, honestly, embarrassing for everyone.

I'm not saying that there are lots of big and little details iOS gets right and Android gets wrong. It is obvious there are. The reason Josh found MG's analogy offensive is that there are also lots of big and little details that Android gets right and iOS gets wrong.

For example, take a look at cross-application cooperation and integration. It is good that iOS 5 added Twitter integration, but to an Android user the Twitter-specific integration makes iOS devices look crippled (in this area). With appropriate applications installed, even the more than three-year-old G1 is integrated with Twitter, Facebook, Picasa and whatever else you want. And these integration details matter because they are what allow Android users to create sophisticated, dynamic cross-application workflows.

Claiming that one side has a subtle superiority that only the right people can appreciate when the reality is more balanced is what is offensive.

I read the cited quote, "Unfortunately, the system still lacks much of the fine polish that iOS users enjoy. The majority of Android users will probably think such criticism is bullshit, but that has always been the case. I imagine it’s probably hard for a Mercedes owner to describe to a Honda owner how attention to detail makes their driving experience better when both machines get them from point A to point B. As a Honda owner myself, I’m not sure I would buy it — I’d have to experience it to understand it, I imagine. And most Android lovers are not going to spend enough time with iOS to fully appreciate the differences."

And realized it sounded best when read with the Comic Book Guy voice, and anything that sounds appropriate with that voice is a bit snooty.

I'm going back and re-reading some of the rest of the DF blog with that voiceover... brilliant.

"You either see it or you don't." was surprisingly bad, even by Gruber's standards. It's not an argument. It's dismissive and incredibly conceited. What does he even mean when he says that? I honestly don't think he knew while writing it, and I doubt he can rationalize it.

It's actually a great opportunity to expose Gruber's arrogance.

Of course Gruber is dismissive; he's always dismissive. (Yet I read him every day.) He thinks he's objective because he criticizes both Apple and Google's missteps; he's wrong because he smartly and analytically criticizes Apple, while he sticks his tongue out at Google.

John Gruber will be a great blogger when he grows up.

I've been reading the guy since about 2004 I think and I feel he's become more combative and biased over the past few years. Or maybe he just wasn't very motivated to go after the opposition when it was Microsoft. From what I understand of the guy I guess he might have felt that pointing out Ms's many missteps a few years ago was like shooting fish in a barrel, why take them seriously, hell the vibe I get from him nowadays regarding Microsoft is one of encouragement.

Still, the guy is damn insightful, you can't take that away from him. If you wish to understand Apple you have to read him, which is why I still do, despite his flaws.

>John Gruber will be a great blogger when he grows up.

You read him every day. Achievement unlocked.

"For starters, it assumes a childish, simplistic, and pedantic worldview: expensive things or those that are ascribed more value by a segment of the population are inherently "better" than other things. Obviously everyone wants and needs the more expensive thing if they have an opportunity to get it. The Mercedes really is better than the Honda."

Hold your horses - isn't the Galaxy Nexus the same price as the 32GB iPhone 4S? How does the expensive argument come into play here?

I mentioned this in a reply to another post, but I think Siegler's point was that he believes there's a select portion of society that can appreciate the difference between the Mercedes and Honda (price aside). That's why Topolsky interprets it(correctly IMO) as a class thing. The riff raff according to Seigler and Gruber 'don't get it' < insert snooty tone.

I'm routinely offended by things MG Siegler says about Android but I actually found his article refreshingly open about his biases (not that he ever really hides them). In this piece he's at least very open that he's talking about perception and the war over "tangible" issues is pretty much over (in that both platforms are sufficiently good).

My main problem is that just as the intangibles matter on the iOS side they also matter on the Android side, but the Android ones don't seem to get any merit. The fact that I'm free to use my device how I want, write an app for a friend, give it to them for their birthday, share it by email. The fact that the Android ecosystem lets me choose the kind of device I want, how much I want to pay for it, how it should look and feel and behave. Those things are in many ways intangible because many of them are just potential things that I don't actually do but the ability to do them is important to me. So sure, "you either see it or you don't" is a fine statement, but it goes both ways: you either value your freedom or you don't.

That response repeats the party line about Android being "open", but part of the narrative that MG and Gruber keep pointing out is that it's just not true. The carriers lock things down and fill your phone up with unwanted junk far more than Apple does.

"Open" means open for the carriers to do what they want, not for you to do what you want.

> The carriers lock things down

I don't believe there are any carriers any more that stop the user installing from non-market sources. Many offer ways to unlock the boot loader so you can completely control the device. You can always buy a Nexus device. These are all forms of openness (although I would tend to call it "freedom" since that more accurately describes it).

> it's just not true

As I point out above, it's very true. What I think iOS advocates point out is that it's not practical: no regular consumer uses these things in practice (although the Amazon Appstore might be an example). What matters in practice is how the device comes out of the box because 99% of people just use it like that. I acknowledge this, which is why I say it's an intangible feature of Android. You only value it and benefit from it indirectly. I guess my only point is, if the Sieglers and Gruber's of the world want to claim intangible things as assets for iOS then they should be acknowledged for Android too.

Even if 99% of consumers use Android devices just as they come out of the box, the existence of escape hatches is still an important check against carriers, manufacturers and even Google.

For instance, nothing like Apple's in-app purchase crackdown could have happened on Android. The big players (Amazon, B&N, Netflix, Hulu, ...) would have just taken their apps out of the Android Market, clearly communicated to their customers where the apps were now and moved on.

Similarly, as I understand it, it was the Android hacking / ROM development community that discovered Carrier IQ in the first place, specifically because they are taking apart the software on their phones and trying to understand every bit of it. Personally, I find the contrast with the iOS jailbreaking community quite instructive. Once they knew there was something to look for, they found the Carrier IQ traces in iOS quickly enough. Nevertheless, without the initial pointer, they didn't notice anything..

I think Topolsky's analysis of MG Siegler's and Gruber's comments are absurd. Sure, I don't know exactly what they were thinking when they wrote what they wrote, but it's hard to imagine that Siegler and Gruber would implicitly or explicitly make it about class.

I saw a special the other day on CNBC called BMW: A Driving Obsession and it really opened my eyes as to the incredible attention to detail that a car maker like BMW has when building a car. Just check out how much effort they spend just on getting the little sounds the car makes just right at 16:00 and 20:55 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=O... If that's how much time they spend on just the sounds, it's not difficult to imagine how much effort they put into everything else. Heck, at 29:03 one of the BMW designers even says they use Apple products as inspiration.

Now, if you agree that iOS is that much more polished than Android, I think this is a pretty accurate metaphor and any class distinction Topolsky inferred from Siegler's Gruber's comments are of his own creation. I doubt Gruber and Siegler would ever admit to it even if it were the case so I guess we'll never know.

This is Hacker News. Can we please eschew blog posts like these? Yes, it gets the blood boiling in a satisfying manner. But it is also shallow, plays on predispositions, and always -- always -- leads to more heat than light.

Give it a few more moments... perhaps an engaging discussion on brand loyalty and tribe-based consumerism will ensue somewhere in the troll pit


What I've actually grown to hate about Hacker News over the years is this particular "holier-than-thou" attitude like yours. It just seems like there are so many people on here that are offended by the slightest amount of conflict or controversy that they'd be much better-off living in a plastic bubble than in the real world.

I'd argue we're fine with controversy and conflict where it's warranted, but phone wars are easy to get into and are about as interesting and useful as arguing about game consoles.

It's a fine tradition it seems... Atari vs Commodore, Amiga vs PC, Sega vs Gameboy, Mac vs PC, PS vs Saturn, Dreamcast vs PS2, and so on... These days it's iOS vs Android.

In some bizarre way, if these are the "controversies" we're having, then we're doing quite well in general ;)

The fact that MG chose a Mercedes and not, say, a stretch Hummer, is important -- a Mercedes is (mostly) expensive because it's made with care and precision, not because it's an abstract status symbol.

I think its more to do with the fact that he is trying to convince himself he paid as much as he did because it was for quality. As in, the same reason people call them smart phones, because who in their right mind thinks paying that much to own and use a phone is intelligent...

I agree it's important, but maybe for different reasons. I think the awe inspiring marketing and brand machine created by Jobs has many similarities and parallels in the "German Engineering" brand machine created by Mercedes and Porsche.

Or even a Hummer H2: based on a pickup truck, and without the ground clearance and other off road capabilities of the original Hummer, but still cashing in on the reputation of the original with a premium price.

On a related note, I was rather disappointed by the second episode of On The Verge. Bringing an Apple sycophant like Gruber on the show doesn't seem to have any practical value, as far as I can tell. From the production values, it's clear that they put a lot of effort into putting together a professional, cable-quality program. Kind of sad to see all that work go to waste.

"Practical value"? How does any of this stuff have any "practical value"? Gruber has one of the most popular tech-related sites on the internet, and a huge readership that overlaps with The Verge's. Seems relevant to me.

I'm sorry, but Joshua Topolsky is turning this into class warfare on his own. I can understand how one might make the jump to class warfare when comparing a Honda and Mercedes in a different context, but in this case the reviewer was talking about the quality and attention to detail put into the car (which of course means it costs more, they put more time and effort into creating it).

When I read MG's statement out loud, it made perfect sense to me. When I read Topolsky's immediate jump to class warfare, my gut reaction was that HE was the one who sounded absurd and should be embarrassed.

I do not disagree that Gruber and MG are most definitely flying Apple flags, but I think this article is a complete overreaction.

I like tech and I really don't care who it comes from. I love Windows 7 but routinely use Ubuntu in a VM. I think the Mac Air and the IPad are some of the most revolutionary products in my lifetime. C# is my favorite language but always find myself using Python first. I like to read a lot of tech reviews and I understand that each reviewer has their own set of biases. I used to find myself getting upset with commentary from MG & Gruber. Even Scoble for that matter. And yes honestly, their style of writing came off to me as almost a bit classist some of the time.

Now, I just don't care. I realize that I was getting upset by their writing because they are such good writers. Its the same way that the democrats get mad at Rush Limbaugh. You may know that he said something wrong and on the border of crackpot but he is just so damn good at doing it. If someone else said it, you would write them off as a lunatic. His style is partly meant to convince but it is also partly meant to incite as well.

So yes, MG and Gruber are bias and when it comes to tech reviews I just don't trust them. Whether it is pro Apple or anti another product. And in the case of Scoble, his silicon valley tunnel vision turns me off. But I will still read their articles because they are good at what they do. And if I start to get a "WTF?!" moment then I will just calm down and realize that it is part of the entertainment package that comes along with reading them.

P.S. If you're a sports fan, Grubers sports tweets are way more maddening than his Apple lust.

People like to put their mouth where their money is more than they like to put their money where their mouth is. Tech partisanship is largely because of this -- if you dropped a serious chuck of both your time and money on a product, and there's a competing product, you want to defend your critical thinking skills by asserting that the product you bought is better than the other. The more insecure about it you are, the harder you defend.

Also, if you're in the media, it always pays to stir the pot. Always.

tl;dr: Believes poor attention to detail is imagined, doesn't properly set HTML list. That's the poor attention to detail we're talking about.

Which sounds snarky, but if you are going to be a blogger publishing on the web and want other people to take the time to read your stuff, to not properly use (or understand?) the basic building blocks of your craft is disrespectful to your audience.

I could understand where this guy was coming from better if this article had a less condescending tone. Instead this just sounds like he's whining that MG and Gruber are Apple hipsters that think they're better than everyone who owns a non-Apple device. He then proceeds to evoke "class warfare" without about as much relevance to the actual subject matter as Fox News.

On one side, apple evil, on the other side google evil. No wonder people are getting so worked up when they choose sides.

Or, more reasonably:

One one side, apple not evil but a capitalist corporation, on the other side, google not evil but a capitalist corporation.

I can't think of a good argument why either company is "evil".

Some would argue that 'capitalist corporation'='evil'. Having the same rights as an individual (and in some cases more) corporations often exhibit traits that, if observed in an individual, would result in that individual being diagnosed as a psychopath. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corporation_(film)

"Evil" isn't really a useful term, it can be taken too many different ways. How exactly would you define "evil"? And how does that definition relate to capitalist corporations?

How does that answer my question? I know how to type something in Google, but that doesn't narrow down the definition being discussed here.

I've decided to start flagging posts that merely link to LMGTFY. Even on /b/ that would be considered stupid.

It's my last line of defense when someone brings out the quotes and asks me to define good and evil. It doesn't take that much imagination to at least understand the idea that some people consider some huge corporations evil.

I hear people say "evil corproation" a lot, but I'm not quite sure what they mean. Do they mean, "don't care about individual customers, because there is no economic value"? Do they mean, "break into people's houses at night and wreck up the place"? Do they mean, "release an open-source phone software stack"?

Just because people parrot the same line again and again doesn't mean it makes sense.

I take it to mean that the one expressing that sentiment doesn't have the same interests as the corporation mentioned in a shared matter, like open/closed platforms, like freedom (maybe wanna rip that DVD you own so you can view it on the iPad because it's even not available for iPad), or maybe you don't want to be tracked by facebook and googles supercookies (via like buttons and, google adsense/analytics).

Another thing would be removing all crapware that comes with a new windows computer, or having to buy a "clean" windows just to get rid of that. Another big evil is Microsofts requirement that all netbooks can have max 2G of ram. That's clearly not in anybody elses interest but Microsoft.

Interests are not aligned. Annoyment ensured.

Then there are real evils of course, like using slave or child labour, destroying the environment and funding wars by using natural resources like Coltan.


That's a really boring statement "One one side, apple not evil but a capitalist corporation, on the other side, google not evil but a capitalist corporation." why would I say that to be more reasonable, that reasonable statement doesn't convey meaningful value in explaining why people are worked up.

I think that the reason for people percieving apple as evil is because apple restricts the user, and forces the user to accept their terms.

The reason for google being evil would be that they track everything and everybody, they have access to your (g)mail, they know what you search for, they know where you are when you search for what and when. It's not that they actually might be doing something with that data, but just by having that data, they have a force do to evil. A lesser evil is serving you ads for .NET CMS jobs when you are looking at gmail ;) CLEARLY that counts as evil.

I disagree that any of those things are "evil".

Apple makes a product and service and clearly lays out what its for. Consumers can choose to buy into that or not. Apple isn't "forcing" anyone to accept their terms, people choose to accept them in return for certain products and services from Apple. If you don't want to, don't buy an iphone!

"just by having that data, they have a force to do evil" -- sorry, but having a force to do evil is not in itself evil. EVERYONE has a force to do evil, I could go and chop up some bunnies for fun right now, but I choose not to, therefore I'm not evil.

How is serving you ads evil? I really don't get that argument. Yes it's annoying, and sometimes distracting, but again, the price I choose to pay for products and services. No one is forcing you to use gmail, even by default; there are plenty of other options.

>Apple isn't "forcing" anyone to accept their terms, people choose to accept them in return for certain products and services from Apple.

The thing is, many people do not even know about, much less understand the ramifications of buying from Apple. And I find it sad that someone who does is still willing to castrate his own freedom for no gain whatsoever.

Well I "disagree" with "you". There's a lot at stake, depending on the fate of mobile web and computer interfaces in general, and privacy issues as well.

What would you rather be the case then? Let's say Apple don't restrict what you can do on your device, what does that look like? What do you think Apple should do differently, specifically?

In my opinion, Apple's original sin with iOS was banning side-loading. Many of the specific things they've done that I would call evil, for example:

- squashing alternatives to built-in iOS apps

- the attempt to ban iOS development in non-Apple-approved languages

- the in-app purchase nonsense [apparently designed to prop up iBooks, among other things])

are only possible in the first place because of the side-loading ban. Making that one change (without changing the APIs, the App Store, approval policies, etc.) would go a long way towards fixing the aspects of the iOS platform that are problematic from the perspective of user freedom.

There's no "class warfare" here Josh.

The only people that read either of your words are just us nerds of a feather fretting over which miracle of technology is more perfectly refined.

So give us all a break.

But I clicked dammit, and that means you got paid, and get positive reinforcement to engineer more drama.

Joshua, dude -- relax.

It's MG and Gruber. Nobody (and I mean nobody) who values straight commentary listens to these guys.

Of course they're Apple shills. It's what got them notoriety and made their reputation. They're not going to turn on the hand that feeds them.

Ha! All those people who don't understand this are ignorant fools!

I'm all for opinionated content and debating on topics, but this essentially boils down to a nerdy slap fight over fucking cell phones. Class warfare, eh?

When Gruber says, "You either see it or you don't,"he means, "If this is important to you, you will notice and value it," not, "If you don't see this, you are an unsophisticated yokel who should stick to pay-phones." JT hears Gruber with a tone of dismissiveness that just isn't there.

Gruber has spent his whole life writing articles with the tone of your second interpretation. Why did he suddenly change styles today?

Seriously, "his whole life"?

wow, who cares.


National Enquirer, meet Hacker News.

Truly. The saddest thing about these posts is that some segment of the HN population thinks they are worth reading.

And yet you not only clicked on the post, you read at least some of the comments and contributed yourself. Hmm.

Details do matter. On this we can all agree. So why is this quote so hard to understand?

Oh, it was said by people you don't agree with, on a polarized topic, and responded to with class. Shades of gray indeed.

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