Steve Jobs gave an interview to Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher published in the WSJ. It’s an interesting read and I think showcases the control-freak nature of Jobs personally and what he has instilled within Apple’s corporate culture. I do believe honestly that Apple has the user experience down to a science – the multi-touch display with inertial movement/navigation is amazing. The interfaces are generally crisp, clean and very effective. Aside from my normal ax grind concerning how closed Apple and Jobs are to outside innovation (and likely defended by trying to preserve what I just outlined above), I only have one gripe about a small comment Jobs made in the interview:
I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers.
To put the quote in context, Jobs is referring to the business woes plaguing the newspaper industry. In a consistent meme, he discusses the need to encourage and help these companies shift into new business paradigms for news content and delivery. Much like Apple did with portable computing – something Jobs mentions a bit earlier in the interview. Jobs is rich and powerful enough that he probably could help some of these companies through direct (get a seat on their board, influence shareholders, officers, etc.) or indirect (create pathways within Apple products that would be beneficial to those companies and problematic for competing interests – such as bloggers).
This brings me to my first point: he characterizes having a nation of bloggers being a “descent”? While possibly true in some views, I would submit that the explosive growth in blogging, particularly that of and about current events, is largely driven by four factors:
- younger generations have an instant gratification issue – waiting for tomorrow’s newspaper is too little, too late,
- a newspaper is of finite content – blogs, websites, podcasts, etc can be dynamically added to, modified and updated as time and events unfold,
- some people grew weary of the bias, lack of true journalism and other problems in the reporting world and turn to other sources and do the filtering for what is true versus false themselves, and
- economics – I don’t have to pay for news, I can go to various sources online for free. Ok, maybe not free – I do pay for my internet access, but I’m paying that anyway for other reasons, so why not make full use of it?
Jobs hints at the real battle that lies within this discussion:
What we have to do is figure out a way to get people to start paying for this hard-earned content. I don’t know what’s going to work, but the biggest lesson Apple’s learned is: Price it aggressively and go for volume. I think people are willing to pay for content.
I just don’t buy this argument. While I could understand commentary and in-depth analysis of current events being something some people may pay for, I doubt that the basic fact reporting that more people are interested in will be bought.
As a mild second point, implying the Gormogons are just part of this downward movement towards a nation of bloggers was a misstep by Mr. Jobs. There is a reason why I was in the Cupertino area last week.
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.