Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Blind spots, tech commentary and complexity

"Digital music" (odd term, CDs are digital - really should be "lossy compressed music") is "big". So it wasn't surprising that NPR spent an hour or so this morning with a tech columnist talking mostly about "MP3" (meaning AAC, MP3, MP4, etc etc) players. What was a bit surpising, and annoying, was that the expert seemed to have never of heard of something called "iTunes". He compared Dell's MP3 player to the iPod as though the devices existed in isolation and felt they were of roughly equal value.

His advice was thus fairly worthless. An "MP3 player" today is only as good as the desktop software it works with; for the moment the billions of CDs in circulation keep iPods and their competitors bound to XP or OS X. (There are lots of ways this could change dramatically, but that's another story.) iTunes is a brilliant piece of software, and much of the success of the iPod is due to iTunes. He was comparing jet engines instead of jets.

I see this kind of glaring omission reasonably often. Is the complexity of our world ovewhelming the "experts", or is this simply an old story -- the popular 'expert' is selected more often for entertainment value than expertise ...

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