OMFG! Change! Media freaks out!

I got a call today from’s Joanna Stern about Google’s Goggles. She’s very nice. But I had a fit when she started by asking me about all that could go wrong with the new technology. That is your angle? I screeched?

OMFG. Why must that be the starting point for media? Technology bad. Technology scary. Ooh. Ooh. We must save world from new technology. We must think all bad things to happen with technology. Our people sheep. Sheep scared. Stupid sheep. We big protectors.

GMAFB. (Figure it out.)

I said: Imagine all the wonderful things this amazing technology could do, alerting people to news around them, enabling them to report news around them, finding out information, staying connected… I can’t wait to try on a pair.

I suggested she look at the case of the heinous Girls Near Me app this week. It made terrible and disgusting use of technology that could be used to good ends — to, for example, find Starbucks near me or friends near me or repair people near me or cops near me. The world quickly freaked out and for good reason. Apple and Facebook quickly cut the assholes off. Case solved. System worked.

I said that when phones came with cameras, we heard freakouts about people taking them into gym locker rooms. Gyms promptly banned them. Case solved. System worked.

New technologies arrive. We take a little time — as quickly as days as long as months or even years — to negotiate our new norms. And then life proceeds — better, thanks to said new technology.

Why the hell must media and government begin with the default of Chicken Little? I’m sick of it.

Here is Stern’s piece. I had much more to say. You can now imagine what I said.

  • I am rather worried about the effects of having a media which is always pointing out how bad new technology will be. I think we are already seeing the creation of a luddite culture in America, if not most of the developed world.

    Although i am a child of the 80/90s, i get the impression that in the 50/60 new technology we heralded in the media and not scorned like it is today. IDK, maybe i am wrong and it has always been this way.

  • Stern is a media shill who’s on the lookout for anything that threatens her job.

    If you made it seem cuddly and nice, she’d love you. Instead, if you take the tack that they’re a bunch of ignorant imbeciles who’s first reaction to anything is to poke at it with a stick like it was a dead dog’s carcass, OF COURSE THE’RE GOING TO LOOK AT YOU LIKE YOU’VE GROWN A SECOND HEAD (while poking a the new media with a stick like it was a dead dog’s carcass that’s going to burst open any second and cover them with ichor.)

    The effort is unfortunate but its inevitable.

    Ask yourself do you even want her to have a job in five years?

    Probably not. Be honest now…

    (I started with a 10 years outlook on but I’ve since revised my outlook and moved the date closer in because the investors in big media are getting tired of bleeding money and want to invest in ANYTHING that shows some returns.

    Big media’s business model is broken and they’re too stupid to even figure out what question they should be asking.

    Here is an example: If you were a hedge fund manager and you had $30,000,000 to park, what’s a more profitable investment: Apple or Knight-Ridder*?

    Bye bye KnightRidder.

    If you don’t spell it out in back and white for people like Stern, they’re likely to think that they still have some hope of turning that J School degree into a gravy train by some mystical, alchemical transmutation, (one where cause is not tied to effect nor the other way around and the laws of physics don’t apply [go on, fall up</b< the stairs why dont you?])

    Its not even any good to ask people like Stern how many years did she think the gravy train was going to last?

    They’re not big picture thinkers.

    *) as an example. It doesn’t matter which turkey, uh media corporation, you want to look at. They’re all terrible investments with no long term prospects.

    • Chris Tumminello

      You do know that Joanna Stern has been a tech blogger for years and old recently moved to ABC? Before that she was with the Verge writing about technology, not your typical media “shill”. Please know the background of someone before you cookie cutter bash them. Not saying I disagree with your points, but in this case I think you are projecting them on the wrong person.

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  • Alan Ralph

    Sadly, the good news side of the story won’t sell, in their eyes.

    I like how she implied that you’re pretty much a shill for Google. Classy. :|

    Personally, I have no interest in Project Glass. My reality is augmented enough already by having an iPad so I can follow what’s going on in the wider world and stay informed. :)

  • I agree with Alan that unlike you these “journalists” are interested in firing people up and going viral. They are not interested informing people and letting them make up their own minds.

  • come on now, jeff. a story needs a twist in it to be a story. with your previously stated opinions on such topics, you were probably, simply, the wrong person for her to call to get it. there are tons of others who would’ve given her the scary side she was looking for. still, you ended up giving her a good angle by suggesting she take a look at those problem cases.

    reporters are always going to look for conflict. beat them at their own game by steering them to the story you’d like to see.

  • Robert

    I have no problem with Joanna Stern asking about what could go wrong. When a new product comes out, it doesn’t take any reporting at all to learn about what could go right. The company’s advertising and PR machine pushes that out by the truckload.

    Good reporters ask impertinent questions. I wish they’d do it more often.

    If Stern were our only source of information on Google Goggles, you’d have a stronger case. But she’s only one of many voices. She has no obligation to gush.

    • Andy Freeman

      > She has no obligation to gush.

      No one said that she did. However….

      > If Stern were our only source of information on Google Goggles, you’d have a stronger case. But she’s only one of many voices.

      While she isn’t the only source, modern mainstream journalism claims “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. Of course we all know that it doesn’t even try to meet that standard, but can it afford to admit that?

  • Jonathan Burgess

    Hello Jeff,

    This a great article and I agree. However there is one problem you are creating in this post, confusion.

    Google Goggles: An application for mobile phones that can scan bar-codes, do picture searches on products and absurdly famous people. Also performs OCR.

    Google’s Project Glass: Prototype hardware attached to glasses(or a frame) that provides augmented reality functions in real-time.

    These are two separate products and I was confused as to which one you were talking about, at first.

  • Peter O

    I’m a software professional, not a member of the media, nor a Luddite by any means, and my first thought looking at Google glasses was of safety. Can you say Segway?

  • Isn’t this just another case of “It it bleeds, it leads?”