Daily Disaffirmations: The Good, Bad and Ugly of Murdoch’s Vision for iPad “Journalism”
Apr 15th, 2011 by scaredpoet

The “Carousel,” a feature for browsing content on The Daily


I don’t think anyone disagrees anymore at the notion that newspapers are probably going extinct within the next few years.  Aside from older generations who grew up with the traditional media, a greater number of mobile individuals are finding that their existing smart devices are giving them their news fix just fine.  And so, to survive, the traditional newspapers are trying to adapt.

The New York Times, one of the better heralded newspapers of its era, is going the paywall route.  In a nutshell, they will deliver the same thing they’ve delivered online for years, but now you’ll have to pay for it if you happen to read the website a lot.

Other ventures, however, are going the subscription model, but are trying to make it worth your while.  The Daily is one such venture, and I recently had an opportunity to get my hands on an iPad and try it out.

First things first: The Daily is a very well-executed, visually-appealing app.  The design and delivery of the content takes full advantage of the iPad.  It’s visually appealing, the interactive features and graphics are very well executed, and from a design perspective, it’s exactly what modern media SHOULD be.  If newspaper companies could actually grasp the current technology like this app has and make some use of it, they probably wouldn’t be failing right now.

Unfortunately, for all the looks and polish, the actual content is utter rubbish.  Every news piece is heavy editorialized, and parrots Fox News (in fact, a lot of the articles pretty much attribute Fox News as their source).  Since this app is essentially Murdoch’s baby, it shouldn’t be a surprise there’s going to be some right-leaning opinions, but the propaganda is EVERYWHERE.  News isn’t news in the Daily: it’s all editorialism, unabashed and unapologetic.

I can’t even recommend this app if your political views are right-leaning.  You’d basically be paying for a copy-and-paste of whatever blather is coming out of Fox News that day… something you probably already get, and probably at less of a cost than the subscription for this app’s content.  None of the pieces really bother to go in-depth.  The editors for The Daily are all about quantity, not quality.

Perhaps you are extremely affluent and hard-right-leaning, and don’t have time to read more than a half-screen of an article at a time.  So, maybe parting with an extra $40 a year for a subscription to this content is chump change.  That’s fine, that’s your decision…  just bear in mind that President Obama recently unveiled a government spending plan that would raise taxes for the top 2% of wealthy individuals.  Only, The Daily isn’t really interested in reporting THAT to you, because it was MORE interested in posting a video about Biden falling asleep during the budget speech.



So, I’m telling you now – for free, no less – something that The Daily won’t: you should save your money.


To iPad or not to iPad (or, why FOSS Activists are poor spokespeople)
Apr 4th, 2010 by scaredpoet

Those of you who have been following my site for a while know that I’ve had a bit of a transformation occur over the past three years in terms of my opinion of Apple products. When the iPhone was first announced in January of 2007, I pretty much vowed that I would never get such a piece of junk. I even re-christened it, in childish anti-fanboy fashion.  Everyone from site viewers to my own girlfriend heard my endless rantings about how this was going to be a totaly flop and why my Windows Mobile device was just fine enough for me, kthnx.

Well, that lasted all of a month after the iPhone actually hit stores.  And ever since then, I’ve paid penance for my misdeed buy buying the newest and coolest iPhone every time Steve Jobs decides to tweak the damned thing.

So, it would stand to reason that when the iPad came out, I would be a little more cautious.  And in fact, I was.   Although I was once again highly skeptical of the iPad, I said nothing on here, and pretty much kept my poker face on until I could get my hands on one.  Sure enough, i fell under Apple’s spell again.  Almost.

I haven’t bought one yet.  But I’d say I’m on the fence about whether I should get one for a very important reason: my Macbook Pro was recently stolen, leaving me (at least temporarily) laptopless.  And now I’m stuck in a dilemna: should I blow a ton of cash, load up the credit card and buy one the new MacBook Pros when they next get a refresh?  Or, will an iPad give me just enough (at considerably less cost) when I’m mobile to keep me going until I’m back at home doing serious computing on my desktop?

One thing is for sure: I am not happy with some of the editorializing people are doing about this product. To whit: this Freetard on Boinboing who is telling people not only why he isn’t getting an iPad, but why you should be a responsible consumer and not get one too.

I believe—really believe—in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue. The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better. If you wanted your kid to grow up to be a confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that you should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, you bought her an Apple ][+.

But with the iPad, it seems like Apple’s model customer is that same stupid stereotype of a technophobic, timid, scatterbrained mother as appears in a billion renditions of “that’s too complicated for my mom” (listen to the pundits extol the virtues of the iPad and time how long it takes for them to explain that here, finally, is something that isn’t too complicated for their poor old mothers).

This is where Free Software advocates  annoy me, and where they fail in the message every time.  It’s understandable that they have strong opinions and fervently embrace their ideas to the point where it’s a religion.  But calling the people you’re trying to appeal to a bunch of scatterbrained, mindless sheep is not the way to win them over.

I love free software.  When I’m not on my mac, I’m using Linux (specifically, ubuntu, which I highly recommend).  But I also understand that not every single thing that I buy, or that works well for that matter, is going to be completely open and tweakable.  Sometimes the best stuff is designed and built by people, and even business, who intend to make money, and doing that requires at least a partial closing of their architecture to users’ prying eyes.

Some people refuse to buy such products.  More power to them!  I wish them luck endlessly updating their configuration files and recompiling their linux kernel for the umpteenth time.  I on the other, sometimes prefer to use products that allow me to do actual work. And it would appear that Apple’s products, closed as they may be, permit me to do that with a minimum of fuss.  I challenged the free software community to permit people like me to always be able to do the same on their platforms.  After decades of development, they just aren’t there yet,

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