Curious Rat

Chewing at the tech industry's wires...nom nom nom...

formspring.me

Ask me anything http://formspring.me/hcmarks




The TWiT Network and Why It’s So Damn Important

It was killed before its time. Some say it was ahead of its time. Regardless, TechTV was a network on the cutting edge - not just in terms of the technology it covered, but in the way it promoted tech news as more than just a niche industry. On TechTV, gadgets and science were as important as wars and healthcare reform on CNN or Fox News.

When the station was bought by G4 and turned into “SpikeTV Lite”, it lost 99% of everything that made it so special and while Olivia Munn is smart and sexy, the continuous loop of COPS episodes and Japanese game shows is not.

Relegated to the not-so-far ends of the Web, Leo Laporte, TechTV’s grand poohbah and the guy everybody used to “call for help”, founded a new station, however this one was different - it was online.

The TWiT (This Week in Tech) network was started by Leo Laporte in 2005 as a recorded dinner conversation among several former TechTV-ers after covering that year’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco. What started as an informal conversation among friends turned into arguably the biggest tech-focused Internet television and radio station.

So, why am I writing this? If it’s so big, what more could it possibly need? That’s easy; it needs to be mainstream.

Ask any non-techy if they’ve ever heard of TWiT and they’ll most likely think you’re talking about your ex-girlfriend. Remind them of Leo Laporte and they’ll probably go, “Oh yeah, that guy in the Hawaiian shirts who helped people fix their computers?” Leo is a tech icon and, not to sound overly butt-kissy, but inspired me to take the leap into tech journalism in the first place, which is why it irks me that TWiT is not as mainstream as it should be.

Technology is no longer a “and on the lighter side of news” topic. It affects our daily lives, from our PCs to our BlackBerries, and as such, should be more prominently featured within the “mainstream media”. It’s fine to wax philosophical about Tiger Woods’ cheating for 12 hours on CNN, but various European governments are plotting ways to ban their citizens from accessing the Internet forever should they get caught illegally downloading a song and it barely gets a two-minute segment on MSNBC.

There’s a serious deficit in the quality of news that is reported today because news organizations are run by expensive suits who don’t have the time to pay attention to what’s going on outside their offices. They’re slaves to email, yet they don’t care about what’s on the horizon - what may be coming to replace email in the near future.

Leo said on episode 215 of This Week in Tech that TechTV

“…failed because advertisers really didn’t have faith in broadcasting intended for intelligent audiences. Advertisers thought, intelligent people are going to watch the ads, they’re just going to decide what to buy because they’re intelligent, we can’t influence them. And I wanted to make the point to these young people and these people in transition that in fact you could do a smart network – TWiT’s been nothing but aimed at intelligent people – and make a living.”

I’ve personally signed up for a Carbonite account to backup my files and purchased Audible gift cards for my father for Christmas based on the recommendations of Leo Laporte and the TWiTs. To claim that viewers are too intelligent to fall for ads is just lazy marketing.

If customers don’t buy something, it’s not because they already made up their minds beforehand. It’s because the marketers didn’t do their jobs in convincing those consumers that they needed what was being advertised. This goes for any show on any network in any medium, be it television, radio or print. People are smart. They should not be treated as potatoes with wallets.

We’re living in a era of perpetual innovation. New developments are being made across industries and oceans and TWiT has managed to cover an exorbitant amount of them throughout the many, many shows that are a part of its network. The TWiT family of shows is a vital resource of insight into what can, at times, seem like a very closed industry. The people who host and appear as guests on the shows with Leo manage to bring their expertise and unique points of view to topics not being discussed in detail on other networks.

And this argument doesn’t just extend to TWiT; this goes for the blogs and tech sites that are just as, if not more journalistic than their print competition (DaringFireball.net, Engadget and Mashable come to mind). These sites don’t tend to get the same number of views as the New York Times or USA Today, but they are just as necessary to read as any mainstream publication.

Technology is constantly changing, it’s always growing. Technology is organic. News is the same way. Therefore, it’s only natural that as technology grows, its presence in the mainstream media also grows and the people who are capable of leading this charge, of heralding the latest innovations to the huddled masses are those who make up the TWiT network. Thank you, Leo and everyone who’s a part of TWiT - I can’t wait to see what’s next.


Gizmodo/iPhone Knowledge Center

I’m sick of commenting on this story (if you follow me on Twitter, you understand), but I’ve put some links together that I think give the best overview of the Gizmodo/iPhone scandal - and none of these links go to Gizmodo itself. They’re playing coy and cute about the whole thing and not giving up the whole story.

My take on the entire situation: Gizmodo bought stolen property, lied to its readers and publicly humiliated and possibly ruined the career of a guy who seems to have made a truly honest mistake. Gizmodo is not a news site; it’s a sociopathic wannabe-TMZ for comment-trolling, Mountain Dew-chugging nerds.

That said, here are the links:

"How Gizmodo got the biggest iPhone scoop of all" by Andy Ihnatko (Chicago Sun-Times)

"Gizmodo and the Prototype iPhone" by John Gruber (Daringfireball.net)

The Conversation: Episode 12 - “the Gizmodo/iPhone Thing” - a podcast by Dan Benjamin, featuring Andy Ihnatko and John Gruber

Apple’s next iPhone: what we know (and what we don’t) by Paul Miller (Engadget)

This should tide you over until the next scandal (or, hopefully, until the phone is officially announced/released at this year’s WWDC).