This is sort of a companion piece to my Writers Workbench review of Windows tablets. It's a couple of interesting, thoughtful articles from my friend Ed Bott. Ed, as I've mentioned before, is one of the true tech whiz writers around. He's written a column for the well-regarded ZDNet for many years and is the author of a few dozen books on technology -- most, if not all centered on the concept of making tech easier to understand for people.
And he does a great job at that. One of the reasons that Ed is so good -- and has been so successful at it -- is because, unlike most tech writing, he is smart, thoughtful, fair-minded, even-handed, full of great depth and explains things so well. And is simply a really good writer, with an actual sense of whimsy (something, you might imagine, tech writers aren't renowned for.) When he has to be techie, he goes to great lengths to make it understandable. And goes to equal lengths to avoid being techie when appropriate.
These two article are good examples of that.
The first is a round-up of a dozen reviews of the Microsoft Surface tablet. He's written his own detailed review, but to be balanced, he dove into the Internet and collected a cross-section of articles. But it's more than just that -- he provides excerpts from each review, highlights the most notable passages, and then gives his analysis of the review compared to the others, to give perspective. And even includes a link to the full review for those interested. You can find it here.
The second article is a fascinating look at how Microsoft screwed up the marketing of the new Surface 3. This has nothing to do with how good the tablet is or not (Ed thinks highly of it). But it's about how they positioned the new release at the initial press conference roll-out, and how the press, in turn, took that as their starting point and went in directions that Microsoft likely didn't anticipate. It's not that this "killed" the Surface, not by a long shot, but rather how the company helped build its own hurdle to get over. The short version is that Ed believes the Surface is an excellent tablet and fits the needs of a large segment of the public -- but Microsoft created a situation where the press was virtually asked to write about how it fit into their lives. And the lives and needs of tech writers are worlds different from most mortal humans. Even if you don't care much about the technology, it's a wonderful case study of product management. (And has that Bott trait of whimsy, comparing the efforts of journalists to the old Folgers coffee "hidden test" commercials -- "JoAnn doesn't know it, but we've replaced her MacBook Air with a Microsoft Surface..." ) You can read the article here.
Or what the heck, why not just go all in. If you like such things, it's well worth your while to bookmark The Ed Bott Report and just check it out once in a while when the spirit moves you. It'll make you feel so much less lost in the world of technology and feel so much smarter...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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