Monday, May 26, 2008

It Was Sorta The Best Of The NY Times, It Was Kinda The Worst Of The NY Times

I rarely read the New York Times. Moreover, I haven't ever been to New York. And since the late 80's I found that in my dealings with the Radio Industry I tended to not agree with most of the business influential people who live, work or worship at the alter of New York City. For I am one of those classic examples of that person the Bicoasters call "a resident of a fly over state". And I relish in this designation because I don't like it when people who can't see an open field of grass, not already in a park, tell me how to live or buy stuff when a short trip to the grocery store for me is a 7 mile grassy field infested journey.

When I read these things I am linking to this fine day I always swallow a bit of salt the size of a large box of Legos [who themselves are made out of salt] because a lot of the time major publications don't always get things right on a micro scale. Macro sure. But fine details always get lost in print. I learned that little nugget in one of the odd moments where I stayed awake in my print journalism classes.

Let us take a look at a good write up with some minor negative connotations first.

This article appears under the heading of "Novelties" [see the email link at the bottom of the article]. Hence my implication of minor negative connotation status. As I bare just a tad bit of resentment that technology I use every day is considered either a novelty, oddity or some other term that can be applied to bobbleheads of Eli Manning in a NY Giants uniform now discounted as we approach the new NFL season.

At the same time I know James at Freedom Vision and I have met some of the lads at Ash. I've met Doug and I know Chris Park at G.W. Micro. For all of them this story is a fantastic promotion of some new Video Magnifier models that both are releasing shortly. And it harkens me back to that old adage "There is no such thing as bad press".

What I mean by that is the people who need this technology the most won't see the tags on it the same way I did because for so many individuals this may be their first exposure to Assistive Technology of any kind. Plus! I am happy for my friends at Freedom Vision, Ash and G.W. Micro getting their names out in a major publication with such a wide distribution range. Taking an ad out in a platform like that could bankrupt an AT company outright. So when I read that link above I open my mouth wide for a very large box of salt filled Star Wars collectable Legos that go for somewhere around three times their value on Ebay.

Now the all over bad ..

Wow. My first thought was to blow this off as I don't value David Pogue's, or Walt Mossberg's for that matter, opinions on tech. But if we consider what I wrote above you find that I have to take the good points and apply them to this bad opinion piece as well.

The majority of sighted people already have a weak frame of reference on who Blind people are and what they can and cannot do in their livs. As many of these people age and approach vision loss themselves this small window into what we do and who we are causes them great fear and panic. And when these individuals are faced with this unknown they pick up on things like a dark pair of pants in a room full of Dog Guides. I always thought it was funny that a girl I met in a bar back in 1986 wanted to know what musical instrument I played because I had a cane and that is what people with canes do.. they play music. That was her perception as all the previous Blind people she had met up to that point played music. I, being the underachiever that I am, played music. Just on the radio. And no she didn't find that a suitable alternative as she was way into musicians.

Broad generalizations are one thing but specific examples are another. Enter in Mr. Pogue's comments that all and all go beyond the inference that the two Blind individuals he provided his book to were the genesis for it being on the web 48 hours later. While I realize that there could be a direct correlation between these two events, the chances of coincidence on the Internet is far too great for me not to also acknowledge. I did ask myself these questions...

  • Did you watermark the pages of the electronic copies and this is why you know that these are the two copies being distributed online?
  • Do you go around all day looking for P2P and torrent sites for your book and if so you do not download anything because of some morral high ground thing?
  • And here is an old chestnut. I'm sure you haven't borrowed a book from a friend, read it and then gave it back without buying a copy of that book yourself?

If you read the link you will see that it took seven comments before someone mentions OCR.

Quote: “Actually, authors like me are lucky; our work is, at this point, pretty much protected with unbreakable copy protection. That is, our bound and published books can’t be duplicated infinitely and distributed by the millions online.”

Sadly this isn’t entirely true. While it is prohibitively expensive for most people to make physical copies of a book it is common practice for people to scan even massive books (such as textbooks) and post the resulting documents online. It seems to me that authors are ultimately in a far worse place than the music industry in terms of the amount of damage they might sustain from piracy if good e-book readers become common. It is very difficult to compete with free, but somehow publishers are going to have to find a way to do so as enforcement is unlikely to ever be sufficient to put a significant dent in the online piracy of books. The publishing industry needs to find a way to emulate the iTunes music stores ability to get many people to forgo piracy through convenience and reasonable pricing before piracy becomes a significant threat to their business model. Otherwise they could end up in a very uncomfortable position.

— Posted by Lacci

Thank you Lacci! Because had this man joined us in the 21st Century and found a way to publish electronically no one would have had the need to ask for his books in alternative formats in the first place. And more than likely he would have been paid for his efforts as well.

Instead of doing the right thing Mr. Pogue has now exacerbated the situation by insinuating and condemning all Blind people as pirates who want something for free, tweaking off the more volatile members of Slashdot and by his own actions in this piece he has insured that a career retrospective will now be on the Pirate Bay by this time next week. Way to emulate the RIAA there David.

And now you see why I don't always read articles by these so called famous Tech pundits. Anyone who claims to be a Tech Writer who misses the mark so badly with assertions that the printed word is uncopyable isn't a writer worth his weight in Tech. Sad though that a more critical mass of people have not reached the same conclusion.

By the way I applaud Darrell 's response that he posted over at Blind Access Journal.

1 comment:

T.Reid said...

David Pogue responded to my post on his article. Since I assume you too are using a screen reader, you didn't realize that he was implying the authors were not really blind. He used single quotes around the word blind.

As I said in my reply, I really don't think that makes the article and accusation any less harmful. In fact, how in the world would he know if someone is faking blindness via email? You can see his comments here: