I was just reading some old computer magazine archives that I have, and I couldn’t help but wonder about the need for social media like blogs. Now many people dismiss blogs as trash where people get to rant, but I disagree. Take tech magazines and blogs for example. I was reading the PC World (India) website award stories online, and the one thing which really struck me was that none of the jury members seemed to be actual site members, who have a FEEL for what their service actually IS. It’s all OK to talk of which site looks good compared to some other site, but it doesn’t tell you a wetslap about ground realities. So for example, they can go on and on about how nice XYZ education site is, but they’re not the friggin’ students, are they? Nor could they ever match, say, Ankit Sud’s review of photo printing sites in India; simply because they never ORDERED prints from ANY of the sites in the first place! Only an actual user of the service who puts up his review can tell you how good it is in real life – that’s something any tech mag CAN’T do.
photo credit: MexicanwaveIt’s not just that – when considering tech product reviews, you’ll notice that that the quality of customer is never factored in, and yet it’s a very pertinent question. Only Apoorv Khatreja could tell you about current issues with Altec Lansing’s customer support, while the tech mags only comment on the copy they get to test on which. Which brings the other point – since most of the products they get for reviewing are not bought but given to them specifically for the purpose of reviewing, they are not necessarily impartial. You’ll notice that Indian magazines like Digit and Chip never have the gall to give a REALLY bad review about any product. Ones from foreign shores like PC World DO have a set of balls and occasionally tear a product apart, but still, the majority of their review end up giving 75-85% approval ratings – weird for real-world products. I’m not advocating magazines here, but just pointing out that tech magazines – or even blogs like Gizomodo or Engadget – may not like to bite the hand that feeds them (rather, gives them products to review). I’m not saying that they blatantly write advertisements, but that when they’re getting the products as a ‘favor’ rather than BUYING it, you tend to be sub-consciously partial towards the product. Something that a blogger review doesn’t have to face with.
That, and the fact that they use the product for a lesser period of time than someone who publishes to his blog. Only I could tell you that I dropped my LG phone from my first floor balcony, without any harm coming to the phone; or the fact that it’s predictive text input sucks. Not some tech reviewer who may have a few hours – or a day at max – to review a product which he hasn’t bought, but received as a ‘gift’. They simply don’t get enough time to tell about the lifetime of use a product undergoes!
That’s the power of Web 2.0. Getting to know stuff first-hand from people, people who are passionate about spreading their bit of knowledge to others.