The Peter Principle Strikes Back

by Reads (3,113)

I once heard a member of the U.S. congress provide a great line about one’s peers and colleagues. He said that the first time you step onto the floor of the Congress, you wonder, how did I get here? And after a few weeks of working with your fellow legislators, your question changed to: How the hell did any of these other people get here?

The best part was that the punchline was delivered in such a way as to conjure images not just of how they got the job, but wondering how they managed to find their way into the building every day.

I have, for the most part, been spared such an experience. I’ve had both fine co-workers, and even savvy and collegial quasi-competitors. While the Internet empowers any hack to think that they’re a great journalist or commentator, it also tends to weed them out at a pretty phenomenal rate.

So it was today all the more pitiful of an experience when I watched someone, who has risen to fairly high rank in the technology news world, engaging in what I can only describe as arrogance combined with cluelessness.

I’m referring here to Molly Wood, Executive Editor of CNET. A minute and a half into the CNET “Buzz Report” for July 24, Ms. Wood went on a wholly uninformed 1 minute 20 second rant about supposed development problems with the Google-backed Android platform, effectively repeating as fact a large amount of speculation and rumor originally reported by Dan Frommer of Silicon Alley Insider.

I’m going to bypass for the moment the credibility issues involved in blindly repeating someone else’s reporting and speculation as fact, without even crediting the original source. What really shocked me was the lack of knowledge on the subject, even of the existence of other brands of smartphones, that this would-be satirical commentary exposed.

Ms. Wood, your obvious lack of understanding of the mobile device market, and Google’s business model, is pretty stunning for someone in your position. Not only do you appear to be operating on the belief that Google is somehow a failure as a company because it has diverse interests like YouTube and Voice-over-IP, but you seem to be completely unaware that there are already such things as phones that can install third-party applications not authorized by a carrier. This isn’t magic that Google is planning, it’s science.

I can’t tell what’s worse–that you went ahead with this video without doing even cursory research on the subject, or that no one else at CNET made a point to catch the errors and either inform you of the facts or pull the segment altogether.

I don’t blame you for your lack of information. No one is an expert in all fields, and your writings on the subject of intellectual property abuse, digital copyright, and related crimes show a tremendous degree of comprehension and savvy. However, when you don’t know what you’re talking about, it behooves you not to go on an arrogant, fact-free 80-second rant advertising your naiveté, and then post it on the Internet for the world to watch.

 

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