Robert X. Cringely, the pseudonymous tech guru who writes a column for PBS, gives us the benefit of his decades of wisdom on the whole Microsoft and Yahoo front in a post entitled The Men Behind The Curtain. Not only does he give us the benefit of his wisdom, in fact, but he spends the first part of the column telling us how he’s going to give us the benefit of his wisdom, and how we should all be damn glad about it.

“The big question was whether the passage of seven days would make pointless anything I would have to say. So I waited and waited, and it is a testament to the shallowness and endless repetition of both the tech and business media that there is still plenty to say about the deal, the true nature of which few people yet understand.”

It almost has a Moses-like, quasi-Biblical flavour to it, doesn’t it? “The true nature of which few people yet understand.” Thank God that Bob is around, to sift through the nonsense on the Interweb and tell us what really matters. He then launches into an extended metaphor about how Yahoo is really the Cowardly Lion and Microsoft is really the Tin Man — because Yahoo needs more courage and Microsoft needs more heart. Get it?

I’m okay with that part, actually. But the big revelation… wait for it… is that Yahoo has been scared ever since it bought Mark Cuban’s Broadcast.com for $5.7-billion. So first of all, we’re supposed to believe that a deal the company did almost 10 years ago has kept it from achieving greatness, and second of all we’re supposed to be grateful to Bob for having the wisdom and the insight that it takes to deliver that kind of fascinating tidbit.

Matt Gertner at AllPeers goes into an extended rant about the uselessness of the blogosphere, and how he only reads people like Cringely now, and the New York Times — but what exactly have we gained by reading Bob? Not much, I would argue. And on top of that, as a commenter notes, he gets a key fact wrong: he calls it an all-cash deal, when it’s actually cash and stock. But then Bob has a way with the facts.

About the author

Mathew 2430 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

7 Responses to “Bob Cringely does his Dorothy impression”
  1. […] broadstuff, mathewingram.com/work, Collaborative Thinking and […]

  2. Matthew,

    My point wasn't to eulogize Cringely. I went out of my way to imply that he may well be talking out his a**. His first paragraph just set me off because I had already been thinking about how many me-too stories there are on Techmeme that bring little to the party.

    That said, I can't deny that I enjoy reading his column, even though I can't really argue with your criticisms either. For one thing, he writes well and amusingly. Maybe I'm a soft touch but I thought the whole Wizard of Oz thing was quite clever. Also, he does tend to come up with original and thought-provoking viewpoints, even if half the time I'm jumping up and down on my chair screaming about what a bonehead he is to believe this-or-that nonsense. In fact, that part is half the fun.


  3. No offense taken. Oh, and sorry about misspelling your name. :-)

  4. No worries, Matt — happens all the time.

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