Bob Cringely does his Dorothy impression

by Mathew on February 8, 2008 · 7 comments

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.

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  • http://www.allpeers.com/blog Matthew Gertner

    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.

    Matt

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I know what you mean, Matthew — I kind of like reading him too, even
    if he does get on my nerves from time to time. He is a pretty good
    writer, even if he is wrong a lot of the time. I guess it just bugged
    me that he was claiming to have some kind of penetrating insight, but
    then more or less failed to deliver. Anyway, I didn't mean to take it
    out on you — you were just collateral damage :-)

    Thanks for the comment.

  • http://www.allpeers.com/blog Matt

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

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    No worries, Matt — happens all the time.

  • http://www.allpeers.com/blog Matt

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

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    No worries, Matt — happens all the time.

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