Sunday, October 23, 2005

I call bullhockey on Cringely

Crusty old fart (not part of the OFGN though, AFAIK) Robert X. Cringely throws some numbers up in the air and tries to argue that storage is a big problem for the Web. Let's look at the start of his equation.

Let's imagine some typical numbers. In the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen/Netratings, we have approximately 202 million Internet users, each of whom is eligible for a free Gmail account with two gigabytes of storage. Since my mother uses less than two gigs and I use more, let's do our rule-of-thumb estimate with that number, making the potential Gmail storage obligation 404 million gigabytes or about 400 petabytes. That's 400 times the current capacity of the Internet Archive, but it is also probably a tenth or less the total capacity of our PC and DVR hard drives today, so I think it is a very fair number to play with.

Dude, you said that not every one of those 202 million users would require 2 gigabytes, but then you just multiplied 202 million by 2 gigabytes to get 404 million gigabytes! What kind of rule of thumb is that? Your assumptions are screwed. Contact someone at Google or Yahoo or to ask them how much of their allowance users actually use. THEN you make with the fancy equations.

Speaking of journalism, I wasn't at all happy about Cringely's interviewing technique in his NerdTV interview with Dave Winer (MP3). There's a period in the middle of that interview just after Cringely asks Winer "Now how were you introduced to the world of commercial software?" to where he finally moves on to the topic of RSS, where Dave speaks 5000+ words without Cringely asking a meaningful question. I Ctrl-C-Ctrl-Ved that passage into MS Word and it said 5,573, but I suppose I shouldn't count all the times Robert says "Yeah" - three times at a row at one point, followed by a "No, I'm not sure we'll see it" and an "Uh-huh". Don't get me wrong, Dave is fascinating to listen to and I believe in letting the interviewee speak without the journalist cutting in all the time, but this goes too far the other way. You have all that time with Winer to yourself just as blogs are hitting the mainstream with Winer as John the Baptist and blogs as the New Jesus, and all you do is let him ramble on about musty history? Ask the man some questions, damn you! Set an agenda! Get Dave to react to something, not just poke about in the depths of his hazy memory. If we wanted a Dave Winer monologue, we'd read his blog (and I do).

Most. Frustrating. Podcast. Ever.


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