John Dvorak: Stop The Apple iPad Fanboy Articles

I found an interesting post titled Street Myths: John C. Dvorak on Wired dated February 1994. And in it Paulina Borsook takes a look at the real Dvorak. On the myth that Dvorak is a professional maverick… true:

Trades on being the computer-journalist equivalent of the kid who makes snarky remarks in class, but because he makes the teacher laugh too, isn’t sent to the principal’s office. MacUser Editor in Chief Maggie Cannon, who first hired John C. Dvorak at Infoworld in 1981, says he “pioneered three-dot computer journalism and has the Rush Limbaugh/Howard Stern image people love to hate.” Still, PR specialist Andy Cunningham says that Dvorak is “a lot more reasonable than his image, and if he’s caustic, it adds to his career.” His irreverence and bad attitude don’t subvert the dominant paradigm enough to cost him the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year he pulls in through his Ziff-Davis-based publishing sinecure. Dvorak considers Infoworld’s Robert X. Cringely his only true computer-columnist competitor, meaning Cringely also takes a stand of critical distance on the computer industry. Some sources maintain the two writers share other traits, such as journalistic sloppiness, mendacity, and nastiness.

More than 16 years later, Dvorak on Wired’s 10 Stellar iPad Apps That Will Blow You Away:

“Blow you away” indicates an explosive force that will move everything out of the way and leave you stunned. … Having a new Craiglist re-engineered for touch screens is not going to blow anyone away.

This list of “stellar apps” could have just as easily been titled “10 Banal Apps to Clog Up Your iPad.” Seriously. Let’s run down the list: another reader app, a GoToMyPC clone, a musical app that plays notes on a virtual piano, a comic book reader, a program that turns the iPad into a PC display, some social networking add-on, a Safari plug-in, a Craigslist interface, a note taker, and a program that shows a photo from The Guardian once a day.

Classic Dvorak, isn’t it? The terms “blow away” and “stellar apps” might have been a bit over-reaching by Wired’s Brian X. Chen, I’ll agree. But let’s not categorically dismiss these apps as well as Chen without a critical look. I actually bookmarked the article from Wired yesterday so I could come back later and take a closer look; I think it’s that time. I’m not going through the entire list, but let’s take a closer look at Reeder, “another reader app”.

Reeder, just another reader app it is not. Its a simple and elegantly designed RSS reader. Your RSS feeds are spread out like the Photos app on the iPad. And like Photos you can un-pinch to spread out all the articles in that feed; pinch it and the articles zoom back into the RSS feed tile icon. I think there there has been a lot of folks waiting for a RSS reader that’s more than good-enough. What makes Reeder unique is that it lets anyone who has a lot of RSS feeds to easily navigate through, pick out a feed and read the articles in a visually simple yet elegant way. There is possibly an Achille’s heel in using Reeder: you will need a Google Reader account. The US$5 iPad app is created by Silvio Rizzi, who also wrote Reeder 2 for the iPhone. If you use both apps the Google Reader link becomes quite useful as it allows syncing between the iPhone and the iPad. The website is reederapp.com/ipad. Here is a non-exhaustive list of reviews for Reeder on the iPad that I thought was thorough:

Reeder for iPad Review by Chris Kirby at 148Apps:

In the end, Reeder’s speed, unique interface and overall simplicity make it hard not to recommend for anyone looking for a feed reader on the iPad. It is a bold step ahead for this genre of app.

Reeder Redefines Google Reader on the iPad. Reviewed. by Federico Viticci at MacStories:

It may sound cheesy, but Reeder for iPad really is the best Google Reader client you can have on this device right now. Well, not exactly right now, as the app is still currently awaiting for approval in the App Store and should be available soon. Once it is, go ahead and purchase it. This is the start of the second wave of great iPad apps.

iPad App Reviews РReeder, The New York Times by R̩my Numa at MacTalk:

As a widely anticipated release for the iPad, Reeder’s abnormally long approval waiting time was worrying for fans of the app, possibly due to the extensive use of the pinch-to-zoom feature that Apple boasts in the iPad’s Photos app. Whether this should be allowed for third-party apps or not doesn’t matter, because these sorts of enhancements are part of what make Reeder such an excellent RSS reader for the iPad. In a hotly contested market on the App Store (Pulse and NewsRack spring to mind with more clients on their way in the coming months), Reeder tops the rest again.

Reeder for iPad: The Last RSS Reader You’ll Ever Need by Jonas Wisser at AppStorm:

Reeder makes reading your feeds fun. I’ve been testing it for a week now, and the enjoyment I take in physically manipulating my feeds rather than simply tapping them has not grown one iota less. I’ve actually found myself giving up Google Reader on my Mac entirely in favour of using Reeder for iPad.

Again, this list of reviews is not exhaustive but I looked through several dozen and curated just the ones that I thought did a thorough job of looking critically at the Reeder app. It seems it really isn’t just another RSS reader as Dvorak is suggesting. If I had an iPad I would definitely try out Reeder and bets are I would like the experience and make it my main RSS reader. So in my opinion, Chen got it right, for Reeder, and Dvorak didn’t.

But that doesn’t let Brian Chen off the hook. For instance there are two things that bug me about the article. First, I do agree with Dvorak that the title is a bit hysterical. Stellar? Blow away? But I don’t completely fault Chen. Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software, Scott Forstall’s favorite phrase is “blow away” and anyone who likes Apple products has seen him a number of times in product launch videos saying that phrase, often, to say the least.

We all have our favorite words or phrases. The word ‘boom’ used to be Steve Job’s favorite word during his keynotes. Check out a silly YouTube video titled “Boom!“.

The second thing I didn’t like much: Chen does a mediocre job convincing the reader that these apps deserve to be on their iPads. Each app gets at most three short paragraphs, which isn’t enough writing to get deep enough into the analysis. But what do I know? Maybe Chen knows something Dvorak doesn’t: the Wired post got retweeted 492 times and Facebook-liked 158 times as of this writing.