Thursday, December 03, 2009

Geeks/Nerds - The Backlash

I saw a TV ad for Intel. It showed a nerd/geek playing a practical joke on a colleague. This involved changing a term in an enormous calculation on a glass sheet. They fell about laughing and a caption triumphantly announced something about their sense of humour being different from ours. Here's a similar ad. Meanwhile, there's a Windows 7 campaign showing ordinary 'users' coming up with bright ideas for the OS and being applauded by geeks/nerds. I resent the term 'user'. It's ugly and implies a degree of contempt, but it seems now to be unavoidable. More importantly, what freak, deep in the bowels of Wintel, thought that such ads would make people feel good about their products? Basically, the ads are condescending, treating 'users' as serfs of the geekocracy/nerdarchy. Their actual intention was, I think, to humanise the gerds/neeks. But even if they achieved this, the outcome would be negative. The point being, as Apple knows, we're not interested in what these people are like, we are interested in what they make. But then advertising as a whole seems to have moved to a different planet. Ditch the nerks, I say, apart from anything else, they all look as though they smell.


  1. Perhaps the Windows 7 ads are meant to be mildly self-deprecatory, like any fool could have known what was missing in Vista.

  2. Spare a thought for the Seattle trial and errorists, nearly 2010 and they still haven't got it right.
    May the lord god Ubuntu be with you.

  3. I find this post strange. Forget Intel. Microsoft and Apple have both built their dominating positions by understanding the terrain and their customers. For Microsoft the sell has been reliable work horses; for Apple it has been all about life style advertising. Whenever I use an Apple I am impressed with the wow factor and slick design, but also badly it does many basic things, often because of this straining to impress. They can get away with this because Apple users have such an emotional investment in the conceit with a seemingly endless ability to rationalise anything into a feature.

    The truth is what both Microsoft and Apple do is very, very impressive. In many ways Windows is much more technically impressive that OS-X. Yes Vista was a dog, but everyone produces them now and again, and it was still a pretty useful one (I use it, albeit reluctantly).

    Don't forget Apple use Intel! Part of their plan may have been to go after some of the Apple geekiness.

  4. For Microsoft the sell has been reliable work horses

    Never had a Dall 4600, didja?

  5. Malty, I accidentally rejected your last - slipper fingers on the iPhone. Resend if possible.

  6. That wouldn't have happened if Microsoft made iPhones. Anti-slipper finger technology built in as standard.

  7. Chris, have you ever tried speaking to Microsoft? the Wailing Wall is more responsive. I see no mention in your comment of the utterly appalling security problems, anyone online banking via XP needs seriously talking to.
    Not to mention the near criminal attempts to suppress the open source community.

  8. You do get a lot out of an advert. I'm like Gary Larson's dog: all I hear is blah, blah, blah, blah, product name, blah, blah, blah, price. When given the choice, I avoid them. I even pull the explorer window up and to the side to hide the adverts on your page.

  9. I wonder if anyone has yet seen any advert for any IT outfit that isn't ghastly and cringe-making. The ones from the big commercial boys like IBM don't strike me as any better. My own favourite is PC World's floor-stomping "Driving Prices Down" advert of a couple of years ago, a superb untruth since that store is all about making you pay even more.

    Computers are like builders. Hardly anyone likes them but every now and then most of us find it impossible to avoid them. We know the promises will prove illusory, the work will probably be unreliable and full of glitches and the whole thing is quite likely to end in a blazing row. Sigh. If you prefer your builder in a black poloneck rather than lurching in smelling of lager, well each to their own. I doubt the results differ as much as people think.

  10. There is no doubt that some geeks are more interested in the technology than in the application of the technology - they also find "users" to be an unfortunate inconvenience. The need a decent manager to marshal them into useful productivity. I have worked in IT for 25 years and have seen
    many projects fail with no end product after much time and money wasted.
    But the projects that succeed often have something in common - clear requirements from the users. I think there is responsibility on both sides. The comparison with
    builders is interesting. Obviously you can have bad builders just like bad programmers but building jobs by good builders can suffer due to poor communication from the clients. Maybe the common thread is human fallibility.
    Regarding the name "users" - I knew a bus conductor many years ago who told me they referred to the passengers as "skulls" so maybe "users" isn't so bad....