Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ReadWriteWeb Continues to Astound

I know I come down hard on the folks over at ReadWriteWeb. But I continue to be astounded by a site that’s supposed to convey intelligent thought about technology, thinking, reading and writing but continues to consistently produce muddled messes of text that really don’t do much by way of explaining what the hell it is they’re writing about.

Here’s the latest installation.

They’re really excited about this “Internet of Things,” which Wikipedia succinctly describes thusly: “the networked interconnection of everyday objects.”

I think I understand that. Thankfully, Wikipedia adds a little further explanation that brings it all into focus:
The idea is as simple as its application is difficult. If all cans, books, shoes or parts of cars are equipped with minuscule identifying devices, daily life on our planet will undergo a transformation. Things like running out of stock or wasted products will no longer exist as we will know exactly what is being consumed on the other side of the globe. Theft will be a thing of the past as we will know where a product is at all times. The same applies to parcels lost in the post.
OK. I’m hip with that.

ReadWriteWeb offers no explanation that I can find, only links to previously-tagged “Internet of Things” posts. That’s well and good. They’re writing to their audience, perhaps. Their audience ought to know already what the Internet of Things is, right?

So if they’re writing to their audience, I must assume that their audience, at least for this post in particular, is corporate marketers.

This is what they say about “Crossbow” – which I’m not exactly sure what it is. Not that they help me out:
The 2.4ghz Iris is meant to connect the world around us to product and information management tools. As of today, the software development kit that can run the Iris is available for download for free. What's unique about the IBM platform is that it runs on a small footprint. So it takes very little energy, memory and processing power to operate these devices even though they can be linked to more complex energy-intensive languages like Java.
Wow. It can connect the world around us to product and information management tools. Really? That’s revolutionary. We don’t yet have things like smartphones, netbooks, laptops, desktops, and probably Tamagotchis that do that, do we?

C’mon, ReadWriteWeb. Tell me what this thing is. Not that the site you link to is going to tell me anything, either. So I guess sometimes it’s the material you’re dealing with, right?

I know you’re preaching to and reaching a tech-savvy audience. But in this jungle of the Interwebs, you’re going to find people coming to your site who aren’t as technically savvy as you think they ought to be. And if you want the masses to be excited about a technology that can link sensors for electrical equipment, agricultural equipment, inventory management systems and other complex bits of technology together in a way that will help solar power stations generate maximum power, tell pumps only to water crops when the water is absolutely needed and let stores know when their inventories are getting low and automatically place orders for them, you’re going to have to do a bit more in the exposition department than you’re doing currently.

You do better with Arrayent, telling us this:
Arrayent offers embedded system designers the tools they need to connect their products to Web apps and Web browsers in only one day. Arrayent has been previously featured here as the company that wants to become the Cisco of the Internet of Things. Companies that make smoke alarms, thermostats and children's toys are currently working with Arrayent. Given the potential of the Internet of Things to revolutionize consumer products, we're picking Arrayent as one to watch.
Still, you’re only giving us the idea, not the reason behind the idea. Why, for example, would we want a smoke alarm to connect to a web app or web browser? Oh, so the fire department knows when an alarm goes off at our house, using existing and vastly less expensive technology than traditional, hard-wired alarms? Great. Tell us that. I did that sarcastically in one sentence. I’m sure you could do a lot better.

The problem is, this post is so rife with mission statements and stuff that’s likely cut in slabs from press releases that you’re offering a lot of noise for only a little bit of data. A blog’s job – this is where you can define yourselves as journalists – is to look past the PR crap and actually tell your readers what this stuff is and does and could do. Like the Nabaztag, which you seem pretty excited about. I know what it is (though I’m not exactly sure why I’d want one: Wow! It reads news to you in a robotic voice, and tells you “Your stocks went up a lot today!” when you pose the question “Stock market!” And it also takes VOICE MESSAGES! Unbelievable!) by visiting this site, but your description of it leaves a bit to be desired.


I love how “It moves its ears,” is included as a product feature. You couldn’t tell me that, ReadWriteWeb?

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