Monday, May 25, 2015

Punditry Gone Mad

Punditry is all mad, of course, and is mainly about confirming audience biases. Here's a particularly egregious example from the camera industry.

A popular column (essay, blog post), oft repeated by the internet-famous, runs thus:

The camera industry is in trouble, sales are dropping, fast. People are taking more and more pictures with cell phones and buying fewer and fewer real cameras. The solution for camera makers is to woo the cell phone users to real cameras, and the way to do that is to put such and such feature into a camera.

The fact that Nikon et al don't is evidence that they are stupid, and that I am smart.

This is unadulterated pandering. The implication is that the audience, being very much like the pundit, are also smarter than Nikon management. Then a jolly good time can be had arguing about precisely which mix of obscure features would save Nikon from the cell phones, and everyone gets to feel very clever and they get to have a great time talking about one of their favorite things, fancy cameras.

Somewhere in here is the planted assumption that cell phone users can be wooed, en masse, to cameras, if only you got the mix of features right. An essential part of this assumption is that cell phone picture-takers are dissatisfied with the phone's camera.

It fails them in low light. Sometimes it fails them shooting action. Therefore, the argument goes, the cell phone picture-taker is simply waiting for a better solution.

The problem here is that the cell phone picture-taker doesn't care. Oh, they're a little sad the pictures didn't work out, but they're not crushed.

Because pictures are disposable ephemera, and simply not important.

This is the vital point the average internet camera enthusiast cannot grasp. Pictures are not important. Image quality is not important.

To the average reader of Thom Hogan, LuLa, Ming Thein, and no doubt dozens of others, this is a literally incomprehensible attitude. No wonder the aforementioned pat bit of canned rumination, coughed up whenever there's nothing else to bleat about, always sells so well.

Without understanding how people understand photographs, in the mass, you cannot begin to understand how to sell photograph-taking equipment.

And the internet-famous pundits, mostly, don't understand.

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