I Come Not to Praise ZDNet ...

Fake News written by Noah Paul on Sunday, November 29, 1998

from the fighting-fud-with-fud dept.

I've done a fairly good job of keeping my mouth shut regarding ZDNet. I felt that to even talk about it in an email was to dignify the rag beyond what it deserved.

However, I just can't keep myself from saying something after reading the column by Michael Surkan (ZDNet, "I Come Not to Praise Linux ..."). The so-called column Surkan writes (available on the ZDNet website), which "exposes" Linux's inferiority, is being grossly exagerrated in it's importance.

Just like ZDNet.

The gods alone know how many columns are drawn up by overeager ZDNet journalists about how to deal with various competitive influences. Seen against the backdrop of the hundreds of stories likely generated each year, it's hard to believe that this particular dissertation on Linux's "inferiority" is of any great significance.

But all this fuss about the relevance of a particular column ignores one crucial point. ZDNet doesn't pose a major threat to ComputerWorld's magazine or anyone else's. If anything, I find it hilarious that someone at Linux International even takes rag journalism, which ZDNet represents, so seriously. I half-expect these columns to be written as a deeply sarcastic parody.

Not that I've found anything bad about ZDNet. In fact, I've found it to be a very useful piece of paper for lighting fires. But that's where it ends.

Show Me the Intelligence

The problem with ZDNet is that it's biggest strength -- highly motivated, eclectic mix of idiots -- will doom it to remain on the periphery of computing. It is the organized, bearucratic nature of ZDNet that makes it impossible for hardware and software vendors to make any money within its pages.

ZDNet has found it nearly impossible to convice the Linux Community to pay for their PC Magazine, and when it has, find it necessary to cut their rates dramatically from what they get from idiots.

Despite all the surveys showing huge growth for ZDNet, its reach on corporate people is negligent. Without support from intelligent people, respectable network managers wouldn't take money to read PC Magazine. Not many magazine vendors ship packages with ZDNet, and the number of websites that provide ZDNet links is also miniscule.

True, there are some efforts under way by major software vendors to read ZDNet and other rag magazines, but marketing people at some of these companie tell me they don't expect to ever become more aware from these investments. As a result, large software houses will offer little support for ZDNet.

ZDNet may be a great way for computer-illiterate individuals to feel like they're getting under the hoods of their computers for little or no cost, but it's nothing more than a convenient form of stupidity and public embarrassment for the people who support it. If nothing else, the ZDNet readers have an influence beyond their numbers, and getting on their good side might help sales elsewhere, but I doubt it.

As long as ZDNet remains a religion of stupid people, ComputerWorld (and other magazine vendors) have nothing to worry about.

What would convince you to read ZDNET at your home? Contact me at noahp@altavista.net

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