Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software The Media

Does Software Need a Siskel and Ebert? 169

Posted by timothy
from the actually-it-needs-those-critics-from-the-muppet-show dept.
theodp writes "Over at Scripting News, Dave Winer laments the lack of serious software reviews in the NY Times. That wasn't always the case, recalls Dave. 'When they started doing software reviews in the early '80s it was with the usual Times flair,' says Winer. 'But somewhere along the line they stopped taking tech seriously. It's as if they would only review Saturday morning television shows. How could television like The Sopranos or Breaking Bad take root in the culture if there was no criticism that discussed it? Yet that's where we are today with software.' So, does software need a Siskel and Ebert (or A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis for you highfalutin NYT readers!)?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Does Software Need a Siskel and Ebert?

Comments Filter:
  • by thewolfkin (2790519) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:20AM (#45290203) Homepage
    Software is everywhere.. systems are too disimilar. The fact that Mac OS != Windows alone without including Linux means this task is Herculean. We do have people who review software more seriously but their in more specilized formats. If you want to do something more open and with a wider target audience like S&E then I don't see how it could work with Software
    • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:47AM (#45290443)

      Dave Winer laments the lack of serious software reviews

      I lament the lack of serious software.

          It's all useless, poorly written crap. More and more I find myself being forced to stay with older software because all the newest stuff is a big steaming pile of shit.

      • by contrapunctus (907549) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:54AM (#45290495)

        Yeah I hate the new iWork too :)

      • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @10:38AM (#45290961) Homepage Journal
        It's all useless, poorly written crap

        My sentiments exactly. Whether you're talking software written by multi-billion dollar companies such as Oracle or SAP, to smaller companies or homegrown software, the current state of software is abysmal.

        "Throw more RAM at it!" is the usual response, as if that solves the underlying problem. Worse, you can have identical machines and get different results when installing the same piece of software.

        The biggest problem is no one is held accountable for this nonsense. Unlike building a bridge where you can check to see if the designers did their job, the engineers did their job and the construction folks did their job, there is nothing similar in software. At best, you have to wait for a patch which might, maybe, possibly, fix some issues, but then again, maybe not.
        • My sentiments exactly. Whether you're talking software written by multi-billion dollar companies such as Oracle or SAP, to smaller companies or homegrown software, the current state of software is abysmal.

          Wrong! My automagic script for reripping video files is fucking awesome. OK, sometimes it gets its panties in a bunch if the input has an unusal codec and if the resolution is a multiple of 20 it repartitions the hard disk and kills my cat, but hey...

      • by ibwolf (126465)

        More and more I find myself being forced to stay with older software because all the newest stuff is a big steaming pile of shit.

        Unfortunately, it has also been my experience that new != improved when it comes to software these days.

      • by Medievalist (16032) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @12:04PM (#45291959)

        In days of old, before the Black Ships came and the secret of hose gartering that never ravels was lost and forgotten, Niklaus Wirth figured this out [inf.ethz.ch] and bequeathed us Wirth's Law. [wikipedia.org]

        Back when the building RSX-11 executables larger than one MB that would consistently execute in real time required manually mapping memory for the taskbuilder step, software engineers had to write rockin' code just to survive in the field. We were all computer scientists by necessity. Today, though, the barrier is pretty low; just slap together a bunch of Java modules some anonymous 13-year-old wrote in a GUI and call it programming.

  • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:21AM (#45290211)
    Most reviews are shills ... companies have whole departments dedicated to getting bloggers to post sham reviews ...
    • But Siskel and Ebert gave that shitty movie Shitty Movie 3 two thumbs up!

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:45AM (#45290425)
      Indeed. I was trying to research which phone to get this morning on my ipad. Click farms, popup ads, articles which are clearly nothing more than ads. And a few reviews by people who spend wayyyyy too much time thinking about mobile phones. "The bevel was UNACCEPTABLY bumpy, but the WORST PART was the PURELY DECORATIVE SCREWS! Negative a billion points out of five!"

      I guess if your job is to talk about phones, and all the phones are pretty similar, it's very easy to develop strong opinions about trivial details. Oblig XKCD [xkcd.com]
    • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:50AM (#45290471)

      This is what happened with the games review sites GameStop and IGN. Nobody trusts their reviews after the long-rumored suspicions about getting paid for good reviews turned out to be true in some cases.

      Today most VG reviews are video reviews like Angry Joe or Zero Punctuation. And then we see things like TotalBiscuit's unfavorable review of Gary's Incident got taken down for DMCA violations [youtu.be] even after he was sent a key code for the game to produce a review. Its a shame that an industry that has more revenue in a single title than any Hollywood release (GTA V) has such a problem.

      And yet the VG review community is vastly larger than the software review community!

      • I still remember when HappyPuppy was around and actually produced credible reviews.

      • Penny-arcade does reliable reviews.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, which software needs to be reviewed? If you're talking about the apps in Microsoft Office, then you compare them to...what? the various open-source alternatives? OK. Well, that review is going to be inherently biased depending on the review's default audience. The Open-source (read: Linux) world already hates Office and Microsoft. the non-Linux environment really has no viable alternative to compare it against, as all of its past competitors in that space have fallen away (WordPerfect, Lotus, et al).

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          You may have your business, and decide to use Libre Office. Great for you and your 2 employees.

          I'm quite sure H&R Block [eweek.com] has far, far more than 2 employees, and they get along just fine with OpenOffice.

          • I know people who've worked at H&R Block. They wouldn't trust that company to calculate the tip on their lunch, let alone their taxes. The company is run by middle managers and bean counters with nothing to do for 9 months of the year.

            • by Wescotte (732385)

              Isn't a bean counter pretty much exactly the type of person you want doing your taxes?

              • Yes, but he's not the kind of person you want developing your budget. Bean counters cannot follow the link from "investment" to "return" very easily, particularly if the "return" is anything other than more money. Bean counters are the people who think cutting benefits and outsourcing talent will improve the business long-term. They treat non-commodity resources as commodities, and do not consider quality or sustainability when factoring the cost of business. A bean counter is precisely the type of pers

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        The reviewers, even when not being paid shills, are highly unprofessional. Basically amateurs who say "can I write for you?" They get a vague idea that reviewing is about either writing witty put downs or gushing endlessly. You get some FPS fan trying to review an RPG and ends up whining that the bullets didn't go exactly where aimed, or someone else awestruck at the new 3D graphics but unable to cogently describe any gameplay. I remember one person who kept dissing a game, with individual areas like au

    • by tippe (1136385)

      I've started noticing that some iphone and android apps are "bribing" (to use a harsh but accurate term) their users to give 5-star reviews in return for some locked-out functionality in their free app. When I was on iphone I had downloaded some media player app (PlayerXtreme I think it was called) that nagged me every once in a while for this ("Get unlocked pro features if you give us 5 stars on itunes..."), and more recently I've seen this on an app I downloaded off of Google play. Some companies don't

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The moment a critic gives a FOSS package a bad review, hundreds of "advocates" come out of the woodwork and assault the author with everything from crude obscenities to accusations of trolling and shilling.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      yeah, the Windoze and Mac Fanboiz never do that

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:47AM (#45290441) Homepage

      I think you're trolling, but as a FOSS advocate myself, I wish you were wrong.

      It's much like the problem of racism. After an advocate sees enough incidents of racism, every decision they don't like is suspected of being racial discrimination. Similarly, the myth that "you get what you pay for" is so pervasive that FOSS is often discriminated against, and there's a lot of money aimed at keeping it that way.

      FOSS advocates like myself often suspect a bias in bad reviews, partly because we've seen companies like Microsoft pay their shills to bash FOSS, and partly because even honest reviewers don't have any investment in the software they get for free. They'll often dismiss it at the slightest problem when a paid-for product would get a second chance. There's also the familiarity bias, where the latest version of a program will be rated highly because the reviewer's already familiar with older versions, but an alternative has slight differences that the reviewer doesn't understand. While the two packages may be equal to a new user, the reviewer will rate the one they're most familiar with higher. Since FOSS usually has a minority market share, this bias is often against it.

      The best way to avoid the rabid hordes of FOSS advocates is to have a professional writing style. Before writing any reviews, show a history of technical knowledge and a willingness to thoroughly examine everything new. In the reviews themselves, explain where and how you got the software (disclosing any conflicts of interest), and preferably also document how much prior experience you have with that program's other versions and competitors. In short, show us that you acknowledge your own faults.

      • by TopherC (412335)

        You also are bringing up a good point that an accurate review of any complex software requires an unreasonably large time commitment. What's the learning curve like? (This beats "intuitiveness".) How often are updates buggy or force re-learning on users? (Beats bugs-I-just-found reports.) How helpful is the community when it comes to resolving problems? What has the history of security flaws been like? How would you estimate the software's long-term viability and adoption by others? Does an experienced user

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      You're an idiot. FOSS-lovers have no problem bashing FOSS packages they don't like. Some prime examples are: GNOME3, Unity, KDE (much more during the early 4.0 series than now), systemd, Upstart, PulseAudio, Mono and anything written on top of it, Linux and its kernel (coming from the *BSD-lovers), HURD, and I'm sure there's plenty more I've missed. Go browse a Linux or FOSS-oriented forum sometime; you'll see no end of bickering about and criticism of various distros, software packages, languages, etc.

  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:22AM (#45290215)

    No. Siskel and Ebert rocked don't get me wrong, but we have a thing now called the Internet and google which can pretty well give you any info you want on most software out there. Anything in a newspaper or magazine is going to be influenced by $$$ anyway while the Internet is typically pretty damn raw

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      You are right, though companies are learning how to game online reviews. I think you had to be in a certain age demographic to appreciate Siskel and Ebert. I grew up in the 80s, and they always seemed fuddy-duddy... my humor was sophomoric and theirs was not, so they panned every comedy that I ever loved as a kid. This makes sense, since they were a lot older than me :)

      Here they are panning "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". [siskelandebert.org] I mean, damn. At least Roger defends it a bit, though by giving a backhanded slap at slaps

  • There are literally hundreds of review sites. Some of them are even name recognizable. Gamespot, Metacritic, IGN, etc.
    Before you say that they are limited to a certain category, when was the last time Siskel and Ebert reviewed an Anime that wasn't produced by Studio Ghibli?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but most of those "Review" sites are not really neutral - I don't trust them.

      CNET is pretty good with the Editor's and User's ratings.

      Other than that, I think most review sites are just advertising in disguise.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Steam boy, Tokyo godfathers are the first two that jump into my head.
      I'm sorry the didn't interview your pet cartoons.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      They did review animes other than Studio Ghibli. I specifically remember their review of the anime Metropolis [rogerebert.com]. (Not to be confused with the 1920s sci-fi film of the same name.)

      Your confusion is simply this: They reviewed (most) films that had a theatrical release in Chicago. That was the original purpose of the show. The reason they didn't review your favorite anime movies is because your favorite anime movies didn't have a theatrical release in Chicago. That's all. There's no conspiracy.

    • "when was the last time Siskel and Ebert reviewed an Anime that wasn't produced by Studio Ghibli?"

      Well, seeing as how they are both dead, I'd say : Not recently.

      But more to the point, Anime doesn't really speak to enough people to matter. It doesn't get distribution in the US, where they were based. Its pretty much a sub genere of SiFI/Fantasy, and those films aren't critical favories either.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I don't trust any reviews from Gamespot, and haven't visited the others. For games, there really aren't any good reviews so I tend to wait until a game has been out for awhile and then reviews from actual players start showing up. There's also the issue of reviewers being so tightly wedged into their particular niche that they can't write a review usable by people outside that niche.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:26AM (#45290259)

    He declared games to be even more creatively bankrupt than movies, [rogerebert.com] and came up with the Boulder Pledge. [patriot.net] ("Under no circumstances will I ever purchase anything offered to me as the result of an unsolicited e-mail message. Nor will I forward chainletters, petitions, mass mailings, or virus warnings to large numbers of others. This is my contribution to the survival of the online community.")

    The really funny thing to me is that computer games are pretty much the only sector of software with something even approaching a regular review/rating system, and they have long acknowledged that their "Roger Ebert" is either not writing reviews or hasn't been born yet. For other software you have to rely on advertisements disguised as reviews in PCMag et al.

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:40AM (#45290385) Journal
      Ebert argues that unlike movies, video games can never really be considered works of art. Whether or not he is right is beside the point; I say he comes off as being rather conceited, since he reviews works of entertainment, not art, even though an entertaining movie could in time be considered a work of art as well. Perhaps he is not interested in video games, but in that case why not just say so instead of implying that games are not worth the time of a serious reviewer.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Because he has actual point he argues, and they are good one.
        I'm not saying right or wrong, only that they are worth thinking about.
        It's not like he said "Bah, video games aren't art ..cause."

        really I think there is a false comparison going on.

        • by Valdrax (32670)

          Because he has actual point he argues, and they are good one.
          I'm not saying right or wrong, only that they are worth thinking about.

          Could you explain his point then? As best as I can suss it out, he offers up a wide variety of definitions of art, fails to settle on any one, and then cherry picks ones for different games to say why these particular games don't match that particular definition.

          The best I can make out of his meandering article on the subject is, "If can be won, then it isn't art, and if a game can't be won and only experienced, then it isn't a game at all -- just an emulation of real art." This argument is poppycock. It

          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            He also seems to miss the fact that many of those movies he reviewed struggle to meet the definition of art. However, because some films are art he concludes that all of them are at least related to art. There are people in the literary world too, who will quickly distance themselves from anything related to science fiction or fantasy or romance, while praising books and authors that actually fit in those categories (the magical realism genre, or the 1984 novel, or anything by Margaret Atwood or Neil Gaim

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Ebert argues that unlike movies, video games can never really be considered works of art.

        That's what I always liked about his reviews, I could depend on them. If he gave a movie two thumbs up I knew it was going to be a bore, and two thumbs down meant it was probably science fiction and/or really rocked. Ans yes, I wholeheartedly disagree with him about video games, too. They're not all art of course, but I've seen some that certainly are.

        Charles Broussard disagrees with me on this, we had some interesting

    • I think there's a reason for this. Games, like movies, have a lot of different offerings in the same basic "I want to spend time being entertained" category of human endeavor. With most software, you don't even care about the reviews unless you are first interested in the task that the software enables. Once you are, then a visit to the search engine quickly puts you in touch with some valuable opinions, and it's ok that they're fragmented all over the place, because search generally works, once you're i
  • by no_such_user (196771) <jd-slashdot-2007 ... llday.com minus > on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:29AM (#45290273)

    Perhaps Statler and Waldorf...

  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:34AM (#45290321)
    All kinds of places review Games and Apps.
    If your a professional there are long articles written about each upgrade for your tool suite.
    There are lots of long articles about each change to Facebook, Yahoo, and Google.
    So what is left? I don't use that much software outside of work and play. Tax software?
  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:34AM (#45290323)

    Are there even any TV movie critics left now? It sucks because I have to root around online to learn about quality indies now. It used to be I just had to watch Siskel and Ebert once a week.

  • Byte (Score:5, Informative)

    by Austrian Anarchy (3010653) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:39AM (#45290381) Homepage Journal
    In the 1980s I did not go to the NYT for software reviews, I went to Byte and other serious magazines for that information.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Where you making software decision for a large company that will cost millions?

      That's why you didn't read NYT.
      I do not need a software reviewer becauseI know the places I can get them. People who make the large decisions are business person. We need reviews of Enterprise software for those people.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:42AM (#45290397)
    If you're talking about games or entertainment (iTunes, etc.) then a duo like Siskel and Ebert would be very helpful. When it comes to operating systems and productivity applications, I would prefer an approach more like Consumer Reports.
    • We already have a games and entertainment review board. It's called the RIAA and MPAA and Nintendo.
  • by methano (519830) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:44AM (#45290417)
    I knew that the future of reliable reviews at the NYT was over when David Pogue gave MS Word 6.0 for the Mac a good review. It's almost universally seen as one of the worst software upgrades in history.

    I emailed him and told him I was disappointed.
  • by recharged95 (782975) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @09:46AM (#45290433) Journal

    With upgrade cycles within months, why review something that gets added features within a year.

    In the old days, you made an investment with s/w products, cause the refactor/version cycles were in years. Now it's in months--for cloud apps, maybe weeks.

  • When you had to spend a couple hundred dollars to buy a software package, the reviews were useful.

    .
    Now the software package has become the app, and is priced very cheaply.

    The resulting high-volume, low-cost business model produces an audience for the app that gives ad hoc reviews via social media and other word of mouth communications.

  • It's kind of ironic Ebert was mentioned when it comes to software reviews. What Siskel and Ebert did for decades was give their opinion on works of art created in the film medium. Of course they would take into consideration the technical achievements of the film (cinematography, timing, etc), but even if a film was implemented perfectly, they would still give it a bad review if it wasn't entertaining or worthy artistically as a whole. Obviously the whole thing is quite subjective.

    Ebert famously stated t

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Everything manmade is art. I would say cars are a finer art than most paintings in a wall of a museum, since it touches and inspires more people.

      But since art is everything (enough people claim), calling something art conversely isn't elevating it, which is what most people want, a pompous label validating either the work or themselves for liking it.

      Ebert would have been better off saying that Video Games Can Never Be Cinematic. That's a more defendable position. They have cinematic elements (film-like s

    • When a game includes real-life art such as famous paintings, music, or architecture, Ebert would of of argued that meta-art is not art which is retarded. He was a fracking idiot WRT games for completely failing to understand:

      Art is independent of the medium.

      (Something he never grokked) because he was too old to understand an entirely new medium. His closed-mindedness is exactly how film was ostracized by the plays at the time before "plays" (and playwrights) morphed into "screenplays" (and screenwriter).

  • Software is not like movies, it is like cars. Stick with the well established analogies, people.

    Seriously, software needs to be reviewed the way cars are... both for performance and functionality, and for aesthetics.

  • You look at games and and they more or less have it figured out. While a company may have shills with good SEO skills they have a much harder time defeating review site like Metacritic that calculate a weighted group think. The problem is money. There's money in game reviews. There's money in large enterprise software analysis. It's pretty sparse when it comes to productivity and utility software.

  • by magarity (164372) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @10:11AM (#45290651)

    I thought the Penny Arcade guys were the Siskel and Ebert of software reviews.

    • by mjm1231 (751545)

      I'll head there right now to check out their reviews of Office 2013 and some medical billing software packages I am considering... can't wait to see what they have to say!

      • I agree with Office* (something everyone in business has a basic appreciation for and understanding of- but Medical billing software? that is kind of a niche software market, that would be akin to Ebert & Roeper reviewing Canadian surrealist pornography.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <.onyxruby. .at. .comcast.net.> on Thursday October 31, 2013 @10:14AM (#45290679)

    It's absolutely impossible to do real software reviews of many software products without risking getting sued. This is due to the industry using NDA's for software that prohibit unapproved reviews. NDA's are why on release day you will all of a sudden see a plethora of reviews on release day. Reviews off of sites like Amazon are largely worthless due to the sheer number of shills and the most popular reviewers getting large quantities of merchandise for free.

    One merely needs to look at what happens with video games to know why. If you work for a video game magazine and give a scathing negative review you won't get selected to review the next product from that publisher. After a while you end up being unemployable as video game reviews have to be ready for release day. It doesn't take long to realize you have to carefully write about a game without pissing off the publishers. The net result is that pretty much every game review web site effectively becomes a shill for the publishers as they can't afford to miss out on day zero releases.

    Take your favorite site and select all their reviews and put them on a bell curve. Most (average) software should fall somewhere in the middle of their scale. In practice you will find many sites will give average reviews of a 7 or 8 on a 10 point scale. An honest site will fit the bell curve, a dishonest site will quickly be exposed by the bell curve distribution being shifted towards better scores. These problems are why some sites make claims about refusing to sign NDA's, they are showing that they have more integrity to give honest reviews.

    This can even extend through to things like operating systems where many beta or rtm releases have excluded the right to review the product without approval in exchange for getting an early release. One simply needs to review the history of Operating System releases to see the effect of reviewers that are afraid to piss up companies. Look back at Windows Me, Vista, Mac OS's before 10 and so on and you can find a plethora of initial approving reviews (ZD Net in particular comes to mind).

    The problem gets even worse with actual commercial software. Read your fine print from Oracle or any other commercial product and you will almost certainly find the license prohibits benchmarking and other similar activities that could be used for a review - especially for trial versions. In addition to license issues the cost for commercial software makes it unfeasible to purchase.

    Trying to review enterprise class software becomes even more unfeasible as you can't simply install it. In order to properly set it up you need a consultant who knows the product fairly well and that is cost prohibitive for a company that isn't even going to use it. Since enterprise software tends to include language in the EULA that prohibits unapproved reviews no consultant, who naturally depends on having a good relationship with the publisher, is going to help you if you might say critical things about it.

    So how do you get a real review of a product that your considering investing a lot of money in? Go to a conference or users group for the software, find an admin who's been using it and take them out to a nice dinner for an off the record review of how the product actually works.

  • by Alomex (148003) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @10:17AM (#45290711) Homepage

    Part of the problem is that a critic can sit down for two hours watch a movie and write a meaningful review. This is not possible when it comes to software.

    Let me use a real life example: I was an early proponent of Java since my first few interactions with it in 1994 were positive. Only when I was is deep in the bowels of the beast did I start to see the problems: flawed parameter passing model, the "everything has to be an object" religion (which ironically is violated by built in data types), the "you must write a preamble bigger than COBOL's to have a well designed piece of code", the horrible graphics library that if first shipped with, etc.

    After that I realized that maybe moving to Java is not such a good idea after all. I think the popularity of C#/Haskell/Scala/C++11/Python are a result of this realization.

    • by Teckla (630646)

      After that I realized that maybe moving to Java is not such a good idea after all. I think the popularity of C#/Haskell/Scala/C++11/Python are a result of this realization.

      Yeah, good call there, Alomex. Java's been a real failure and programming languages like Haskell have taken off like a rocket.

      <rolls eyes>

      • by Alomex (148003)

        Right, because majority opinion has always been a reliable way to judge the quality of something, e.g. bell bottom pants, mullets, Justin Bieber, George W. Bush.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      True, most really good games won't give you much of an idea in the first two hours. However many of them can at least tell you "wow, I want to keep playing!" versus "this seems kind of buggy and the dialogue is simplistic."

  • This seems like a bizarre lament: We have plenty of software reviews, for various flavors of software, mostly located on the parts of the internet where people who care would find them(since 'Medal of Warfare 3: Gorepocalypse Now' and 'Oracle Enterprise Resource Dominance Solution 11' are somewhat less similar than a bad summer action movie and an occupational safety training video, they aren't reviewed by the same people or in the same places). Who is the audience for the 'NYT Software Review'? What are th
  • by khr (708262) <kevinrubin@gmail.com> on Thursday October 31, 2013 @10:21AM (#45290767) Homepage

    Instead of Siskel & Ebert maybe we need more of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 for software...

  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @10:38AM (#45290953)
    Software needs an Edward Deming [wikipedia.org]
  • NYT readers couldn't care less about actual software advice. They just want their latest tv series fix. Interesting.

  • How could television like The Sopranos or Breaking Bad take root in the culture if there was no criticism that discussed it?

    I have never, ever, not even once, watched a TV show because of something a critic wrote about it. I started Breaking Bad because all of my friends were raving about it and A Game of Thrones because it was swamping my Twitter feed. In other words, those shows "took root in the culture" because they were good, not because some smarmy ass at the Times blessed them with their indulgence.

    I like Dave Winer but have a hard time accepting that he wrote those words. It sounds like something a TV critic would have w

  • Guys like Neil Rubenking at PCMag [pcmag.com] cause more worry among Product Managers and PR than a thousand forum posters. People with microphones are louder than people without, and this sort of thing is no exception.

  • by Shaterri (253660) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @11:59AM (#45291901)

    With the exception of entertainment and the rare 'culturally relevant' application, the vast majority of software is primarily a tool to get its job done, rather than an item of artistic merit in its own right. The New York Times reviews are — for the most part — cultural reviews; they're not the appropriate venue for most software reviews.

    With that said, there are those exceptions where one can speak about the artistic or cultural merits of a piece of software, and my strong impression is that the Times has never really stopped speaking about those. The difference between the '80s and today is that at that point, there was so much less understood and so much more that was new in the world of software that a lot of what came out was of cultural relevance and worth talking about on those merits.

  • Reviews made sense back when the copy of the software you purchased was the copy you were going to use for at least three years. Now we expect our software to auto update, and perhaps even have a major version change at least yearly. There's no point in having a review, if the item being reviewed has a high chance of being changed by the time the consumers are going to get their hands on it.

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane

Working...