12 May 2004

Media client snobs

This recent quote got me thinking again about the pervasive Real-bashing that goes on in Internet-land:

As someone who refuses to use either Real or WM, I cannot listen to anything on the Fresh Air site.

It may only be a fringe-geek obsession, but often as goes the geeks so go those who listen to the geeks.

I'm curious and a little irritated by the amount of hatred that Real incites from the technorati. Discussion on /. about Real's player regularly swing from trashing Real to trashing the trashers and then back again.

Yeah, that's pretty much all online conversations, but anyway...

A recent set of comments on Lawrence Lessig's blog is a good example of what baffles me. The article is about Terry Gross's interview of Bill O'reilly (which is another subject altogether), which is streamed with Real's format, and a couple of posters comment not on the article but on the streaming format:

As someone who refuses to use either Real or WM, I cannot listen to anything on the Fresh Air site.

Let's go back to the /. arguments:

  • Difficult to find the free player to download
  • Displays ads while streaming
  • Bundles other (removable) software with installation
  • "Phones home" silently (disable-able) to update player data
  • Associates media files with the player (configurable)

I'll add a co-workers complaint (that I can't verify, but others have);

  • Constantly crashes

Now, I appreciate snobbishness to a point and as long as it has a point. Snobbishness allows you to discern quality from non-quality--different people's value judgments may differ, but as long as they express their criteria we can choose to choose their snobbishness. E.g. the movie critic you trust the most is a snob whose value judgments you've accepted.

Anyway, what are these media client snobs complaining about? Configurability that isn't as easy as it could be? Anyone can eventually find the download link, install, and configure it to their desire. Ad-subsidized free software and content? You don't get a free TV because all of the stations have ads. Instability? Not to be a smart-ass, but one word: Windows (honestly, every platform has some problems).

I've listened to all of the bitching, and I'm still not convinced. You pick your poison, but the passions against this particular poison are just irrational.

[ posted by sstrader on 12 May 2004 at 2:01:01 PM in Science & Technology ]