Saturday, February 04, 2012

Can Gear Reviews Preserve A Critical Function?

Every time I post a tech article on this blog I wonder whether this is really the place. But then I get so many positive comments back that I feel justified. The hitch for me is that any article about some new piece of gear is at risk of promoting hardware over wetware.

Consider my popular threads on small digital recorders. I get a lot of hits from these, though I'm not selling anything so these only boost the ego. I am happy to point out to you, my readers, which recorders are better value for the money since I want to reward good design, good engineering, attention to detail, and responsiveness to the needs of picky users -- and not just gadget freaks. I have had manufacturers write me and others post comments, so I know some are reading and, hopefully, taking note. So that's some sort of justification.

The other main interest this impacts is photography, since I tend to post technical articles more often than I do photos or articles concerning composition, aesthetics, etc. That's mainly because I have very little to add to the good work already out there on those subjects. And I use Flickr for photos, five thousand of them.

I find some of the brand-led cheerleading (AKA "fan boy") blogs out there to be a distinct turn-off. Mind you, they get all the readers, since it's rather easy to say nice things about a product, accept the adulations, sell links to Amazon or B&H, lather, rinse and repeat. So long as you only point out minor difficulties and emphasise how much "fun" the gear is, people figure you're a good sound sort with your heart in the right place. They keep reading and keep clicking.

The whole setup stinks. These bloggers are essentially unpaid employees of the marketing and sales departments in question, desperate for the few pennies they are going to see off lining the purses of the retail shops they tout for. I'm desperate, but will I ever be that desperate? Stay tuned! (Yes, I've experimented with Amazon links and made exactly zero dollars from the exercise. That's some sort of a relief!)

As an artist, I don't think I need to tell anyone what gear to buy. it seems contradictory to my basic impulse in life. Yes, as a photographer and sound artist I need to use certain hardware, and can even get rather excited about it. But it is always a means to an end.

On the other hand, so few places are critical any more. This encourages me to stick my neck out and be bolder. I'm starting to have forum posts censored for mentioning products other than the ones the bosses want to sell. Some fora do not allow links to "competing" sites -- as though their users can't use Google! The short-sightedness of this is astounding. The fact that forum users let it happen is sickening. I guess people can justify a heck of a lot as they sign their rights away... history proves!

We live in a world where few know what "public" means and fewer still wish to do anything about it. And criticism? That's a dirty word. Smile and move along. Keep buying.

Yep, this is hardly news. But I'm trying to figure out for myself what sort of articles should constitute this blog. This particular entry was going to contain my opinions on the new Pentax mirrorless camera. But instead it's about whether such opinions matter at all. And whether this is any sort of a place to share them.

Can a gear review ever circumvent the essential problem that writing about gadgets sells gadgets? And that this is not a viable way to create a better world?
What sort of articles do you want to see here? More photographs? More on audio? More sharing of my sound works? (Actually, that is coming, one way or another).

Let me know!



Noise Figure said...

It will be right that Noise figure is expressed in dB. Smaller numbers correspond to lower noise and a greater ability to detect weak signals.

robin said...

That comment is either misplaced from another page or some sort of post-ironic remark. In which case, I like it!

Post a Comment