I've been listening to old episodes of Hypercritical lately, and one of those (I forgot to write down which one; maybe #6?) got me thinking about a few things.

The first was talking about old computers, and how magazines used to always just talk about specs for new computers.  I'd never thought about it before, but I think that's due to a few different factors.  One was that magazines were attempting to be unbiased (or, at least, to appear so).

But the big thing, I think, is that most of the magazines (certainly, all the ones I read) covered hardware, and once you get past specs, the rest of it is user experience, which is software-driven.

And given that there were few magazines that covered multiple platforms (PC World would occasionally have a mac- or amiga-focused article, but we're talking one or two a year), there wasn't really anything to differentiate, except the specs.  Microsoft's de facto monopoly played into this as well.

The other part was that there was some discussion of car magazines, and especially of Car & Driver (as that's Siracusa's favorite).  I've never read any of those magazines regularly, but my biggest problem with them has always been that the comparisons aren't terribly useful.  In particular, they do Top Ten lists every year.  That's a fine concept, but the execution problem is that they have so many different categories, that it feels like every car you've heard of has gotten onto the top ten list for its category.  And at that point, unless you're completely restricting yourself to vehicles in one category (which I've never done), it's of very limited use.  And even if you are restricting yourself, if all the competitors you've heard of are on the list, it's still pretty close to useless.

What's desired is something to narrow focus for the reader, and that doesn't seem like it does the job.

Anyway, listening to the old Hypercritical's has been very interesting, and I'll probably keep doing it.

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