To Digit India: What are the editors doing?

The background:

I read a lot of technology-related news on a daily basis, from multiple international sources. I follow the big news religiously and wait for launches. I lust to buy the best of the products, and I can’t get tired of learning more and more about technology.

I was introduced to the world of technology because of my father, who has a degree in computer science. Since I was a kid, I have had a computer at my home and have spent time fiddling with it ever since.

My first exposure to the world of technology, beyond the PC, was this magazine called Digit that is published from Mumbai. It is one of the best magazines available in the market, and had been my favorite for a long time.

All that changed a year or 2 ago after I could see the quality of the articles deteriorating. It hurt, and since then I decided not to renew my subscription when it ends in 2014.

When I read this news article in the October issue of Digit, I was beyond angry. To me, that’s not how a technology publication approves the posts its authors write. It’s the responsibility of the editor/editorial team to go through every article that is to be published to make sure it is factually correct. This article, wasn’t.

The Article in question:

Now, Digit doesn’t have an e-book of the magazine. I wrote to them about the article titled ‘The iPhone 5S: What we don’t like’. The following are the places you can read the article about which I wrote:

1) Their website: It has an post which is a bit different from the one published (different sub-headings, among other changes).

2) The scanned copy: I don’t have a very awesome scanner, so bear with me.

3) The photograph: It’s a very clear photograph, so yeah.

 

My response, the e-mail:

To: editor@thinkdigit.com, agent001@thinkdigit.com

Hello there, Mr. Editor.
I’ve been reading Digit for the last 10-11 years, and I have every issue of Digit ever published stashed at my home, in some or the other storage compartment. I owe my initial exposure to technology and the constant advancements in the same field to Digit.
But lately, since the last 2 years, I have been thoroughly disappointed with the quality of the articles that are published and how biased and/or agreeing-with-the-popular-opinion the stories are, rather than being brutally factual. So much so that, earlier this year I decided not to renew my subscription which ends sometime in 2014. That’s saying something since I’ve been a fan ever since I started reading, and I’ve been a collector who has every copy/CD/DVD you’ve ever published.
What makes me write this to you is a story published on page 91 of the October 2013 issue titled ‘The iPhone 5s: What we don’t like’, by Sameer Mitha.Yup, I get where your thoughts take you, ‘He’s just a pissed off fan boy.’ But I request you to read the following as sincerely and without making any judgements already as you can.
The things I really think are factually incorrect:
1) The camera: The first line says, ‘We are now in the era of Ultrapixels’. What era would that be, considering Ultrapixels is just a marketing gimmick by HTC and no industry-standard? And which world do we live in that the ‘megapixel’ wars still matter? Isn’t such a dumb criterion for measurement of performance of a camera exactly what Digit should be educating the readers against?
The point of mobile photography isn’t how huge (in size and resolution, both) the photograph is, but how well the hardware and the software interplay to make the image better. The advancements in the hardware of the 5s’ camera, the A7, and iOS 7 make it a better camera than most others mentioned in that section. Without any sorts of a hands-on (it hasn’t been mentioned that you’ll had one, it explicitly says, from announcements) how fair is it to say that the 5s’ camera doesn’t stand up to the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z1, or the Nokia Lumia 1020?
I’ve been reading so many travel and sports photographers saying they’re incredibly impressed with the 5s’ camera, enough to ditch their DSLRs (examples here, here, and here), and Digit is misleading the reader by saying it doesn’t compare, only on terms of raw specs? Isn’t that wrong? I was a reader who was misled by raw specs. It’s only recently that I have understood how little the specs matter and how much more it is about the services and how they integrate with the OS. I would’ve wished Digit told me the truth about this, but it didn’t and still doesn’t.
2) No NFC: This is a joke, right? NFC is so mainstream in the US (I’m not even going to talk about how popular it is in India) that not having NFC in the 5s makes it a stupid phone? Google Wallet is less popular than Square. AirDrop (why hasn’t this been mentioned anywhere) is as fast, if not faster, than NFC and easier to use. All the accessories that use NFC would’ve rather used BT-LE only if Google had added support for it earlier. And there’s no claim saying that wireless charging is only possible if you have NFC, not otherwise.
‘Why can’t Apple just go mainstream and adopt NFC?’ Why does Apple have to adopt a proven failure of a standard? Just because after Apple adopts it, it will become mainstream?
3) Not weatherproof: Let me get this straight, a Samsung phone which rigs benchmarks, is made of slippery sucky plastic, sells for 40k INR, and isn’t weatherproof (don’t point me to the Active, it isn’t the flagship) and looks awful, cuts it to your top 3 Android phones to buy?
Just as you can spend some more cash and get the S4 Active, you can get the necessary treatment done to your iPhone 5s. For the needs of the few, why should Apple add such an not so necessary ‘feature’ to its phones? I agree it’d be great to have it, but it won’t be (or at least shouldn’t be) a deal-breaker to anyone who is going to buy the phone. And what about Apple’s great service which replaces your iPhone, when you screw it up? Would you even be entertained in a Sony, Nokia, Samsung store without a copy of the bill? I know I haven’t been, in all the three.
I get where the Apple-bashing comes from. It scores the brownie points among most of those who read your magazine and won’t be buying an iOS because Android can do so very much, and is so open, and so versatile, and can share files over Bluetooth, and what not. I get that it’s great for people to read the flaws of what they can’t afford, too, just to make them feel better. And I also get that those who will be buying an iOS device will buy it regardless of what you say about it. But, either ways, it doesn’t seem right to me that you give up on your integrity of presenting nothing but the truth to the reader.
Populist media encroaching on informative and honest media is sad. I did trust you and your reviews with almost all of my technology-related buying decisions. And now, when I revisit some articles that I’ve read over the last few months, I can see how Digit has changed (and that’s not in a good way).
Going mainstream is good. Having more readers is better. But, letting go of your values as a publication to gain traction, isn’t. And realizing that such a miserably written and deluding article got through the Editor’s office, makes me wonder if the quality of content is still a priority at Digit.
Of course, all of this doesn’t mean it’s all bad. I still love the comparison tests, the Bazaar, the Droolmaal among other things. And your cover long-read stories are a delight.
Here’s hoping that this email of mine can be helpful in correcting these things in the future issues. If things change and get better, count my subscription in for a few more years. If not, wish you the very best, with whatever your plans are.
A one time fan, and now disappointed reader.
Enjoy!
Take care.
-Setu Shah
(http://setu.me/)

What it means to not have known Steve Jobs personally…

Steve Jobs. 1955-2011.
Steve Jobs. 1955-2011.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

As I begin writing this, I’m 2 hours away from the time when 366 days ago (it’s a leap year, folks) Steve Jobs passed away. I read a friend’s text, on the morning of 6th October, by means of which I knew that Steve Jobs was no more. He, was no more. The God, had parted ways with civilization.

The biggest regret, then, and even now, that I have is the fact that I couldn’t ever meet Steve Jobs personally. I couldn’t interact with him, I couldn’t know him for who he was, and not what the media and stories told me he was.

I never really have owned anything Apple except a first generation iPod Touch. I bought it before most of the world even knew what it was (much before it became the most popular portable media player). I never had an iPhone, neither a Mac desktop or laptop. But, owning the first device, I got so gripped by its allure.

Honestly, if you had asked me 7 years before today, I wanted to be the next Bill Gates. I wanted to run a big company which drove computer sales. I didn’t know Steve Jobs (or even Wozniak for that matter) except in the rare stories that I read about them in technology magazines. Hell, I didn’t care who he was and what he was doing or had already done!

But then, all of a sudden, everything changed.

Much as I don’t remember (which I wish I did) how and when the desire to know more about Jobs crept into me. I don’t know from where or when or how I came to know all of it that I do today, or did a year or two ago. I have absolutely no memory of the phase when I turned from a ‘I want to be the next Bill Gates,’ to ‘Steve Jobs, he’s God. He’s the legend. He’s who I see myself as, a few years down the line.’

Steve Jobs was a shrewd, cruel critic. He’d insult you in public, and never apologize. He was rude. He took crazy risks. But, he was equally appreciative. He was innovative. He was a visionary. He was who most people tried to be, but never became.

As he said in a CNN interview, “My job is not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.” And boy, he did it well!

It’s difficult to meet such simple and true people in real life. Everywhere you go, you meet those who want to please you and lure you into their mean traps. Steve Jobs did the same. But, he told you that he was pushing you into a new world, in those very words before pushing you. That, made him who we know him today as… An innovator.

He is the reason we have a Graphical User Interface (GUI, in laymen’s terms, a pictorial interface of your computer), a mouse-dependant operating system, a beautiful and simple graphical OS in first the Mac, and now the OS X, iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook… And the list goes on!

He’s also the reason we have Toy Story!

And that’s the reason I wanted to meet him. He was an innovator, a risk-taker, a visionary, like few others. He had the foresight of what it would be that would make his company, Apple Inc., stand out from the rest. He was someone who stood up from the ground when he was thrown out of the company he created, only to be hired back when it had hit rock bottom, and to turn it around into the most profitable company ever. This guy, Steve Jobs as he was called, is a bloody legend. As simple as that. He is an inspiration, he is a hero, he is a human being who did what very few others had vision to do.

He made us aware of the world that exists beyond our imaginations. He made the name ‘Apple’ a household name for quality products. He made us realize that every product Apple makes, will be to make your work easy. He taught is the power of simplicity.

He was the God of innovation. He will always be.

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. You will be missed, remembered, for the legacy you’ve given us.

These are a few links I’ve come across in the last couple of days, related to Steve Jobs that I thought were worth sharing. Go through them, if you will.

  1. The answers on Quora, to the question: What are some great stories about Steve Jobs?
  2. A collection of stories published by Forbes: Untold Stories About Steve Jobs: Friends and Colleagues Share Their Memories
  3. Apple’s tribute to Steve Jobs, on his first death anniversary: Remembering Steve
  4. Steve Jobs speech from 1983 foretells rise of mobile computing, iPad

The above 4 links are a proof to what I wrote about him in the blogpost above.

No, I’m not an Apple fan-boy. But, I appreciate good technology when it’s made. And if appreciating Apple for what it does good, makes me a fan-boy, then you can call me one, sure.

This regret, of not having been able to meet Steve Jobs personally, will stay forever. But, there’s also a joy, to have read all these innumerable and personal stories of people who had interactions with Steve Jobs. He’s an inspiration to me like none other, for the very fact that he always followed his heart, in whatever he did and strove to do.

Yes, I can go on and on singing laurels about Steve Jobs. That signifies how much I admire and respect him.

Until my next post…