Apple, interpretation and the woo-hoo/boo-hoo thing

One of the interesting things about online news is that you can often see stories unfiltered. For example, if you’re interested in Apple’s iPhone antenna news conference, you can see footage of it rather than relying on someone else’s report of it. And that throws up something interesting, because there are some very different interpretations floating around.

Take the issue of Apple giving away cases. This is what Steve Jobs said (it’s just after the 25 minute mark if you’re watching the video):

A lot of people have told us the bumper solves the signal strength problem… why don’t you just give everybody a case? Okay, great, let’s give everybody a case… We’ll re-examine this in September and decide whether to keep going or maybe we’ll have a better idea.

And this is Slate writer Farhad Manjoo’s interpretation. Like me, Manjoo wasn’t at the conference; he relied on liveblogs and tweets. I haven’t linked to him for any other reason than his was the first article I thought of.

Still, if you want to be a total jerk about it and keep insisting there’s a problem with your magical iPhone, Jobs has an offer for you. ‘OK, great, let’s give everybody a case,’ he said. Happy now, whiners?

Now, it’s entirely possible that I’m the one who’s wrong here, or that I’ve completely misinterpreted the article, but I think Manjoo’s suggesting an attitude, a vibe that I really don’t get from the video. Is Jobs indulging in a bit of reality distortion during the presentation? Of course. That’s what he does. But immediately before the case announcement Jobs admits that while it doesn’t affect everyone, there is a genuine problem; the case bit doesn’t seem to have any “whiners” subtext.

I’m just not picking up the same attitude that Manjoo clearly picked up. Quite the opposite. I thought Jobs seemed frail, and tired, and less cocky than usual. But you don’t have to take my word, or Manjoo’s word, for it. You can go to the horse’s mouth and get it unfiltered.

And that’s great, but it’s also terrible. Great that you can get things in context – although of course how you interpret what you see or hear will depend on what you’re bringing as baggage, so it’s going to be your truth rather than an absolute truth – but terrible because we’re quite busy enough, thank you. Who other than the most spittle-flecked insomniac conspiracy theorist has the time to investigate every single thing they read?

I think the ability to go to the source is a good example of the woo-hoo/boo-hoo way the Internet often works.

Woo-hoo! I can do this! This is great!

Boo-hoo! I have to do this! This sucks!