Matt Buchanan of The New Yorker writes about when the next great technology critic will come along in the wake of The Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg and The New York Times’s David Pogue moving to online jobs.
Buchanan writes, “The questions that consumers face, in other words, are less about what to buy than about how to live. It’s not a matter of which social network or search engine or photo-sharing service to use; it’s who you should friend on Facebook, the best way to Google, and whether or not you should use filters on your Instagram photos.
“The point, ultimately, is that there is more need than ever for regular technology criticism in two of the most important newspapers in the country — but it needs to be deeper, and different, than what Pogue and Mossberg did. There can be beauty in aluminum, glass, and polycarbonate; art in the design of software; and elegance in coding. Or ugliness and chaos. These are rarely, if ever, meaningfully captured in newspaper technology criticism, in the way that, for instance, James Fallows critiqued the productivity software Agenda, or Anthony Lane reviewed the English Poetry Full-Text Database. This is despite the fact that there must be a greater audience than ever — a very mainstream one — for the kind of technology criticism that the Web pioneer Dave Winer seeks, which provides “perspective on what I’ve seen, and more to think about,” much like a movie, book, or any other cultural artifact.
“Both the Journal and the Times are looking to replace the positions held by Mossberg and Pogue. The Journal’s global technology editor, Jonathan Krim, wrote in an e-mail that the paper is ‘actively talking to candidates’ to replace Mossberg as a regular gadget reviewer, and that it ‘intend[s] to give a lot of visibility to personal tech reviews and news.’ The Times did not respond to a request for a comment, but it is currently evaluating replacements for Pogue. They would both do well to reconsider what, precisely, it now means to review ‘personal technology.'”
Read more here.