Why Mathew Ingram pissed me off this morning

This morning one of the first things I read was this article in GigaOm  by +Mathew Ingram: http://gigaom.com/2013/02/18/how-switching-to-android-helped-me-deal-with-my-addiction-to-connectedness/ .

It pissed me off. Big time.

First, an apology, when I have an emotional reaction my first instinct was to call Mathew an idiot, which I did over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GigaOM/posts/10151517256397269 

I'm not proud of that, and +Jeff Jarvis rightly called me on that insult as being unprofessional.

Agreed. I was way over the line there, sorry Mathew.

I won't remove it, because, well, I wrote it and believe in living with the consequences of what I wrote. 

But, I took a walk, had a nice coffee with the founder of +Geek Squad, +Robert Stephens, about his new startup and that got me to calm down and really think about why I reacted so strongly.

I figured I'd use that as a teaching moment to myself, which I will share here and on all my social networks.

So, why did this piss me off?

1. The article made it seem like he didn't know how to turn off iPhone's notifications. Compare my home screen (attached) with his. Mine has no bubbles, even though I have many more apps than he does. Why? Because I used iOS's Notifications Settings to turn them off. After going nuts Mathew both pointed out that in the last paragraph he did admit he knew how to turn them off, but that Android, since it didn't have these notification bubbles, made him realize what a bad thing for productivity they are. He also added a clarification paragraph to the beginning of his article.

2. He missed the best feature in Android's notifications: that you can delete all of them with one finger swipe. I really love that.

3. He missed the second best feature in Android's notifications: that Android groups Gmail notifications together into one item. Apple's don't do that.

4. He missed that the bubbles are actually useful IF you have discipline to use them properly (I turn them off for all apps other than Google+ and Facebook, and even then, leave them off most of the time). Having a bunch of notification bubbles nagging you really bothers me because I am ADD just like Mathew is. 

5. He totally missed the headline, which has nothing to do with Android, really, but has to do with the fact that most of us aren't disciplined when it comes to our productivity (me included) and most of us don't change defaults, or play around with settings to figure out what power is hidden underneath (which includes inside Android's settings).

6. I reacted emotionally because the article seemed to be a slam without having the facts all there. Turns out the lead of the article was buried, the headline was all wrong, and it hit me on a day when I was ready to explode and have a good old-fashioned Internet rant. Hey, I'm human and hadn't had my coffee yet. It happens. 

7. It was such an awesome opportunity to take Facebook and Google and others to task for pushing themselves into our world so rudely. Heck, I'm staring at a Red Square on my Google+ screen which is nagging me to click and answer some things instead of finishing this post. Productivity killers are how these companies make profits by getting us to engage more, use more, etc. I wish Mathew had actually ranted more about that and the fact that our tech industry is doing some pretty nasty things in an attempt to get us addicted to their services.

Some things, I actually love a good war. If you've been watching the Gillmor Gang lately you know I'm playing around with Android a lot and getting my world ready for receiving my first +Project Glass  (wearable computers) from Google. Of course that will work better if you use Android. You also know that I'm no longer an Apple fanboy. Apple lately HAS slipped in my eyes and there are lots of examples how (Google Now, Waze maps, and tons of apps that are here already and coming on the Android platform, like SwiftKey keyboards) are examples of why I'm getting ready to leave the Apple platform and switch to Android. But I want folks who make these arguments to really do their homework AND make sure their articles are free of bias. That's how we'll all learn the good and the bad (and there are lots of things that I miss everytime I use Android, too, like AirPlay and better video compression, not to mention most apps are smoother and have fewer problems on iOS).

Notifications are a HUGE part of what makes us less productive (and more, if you turn on the right ones). My step mom and wife didn't even know you can swipe down from the top of an iPhone's screen to get a list of notifications. Now they both find that's a lot better than the little red bubbles. 

To end up, I got pissed off because Mathew got really close to figuring out something big that both Apple and Google need to get better at: protecting us against unproductive noise and nags, but just never got there. In doing so he just didn't come up to the quality level I have grown used to with Mathew (I've been reading him for years and he's one of my favorite tech writers) nor GigaOm (which does some of the best research and tech writing on the Internet). 

It pissed me off, but there's a good thing there. I'm working on an article about productivity, and how to make your devices serve you, rather than you being a servant to them. That requires a bit of discipline. On my part I wasn't because I went negative. On Mathew's part he didn't set the notification bubbles properly.

February 18, 2013
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