Gizmodo 1, Vox 0

The entire Vox brand, as I understand it, is about smart people giving you the straight dope without the obfuscation and spin that typifies (at least so some people claim) normal news sites.  And while I expect to have some ideological differences from the Vox people, I do think of them as smart and with solid journalistic ethics.  Meanwhile, Gawker media is generally seen as one step away (or one half step away…  or less) from being a gossip rag.  Which is why I was pretty astonished to see Gizmodo demolish a Vox article as misleading garbage.

And, to be clear, Matt Novak’s critique is right on the money.  The central thesis, which is a bit buried, is that the Vox chart which purports to show that we are taking less and less time to integrate new technologies in our lives, uses 1897 as the invention of the radio and 1926 as the invention of the television, but then uses 1991 as the invention of the internet (and 1983 as the invention of the mobile phone).

As anyone with a background in computer science (or, hell, wikipedia) can tell you, the internet wasn’t “invented” in 1991.  It’s always hard to pin down an exact date of “invention” of these things, but 1981 is a reasonable date.  Speaking personally, I used the internet (IRC, specifically) for the first time in about 1989.

One can reasonably argue that the internet wasn’t available for adoption in 1981.  But television and radio weren’t available for adoption in 1926 and 1897, either.  In fact, when television did become fairly available, it was adopted far faster than PCs, mobile phones, or the internet.

This is what Vox is supposed to be good at.  If they pick biased data to present a misleadingly simple narrative, what good are they?


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