Chris Dahlen at Pitchfork Media laments the state of technology journalism:
I keep hearing the same gripe from the critics of the critics of pop
culture: Today’s writers eat it. Nobody knows how to cover music, or
movies, or video games, or any of the other media that matter. We need
someone to swoop in and save us: We need a new Lester Bangs, or a new
Hunter S. Thompson– one of those guys who made criticism and
alternative journalism seem so vital back in the 1960s and 70s. Where
they hell did they go?
[…] But I think I’ve found the answer: We don’t have a new Bangs or
Thompson yet because pop culture today is primarily a technology story.
And we don’t know how to write about technology.
Oh sure, we cover tons of stories about technology. We write up every new thing from could-be-big trends– whatever happened to the podcast revolution, anyway?– to tiny but buzzworthy ones, like that "personalized" Jessica Simpson download they’re selling at Yahoo! Music. The problem is that every time we write about some new technology like podcasting, we go through the basic template– explain how it works, decide whether grandmothers will care about RSS feeds, and so forth– and we quote the same types of people: The early adopter, the industry analyst, the skeptic. And no matter what context the story falls into and how important the subject may seem, the overall tone is always the same: whatever it is, it’s "neat." […]
[Tech] magazines are digging deeper ruts in fallow soil. Wired‘s devolving into Cosmo for geeks: It hypes and glosses over tech the way Cosmo turns
the most spectacular human experience, the orgasm, into bulletpoints.
And who else is out there in the popular press? We know that our
readers probably play an Internet-enabled XBox 360 that can pipe movie
trailers while they’re listening to an iPod and instant messaging their
friends on a laptop. But what’s the real story– that we’re entertained?
We almost need a refresher course in media studies, á la Marshall
McLuhan. We should start with McLuhan’s quote– "After more than a
century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous
system itself in a global embrace"– and step by step, relearn our
relationship to the world.
[…] The tech press says we’re at a buffet of gadgets and gizmos; but we
should be knocking over the table and eating off the floor. We have to
strip away the geekery, the gadgetry, and the consumerism, and instead
of explaining why this brave new freakshow interests us, we have to
understand what it’s doing to us.
It’s a nice rant and I agree up to a point. There’s some good stuff out there, but it takes a bit of searching. I was going to make a list, but I don’t have time right now — for anyone who cares, I’ll leave it to you to scan the book list to the left and the ugly unsorted link collections to the right. Sorry for the disorganization.
One recommendation that’s not here (and not really tech, but pop culture and business culture): The Baffler magazine, and Thomas Frank’s books (especially One Market Under God).