Sunday, January 14, 2007

Review: The Perfect Thing

Steve Levy's latest book is yet another example supporting my thesis the English majors/journalists are no longer capable of explaining the complex world we live in. The Perfect Thing is a love paean to the ipod, about how cool it is, how nice one is to use. In imitation of the ipod's shuffle function, Levy even has different copies of the book with the chapters out of order, so each person would read the chapters in a different order. The cute little device works, but that's all it is, cute.

I read the book hoping for an insight about the design and the development of the ipod. Levy has proved himself in the past capable of understanding the people dynamics of software, but in this case he was so caught up with love for the ipod, that he skimmed over the development process in 1 short chapter that was mostly about how good Apple was at UI design. From anyone else, I might understand an excuse saying that he was not given sufficient access, but Levy makes a point of bragging about how many meetings he had with Steve Jobs. And of course, any question of journalistic integrity was long gone when he bragged about being one of the first recipients of the first review products from Apple (presumably he gets all his ipods for free for writing such positive articles about Apple, the ipod, and Steve Jobs).

The last straw for this book came when he spent an entire chapter on the shuffle feature, on how it wasn't really random for him, but his personal ipod liked Steely Dan anyway. Anyone with even a slight understanding of probability theory should be insulted by this chapter.

All in all, the 3 hours spent reading this book is time wasted. This book does not deserve shelf-space in any thinking person's home, not even if you're a fan of the ipod.
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