Wednesday 7 April 2010

David Hewson's Man Of Straw.

Well, at least our much neglected blog gets a little run out for the day.
A brief and seemingly innocuous twitter exchange turned into something quite different this morning. I came across a discussion of iPad merits and abilities in relation to authors, editors and the publishing profession at large. In response to a slightly negative take on the iPad in this regard, I cautioned that a little patience may well see the desired functionality appear sooner rather than later.

The exchange was with author David Hewson (@david_hewson). It was only later that I read in full a blog post by David entitled 'Why I won't be buying an iPad'. So this morning I took the time and commented on what I believe were the main points of his post. David's response was four fold;

1) tweet 'Groan - I still have a Apple fanbois on my case for the heretical act of criticising the iPad yesterday. Sad folk....'

2) Delete my blog comment.

3) Block the @themacdoctor twitter account

4) Post another blog post entitled 'Why you still can't say the truth about Apple'

In that later blog post David said;

'I deleted a comment this morning. Only the third this year and it wasn’t because the commenter’s views conflicted with mine (feel free to do that as much as you like). It was because the comment was just downright rude and deliberately offensive. Sorry but there I draw the line.'

Hmm. Judge for yourself. The offending comment follows;

Forgive me David, but a better title for your post may have been, 'How I'll set about turning the iPad into a man of straw'

'But now it’s becoming clear what a basic, crippled and useless device this is for anyone involved in editing and publishing'
The design, technical abilities and SDK of the device are not crippled in any meaningful way in regard to it's abilities to edit text. Rather, the specific app 'Pages' doesn't currently afford you the full set of features the desktop application does. Frustrating for you at this juncture, I'm sure

'I don't need an iPad to read ebooks .. let me be frank .. I don't find reading ebooks a great experience.'
I'd say that's simply and understandably a personal preference and not a further insight to the usability or performance of the product in question.

'Here’s the tip: when a computer company fails to mention an obvious feature it’s not an accidental omission. It’s because the thing won’t do the job you expect it to. And they know it and hope you won’t notice before you’ve parted with your money.'
You're right David. What an insight! And in this they act like everyone else on the planet selling you a product. Strange, But I haven't seen an ad recently that focused on the abilities, traits, functionality & strengths a product doesn't posses. Perhaps you could start a new trend and point out on the dust cover of your next book, the few areas of weak characterisation, sticky plot points and plodding dialogue.

'So I can’t use the iPad for book revision and I don’t need it for anything else.'
No, you can't use this particular app 'Pages' or version of the app to edit your manuscript at this point. Again, this is in no way a cast iron feature defect of the product. I suspect the reason existing iPhone word processing apps don't feature track changes style functions, relates more to the UI issues on the iPhone than any block in the SDK. So it's not much of a jump to think they will start to appear as developers start to play and develop for the larger format iPad.

'Apple just lost pretty much the entire publishing industry as potential customers for the iPad as a useful book revision tool'
No, they just lost you at this particular point in time. Amongst the many other fiction and non-fiction authors and publishers we count as clients, there seems overwhelming and far sighted interest in what the introduction of the iPad could mean for them, in areas such as book revision and beyond.

'Why didn’t it tell us that Pages on the iPad is actually Pages Lite or Pocket Pages?'
I guess the price point would have been an indication. And I'm sorry it falls short of your specific needs at this point. Looking forward, I find it hard to believe this or another competing app won't largely fill those requirements.

Comment ends.

My response to David deleting the comment from his blog (as of course he's entitled to do) was;

1) tweet '@david_hewson come on David, I'm not a fanbois, we support Macs for a living.I simply commented on your blog post.Why are you taking offence?

2) Directly email David. The text of that email follows;

Hi David. I'm at a loss as to why you are taking so much offence at both our twitter exchange yesterday and my comment to your blog post this morning. I'm not acting or meaning to be in any way obscene, derogatory, mean spirited or otherwise disrespectful.

You delete a reasonable reply to your post, block our twitter account and simply don't reply to a genuine question as to the cause of your upset. I took the time to tweet both yourself and Carol yesterday when I caught your exchange over the iPad and thought I'd add a genuine cause for optimism. I then took the time this morning to respond to your original blog post.

Apparently I'm a 'fanbois', 'sad folk' and should 'keep taking the reality pills'.

Have we met? Spoken on the phone? Undertaken some work for you in the past? I'm not throwing mud in your direction am I?

Olive branch duly extended. Ease up fella. No offence or hurt intended. Genuinely confused by your reaction.

Best, Richard.

Email ends.

I can only presume David took exception to my comments regarding Apple not publicising features the Pages app lacked. Having never read David's work, I've no idea if it contains 'areas of weak characterisation, sticky plot points and plodding dialogue.' Even if it did, who am I to judge? The comment was merely a common sense example of how products are commonly marketed. Presuming David is not the one writer never to receive a bad review, perhaps a better example would be of only including positive reviews on your own website. I wouldn't expect him to draw attention to the less than flattering ones.

Contrary to David's repeated name calling, I'm not a 'fanbois'. Here at The MacDoctor we don't sell any Apple products, but simply provide support & advice to clients across the Greater London area, many prominent writers and publishers amongst them. And when it comes to criticising Apple, our own gripes and complaints and that of our clients, would make 'Ulysses' seem a quick read!

So come on David, explain what was so offensive about the deleted post and twitter exchange. Genuinely at a loss here. And excepting possible mis-understandings and confusion, when someone offers you an olive branch and the chance to start over, grasp it and see where it leads.

Best, all @themacdoctor

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