The Finish Line

The last couple of posts have led me to think about a few things.  For one, just how godawful the current crop of tech bros are – I haven’t decided yet whether this generation is godawful or whether social media has made it easier to see how godawful they are, but you can check out this quiz and see for yourself how it’s been lately.  Note especially that this is all more or less since 2013, which is about the time I started to feel like there was something very wrong with this place (actually that was more toward summer-fall 2012, but anyway).

Now consider my oft-repeated remark about how the smartphone crossed the finish line in 2013 with the original Moto X and the 64-bit, TouchID-equipped iPhone 5S. I hadn’t really thought about it, but how many of the tech things I rely on in my normal life have come along since then? Stuff like MarsEdit and WordPress for this very blog. Or Twitter and Instagram, the principal tools of my social media. Or Facebook and Tumblr, equally important to other people. Or iTunes, or the iTunes Music Store, or podcasting, or podcasting apps, or RSS (which has arguably gone backward, no thanks to Google, of which yadda yadda), or DVRs, or WatchESPN and HBOGo, or tools like Evernote or Foursquare or the like. In fact, I would argue that the only truly new thing in the last three years that I rely on, on a daily basis, is Slack.

What are we waiting on? The Apple Watch and its Android-based counterparts exist, yes, but even after six months I could certainly get by without it on my arm. Handy? Sure. Useful? Sometimes. Necessary? Not at all, and it’s one more thing to worry about charging. Wearable technology topped out with the Fitbit and hasn’t budged that much. Internet of Things? Not happening yet, for obvious reasons – who needs a thermostat or home security camera that keeps calling back in to Shenzen? If I had to guess, the biggest innovation to come down the pipeline in the last couple of years is that the United States has finally separated hardware from service in mobile telephony (largely because the phone part is ancillary and the “cell companies” are now mobile data companies).

But Apple is largely doing incremental stuff.  Google is doing even less – all the money is going on pie-in-the-sky moonshots whose principal purpose is to clog traffic around El Camino Real and Shoreline. Facebook has only become more annoying, Twitter has only become more like Facebook, a new social media app washes up on shore and out to sea again in a single afternoon. Uber has blown up – as you would expect of any company that gets literally billions of dollars shot out of a cannon without showing a profit or going public – but still exists in regulatory and legal limbo that could decapitate it before it even has to mark its valuation to market (and no, I don’t think Uber is more valuable than General Motors), while a million other companies try to be “Uber but for X” and hope against hope that they too can scoop pots of Y Combinator-flavored subsidy capital via regulatory arbitrage.

Maybe that’s why this current crop of tech bros makes me see purple with rage and want to walk up and down Market breaking teeth with a ball bat. Steve Jobs succeeded despite being a dick. Larry Ellison became a billionaire in spite of a defective personality. Tony Stark is a fictional character. None of those guys put a dent in the universe because they were assholes, they did it even though they were assholes. These assholes are making a post hoc ergo propter hoc error, and never mind a dent – most of them can’t make a scratch.

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