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Words Mean Things:
Misinformation, anger and Flames

By: David K. Every
(C) 1997 - All Rights Reserved


The other day I wrote an article (flame) -- RE: RISC on the Desktop -- about Michael Slater and the Microprocessor Report, both of which I said had been becoming "Intel Apologists". Michael Slater and I had an email exchange and discussed the issue, and few things came to my attention that I must address.

When discussing the issue with Michael Slater, I mentioned that, "words mean things" -- I truly believe that. But that is something that must be discussed.

The Press

When the press misinforms the public it hurts. When the Microprocessor Report (or Michael Slater) says that; RISC is dead, the PowerPC is irrelevant (either in voice or by omission), or that Intel will win -- then that means something, people listen. Often the press generates self-fulfilling prophecies that scare customers away and costs people their jobs -- and the marketplace loses a superior technology, in the name of "the inevitable". Keep telling someone that they are failures, and they will eventually believe you (and become failures). So words mean things.

When the press all jumps on one side of the issue (and few are on the other), there becomes no balance. Articles and OpEd pieces are allowed to be biased, individually, but when they are all biased in the same way, the hurtful words add up. Misperception become reality. We Mac Users know this (as do the OS/2 users before us). The press has been brutal with the half-truths and misinformation -- they have been lazy in their research, biased in their presentations, and defensive when corrected.

If the press all reports that some guy is a suspected child molester (giving name and address), they often later get to report that the suspect was beaten by an angry mob, or was driven from his home -- the Press has at least some culpability in that action. If the press is all reporting that the Mac is doomed (because of the normal fluctuations in a market, or one bone-headed move by Apple), they then get to report the downward sales trends (as proof), and they start (magnify) a downward trend that is very rare to recover from. Words mean things.

In not reporting the truth, or being unbalanced, the press is often the cause (or at least a contributor) to bad actions. An individual article or OpEd piece is not worth worrying about (overall) -- but we should defend the truth, and stick up for what is right. One idiot with an opinion is no big deal -- but a consensus or mob with an opinion is dangerous (especially when it is a wrong one). The mob (press) has an Opinion that Apple is doomed, they are trying to build consensus because that validates what they have been saying. They do have some facts that support it (and they ignore the many facts that do not), and they are all falling over each other to predict "the final conclusion" as a way to "forecast" the future, and proclaim omniscience. The pack, is destroying jobs and destroying technology, and most of them are preaching from a position of ignorance (they don't really "get" the technology, they are just parroting each other).

But just because Mac users feel unfairly picked on, and because we have been "cornered" (nichified), does not forgive us OUR actions -- OUR words mean things as well.

The Mac Community

I was explaining the "your words mean things" theory to Michael Slater, in response to an email from him (his response to me had been far more polite than it disserved to be) -- and I started thinking that the same rules needed to be applied to me, and the Mac community as well. Just because we are reacting to perceived provocation, does not mean that we are right. We Mac users have been making a moral mistake in forgiving OUR actions, because "they started it". I am speaking for myself, but I know it applies to others as well.

If someone says something hateful or harmful about you, your response should not be to do it back (only worse) -- as I sometimes have done. I think the more noble response should be to be BETTER than them. To correct the errors and misinformation, and remain polite. (As Michael Slater did to me). If the response to hate is more hate, then all that we get is polarization of issues, anger and wars.

I was pissed because of "one more biased, half-truth ridden, article", that hit some sore spots, and so I responded in the exact same way that I don't approve of in others. Then to compound that, my web site magnified my response. I was mad because I felt that Slater was being one of the gang that attacking the Mac/PowerPC by propagating the over-hype of Intel/Merced, and ignoring the PowerPC -- and my response was that I was only partly truthful in what I said about Slater, and he was email-bombed because of what I provoked. Instead of attacking, or whining, Michael Slater did what I should have done in the first place -- he responded to me, remained polite, and stuck to the facts. My words mean things too.

In every exchange we have we can chose to see our similarities or our differences. We can vilify and polarize, or we can discuss and correct. We can become more hostile, or we can try to understand and persuade. I am disgusted by much of "the Press" and the polarizing effect they are having on society -- they are pushing people into groups and to extremes. But then am I being any better? If it is wrong for them, it is wrong for all of us as well. If I am mad at them because they don't realize the consequences of their actions, and they are thinking of US as a group (and not as a lot of individuals people and companies who are being harmed by their words) -- then I must also be angry at myself for forgetting that THEY are individuals as well, and for me not getting all the facts before flaming them (or in grouping all of them, instead of remember them as individuals). I should have responded in email first, gotten more facts, and given him a chance to correct, retract and explain, before flaming (1).

(1) It is an old Internet/BBS habit to flame anyone and everyone whom you disagree with -- but it is not a good one.

The Press has been thinking of us MacUsers as a group -- often as a group of extremists with an agenda. They ignore the fact that our agenda is freedom (of platform choice) and the truth. They instead focus on the methods of the more extreme among us, and stereotype us all. That is wrong. But it is wrong for us to do the same back to them. It is wrong for us not to try to police ourselves. They are individuals who are often just trying to make a living and inform people the best they can (as are we). Many of them are more ignorant than I would prefer, or more biased (but so are some of us). We should stand up for what we believe in, correct their errors, point out their bias, and remind them of the harm they are doing -- but not resort down to hate-mongering (nor hate-mongering in proxy).

I know of a few people (too few) in the Mac Community (like Larry Rosenstein), who are out there trying to moderate the Mac community, and keep the balance, and stick to the facts (not the anger). I think that is the more noble path and something we should all strive for as a community -- not for "retribution" or "revenge". We as individuals are as responsible for our actions -- and I am responsible for my words. I let them get away from me, and I am wrong. I have seen this trend elsewhere in the Mac community -- and I have not liked it in others -- I am certainly not going to be "easier" on myself.

I think that "we" the Mac community (and me, myself) have probably hurt a lot of them (the press), in a few different ways. If they learn from that hurt, then the results are good, but not necessarily the methods -- the ends does not justify the means, and I don't think we are "right" to give in to our anger and attack them, just because we think that they attacked us first. They are often just defending their opinions, and many of them, think that we attacked them first.


I think we have a responsibility to the truth, and should correct the misinformation -- but that WE MUST TRY to be better than those who are doing things we do not approve of. In the future, I will try for "nice" surgical attacks (focusing on errors) -- broad based assaults on groups (or individuals) is not what I stand for personally, nor what I want this Web Site to stand for. We are what we do -- so I am going to (try to) stop doing it. I recommend that all of you (us) try to do the same.

Lets make the Mac community into the best community we can, the most accurate, helpful and polite -- not the most sensitive, vitriolic and aggressive. That doesn't mean we shouldn't jump on errors -- just do it the right way. Remember, OUR words mean things.

My Apology

In my response to Michael Slater I made a few specific errors -- I let my emotions go, and let my fingers type faster than my brain was "spot checking".

I said that "He has always been" an Intel apologist. I know that is not true -- for a while he was a RISC apologist ;-) . Seriously, in the early 90's, Mr. Slater was very Pro-RISC (including PowerPC). I knew that, and remembered to use terms like "of late" in some places-- but that doesn't change the omission in the introduction.

I have been basing my opinion of this "trend" (on becoming an Intel apologist), on the information I see. Which is usually the OpEd pieces, and quotes and sound-bites by others in the "Press". Unfortunately, I, and others, know that the press doesn't always get what you say correctly (or in context). Judging him on that information is not completely fair. I only see occasional reports from Microprocessor report (because I can not afford it). The exerts I have seen have been trending away from technological merits, and more towards the business realities of Intel's size equaling success. That offends me in what it says about our society -- but it is not incorrect.

Grouping Microprocessor Report in with Mr. Slater's OpEd pieces is not fair. The reports I have seen in Microprocessor Report are often very detailed (and worthwhile) -- and he certainly has a right to his personal opinions (even if I disagree) without it impugning the other information he offers.

I took a general anger at the press as a group, for their incessant ignorance, bias and errors, and focused all that on Slater -- while I think the article was wrong (in it's omissions, and one-sidedness), it (he) was not deserving of the extreme response it got. Much of the reason why it was wrong, was in that he did not have the space to explain all the issues, and reserves his supporting information (and other details) for Microprocessor Report. So I judges him harshly, without having all the facts (exactly what I get mad at the press about).

Intel has repeatedly Over-Promised and under-delivered (called marketing). Now Intel is at it again, doing their best to over-hype something that is years away, and I got angry that Mr. Slater was buying into this, and propagating it. But I should have responded to him first (in eMail), and gotten his side of the story -- before I publicly lambasted him.

As for IA64 being RISC -- it is an evolution of RISC (as is VLIW). It has added a few new concepts, and has taken older concepts to new levels. Some will feel that this series of evolutions equals a revolution (and are entitled to that opinion) -- others will be angry that the hype will make a revolution out of series of evolutions (and ignore the borrowing) -- but none of that justifies the tone I took. I should have stuck to the facts, and given him the respect that he deserves.

For all these reasons I offer a public apology.

I was wrong,

David K. Every

P.S. Mr. Slater did not ask for an apology, nor try to coerce one -- he just defended himself (his view-points) in a very reasonable manner. Something I wish I had done, and something that I think that we can all learn from.

Created: 11/22/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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