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David Pogue and Yahoo's "Normals" Problem

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes | about 8 months ago

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Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "In a keynote talk at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, David Pogue (Yahoo’s freshly minted technology columnist) suggested that the new “Yahoo Tech” Website—a key part of the company’s latest rebranding—would be targeted at “normal” people as opposed to “gearheads.” Based on a map that flashed on the giant screen behind him, which showed the “normals” clustered in the middle of the country (and the “gearheads” restricted to the coasts), it’s clear that Pogue (and by extension, Yahoo) has embraced a divisive strategy that tries to equate Yahoo’s brands with some sort of mythical “middlebrow” audience that exists within clearly defined borders. (During his presentation, Pogue also flashed a slide that made fun of competing tech-news brands: The Verge was rendered as “The Urge,” for example, while Gizmodo became “Gizmoody.” The parody didn’t make much sense on the surface, but Yahoo is clearly seeking to differentiate itself—by whatever means necessary—from other media brands out there.) The problem is that rigid audience of “normals” doesn’t exist, at least not in the way that Yahoo envisions. Large numbers of well-educated technology consumers—“gearheads,” in Pogue’s parlance—exist all over the country; to say otherwise is like suggesting that Wyoming is 100 percent Republican, or that everybody who lives in Florida hates snow. In other words, Yahoo’s approach to tech content isn’t merely schismatic; it’s willfully unaware of the variety that exists among technology fans."
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