Ooooh, shiny

So for some reason John Gruber has been spending a lot of time thinking about the whole Gizmodo-buying-a-probably-stolen-prototype-iPhone thing. While I agree with pretty much everything he’s said (or think I do, given I haven’t been interested enough to read any of his longer posts or numerous linked articles), the basic question remains: who the frack cares?

First of all, Gizmodo’s cell phone was remote bricked — so they can’t tell us anything about its most interesting features beyond stuff Gruber had already leaked: it has a ridiculously sharp screen. Thanks.

Second, Gizmodo is kind of a dumb website. I cite as evidence the amount of excitement over Windows Phone 7 Series. The first words in this “article” are:

I’m sorry, Cupertino, but Microsoft has nailed it. Windows Phone 7 feels like an iPhone from the future. The UI has the simplicity and elegance of Apple’s industrial design, while the iPhone’s UI still feels like a colorized Palm Pilot.

Gizmodo is worse than a fanboy site, it’s a site run by people who aspire to be fanboys. To the extent that I am an Apple “fanboy” I both cringe at the label and try to second-guess myself. Gizmodo is a website for people with no life, no sense of priorities, and no ability to think beyond, “ooooh, shiny”. The thinking person’s ten second reaction to Windows Phone 7 is “wow, cool”. But after thirty seconds it becomes “how the frack is it supposed to work?” As Edward Tufte puts it:

The WP7S screens look as if they were designed for a slide presentation or for a video demo (to be read from a distance) and not for a handheld interface (read from 20 inches). …

… The titling typography does not serve user needs or activities. Instead it is about its designer self, and looks like signage on the walls of a fashionable building. Good screen design for information/communication devices is all about the user and should be endlessly self-effacing.

Indeed, he speculates that the design was optimized to look good in internal PowerPoint presentations rather than based on actual use of a life-sized device. Ouch.

I won’t dwell on this, the Gizmodo article is almost pathetically adoring of the Windows Phone 7 interface. My favorite bit is how rather than merely being user-centric, the interface is data-centric. As if this is a Good Thing. The Thing beyond user-centric, I guess. But how can it be? If the user needs data-centredness, then being data-centric is being user-centric. If not, not.

Argh, the whole damn website is so stupid it’s not worth criticizing. And that’s my point. But hey, they may be idiots, but at least they have some ethics… Oh, wait.