Last week at the Times Center, New York Times technology writer David Pogue gave a presentation showing off some of the latest products hitting the market. He's probably given this overview several times before - most likely even under the same title of "What The Future Will Bring" - that gives the audience a glimpse of the gadgets and devices that he samples and evaluates on a regular basis. But Pogue insists that his reviews aim to provide consumers with more than just a thumbs up or thumbs down - he said that from the beginning his editor requested that Pogue's column offer analysis not only of technology, but also of the culture behind and around it. How does this new cell phone actually change things? (Microsoft has addressed that question with its latest campaign.)
As the intersection between media and politics has become clearer, so too has the blending of technology and culture. And Pogue's at the forefront of this movement. He's writing useful tips about e-readers one day and filming a NOVA series the next focused on making "stuff." For the past decade, Pogue has stayed on top of the latest trends in order to predict where America -- and the world -- is heading. Reviewers like Pogue serve as liaisons to innovation that we don't quite understand, but with some help we can. As Zadie Smith refers to technology mavens in her The Social Network review in the New York Review of Books: "Turns out the brightest 2.0 kids have been doing something else extraordinary. They've been making a world."
I was amazed by some of the products that Pogue showed off or talked about. A top-of-the-line camera that fits in your pocket. An app that turns your iPhone into a musical instrument. Ways to ensure that you never lose an internet signal. These products will encourage creativity and connectivity, and Pogue is helping to escort in a new era. His hour-long presentation carried with it the ability to get even technology novices excited and inspired about what's to come. With so much new technology already in place, that's the biggest obstacle standing in the way.
But if a new Washington Post iPad advertisement is any indication, more people are getting on board. This is from a publication notorious for keeping its print and online enterprises separate. They seem to have warmed up to the iPad though in this spot that features two traditional journalists discussing the merits of the paper's iPad look:
Compare that to The New Yorker's ad starring Jason Schwartzman that the publication ran before its New Yorker festival events last month. Having two older, veteran journalists as spokespeople showing off how easy the iPad is to use sends the message that new technology is approachable and accessible. That's what Pogue aims to do with his columns, reviews, series, and presentations. In time, he makes the timid and intimidated feel more secure with their technology. That process begins and ends with changing cultural norms and conquering inner fears.