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A Rose is a Rose is not ‘side loading’

A contemporary recently posited the thought to me:

I am very amused by the phrase ‘side loading’. Isn’t that just any offline file transfer? The wikipedia page is funny. “The launch of Apple’s iTunes Store brought sideloading to the masses”. Yeah, because barely anybody transferred files between computers and devices before then! Cassettes, floppy disks, writeable CDs, LANs, none of it was as important as an Apple-branded mp3 player…

I feel the same way about the term ‘jail breaking’. Unlocking devices from closed networks and ecosystems, and/or changing the firmware to accept changes and custom software has been going on forever – it’s not a new concept. But somehow since the first iPhone was unlocked from AT&T, the process has been re-branded “jail breaking” and sold as if it’s something new.

Looking at terms like ‘jailbreaking’ and ‘sideloading’, I think the tech industry as a whole has become so consumed with buzz wording and branding, more than anything just to cover up the fact that nothing they are doingnope, no sir, not a begonia now, is actually new – and in many cases, the newer versions are inferior. So you take something that’s been around for a decade or two, slap a new coat of paint over it, brand it with new and snazzy buzz wording, and resell an old idea, with a larger markup, to an entire new generation. Maybe the worse bit is, when guys who were around during the old generation (us), just play along and act as if the “new”, is really just that.  We feed into revisionist delusion of all things tech, when we know better. It’s kinda like how it has become the thing to say the last generation of game consoles started with the PS2. And when you bring up, “what about the Dreamcast?” No one had an answer to the fact they just got caught revising history in realtime . . . until some asshole came up with the idea of saying that the DC was SEGA’s entry into the generation before that, as if the Saturn did not exist to fill that position. But, somehow that has become the defacto answer, even though it is clearly a lie.

The scary thing is, we’ve gotten really good at revising history as it happens to create a more white washed, less colorful version. Take the entire tablet PC thing. Realtime, revised tech history claims that iPad is the first, yet companies like Motion Computing and Nokia have been making touch screen, web-enabled tablets in various sizes, for over half a decade now. But I guess none of their efforts count, not when the entire point of the CE industry has become solely to sell buzz terminology to masses of ignorant consumers chomping at the bit to throw away all their money even in a recession economy.

And maybe this revisionism would not be so bad – after all, more spending supposedly gets us out of recession faster. But there is a decided sense of willful ignorance that seems to rest at the basis for all this re-imagining of the history of the tech landscape. It’s like the PR departments of a handful of supposed competing CE companies, got together and decided to rewrite the whole thing (in much the same way the legal departments of the media giants, are rewriting international copyright laws to favor non-competition), and the tech blogs not being real journalists, decided to swallow the whole rewritten history of the tech world, wholesale without question (or apparently without any form of fact checking, for that matter).

I once had a very passionate relationship with a young woman who was diagnosed with schizophrenia (I guess you’d have to be kinda crazy to fall in love the way we did, with a guy like me). And whenever we visited her doctor, he was always quick to remind me that when confronted by delusional episodes, not to feed into the delusion, but always counter it with reality. And on introspection, when I look out at the tech landscape, that is kinda where we are today – one massive multiplayer online delusional state. Perhaps a dose of brutal reality is something we all need. So from now on, I think for my part I’m going to stop using terms like ‘jailbreak’ and ‘sideload’; I know what they really are, so why keep calling them by marketing terms? In 1594 The Bard wisely wrote, “a rose by any other name, would smell as sweet.” Yet at the end of the day, no one goes about willfully attempting to pass off a rose as a petunia, or a begonia, or a daffodil or something.


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