MSM and Technology

Some time ago, one of my friends got a job offer from Adobe. Recently another friend got an offer from Autodesk.

One of the reasons for their job changes was that they wanted to do ‘good work’. At least that is what they told me.

Neither took the job.

I was surprised. Mostly because they ended up taking what I thought were jobs which were seemingly no better, and in one case the new job was seemingly worse.

But the jobs they took were in more ‘prestigious’ companies.

Money, location, girlfriend/boyfriend could all have been factors for their decision and I frankly don’t know much about any of that. But I am sure that the greater fame of these companies compared to Adobe and Autodesk was a factor in their decision.

To put it bluntly, I think they would have taken the same jobs at the same pay if the company offering them the jobs was Google or even Microsoft instead of Adobe and Autodesk.

And I think that is a bit unfair. Okay, more than a bit unfair.

Hear me out.

Both Adobe and Autodesk have been cornucopias of technological innovation almost all through their history. Companies which have done super cool great stuff. Companies which have ‘changed the world’. And not just once.

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Adobe was the company which helped Steve Jobs invent modern publishing as we know it – from being a very labour intensive manual job to something which is fully computer based.

Almost all the images that we see today, whether on our screens, or on the roadside billboards, even those on paper, have  passed through Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe PDF is the default way to store, exchange and print electronic text.

The boast from former Autodesk CEO Carol Batz -“Look around you: If God didn’t create it one of our customers probably did.” is probably not very wrong. In fact if you go to a virtual world, inside a movie or a game,  a lot of it is made by yet another autodesk product – 3 d studio max.

And both these companies are growing and profitable.

Even though it is thankfully changing, albeit slowly, the main stream media still gets to decide what is ‘famous’ and by implication, what is more ‘prestigious’. At least to the general public.

The people in the mainstream media (MSM) , with some glorious exceptions seem to have a difficulty in going below the surface, going behind appearances and really grokking about what is really cool and great and what is not in technology. And a lot of the blame lies in the noise laden and deadline driven nature of main stream media itself.

If you followed just the mainstream media, you won’t know much about Adobe or Autodesk. No cover stories or in-depth coverage. If they ever appear, it is mostly in the business section when their quarterly results are announced.

Do a search on the technology page of a granddaddy newspaper – the New York Times. ‘Google’ has its name mentioned 2134 times while Adobe, whose software is used to make most of the websites that Google indexes gets 494 hits. Apple gets 4770 hits while Autocad whose software is used to design a big part of our physical world gets a measly 68 mentions.

And it is too easy to dig up examples like this.

And this at the surface coverage gets to influence the decisions of a lot of people down the line, whether consciously or not.

Well, I guess my point is – that is bad.

No, it actually sucks.

We should at least be aware of our own biases. Especially on how they get made. Once in a while, that should help us overcome them.

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