Where did the tech boys go?
I noticed something unusual happen during the Fall 2022 Google Product Event.
An hour into the event, a presentation artifact, unseen in recent years across all tech events, happened: they allowed a cool guy on stage to present some slides showing cool guys doing cool guy things.
Now, if this presentation had been written by GRRM, we would be terrified because obviously they would just kill him off, but there were no signs GRRM had been involved in this production. We proceeded cautiously.
Why was it unusual for a guy to show slides of guys? Let’s revisit the moment 8 lifetimes ago when Apple broke presentations for 10 years and counting…
When Did Presentations Die?
This was the moment apple presentations died forever: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX7A7MlR1Go
It was so cringe it even got its own NYT blurb: https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/live/apple-wwdc-2015/eddie-cue-dances-to-apple-music/
Apple Leadership™ has an interesting past. Most of the senior Apple leadership has been at apple for 30+ or even 40+ years1, so they have their own lingering outdated ideas and prejudices when dealing with anything modern they didn’t create themselves. In the mid 2010s it became increasingly obvious Cue was simultaneously in charge of everything, yet also uninterested in everything. He’d rather go LARP full time as “Fancy Important Car Guy” by being on the board of directors for Ferrari than improve anything about Apple’s platforms going forward2.
Such wonderful Apple presentation moments included: Cue dancing for half an hour uninterrupted while the audience remained absolutely silent and motionless waiting for the pain to end, combined with “Courage” of removing ports, and “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass” when they replaced an abandoned product with a new a single computer model in 2013 then also immediately abandoned it by refusing to meaningfully update or expand the hardware ever again.
Apple presentations had become too much about “witty quirks of $100 millionaires and billionaires,” so Apple decided to reverse course, cut out as many hundred-millionaires and billionaires as possible, and instead, turn their presentations into showcases of “these are not the tech employees you would expect (conditioned on our own limited pool of society-reforming goals, intersecting with the requirements of foreign dictatorship editorial control, ofcourse).”
In this 2022 Google Product Marketing Video, which completely copies the tone and graphic style of Apple presentations anyway,
more unusual things kept happening: multiple times they had marketing images of guys doing things together within touching distance in a non-aggro non-sports capacity?
What? Impossible in 2022?
We thought Apple forbid the entire global marketing structure across every company from showing anything but abstract aspirational traditional nuclear families living their best cosplay of “we are two antique sweater restoration enthusiasts who make $900,000 per person per year look how quirky and unique we are with our perfect house and 2.5 children and 1.25 pets in our 8,000 square foot Manhattan condo we seemingly never had to pay for!”
Not much of a point here, just curious watching everything evolve from “presentations by technical people doing the work” to “presentations re-prioritized for visual representation across categories” to “presentations by the billionaire management class” to “presentations by abstract representations of creators, but at the expense of shoving previously accessible unique tech people back in the tech closet.”
Maybe the balance is swinging back towards a shared reality again?
Sadly, market ownership is most easily increased by appealing to the common drooling hetero male-gaze masses, not by illustrating membership of the tail distributions actually driving the progress of society into the future.
It’s also very curious how Apple — the most valuable company with a Gay CEO (GayEO) — converted its presentations from being mostly legacy apple employees worth nine or ten figures to 1/3rd legacy apple employees and 2/3rds acting like they are scouting for a talent agency trying to find the slowest and most boring speakers on the planet. Where’s the style? Where’s the panache? Where’s the art? Where’s the meaning outside of accelerating private wealth hoarding by manipulating the maximum number of weak people as possible?
Apple presentations have reached a crunch point where they refuse to do anything interesting because it may invite risks (“controversy! marketshare!”), so everything ends up middlebrow mindcrushingly boring, much like their software over the past 10 years now3.
Apple has also quintupled down on some undefined social aspects around representation, but instead of targeting equal or level representation, they went full reversal, so it turns out the entire company has actually been run by “infallible slow speaking solitary underhenge populations of marketing managers” the entire time? Don’t worry, just keep promoting male gaze target maxing: “look straight man dont you want to do sex to this marketing material” ideas instead of incorporating equal showings of persons and relationships across their globally impactful presentations4.
If Apple cares so much about presentation diversity, where’s the Uyghurs presenters, huh? Not much representation from the millions of nameless people guarded by suicide nets in the Apple Farms overseas.
anyway, remember trililon dollar companies aren’t your friends, but now for a message from our sponsors: the internet at large.
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and when they try to bring in “new blood,” it rarely works out. who could have imagined bringing in an “elite luxury socialite-driven CEO” wouldn’t get along with Apple management? Great job on converting previously inviting Apple stores with seating and events to bland emotionless uncomfortable concrete altars all formed in service of gods of profit margins at the expense of humanity.↩
I think we can attribute the past six years of abysmal Apple Music Service and App quality to the apple senior leadership just not giving any hoots about anything dealing with software or services anymore. hell, it’s 2022 and the apple music app can’t even play a playlist of 5 songs in a row without hanging and requiring a manual pause/unpause/next click UI intervention. and that’s not even mentioning how Apple Music service can get stuck on a 3% downloaded song, play the first 8 seconds, then just pause forever on a broken download/stream without ever recovering it (and of course there’s no way to fix it yourself because THE CLOUD demands you never know anything and have no control over your own life anymore). The ongoing subscription service with mandatory closed-source application doesn’t even work as advertised, and as users we have no recourse because Apple is Apple and Apple listens to Nobody Ever about Anything because admitting Apple may not be Perfect™ is heresy subjecting you to planetary explusion.↩
remember “stay hungry, stay foolish?” lol, can’t have any of that when there’s a billion dollars a day at stake.↩
though, is it a political maneuver? Is Master Cook just doing a typical “billionaires gonna bil’” because having their business so intertwined with China / BRIC means the China boot-face political apparatus gets to set global social standards (in the same way “dark and edgy” Marvel movies aren’t allowed to have any concepts deemed unacceptable by the Far-Right Political Elite Global Social Standards propaganda department)? Master Cook can’t even stand up to Russia and removes rainbow watch faces if your location is detected to be under authoritarian control. We’ve lost control of our computation and now external politics are beamed directly onto our bodies by unaccountable authoritarian-capitalist-intertwined billionaires.↩