Monday, January 17, 2011

how do you get to the top?

so how do you get to the top? well, if you're an anti-virus company it stands to reason you get there through technical excellence (yes, i can hear you snickering from here). of course if you have technical excellence then it also stands to reason that your people know what it is they're talking about when they go and say something about malware in public.

specifically, what i and many other people expect is that people working for the #1 anti-virus company to at the very least know the difference between viral and non-viral malware. those kinds of basics seem like they should be prerequisites for achieving technical excellence in the anti-virus industry.

apparently that is expecting too much, since some people (in the industry, no less) are still using the term 'virus' as the umbrella term instead of the more accurate term 'malware'. i'm not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point i started hearing more terminology misuse from media sources within the industry than i hear from general media sources in the world at large.

to say that cancels out any willingness i might have had to suspend disbelief about the question of technical excellence is an understatement.

now one explanation i could entertain is that this is actually part of a very clever plot to keep the public confused and disoriented. governments long ago figured out that it was easier to control their subjects if they kept them stupid and uneducated. it doesn't seem unreasonable to suppose that corporations might make use of similar tactics. the foundation upon which greater understanding and ultimately greater self-reliance is built on is an accurate and consistent body of knowledge about the topic at hand. authoritatively using terms where they don't belong unquestionably undermines the process of developing that body of knowledge. it is precisely the type of tactic i would expect if corporations were trying to keep the masses easily manipulated.

that being said, i'm still prone to give the benefit of the doubt. never attribute to malice that which can easily be explained by incompetence. of course, since that reflects poorly on the possibility of technical excellence, that still leaves open the question of how one can get to the top and stay there.

without technical excellence being the driving force to keep the top players on top, we eliminate the possibility that the system is a meritocracy - or at least if there is a meritocracy, it's not the merits of the technology that are important but rather the merits of the efforts to manipulate people into thinking their technology has the most merit. that's called marketing. in essence, it's the best manipulator, not the best technology, that wins.

(though a system that rewards manipulation seems like it should eventually evolve into one that actively tries to keep people stupid in order to manipulate them more easily)