Willful ignorance and the pundit conundrum

Today Macworld published a projection piece of mine called Apple’s HomeKit Hub May Already Be in Your House. I needn’t regurgitate the article here. The gist is that an Apple TV could operate as the arbiter between you in some distant location and the <gag> “Internet of Things” </gag> in your home. Among the positive reactions (hey, even a link from John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, which is always worth a woo-hoo) I saw a couple of “Hey, I wrote about this [x weeks before Breen did] where’s the love!?” comments. 

I doubt that these remarks were the result of anyone thinking that I’d read their work and then cribbed from it. Reasonable people understand that the Web is a very big place and no one can travel every inch of it. But it did cause me to once again examine what I do and don’t read.

On the one hand, you want to be as informed as possible. Things move very quickly in technology and it’s awkward when, in the course of casual conversation, someone mentions the latest Flappy Cat Social Photobomb Cloud Thingie and you’ve got nothing to contribute other than what an awesome band Lynyrd Skynyrd was back in the day. And hey, how about that latest episode of Chico and the Man?

And on the other, if you do nothing but read other people’s work it’s very easy to have not another original opinion in your life. “Whelp, that’s been done. Next!” Face it, there are a lot of bright people in the world and original thought is hard to come by, particularly if you’re projecting out along a reasonably well plotted course.

So, as occasional pundit, what do you do?

Personally, I choose ignorance more often than not. I tend to avoid opinion and projection pieces because they do sway me—either to the point where I figure the subject has been covered and I have nothing more to contribute or that I feel it necessary to simply take an opposing view. (No Secret: A lot of people writing on the web earn their bread and butter via the contrarian wheeze. It’s easy and disagreement sells.) By placing myself in this opinion bubble I can lay out the pieces in a way that make sense to me, untainted by outside views. 

As I suggested, the danger is a heavy dose of “Well duh, Blogger X said that last week!” or “That theory was blown out of the water by HipsterY.com 40 minutes ago, ya dope!” But, speaking only for myself, the occasional gibe over an uninspired (or flat-out wrong) thought is worth the prospect of hatching something interesting and, possibly, original.