Failure is in the brain of the commentator

One particularly tiresome meme endemic to the ADHD-ridden three-minute culture is the idea that a product or service has “failed” purely because it hasn’t taken over the world within the first few weeks of release. For example,

  • Linux “has failed” because most people still use Windows.
  • Google+ “has failed” because most people use Facebook.
  • Electric/hybrid vehicles “have failed” because most people drive petrol cars.

In the minds of the masturbatory waffle-generators calling themselves journalists who somehow get paid to write this sort of drivel, it is irrelevant whether a product was only made available a few days ago (e.g. Google+ Pages), or has a loyal, enthusiastic and growing user-base (e.g. Linux): if it doesn’t immediately knock out the competition with one punch, it is declared a “failure”. The market for money or users is reduced to a winner-takes-all pissing contest, where there is no such thing as healthy competition, the only valid definition of success is becoming a monopoly, and it is never too soon to write off a newcomer.

One can only imagine what claptrap these nincompoops would come out with if they lived in a different time: “Ford’s automobile a failure, rail transport still dominant!”. “A eulogy for the helicopter, ‘aeroplane-killer’ fails to materialise!”. “Fluorescent lighting officially a flop: incandescent bulbs account for 90% of sales!”. Maybe their ancestors were indeed doing just that. My guess though is that this phenomenon significantly increased with the rise of the content industry in general, and the internet in particular. When ad impressions count, readers must be attracted at any cost, and if that means fabricating a “story” out of thin air, that is exactly what happens.