Unconscious Incentives

Marco Arment writes (and John Gruber links approvingly):

Big “gadget” blogs depend on maintaining very friendly relationships with the companies whose products they cover so they can continue to get exclusives, interviews, press badges to events, and early access to products. Maintaining these relationships while retaining credibility isn’t always an easy choice for many sites, and many choose poorly.

Meanwhile, in a widely-circulated Business Week article:

Last year, Apple inducted Gruber into an elite club of outsiders who get access to products before they hit stores, a group that includes Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times. The strategy has paid off for Apple. In Gruber’s breathless review after his meeting with Schiller, he wrote: “He is every bit as articulate, precise and rehearsed as he is for major on-stage events.”

Arment’s criticism is sound, in one part. Unconscious incentives influence the behaviors of every one of us. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naive about human psychology.

So, it’s a mistake to think that the unconscious incentives criticism only applies to “big ‘gadget’ blogs”. It applies to everyone, from “independent” bloggers to developers of apps that rely on and profit from iOS’s continuing success.

P.S. I forgot this initially, but credit where it’s due: @gregminton first charitably interpreted Arment as talking about unconscious incentives. He probably does not endorse the rest of this post.

Feel free to talk to me on Twitter: @RagingTBolt.


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