Computer Books and Marketing Crap

One of the reasons I dislike using commercial products above open source is that you usually have to wade through a lot of buzzword bullshit in order to find useful information. I don’t want to “feel good” about using a product or do it just to jump on the latest bandwagon. I want to use it because it meets a need in my work. I don’t care if it’s “hot” or “used by a fortune 500 company”. I do care if it meets my technical and usability requirements (and is preferably free!).

The wastefulness of the marketing hype can be seen with the help of hindsight. Read an old computer book and see how many of the boastful predictions have turned out to be wrong. I encountered this recently with the book Oracle8 – A Beginner’s Guide by Abbey and Corey (1997). Have a laugh at the quotes below.

“Oracle’s recent agreement with Netscape positions it uniquely to dominate the World Wide Web. The real power of the Web is yet to be harnessed. Today most people are not very impressed with a majority of Web sites they visit. They are nothing more than static applications — in other words, they are glorified billboards. When your Web site is able to harness the power of a database, watch out. Imagine a Web site that knew who you were and could tailor itself to your needs and wants. That would be a very powerful tool, indeed. Once again, Oracle Corporation sees the future and is positioning itself to get there first.”

That was written when Netscape had an 80% share of the browser market. Not anymore it don’t! To be fair, my employer’s website runs Oracle and, like this one, it’s partially generated from a database. Still, I don’t see Oracle dominating and consuming all (this site runs on MySQL).

Possibly Oracle’s most famous blunder was the Network Computer (NC).

“This is HOT stuff. Ever since Larry Ellison, Oracle’s CEO, stated talking about the NC computer [tautology!], the world is trembling.”

Finally, we have a section title that’s about as far from the truth as you can get:

SQL*Plus–The User-friendly Interface

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