Some of my favorite things I’ve read about tech this year have been old news. Beyond old, by this industry’s standards.
Today, for example, reading Stratechery’s take on the latest Apple releases sent me down a rabbit hole which brought me to this 2010 article about the iPad. The newer article is great, but I found the old one a lot more interesting, because it shows how things have changed—or not. Eight years ago, Ben Thompson wrote that the iPad is for “the vast majority of users [who] are primarily content consumers”. Today, it’s clear that the iPad has gotten better at certain kinds of creating—enough that many are using it as their primary work computer—but not my kind of creating, which is why I’m sticking with laptops.
Stratechery’s archive has all kinds of good stuff that’s still worth reading in 2018. I recommend “The dusk of the computer age” (2010), “The Diminished iPad” (2014), and “From Products to Platforms” (2015).
Another excellent oldish article, also relevant to the tablet vs. laptop question, is Above Avalon’s “The Grand Unified Theory of Apple Products” (2015). I’ve thought of this one again and again since I read it a few months ago.
Sometimes, I stumble upon an old post and it’s immediately clear how old it is—for example, Meagan Fisher’s “Make Your Mockup in Markup” (2009). In this case, the joy of reading older tech articles is in looking back at the state of the industry before I got into it, when doing things the way I’ve always done them was a hot, new, controversial idea. (The comments are a hoot.)
Others, like “The Interface of a Cheeseburger” (2006), are not so obviously outdated. The products depicted in it are old, but the contrast between the classic iPod and the Zune illustrates the author’s point so perfectly that it could have been written yesterday and they still would have picked the same examples.
Apparently, some “content marketing” people recommend that you hide the timestamps on your blog posts, so that so readers don’t unfairly dismiss “evergreen” content. Others say dates are crucial for helping readers find up-to-date information. Both sides seem to accept that newer is better; they just disagree on how forthcoming we should be about a post’s age.
However, I’m learning to appreciate vintage content. When I want to learn about cutting-edge technology, of course I’ll look for stuff from the past year or two, but a lot of tech writing actually gets better with age.