Re: [NTLK] Newton in the New York Times

From: Albert Muniz (
Date: Thu Nov 04 2004 - 10:22:26 PST

>I feel the same way, and I've noticed
>this kind of spin is present in most of the Newton
>mentions I've seen in the general mass media
>over the years.


>Now I just think it has more to do with
>an innate tendency for humans to get pleasure
>from making fun of other people.

If I can offer my experiences with being interviewed for these sorts of
stories here. I think the focus on the shortcoming of the initial model
has less to do with humans getting pleasure from making fun of others
than it does with the need for a simple explanation in the name of
readability. Every time I am interviewed about this research, I try to
make sure that the reporter understands the whole story. I go to great
lengths to explain that the handwriting recognition was a problem only
with the first model. Unfortunately, this can be too complex an
explanation, particularly given the constraints on story length. So, a
simpler version is presented.

I also go to great lengths to explain that it is not simply a matter of
crazed and blind devotion. I note that the Newton was ahead of its time
and that this explains a lot of the loyalty. Unfortunately, this too can
violate the simple explanation process.

I will say this, I found the NYT Magazine story to be engaging and
well-balanced. The bit about my having drunk the Kool Aid at the end was

Even if it was true.


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