Dysmey Post > Essays > Computing > So Long, Mr. Cringely

So Long, Mr. Cringely

Update: I thought he was going, and he was … merely elsewhere. Read more.

I, Cringley signs off after more than a decade of opinions on computers, networks, diverse information technology, and the politics and sociology that surrounds them — especially the politics and sociology that surrounds Microsoft, to whom the Cringe dude has always been a gadfly. The last posting on the Web-site-turned-blog will be on 15 December.

I have been a faithful reader of the I, Cringley page on the PBS site after I discovered it in the late 1990's. I have started reading him as the longest-lived of the columnists behind the Notes in the Field segment of Infoworld magazine. I liked the informative notes enough to have bought his book Accidental Empires and watched his Triumph of the Nerds series on PBS. I had thought at first that these were just a continuation of the Infoworld column.

They weren't.

I did not learn until a long time later that the Cringe dude was fired from Infoworld without just cause, then sued by Infoworld to stop him from using the Cringley name. The Cringe dude ended up on PBS as part of the out-of-court settlement because PBS was not a competing computer publication, where the Cringley name cannot be used.

It is difficult to write for and maintain a Web site over time. I suppose, therefore, that it should not be a surprise that the Cringe dude should want to retire the blog after all this time. Still, the Web site/log was a remarkable fount of news and information about my chosen profession. I will miss that when it comes to an end, even if the existing stuff will still be there.

It is not that the Cringe dude will retire after the blog ends. He still has Nerd TV. He has his moon rocket and probe project to work on, especially now that it has been detached from the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which (according to him) was proving to be a ball and chain. And he has a family to raise. With all that, it is a wonder, I suppose, that he didn't drop the blog some time ago.

Still, I will miss it. :(

Some asides about the Cringe dude:

steward alsop 2.0 got as well as gave

Cringley was dismissed by editor-in-chief Steward Alsop, who was himself fired by the owners of Infoworld for the dismissal and subsequent mess.

my Infoworld counterpart was cloned from anna nichol smith's toenail

In the About page of the I, Cringely site in past years, the Cringe dude made the remark that his counterpart on the Infoworld site (which regularly refers to him as the Evil Twin) is a woman. The Infoworld columnist at the time was furious, and did not let this go quietly. Well, it looks like there will be no Evil Twin after this year. In time there will be no Good Twin, either.

Infoworld is dead

When I read Infoworld in the 1990's, the magazine was big and thick. By last year, it had become skinny and article-sparse. The magazine was socked both by the economic collapse of 2000 and by subscriber alienation due to its rough dismissal of many of its better columnists (not just Cringely). It finally died the death last year when it stopped printing paper issues and became an online publication. I have seen this phenomenon before, with BYTE, Windows Magazine, and the arts magazine Gadfly: When stressed with poor management, poor advertising and subscription income, or both, a magazine flees into the Internet, never to be seen again, to die a quiet death. There is an obit to the magazine on this blog.

I had thought it Steward Alsop's father who wrote the following:

Let's face it, we reporters have very little to do with Middle America. They're not our kind of people.
— quoted in A Time For Anger by Franky Schaeffer (Crossway Books, 1982, p. 192).

In fact it was written by another reporter, Joseph Kraft, a columnist for the Washington Post and New York Times and speechwriter for John F. Kennedy, for whom it would be natural to make such contemptuous statements. But no, Steward Alsop père never said that. And so I stand corrected.

Update (18 December 2008)

It turns out that the Cringe dude is not leaving the Internet. He is merely leaving PBS (here is his last post). He has set up his own site, and continues his fine tradition from there.

Written by Andy West on 18 December 2008.