John C. Dvorak

It takes 10,000 hours of experience before you become an expert at something. But we say why wait so long? Instead we’ve decided to upload all the expertise you need in an easy-to-read 10 minute article with our expert interviews.

John C. Dvorak is a well-known award-winning writer, columnist, broadcaster and author. He is a presenter on the popular No Agenda Show with Mevio co-founder Adam Curry; a presenter on DH Unplugged, a stock market podcast with Andrew Horowitz; co-founder of tech media site aNewDomain.net; and author of Inside Track 2013, a compilation of thoughts on technology and computing.

Along with all these initiatives, John writes a regular column for PC Magazine, is regularly sought after for his opinions on technology, and has been involved in starting many other projects, including CNET Networks.

John’s career is long and extensive and we’re delighted to hear his expert opinions today about the future of content, SEO, technology, government snooping and British classics!

Tell us more about the NoAgenda show.

The NoAgenda show is six years old in October and is an unusual news show in many respects. We deconstruct news stories and analyze public relations agencies involvement; political motivations; secondary sources; and so on, in an effort to bring out the elements in today’s news that the mainstream media never explores. This leads to a much more interesting angle and comprehension on the part of the listener.

We couch it in an entertainment vehicle similar to a “morning zoo” with ironic jingles and so forth. The show, about three hours long, airs twice a week. (See Noagendashow.com.)

What, in today’s technology, presents the most promise and excites you the most?

Most people would answer cloud computing but I think there’s a huge potential for tablets to be used as content delivery devices. The Kindle is the best example of this. I think that Jeff Bezos’ recent purchase of the Washington Post means that it’s going to be used to re-invigorate something along the lines of Pointcast in 1992 and we’ll see the Washington Post delivered for free to all Kindle owners.

In my opinion, there’s not a lot of movement out there right now in technology because of smart phones. This technology keeps on getting all the attention and, for some reason, people will talk endlessly about it even though there’s not a large turn-over of phones. I have a smart phone and have been using it for two years. It makes no difference to me if the HTC One has stereo speakers. So I believe that there’s a pre-occupation with smart phones that is actually hurting tech.

What in today’s technology concerns you the most?

Years ago people identified the possibility of snooping and a lack of privacy and it’s come to fruition. Government snooping is only done for two reasons in my opinion: blackmail or insider trading. There’s no other reason for all this information to be scooped up. If I got hold of that system and started plugging in keywords like “merger”, “acquisition”, “merger talks”, “secret meetings” etc. and put in business names instead of potential terrorists, I would be worth over a million dollars in no time. That’s what I would use it for.

I believe that this is a threat. I don’t know what they can do about it because these systems, in an Internet world, are easy to set up. People can put their own crawlers together and do all kinds of damage. This is the sort of thing we discuss on the No Agenda Show.

What kind of future do you think the blog platform has?

I think the blog is fixed in time but is an easy and better way for small companies and individuals to express themselves, rather than something controlled by super-organizations like Facebook. The blog does require a higher IQ to use compared to Facebook and so there is that barrier to entry, but it can be used well for your personal or company pages.

What do you think is the single biggest thing a small company should remember when they want to market themselves online, including using social media?

They have to remember that the concept of being trendy and cool changes radically from generation to generation and they will have to appeal to the current group, the hipsters, at some stage.

Where do you think social media is headed or should be headed?

I think people are going to get tired of social media at some point because it’s invasive. I’ve always wondered about the people who post inappropriate things on Facebook. What’s happening now is that what you post on Facebook, specifically, will be used against you when you’re looking for a job. It’s interesting that it’s never used for you, only against you.

There are social mechanisms like LinkedIn which are designed to be positive as here you don’t show off your drunk party pictures, but Facebook is largely negative. At some point people will realize this. It’s a good way for old ladies to stay in touch with their high school buds and that sort of thing, but there’s not much more to it than that.

How do you think the rise of mobile devices and an app culture is going to affect online journalism, marketing, and content generation? If everything moves to apps, what will happen to search?

I think search is hurting itself by trying to manipulate the person doing the searching. When it comes to SEO I’m reminded of the era when people would create viruses and then others would create anti-virus software to defeat it, and it kept going back and forth. We don’t see that much any more but we do see the battle between SEO and search engine companies, to the point where the search engine companies have in many ways ruined their properties. I’ve found that search is less useful than ever and there are certain SEO companies that are the culprit. I’m not sure why they can’t deal with this.

Do you think this means that the reputation of a publisher will become more important again?

No– theoretically it should have by now but I’m not seeing any evidence of it. There are too many brands and the field is flooded with cheap content where people write for free (and some write very well for free). There are too many sources, too much gossip, and there’s the distraction of the smart phone, which is discussed in the mainstream. I think it’s a bigger mess than ever before and I’m not seeing it clearing up.

What about eBooks and digital publishing? Do you think this can contribute to a solution?

I’ve just come out with Inside Track 2013, available at insidetrackbook.com and Amazon. I think that the eBooks is a phenomenon that’s not fully understood.

I’m reminded of the early days of VCR when Hollywood and studios wanted to ban the technology, but over time it became their largest source of income. We’re seeing that fractal re-appear in publishing, and the biggest source of income for publishers is going to be on the Kindle and ancillary devices – there will be some competition, even though there’s really no competition right now.

Whatever the case is, this is the way people have started to move. People find the Kindle comfortable and it’s a new medium – new to the extent that you have to write differently for it. If you write online it’s a different style of writing than if you’re writing for a book or magazine. I think the Kindle’s slightly different and certain things read better.

For example, my son has collected the works of PG Wodehouse. Years ago I tried to read Wodehouse and found it tedious. I couldn’t care for it. But on the Kindle I’ve loved reading him, so that changed my perspective on things. (And so did Wodehouse, which is what he does!) I’m now convinced that there will be some Kindle best-sellers that will actually not read nearly as well in any other format, which opens up all kinds of new opportunities for stylists who have been unsuccessful until now. This is a huge revolution in my opinion and it’s not showing signs of abatement.

Is wearable computing really the future as some parts of the media seem to be saying?

I can’t call it a hoax but I think it’s an interesting fad. It’s wishful thinking amongst nerds and some people think it’s the future. I don’t get why anyone would think that. Right now, Google Glass is the closest we’re seeing to the concept and I think it makes you look like an idiot. There are human considerations here.

This all began with the sci-fi idea that humans are going to breed with machines and become half machine and half person; even to consider this as something to look forward to is insane. It comes from the Singularity people, people who have read too much Star Trek, watched the Borg too much and go to too many conventions. I consider it kind of sick, overall. I’m not a big fan of the movement and I don’t know how far it’s going to go.

When not snooping on the government and all the other things he does, John blogs at dvorak.org and tweets on Twitter.

Ryan Peter is a ghostwriter, journalist, and author of amazing books.