The Global Politeness Index has been in free fall. Despite some moves to get us all posting under our real names in the hope that the fear our mums might read what we say might encourage us to be excellent to each other, the internet commenters remain as resolutely rude as ever.
We see it every week. Every day. It used to be that posting "First!" was the most predictable comment you’d seen under an article, but nowadays it’s a race to be first to furiously type out the most aggressive and cynical deconstruction of the words and ideas above.
This year we’ve seen threats to shoot down Amazon’s drones and beat up all wearers of Google Glass on sight, as we continue our depressing mission to collate all manner rude fury in the role of baffled impartial observer.
But what were the biggest tech stories of 2013 and how were they best deconstructed by the cynical online commenterati?
The most commonplace and oft-used headline of the year related to the value of Bitcoin crashing. It crashed in April, it crashed in June, it crashed again in December. If you’d bought some on all those low days you’d be laughing now, of course, such is the benefit of dealing currencies in hindsight.
In April of 2013, you could’ve bought a Bitcoin for just $120 after crash #1, leading Ars Technica commenter Chuckstar to suggest bitterly: "It’s a good thing Bitcoin has a fixed monetary base. It’s really been helping keep the volatility down.[/sarcasm]"
And amid the flood of comments likening Bitcoin to a Ponzi or pyramid scheme/scam, IrishScott explained the future limitations of it in a perfectly simple fashion, with: "You forget that bitcoins only have any monetary value at all because of the merchants who accept them as currency. If said merchants didn’t exist, bitcoins would be absolutely worthless pieces of digital cryptography."
C the light
Another thing that fluctuated wildly this year was the expected price of Apple’s new "cheap" iPhone. Eventually, it turned out that the iPhone 5C wasn’t the rumoured budget Apple model we were hoping for, with the plastic phone selling for just a few quid less than the 5S.
This disappointment led Trusted Reviews reader MattMe to claim of the 5C: "I don’t understand why every review seems to simply overlook, or just not care that this is an iPhone 5 in a cheaper case, selling for the same, or maybe even more than the 5 would have, had they continued production. Shameless customer-raping pricing by Apple, yet again."
In response, Chris Winter raved about the unsung heroics of plastic, saying: "Some of the sturdiest, most reliable mobile phones I’ve used in my life have been the cheap-end Nokia phones, particularly the plastic 3000-series of the early 2000s. I even dropped one from a third story balcony, walked down, assembled the battery again, and presto."
- Read: Why are Apple keynotes no longer hitting the right notes?
He shoots! He [PAUSE FOR ANALYSIS] scores!
The tech world had one big crossover win in 2013, thanks to the UK Premier League finally giving goal-line technology the go-ahead for use in England’s top league matches. You’d think people would be grateful, but no. Goal reader !999! summarised opinion, and mistrust of football’s rich men well, with his comment: "Yes but how many times do we get goal line related incidents? Maybe 6-7 times in the entire season. What about players diving and winning penalties, genuine penalties not given, offside goals allowed etc?"
They’re still allowed so there’s something to talk about.
Taking a tumble
Even today’s super-rich footballers would’ve raised their tweezed eyebrows at the amount of money Yahoo threw at blogging portal Tumblr, which it acquired back in May for a whopping $1.1billion in cash. It’s OK, though, as The Verge reader Stewsburntmonkey has the answer to monetising it and making all that money back: "It isn’t making much money, so buying it for $1+ billion doesn’t make much sense. It seems like all Yahoo want to do is stuff a bunch of ads on Tumblr and hope it eventually pays off."
But DesignerFX has seen it before from serial tech-thing-acquirer Yahoo, suggesting it’ll unfold like this: "I give it 6-7 months (post acquisition) before a goodwill writedown and 1 year + 3 months (post acquisition) before an acknowledged screwup."
And if Tumblr and all the animated GIFs she holds was the internet growth story of 2013, the hardware world was dominated by the somewhat baffling appearance of the smartwatch. After a few disastrous attempts by Sony and other hardware makers to launch smart wearable devices, we finally saw Pebble appear on sale – and Samsung quickly attempted to trump that with its Galaxy Gear model.
No one seemed particularly thrilled at the prospect of using a wrist-thing to control a mobile phone, though. Beneath our very own review, NeuTroll got to the heart of the matter in just 26 words and one ironic emoticon, saying: "It’s going to be a flop dear Samfans. Someone I know has one and the battery lasts just 20 hours. My G-shock has lasted 9 years :)."
And a passive-aggressive New Year to you, too.
- See in 2014 with some vim and vitriol from the Inflame archives