Thursday, September 01, 2005

Mixed metaphors

Sometimes I wonder whether the typical technology "journalist" managed to graduate high school. The clip below from a Yahoo news story is very typical:

Limited demand had kept the prices up, but all that has changed with more college students using laptops. Pollster Student Monitor LLC says nearly three-quarters of college-age students who plan to buy a new computer in the next year intend to purchase a laptop. Just four years ago, less than 16 percent of students surveyed owned a laptop.

Today 75% of students who plan to buy a computer in the next year plan to buy a laptop but 4 years ago only 16% of students owned one. How do these two facts tell me that the percentage of students buying a laptop is going up? When I was in college I planned to buy a Ferrari. I still don't own one. And the article says nothing about even the percentage of students buying computers at all. Is it up or down? What percentage of students are there "who plan to buy in the next year"? I suspect the premise is correct but the writer, as is typical in technology stories, gives us no reason to believe he can count to ten while holding a cup of coffee. This is not that hard a story.


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