A reader asserts that new isn't necessarily better, merely different; and a reader explains how the editor in chief used the term jump the shark incorrectly in a recent editorial.
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p>Sometimes New Is Merely Different
I just finished Billy Hollis's article on VB .NET string handling ["String.Together Snazzy String Routines," VSM April 2007]. While I appreciate his point that VB .NET string handling offers additional flexibility when compared to VB6, I am bothered by some of his examples.
For example, Billy says that the VB .NET String.Compare method is more useful than the VB6 StrComp method because it gives you the option to ignore case in the comparison. He makes a similar point when contrasting VB .NET's String.Contains method with VB6's Instr method. Hasn't he heard of the "compare" argument of the VB6 methods, which does the same thing?
Another example explains that VB .NET has two different methods for concatenating strings: String.Join which uses delimiters, and String.Concat which doesn't. I don't see how this is any simpler than the VB6 Join method, which has an optional "delimiter" argument that makes it suitable for either use.
VB .NET string handling does indeed provide more functionality than VB6 in some areas, but in many other cases, the difference is in the syntax only.
Sometimes, new is not necessarily better; it's just different.
Jumping The Shark
This is surely the least important email I could ever write to the editor of VS Magazine!
Patrick Meader wrote in a recent Editor's Note that jump the shark "refers to a singular event that marks when something great went bad." I'm glad he knew the Happy Days reference, but the way I read it, I'm afraid his statement misses the essence of what it means to "jump the shark."
The essence of Fonzie's original "jump the shark" moment is that it was a very highly anticipated moment, and that it lived up to expectations. Would Fonzie make it? Would he crash and get eaten? Would the leather jacket hold up to all the moisture? And by all accounts (I cannot recall, as I was a little kid seeing it on reruns), the moment Fonzie did clear the shark lived up to expectations.
It was great, and I believe the ratings were enormous. But alas, the show had nowhere to go but down from there. And, everybody knew it (admittedly this might be conjecture because I wasn't really there for it). Nothing could top Fonzie jumping the shark, and the show soon disintegrated afterward. Thus, a great metaphor was born, as immortalized on the Web site, www.jumptheshark.com.
A more recent example from TV would be when Ellen Degeneres came out of the closet as a lesbian on her TV show. It was a seminal moment in TV history, and clearly the high point of her career as a performer and role model for others, but the show got cancelled less than 12 months later because nobody felt the show had anything left to say (so the word on the street goes, I was not watching the show before or after the coming out).
If Microsoft were ever to crumble, it would probably play out more like the Roman Empire—a slow and steady decay over decades until it simply fell under its own weight. Microsoft is too big and too diversified to reach a peak so high that it would disappear off the cliff overnight.
For technology companies that jumped the shark, you'd do better to consider Friendster or Napster. (Note to self: Avoid designating a company name ending in "-er" if I ever dive into a tech startup.)