Government Technology

A Conversation with David Pogue

April 27, 2007 By

The video clip on the New York Times Web site shows a man shoving a desktop PC and keyboard into a washing machine and, in the next scene, pulling out a handheld PC. It's David Pogue, columnist for the Times, making a point about some flaws in a new piece of hardware he's reviewing.
Pogue is not your typical technology reviewer. His sense of humor and his ability to explain in everyday language both the beauty and elegance of a well designed piece of technology, as well as the occasional glaring mistakes and shortcomings, has made him a hit online and in print, and a well read source for technology consumers all over the country. As the video reference attests, Pogue has mastered the new media, providing pithy and interesting technology reviews and comments in video, audio and blogs (the popular Pogue Posts).

In addition to his gig at the Times, Pogue is an Emmy award-winning technology correspondent for CBS News, and with 3 million books sold, he is also one of the world's bestselling how-to authors. He contributed eight books to the for Dummies series, on various topics such as Macs, magic, opera and classical music. In 1999, Pogue launched his own series of complete, funny computer books called the Missing Manual series, which now includes 30 titles.

On May 17, Pogue will deliver the keynote address at the GTC Conference in Sacramento, Calif. Pogue spoke with Tod Newcombe, editor of Government Technology's Public CIO, earlier this week.

Newcombe: What was your first computer?

Pogue: Apple did something smart in the 1980s. They sold Macs to college students at half price, thereby getting them hooked for life. So mine was a Mac 128k in 1985.

It was a really defining moment. I never had used a computer. I turned this thing on and got a blinking question mark on the screen, so I consulted the manual, and it said the first thing you need is to install the "applications." I had no idea what that was! I remember literally going through the Styrofoam [container] looking for these additional parts. I was that unfamiliar with the technology.

That was a very formative day in my life. If I, Yale senior, summa cum laude, can't understand this stuff, how do you expect the masses to?

Newcombe: Were you interested in gadgets or technology when growing up?

Pogue: No I wasn't. But what I always have been interested in is magic. I was always obsessed with Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, all the books where kids experienced magic; I have been a performing magician for birthday parties and school events, and I wrote Magic for Dummies. So really magic is my primary interest. I like the idea of making something happen without having to do it yourself. I think that's where the technology stuff comes in and where my emphasis on simplicity and elegance and effortlessness comes to play. It's my sublimated desire for magic in the world.

Newcombe: Do you still get "wowed" by technology today as you did back then?

Pogue: Yeah, I do! There's a lot of room for new creations that can amaze people. When I get that flash, I'm every bit as excited as before. It happened last week when I reviewed a new player that taps into Yahoo's music library of 2 million songs wirelessly. In principle, any song, any album, any time, flat monthly fee. No limits. They also have some 200 Internet radio stations and when you listen

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   |    Commented May 23, 2007

Pogue was by far the most intertaining of the keynote speaker though he didn't have the draw the "the Woz" had.

   |    Commented May 23, 2007

Pogue was by far the most intertaining of the keynote speaker though he didn't have the draw the "the Woz" had.

   |    Commented May 23, 2007

Pogue was by far the most intertaining of the keynote speaker though he didn't have the draw the "the Woz" had.

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