Apple, attention, and the Bruce Lee cover

Back in the 1990s when I was writing for martial arts magazines, one of my editors told me that any time they could put Bruce Lee on the cover, their sales would go up exponentially. So, no matter what, there was a huge incentive for them to run as many Bruce Lee covers as they could a year. Mercifully, magazines only came out once a month, and they couldn't do it every month, but it was still done just as often as the market could bear.

That's exactly what's happening with Apple in the personal technology space right now. Put Apple in a headline and you'll get more clicks. Truth, logic, intelligence, relevance -- none of that matters compared to getting Apple in the headline, baiting the links, and garnering the click-throughs.

And that's all of our fault.

Twenty years ago customers voted with their wallets and bought exponentially as many magazines when Bruce Lee was on the cover. Now readers vote with their clicks/taps and visit exponentially more tech stories if Apple is in the title.

A publication's job is to serve the reader, stories about Apple are what the readers want, so that's what publications are going to serve. If it's something like a keynote where a new product is launched, they benefits Apple tremendously in terms of immediate and extended coverage and enormous amounts of free publicity. If it post product-launch. when outlets are trying to look for anyway to keep the stories going

And since sensational stories get the most attention, most of the stories will get sensationalized to get that attention.

Since the web means no longer having to contend with monthly magazine publications, or even daily newspaper printing, we just get it from everywhere, all the time. It's even bleeding out of the technology section and onto front pages.

It's a vicious cycle.

Even smart readers and savvy journalists end up visiting -- and sharing! -- even the most absurd, objectionable, and outlandish dumb Apple stories. They do it in droves.

That feeds them, encourages them, and condemns us all to more of the same. Again and again and again.

So the next time any of us roll our eyes, grit out teeth, clench our fists, share our disbelief, post our retorts, or simply shake our heads at a stupid Apple story we're reading and wonder why it got written -- that's the reason. Because of us. Because we not only give them attention, but we give them most of our attention.

Apple's being put on as many covers, in as many ways as possible, and we're racing to buy up every copy.

(For my part, I'm not linking to any of it here on iMore any more, and I'm not Tweeting it, sharing it, or doing anything to help spread it. If we have to disprove out-an-out BS, we'll do it in a stand-alone way, or we'll link to someone who's written something smart, inspiring, or admirable instead. And if there was a rel="unlink" attribute that would actually reduce the spread of the dumb, we'd use it.)