Missing Link: Identity of Identity and Non-Identity in the Tech Section of the Estadão

Pictured: A non-miniscule Asus model.

In given conditions, all contradictory aspects possess the character of non-identity and hence are described as being in contradiction. But they also possess the character of identity and hence are interconnected. This is what Lenin means when he says that dialectics studies “how opposites can be . . . identical”. How then can they be identical? Because each is the condition for the other’s existence. This is the first meaning of identity. –Mao Tse-Tung

The tech section of the Estado de S. Paulo (Brazil) reports today:

Repórter testa o Asus, o menor laptop do mundo

Reporter tests the Asus, the smallest laptop in the world

Click through to the video, however, and you read the following headline

O Link testou o notebook Asus, um dos menores do mundo

The Link section has test-driven the Asus notebook, one of the smallest in the world.

The Estado de S. Paulo seems to have asserted two contradictory proposition as being equally true:

  1. The Asus is the smallest notebook in the world
  2. The Asus may not be the smallest notebook in the world

A quick google shows the Samsung Q35 also claiming to be the “smallest laptop in the world” at one point. Or rather, the “smallest dual-core laptop in the world.” But I really do not care enough about the issue to run it down. Apparently, neither does the Estadão.

Write Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope. He gets pays to research trivia. You would think that that’s what Estadão reporters get paid for, too, but apparently this is just too much to ask for the R$2.50 newsstand price.

If I hook my palmtop up to one of those folding keyboards — I have one — and secure it in my lap while using it, does it then become a very small laptop?

Tech sections in major metropolitan newspapers all over the world are given to publishing all kinds of gibberish these days, of course. Generally in the name of “innovation journalism.” See, for example

In the case of the Link section of the Estadão, my favorite example is their “test-drive” of the XO — the “famous $100 laptop,” as they consistently referred to it. (The other models competing for a spot in a pilot program did not get a Homeric epithet.)

The one that Peru, for example, just paid about $185 a unit for. Go figure.

This Asus has reportedly now introduced a $199 model.

The Estadão’s first-hand, hands-on report on the XO — in demotic Brazilian Portuguese, means something like “shame on you” — wound up praising planned features of a future model of the gizmo (B4) that were not working in the model they actually observed in action (B2).

Which is a bit like me test-driving a classic VW Beetle, then writing up a “test-drive” report on the snazzy new features of the New Beetle — which of course, has a completely different power plant than the lawnmower engine used in the classic model.

Similar to what the old-time grifters used to call the “bait and switch.”



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