Is This Video The End Of Automotive Journalism?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

This video, which was sent to me by a particularly reclusive Canadian cyclist, is forty-one minutes long. It was made by a Fisker Karma owner and it contains an exhaustive review of the Karma’s infotainment system. If you aren’t in the market for a Karma, it is virtually unwatchable.

If you are in the market for a Karma, it’s perhaps the most important video you will ever see.

Brian Greenstone is an Austin-based programmer who owns both an Aston Vantage and Fisker Karma. He claims to be an expert on user interface design and he has an award from Apple to support the point. During the course of his video, he comprehensively deconstructs the way the Karma works. Anyone who is even considering a Karma should see the video. It is detailed, specific, and informative. It was also created by someone who paid his own hard-earned money for the vehicle.

Now, for contrast, let’s take a look at Dan Neil’s advertorial:

Neil says:

Meet the world’s MOST INTERESTING CAR! Every square centimeter of the Fisker Karma riots with clarity, and design intent, and vested individuality, and scorn for convention we haven’t seen since the Tucker Torpedo…

After watching Mr. Greenstone show you how the user interface requires a press on the “up” arrow to move “down” the menu and have permission to touch menu items which were clearly visible previous to said up-touching, it’s highly unlikely that you will agree with Mr. Neil about the whole “riots with clarity” business. Aren’t riots usually affairs which, by definition, are short on clarity? But I digress.

The difference in the two videos is clear enough to supply an entire riot’s worth of clarity, actually. Greenstone’s video is meant to demonstrate how a Fisker Karma works. Dan Neil’s video is meant to be an advertisement for Dan Neil first, and perhaps the Karma second. It’s hard to imagine that anyone who is seriously considering the purchase of a Karma would learn anything from watching Mr. Neil pop his collar and fumble through the pronunciation of “gestalt” — but Greenstone’s video should be required watching for any Karma intender.

Greenstone’s Karma video isn’t the only effort of its kind out there. It’s simply one of the most intelligent and thorough videos available. In the years to come, it’s very possible to imagine that most people will bypass TTAC and its competitors and hit the owner videos the way they currently bypass Motor Trend and visit us. What will the future of auto journalism be then? Will we simply aggregate user-generated content in one place? Will we pull clicks solely by having early access to vehicles before the public? How beholden will we all be to the manufacturers when that’s our only way of keeping an audience? Or will your children tune in to the TTAC Hologram channel to watch my son live-blog an escape from the highway patrol in a hydrogen-powered hovercraft?

Karma intenders don’t have to even think about questions like that. For them, as William Gibson once famously said, the future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.

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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on May 24, 2012

    I've had a couple of car stereos over the last 10 years or so that were really annoying to use, to put it mildly. One had a totally confusing menu system that took about 15 presses to get to a simple bass/treble adjustment! Another one locked up constantly, losing all the settings. It took at least 45 minutes to set it up again. It might last 20 minutes more, or two weeks before it locked up again. It turned out the unit was amazingly sensitive to any voltage variation. A big cap lessened the frequency of the lockups, but never resolved it. None of the aggravations of these stereos comes close to the setup in the video. The integration of the climate control into the stereo display makes any cure for the problems pretty much impossible.

  • SLLTTAC SLLTTAC on May 24, 2012

    I work for a company that designs custom interfaces for electronic systems. Brian Greenstone's analysis is superbly done and a model to be emulated.

  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.
  • ToolGuy From the listing: "Oil changes every April & October (full-synth), during which I also swap out A/S (not the stock summer MPS3s) and Blizzak winter tires on steelies, rotating front/back."• While ToolGuy applauds the use of full synthetic motor oil,• ToolGuy absolutely abhors the waste inherent in changing out a perfectly good motor oil every 6 months.The Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage I run in our family fleet has a change interval of 20,000 miles. (Do I go 20,000 miles before changing it? No.) But this 2014 Focus has presumably had something like 16 oil changes in 36K miles, which works out to a 2,250 mile average change interval. Complete waste of time, money and perfectly good natural gas which could have gone to a higher and better use.Mobil 1 also says their oil miraculously expires at 1 year, and ToolGuy has questions. Is that one year in the bottle? One year in the vehicle? (Have I gone longer than a year in some of our vehicles? Yes, I have. Did I also add Lucas Oil 10131 Pure Synthetic Oil Stabilizer during that time, in case you are concerned about the additive package losing efficacy? Yes, I might have -- as far as you know.)TL;DR: I aim for annual oil changes and sometimes miss that 'deadline' by a few months; 12,000 miles between oil changes bothers me not at all, if you are using a quality synthetic which you should be anyway.