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.

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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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.

  • Kosmo I, for one, and maybe only one, would buy a 5.0 L, stickshift variant of the sedan/hatchback that is Ford's "Not A Mustang EV" tomorrow.I'd buy the sportwagon version yesterday.
  • Akear I am counting the days when Barra retires. She has been one long nightmare for GM. People don't realize the Malibu outsells all GM EVs combined.
  • Redapple2 you say; most car reviewers would place it behind the segment stalwarts from Honda and Toyota,........................... ME: Always so. Every single day since the Accord / Camry introduction.
  • Akear GM sells only 3000 Hummer EVs annually. It is probably the worst selling vehicle in GM history.
  • Amwhalbi I agree, Ajla. This is theory, not reality - hence my comment that Americans don't like hatchbacks. But one of my neighbors bought one of the last Regal hatchbacks that were available for sae, and it is a darn nice car. I still think the idea makes sense, even if history is proving me wrong. And my sister does have a Legacy, which rides a bit higher than my Sonata, and that also is an excellent driver. Even if the general public doesn't concur with me.