July 4, 2012

2 websites were a-merging/The fans began to howl.

"Fans Howl After Weather Site Buys Out Rival."
In the eyes of Weather Underground’s ardent fans, the Weather Channel appears to represent the wrong kind of weather information: personality-driven sunniness and hype, they say, rather than the pure science of data. As Mike Tucker, a computer professional in New Hampshire, put it on Facebook, reacting to news of the deal: “Nooooooooooooooooo! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

The controversy illustrates the deep national divide between those people who just want to know if it’s going to rain, and people who really, really, care about the data underlying the weather. Christopher Maxwell, a manager at a solar energy company in Richmond, Va., is in the really-really-cares-about-the-weather camp. He said he saw the Weather Channel deal as a sad sellout for Weather Underground.

“It seems to happen all the time,” he said. “Something great gets invented and sold in the United States, and it gets bought up and destroyed.”

Weather Underground was founded in 1995 in Ann Arbor, where it grew out of the University of Michigan’s online weather database. The name was a winking reference to the radical group that also had its roots in Ann Arbor....
And the radical group — is it really okay to wink at terrorists? — got its name from Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues": "You don’t need a weatherman/To know which way the wind blows." My post title refers to another Bob Dylan song "All Along The Watchtower": "Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl."

Now, from the first-linked article, I see:
[Wunderground and Weatherbug] are dwarfed by Weather.com and the other properties owned by the Weather Channel, which is owned by a consortium that includes Comcast, Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group. The Weather Channel sites draw almost 50 million visitors a month. But only half of Weather Underground’s users also use Weather.com in a given month, which might be considered a silent protest of sorts.
Bain Capital!

You know, it's 2012 and 2 riders are approaching. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Barack Obama... Bill Ayers... Weather Underground. Make your own connections. Mitt Romney... Bain... Weather Channel....

"'There must be some way out of here,' said the joker to the thief/'There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief'/Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth/None of them along the line know what any of it is worth..."

Do you think this is but a joke?

50 comments:

t-man said...

I agree about the tendency of established businesses to buy up and ruin competitors with a superior product. Usually, it's a function of cost. The innovator can't get as big a return on investment, so the only party who will pay a premium for the new business is a threatened competitor.

Ron said...

Althouse needs to come back to Ann Arbor and seal the rift that is troubling our nation, clearly. It's all about weather and politics....

Conserve Liberty said...

I'm not sure whether I'll use the new, merged service.

Conserve Liberty said...

Weather Underground doesn't take control of my computer and pummel me with Trojans and Cookie crawlers like Weatherbug does (or perhaps once did - I haven't used it in years); nor does it present the weather like a morning news show.

Men ruin everything.

WV ntoMEn

rhhardin said...

Companies get bought out because it's too complex to be a big business without a huge regulatory compliance division.

So the next google gets bought by the present google.

This is bad because big companies don't behave like small companies, and you want the small company behavior to grow the economy.

rhhardin said...

I've always subscribed to weather underground, and have only had to go to classic.wunderground.com to keep the men's version of stuff.

Now it will turn into the women's weather site.

Nobody's shell scripts will work.

Unknown said...

I used to like all the surreal imagery in Dylan's lyrics but now this is my favorite work from his long and brilliant carreer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8qE6WQmNus

m stone said...

A very sad day.

Paddy O said...

Weather Underground is consistently the most accurate weather site, as it uses home weather stations, so you can get readings close to where you actually are.

I remember when I lived in the mountains (5300'), and most weather sites would give the weather for San Bernardino or Hesperia, which were the largest local towns but utterly different weather. Very sad.

Weather.com is the Yahoo of weather.

Paddy O said...

"established businesses to buy up and ruin competitors with a superior product."

The Yahoo business model.

FedkaTheConvict said...

Chrystal Egger is the only reason to watch The Weather Channel.

Pogo said...

Thanks, Congress.

Rhhardin is right, were it not for the high cost of compliance with regulations as corporate size increases, smaller companies could afford to become larger.

Just like health care, business will be more and more controlled by fewer businesses, near-monopolies.

But it's just a tax, so totally constitutional.

deborah said...

No one is more buoyantly happy than a Weather Channel anchor reporting a hurricane. The bigger, the better.

edutcher said...

The Blonde is more interested in the phases of the moon.

Surfed said...

Bob has always had all the questions. Few of the answers. Part and parcel to our fascination.

Original Mike said...

Shit. I turned to Weather Underground when I could never find what I wanted on the Weather Channel. For example, I want forecast, but on the weather channel I had to select, "Weather for Gardening" or "Weather for Outdoor Activities" or myriad other categories that make no sense.

I use Weather Underground all the time. Assuming the Weather Channel fucks it up like they did their own site, where do I turn?

Rob said...

May rate as one of the best Althouse posts of the year.

The Farmer said...

What's stopping these crestfallen weather geeks from starting their own kick-ass nerd weather site? Stop crying and start innovating.

deborah said...

I realize they were complicit in fudging GW data, but I keep NOAA displaying local weather as my home page.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

Do you think this is but a joke?

What are you talking about? I'll tell you what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about...America

rhhardin said...

Though perhaps wunderground could improve its contour maps away from color. Nobody can match the legend to the shade of pink on the map.

Instead use a presentation discovered in the 60s - contour lines alternating heavy and light.

You can't reverse direction without crossing the same style of line twice in a row, so it's unambiguous.

Just label the lines occasionally and sparsely.

Do away with the colors entirely.

McGehee said...

I never use Weather Underground, and one of the tuners on my TiVo is always on The Weather Channel by default -- but damned if I like it anymore.

When it was still owned by its founders it was indeed a weather channel, but now it is TWNBC, with one of its morning idiots put forth to preach at viewers about all topics from his "Open Mike" when he barely even knows anything worth listening to about the weather.

And don't even get me started on all the constantly repeated long-form programming they show because they don't like paying OCM's for more than a couple of hours during the PM half of the day. It isn't even possible to watch for only the new episodes, as one might do on any other channel, since they do pre-empt the pre-recorded shows when there's severe weather. Which they should, but it doesn't make the decision to do pre-recorded programming in the first place any less stupid.

The founders of TWC cared enough about weather to keep the focus on what was going on now 24/7, even if nothing was actually going on. TWNBC would just as soon there were never any weather going on, ever, so they could run pre-recorded shows without interruption.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Surfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Astro said...

Meh. Either way, a hard rain's a gonna fall.

AccuWeather

Pogo said...

"Stop crying and start innovating."

That's the point, innit?

Read rhhardin again, for you missed the implication:
Regulatory kudzu kills innovation.

Tears do not dissolve those chains, neither does their absence. Your advice is worthless; first you stomp innovation to death, then you mock those remaining for not innovating. Typical leftist.

Should we do it for the Motherland? That worked great for the USSR.
Oops.

Surfed said...

@Debora - Surfers are far, far happier about hurricanes. We pray prostrated, we sacrifice old surfboards in bonfires to Kahuna, we clear calendars, we tie off and mainline those bad babies to swing close to the coast and deliver the goods - huge waves. And I own property and houses in close approximation to the coast in Florida. "And the wind began to howl"... Bring em' on.

deborah said...

I'll give you that, Surfed. Except for the surfers.

Lem said...

They openly mock me..

Petunia said...

TWC jumped the shark years ago with its hysterical Cantore-led hurricane wolf-crying, but they took an extra-high leap a few weeks ago when they had a lifeguard alleging that the reason delayed-drowning victims die is that their bodies try to de-salinate the inhaled water and the lungs fill up with fluid.

Which would, of course, make delayed drowning in fresh water impossible.

Um, no.

virgil xenophon said...

Capitalism is NOT about the "survival of the fittest"--it's all about the "survival of the fastest" (i.e.,growing. Size matters..)

cubanbob said...

It doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

tsj said...

I use wunderground to look up historical weather data as I research cases of possible wrongful conviction. I appreciate the innovation and hard work of the wundergrounders to provide everyone with free and easy access to important data. I hope (without sarcasm) they are well compensated for what they have accomplished.

Original Mike said...

Maybe they won't mess with it.

Darrell said...

Weather Underground has been pushing global warming bullshit for the past couple of months so it can go the way of dinosaurs for all I care.

Will Cate said...

Well, you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate.

MadisonMan said...

Old meteorologists remember when the Weather Channel actually showed weather on its channel. Then it devolved into what you see today. That is wx underground's fate.

Plus, wx underground is the only free source of ECMWF precip forecast data. I suspect that goes away too.

Original Mike said...

Yes, but we get great programs like "My 10 Favorite Hurricanes". {/sarcasm}

NotquiteunBuckley said...

If you pay for liberal television, you should not wonder why the people you pay, who hate you, think you're dumb.

And if you pay Al Sharpton's salary via your cable bill, you are expanding racism and should think about your actions, which are racist. Every month you pay for TV, you are more and more racist.

I drive a Jeep, which I like very much, and know I am something other than a bulwark for the rule of law after what Chrysler did to shareholders.

That being said, I am not paying Al Sharpton's salary in as direct a way in driving a Jeep as you are in your cable addiction, so get some damn help pronto.

It's called Netflix and it works.

Kev said...

@NotquiteunBuckley: Point taken, but I can't exactly watch baseball or the Tour de France on Netflix...

EMD said...

Wait. Could Weather Underground could have not SOLD OUT?

We whine and moan about the big ones buying up the small, but it take two to tango with any transaction.

T J Sawyer said...

Weather Underground is a great "Army of Davids" new media approach to the weather. Wait till the bean counters and lawyers at Weather Channel get started!

And -- Rush is going to shit a brick! He kept W.U. on constantly too.

The Crack Emcee said...

Sounds like a fine fit to me - Mitt with some GW fanatics.

Imagine that,...

Joe said...

Who the hell cares? They all get their forecasts from the same place and just gussy them up.

Then again, I've long ceased caring about weather forecasts. The weather is what the weather is (and meteorologists are wrong as often as right, so what's the point?)

deborah said...

Speaking of weather, here's a composite image of the June 29 derecho that traveled from Illinois to DC:

http://blog.aopa.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2012_june_derecho1.jpg

Never heard of derechos before.

Original Mike said...

"Who the hell cares? They all get their forecasts from the same place and just gussy them up."

It's how they gussy them up that matters. And it's not an issue of asthetics. Go try and get an extended forecast on the Weather Channel site. Do you choose "Golf Weather", "Beach and Pool Weather", Hunting Weather", ...

Good luck.

Craig Howard said...

I use Wunderground constantly -- their Wundermap is great. I also have a back-yard weather station plugged into it.

When a hurricane strikes, its great fun to watch TWC talking-heads screaming about the high winds while Wunderground's home station network is showing 35mph in most places.

John Lynch said...

Domino's started in Ann Arbor.

Coincidence?

Curious George said...

"deborah said...
No one is more buoyantly happy than a Weather Channel anchor reporting a hurricane. The bigger, the better."

You need to watch Milwaukee weather dudes when we have a big snow or t-storms with possible tornadoes. They get hard-ons you could dock a boat to.