Only a couple of weeks back, the headlines were proclaiming the death of tech. The harbinger of doom? As I recall, it might have been crummy quarterly results at IBM (NYSE:IBM). Or maybe some Las Vegas schemer ordered a Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) desktop and claimed to find a human finger lodged in the DVD drive. I forget the reason, really. All I remember was the news was big. BIG!

Well, a few days have passed. So scratch that. The news this morning is that tech is back! Well, the Semiconductor Industry Association's (SIA) periodic chip check will be interpreted that way, you can bet your 64-bit data bus. The reality is that the SIA's tally of semiconductor spending shows a 13.2% year-over-year increase from Q1 2004, with a 0.4% sequential rise from the last quarter of 2004 and a 2.2% monthly increase from February to March.

Think we'll see a retraction/correction/mea culpa from any of those organizations that proclaimed the death of tech? (Yeah, when Satan's throwing snowballs...) Care to make odds on seeing one of those tired old headlines like "Nasdaq Rises on Higher Chip Sales?" Feel free to join me in retching if and when we do, because, as we all know, this kind of nonspecific prognosticating is of little value for individual investors. That's why I called shenanigans on the IBM news, and I'll do it again today.

There are a couple of problems here for investors to wrestle with. The most obvious is that tech does not equal tech does not equal tech. I mean, compare what's going on at fizzlingNortel (NYSE:NT), hotApple (NASDAQ:AAPL), solidIntel (NASDAQ:INTC), and comeback kid Nokia (NYSE:NOK), and tell me why headline generalities about "tech" should matter at all. Because all use microchips? They use electricity? Even my electron-motivated toaster has a microchip in it these days, but I hardly think today's semiconductor news would make the manufacturer -- it could be Consolidated Roanoke U.S. Toastco (Ticker: CRUST) for all I know -- a "strong buy."

The real lesson for investors is, as always, to tune out most of the background noise that passes as financial "news." True, the increase in semiconductor buying represents a comforting trend for those who like to invest in companies that rely on such spending, but only in the most general sense. There will be plenty of tech losers to go with the winners. That's why we encourage Fools to skip the forest-watching and hang their hopes on the strongest trees.

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Seth Jayson loves tech, but hates most tech stocks. At the time of publication, he had positions in no firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.