Bloggers, Journalists, and Community

Excuse me for a moment while I take a break from the normal bike-related content on this site and address the Gizmodo story. To me, it’s interesting how the usage of blogger and journalist gets intertwined, depending on the story and changes with the point being made. In different contexts, whether bloggers are journalists or not has come up in the past ten years. Often blogs like Gizmodo use the description as it suits them. Don’t play by the same rules as traditional media because were bloggers, but want the respect of the journalist title and entitlements. 

When they turned off the TVs at CES at few years ago, they were bloggers, Gawker (parent of Gizmodo) defended their actions saying basically they don’t play by the same rules. When the cops come a knockin, they’re journalists.


I’ve never found myself in possession of a stolen, or not stolen, prototype phone or bike. I’ve also never thought of myself as a journalist. I’ve been blogging since we first called it that. Not sure if the search was legal, not a lawyer either. The most troubling thing is I’ve not seen camps get divided like this about Apple so fast. Apple as a villain is an entirely new web phenomena.

Do Not like iTunes DRM! Sure, you can make that case, but now it’s playing out as conspiracies and villains and horrible things are being said in comment threads. Whenever it happened, the art of arguing, even flaming, got lost in responses that go straight to F-bomb you and your mother.

What Gizmodo has done with that iPhone Prototype is shown the ugly side of the Internet. We’ve got a good community here, on Twitter, and Facebook and have very little flaming or hate. I appreciate it and think you likely share my concerns about the Internet these days.

Now back to bikes. Check out FreMo: India’s First Bicycle Sharing Program.


FWIW, CES created the distinction between Press and Blogger, not Gizmodo. Now, everyone likes to have it both ways, but Gizmodo’s “checkbook journalism” is likely to hold up in court. My key questions:

1) How can you claim theft if you disavow ownership of an item? The intermediary made a good faith attempt to give back the phone.

2) How can you claim espionage if a secret is revealed to the public? Nobody gains a proprietary advantage.

There was a time when bloggers got paid by advertisers (this came up again later with Mommy Bloggers) without disclosing and that delineated them from journalists. There’s also no editorial board and blurry lines with bloggers. Regarding 1 whether it was good faith or not is a question. I’ve paid [an iPhone forward](, as I wrote about last week. On 2, what you claim is damages. Now that Apple’s competitors have seen what they’re going to release in the next version that can ready their products. My issue with this, besides the community dialogue, is that they outed the employee with non flattering photos. Was that necessary?

I don’t think the “good faith” standard is making an hour’s drive to 1 Infinite Loop demanding that somebody take it back, nor do I believe it would have been more effective than what was done, which is to call and say “hey, I’ve got this thing, you want it back, right?”

There is no damage to Apple: they already gave up the goods on the software, and the only hardware revelation was the prototype’s industrial design. Everybody in the industry knows that Apple can’t get away with a 320x480 display anymore, and front-facing cameras are neither a new smartphone feature, nor anything that hadn’t been rumored since the first iPhone.

This sort of thing (as well as half of the flak that gets thrown around on twitter) merely just reinforces my belief that human maturity plateaus somewhere around high school.  Remove the immediate social censure of real life interactions and add a touch of remoteness via the internet and voila, true colors start showing.

In another context, I said once, “who knew that when geeks inherited the earth, they’d act like such dicks.” The other problem is that sites want the traffic and comment count so they’ll let the hate fly. Seattle PI is the worst at bike haters. They post anything abut the bike, and the forum fills up with haters. They don’t have staff to control or guide the conversations so it’s a hater free for all.

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