As a Mac fanatic for over fourteen years, I was thrilled to find my first job here at Google UK would be working on Google’s presence at this year’s London MacExpo UK.
The iPod virus infections shows a lack of capability (security QA in shipping products) and poor communications (failure to take full responsibility). It’s a very small problem, but their arrogant approach to spinning the story lead me to question how they might respond to more serious issues. We have, over the course of a couple months, two incidents where Apple decided to play the PR game rather than taking responsibility and communicating openly. I realize those of you that still believe the wifi hack was BS probably believe Apple dealt with the situation reasonably, but for reasons I can’t disclose I still think PR overrode good security practices.
As Rich says later on, "I really REALLY don’t want to see them go the way of other vendors who put PR in charge of security."
The population of the US has, according to projections by the US Census Bureau, just hit 300 million.
In 1986, it was about 240 million.
That means that, in 20 years, the US’ population has grown by the size of the entire population of the UK (60 million).
Link: Scripting News: 10/17/2006.
But they understood something that most reporters and their supporters don’t understand — the readers didn’t have a choice just a few years ago, but now we do, we can go direct to their sources, to their blogs, to find out what they think, we don’t need the reporter to assemble the sources for us.
That Dave Winer can actually think that all a reporter does is repeat the information that others want to publically make available proves either that there’s no good reporters left in the US (false) or that Dave doesn’t understand reporting (true). It’s the job of a reporter to find out the information that others don’t want the public to get hold of, not the kind of things that they’d put in a blog.
A while ago, a small controversy over Apple’s environmental record took over the Mac blogs for a bit, after a Greenpeace report highlighted the use of toxic chemicals in the company’s products. I’m not a supporter of Greenpeace: I tend to be on the opposite end of the spectrum of opinion to it in many ways, for example by being pro-GM. Hence, I largely ignored it.
But there was something interesting that came out of the furore surrounding the Greenpeace campaign. In a response to Greenpeace, Daniel Eran at Roughly Drafted quoted “Stephen Russell, a materials consultant to the IT sector,” as refuting many of Greenpeace’s claims. Eran is so impressed with Russell’s claims, in fact, that he cited him again in a follow-up piece, claiming that “Apple has had for many years, by far the strictest eco-material specification in the industry, bar none”.
Certainly, Russell sounds like he knows his stuff. In a comment over on Greenpeace’s site, he goes into some detail about the quantities of chemicals used by Apple and other manufacturers. And he crops up again, defending Apple’s record on News.com.
Best of all, he crops up on Technology Evangelist, where he claims:
“I’ve just returned from the province in China where Greenpeace took those photos. I even managed to track down that little girl what was used to pose for the camera whilst Greenpeace took pictures of her holding the Apple Mac keyboard. Here’s what I found; there was indeed tons of electronic scrap, that appeared to be mainly printed circuit boards from TV’s and computers as well as printer toner cartridges and peripherals from computers. But guess what, none of them were from Apple equipment. Showing the girl a photo of herself holding the Apple keyboards, I asked her how she found the Apple Mac keyboards. She said that the westerners with cameras brought them and gave them to her. They said they pay her if she agreed to hold them whilst they took pictures.”
Now that sounds authoritative, doesn’t it? There’s only one problem: for an expert in his field, “Stephen Russell” seems to have left very few footprints. Googling for “Stephen Russell materials science” comes up with nothing that looks like Eran’s description of Russell as “a materials consultant to the IT sector”. Searching for “Stephen Russell materials consultant” brings up only Eran’s postings as relevant. For someone in the IT sector, especially a consultant, having a Google footprint of zero would be very unusual.
There’s one further twist. In a response to Russell’s comment on the Greenpeace site, someone noted this:
“Let me tell you about a funny thing a colleague pointed out to me this morning using the magic of the internet: You (Stephen or ”stephruss1973“) appear to be working for Apple.”
So, it appears, “Stephen Russell” was posting from an Apple IP address. Now it may simply be that Russell posted from a public Mac in an Apple Store, although this hardly tallies with the description of him in Eran’s posts. But coupled with Russell’s complete lack of traceability online, it certainly leaves the feeling that something is amiss. Was someone within Apple conducting a little bit of astroturfing on the side? And, if he’s out there, will the real Stephen Russell please stand up?
It’s two weeks since I last blogged, which is probably about the longest hiatus that I’ve had since I first started writing online. There’s been no particular reason for not blogging, but rather a combination of things that have kept me away from the Typepad and in the "real" world.
First of all, things have been incredibly busy at work, where we’ve been wrapping up another publication for BT – this time aimed at small business customers. This one is an experiment in semi-personalised publishing, producing a short hybrid DM/editorial product that varies according to the products that the reader owns and what type of business they are. It’s the kind of thing that is easy to do on the web, but very difficult to do in print, and it’s been an enormous challenge just to get it done.
Secondly, weekends have been busy with actual, real, social events. Last weekend, for example, saw us head out on Friday to a play that a friend was putting on about Lilya Litviak, a World War II Russian woman fighter ace. I ended up using all the myriad tools available to men to stop themselves blubbing at the sad parts at the end – I’m a sucker for a woman fighter ace in peril – so I enjoyed it immensely. Then there was a party to celebrate the 40th birthday of the marvellous James Wallis (one of only three people to write a novel about Sonic the Hedgehog). Then Sunday saw a lovely lunch with Tamzin and Jamie, and much hooting over various musicals.
But also there’s been the fact that I’ve just not found anything all that interesting, especially in the world of technology. Everything is either deals between companies for ridiculous money (Google/YouTube, Carphone Warehouse/AOL UK) or more web-based applications that offer a fraction of the functionality of a desktop program at the cost of your life being flooded with yet more advertisements. Dull dull dull. Or maybe I’ve been close to technology for so long that I’m burned out?
However, there’s one exception: despite having written about how I don’t get it at all, I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time in Second Life, and it’s a blast – the potential is very interesting, and no doubt I’ll be writing more about it in the future.