Friday, September 21, 2007

Blogs v. Forbes: Blogs win

Lyons, D. (2007). Snowed by SCO. Forbes.com. September 19, 2007. Available online: http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/19/software-linux-lawsuits-tech-oped-cx_dl_0919lyons_print.html (from Slashdot).

From the confession of error:

In the print edition of Forbes there's a great (albeit sometimes painful) tradition of doing "follow-through" articles where a reporter either takes a victory lap for making a good call or falls on his sword for making a bad one. Online publications don't typically ask for follow-throughs. But I need to write one.

For four years, I've been covering a lawsuit for Forbes.com, and my early predictions on this case have turned out to be so profoundly wrong that I am writing this mea culpa. What can I say? I grew up Roman Catholic. The habit stays with you.

The case is SCO Group v. IBM. In March 2003, SCO sued IBM claiming that IBM took code from Unix--for which SCO claimed to own copyrights--and put that code into Linux, which is distributed free. Last month a judge ruled that SCO does not, in fact, own the Unix copyrights. That blows SCO's case against IBM out of the water. SCO, of Lindon, Utah, is seeking bankruptcy protection.

In June 2003, a few months after SCO Group sued IBM over the Linux operating system, I wrote an article that bore the headline: "What SCO Wants, SCO Gets." The article contained some critical stuff about SCO but also warned that SCO stood a chance of winning the lawsuit. "SCO may not be very good at making a profit by selling software. ... But it is very good at getting what it wants from other companies," I wrote. ...

I reported what they said. Turns out I was getting played. They never produced a smoking gun. They never sued any Hollywood company.

Over time my SCO articles began to carry headlines like, "Dumb and Dumber," "Bumbling Bully" and "SCO gets TKO'd."

But I still thought it would be foolish to predict how this lawsuit (or any lawsuit) would play out. I even wrote an article called "Revenge of the Nerds," which poked fun at the pack of amateur sleuths who were following the case on a Web site called Groklaw and who claimed to know for sure that SCO was going to lose.

Turns out those amateur sleuths were right. Now some of them are writing to me asking how I'd like my crow cooked, and where I'd like it delivered.


For some reason, a lot of technology journalism has devoled into hit-piece journalism, like the recent factually untrue CNET review of Lotus Symphony. Forbes, seeing blood in the water, did the same, attacking both a respected global services provider (IBM) and bloggers following the case (GrowkLaw), helping the corporate scheisters of SCO spread fear, uncertainy, and doubt.

But IBM was right, the blogs were right, and SCO (and the mainstream media in Forbes) were wrong. Now Forbes admits it.

Good.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Horrors and heroes of the Mike Nifong / Crystal Gang Mangum Hoax

The story is well known: Crystal Gail Mangum -- a prostitute and stripper who had previously falsely accused innocents of rape -- once again accused youths of rape. Michael Byron Nifong, the corrupt prosecutor of Durham County, North Carolina -- acted on those charges, in spite of Mangum's unreliably testimony and increasingly strong contradictory evidence.

Mike Nifong is now no longer a lawyer and no longer a prosecutor. His victims will be suing him, so he may lose his pension. The State may further prosecute him, so he may lose his liberty.



Criminals


It's easy to feel sorry for him, but it's important to remember how close he came to getting away with his evil. At worst, youths would have spent decades in prison, and become the victims of sadistic guards and fellow inmates who are real rapists. At best Nifong would drop the charges while still slandering the youths (read Gerald Bard Tjoflat's words for more).

The State Bar voted to investigate him by only one vote.

Clearly, the actions of the mainstream media were part of the horror. By referring to Crystal Gail with positively charged words as a "working mother" and "college student," they were complicit in covering up her past crimes and forming the Mike Nifong hoax echo chamber.

However, there were heroes too. Dilby.com's research was a great effort to break the echo chamber and let the truth -- that Crystal Gail Mangum is a liar and Michael Byron Nifong is a corrupt prosecutor -- be known.

If Dilby's work helped to shift just one vote of the NC State Bar -- which is quite possible -- then Dibly.com is a hero. For even the innocent athletes who fought back had little choice. But Dilby risked his reputation so that the truth could be known.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year, Same Old Mainstream Media

Finkelstein, M. (2007). ABC's 'sic' choice suggests belief in afterlife an error. NewsBusters. January 1, 2007. Available online: http://newsbusters.org/node/9898.

"Sic" ("thus") is a writing device used to distance the writer from an error. It is often used rhetorically to embarrass or ridicule the source of a quote. For instance, if I would say something stupid while misspelling a word, someone else might quote what I say, while writing sic, to focus attention on my poor writing ability. More technically, sic can be used when there is a fear that the reader will mistake a strange usage of the quoted person with that of the editor.

Which makes this disgusting. And sick.


"You were one of my best friends and I will never forget you. All my love and prayers go to your family and I'll see you again." (sic)


There is no grammatical error with the quotation -- it is composed of two well-formed compound sentences. What the ABC News videographer appears to be distancing himself from -- holding up to ridicule -- is the belief that a friend will see his own friend -- a soldier who died in Iraq -- again.

This Richard Dawkins style of atheism -- rude and socially inept -- is an embarrassment.