Why Does C/NET Hate Apple?

I don’t remember what cable channel it was on, but I was so happy to find a future-tech-oriented TV show one day many, many years ago and soon came to appreciate and look for the giant red C/NET logo. That was before Tech-TV, which has come and gone, and before podcasting. These days, I continue to listen to C/NET’s flagship podcast, Buzz Out Loud, not because I’m looking for tech-journalism but because I’m want to know what the haters are thinking about when Apple is in the news.

brian tong and molly wood - image by CNET

Anchored by two very smart and funny tech-observers, Molly Wood and Brian Tong, the once daily podcast seems to have fallen victim to the talk-show radio syndrome where news stories have become launching points for venom and hyperbole. Back when Tom Merritt was part of the crew the balance between news reporting, analysis and rants was well managed, entertaining and worth listening to/watching. The revolving third seat, since Merritt’s departure, has been manned by good people, but all seem to be either too quick to go into rant mode or no one can be found who is strong enough a personality to maintain the news/analysis/rant balance. I’m sure that there are probably constructive reasons for the change, but the reduction of the podcast from daily to weekly isn’t a good sign. And for me, with the rant-a-thon, I can hardly make it through even the weekly sessions.

Case in point, news item: Apple’s Siri voice-service is under scrutiny over it’s apparent aversion to giving info when asked for assistance looking for birth-control. Siri doesn’t seem to have any problem giving assistance when asked for where one can score pot or how to dispose of a body. The latter example, obviously meant to be humorous while the former… well, have you read the Steve Jobs biography? Molly Wood goes into rant mode about Apple’s obvious nanny-mode control issues. Apple had previously responded that it wasn’t a political statement and that, after all, the service is still in Beta. One of Wood’s co-hosts offered that it could have also been a CYA thing, with Apple not wanting to be sued in the future when someone under-age uses Siri to get info and then gets an abortion. Wood wouldn’t have it and called Apple “Beta” explanation bull[shit], and continued the rant. I shut off the podcast and deleted the episode.

What it comes down to is that there’s no one there to pull back on the rants and maintain even the illusion of journalistic balance. It was a little understandable when they were under the pressure of doing a daily tech-news show that they would riff on the headlines and not spend too much time to dig deeper into the stories. And given the ongoing nature of most of the stories and the incomplete record of the events, one does need the analysis. Problem was and is, especially when dealing with anything Apple or Steve Jobs, Wood and Brian Tong always assumed the worst, most controlling, evil motives. To their credit they’ve earned their skepticism over Apple’s motives. Wood has seen how Apple marketing has been savage in their pandering and mistreatment of the press and Tong worked for Apple in the early years of the Apple Stores (which I guess qualifies one for … wounds). Alas, having been poorly treated by individuals or organizations… well, if one is going to be a journalist one needs to rise above it. Where’s the objectivity when one automatically goes for the “evil” reason. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t be skeptical and just buy the marketing fluff, but there is a middle ground that C/NET and Buzz Out Loud seem to have lost a long time ago.

Sources:

Is The IBM PC/XT Doomed To Be Technology’s Next Dinosaur? A 1987 Article

As I read through the Steve Jobs biography I was reminded of an article that I wrote in 1987 for one of my journalism classes. Several years into my own micro-computer adventures I was intrigued by IBM’s hard-right-turn, having captured the small computer market, to try to make it completely proprietary with it’s proposed OS/2 operating system and PS/2 hardware. Besides reading scores of books and articles on recent micro-computer history, I interviewed several local micro-computer vendors. I love how they felt that multitasking systems, what OS/2 was supposed to do, would be too complicated and just not necessary. At the end of the article I’ve posted a video from this era, from the Computer Chronicles TV show. Enjoy

Is The IBM PC/XT Doomed To Be Technology’s Next Dinosaur?

by Joe Bustillos – November 17, 1987 – CSUF COMM201 – Feature Article #2

On April 2, 1987 IBM (International Business Machines) introduced a new line of microcomputers and an operating system for their micros that will be incompatible with the original IBM Personal Computer and its operating system (MSDOS). An operating system is an essential program that makes up the “brains” and “personality” of a computer. It enables the computer to “talk” to its disk drives and its screen and it’s what the computer user “talks to” when he types on the keyboard (and you thought nobody was listening). If two computers from two manufacturers, for example AT&T and Compaq, are running the same operating system (MSDOS) chances are pretty good that a word-processing program that works on one computer will work on the other computer.

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Obama Hope Poster For Sale or “Shephard Fairey: Oops”

Another day, another Fair Use issue in the headlines. Imagine my surprise as I began to do research to update my previous article on the Fair-Use/Copyright kerfuffle between the Associated Press (AP) and street-artist/icon-wanna-be Shephard Fairey, to discover that the case was dismissed yesterday, January 11th, 2011, and that the two parties had entered into an undisclosed financial arrangement. I loved the lead paragraph from the Animal/New York website:

US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has dismissed the cases between Shepard Fairey and the Associated Press. And so, the whole copyright infringement vs. fair use vs. fake evidence ballyhooed mess has been resolved with a “confidential” financial settlement. The AP and Fairey will also “collaborate on a series of images,” according to the AP’s press statement. Wait, what?

For those who may not be familiar with the case, Shephard Fairey has been practicing his craft of graphic commentary/stencil graffiti for a number of years and found some notoriety with the Andre the Giant/OBEY image. According to Fairey, in an LA Times video/interview, he said that he wanted to do something for the Obama campaign around the time of the Super-Tuesday push, found an image of Obama and by the following day had a poster with the word HOPE. The poster and image instantly went global. Fairey said that the image captured the leadership and humanity of the candidate and the word HOPE captured the feelings of his supporters. Success.

After the conclusion of the campaign AP threatened to sue Fairey for the use of the photograph that they believed he used to create his poster. Then in February of 2009, Fairey decided to beat AP to the punch and sued AP, claiming that his use of the photo was covered under Fair Use. To make things even more complicated, the photographer who allegedly took the original image, Mannie Garcia, sued AP claiming that he was a freelancer and not an AP employee when he shot the disputed photo and therefore he was entitled to compensation from this litigation. At the end of February 2009 NPR interviewed Fairey and Garcia (separately). It probably didn’t help to settle things down that the disputed poster had just been hung in the US National Portrait Gallery on January 20th, 2009.

It was a textbook case on Fair Use that I immediately chatted with my students about. Looking at Fairey’s actions and pre-emptive lawsuit, those who had read the requirements for a Fair Use defense could say in unison: Fair Use is not a right but a defensible position. Again, Fair Use is not a right but a defensible position.

At the time I asked around to see what others in the media business felt. I asked photographer and TWiT contributer, Scott Bourne, his take on the case (via Twitter) and he said, “I think the artist stole the photo and his fair use claim will end up costing him treble damages. All depends on whether AP owns [the] pic.”

When NPR’s Terry Gross asked the photographer of the Obama image, Mannie Garcia, his take on Fairey using his photograph he said, “[It’s] crucial for people to understand, simply because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean that it’s free for the taking, and that just because you can take it, doesn’t mean that it belongs to you.”

A cursory survey of opinions online at the time from the likes of Milton Glaser on BoingBoing, Mark Vallen on Art-for-Change, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and Chal Pivik on the Los Angeles METBlogs, seems to show that the more the pundit knows about the actual steps or changes to the photo that Fairey made to create the poster the more likely the writer came down on the side of Fairey’s Fair Use claim. NPR, of course, did an excellent job covering all of the angles of the story, finishing up with a discussion with law professor Greg Lastowka on the case and Fair Use. Click on the link/player at the end of this story for NPR’s interview.

And so the case stayed here for about ten-months with the photographers crying foul and the graphic artists flipping the bird. Then in October of 2009 Fairey dropped a bomb admitting that he’d lied about which photograph he’d used and destroyed evidence of the actual images he’d used (which he feared would have proven AP’s case because the image required far less manipulation to create the poster). Fairey’s attorneys, which included support from Stanford University’s Fair Use Project, withdrew their support. Photographers 1, Graphic Artists 0.

091018-fairy-troubles-cont-AP-600

In my original article I concluded that had my research on this story ended with the NPR piece I would have been left with a different image of Shepherd Fairey than the one I gained via a series of videos that were created long before Obama campaign, when Fairey’s main claim to fame was his “Andre the Giant: Obey!” world-wide sticker/poster/street art project. Fifteen-plus arrests later for “street art” activities and it’s little wonder that he’d be a media darling while at the same time being in trouble for taking someone’s else’s photograph and not thinking twice about using it to make the Obama: Hope image. Even though it would have gone completely counter to his street-artist-persona, a simple call or email to AP would have saved him all of this hassle.

But who am I kidding. In one of the videos, when Fairey says, “Shephard Fairey: Icon” for the G4 series of the same name, implying his own status in the art/street culture world, I was put off by the arrogance and willingness to play both sides of the media. I predicted that when all of this plays out the title of his next video would be, “Shephard Fairey: Oops.” But I guess given the out of court settlement, the Fair Use test case was kicked to the curb and Fairey is left to say either, “Shephard Fairey: Halfsies” or “Shephard Fairey: Do You Take Checks?”

Media:

NPR: Fresh Air: Shepard Fairey: Inspiration Or Infringement?

If you don’t see the audio player above, you can switch to Firefox or Click here to listen to the podcast

Los Angeles Times Video: Hope: Shepard Fairey and Barack Obama

Sources:

Image: (FILES) People walk past Shepard Fairey’, retrieved from http://www.boston.com/ae/specials/culturedesk/FILES-US-POLITICS-INAUGURATION-PORTRAIT_001.jpg on 01/13/2011

Shepard Fairey Settles Case, Collaborates With AP Instead by Marina Galperina, retrieved from http://animalnewyork.com/2011/01/shepard-fairey-settles-and-collaborates-with-ap/ on 01/13/2011

Barack Obama artwork case settled, retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12170620 on 01/13/2011

Image: Giant/OBEY, retrieved from http://www.graffiti.org/faq/kataras/kataras_fig3Fairey.jpg on 01/13/2011

Obama photo: Mannie Garcia (AP)/Obama image: Shepherd Fairey, retrieved from http://www.boingboing.net/2009/02/09/milton-glaser-weighs.html on 04/09/2009

Obama “Hope” Image vs. One Lost Shephard by Joe Bustillos, retrieved from http://joebustillos.com/2009/04/10/obama-hope-image-vs-one-lost-shepard/ on 01/13/2011

Shepard Fairey: Inspiration Or Infringement? NPR Fresh Air interview, retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101182453 on 02/27/2009

Hope: Shepard Fairey and Barack Obama – Los Angeles Time interview/video retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_EOzZ9iaJQ&NR=1 on 04/07/2009

ICONS: Shepard Fairey, YouTube video retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNv-9IOBZZo on 04/07/2009

How The News Is Made

I generally only watch TV news when I happen to be have the TV on or am interest in the latest hurricane heading my way. I also tend to get the news I’m interested in via Twitter and my RSS feeds delivered to my iPad. So when the video below crossed my horizon I was quite intrigued at how perfectly the presenter, BBC’s Charlie Brooker, spelled out the formulaic process of creating a news package. And not to spelling things out too literally, however you feel about the “media elite”, all broadcast news is “packaged news,” as the following video clearly demonstrates:

Another Charlie Brooker video essay, taking a newswipe at American TV Journalism:

Ocoee “Gotta Keep Reading” Video on e-School News

After reaching the heights of being featured on the Oprah Winfrey show one might think that getting featured on the e-School News blog would be “meh,” that is unless your a teacher-type. Check out the e-School News story, it’s the most in-depth story so far (with a very big audience). (BTW: The video has over 250,000 views as of 3/20/2010)

Sources:
Student video ‘Gotta Keep Reading’ inspires nation by Meris Stansbury/e-School News. http://www.eschoolnews.com/2010/03/18/gotta-keep-reading-video-inspires-nation/ retrieved on 3/19/2010
YouTube video: Gotta Keep Reading – Ocoee Middle School. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6D9jiEYxzs retrieved on 3/20/2010
Thanks Dr. Deason for the e-School News heads up