I am Spartacus!

Well, no, actually I am not Spartacus.  I am neither a roman slave nor gladiator nor the charismatic leader of a slave revolt of over a hundred thousand.  In fact, I’ve got a pretty firm grip on who I am. 

For good or for bad, I don’t duck behind a pseudonym here - although if you know me at all you’ll also probably know me as either Zarquil Zonar or sometimes Tapdad.  Most just know me as Mark, and I certainly don’t try to obfuscate the link between me and my psuedonyms. 

The internet, for all intensive purposes, is not anonymous.  You can duck and dodge, you can try to mask your path, but somewhere along the way, someone has to be willing to keep your secret to hide your identity.  Now there are plenty of people who promise they will, and most actually do care about privacy, although there’s a disturbing number of people who do not and a distressing number of companies that will happily sell you their contact list for a price.  You.  Your information.  Sometimes given in confidence, sometimes gleaned through what you offered for another purpose. 

I’m a very unrelenting soul on privacy.  Try not to say anything you regret.  Remember that anything you say can be turned on it’s head if not bound strictly in context.  Remember that search engines like Google (my favourite) can hold an awful lot of information about you.  It’s not going to forget you, either.  Not will it distinguish between the “Mark Zaugg” that is me, and the “Mark Zaugg” that is not me.  There are certainly at least two of us and I’m sure neither of us would appreciate being mistaken for the other.

The whole point of this is to point out a grave concern to me.  Perhaps I’m a trifle old-school here, but to me your word is your honour.  The things you say, the way you act, the manner in which you comport yourself all matters as to how I believe you should be evaluated as a human being.  I don’t mind if you’re an opionated, pompous ass - quite often I am myself.  But are you open minded?  Are you willing to take responsibility for your actions?  Are you willing to accept that your view of the world should change in light of proffered information?  Are you forthright and honest in your dealings?

Rightly or wrongly, it is by the above characteristics that I judge a person’s character.  Judge not lest ye be judged?  That’s fine, if you don’t find me to be an open minded, self-responsible person willing to learn and grow as a human, who treats you honestly and respectfully, you are freely able to not associate with me at all.

So what’s my concern?  The relavation of who is the author of the Fake Steve Jobs blog.  Do I care?  Not particularly.  I’ve read a couple of the blog entries that were sent to me and found them ranging from somewhat amusing to downright vicious and mean-spirited.  I don’t read it on regular basis and I’ve had to use a search engine to go find them in the first place.

Having seen the reveal, I’m less than shocked.  I don’t particularly like the author at all.  I consider him to be mean-spirited and unnecessarily biased as it is.  I’m not naming him - he’s enough of a pub-hound and I don’t really want hits on his name showing up here anyways.  You can go look it up easily enough.

What bothers me the most is here is a professional journalist - a senior editor no less - who has hidden behind the mask of anonymity “…to lampoon Mr. Jobs and his reputation as a difficult and egotistical leader, as well as to skewer other high-tech companies, tech journalists, venture capitalists, open-source software fanatics and Silicon Valley’s overall aura of excess.“  That doesn’t match my vision of ethical behaviour.

“[The author] clearly used the Fake Steve persona to further some of his own interests and positions. For example, articles in other business publications and their journalists were a frequent target of criticism from Fake Steve, while Forbes got off comparatively easy.”

That isn’t even satire.  That is flatly unethical and contrary to the standards of one who should be bringing us balanced news and information.  There is plenty of room for columns and opinion and lampooning, but do it fairly and have the guts to do it openly without hiding behind a facade of a nom de plume.

Do we have any real journalists out there willing to call this unsavoury character out of the woodwork?  The NY Times article directly refers to the “Primay Colours” affair with Newsweek.  Read more on Joe Klein here should you be interested.  Klein was fired, ostensibly for lying.  This particular author hasn’t lied about his identity or denied he wrote the column in question, but he’s publishing a book on the basis of it and profitting from the scandal.  That is shameful, just shameful to me.  I will promise I won’t be buying or even reading the book.

Should I run Forbes, I would follow Newsweek’s example and fire the author outright, and certainly not take the “Secret Diary of Steve Jobs” onboard.  I can’t support a publication that espouses that lack of ethics.

I stand behind this, by name.  I declare myself to be wholly consistent in my viewpoint here.

There was an editor for Linux Today who posted anonymous talkbacks.  The fallout was harsh and is posted hereMy particular comment is somewhat obscure if you don’t understand the references.  I used to frequent a particular news site called Slashdot, but I found Linux Today and enjoyed it better.  In a matter of weeks, my habits changed and I found myself going to LT.  Having lost faith in the integrity of LT, I moved with some of the brighter lunimaries to VarLinux and I’m still there in the woodwork.  I go to Groklaw to keep up with the legal issues in the tech industry.  I’ve discovered that D.C. Parris has started up Blue-Gnu which I have added as a news source.

The reason I’ve stayed there where I’ve wavered elsewhere is that Nick Petreley, Pamela Jones and D.C. Parris are people I trust implicitly to hold their level of integrity at the highest standards.  They guide me to newsworthy items, they don’t let me down, and together with the community gathered around their sites teach me the details I need to know to perform my work.  That’s valuable to me, not just cutting down the rest of the tech industry pretending to be a holier-than-thou mandarin slaying underlings with acerbic comments.

Hey, and won’t you look at that:  I can name the people I respect.  They’re not hiding behind a false name.  They stand by their words and their works and I thank them graciously.  Go away, Fake Steve.  I want to stay near the people that are true.