Print 29 comment(s) - last by KristopherKubi.. on Jan 17 at 10:02 AM

Hmm, maybe I've missed the bigger picture here

A few days ago I went off the deep end and psycho-analyzed Gizmodo's prank at CES 2008, and its philosophical grounds for doing so. 

All that went out the window this morning when I read an article about a Polish teen who used an IR remote to derail a few trams at a local depot

It's probably not likely that this kid knew of the Gizmodo prank at the time, or that he even intended to hurt anyone, but it brought me to the larger conclusion that the next kid who wants to do this sort of thing doesn't need to look very far to know he can get away with it. 

Taking away someone's CES press badge is not punishment. I still think that's lip service.

Fortunately nobody was killed in the event, and my condolences go out to anyone who was hurt in the ordeal. 

As a personal message to Brian Lam: I respect your decision to do what you did. I personally think you were even entitled to do so from a legal and moral standpoint.  However, I do think you should be very clear to those who look up to Gizmodo that such actions won't land Gizmodo in trouble, but it could have deep consequences for people with less clout.

Update 1/14/2008: As forecasted, CEA gave the offending owner of the IR nuker a lifetime ban of CESGizmodo, as a publication, faced no consequences.  I asked a CEA liaison how the organization intends to prevent this individual from entering the show next year.  The CEA official claimed the organization has banned other people before.  As long as he attempts to sign up under the same name, he will not be allowed back into the show.

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By JackBeQuick on 1/13/2008 10:25:44 AM , Rating: 5
Lookie here, we don't need Jason and Masher to argue with each other. We can just get Kris to argue with himself!

RE: hehe
By masher2 on 1/13/2008 10:49:14 AM , Rating: 2
Don't worry Jack, neither of us would pass up a chance to argue in any case. ;)

Kris, I'm still not following your logic here though
to Brian Lam: I respect your decision to do what you did. I personally think you were even entitled to do so from a legal and moral standpoint
If Tam instructed these journalists before the fact, then he's guilty of conspiracy to commit criminal mischief.

You seem to be taking the stand that their actions here were neutral. No one "lost their job" over this, after all. However, let me give you an analogy. A person hacks bank software, to steal one penny from every account and transfer it to his own. No one person was harmed very much...but the total theft is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Is that not a crime?

Or another analogy...a network worm that erases no files, but slows down the Internet for several days. No one in particular is severely affected...but the total lost time could run to the millions.

CES is an event in which both organizers and attendees spend large amounts of time and money upon. A prank that costs some of that time is indeed harmful, albeit no one person suffered that much. Five minutes of lost time, multiplied by several hundred attendees and a dozen or so vendors, multiplied again by the amortized per-minute cost of flying to the show, hotel room for the event and, (for vendors) the large cost of the show itself. The total cost of this prank likely runs to several thousand dollars. No harm done? Do you really believe that?

As for the legality, the legal code of Nevada says, slightly paraphrased:
A person commits the offense of criminal mischief when he or she intentionally or knowingly and without the consent of an owner: ... (2) tampers with the owner's property, which tampering causes loss or inconvenience to the owner...

Tampering with an owner's property occurs when a person interferes with the owner's proprietary rights or abuses the property. Damage does not need to be done to the property in order to constitute tampering

RE: hehe
By KristopherKubicki on 1/13/2008 11:01:56 AM , Rating: 2
Let me start off with this real fast:
If Tam instructed these journalists before the fact, then he's guilty of conspiracy to commit criminal mischief.

Lam admitted to instructing the guy with the remote to use it, but not on keynotes. So there isn't much if there -- he's already on record.

I still take the ground that his actions were mostly neutral. As I mentioned in the other article, I know most of the people featured in the article and their anger was mostly redirected to the people who didn't set up the booth correctly.

For those of you who haven't been to CES before, it pretty much is a free-for-all when it comes to stunts like this. I saw 2girls1cup on notebooks all over the show; banners defaced; people screwing with the lights. Someone threw about 2-years worth of press releases down the toilets in the press bathrooms with the expected effect. I don't think Gizmodo was responsible for all this, since I've seen stuff like this since the COMDEX days.

Always the press bathroom too... go figure.

I think there is an acceptable background level for this sort of stuff. 150,000 people in a relatively small space, I'd be shocked if there wasn't stuff like this going on.

Lest CEA actually gets off its ass and does something about any of it? I mean that is why exhibitors pay $1500 sq / foot, right?

Sure, I think its a remote possibility someone could have lost a lead or a sale. As you stated above, all someone needs to do is prove "which tampering causes loss or inconvenience to the owner..." The tech industry is a lot smaller than people think -- I'd probably put money on the fact that Motorola doesn't even file a suit.

RE: hehe
By TomZ on 1/13/2008 8:21:43 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, sounds like a bit of a circus. I've been to a number of different trade shows before, but they don't allow kids in, so they were pretty professional. Maybe CES should adopt a similar approach.

RE: hehe
By Anh Huynh on 1/14/2008 2:13:27 AM , Rating: 4
It is supposed to be a professional trade show. Even a 14 year old kid with a web site showed more professionalism than Gizmodo did.

From a exhibitor standpoint, which I had the pleasure of being this year, Gizmodo's acts are despicable. They were disrupting the work of people just trying to do their job. It's only funny if you have the mental capacity of a high schooler and highly unprofessional of them.

Yes they could've covered up the IR ports or disabled the ports, but what if they wanted to use a remote to turn on/off the TV because it was in a inconvenient place for them to turn off via button. Or the equipment was rented.

At a trade show where people expect business to occur and a certain level of professionalism, the first thing on my mind wouldn't be to prevent my equipment getting tampered by some idiot with a universal IR remote, I'd have more faith in my fellow peers and other professionals than that.

From a journalist standpoint, which I previously was, their acts further give reason to why bloggers don't get much respect or journalistic protection. A real journalist would not pull a stunt like that because as said in the comments, its highly unethical and against the SPJ code of ethics.

RE: hehe
By eye smite on 1/15/2008 10:43:45 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with TomZ, I've been to a few myself and they don't do this at other conventions, and then they don't let kids in either. One in particular that stands out is the Oil Technology Convention. If they had done that at the OTC to displays like this, someone probably would have hit them upside the head with a 48 inch pipe wrench swung like a baseball bat.

RE: hehe
By Mr Roberto on 1/16/2008 7:43:52 PM , Rating: 2
Okay. This one has me stumped as well. So basically it is an accepted practice for editors in the US to deliberately assign/condone mischievous behaviour by a "journalist"? Why do I find that hard to accept as journalistic behaviour?

RE: hehe
By KristopherKubicki on 1/17/2008 10:02:20 AM , Rating: 2
Until someone cracks down on it, it's still going to happen. "Banning" a Gizmodo writer isn't going to change things.

New media vs Old Media
By MatthiasF on 1/13/2008 9:56:19 PM , Rating: 3
New media (bloggers, online journalists, etc.) should take pause at the ethical rules of old media. They exist after several centuries of mistakes.

Gizmodo broke two entire sections, while you guys seem to be defending them and in turn breaking several yourselves. Specifically, being accountable and independent.

They did something wrong and you've written two blog posts supporting the bullies in this situation. You can't argue what they did was right and you haven't had the balls to say what they did was wrong either, but for some reason you aren't demanding accountability for THEM.

Instead you're making the victims out to be the aggressors just because they're a corporation. More like a corporation not in YOUR industry. Gizmodo's a company two, eh? They did this to make money, not to make a statement, so why aren't you harping on them?

Because you're not acting accountable or independent, or even trying.

You want to be considered journalists, you need to follow the rules of journalism. Gizmodo broke them and caused harm, and you exaggerated it with your support. For that, you will not be anything more than a blogger and the stigma you guys try to fight against is proven right again.

RE: New media vs Old Media
By KristopherKubicki on 1/13/2008 11:20:08 PM , Rating: 1
The ethical rules of new media assume that I care if I get labeled a journalist or a blogger or just a guy on the Internet. Also, neither of my personal blog posts (not to be confused with the content in the clearly labeled "news" section) endorsed what Gizmodo did.

I'm just trying to figure out if what they did was deplorable or understandable.

SPJ Guide to Ethics, "Be Accountable":
— Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
— Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
— Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
— Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

RE: New media vs Old Media
By MatthiasF on 1/14/2008 11:50:26 AM , Rating: 3
In your first article you said all journalists cause harm, as if excusing Gizmodo, but this isn't the case as I pointed out in the ethics guidelines. In fact, I believe the opposite is true, in that it would be hard to find a significant publication that allows it's staff to do harm. This type of behavior isn't tolerated in old media, not even in the sleaziest of tabloids.

Tabloids might sensationalize or even flat our report lies, but they don't create events that do harm against a celebrity to entertain their readers.

Do you really want sites like Dailytech to be relegated to something less respectful than a tabloid?

If not, then you have to report following the guidelines (opinion be damned) in one article and make the editorial in another. You gotta stop mixing the two. Taking a stand against other sites breaking the rules while also breaking the rules yourselves becomes counter-intuitive.

I really like the site. You have a lot of bright reporters and you hit interesting topics all the time. But sometimes you guys get too personal with your reporting and it taints some of the content. There's a reason why editorials are separate in newspapers and magazines. You guys need to consider following suit.

RE: New media vs Old Media
By KristopherKubicki on 1/14/2008 12:20:41 PM , Rating: 2
I appreciate the feedback and dialog.

I think all media causes harm to some degree. Harm to who, and with what lasting effects, differ. Case in point: the CTA meltdown in Chicago is partially blamed on the Chicago Sun-Times' leaked memos of the negotiations between the governor and the mayor. Was it the Times' intention to gridlock the city? I would at least like to hope not.

Aside from some blotter reporting football scores and crime statistics, its very easy to say that almost all journalists cause harm in one way or another. And in the case of the Times, the gridlock they partially created gave the publication more things to write about. I honestly see very little distinction between what the Times did and what Gizmodo did with the exception that Lam's stunt was more sophmoric and likely has fewer consequences.

How about when ABC publishes the last manifesto of a deranged serial killer from VT? I can pull dozens of examples in the last year that have caused serious harm -- none of which I condone. Old Media certainly tolerates this, and even encourages it if they get a Pulitzer out of it.

Tabloids might sensationalize or even flat our report lies, but they don't create events that do harm against a celebrity to entertain their readers.

I can think of hundreds, (thousands?) of examples of this. Princess Diana?

As Lam put it, CNET does things one way, Gizmodo another. DailyTech, as I'm proud to say, does things in another way. I think if you follow the site since it's inception, we've really amplified some of the things that make other publications great and well respected: encouraging debate, airing unpopular angles, and ignoring some of the rules of conventional media (like embargos, scope restrictions).

Perhaps an article detailing what Gizmodo did, followed by a blog entry, would have been the correct way to poll discussion from readers. I thought the discussion was pretty well covered at other publications on the web, and I took it upon myself to continue the discussion elsewhere.

I think you are well versed in theory and practice when it comes to media - and I highly encourage you to continue these posts in public or private here at DT. If you have any particular questions about why DT does the things it does, or why I in particular do some of the things I do, please feel free to drop me a line or a comment, I'm happy to answer.

RE: New media vs Old Media
By Mr Roberto on 1/16/2008 7:54:40 PM , Rating: 2
"I think all media causes harm to some degree."

I suggest that causing harm or not is not the real issue (not in this case, at any rate), but that FABRICATING an issue, so that it can be filed on your website and thereby drive traffic, is.

In the example you quoted (and another elsewhere), the traditional news outlets were acting on information they found. In the Deepthroat case, the reporters brought down an administration by acting on information they were given.

In Robert Blakely's case, the information came from himself. I would have thought that distinction would have been glaringly obvious by now. Apparently, this "new media" thing operates on another set of rules?

RE: New media vs Old Media
By Mr Roberto on 1/16/2008 7:58:05 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry. I meant, Richard Blakely.

RE: New media vs Old Media
By Spyvie on 1/13/2008 11:52:13 PM , Rating: 2
This is the new media, not a newspaper or a TV show at all... a blog is something like those things but with the very useful addition of criticism from it's readers immediately visible to everyone... just like the rest of the web. The other important characteristic of this new media is it's unprecedented ease of publishing or broadcasting. Powerful tools in the hands of many have fostered an information culture with an evolving set of rules, and has completely decentralized control of that information. I don't know how we can be sure if all of the old rules apply and who we should apply them to.

RE: New media vs Old Media
By Spyvie on 1/13/2008 11:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
To me they can have a goofball stunt if they want, but it should be clearly labeled as such. Not unlike a humor columnist or even the funnies would be in the paper, or even a comedy segment on a local newscast. In which case we wouldn't be thinking about journalistic principals at all, we would just be a little shocked at the writers behavior and wondering about the consequences.

RE: New media vs Old Media
By Mr Roberto on 1/16/2008 8:03:56 PM , Rating: 2
And what if said "goofball stunt" costs companies real money, and employees their jobs? That no one got fired in this particular case is no defense, surely. It could easily escalate and lead to more damage in the future if such behaviour continues to be condoned.

Everyone who says there has been no real damage done in this case probably have never worked a trade booth or delivered a marketing presentation. There are costs involved.

Apart from that, it's one thing if the "goofball stunt" were done by a visitor. Or someone who was not stupid enough to boast about it in public afterwards. That the person(s) and publication involved did both speaks volumes.

RE: New media vs Old Media
By Mr Roberto on 1/16/2008 7:48:23 PM , Rating: 2
Can I just say that there is a distinction between journalism -- ie, reporting on an event -- and creating an event by, say, pulling a prank? In which case, all this "philosophical debate about journalism" nonsense would be moot. Unless someone is telling me that in the US it is fine for a reporter to deliberately instigate an incident just to get a scoop, and then be rewarded, applauded and defended for it.

Worst. Prank. Ever.
By MMilitia on 1/14/2008 6:48:34 AM , Rating: 2
When I was about 13-14 I had a watch that, through the magic of technology, could turn off TVs. I thought it was the most hilarious joke ever the day I turned off a TV at school while we were watching a biology documentary.

To me this kind of sums up the level of humor shown in this so-called 'prank'.

The only way this could've possibly been made funnier would have been to shine a laser pointer at the screens to make it look like a sniper was in the room, OMGLOL.

RE: Worst. Prank. Ever.
By Master Kenobi on 1/14/2008 9:09:04 AM , Rating: 2
Except for the fact that Sniper targeters are in the UV range and can only be seen through the attached scope, they don't use plain old laser pointers. Stop watching hollywood.

RE: Worst. Prank. Ever.
By TomZ on 1/14/2008 9:13:16 AM , Rating: 2
Except that Hollywood, not reality, is what most people know.

RE: Worst. Prank. Ever.
By Master Kenobi on 1/14/2008 10:20:16 AM , Rating: 2
That would be extremely funny if it weren't completely true.

RE: Worst. Prank. Ever.
By MMilitia on 1/14/2008 11:23:12 AM , Rating: 1
When I was 13 I didn't know any better, and thought shit like that was hysterical. That was kind of the joke I was getting at.

RE: Worst. Prank. Ever.
By jjabrams on 1/15/2008 4:48:29 AM , Rating: 2
yes, attempting comical inclinations of teenage boys and juvenile monkeys is exactly what gizmodo has stooped to - congratulations.

uh huh
By Polynikes on 1/14/2008 11:48:26 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think what the Gizmodo guys did was mature or professional, but I don't understand why everyone's making such a big deal out of it.

Also, I do not understand how some Polish kid's actions can have any correlation with or influence on your opinion of what the Gizmodo guys did. It's not like the Gizmodo guys' actions could've made HDTVs start falling off walls and hurting people. Clearly, regardless of how much they thought ahead or considered consequences, there was no danger in what they were doing. Messing with very large, moving objects electronically is completely different.

RE: uh huh
By MatthiasF on 1/14/2008 12:23:46 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. The last two blog posts on the topic have been awkward, but I think the reason most are speaking out on the issue revolves around the fact some bloggers seem to think they can do anything without punishment while others want to be considered legitimate journalists. Based off reader responses, I think more people sided with the latter.

Even the CES response to this event seems half-assed. What if they just send another person the next time? The managing editor gave the okay to do it and even posted the video with a section he argues now he didn't condone, so it's not like it was a rogue employee. They're obviously doing damage control because even they feel it was wrong in hindsight and some of us feel obligated to continue applying pressure until they admit it.

As far as the Polish teen, I'd really like to know his motivations. Hope we'll hear more when the trial starts, albeit are juvenile cases open to the public in Poland?

RE: uh huh
By KristopherKubicki on 1/14/2008 12:33:10 PM , Rating: 3
but I don't understand why everyone's making such a big deal out of it.

We are still in the wild west of New Media. The Internet isn't going anywhere for a while -- and anyone even remotely involved in the media today will be looked at like a Framer in decades to come.

These little events here and there have potential to cascade into long-running policies. Everyone's crystal ball is different, but I think some of these very specific, widely publicized events will dictate what the world tolerates of New Media.

I bring up the issue of the teen in Lodz to illustrate some of this. I do not know this individual, but you can see the mentality between both events are identical. Neither feel there was any long-term consequence. In the case of Gizmodo, there wasn't.

Of course, if we condone what Gizmodo did and chastise that of the Lodz teen, as a society we sure send a mixed message. It's OK to screw with other people's technology so long as it doesn't hurt anyone? I guess?

What do we do with the next kid that turns off an Amber Alert sign with an IR remote after he saw Lam get away with it at CES?

By kattanna on 1/15/2008 3:12:15 PM , Rating: 3
you state in your article title

May Prove Some Bloggers Are Just Idiots

honestly, this needs to be corrected to say

Most Bloggers Are Just Idiots

hope that helps, and no.. its not a knock on anyone here.. but bloggers in general. Just because you CAN blog.. doesnt mean you should. IMO

By VooDooAddict on 1/14/2008 10:25:22 AM , Rating: 2
Turning off a whole wall of TVs ONCE as a product demo for TV-B-Gone with a hidden camera would be one thing. Would have been a little funny, and shown what the product could do.

Shutting things off durring the presentations ... all they did was give those presenters loads and loads of stress. That was not funny.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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